Hana laughed and spun in glee, twirling the scythe up above her head as she began to sing gaily, “♫Lollipop, lollipop, oh lolly, lolly, lolly. Lollipop, lollipop oh, lolly, lolly, lolly, lollipop … (pop) …”
|Story Title:||Spirit Indestructible||
Season 5. Begins with ‘Spiral’ in the abandoned gas station, and goes far off-canon almost immediately.
When Dawn makes the ultimate sacrifice to save her sister, friends, and the world, Buffy’s mind snaps. When Buffy's friends give up hope of her ever recovering, and become afraid that she’ll turn violent and uncontrollable, they call in the Council to help. Fearing what the Council will do, Spike, forgotten and ignored by her friends, steps in. Will he be able to reach the Slayer when no one else could? Will he be able to keep her out of the hands of the Council and away from her ‘helpful’ friends? How much heartbreak, guilt, and failure can one girl stand before her indestructible spirit finally resigns the fight and gives up hope?
44. Keep Me in Your Heart
Keep Me In Your Heart, Warren Zevon http://youtu.be/RMTKb-pgxGI
The Chordettes: Lollipop http://youtu.be/9-DuC0tE7V4
Nelly Furtado - Spirit Indestructible http://youtu.be/ej3SmDScjjY
Some Screencaps courtesy of Broken Innocence (others from ScreenCap Paradise which is, sadly, no more). http://broken-innocence.net/index2.html and also from BuffyWorld.com
Thanks to YOU for reading and especially to those of you who take the time to email me feedback! Love hearing from everyone! Thanks also to Paganbaby for taking time out of her hectic life to beta this for me! Her suggestions ROCK! All mistakes are mine because I can't stop fiddling right up to the last moment.
|Rating / Warnings:||
Content is only suitable for mature adults. Contains explicit language, sex, adult themes, and other adult situations that some people may find objectionable. If you are under the age of 17 or find any of these themes objectionable – GO AWAY.
Buffy followed the cab right into the long-abandoned parking lot of the old beer bottling plant, practically pushing his car with the bumper of hers the whole way from Smiley’s Reststop. Not that he was driving slowly, she’d told him it was urgent and he’d been shattering speed limits the whole way, but it still wasn’t fast enough for the Slayer.
Buffy’s car came to a screeching halt, completely disregarding the faded lines in the parking lot, a few feet away from the perfectly centered DeSoto. She jumped out of the car before it even had time to stop rocking from the abrupt stop and made a beeline for the over-sized metal door that had a faded ‘Enter’ sign painted on it.
She tossed the waitress’ cabbie-boyfriend sixty dollars as she ran by, sure that would cover the fare and a good tip, but didn’t stop or even slow down.
She sprinted to the heavy door and tugged it open easily as she rushed in. Just inside the threshold, however, she came to an abrupt halt when she was met with utter darkness. Except for the swath of light coming in from the door and some dots of light shining in through rust and bullet holes in the metal side of the building, the first floor was pitch-black.
She really needed to start packing a flashlight if she was going back into the Slayer business. She let the door fall closed behind her as silently as she could and tried to get her eyes adjusted to the dim light. Being cast into the pitch-black of the warehouse immediately heightened her other senses as they worked to take up the slack. She could easily hear people moving around on the floor above, she heard muffled voices, and then she heard her own blood-curdling scream. Her heart leapt in her chest and thudded against her ribs even harder as she desperately tried to determine where the stairs were. She had to get up there, get to Joan, to Spike.
Hearing agony in her own voice sent chills down her spine, which only added to the prickles all the vampires in the building were producing on her Slayer nerves, but she endeavored to push her panic and fear aside and think. Buffy closed her eyes, completely giving up on trying to see anything, and began turning her head slowly to the left and right and listening carefully, concentrating on triangulating just where the sounds coming from upstairs were the loudest. If she could determine where they were coming from, that should be where the stairwell was.
As she listened, she began to move, pulling a stake out of her waistband as she walked. She stepped lightly, carefully, not sure what was in her path, whether there were holes in the floor of the old building, or even booby-traps laying in wait for her. She kept her eyes closed, using her Slayer senses and her hearing as her guides. After a few steps, she bumped into some wooden crates. Feeling around with her hands, she found the edge of the stack and continued around them, toward the place her ears and vampire-tinglies said the stairs should be.
