SPOILERS: Um...minor for Dead Man's Party and Amends
SUMMARY: Buffy's 25 and tired of living.
CONTENT: major angst. suicide.
THANKS: Dare (ROCK!!) and Heather for reading this and telling me it didn't suck.
DISCLAIMER: Don't own the characters. Joss, the WB and Fox do. Lucky bastards.
Jonny Lang (my blues god) owns the song. "Leaving to Stay" is on the Wander This World CD. "The Stolen Child" is a poem by Yeats and a song by The Waterboys.
NOTE: Ok, I usually I don't like these kinds of fics...suicide fics. But I was listening to Jonny Lang, and I started to cry because I had a sudden flash of Buffy at 25 deciding to kill herself. It wouldn't leave my mind.
Also...I don't mean to glorify or encourage suicide with this fic. I do stand by this as a realistic possible scenario, given who Buffy is and how her life is described in this fic.
I can't believe what I've seen
I've been forsaken
I've been deceived
I can't believe my own eyes
I been waiting for the glory of the coming of the Lord
I heard a lot of stories but my prayers have been ignored
I been waiting in the wings between the ocean and the shore
but this time I'm leaving to stay
Leaving to Stay
I'm Buffy, the Vampire Slayer. And I'm apparently the best Vampire Slayer that's ever lived, because I'm still here. I'm 25, and I'm not dead. That's never happened before...not by a long shot. Giles told me that the oldest one ever recorded died at 21. I've got that beat by 4 years. Pretty good, huh?
So why am I standing on this bridge looking down at the dark, churning waters below me? Why am I thinking about jumping? Why does the feeling of icy cold slicing through my clothes, their weight slowly dragging me to the bottom, seem like a good option?
Because I'm tired.
I'm so damn tired. I feel like I can barely support the weight of my own body, much less the weight of my destiny. It was a heavy burden when I took it at the tender age of 15, and it's only gotten heavier over the years.
My life is slaying. There's nothing else. I have no one who I am close to. I speak to no one but my Watcher, and sometimes my mother when she calls to worry about me. It's not a good way to live. It's empty and exhausting. It's pointless and futile. It makes me tired.
It didn't always used to be like this. For a while I had a part of me that was Buffy. A part that wasn't just dedicated to killing vampires and demons and spirits, oh my. I had friends, great friends. Xander and Will. They were amazing. They took my mind off the fact that I wasn't a normal girl. They made it ok. Because they took it in stride and made Slayers and the Hellmouth normal to them, it made me feel normal too. They made me laugh and cry. They made me feel things. They made me human.
I don't think I am anymore.
It's been too long since I've laughed, or felt sad, or felt anything at all.
There used to be Giles too. The best Watcher a Slayer could ask for. I took him for granted sometimes. A lot of the time. But I did love him. He was like a father and a friend all rolled into a tweed suit and a British accent. I miss him. But it's been years since he...since I found him in the library. There was no blood. I was surprised by that. It looked like he was sleeping. But he was so cold.
It wasn't even a master vampire that got him. It was some two-bit henchman. I tortured that vampire for a long time before I killed him. I made him cry for me. I didn't cry myself. I never did. Not even once. I made the vampires cry for me, and I threw up on the lawn. But I never cried. It hurt more than tears could ever touch to lose him.
After that I started to die. I was 18. We were graduating in a few weeks. I made the others leave. They didn't want to, but I told them they had to. They had lives that they could go on to live. They had college and marriage and kids and careers that they needed to experience. If any of them had missed out on that stuff because I needed them with me, I would never have forgiven myself.
Sometimes I wish I hadn't pushed them away. I lost so much when I lost them. A lot of myself. I stopped smiling. I stopped laughing. If I couldn't cry for Giles I sure as hell wasn't going to laugh. So I didn't.
I got a new Watcher. David Watling. He's a good Watcher; he keeps me up on the monsters I'm going to be fighting. He keeps me in shape. I fight like...well, like no one else. Like no one else can. It isn't even a challenge anymore. The demons have nothing on me. I live to kill them, that's all. And I am so good at it.
Killing is not a very healthy thing to be good at. It drains you.
The wind is picking up. It's cold, and I'm not wearing a coat. I thought it would be better this way. To let the water wash right over the scars that play along my arms. I trace the newest one with the tips of my fingers. It's always fascinated me how pale and shiny the scar tissue is. It's new from old, new from pain. New skin, a healed wound, but you're marked forever. You're damaged in some way.
I don't even remember how I got this scar. It doesn't matter to me. It doesn't matter who I fight anymore. I find out from David what I need to use to kill the monster...then I go kill it. Simple. I don't ask questions. I don't care.
I'm scarred inside and out. It's the ones on the inside that really mean something. Those are the ones I remember. Giles, Angel. Those are the ones that truly marked me.
Sometimes I wonder where he is. Angel, I mean. The man I loved. He stayed here after the others had gone. But it got too hard. He made me feel, and I didn't want to. If I allowed myself to feel love, I would feel pain again too. I would feel loss.
I let myself be comforted by him. I would lose myself in him. But I couldn't do that without making myself vulnerable. As much as I loved him, I found I couldn't open myself up to him anymore. The love was locked up inside me, and I couldn't let it out. I'm like Pandora's box. If I open myself things will flood out, things I don't want to deal with.
