To Be or not To Be...The Slayer
The wind blows hard against this mountainside,
My heart is old, it holds my memories.
Kyrie eleison, down the road that I must travel.
When I was young I thought of growing old.
Kyrie eleison, down the road that I must travel.
-- Mr. Mister --
"This ground is cold...and wet...and I'm probably going to have a big grass stain on my butt when I get up." Buffy mumbled, staring impatiently at a grave stone marked, "Harvey Kinkle" while waiting for the poor sucker to wake up. "What kind of vampire would turn a guy named Harvey, anyway?" She paused for a second to think just how wrong that was, then snickered as she thought about another clueless vampire. "Probably the same one who turned a guy named Earl. I'm really going to have to find this nut and put him out of his misery." She decided, before casting a glance at her watch. 'Great.' She thought, with some disgust. 'I've already been out here for an hour.'
"Come on, Harvey. Wake up." She finally said, out loud, after she'd stared for long minutes more at an unmoving pile of dirt. "I'm tired, I'm cold, and my wife is probably home, in a warm bed, probably sound asleep. Trust me, I'd rather be home with her, then out here with you, so why don't we just get this over with?" She said to the pile of dirt, slightly disgusted when she didn't get a response then snorted at herself. 'Well, what did you think he'd do, get up just cause you asked nicely?'
She'd spent long hours in cemeteries just like this one...a lot of time spent in this very one...waiting for vampires to wake up so that she wouldn't have to go out and find them later. It wasn't the most pleasant time she'd spent as a Vampire Slayer. The ground always seemed cold, hard and damp. It was a wonder she didn't catch more colds than she had. 'So, why do I get the feeling that I'm going to miss all this when I finally give it up?' She asked herself ruefully, looking at the well carved stake that she held loosely in one hand.
It hadn't been all bad. Sure, she wouldn't miss the bumps and the bruises and scrapes that had peppered her body since becoming the Slayer. But there was also this...she wasn't sure how to describe it, even to herself, but there was this thing inside her...this feeling that told her that this was what she was, this is what she had been born to do. And questioned whether she should really be giving it up in the first place.
She thought about something Willow had said to her one time...in this very cemetery, no less. Love makes you do the Wacky. No kidding. Her life had changed so fast it was making her head spin. But then, her life had a tendency to do that. She had gone from being a brainless cheerleader, to being the Chosen One, and now her life was changing again. In a few short months, and it was almost impossible for her to believe, that her wife, her Wills was going to have her baby. She'd had to pinch herself more than once to prove that she wasn't dreaming.
But recently, she'd found herself being torn between the duties that had been drilled into her since she was fifteen, being the Slayer and protector of the world against vampires and the other creatures that went bump in the night, and the duties she now had as a future parent, and the wife to the most sensitive and caring person in the whole world.
'Giles says that it's time for me to retire, to step down as this generation's vampire Slayer. That I have more important duties now, to my wife and my family. Of course, this is also coming from a guy that's hounded me from the beginning about my duties as a Vampire Slayer...go figure.' Buffy thought with a rueful chuckle. But that wasn't really fair to Giles. They had all changed over the years.
'And now...I guess it's my turn to change.' Buffy thought, looking once more over the hard, ingrained peice of wood that felt so right in her hand. "I'll be the youngest, living retiree." She said with a small, mocking chuckle. "But the oldest, living Vampire Slayer." She said, with a small trace of reverence and wonder. If she did this, if she pulled this off, she would be doing what no other Vampire Slayer in history ever managed to do. Retire and live the rest of her life a free woman. Just the thought of it sent tiny tingles up and down her back.
Of course, that was when Harvey chose to make his appearance, bursting up out of the ground with but one thought on his mind. Food.
Buffy felt her reflexes quickening, that old, familiar surge of 'Slayerness' setting her body on fire. There was a definite addictive quality to that feeling, something she had never admitted to before, something she hadn't even really thought about, but was definitely present every time she went into Slayer mode. Her eyes lit up, and she found a smile creeping over her face as she took in the vamp's appearance. "Hungry, Harvey?" She teased, noticing that he was practically drooling over himself as he came closer, the only noises he was emitting were low growls and snarls.
"Come on, come on." She quirked her finger at him, as if she were directing a puppy. "Fresh meat over here." She quipped, even as she danced out of his way as he charged right by her. She turned so that she was facing him again, grinning widely as she anticipated his next move. "Come on, you can do better than that."
