My eyes opened suddenly with the jarring of the plane. The captain was speaking through the intercom and it took me a few minutes to register just exactly what he was saying. I ran a shaky hand through my hair and glanced at the ten or so empty liquor bottles that now adorned my serving tray, wishing that I’d left the liquid courage alone.
The flight attendant offered me a hot towel and I gratefully accepted it, wiping it over my face, using it to try and wipe away my sudden case of nervousness. I blew out a breath and waited, watching as everyone around me, settled in for the final landing.
As the wheels touched down my heart rate sped up, instantly making me regret my choice to come here. I don’t think I’d ever felt so put out in my entire life and that right there says a lot.
I watched as everyone around me started filtering through the plain, exiting. I blew out a shaky breath, retrieved my carryon from the overhead compartment and shuffled out into the aisle and up to the exit.
I pretty much walked on autopilot all the way to the luggage pick up and hesitated, thinking through all my options again, before I finally gave in and walked towards the receiving area.
This part was pretty easy and left no room for doubts. Kennedy, true to her word, had taken care of everything. A man in uniform was standing off to the side, holding a sign that read my name. I took a long look at him, steeled my nerves and slowly walked over.
He looked at me. “Buffy Summers?” He asked, waiting and watching as I slowly nodded my head.
He reached over and took hold of the tram carrying my bags and started pushing them toward the exit. He stopped, turned to look at me and waited. “Are you coming?” He finally asked, knocking me out of my daydream state.
I shook off my stupor and really looked at him. “Yeah.” I half answered, instantly moving towards him, following him.
That almost got a smile out of me. I shook off my amusement and got into the back of the car, waiting for him to walk around and get in behind the steering wheel. He cranked the car and looked back at me.
“Home James.” I stated, watching as he smiled, turned and pulled out into the busy intersection.
I tried to keep myself busy on the long ride to wherever: Magazines, novels, radio, you name it and I’d tried to keep myself occupied. I pulled the address out of my pocket and read the town’s name again. I leaned forward, towards the front of the car. “So what does this town have to offer?” I asked.
He glanced at me through the rearview and laughed, not offering any explanations or any knowledge.
I sat back in the seat, and silently cursed him and Kennedy. Wasn’t much of anything I could do unless I jumped out of the moving car and forgot about my clothes and stuff and truth be told, I’m kinda vain, I liked my stuff and I sure as hell planned on keeping it; so I did the only thing I could… and that was picking up a magazine and actually reading the articles.
About 20 or so minutes later we left the interstate and started going through county roads until we finally pulled into a long winding road that turned from asphalt to gravel. From there we seemed to come to a small town with a junction, turned left and went out into the country. I looked out the window and watched as civilization slowly faded from view.
I put the magazine down and looked ahead, watching as we turned off again, this time driving through several farm style houses. We passed them and continued on the country drive, only slowing to turn again, this time heading towards an old barn style home, set against a backdrop of mountains, with a stream off to the right. It was like something out of a rustic movie.
I sat in the car and stared out the window, not really sure what to do.
James left the car running, got out and started taking my bags out of the car, setting them on the ground.
I pulled in a deep breath and hesitantly got out of the car, looking around, taking in everything. I have to admit, if you were into that sort of thing, it was beautiful. I slowly walked toward the landing or porch or whatever you wanted to call it, walking the set stones right up to the steps and door.
I stopped suddenly, eyeing a pair of underwear haphazardly thrown into the bushes next to the porch. Okay, that’s something you don’t see everyday but this is the country, maybe that’s how they dry their clothes here, although I’m not planning on hanging my delicates out in the bushes anytime soon, that’s for sure.
I took a couple of steps and heard the car change gears. I turned and watched in horror, my mouth hanging open in disbelief, as the car pulled off down the road and left me behind. I moved quickly down the steps and out onto the stone path, wanting to chase the car and beat James to death, but reality stopped me: Well reality and Jimmy Choo.
I looked at my bags sitting out in the dirt and was in complete and utter shock and something else that was rapidly building; anger. “That bitch.” I paced a bit, my mouth almost foaming in fury. “I’m gonna kill you Kennedy.” I vehemently stated to no one in particular.”
I turned and stomped back towards the house, got to the door and hesitated. I can’t just barrel in there, all demanding and acting like an ass. This is deliverance country; hell they probably see a squirrel and automatically get a knife and fork. I saw that movie where the locals cooked people as if they were a slab of meat. The secret’s in the sauce and I sure as hell didn’t want to be the secret of the week.
I calmed my nerves and knocked on the door, waiting… and waiting. I knocked again, this time a little louder. “Hello?” I called out, adding. “Anybody home?”
