A Delicate Beauty
by Liz M
“What am I supposed to do? Huh?” I yelled, upset, trying to fight back my oncoming tears. I looked at the man I’d spent the last ten years of my life with. “How can you just throw me away like this?” He remained stoic, just staring.
I sighed and pulled in a deep, painful breath, watching as my replacement moved into my house, with my man, taking over ‘my’ life. Anger built up inside of me, threatening to burst forth. I glared at the young bitch, my fury taking over. I snapped and stormed over to the girl. “You bitch!” I screamed, drawing my hand back.
Alain, The Immortal asshole, intervened, grabbing my hand and pushing me back, away from his new ladylove. “I’m sorry.” He whispered, adding. “It was only a matter of time…you had to have known.” I glared at him through my tears, trying to force myself to be angry. “I am sorry.” He repeated again.
I nodded at him. “Yeah, I know you’re sorry… tell me something I don’t know.” I turned, tried to muster up some dignity and walked out the front door, stopping just outside to look up at the sun. My bags had been packed and conveniently set on the landing. I hoisted them up and headed to my car. I glanced back at the place that had been my home for the last ten years, sorrowful, hurt, lost and confused. “Out with the old, in with the new.” I muttered to myself.
I shoved my suitcases into the back of the car, gingerly got behind the wheel and slowly drove off, away from my home. I couldn’t contain the hurt. My eyes overflowed, the tears seeping slowly over my cheeks gave way to sobbing and left me wiping at my face as if I could wipe it all away.
I finally pulled over and cried, cried until I had no more tears, until there was nothing left for me to do but start the car moving again. I wasn’t sure where to go. It wasn’t like I had any ‘real’ money, well not anymore. I’d used all my money traveling, playing with that son of a bitch, gambling, and on shoes… oh my God… why did I need all those shoes? What the hell had I been thinking?
I picked up my cell phone and hit #1 on speed dial. No big guess there whom I was calling…right? I waited for the pick up. “Hello.” “Dawn.” I practically yelled into the phone. We did the appropriate amount of small talk before we got down to business.
“Okay, what’s happened this time?” She asked.
I sighed, upset that she knew me too well. “He put me out with nothing! Moved another woman in… right in front of my face too… practically a preschooler.” I blew out a harsh breath; letting the anger that’d built up, slowly fade away.
She was silent for what seemed like an eternity before she finally asked. “Well… what are you gonna do now? Where are you gonna go?”
Well damn. It was my turn to be silent now… cause I just assumed I go to hers. I bit my lip and forged on. “Well Dawn…. I was kinda thinking that I could stay with you until I got back on my feet.”
I was met with silence again before she spoke up. “How bout, you come over, I’ll make us some lunch, we’ll have a nice relaxing drink and we’ll discuss things? Okay?”
Okay, now I was upset. “You don’t want me to stay with you?” I asked, offended.
She scoffed over the phone. “I just got married… we’re still in the honeymoon phase and its not my fault that you wasted the money that Giles split between all of us. We all got the same amount… well, truth be told, you and Faith got most of it, because of what you both went through.”
I stopped the car in the middle of the road, got out of it and started pacing, not believing what I’d just heard. “So, Giles gave me more money than you… and what? You’re mad? “
Cars were lining up behind mine but I didn’t give a damn. They could honk all frickin day as far as I cared.
Dawn sighed over the phone. “No Buffy, I’m not mad. I just don’t understand why you’d throw all of your money away like that.”
“It’s not like I planned on it.” I stated lowly. “It was just… Alain kept traveling and doing things… and I didn’t want to be beholding to him… I never imagined or realized that he wouldn’t grow old with me… or that I’d be tossed out because I got…. Long in the tooth.”
Dawn laughed. “You’re not long in the tooth.” She stated, amused. “You’re in the prime of your life.” She added, sighing. “Come on over and we’ll discuss things.”
“Yeah, okay, I’ll see you soon.” I breathed into the phone.
“Don’t think that I don’t love you… because I do. You know that right?” She waited for me to answer.
I sighed. “Yeah, Dawnie…. I know. I love you too.” I cut off the connection and looked at the long line of cars, at the people yelling at me, giving me lots and lots of fingers and colorful suggestions.
I climbed back into my car, and headed to Dawn’s.
I finally made it to Dawn’s place. I parked and sat there, trying to wipe the running mascara off my face and fix my hair. I took a deep breath and got out, making my way to the door. I knocked lightly and waited.