She’d no sooner gotten around the large pile of crates than her foot kicked something soft and squishy. The raspy moan that accompanied her boot coming into contact with the obstacle froze her in her tracks. Her breath hitched in her throat and she automatically raised the stake, poised to strike as he eyes flashed open automatically.
A single, stuttering, barely-audible word brought Buffy to her knees.
“Spike!” Buffy exclaimed, as she hit her knees next to him and began feeling around in the dark. There was a faint light filtering down through the stairway from the second floor, but not enough for her to make out a lot of detail.
Spike gasped and tried to scream when she touched his ribs, raking her hands over the bloody, protruding bones, but he just didn’t have any scream left in him.
Buffy couldn’t tell what she was feeling, it was rough and wet, but she knew that smell: blood. There was no doubt about that. “Spike, God! What …?” she began, but he cut her off.
“Run,” Spike groaned out, his voice barely a whisper. “Go … r-r-run,” he gasped, trying to push her away, but he was too weak to even raise his arms.
“No! Not without you and Joan!” Buffy protested, her voice low but adamant. “Stay here, I’ll be back,” she continued as she began to stand back up, her eyes going to the rickety staircase.
“Noooo…” Spike tried to scream, but it came out as a rasping plea. “Too late … she’s … gone,” he gasped out painfully, trying to reach his broken hand out to catch her.
“What … what do you mean?” Buffy choked back, falling back to her knees beside him and gently taking his broken and bloody hand in both of hers.
“Saw it … she’s … dead … gone … sorry ... couldn't ... help ...” Spike told his wife, trying to ignore the pain she was inflicting on his shattered digits. He had to stop her from going up there and it wasn’t a lie, exactly. What he’d seen before when their eyes met was not Joan, not even BuffyBot. Whatever had happened had killed a part of her, it had killed her heart. He could see it. He could feel it. He knew it.
Buffy blinked back tears and tried to swallow the lump in her throat. “Are you … s-sure?”
Spike grunted his assurance.
Buffy’s chest heaved and she fought back the nausea that threatened to rise in her throat and the cloak of blood-stained guilt that began to descend on her mind.
Slayer, be the Slayer, be the Slayer, she chanted to herself, trying to calm the panic and press her heartbreak and guilt to the back of her mind
“R-run…” Spike finally managed to choke out again when Buffy didn’t move. "P-please ... baby ... go..."
“No, I’m gonna kill those fucking bastards,” Buffy growled, laying Spike’s hand down gently on what she thought was his stomach.
“Noooo…” he protested again. “The bits … need … you. G-g-go. Bot … will … explode … soon.”
Buffy looked up at the faint light shining down from above; it barely cut the inky-darkness of the first floor enough for her to see the stairs. Her heart clenched in her chest as her emotions tangled and twisted in her gut. She’d nearly forgotten about that … about the fail-safe. She wanted nothing more than to go up there and kill the bastards, every last one of them…
As if reading her mind, Spike said, “Joan … the Vampire Slayer … will … do it.”
Buffy nodded reluctantly, steeling herself, pushing her emotions down, locking them away for now. She looked around in the darkness, her eyes more accustomed to it now, trying to figure out how to get Spike out of there. No fucking way was she losing him too. She had no idea how much time they had before things went to hell, or further to hell.
“Don’t move. I’ll be right back,” she instructed Spike sternly, as if he could get up and waltz away.
Buffy jumped up and ran back the way she’d come, remembering the crates in her path and side-stepping them. She burst out the door and into the hot, Texas sun, heading for the DeSoto and hoping Joan had left the key under the mat.
She’d only gotten about halfway down the walk to the parking lot when glass began raining down on her head from the second story of the building.
Buffy ducked instinctively, her hands and arms going up to shield her head and face as she kept her back to the projectiles. She kept moving through the shower of glass, though a bit slower than before, still heading toward Spike’s old car with the blacked-out windows. When Joan’s arm bounced on the overgrown walkway in front of her, Buffy came to an abrupt halt.
“Holy shit!” rolled from her lips as she automatically turned and looked up, perhaps expecting the rest of Joan to come hurtling through the gaping hole in the dirty glass or expecting the whole building to explode. Her heart raced in her chest as she waited … one second, two seconds, three … but nothing else happened.