I knocked again, looking for a doorbell or some kind. Not finding any I prepared to knock again when I heard something on the other side of the door. “Hello?” I called out again, watching as the doorknob slowly turned and the door opened.
I didn’t see anyone and that’s when I looked down and into the face of a little boy, wearing cowboy boots, guns in holsters and a big hat… and nothing else; scratch that, make that a little girl.
She looked up at me, the big hat falling down over her eyes and in the closest thing she could muster to a ‘tough’ voice, said. “Sup?”
I stood there frozen momentarily, not knowing what to say or do; finally I realized that I was the adult here. “Is your mom home?” I asked.
That’s when I heard someone coming through the house and pretty quickly at that, wearing a tool belt and splattered with plaster. She wiped her face and smeared a white streak across one of her cheeks as she quickly assessed the child, making sure I didn’t hurt the little angel and then assessed me, freezing right in place, staring. Well, we both stared, her at me and me at her.
“Buffy?” She finally asked, her face scrunched up, her brow furrowed. “What are you doing here?” She added, still looking at me all confused like.
I guess I was a bit confused or loopy myself, I looked down at the address again and then looked at the number on the house, then looked back at her. “I’m looking for Lehane.” I offered up meekly.
A look of utter disbelief settled over her face. “You’re Elizabeth?” She asked.
I nodded yes, mimicking her shocked look.
Then she did something completely unwarranted or called for. She burst out laughing, finally calming herself long enough to state the obvious. “Oh man, I bet you really want to kill Kennedy huh?”
I just kind of arched my brows, cause that was the understatement of the century.
I just stared at Faith, not really knowing what to do. I watched as she glanced down at her child, watched as her brow furrowed when she realized the tot didn’t have on her panties, watched as the child looked up at her mom and realized that she was in trouble for not having on her clothes and try to leave.
Faith reached out and touched the child’s head, holding her in place, refusing to let her leave. She looked over at me, stating casually. “Phone’s over there.”
“Phone?” I questioned.
She looked back at me, telling me, calm and casually. “Yeah, I’m sure you’re itching to get this all straightened out… so, phone’s over there. Call away.”
I nodded and walked to the phone, dialing the number from memory, watching as Faith made the little girl look up at her, questioning her. I heard a few protests coming from the child and then watched as a little foot stomped against the floor in protest and watched again, this time in amusement, as Faith turned her toward the door and made her get what I’m supposing is, wet panties flung out in the bushes.
The little girl started crying as she marched back in the house. I heard Faith faintly in the background. “If you’re big enough to know they’re wet and fling them in the trees, you’re big enough to wash them out.”
I watched as Faith marched the stomping, protesting little girl down the hallway and heard a last little scream before complete silence took over, followed by a faint little pop and muted crying. I tried to look down the hallway as I waited for my call to go through.
Finally Kennedy picked up the phone. “Hello.” She stated.
“I’m gonna kill you.” That’s all I said and she knew exactly who I was and why I wanted to rip her a new one.
“What’s your problem now?” She asked, feigning ignorance.
“I didn’t lie. You needed a place. She needed help. Nothing’s changed.” Kennedy stated, exasperated and tired.
My anger boiled over. “She’s a murderer. I can’t live her with her. I could never trust her.” I almost yelled.
I turned and saw Faith standing in the doorway. She met my eyes momentarily, looked right through me, turned and walked into another room.
I sighed into the receiver, not knowing what else to say, afraid that I’d already said way too much.
I heard Kennedy sigh too, before finally asking, stating. “She heard you didn’t she?”
“Yeah.” I sighed, feeling kind of stupid.
“Well you’re stuck for the moment.” Kennedy stated, adding. “Make your piece and get along at least until I can get you another place to stay and get another slayer there.” She sighed and then added. “You really need to try and make it work though, it’s not like you have any other options and its not as if you’re qualified to join the ranks of the working.”
I rolled my eyes, refusing to bite off into an argument. I remained silent, waiting.
“I’ll call you when I come up with something else.” Kennedy stated before severing the connection.
I looked at the phone, sighed and slowly put the receiver down.
I looked around the house, pulled in a deep breath and walked to where I saw Faith go earlier.
I walked into the kitchen area where Faith was sitting at a counter, quietly drinking a cup of coffee. I eased over and sat on a barstool across for her, not really looking at her, just kind of keeping my head down as if I were admiring the counter top.
“I paid for my crimes Buffy.” She stated.
“What?” I looked up at her.