He charged her again, both arms held out straight as if he were trying to grab her, but once more she danced out of his reach, a laugh bubbling up from somewhere inside her as she watched him go tearing past her once more. The vamp was growing furious at the repeated misses, and the way his food was playing with him. He was pretty sure it was supposed to work the other way around. Glaring at the blonde, he snarled angrily, watching bewildred as her smile just got bigger and she laughed out loud.
"I'm just standing here, ya big wuss. Surely, you can catch me. You must be well rested, you sure slept long enough." Buffy complained, good naturedly, risking a glance at her watch. 'Yikes. One thirty. Will is going to kill me. Better stop playing with this guy and just put him out of his mis-' She didn't have time to finish the thought as she was tackled from behind.
She hit the ground hard, but rolled in time to see a nasty looking face bearing down on her. 'Ugh. Somebody hasn't brushed their teeth in a decade.' She thought to herself as she kicked the new guy hard in the chest and sent him flying. She was back on her feet before 'Harvey' could attack, knocking him in the other direction, before backing up and getting her bearings once more.
'Okay, I'm really slipping. I never even sensed the other one coming.' Buffy scolded herself on letting her attention slip, watching the two vamps warily. 'Okay, there's just two, I can handle them easily.' She coached herself, before another presence made themselves known. 'Of course, that third one throws a whole new pair of dice into the game.'
Levying open her bedroom window, Buffy risked a glance at her wife's sleeping form before throwing a leg over the window sill, muffling her grunt of pain as her side protested the movement with a dull, nagging ache. The vamps had been a little harder to manage than she had anticipated, one giving her a nice gash to remember him by before she had sent him back to hell where he belonged. She had risked the climb up the trellis to her bedroom window, because she hadn't wanted anyone to know she had been out graveyard hopping, especially since Giles still hadn't given her clearance for such patrols yet. He was being overly cautious in her way of thinking, and yet after what happened tonight she couldn't help thinking that he might be right about her mental state, maybe she wasn't ready to take on Big Bad yet.
She straightened up, standing into the room as she cleared the window, careful not to knock over the lamp that was sitting precariously on the bedside table. She took a step further into the room, watching for any sign of movement coming from Willow's direction and creeped toward the bedroom door, she wanted to wash up before her wife got a good look at her, but for some strange reason, the chair that usually stood in front of Willow's vanity table was taking up residence in the middle of the bedroom floor. Buffy, not expecting it to be there, promptly tripped over it, and ended up lying, seeing stars, on the bedroom floor instead.
"Buffy." The Slayer, whose head had just stopped spinning, winced at the sound of her wife's voice. "Yeah, honey?" She questioned quietly, from her spot on the bedroom floor.
"Where are you?" Willow asked, looking through the shadows for any sign of her wife's form.
"Down here." Buffy replied back, her fingers drumming lightly on the carpeted floor. She knew she was in trouble...she just didn't know how much trouble she was in. But she was content to wait for it, from right where she had landed.
"Why are you still on the floor?" Willow asked, hoping the Slayer hadn't hurt herself too bad with the fall. Although... 'It would serve her right for coming home late, and not telling me where she was going and making me worry.' Willow thought to herself, justifying her actions.
"Umm...thinking?" Buffy hazarded a reply, trying to see if she could see her beautiful wife's face through the darkness.
"About what?" Willow asked, giving Buffy no clue to just how mad she was. "How to tell me where you were all night?" Willow asked, cutting through Buffy's evasiveness like a knife.
The Slayer thought over what she could possibly say to her perturbed wife. 'Well, Wills...would you believe I was out getting a job?' Which would be partly true, she had spent part of the night doing just that. But she had planned to surprise her with the news the following night over a fancy dinner at Mario's, and she didn't want to ruin her plans. Plus, it wouldn't have explained the scratch marks or the nasty gash in her side. No, the best thing to do would just be to come clean with her wife, and hope that she would understand.
Just as Buffy was about to reply, Joyce knocked loudly on the door. "Is everything all right in there? I thought I heard a crash." Joyce was worried, but she wasn't about to barge in on them again.
"We're fine." Willow called out, easing her Mother-in-law's anxiety. "Buffy just got home." Buffy winced after Willow said that, then winced again at her mother's reply.
