DISCLAIMER: Buffy the Vampire Slayer and all the slayerettes belong to Joss Whedon and Mutant Enemy. No infringement intended.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: To those that helped and molded thank you. The Tori Amos song Hey Jupiter inspired both the flavor and title of the piece. The author wishes to extend a heartfelt thank you and a bow.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
Everyone stands on the corner of the street, looking everywhere else, looking at everyone else, except me. No one wants to look at me. It's like I don't even exist.
Spike's been carrying on about how he can't get the taste of slayer out of his mouth. And Buffy looks
She looks betrayed.
I watch, unsure of what to say as I shuffle my feet.
What should I say?
For some reason 'Sorry I nearly got you all killed because I'm depressed' just doesn't cut the mustard.
And who would want to cut mustard anyway? Why would you want to?
That doesn't seem like that'd be all that hard. I don't get it. But I guess I'm not supposed to. It's just a stupid expression.
The point is, I deserve to be flogged. Beaten even. I deserve horrible, terrible-type punishments.
I deserve the pebble that's stuck in my shoe.
I don't even know where I picked it up. It's just another thing. Another ouchy thing to add to an already awful list. It's been digging into my foot since before we got here. I tried to ignore it. I had to. It's not like they were gonna wait on me.
I can't believe I did that!
Not the pebble part. That I can believe. It's just my luck.
Buffy's been swiping at her mouth. She's also been spitting, which isn't something I've seen her do. At least, not much.
'Kay, there have been the one or two uh, yeah, more like a dozen one or two dozen occasions when she's inhaled vamp dust. But that's just work hazard stuff. It wasn't 'cause she'd been sucking face with a mortal enemy. And it certainly had nothing to do with me being jealous.
Wait jealous? Really? Me?
My shoulders slump even more. If I'm not careful, they're gonna end up sagging all the way to the ground. I look up and I see Anya and Xander making their way down the street. Spike's headed in the opposite direction, the gray blue smoke of his cigarette catching in the lamp light. I still hear him grumbling even as he gets farther away. Funny, he was so important a few hours ago.
Now everyone's too busy being disappointed in me to care.
Well, everyone except Spike.
I pull my jacket tighter around me and look at Buffy, waiting for her to make a decision, say something or do anything but look like she's looking at me now. I press my lips together. She turns from me and walks towards campus. Silently, I follow.
A tear slides down my cheek. I swipe at it. This needs to stop.
Stuffing my hands in my pockets, I shuffle behind her like a child in trouble with their mom. We pass the drug store and I stop.
"Buffy," I call out to her. She stops and looks back. Still angry. Still hurt. I can't help but wonder if you can physically shrink from feeling like a horse's patootie. I sure feel smaller than usual.
I nod in the direction of the drug store and she shrugs. "I'm gonna "
Looking me over, she asks, "Do you ?" I shake my head and she tosses a stake at me. I don't know where she pulled it from, but it sails at me. Gracelessly, I fumble for it and manage a sorta-catch. It's pinned between my left shoulder and my right hand. Go me!
She turns away as I hide the stake in the inside pocket of my jacket. Without a word, she moves away from me.
No "good bye", "be safe", or "see you at home".
There's always a mommish cluck for safety when she leaves us alone at night.
Using the corner of my sleeve, I rub at my eye, catching the tears. I watch as she passes under the street light a few yards away. Her steps falter for a brief second then she stops.
She turns back and opens her mouth. The words die on her lips. She shakes her head. I hear a soft, "Whatever," as she turns, setting off again to disappear around the corner.
Turning towards the drug store, I adjust the stake to keep it from poking into my side. I'm not even sure why I bothered. This isn't exactly my thing. It's hers.
But my thing just made everyone I know miserable, including me.
Maybe I should learn.
I walk the short distance to the drug store and slump onto a bench near the entrance. My hands are all balled up in my pockets. I look up at the florescent light. There are these two moths beating against the yucky, yellowed plastic covering the bulbs.
Commiserating with them, I totally get the action. The only things I've managed to do over the last few weeks are cry. Well, sleep and attend the occasional class. But mostly just cry.
I hang my head, resting my chin on my chest. Probably not the smartest idea, hanging out at night in Sunnydale, but there's enough foot traffic that I haven't seen any vamps except Spike.