Buffy picked up Joan’s arm, her brain finding it simply wrong to leave it there. Her feet crunched heavily on the glass that covered the walkway as she took off again, hurtling herself frantically toward the car.
She nearly pulled the door off its hinges as she flung it open. She tossed the arm into the passenger seat and began groping around on the floorboard for the keys. Her fingertips touched them, then closed on them, grabbing them up as she slid behind the wheel. Her heart raced as she slammed the door closed again and jabbed the key into the ignition, flooring the accelerator at the same time. The old behemoth roared to life with a deep, throaty rumble.
She shifted the car into ‘Drive’, aimed for a spot on the wall of the building to the right of the door, and floored it. The heavy, powerful car lurched and leapt forward like a wild bull breaking free of a bucking chute at a rodeo. It jumped over the curb as it picked up speed, hurtling toward the metal wall of the building where Buffy calculated there was no support post. Buffy tensed, her fingers tight on the steering-wheel, still pressing hard on the accelerator, as the car approached the wall. Her eyes closed automatically when the DeSoto and the building met with a screeching yowl of twisting metal.
She was jounced around as the car hit and its forward motion suddenly slowed dramatically. The car crashed through crates, both empty and full, smashing glass and wood alike as it roared into the building. Her head bounced off the ceiling before she was tossed forward against the steering wheel, then flung backwards against the seat as the car finally came to a stop deep inside the warehouse.
Buffy moaned, holding her ribs, as her head spun from the blow she’d taken, but she reached for the door handle all the same, pressing herself on. The door wouldn’t open when she pulled the handle and pushed against it with her shoulder. She pushed harder, still nothing. Then she realized it was wedged against a support post. Buffy slid over and opened the passenger’s door, her ribs aching, whether bruised or broken, she wasn’t sure. Joan’s arm was on the floorboard now and Buffy carefully stepped over it as she clambered painfully out onto the debris-strewn floor, still holding her ribs.
Light flooded the warehouse now and she got her first good look at Spike. Bile launched itself from her stomach in a torrent; she had no way to stop it. She could only turn away and bend over, letting some of her horror flow out of her with the tide of acidic bile.
Buffy had only begun to recover from the attack of nausea when she heard footsteps on the stairs. She looked up to see a girl of about eight, carrying the Guardian’s scythe in both hands, descending from the second floor. The girl … or obviously not a girl, but a demon of some kind, was coming down the stairs backwards … or most of her was backwards. Just her head was facing forward, turned the wrong way ‘round; despite that, she was moving perfectly well and humming a tune Buffy didn’t know. Behind the girl was Spike’s skank-ho-ex, Dru, dressed, as usual, in her red and black lace and velvet.
At the same time Buffy saw them, they saw her. She was kinda hard to miss with the giant hole she’d made in the wall.
For a moment everything and everyone stopped moving, the only sound in the building was the soft humming of the demon-child.
Buffy estimated she was about twenty feet away from Spike and the pair of demons about ten feet above him. Buffy’s eyes darted from them to Spike, who was still lying in a crumpled heap of blood and bone at the bottom of the old, wooden staircase, and back again. It seemed Dru and Buffy were both thinking the same thing: how to get to Spike before the other. The girl seemed oblivious to the tactics and possibilities that were running through the heads of the two older women as she bobbed her twisted, deformed head from side to side in time with the tune she was humming.
Without further warning, both Buffy and Dru scrambled for Spike. Dru knocked the girl out of her path, sending her tumbling over the rickety stair railing while Buffy dove over the half-broken crates that littered the space between her and her husband.
The two women reached Spike at about the same time. As Dru reached down to grab hold of Spike’s neck, Buffy cocked her arm back and punched the vamp in the face with all her strength, screaming out as she did so, both from the pain that stabbed out from her injured ribs and in fury. Dru fell back onto the stairs with a heavy thud and a growl of pain. There was a cracking, crunching sound as well, but whether it was bone or wood, Buffy couldn’t tell.
The Slayer followed the downed vamp up the stairs, putting herself between the crazy bitch and Spike, fury flashing in her green eyes. In the next moment, Buffy lifted her leg and crashed her booted-foot down on the vamp’s knee, bending it backwards with a crunching sound that was most definitely not wood, but shattering bone and tearing cartilage.