"Oh good." And Buffy could hear the sigh of relief in her voice. Apparently, she'd had them all worried...again. 'This is the last time I go slaying without telling them where I'm going.' She vowed to herself, before she heard her mother's parting reply. "You give it to her good, sweetheart." And she gulped when she heard her sweet Willow's voice reply..."I will."
"Okay, you little runaway. Tell me where you've been, and no lies, or I'm going to have to spank you." Willow tried to sound serious, but she couldn't help the humor that lightened her voice.
Buffy took a deep breath, willing her embarrassment away to some deep, far away part of her psyche, before forcing herself up from the floor, wincing again as her side ached in protest and made her way towards the bed. "I'm sorry. I should have told you where I was going." Buffy said, sitting gingerly on the bed.
"Why didn't you?" Willow asked, growing frustrated with only being able to hear her love in the darkened room. She wanted to see her too.
"I-I didn't want to worry you." Buffy started, hoping that wouldn't cause the redhead more concern. "I had to find out..."
"Find out, what?" Willow asked, switching on the light so that she could finally see Buffy clearly. "Buffy..." She gasped, her eyes opening wide at the sight of her. "Oh my god. What happened?" Deep scratches marked the length of the Slayer's face, one ending just under her chin, blood oozing from them sluggishly, while a bruise darkened one beautiful blue eye.
"I had to find out if I was ready." Buffy looked down over her dirt encrusted and grass stained clothes. "I went to the graveyard, I knew there was a vamp rising tonight so I figured...you know, a nice, simple dusting. He was a newbie, he'd never know what him. Good way to test out my strength...see if I was fully healed..." She trailed off, sighing. "Guess I'm not," Buffy concluded, shrugging her shoulders, wincing as the pain made itself known again.
"Buffy..." Willow shook her head, unable to pry her eyes off of the damaged skin.
"Couple of his buddies showed up while I was fighting him...playing with him, actually." Buffy let out a self-deprecating laugh. "I got cocky. Never saw the second one coming...I didn't even sense him." Willow could see Buffy's eyes clouding over as doubt settled in on the Slayer's shoulders. "He knocked me off my feet, but I fought back. I was able to get them both away from me. And I figured, well cool, two of them. A real test of my strength. I could handle that." Willow nodded, waiting for the punchline. She knew there had to be one, with Buffy looking like this. On a normal day, Buffy could handle two vamps in her sleep.
"Then what happened?" Willow asked, as it became more clear that Buffy wasn't going to continue.
"And then the third one showed up." Buffy took a deep breath, settling herself...after all, she had won, even if it was a close call. But a close call had never affected her this badly before, it wouldn't have affected her at all if she hadn't had those thoughts in the graveyard. About leaving Willow behind, and her daughter. 'Giles was right.' Buffy thought regretfully. 'I'm not thinking like a Slayer anymore.' Because all she could think about, while she fought those vamps in the graveyard, was that she did not want to die in that cemetary, and about how fast she could kill them so she could get home to her family.
"We fought...I dusted them..." She trailed off, looking down over her clothes again. "Taking some damage in the process, and then I came home..." She trailed off again, knowing that Will already knew the rest of the story.
Willow didn't say anything, just took her in her arms and held her. After all, what could she say that Buffy hadn't already said. That she shouldn't have been so careless? What would have happened if Buffy hadn't have come back? That she had already lived with this once, she couldn't go through that again? Buffy already knew all of that, and this was no time for recriminations. She pulled Buffy down on the bed, ignoring her protests of getting the bed dirty, they could change the sheets and clean Buffy's cuts later. All Willow wanted to do at that moment was hug Buffy until she stopped shaking.
Later, after a few long moments spent in each other's arms, Willow got Buffy into the bathroom, and firmly locked the door. While she was getting the antiseptic out for Buffy's cuts, Buffy took her shirt off so that she could examine the gash in her side. It was deep, throbbing red, and pulsing with heat. Willow grimaced when she saw it, frowning at how angry the wound looked. "Do you think we'll need to sew it?" Willow asked her, Buffy was the more experienced of the two when it came to injuries. Considering she was the one getting injured, it made sense.
"Probably." Buffy sighed in renewed disgust at herself. Willow nodded, before getting the needle and thread out of the medicine cabinet. "Do...do you want me to..." Buffy looked up, seeing Willow's face pale. She knew Willow hated doing these things, but the wound was in an awkward position and she didn't think she'd be able to do it herself. Buffy nodded and Willow gulped, before sitting on the toilet lid, turning Buffy toward her so that she could do it right.