Dawn opened the door, smiling, rubbing her swollen belly. She grabbed my arm and pulled me inside, flinging the door closed. “Are you okay? You look like crap.” She winced. “Sorry, I didn’t mean crap as in… shit…. I meant it as in… you know… bad.”
“Thanks?” I offered up, allowing myself to be enveloped in her arms. I pulled back and looked at her and patted her belly. “You doing okay?” I asked, trying to start up a conversation. She looked at me, contemplating something or other. “Yeah, I’m good… well we’re both good.” She smiled, continuing. “We’re working on the nursery, almost got it finished.” I smiled and nodded and silence ensued, encasing us in its quiet.
“So what are you gonna do Buffy?” She asked.
I sighed, looked down at the floor and back up at her. “Well, I’m not sure.” I sighed again. “I’ve got all of seven hundred dollars, a car, two suitcases full of designer clothes and several bags of shoes.” I looked back up at her, willing myself not to cry.
“You could go back to Giles.” She offered.
I looked at her pointedly. “Dawn, he’s in his sixties, not doing all that great and he’s on a fixed income. It won’t be long until we have to take care of him…. I can’t go to him and tell him I need money and a place to stay… especially after he told me that this would happen.” I shook my head in disgust.
A smile crept over Dawn’s face. “Who are you kidding? You just don’t want him to give you the, ‘I told you so’, speech.”
I smiled and nodded, agreeing. “You got that right.”
We laughed and snuggled up against one another, talking about old times and the things yet to come. I sighed when nightfall started to creep in. I pushed myself up off the sofa and gave Dawn a big hug. “I’d best get going.” I groaned.
She looked up at me, expectantly. “Where to?” She asked lowly, adding. “You know, I guess you could crash out on the couch for a few days… just until you figure something out.”
I smiled and looked down at the floor; slowly bringing my eyes back up to meet hers. “Nah. I wouldn’t be able to sleep, what with you and Craig still in your honeymoon phase.” I reached out and ran my hand over her belly again, adding. “Although, you did put the cart before the horse, so to speak.” We smiled and said our good byes. I turned to leave and she grabbed my arm, stopping me. I looked into her questioning eyes. “I’m gonna head over to Wills and Kens, just for the night.” I smiled. She nodded and softly closed the door as I made my way down the hallway.
I made my way back to my car, picked up my phone and dialed the states, calling Xander.
“Yo, Talk to me baby.” He stated casually into the phone.
I smiled. “Hey Xan, It’s me.” My smile widened.
“No, it can’t be.” His voice seemed to shine through the phone. “How are you? Is everything okay? How’s everyone?” He asked.
I breathed in deep and steadied myself. “Everyone’s fine here. I needed to ask a favor of you.”
“Yeah, what’s up?” He questioned.
“I need a place to go, somewhere to stay until I can get back on my feet. I was thinking that maybe I could hang out with you for a while.” I took another breath and waited.
“Buffy..” He hesitated. “I don’t know what to say. I’m fixing to get married and I’m not sure that Karen would approve of you staying with me. I don’t want to rock the boat here, ya know…” He paused and took a deep breath. “Tell you what… I’ll talk to Karen and we’ll see what we can work out, okay?” He waited for me to answer.
I tried to put a smile on my face, trying to sound happy. “That’s fine Xan. I’ll get back to you sometime about it. So when’s the big date?” I questioned.
“It’s just in a few months. Can you believe it… by the way, you’re all welcome to attend. I know it’s not really possible what with the ocean and all between us… but I still love you guys, you’re my family.” He stated.
“Hey you never know, maybe we could swim or something. Listen, I need to run, its getting dark and I’m headed over to Will’s.” I smiled again.
“Yeah okay, later then, tell them I love them. Bye.” He severed the connection.
“Yeah, I’ll tell them.” I muttered lowly, closing the phone.
I cranked the car and headed to Will’s, unsure of what to do. These people were my family, granted I’d kinda been scarce the last ten years… but I’ve been busy… who am I kidding, I’ve been an absent friend. I sighed and pulled up outside of their loft. I steeled my nerves, hardened my skin and stepped out of the car and up to their door, knocking loudly.
I heard fighting just inside the door. “I’ll get it. No! I’m gonna open it! No you’re not! Get out the way!”