I still love him. I don't really let myself feel it anymore, but it's there bubbling under the surface along with every emotion I haven't quite felt in six years.
I've never understood why fate hates me. But I know it does. Why else would the thing that made my life bearable be the thing I couldn't have? Why else would I be allowed to love just once? Why else would happiness be the thing we were forbidden to have? Forbidden to give each other?
He stayed because we needed to be together even if we couldn't really BE together. We were all we had. Holding hands seemed better than nothing. Standing close together seemed better than standing apart. But it was too hard.
He made me feel, so I made him leave. I thought it would be easier to cut him out of my life. Then I could try to forget. It did hurt at first. But I didn't cry. My hands clenched in on themselves so tightly that my fingernails bit into my skin, and blood ran from my palm when I told him to go. But I didn't cry. Neither did he. He just looked at me. I dream about that look sometimes, when I dream at all. It was a look full of pain and love and fear for me. He knew what was happening to me. But he couldn't fight it. No one could. And I looked at him with empty eyes, soulless eyes. Sometimes I think that I've lost my soul. That I'm more of a monster than he is. He still has humanity in him.
Then he left. And I haven't seen him in five years. I don't even know if he's still alive. I don't even know if he'll care when he hears that the next Slayer has been called.
None of it really matters.
I love him. I always will. And it doesn't matter. It never did, because we weren't allowed to have each other.
I used to wonder if things would have been different if I hadn't lost him. It I hadn't lost my friends. Or Giles. But now I know things would have ended up the same. I might have been happy for a while. I might have been Buffy for a few more years. But nothing could have stopped this. This is what being the Slayer is.
And this is why we aren't meant to live this long.
We become this. Whatever this is. It's not human. And it's not feeling. I guess we become one of the monsters. When your whole existence is fighting it's not an existence worth having. There's only so much one person can take before they shut off, before they cease to be a person.
I think of it as kind of like dog years. In Slayer years I'm about 120 years old. That's how old I feel. How tired I am.
I understand now why no Slayer ever lived past the age of 21. We weren't meant to. When you kill as many things as we do, see as much evil, as much death as we do, you age faster. You become something...something horrible. And nothing seems worth doing.
I wish I had died in battle. I would have preferred it. Killing myself, well, it seems cowardly. But I can't seem to lose a fight. Some vampires would rather kill themselves than face me.
"Generally when scary things get scared. Not good." Xander said that. It's true. I'm scarier than the monsters now, and I don't want to go on like this. I want to be Buffy. I want to be a person.
I don't fear pain. I've almost stopped feeling it when I get cut or hurt. I don't fear death; I've already died once. And I had prepared myself to die young. I never really prepared myself to grow-up.
I fear living this way. I fear waking up in the morning, knowing I have nothing. I fear the emptiness that I see in my eyes when I look in the mirror. I fear going into another fight that I know I'll win. I fear who I have become as much as I can fear anything anymore.
I don't expect my mother to understand. Or David. If Willow or Xander hear about it, I don't even expect them to remember what we were to each other. They have lives without monsters now. They moved on. To better things. And I'm glad for them. But I know they could never understand what it's like to keep fighting.
Angel would understand. When...if...he hears, he'll understand. He knows what it feels like to be so old you think you can barely stand another minute. I told him that strong is fighting when he was going to take his own life. Strong is getting up every morning to face another day. I guess that jumping means I'm not strong enough to do that.
But I don't care.
If it means I'm weak, so be it. If it's the easy way out, fine. If it means I'm a coward, so what? Maybe it's about time I took the easy way out for once. Maybe it's about time I did something for myself. Maybe I've done enough for destiny and duty. Maybe...no there is no maybe. I know it's true. I've done enough...I've done too much. I can't do it anymore. It's as simple as that.
Without hesitation I pull myself up onto the railing and stand for one moment looking at the darkened sky. Then I dive.
And as I fall, I feel myself smile. I feel time slow down. Each second is an eternity, and I am flying. I feel wetness on my face and realize in wonder that I am crying. The tears pour out of my eyes, my mouth still stretched in a smile as I release the pent up emotions of so many years.
I cry for the loss of Xander and Willow, who were the best friends I could ever have asked for, my confidants and compatriots. I cry for the loss of Giles, my partner in destiny, my father. I cry for the loss of Angel, who I love so much it hurts. I begin to sob, letting grief wash over me as I treasure the people I love most in my life. The people I have lost. And I cry for me.
Pain shocks through me as I hit the water, and then it is gone in a wash of pure cold. My tears are driven away by the waves. I sink, and as the water closes over my head I feel such utter relief. I know then that I have done the right thing, because I can feel again. I feel everything in the few instants it takes for my lungs to fill with water. It doesn't hurt. I don't understand why. But I am glad.
It doesn't matter what happens when this is over...when I die. All that matters is these last moments.
I am no longer tired. I am rested. I am whole.
I am not the Slayer anymore. I am human again. I am Buffy.
I am free.
Come away, human child
To the water and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world's more full of weeping than you
- The Stolen Child