Buffy winced as the needle passed through her skin the first time, but seeing how pale it made Willow turn, she carefully schooled her reactions. She didn't want her wife passing out on her at this awkward moment. Willow tried very hard to pretend she was just darning socks, but it was hard to keep fantasizing about warm, fuzzy socks, when all that she felt was Buffy's poor skin under her fingers.
"It's okay, Will." Buffy whispered, encouragingly, and smiled warmly for Willow's benefit when their eyes met for a brief moment. "It's going good...you're almost done." She kept up her litany until Willow passed through her skin for the last time with the needle, then tied it off in a knot.
Willow couldn't wait to put the needle down, the fact that it and her hands were coated in her wife's blood, made her stomach flip and churn uneasily. Buffy sank to her knees in front of her, pulling her close until Willow's hands and knees embraced her. "You did a great job. I couldn't have done it better myself."
"I don't know how you can stand that." Willow said, shaking herself and her nausea off as she gently started to clean the scratches on her wife's face with the antiseptic. Buffy started to open her mouth but was quickly silenced by the redhead's next remark. "And if you say it comes with the job one more time I'm gonna swat you."
"Gee, Will. Don't you think I've been hurt enough for one night." Buffy chuckled, then saw the shuttered look fall over the green eyes she loved so much. "Sorry. I was just kidding...my bad."
"I hate it when you get hurt." Willow whispered, touching the bruise under Buffy's eye gingerly, with a gentle finger. "I've always hated it."
"I'm sorry." Buffy said, running an equally gentle finger over the soft skin of her wife's cheek, before sliding through soft hair. "I don't do it on purpose. At least...I don't think I do." Buffy said, smiling wryly.
"Promise me...you'll be more careful." The words sounded all wrong coming out...Willow knew she shouldn't be asking her this, and yet, she couldn't help herself. She had to do it.
Buffy nodded her head. She'd done a lot of thinking on the way home from the cemetery, and there was one thing that she could promise. "Hmm, more careful....let's see. I promise that I won't take on a whole nest of vampire's by myself." Willow giggled. "Hmm, I promise to think more before I do something reckless. I promise to always tell you where I'm going if I'm going to do something Slayery." Willow nodded, liking that one. It had been hard, knowing Buffy was out there, probably doing something risky, and not knowing where she was.
Buffy's face became totally serious as she thought long and hard about her next words. The decision hadn't been easy for her, and a part of her had fought long and hard against it, but it had lost. Willow was just too important to her to lose. "And when the new girl gets here, and I see that she's any good...I'll step down. I'll let her be the new Slayer." She had said it once before, but this time she really meant it. Giles was right. She couldn't afford to be the Slayer anymore. She had too much now at stake, and she had realized that they would always be on her mind. It wasn't just her anymore, she had a family to take care of, and that was far more important in her mind that being this generations Vampire Slayer. Her days of being a Slayer were coming to a close. She had never thought she'd see this day come, without dying first, but for the first time, she really believed she was going to.
Willow closed her eyes, tears leaking out from the closed lids. She knew the decision had been a hard one for Buffy to make. She knew there was a part of Buffy that would always be the Slayer, it was a part of Buffy that she loved, after all she loved the whole package, but it was also a part that she feared. Because the Slayer made Buffy reckless, being the Slayer meant risking her life, she had always known that. Had always feared that one day Death would come to claim Buffy, and Buffy would go willingly, because she was the Slayer. Now, now Willow felt as if she were wiggling her nose at Death.
Then she wiggled her nose for a completely different reason. Buffy smelled. "You need a bath." Willow said, giggling as Buffy rolled her eyes good naturedly.
"Well, thanks, honey. Good to know that I can always count on you to tell me that I stink." Buffy groused, then winked in amusement at her wife. "I'll take a bath on only one condition."
"What's that?" Willow pretended confusion, but deep down she knew what was coming, and relished it.
"You take one with me." Buffy grinned, before kissing the inviting mouth. There was no protest.
"Buffy: The Retired Vampire Slayer." Buffy whispered, reflectively into a pink, squeeky clean ear before nuzzling it gently. "You know, that has a nice ring to it." Willow giggled, enjoying the way Buffy hands felt on her body under the water.
"Yup. It sure does." Willow agreed, before taking Buffy's mouth with hers, silencing all further conversation as they sank down into the luscious heat.
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