I looked at the door, wondering just what the hell was going on. Finally the door flung open, and crashed against the wall. I was face to face with three little girls around the ages of seven I’d say and upon a closer look I noticed that they were exactly alike, identical. I wondered how in the hell Will and Ken were still sane. They looked up at me and stared back. “Mary, Hannah and Tara?” I quizzed them.
“Yep.” They said in unison.
“Is your mom home?” I asked.
“Yep.” They said.
I smiled, amused but annoyed. “Well can I come in?” I asked.
The little darlings started singing, taunting me. “You can’t come in… you can’t come in…we don’t know you…. You’re not our friend.”
“Girls! What are you up to?” Willow came around the corner and stopped abruptly, staring at me. “Buffy?” She questioned.
I smiled and met her halfway, hugging her as if I hadn’t seen her in ages. “It’s so good to see you.” She whispered, squeezing me tighter.
“You too.” I whispered.
The girls started chanting again, running in circles around us and wiping their sticky little hands all over my skirt. “Ken!” Willow yelled. “Ken!” She yelled again. She looked at me. “She’s ignoring me. Hiding.” She offered.
I looked back to the little angels and thought, ‘I wonder why.’
Willow looked around the area, nodded, and flopped down onto the sofa. “A little here, a little there and then one day, it was… well, here.”
I smiled; glad to see that Wills hadn’t changed much, or any at all.
“So what brings you to our neck of the woods. I figured you’d be ready to sail off, do your regular cruise thing.” She stated, curling up, snuggling against the cushions.
I sighed. “Yeah, well about that. Uhm…” I looked up at her. She raised her eyebrows and leaned forward, waiting.
I blew out a short curt breath, deciding to bite the bullet. “He put me out to pasture… literally.” I looked into her eyes, continuing. “I’ve spent all these years, blowing everything I had just to keep up with him and now that I’ve got some years on me, well, he found someone half my age and moved them in.” I looked down at the floor.
I felt my chair shift and arms encircle me, pulling me close. “I’m sorry. Are you okay?” Willow asked. I nodded. “I will be.” I said.
“Where are you staying?” She questioned.
I sighed again, not liking this one bit. I looked at her. “That’s the thing, see all I’ve got left is about seven hundred dollars, a car, and clothes. Dawn’s married and expecting, Xander’s getting married, Giles is well Giles and that leaves you… and I hate to bother you… but I don’t really have anywhere to go.” I looked back down to the floor, cursing the tears that were building back up in my eyes.
Willow enveloped me in a hug, squeezing, trying to comfort me.
“We’ll figure something out.” Kennedy stated from the doorway. I looked up at her as she made her way over to the couch and flopped down on it. “Got to tell you though, we’ve only got the two loft rooms and well not to be blunt, well yeah….” She smiled up at me. “To be blunt… you can’t sleep with us so that leaves one of the bunk beds, meaning you’ll have to share with the girls.” Ken smiled at me.
Willow stepped in to help me out. “It’s not that bad. It’s a huge room with two bunk bed sets… so there’s two full beds and two twin size.”
I looked up at her. I guess she really wasn’t helping me out after all. “I could just sleep on the couch.” I offered.
“Sorry Sweets.” Kennedy interrupted. “But my office is down here and the only time I can work is when the horde is out cold.” Willow nodded, agreeing. “I do a lot of work at night too.” She stated lowly.
I nodded and smiled, saying. “It’ll be fine. I really appreciate it.”
They smiled back at me as if everything was just hunky dory.
I got ready for bed and laid down in one of the bottom bunks. My body and head kept jarring back against the mattress with each jump on the bed. I heard Ken coming down the walkway, making noise along the way. The kids scrambled up into their beds and laid still. I looked over at the open door and saw Ken looking in, smiling at me. That bitch. She closed the door and as her footsteps faded my body started jarring back against the mattress again, my teeth racking together with each pounce on the bed. I closed my eyes and willed myself not to kill the three little devils.
I woke up in a puddle of pee. “Great. Just fucking great.” I stated, sitting up and shaking the fluid off my hand. I looked down at my bedclothes, soaked in the vile smelling liquid. “Who peed the bed?” I screamed.
The dog raised his head up, looked at me, got up off his rug and jumped on the bed. He hiked his leg and pissed all over the comforter. “Ahhhhh!” I screamed, scaring the dog and bringing Willow running into the room.