She was kissing
No. Let's be honest. She was macking on Spike! She was completely convinced she wanted to marry him.
And y'know, there are lines that just shouldn't be crossed. Or there should be. Kissing him is one thing. But wanting to marry him? That's just
Of all the stupid, boneheaded, nincompoopish, brain dead, numb skulled, moronic, lame brained
And they think I'm the smart one? Really?
She'll never forgive me. 'Cause you know, somewhere in that normalcy-craving, white-picket-fence-loving brain of hers, she has to see marriage as another
It's something I should have. And she'll never have.
What was I thinking?
Okay, so I didn't know the spell actually worked, but
Giles should take all my spell books.
And my chicken feet too!
Sighing, I shift on the bench. Whoever thought that benches like this were supposed to be comfortable needs
No, they don't. They need nothing. It's fine.
I'll be just fine and dandy. I need to stop moping before someone else gets hurt. Really hurt. Not that
Maybe if I beg Giles, he'll not glare too long.
A chorus of laughter cuts into my pity party. There are two people stumbling down the street. The stumbling's actually a good sign. They may be human. And that's good 'cause they're headed this way.
I take a moment to really look them over. They're pretty far away. I have to squint.
Yeah, they're human. That's okay. I can almost deal with human. Though, walking away is my usual kind of 'dealing.'
Well, when it's possible.
I didn't leave the gang much of a chance to walk away from anything. In fact, the only thing I'm really able to hold onto is that last thing. After D'Hoffryn let me go Xander and Anya fighting all those demons and Buffy with him. It's like my stupid brain's stuck in a sadistic loop.
My tummy rolls. The nausea's almost too much to bear.
The drunks get louder. I hope that doesn't mean closer. Or bunches closer.
Drunks are usually loud. It's part of their charm. Maybe they're still a block away and just really loud.
I can hope. One thing's sure I'm not gonna look. They might think I'm interested. And their interest is the last thing I need.
Figures, I drove away the one person I really do need.
Ever since that day. That ridiculously awful day, Buffy and I have been on tippy-toes around each other.
She was right. I don't know what I want. But I know she needed that. Or it sure seemed like she needed it.
I needed it. I wanted it.
If I'm honest, I've wanted that for so long
Okay, so definitely. But, darn it! She responded.
Then she goes 'no,' then I go and make her suck face with Spike.
Groaning, I bury my face in my hands and shake my head.
Does she honestly think I've stuck around this place because I love to fight monsters?
Okay, I was honest with her about this being the 'good fight' but she has to know it wasn't just about that. I can fight evil anywhere. What I couldn't do and what I can't and will never do is leave her.
I know what that means. I didn't, but last year some stuff clicked. And I just had to go and kiss her.
It was a nice, soft, warm inviting kiss. Perfect.
But my timing
I kiss her at the worst moment possible.
I snort. Or snuffle. Or snicker. Maybe it's all of the above. Anyway, it's harsh. I laugh at myself for being so foolish.
Oh goodie! Bluto and Flounder are nearly here. That or they're getting even louder. Someone needs to teach them some good drinking songs 'cause the fact that they're butchering Hey Jude is more than a little disturbing.
Not as disturbing as me.
Witness: The Great Willow 'I'm an idiot' Rosenberg screwing up not only a great relationship with her boyfriend, but alsojust for funher relationship with her best girlfriend who, by the way, she's secretly in love-slash-lust with.
How long did this super-duper stupendous feat take?
One fun-filled day! That's probably a record. I should get a medal.
Yep, fun, fun, fantastical fun
Pitching back on the bench, my head lightly smacks the stucco building and I wince.
I deserve it.
I look up and notice that my two 'friends' have finally made it to the store. I avoid eye contact, but the one wearing the backwards baseball cap's looking at me.
"Manuel," his words are slurry. I roll my eyes as the non-hat wearer'Manuel,' I guessleers in my direction. Hat guy is wearing jeans and a Hollister t-shirt, smacking Manuel on the stomach, he points at me. "Manuel, isn't that that girl you were telling me about?" Manuel's dressed similarly. I wonder if they passed out uniforms when they joined the frat.
Is there a dress code that they don't advertise? Oh, I wonder if they get group discounts at Jerks 'R' Us?
Blearily, Manuel looks at me and says, "Yeah, yeah it is." He leers some more and they both grin the same stupid grin.