She sat her coffee cup down on the counter and pulled in a deep breath. “I paid for my crimes, by human standards.” She looked me dead in the eye, continuing. “That’s more than you or any of your group did.” She pulled in a deep breath, adding. “Whatever any one of you did, you either ignored it or justified it but you never, ever paid for your crimes.” She stood up from the counter, looking at me. “I did. I paid in full for every little thing.” She moved closer to me, making me feel small and dirty. “This is my home and you will not come in here and look down on me and you will not make my child feel uncomfortable and you damn sure won’t be getting to look down on me, or make me feel like I’m still some trashy little nothing that’s below you.” She stepped towards the doorway and looked back at me. “Not here, not now, not ever again.” She looked at me pointedly, stating. “You can’t make me feel guilty anymore.”
I stared up at her, listening, watching and waiting, not knowing what to say, so I just kept my mouth shut and watched her back as she left me in the room alone. I turned and saw the little girl staring up at me. I looked at her and half smiled and watched and she scrunched up her little face and turned away from me, leaving the room just like her mother did.
I slowly got up from the counter and carried Faith’s cup to the sink, rinsing it and setting it to the side. I walked into the living room and stood there, looking around. I finally heard them outside and I walked to the window and peered out, watching as they ran and played together, laughing and squealing in delight.
I mustered up a bit of dignity, walked outside and sat on the steps.
“You want me to take you to town?” Faith asked.
I looked up at her, half smiled and nodded no. She looked at me as if sizing me up before she finally nodded. “Well let’s get your bags inside them and get you squared away.” She moved towards the bags, looking back over her shoulder at me. “Then we can bitch about Kennedy and devise a plan to get her back.” She smiled, almost laughing, adding. “Although with that brood of hers…. I’m thinking she’s getting paid in spades already. I smiled and relaxed, nodding, agreeing with her.
Faith picked up several bags and I filled my arms with the rest and we walked back to the house, each of us stopping abruptly when we saw a pair of panties flung in the bushes next to the porch.
I heard Faith sigh and then I heard a little girl, coming toward us. I turned and watched a little pair of pink cheeks ran by, showing off her other pair of pink cheeks, as she continued on by us and around the house.
“Amanda!” Faith yelled, dropping my bags and giving chase to the little girl. I sighed, shook my head and wondered just what I was doing here. I dropped my bags, sat on the steps and watched as Faith marched an angry little girl up and into the house. I tried not to laugh as the child was made to fetch the offending drawers and did laugh as she gave me a scowl of a look, her little lips poking out.
She stomped back into the house, her all cheeks rosey and bouncy and slammed the door in my face.
It got quiet all the sudden and then there was that high pitched squeal again and I knew that her mama had popped her little butt cheek but good. I eyed the door warily, watching as it slowly opened for me. I looked at the child, stating. “Thank you.”
I watched as she turned and showed me her backside, now ever rosier and pranced off to somewhere in the house.
I sighed, picked up a few bags and walked into the house, wondering just what I had gotten myself into now. I sat my bags inside the door, closed it and went to sit in the living room to wait for Faith. I threw myself into a chair and pushed back against it, getting comfortable.
I sat there, trying to figure out what was wrong, what an odor was and why I was feeling so uncomfortable. I got up and looked at the chair, realizing that I’d sat down on those peed in panties. I pinched the offending item and picked them up, looking at them disgustedly.
“Haven’t I been pissed on enough lately?” I asked myself.
“Something you’re trying to share?” Faith asked from the doorway.
I turned and looked at her, watching as she hoisted up a couple of bags and ascended the stairs. I grabbed the rest of my bags and followed her up and into a small room that was definitely painted for a baby.
“I know.” She stated looking at the room, adding. “But it’ll do for now.”
I looked around, noting how the paint looked fresh, even smelled fresh. “No, it’s fine, it looks new.” I added, hesitantly running my hand over it.
“It is.” She stated.
I looked at her again, this time really taking in her appearance and that’s when I saw the small bump forming. “You’re pregnant?” I asked.
She sighed. “Yeah, got one running round, another in the oven and my old man says, see ya, wouldn’t want to be ya.” She half laughs: Her face showing uncertainty. “Men.” She stated.
I watched silently as she exited the room. I sat down on the bed wondering just what the hell I was going to do. She was right earlier when she gave me what for, so that and everything else all mixed together was giving me a hell of a headache.
So what was I going to do?
That’s easy. I’m gonna stay until something better comes along or until Kennedy gets another slayer to help out here. I wasn’t just gonna bail and let some demon have them for lunch and its obvious now, Faith’s not in fighting form.
When Ken got things settled, I’d go home.
It’s just a matter of time.