Dru screamed and whimpered and began crawling desperately back up the stairs to get away from the crazed Slayer. Buffy started stalking after her, hands clenched into tight fists, her rage overflowing.
“B-buf-fy…” came Spike’s rasping call from behind her, stopping her.
Buffy turned to see the backwards-girl standing over Spike. The disturbing child was positioned with her face looking away from Spike, the rest of her body toward him. She had the scythe raised up above her head like a woodsman ready to split a log as she tried to turn her head and look over her shoulder to aim the weapon.
“♫Here comes a candle to light you to bed, and here comes a chopper to chop off your head!” the girl sing-songed as the red axe began to fall toward Spike’s neck.
“NOOOO!” Buffy screamed, launching herself off the stairs at the deranged girl.
Buffy hit Hana in the chest like a linebacker taking down a quarterback, knocking her back into a stack of broken crates and bottles. The scythe flew out of the girl’s hands and flew up into the air, tumbling end-over-end above them.
Hana squealed when she landed with Buffy atop her, driving her down onto the broken glass and wood that covered the floor. Buffy wasn’t much better, letting out a scream of pain as her injured ribs protested the sudden jolt, but at least her landing was cushioned slightly by the girl’s body.
The scythe clattered to the ground next to the two and they both reached for it at the same time, but Buffy, being on top, had the leverage, and she snatched it up before Hana could get a good grip on it. The Slayer felt a surge of mystical power flow through her as she gripped the magical weapon tightly with both hands. She was suddenly filled with certainty, belief, and the confidence of an eon of Slayers before her. It was like nothing she’d ever felt before. It took her completely off-guard as her whole body thrummed with it, and she hesitated for the slightest of moments.
In that moment several things happened:
First, Hana began to sing, “♫London Bridge is falling down, falling down, falling down. London Bridge is falling down, my fair lady!”
Second: A high-pitched buzzing sound, like the warning that comes across the TV late at night for a ‘test of the emergency broadcast system’, began to sound from upstairs.
Third: Spike called to her, his voice low but frantic, telling her again to 'run', as he began trying to push himself away from the stairs and towards the car.
Upstairs, Joan watched in horror as Hana and Dru followed Spike’s trail of blood toward the stairs. Angelus was still writhing on the floor in pain, the hole she’d blown in his stomach and chest bleeding profusely. Though pleased that he was suffering, it wasn’t nearly enough. She’d wanted desperately to dust the prat, but that was literally beyond her reach now as Dru had managed to rip off both her arms.
She had to stop Dru and Hana, but she only had one weapon left, and it would bring the entire building down, with Spike in it. Joan tried desperately to think of something to do, something to buy more time for Spike to find an escape. Her drives whirred and searched for some way to keep Dru and Hana from following him.
“I know where the small humans are!” Joan announced as loudly as she could, drawing the attention of the three demons in the room. “I can take you there. I can retrieve them for you. Buffy will not come for Spike; she will come for them.”
Dru and Hana both stopped and turned back toward the downed android. “You have my sweet, juicy gumdrops?” Dru purred, slinking back across the floor toward the Bot.
“And ice cream?” Hana wondered, trailing behind Dru, the scythe still in her hands. “I do love sticky, warm gumdrops with smooth, cold ice cream. Vanilla! It’ll a proper gala with red and white swirls … gumdrops and ice cream! And streamers! We must have streamers and lollipops at the circus! Miss Dru promised!”
“I … can take you where they are,” Joan offered again. “I can obtain them without incident.”
“And ice cream?!?” Hana prodded, coming up to stand near Dru as the two looked down at the crumpled form of the Bot. “And streamers? And lollies?”
The Bot furrowed her brow a moment, then nodded, the back of her head banging against the floor as she did so.
Hana laughed and spun in glee, twirling the scythe up above her head as she began to sing gaily, “♫Lollipop, lollipop, oh lolly, lolly, lolly. Lollipop, lollipop oh, lolly, lolly, lolly, lollipop … (pop) …”
On the ‘pop’, she stabbed the stake end of the scythe down through Joan’s left foot, giggling all the while.