I really don't need this.
I move to stand up and the boys stumble my way, forcing me back onto the bench.
Manuel plops down on my left side and his friend takes the right. They reek of stale beer.
Ugh! You guys... Hey, I've got an idea. Poor Amy's been awful lonely
Of course, if I had a clue what she did to herself, loneliness would be a non-issue. So, I guess you guys are safe.
That's the story of my life. 'Ineffectual girl,' that's me...
"Hi," he says with half-lidded eyes. "Katie, right? You're in my Sociology class." He waggles his eyebrows and blathers on, "Me and Aaron are at this party. Well " His face scrunches as he tries for a thought between the alcohol-drowned synapses. "We're going back. Need more beer. You wanna come with?"
I roll my eyes again. Stupid boys. Are all college guys this dumb?
Maybe it's boys in general?
I really think it's time for me to go. Maybe if I hurry and I'm really, really lucky, my stuff won't be in the hallway when I get home. I stand and look between the two sitting on the bench. "Goodnight."
"Hey. Hey!" Manuel calls out. "Where are you going?"
I ignore them as I step inside the brightly lit store. There's tons of badness there that I really just don't need.
But part of me wishes they'd follow.
See? Who needs alcohol to make bad life decisions? I manage just fine without the help.
I find myself fumbling again. This time it's with the doorknob as I juggle the bags in my hands. There's nothing in the hall. I guess that's a good sign.
I finally manage to get the door open, nearly falling inside. I catch myself, catching a glimpse of Buffy in the process. She's sitting on her bed. The window's cracked and an almost cold breeze ruffles the curtains. Her attention diverts from the glow of the TV screen to me.
I close the door with my foot and move to my bed. Setting my purchases down, I turn to her with a small, hopeful smile on my face. I know it's a long shot, but I try for chipper anyhow.
"So the stop, I picked up stuff." I fidget with my hands for a sec. Stalling. Killing time. May as well. "Stuff for you." When I punctuate by dumping one of the bags, Buffy eyes me curiously.
Forging ahead seems like the best option, so I say, "Uh I what with SpikeI thought maybe you could " I hold up the different types of gum first. Lots of gum. I went a bit overboard. Pretty much every kind of gum I've ever seen her buy. They didn't have Ice Breakers, but whatever.
"And there's this. I think maybe you might wanna start with the mouthwash." I smile brightly and hold up two different bottles of stuff. I didn't know which she liked best. I've seen her use both.
Not both at once, but there's a first time for everything.
I toss them on the bed and pick up the toothpaste, "New toothpaste, 'cause that always helps. And oh! Oh. I even got you two new toothbrushes and dental floss." I turn around and rummage in the bag to find the other stuff.
Her hand atop mine stops me. I turn my head and look at her. I didn't even hear her get up.
"Will," she smiles, almost brightly. "It's okay."
I slump and immediately start the self-castigation, "No, it most certainly isn't okay, Buffy." I right myself and pull my hand away. "You and Spike. And poor Xander " A thought strikes me and my eyes go wide. "Giles! There there was blindness!" I shift from foot to foot wrapping my hands around my waist. "Do we even want to get into how I almost killed my best friends?"
The tears come of their own volition. I don't even bother to wipe them away. "And to make things that much more wacky and special, I do such a good job of creating painof causing the people I love griefthat D'Hoffryn offers me a job! He thinks I'd be a 'credit to the vengeance fold'."
"Willow" Buffy tries to interrupt, but I stop her.
"No. Okay. I'm the bad here. The big evil and bad." I pick up steam. "All of you could have been killed while I sat here with a big ol' mope face and cried. You were with Spike!"
"Not really needing the reminder, Will," Buffy says.
"I know!" I spin to her and fume, "I could have lived for a very, very long time without that mental picture."
"Hey!" she says, holding up her hands. "It wasn't you making with the " She sneers and goes for the gum. "But the thing is, Will, I'm not sure you get how wrong that was." She shoves a piece in her mouth, chewing once before tucking it away and laying into me. "Not the wrongness of him and" she smacks her gum instead of saying the obvious "the wrongness of you and that spell."
My face falls and the tears pick right back up. It's the one thing I do well after all. She she
I see her through fuzzy, magnified, tear-filled eyes and her face scrunches. She runs her hands through her hair and cocks her hip. It's the 'I'm gonna let her have it' stance.
