Author's Notes: I'm English so you're going to have to deal with the
spellings. This is also my first Buffy fic. So, you're going to have to
deal with that too. The poem is owned by Sneak Technique - marvel at his
indle Download (click here for instructions)
Bubble gum girl wake from your sleep.
The big bad World is not so sweet.
Boy band romance left for dead.
A faded smile above your bed.
Time moved on and so must you.
Something old, battered and blue.
With your mum's good looks and ya dad's despair...
Pierced naval, nose and vacant stare.
Unstable, disable attention craver.
Bubble gum girl has lost her flavour.
When the world around you lost its head
you turned your back. You stayed in bed.
Excerpt from "Bubble Gum Girl..." $neak Technique
I came for a holiday, or something. I kissed Riley's
cheek and then packed my bags. Pants, shirts, tees, socks - the usual, toothpaste,
a hair comb...
I told Willow that I wanted to get away for a while. I grabbed my camera,
and some books on Mexican geography. I planned out my route. I chewed bubble
gum on the greyhound to San Diego. The charter plane was small. I met some
guys, one of them said I was pretty, I smiled back.
I am pretty.
I arrived at the hotel. I'm somewhere near Puerto Penasco on the coast.
The hotel smells of sweat, and old sandals...some sand and fresh fish. The
woman who runs the place smiled at me. She's very maternal looking. She
said I have beautiful hair, leaning over her thick wooden desk she asked
me why I'm here alone. She has a beautiful accent and wears flowers in her
dark hair. I like her, she's warm, she shouts fractured sentences at her
husband and has this wonderful shrill way of saying 'Carlos.'
I told them I needed to get away. I went out onto the beach. Beautiful beach,
really great waves as well...I wondered why I didn't invite Riley to come
with me. We could have sat on the beach...maybe, I don't know, it felt wrong.
Riley's got a whole bunch of stuff he has to deal with on his own.
So, I enjoyed the scenery. I ate sandwiches and drank cola from glass bottles.
It was good, wholesome, you know? I don't know really, but it sounded right.
At least it felt someway self-indulgent, like I was doing this for me.
The sun set on the beach. I took a couple of pictures with my camera and
then headed back up the hill to the hotel where I was staying.
I don't know what surprised me more, the fact that everyone was dead, or
the fact that I was so shocked.
My initial reaction spun along the lines of: Oh my God, everyone's dead.
Which, routinely enough, was replaced by a Slayer one, number three eight
six in the handbook to be exact, : Everyone's dead. Why? Because you're
the slayer. Deal with it. Kill vampires. Kill!
I killed the vampires who were left, the others had made it out into the
night. They disappeared into little dust mites on the floor. I called the
local police and practised my broken Spanish. I was very professional -
they wondered if I'd done it, but then I don't look like a mass murderer.
My name is Buffy Summers, Officer. I attend UC Sunnydale. I'm pretty.
I don't know, but somehow I can spin a line that anyone'd buy. Guess I'm
gifted, huh? Is it one of my super powers? But the fact is - you can't sum
up my life in a few sentences anymore. I'm this whole barrel of subtext
fun, because what you see on the outside, is nothing compares to what goes
I'm going to have to find somewhere else to stay. The next flight out isn't
The morgue's a real weird place, you know? I mean, first of all it's exclusive.
You either have to be dead, or interested in dead people...or just really,
really sick and in need of some serious head-case therapy to get in here.
Secondly, it has no smell. I expected formaldehyde or just that dead smell
that you get off of vampires. You know, mothballs and cleaning fluid. Anything,
just any kind of smell to make it more human, make it more like a place
But then I don't really walk on the Earth at all, do I? I just skirt the
edges. I'm getting old, too old. I come to these places and sit down, watch
the bodies and think...that's going to be me. It's funny - most kids think
they're going to live forever. Me? I'm just living before I die.