Sparks jumped from the injury, but Joan’s pain sensors had long ago shut down. She was aware of the additional damage to her systems, but did not scream out or react to it, which didn’t please Hana one bit.
Hana stopped singing and frowned down at the Bot. “I said ‘pop!’” she snarled, jabbing the stake into the instep of Joan’s other foot. When Joan still didn’t scream or cry out, the deranged child with the backwards head became incensed, screaming, “Pop! Pop! Pop!” over and over again as she stabbed the sharp stake of the scythe down into the Bot’s prone body, beginning with her feet and working her way up her legs.
Joan’s wires crackled and her flesh sparked and burned as each blow was administered, draining more and more of her power. She was dangerously close to a complete memory wipe; she had to implement her final weapon before that happened. Her processors spun and whirred as she tried to calculate if Spike had had time to find an escape as Hana continued screaming, “POP!” at the top of her lungs like a petulant child and impaling Joan with the supernaturally-sharp stake.
In the next moment, an ear-splitting crash shook the entire building. When the sound of screeching metal and falling debris faded, Joan recognized the low rumble of the DeSoto coming from downstairs. She felt a wave of relief wash over her. Spike would be safe now. Her mission was nearly complete. Her Calling nearly fulfilled.
As Dru and Hana both looked back toward the stairway, their attention drawn by the crash, Joan diverted all her remaining power into initializing the countdown for her self-destruction … and the destruction of everything within a hundred-foot radius.
“GET SPIKE, YOU CRAZY-ASS BITCHES!” Angelus screamed at them as he tried to push himself up to his feet, but failing. He fell back to the floor, gasping in pain, still clutching the gunshot wound in is chest and stomach.
Hana giggled and began dancing and singing again, “♫Lollipop, lollipop, oh lolly, lolly, lolly…” as she made her way slowly back toward the stairs. Her song morphed into gleeful humming as she twirled gracefully across the floor, swinging the scythe above her backwards-head, images of gumdrops and ice cream, and lollies, dancing in her mind.
Dru gave Angelus a child-like pout before following along behind the girl sullenly. “That’s quite improper, such language around the child!” she chastised him as she passed.
“She’s not a child! She’s older than you and me put together, you crazy bi…”
Dru narrowed her eyes and clicked her tongue at him as she slid her left forefinger over her right in a ‘shame on you’ gesture. “Bad Daddy!”
Angelus sighed and closed his eyes as he leaned back against the wall. “Just get Spike …” he moaned in exasperation.
“Say: ‘Pretty-please’,” Dru taunted, her voice silky.
“If you don’t go get Spike right this minute, I’ll flog you ‘til you can’t walk!” Angelus threatened through gritted teeth, his eyes flashing amber as he looked back up at his childe.
“Oooo … do you promise?” Dru cooed as her body swayed, her hands gliding up over her hips, across her stomach, and over her breasts.
“Druuuuu…” Angelus threatened.
Drusilla giggled and spun on the balls of her feet, swirling her heavy, velvet skirt out, before lighting out after Hana.
Joan watched the two women begin to descend the stairs. It was the last thing she saw, heard, or felt before all power was diverted to her final, last-resort weapon. She held an image from her dreams in her mind’s eye as long as she could: a family portrait of her, India, Buffy, Spike, and the twins.
Her family. Happy. Healthy. Whole. Her family that would never be. A family she knew she would never see again, for she had no soul to cross over to the other side. She clung to the image with her heart. Joan, the Vampire Slayer held to that image until the darkness ripped it from her grasp, shredding it and turning it into a thousand shards of righteous vengeance.
In the next moment the warning buzzer began to count down the last seconds before the annihilation of the demons that had stolen her family from her. She would not go alone into that good night. She would fulfill her destiny. And she would take these bastards with her.
Downstairs, Buffy looked around frantically, her brain trying to register everything that was happening and what it all meant as the obnoxious buzzing and Hana’s singing continued, “♫ Iron and steel will bend and bow, bend and bow, bend and bow. Iron and steel will bend and bow, my fair lady.”
Buffy jumped up off the lunatic child and ran over to Spike, the scythe still in her hands. She frantically tried to get under him to pick him up and hold the scythe too, but it was impossible. As the volume and tenor of the warning siren above them rose to a deafening pitch, Buffy dropped the scythe and scooped Spike up into her arms.