"Will, I didn't" She stops and her hand drops from her hip. "God! This is just too " She comes over and rests a hand on my shoulder.
I flinch under the touch and pull away.
"Don't," she says, but doesn't try again. "What I meant was that it wasn't right. You could have gotten a lot of people hurt."
"Don't you think I know that?" I shout.
She flinches and I swipe at my eyes.
"You think I don't know that people could have died while I was sitting here feeling sorry for myself?" I try for angry, but it comes out pathetic. I'm pathetic.
I watch my best friend, my hero deflate. Her shoulders slump and she collapses on the edge of the bed, resting her elbows on her knees. She leans forward and cradles her head in her hands.
What she says is muffled by her hands covering her face. I kneel down, trying to hear.
"What?" I say, gingerly taking her hands away from her face. When she looks back up at me, I see the tracks of old tears and new, fresh drops snake down her cheeks.
"I said" she swallows thickly "I know you do, but I can't handle this anymore."
What can't she handle anymore?
She must see my confusion, so she tries to clarify, "I can't handle this." She waves a hand between the two of us.
Bile rises in my throat.
My legs give out and I land on my butt. My hands fall limp in my lap. Looking at the carpet, I mumble, "I'm sorry."
Lame and overdone. I can't seem to find any other words.
See, this why the English language just stinks!
A proper lack of synonyms and emphatic declarations that don't come off all overused and dumb sounding.
I'm a mess. I know it. I've pushed her away.
My tummy does this yucky sinking thing. I feel numb, woozy, lightheaded
A voice, soft but tense, filters through the haze. It kinda sounds like I have my head buried under my pillow, but there's nothing covering my face. The other details slowly come into focus. I'm on the floor and my tush hurts. It's got this throbby, numb, no circulating thing going on. Sort of like my head.
Choosing to ignore the pain, I focus on the nice stuff. Buffy's caressing my cheek. Slowly, I open my eyes and squint at her worried face. My head's resting in her lap. We're both on the floor. Her back's against my bed while I'm all splayed out with my feet facing the door. She strokes the side of my face, moving my hair from my eyes.
Dumbly, I look up at her. Not sure how we got in this position. But not caring much either, except for the numb, achey parts.
"Welcome back." She smirks and teases, "Passing out while we're talking it's a little rude."
"Oh," I whisper. So that's how I ended up here.
"At least you just passed out." Her fingers stop their ministrations and instead begin to play lightly with my hair. "What I don't get is why I'm the only one who remains conscious." She puts on this adorable little pout. My act basically. Pursed lips, furrowed brow the works. I should be jealous. I think she's better at it than me. Cuter at least
Her pout sours.
"You'd think I'd be used to it," she says with a sigh. "But nope. I automatically go for a pulse." From cute to scary in "How messed up is that? That I automatically think 'dead'." She shakes her head and continues, "But that's not the point now. We need to talk."
She shifts a little, and pulls her free leg up, resting her chin on her knee. "Please try and stay conscious for this, Will. It'd help. Lots even." She looks down at me briefly and then rests her head back on the edge of the bed, staring up at the ceiling.
I'm about to break the not-so-comfortable silence when she sighs and whispers, "Things used to be betterI'm not sure whenbut after graduation, something broke and I can't seem to fix it."
Broke? When did the breaking happen? I mean Oz, but that
Okay, I'm depressed, not broke.
I meet her confession with silence as I try to understand what she's saying. Oblivious to my confusion, she carries on, "I know we're talking your pain here, but sometimes I think it's all related. You hurt. I hurt when you hurt. I think when I hurt and then more hurt happens."
Her cheeks puff out and deflate in a not quite raspberry that, even under the circumstances, I find endearing.
This might be sweetthe whole 'her hurting when I do' thingif I didn't have this feeling that she's gone off the deep end.
Where exactly is this coming from?
"It's so lonely," she whispers. "I knew things were gonna changehoped they wouldn't, but I knew they would. I just didn't know they were going to change this much."
Pushing aside the confusion, I stop and really look at her.
No, there haven't been any times I've seen my Buffy like this.
I need to hear more. I hold my breath waiting on her to continue. I'm really not sure if she knows I'm here anymore. I'm not sure if it matters either.