And so why am I in the mortuary? This is the question that keeps coming
back to me. Why am I in the mortuary? Because that nice woman, with the
flowers in her hair, is going to rise and I'm going to have to drive a stake
through her heart. That's why.
Which is why I wished these places smelled, so I could tell one apart from
the other. Because, if I really look, my life tends to be one death and
destruction snapshot after the next. You get tired you know, exhausted?
Maybe I'm this way because Willow isn't here. Yeah, that must be it.
She rose. I drove a stake through her heart. I feel dead. I feel just as
dead as Conchita with the flowers in her hair and Carlos her husband, wrapped
in death-affirming body-bag plastic.
I hate when I get this way.
Empty. I'll phone Giles and he can pick me up - right after I go after the
sons of bitches who did this, which is kinda predictable in a 'I am the
Chosen One' kind way.
But my life is predictable. It's like last week. Willow had gone out with
Tara, probably somewhere nice, probably house hunting. I don't know. I didn't
ask. So I was rooting through some of her stuff and I came across this ouiji
board. Sure, I think, wouldn't hurt to give it a try. I ask silly questions:
is Liz Hurley naturally that thin, what exactly is lint...and then, God
knows what possessed me, I asked it how old I would be when I died. It tells
me twenty-five. Twenty-five.
And what do you know? Looks like it was dead on. There's some spirit out
there with Buffy Summer's number, and he's pissed as hell.
Mexicans have a Day of the Dead too. Ironic, huh? Maybe I belong here.
My life is this whole nasty stream of consequences. I broke into the police
house and got some files - some 'suspicious characters' to investigate,
some leads. I tell Giles he can pick me up next week. Everything was in
Spanish, but I managed; I always do.
I went North, took an over crowded bus. I threw away my bubble gum. Guess
the bubble burst.
I got off at this dead end town, real Spaghetti Western deal and walked
the long street up towards this suspicious looking warehouse. It's too quiet,
but then I realise that I've never liked that cliché.
The sun's beating down on me, Mexico in July - not the wisest of vacation
I get to the nest, but she's already there. Covered head to toe in glistening
sweat. I help her take the last one out. She stands and grins at me, hands
on her hips. Seems she's been following the police reports, and worked out
where I'd be. Says in that jagged, low tone of hers that she got sick of
waiting and just dived on in.
She asks me how I am. I shrug, 'Five by Five,' I smile.
I finally know what that means. It doesn't mean anything. I'm just waiting,
waiting for the lucky vamp who gets to take this slayer out. I am nothing.
Five by five's nothing too. Faith and I are nothing - just pawns in some
bigger game. I take her picture with my Kodak and then I punch her in the
She grabs my hair and throws me to the ground, kicks me, spits, all the
I push her against the wall, hard. I wanted to kill her, first time I saw
her at Angel's I wanted her dead. But I guess I know now that's she's always
been dead, like Angel, like me.
But me and Faith, we're living on borrowed time.
I slap her across the face. She smiles at me. 'You can't kill me,' she says.
She'd be right.
'I know the location of another nest,' she tells me.
I nod and then drop her from the wall. She sees the glint in my eye, she
knows I mean business. I wonder why the hell she waited for me. I wonder
how long she spent in jail last time, or if she busted out and headed South,
freedom in Mexico. Part of me, something I haven't wanted to face for a
very long time, is glad she's here.
'Take me there,' I say.
We catch another overcrowded bus. I'll never be Faith, and as much as she
wants it, she'll never be me. But there's a bond, we're two of a kind and
I'd never kill her, as we're living on borrowed time.
This place says "dead". In a way that graveyards, floral wreaths,
parsons and sobbing little Sarah clutching her Mom's skirt never do.
In fact, dead isn't wholly accurate. More like never alive. Inanimate. That
was it - inanimate.
There are humans here. The check-out clerk, the pump attendant, the mildly
sociopathic jerk who sings Madonna at the back of the diner. The waitress,
wearing a pink that's never looked less innocent, and lipstick that almost
drips off her pursed lips.