Her husband gasped, his body convulsing in pain as his ribbones shifted in his chest. The broken bones scraped against each other, their jagged, splintered ends catching and twisting and stabbing him. Spike found the scream he'd thought had been lost, but it lasted only a moment before he simply passed out in the Slayer's embrace. She hurried to the DeSoto, frantically trying to open the back door while still holding Spike’s broken and bloody body in her arms like a child, but with no luck. Buffy finally lifted one knee to support his hips, and used her free hand to yank the door open. The siren above her was blaring in her ears painfully now as she slid Spike into the backseat as gently, but quickly as she could.
Buffy slammed the door closed and turned to run back for the scythe when she heard and felt it: an ear-splitting, ground-rattling explosion from above. Buffy snatched the front passenger door open and dove into the car, scrambling wildly to get behind the wheel. She heard the sound of shattering glass and screaming metal as she got the car started. The Slayer slammed the selector into reverse, floored the accelerator, and the old car jerked back to life, scraping painfully against the metal post it had been wedged against on the driver’s side as it began to retrace its path out of the building.
The passenger door, which had not been closed when Buffy scrambled in, banged against the wall on the way out of the building and folded back against the front wheel and quarter-panel with a sickening crunch and squeal of ripping hinges and bending steel. Buffy cursed as the car bounced out of the building and back over the curb as it made its way into the almost-deserted parking lot.
She and Spike were tossed around inside the automobile-turned-ballistic-missile until it came to a screeching, lurching halt when it plowed into the only other car within five miles: Buffy’s car.
Buffy’s head ricocheted back against the headrest, then forward, banging against the steering wheel when the DeSoto jerked to a stop. Stars danced in front of her eyes as she squinted against the bright Texas sun that shone in through the small opening in the blackout and watched the huge warehouse fold in on itself.
The sound was louder than anything she’d ever heard before and she instinctively covered her ears and momentarily closed her eyes. She ducked down in the seat when things began raining down on the car, things like bricks and bottles and wooden crates and pieces of steel beams and sheets of metal siding.
When the deluge stopped, after what seemed an eternity, she raised her head back up and ventured another look through the small opening in the blacked-out window at the warehouse. Dust and debris billowed up a hundred feet in the air from the mangled, smashed building. Huge metal support beams were twisted like pretzels, and the metal siding had been blown out in all directions, like a giant had stomped a huge foot down on the place and simply flattened it.
Buffy’s eyes drifted down to Joan’s arm in the floorboard next to her, now dangling half out of the open door. She reached down and pulled it back in, laying it down tenderly on the seat next to her. Tears gathered in her eyes and her chest tightened, threatening to strangle her with guilt.
Buffy turned her shimmering eyes and looked over the backseat at her husband. He’d been bounced down onto the floorboard during the wild ride out of the building, and was wedged between the seats. But, even the little she could see of him told a horrific story of the time he’d spent in the hands of Angelus, Dru, Faith, and that creepy girl with the backwards head. Thankfully, he’d remained unconscious through the whole roller-coaster ride out of the building.
Buffy’s tears rolled down her cheeks as she thought of all they’d lost. All because of her. Joan was gone. India was gone. Spike was … oh, God … Spike! What had he endured over the last days? Would he ever be the same? Even if he could recover from this, and she wasn’t 100% sure he could, would he be the same man afterwards?
If she’d only had the guts to stake Angelus all those years ago … she’d had chances, why didn’t she do it? Buffy leaned her now-bleeding forehead against the steering wheel and began to sob as that old shroud of blood-stained guilt began to close in on her. She was the Slayer. It should be her making the sacrifices, not everyone around her! First Dawn, then Joan, and even Spike had all sacrificed in her place.
Lost in her self-recriminations and guilt, Buffy jumped when something inside the car ‘dinged.’ She jerked her tear-streaked face up and looked around frantically for the source of the sound. She found it quickly in the glove box: Joan’s cell phone.
She pulled it out and looked at it. A reminder flashed on the screen, telling her she was late picking up the twins from their play-date. A sob wracked Buffy’s shoulders as she hugged the phone to her chest, dropping her head down as her tears ran in rivers down her face.