"Some stuff I can totally handle. I can handle everyone splitting up for the summer to do their own things. I can handle patrol. It's a stretch, but I can even handle Professor Walsh."
Her hand lies motionless. I already miss it. I like it when she plays with my hair.
Out of nowhere, she laughs bitterly. It's a foreign sound. It doesn't belong, not coming from her. I wince. "How sad is it that Ms. 'She Alone' can't stand being alone?" She squeezes her eyes and lets the tears slip down her cheeks. Picking up again, she says. "What I can't handle is us. The not-talking to you and Xander. I need you guys. I need you. But not the way we've been." She sighs and shifts a little, jostling my head.
Not caring anymore, I take her hand and squeeze. Softly, I offer my own confession, "I need you too, Buffy."
She looks down at me, her lips a thin line. "But you're not here, Will."
I look away, unable to stomach the sadness reflected on her features.
"I know you're going through stuff." She shrugs. "But you've been gone for a while."
I open my mouth to defend myself, but snap it shut just as quickly.
Arguing won't get me anywhere. My silence is a pseudo-concession.
"And then, it's like, I need to help you. I want to. There's all this stuff I want to do. I just don't know how to." Her head falls back against the bed and she groans. "Gah! It's so confusing and it didn't used to be. It used to be simple. Where'd the simple go?"
"I can be better," I offer. It's lame, but it's also the only thing that I have to give now. As I sit up, she turns her head sharply.
Briefly, I see her for everything she is. But it's so fleeting. Too fleeting. I ache to see that again, butstupid meI broke the spell by moving.
She shuts down. Shaking her head, she laughs. Again, it's bitter and hard. I've decided that I am emphatically against that coming from her. Her eyes are closed as she stands gracefully. She reaches out to me and opens her eyes, helping me to my feet.
As I rise, our gaze meets and my tummy goes plunging again. She's made a decision. There's a resolve to her that I've come to recognize. As we stand there, me in my clothes from the day and her in her PJs, she takes both of my hands and caresses the tops with the pads of her thumbs.
She smiles and says, "I get that it's hard. You still need time, but"
After a long, hard look, she drops my hands and finds her train of thought. "Oh and about tonight " She turns to my bed so I can't see her face. "I forgive you." She collects the things I bought for her. Her arms full, she faces me and winks. "I will take you up on the goodies. I can still taste the cigarettes andwell, eww " Making a face, she shudders. "I was really considering the Drain-O in the bathroom. So not a good sign."
She takes the items, puts a few in the bathroom caddy and, before I know it, she's out the door.
And she just ran off to the bathroom, again. Yeah this is gonna end well.
Standing there, my hands limp at my sides, I try and put two and two together, or maybe I'm trying to put square pegs in round holes, trying to understand what the frilly heck just happened.
Nervously, I look at the door. The last time we were in the middle of a deep and meaningful, she took off to the bathroom. I get the morning needs, but you'd think she could wait two freakin' mintues to talk to me. Or maybe let me talk. When she came back last time, it was like she switched from Sybil to Peggy Ann. I really didn't like what she had to say.
I wonder who it'll be this time? What Buffy will I be getting? Sighing, I run my fingers through my hair. Can this suck anymore?
Wait. Forget I asked.
Turning from the door, I open my closet and quickly change into my PJs. I think about going to brush my teeth. 'Think' being the operative word.
Not the best idea.
The weight of today rests squarely on my shoulders. I don't think missing one brushing will create cavity city. It might be a little gross, but I'll deal. I turn on the bedside lamp and sit on the edge of my bed, waiting for Buffy to return.
A few minutes later, with me sitting on the bed in a deep sulk, she breezes through. She's bouncy even. She offers a small smile. I try to smile back, but I don't think it worked.
I think my smile muscles are broken.
"Buff " I try to rekindle the conversation.
She stops me by yawning. It's one of those really overdone yawns. Her yawn fills the room. Stretching she shuts the window and says, "Turn out the light when you go to bed."
She strides to her bed and slides under the covers. Turning her back to me, she says over her shoulder, "G'night, Will."
I sit there like an idiot. I'm still an idiot. A stunned, stupid idiot. She purposefully ignores me. And who wouldn't ignore the village idiot?
I'm really starting to hate that stupid bathroom.
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