And the woman who sits opposite me in this cute little 'booth.'
Dead, all of them. No, I'm forgetting myself, inanimate.
'You want a cigarette?' she asks.
'Sure.' I take one, light a match on the underside of the table and, once
lit, take a life affirming breath of the nicotine goodness.
'I didn't think you smoked. Thought it was too 'bad' for a prissy good-girl
'It is,' I return, darkly. But I gave up trying to be prissy good-girl -
maybe I even gave up trying - a long time ago. But then again, I'm not into
this self-pity shit.
I look up. 'But I figure everyone starts at some point. Either you grow
up to realise that they aren't good for you, or you get so old that you
wonder why you never tried. Anyway,' I snort, 'it's not like I'm about to
die from lung cancer.'
'No,' she laughs back, a hollow chuckle. 'Maybe I had you planned out all
'B,' I smile, mimicking her, 'it's been a while.'
She winks at me, 'Sure has,' she grins. 'Fuck girl, where you been?'
Dying. That's where I've been. Not in the literal sense of course, merely
The light in the diner swings slowly, and its shadows adjust, change. It's
not enough to brighten the coffin though; the pine walls just shine the
light back as it looks for some kind of exit. And if I wasn't already dead,
figuratively speaking, then I'd help it out of here.
'Nowhere, everywhere,' I say distantly. 'Fucked Angel yet?'
The grin turns half sober. In the background, someone's coughing up 'Ma's
'hotter than hotter' burger relish that may as well be arsenic for it's
reaction to the stomach lining.
'Nope,' she even manages a hurt look. 'I'm picking my life up. I'm moving
on. Anyway, I wouldn't want to mess with the broody one's moment of happiness
'Like you could give him one,' I mumble. This is what she reduces me to
- mumbling. Something apathetic takes hold of me again, and I don't particularly
care if she's been screwing around with my undead ex. I also don't care
if she gave Riley the best fuck of his life. Because it's not what she does
that bother's me. And it never has been. Faith's far too gone to the happy
lunatic asylum in the sky to ever do any collateral damage, just took me
a while to realise, that's all.
I take another deep inhale. I wonder what time Giles'll be here to pick
me up. I wonder if she'll laugh at me when I tell her what I realised. What
dirty little secret I have sitting under my, how'd she put it, 'prissy good-girl'
'Been here long?' I inquire, resting my hand against the table, cigarette
held and smoking quietly away, adding to the oppressive heat mix that death
always seems to stir up. My gaze fixes outside, old gas pump, old burnt
out car, motel that probably smells of sex and disease.
'Long enough. I was wondering when you were gonna show down here. I thought
we should have at least one last tango in Paris.' She plucks a cigarette
herself and lights it quickly, placing it, prop-like, against her glossy
She's not wearing as much make-up now-a-days, more natural, more like the
country hick wild child than that urban gothic shit she was trying to pass
off back in Sunnydale. I don't know if it suits her better, but then I'll
never want her as much now as I did then.
'You've changed,' she tells me.
'Yeah,' I smile back. 'Chanel Number Five. I borrowed it from Cordy. She
sends her utmost venom by the way. In fact, I think she asked me to run
your trailer trash ass down. Now, tell me Faith, why'd she want me to do
that? Not that I mind the feel of a little road-kill under my goodyear...'
'Damn B, someone got to you.'
'Maybe I got to me.' I say blankly.
Her stare is confused but she lets it fly, she always lets it fly.
She takes a long puff of her cigarette. The waitress, who I'll call Nancy,
gives a little disgruntled sigh and moves to the phonebox. Maybe her Prince
Charming hasn't called. I can relate.
'Nope,' she says, carefully. 'It ain't him. I'm guessing you spaced him
into nice little pieces. It's me, isn't it? I managed to fuck with 'Miss
And yeah, she's right.
Not that I've ever been in love with her, or even liked her, or even wanted
to touch her. But she pisses me off, screws with my head to the extent that
taking up smoking and swearing seem like the most sane ideals in my life.