How was she supposed to do this? How was she supposed to just … carry on? How did life continue for her when it didn’t for Joan and India? How did she get up every morning and eat and drink and play with her children and try to smile when they never would again? How many people can one person lose before it’s just too many? How did people do this?
“One foot in front of the other, one minute at a time,” came a soft voice from the seat next to her.
Buffy’s head jerked up and her shimmering eyes were met with the ghostly image of her mother. “Mommy?”
“It’s okay, Buffy. Your babies need you now … Spike needs you now. You can do it. You’re stronger than you know, sweetie. And Joan will always be with you ... in your heart, just like me.”
Buffy shook her head and looked back down at the phone in her hands. A picture of Joan with the twins looked back at her, Joan’s wide, bright smile mimicked by the two little ones. Her heart twisted, a dagger stabbing into her soul and wrenching every drop of hope and joy from it. She should’ve never brought them into this horrible, cruel world. It was too much … it was all just too much.
“You can do it, just take the first step,” her mother advised again, but when Buffy looked back up, there was no one there.
“You’re losing your mind…” Buffy murmured to herself before snorting out a derisive laugh. “Lost … lost your mind.”
Buffy wiped at her tears and the blood that was running into her eye from the cut on her forehead with her fingers, then took a deep breath. “First step…” she repeated quietly as she tried to bring her emotions under control and rein in her jangled emotions. “What’s the first step?”
Her mind whirled, thoughts coming at her from every direction as she tried desperately to figure out what the first step was and how to take it. After several moments, the reminder beeped at her again, ‘Pick up twins.’
Buffy took another deep breath, let it out slowly, and nodded. Leave it to Joan to be organized and efficient, and show her the way, even now. She got out of the DeSoto and went back to her car. She retrieved the baby seats, along with her purse and brought them back to Spike’s car. Buffy moved methodically, as if every motion, every step was a struggle.
She started to put the baby seats in the backseat, but realized if she opened the back doors out here in the blazing sun, Spike would be burned, so she put them in the trunk, instead. Next, she tossed her purse into the passenger’s seat next to Joan’s arm, then took the mangled passenger-side door and tugged it away from the front wheel. The hinges protested loudly, screaming their reluctance to move further as she pressed it back into its normal place. It wouldn’t actually latch properly, but Buffy shoved it hard into the opening, as if trying to fit a bit of a jigsaw puzzle into a spot that was the correct shape, but not quite large enough. After kicking it with the bottom of her boot a few times, she was satisfied that it would not come open on its own.
She looked around one more time at the decimated building and tears welled in her eyes and begin flowing once again.
“I’ll be back for you, Joan … I promise. I won’t leave you here,” she vowed before she slid in behind the wheel and started the car again.
“One minute at a time … one thing at a time …” she murmured to herself as she put the car in drive and headed out of the parking lot. As she turned onto the empty country road that ran alongside the building, she saw a disturbingly familiar form walking along the shoulder: a small girl with a backwards head.
Buffy’s eyes narrowed in fury and disbelief. She floored the accelerator and turned the wheel, shifting the car off the road and onto the grassy margin alongside it. The girl turned around at the sound of the racing, rumbling engine, but had no chance to escape. The black behemoth crashed into Hana at nearly sixty miles an hour, creating a sickening thud of breaking bones and crushing flesh. Buffy slammed on the brake as soon as the car leveled off after jouncing over the small demon’s body. She shifted the car into reverse and backed-up, flooring the accelerator again. The tires bounced over Hana yet again, driving her down into the dirt and grass of the right-of-way.
Buffy stopped the car, her heart thudding with rage and disbelief. She waited and watched, but the demon-child never rose from her face-down position in the dirt. After some minutes, Buffy put the car back in drive and rolled over the corpse one more time for good measure before pulling back onto B Line Road and heading back to town.
After a few miles and a chance to slow her racing heart, the Slayer picked Joan’s phone up and dialed Mrs. Michael’s number. “Hi, Ellen, it’s Buffy. I’m sooo sorry! I’m on my way … no … yes, I know I’m super-late. I know … yes … I’m sorry. Everything’s … ummm … yeah, everything’s … ummm … okay. I’ll be there soon…”
Keep Me In Your Heart - Warren Zevon
Shadows are falling and I'm running out of breath
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