“What’s wrong? What’s wrong?” She questioned, looking around frantically, upset.
“Your dog pissed on me.” I yelled.
She breathed out as if relieved. “Oh, is that all? You scared the hell out of me. I thought Mary had turned one of the other girls into a frog again or something… you know… worse.”
I looked at her in disbelief, wondering what the hell could be worse than being covered in dog piss. Wait. “A frog?” I questioned.
She walked towards the dog stating casually. “Mary’s a witch, the other two are slayers.” I nodded; cause really, what the hell could I say. She bent over, ruffled the dog’s fur, kissed him and stated. “He’s old, he can’t help it anymore.”
A mug was waiting for me on the counter. I picked it up and let the tension flow from me. Ken put her morning paper down and looked up at me. “So Buffy, I was thinking about your predicament. I know this slayer in the states. She’s got a kid and her old man up and left them cause he couldn’t deal with the demons coming after them all the time.” She took a sip of coffee and looked back at me. “I’m sure she’d welcome you into her home, hell, she could use an extra slayer around to patrol. She’s got a house, several rooms and I’m sure she’d welcome the company.”
I looked at Kennedy as if she were an alien.
She smiled. “I’m just saying. She doesn’t have any family and neither do you; well you don’t have a man, that’s what I mean. Her and her kid were abandoned, kinda like you. You might could help each other out… just until you find something better.”
I continued to stare at Kennedy. She sighed, continuing her spiel. “Listen, the other slayer sharing duties there died. She’s alone. She’s got a small child. She needs the help, otherwise she probably won’t make it.”
I nodded and took a big sip of coffee. “I don’t even know her. How can I just move in with a stranger?”
“We’re all strangers Buffy. You’ll get to know her, you’ve just got to try.” She looked at me, reaching over to touch my hand. “What other options do you have? You could really help her out, at least until we can get another slayer settled there.”
I looked into my coffee cup, thinking.
That night while I laid in bed, getting my brains jarred out of my head from all the jumping, I decided that the states didn’t sound so bad; a big house, rooms, and just one kid, one… well right now that sounded pretty damned good.
I got up and told Ken that I would go. Willow smiled up at me as Ken got up to leave, saying. “Great, I’ll call and get the okay.”
“Wait. You didn’t know if she’d go for it, but you already asked me?” I stated more than asked.
She winked. “Trust me, she’ll listen to the voice of reason, just like you.”
I watched Ken leave and turned to face Wills. “So what’s the girl like?” I asked.
She shrugged. “I don’t know. I’m not sure who’s she’s talking about. Don’t worry. I trust her to do the right thing and she wouldn’t do anything to hurt you?” Willow stated.
I scoffed. “Yeah, right. Like she didn’t enjoy leaving me in that room with the bouncing brood.”
Willow laughed, snorting out a bit of coffee. “That was me.” She laughed again. “It was so funny.” She snorted, leaning over the counter laughing, causing me to laugh along with her.
Kennedy came back a bit later. “It’s all settled.” She handed me an address. “Her name’s Lehane.” She stated. “I’ll have someone meet you at the airport to take you to her place.” I looked down at the piece of paper and missed the wide-eyed look that Willow was giving Kennedy. I looked up just in time to see them turn away from each other, each not saying anything. “Something wrong?” I asked. “What aren’t you telling me?” I questioned.
Willow shrugged, nodding her head back and forth. “We’re just gonna miss you Buffy.” She gave me a quick hug.
“That’s it then, it’s settled.” I looked up at them unsure. They nodded, comforting me, trying to ease my fears.
The rest of the day was spent selling my car to a local dealer, buying a plane ticket and biding my time until the time came to go. At least I had some cash now, that’d give me a little bit of freedom when I landed.
They dropped me off at the terminal, hugged me and waved bye. I took in a deep breath, checked my luggage and made the waiting area just in time to be called. I took several deep breaths, trying to back down the anxiety that was rapidly reaching my surface. I boarded the plane, asked for several stiff drinks and leaned back against the seat, closing my eyes, wondering what I’d be met with when I arrived.
It was too late to back out now. The plane was moving, taking me away from the home I’d known for the last ten years of my life, taking me away from my only family and friends and dropping me off into the wild blue yonder.
I looked out the window, silently praying that somewhere, somehow, the fates would step in, fix this mess that I made and somehow along the way, fix me.