And she always wins our little game, our mind-fuck monopoly that we play
every time we meet.
And what pisses me off? That it took me this long to realise it.
I take another long puff and then stub the cigarette out on the plastic
table. 'You want to order waffles?' I ask.
She shrugs. 'I like to do my killing before my waffling, if it's all the
same to you. Killing then waffling. Brings order to the universe.'
'Sure,' I say monosyllabically. Who am I to disagree with her hard fought
I stand up, pull down my tee, run a hand through my hair and charge into
I look around, check for el bad guy and then run through to the backyard.
She's right behind me.
It looks 'vampy' enough, old warehouse, usual deal. I used to wonder why
they couldn't get themselves anywhere less 1812. Stress on 'used.'
I'm running at the warehouse, kicking up the dust in these huge boots I
picked up discount somewhere.
She's looking at me, smiling. She wants me. I love the fact that she wants
We're in the barn. Well, to be accurate we kicked our way through the rotten
old door and then charged our way in, blasting the first few with sunlight.
It's a little known fact that interstate members of the 'Not dead yet' brigade
have little to no common sense. They're asleep, and there's no guard.
'Aww,' she says, standing next to me. 'It's no fun when it's this easy.'
I don't think I care whether it's easy or not. A long time ago slaying became
a series of automatic responses, easy and natural, so natural I developed
a count for them, a rhythm. A ten count, which usually gets lost right around
the time I place my little wooden stick of tricks up against a vamp-ugly's
chest. But still, it's one of those little panic button things I developed
to stop me being sick post-kill. It's funny what fifteen year old 'chosen-one's'
will do to keep sane, isn't it?
Ugly number one was simple, upper cut, left block, nice big thwack, comic-book
style, in the gut and he's on the floor. He has a horrendous taste in clothes,
I'm wondering if he's been dead since the fifties, and mommy used to dress
him even then. I put the stake in his back and it's game over.
Number two ran at me like Cordy when there's a sale at Prada. Easy done,
once in the chest - watch the yellow's of their eyes as they disappear into
the dust. Sometimes, if I get too close it makes me sneeze. Geez, how ironic,
on days like these, hot days, inanimate days, the closest they can get to
me is a bad bout of asthma.
I often wish I were always this strong.
Number three was dispatched with a flick of my wrist. I resist the urge
to pun; it's too dark in here and smells too much like cow shit for me to
really want to stay long.
The last one grins at me as I come towards him. Eyes doing that weird yellow
thing like he gorged on Florida Orange Juice at the WalMart. Teeth all nice
and pointy. Grin like he's going to kill me where I stand.
He comes towards me, all practised elegance. I wonder if this guy's the
real deal, some European vamp from some Czechoslovakian ditch come to play
with the Californians, come to piss on our parade. But it's back, that part
of me that keeps me sane, and flares out like the unfeeling bitch I can
be at the worst times.
He's fast, dodges a punch to the head, flips me on my back quicker than
anything. 'Slayer,' he breathes down on me.
'Nuh huh,' I grin back, doing the usual 'sarcasm' thing, 'although people
are always confusing me for her.'
I go straight in, a kick to his stomach, it connects and he wobbles backwards.
Behind me Slayer Numero deux is making slow work of his girlfriend, seems
redemption's a bitch where Faith's concerned. She always was a better fighter
than me, because she put her heart and blacker than black soul into it.
Me? I always used to keep a perspective. Not anymore.
I go after him and he's on the floor, near the sunlight that's streaming
in from the entrance. He covers his eyes and moans pathetically a little.
As I get near he trips me up, sends me falling and landing badly, the all-too-familiar
crack of some bone going in my arm. I jump back to my feet, gymnast style,
and set my gaze on his blood-sucking behind. My arm is going to sting for
hours. He won't get away.
A high kick from behind sends him back to the floor again, and as I use
my arms as a counter balance I plunge my stake into his back.
Poof. No more vampy.