It wasn’t like in the movies. No slate grey skies and drizzled raindrops. Neither whipping wind nor weeping trees.
Buffy Summers-Giles glanced up at the small gathering of people at the funeral of her parents. Most were in appropriate black attire with melancholy expressions. A few were crying, dabbing at the wayward tears running down their faces.
No, the sunny, happy California morning didn’t fit. The sun shouldn’t be smiling down at the cemetery and the birds shouldn’t be singing sweet spring songs. It should be dull and dreary. Just like the movies said it should be.
She hadn’t cried. Not when the police had come to her door and told her about the car accident. Not when she had packed her things to stay with Jenny Calendar, a friend of her stepfather. Not when she was asked to help pick the caskets that would be her parents’ final resting places. And certainly not now when everyone was scrutinizing her.
It didn’t even seem real, but she knew that the cold hard truth of it was that no one would ever be able to see her mother’s smiling face or her stepfather’s kind eyes again. Least of all her.
It was a closed casket ceremony since the accident had been so horrific. She hadn’t even been able to see them one last time. Jenny had been the one to identify them because they thought it would have been too hard on her. She hated that she wasn’t even allowed to say her last goodbyes face to face. She didn’t care what they looked like.
The eulogy was short and to the point and Buffy knew any minute they would start to lower the caskets into the ground. She stifled the urge to scream at the injustice of it all. She knew it was selfish but she wanted all of these people to leave her in peace so she could grieve alone. The idea that she had to share these last moments with people she hardly knew made her heart swell with pain.
Feeling a hand on her shoulder, she looked up to see Jenny giving her a comforting smile. It didn’t comfort her in the least, but she returned the smile anyway. Jenny had been so wonderful to her over the last few days. She didn’t have to do all that she had done, but did so without complaint.
Buffy imagined it must have been hard for her. After all, Jenny and Rupert had once been quite involved with each other only to have it end with Rupert marrying Joyce instead. But Jenny was a strong woman and Buffy admired her for that.
“Please bow your heads in prayer,” the minister said as he began to read from his Bible.
She was counting down the seconds. It would happen any moment and then she would have nothing left of them but their memories. There was a slight squeaking as the caskets began to lower into the ground.
They were gone. The reality of it slammed into her like a freight train. A bubble of sobbing burst out of her and finally she felt the tears that she had been holding onto for days pour out of her trembling body.
Jenny held onto her tightly as the cries took over her whole being. “It’ll be alright, Buffy. I promise. We’ll get through this.”
Buffy wanted so much to believe her, but she knew deep in her heart that things wouldn’t be alright. Her parents were gone and she was left with nothing except uncertainty.
People were starting to leave. Jenny nudged her to follow and a large part of her wanted to tell Jenny where to stick it. Why should she have to leave? She wasn’t ready to go yet. On the other hand, if she stayed, she’d probably never leave.
As they started towards the car, Buffy noticed someone that looked oddly familiar to her. He was dressed in a faded black suit that looked like it had seen better days. She guessed he was in his early twenties, but his blue eyes seemed to house a much older soul. His dark blond hair was combed back and slicked down, but a wayward curl fell against his temple.
Suddenly, he stopped walking and turned to look at her. He seemed to recognize her and made his way across the lawn to her.
“Are you Buffy?” He asked, a British accent heavily coated his words.
“Yes,” she replied. She knew him somehow, but she couldn’t place it.
He extended his hand to her. “I’m William. Perhaps my uncle mentioned me.”
Ah-ha! That’s right. Giles’ had showed her his picture once. “He showed me your picture,” she told him as she took his hand.
Smiling, William said, “and he showed me yours as well. That’s how I knew who you were.”
Buffy nodded, but couldn’t think of anything to say in response. As the silence stretched between them, she couldn’t help but thinking how it should be awkward that they were standing in the middle of a cemetery without anything to say to one another. But oddly enough, she felt nothing but a comfortable moment of closeness with him.
After a minute, he let go of her hand. “Well, I’m afraid I need to get going. I have a bus to catch.”
“Oh. So you won’t be coming to the wake then?” Buffy asked, frowning.
He shook his head, the sadness coming off of him in sickening waves. “No, I can’t. I have to get back to work. They didn’ give me much time.”
“Oh, okay. Well, it was nice to finally meet you even though the circumstances…” she trailed off. For a minute she had forgotten why they were having this conversation at all. “Well, bye.”
She turned from him, but before she could go any farther than a few steps, his voice stopped her.
“Buffy, you know if you ever need anything. Anything at all. You can come to me, right?”
A tear slipped down her cheek and she swiped it away. “Okay,” she said weakly.
He smiled at her. “Take care of yourself, luv.” And with that, he walked away.
Los Angeles, California 1997
“Elizabeth!” A voice bellowed.
Sighing, Buffy closed her scrapbook and set it in her nightstand drawer. She made her way downstairs to her father’s office. Lord only knew what she had done wrong now.
Hank Summers stood beside his large mahogany desk with a half-empty glass of Scotch in his hand. His features were twisted into grotesque frown and his eyes were glassy, a sure sign of how much he had been drinking.
“Elizabeth,” he spat out, “would you care to explain why I have to replace a $6000 oriental rug because there was nail polish spilled across it?”
She could hear the Jeopardy jingle in her head. How could she answer this without getting herself into more trouble? She had no idea how nail polish got spilled on his rug. Somehow this was being blamed on her which was quite funny since she didn’t even wear nail polish anymore.
“I don’t know, dad. Maybe Missy accidentally-”
“Oh, so now you think you are going to blame this on my wife?” He laughed humorlessly. “Right, try again, Elizabeth.”
She was in Hell. It was the only explanation for it. “But it wasn’t me. I don’t even wear-”
“Missy said this belonged to you. She doesn’t wear pink,” he told her, twisting the empty nail polish bottle in his hand.
“And you believe her?” Uh-oh, that was the wrong thing to say.
He threw the little bottle at the wall. “What? As opposed to believing you, you little liar!”
“I’m not a liar!” Buffy shouted at him. God, she was so sick of taking the fall for Missy and her precious daughter, Harmony. Why did he believe all of their lies? Buffy was his daughter, for Christ sakes!
Hank slammed down his glass on the desk and didn’t seem to notice it shattering as he stomped to her and slapped her across the cheekbone. “This is the thanks I get, huh! I take you in after your whore of a mother finally got what she deserved and went straight to Hell! I open my house to you and this is how you show your gratitude! I should have left you in Sunnydale,” he spat before shoving her.
Falling to the hardwood floor, Buffy felt the tears begin to well up behind her eyelids. Her hand went to her cheek and tried to hold in the throbbing pain that had exploded in her face after her father had hit her.
This wasn’t how it was supposed to be. Fathers were supposed to be kind and helpful. They were supposed to take their kids to the park and ask them how their day was. They weren’t supposed to be abusive bastards that beat their daughters for something they didn’t even do.
Oh, Giles, I miss you, she thought. He was her real father as far as she was concerned not this asshole standing in front of her.
“You go up to your room and stay up there! Get out of my face!” He pointed to the door.
Buffy scrambled off the floor and raced up to her room, careful not to slam the door even though she desperately wanted to. That would have just set Hank off again and she didn’t need a black eye to go with her swollen cheek.
She had learned quickly what not to do in regards to her father. Don’t slam doors, don’t talk back or argue, don’t answer the phone or the door, don’t even exist. She was like a ghost now; sometimes she wouldn’t be seen for days. Of course, that hadn’t stopped her father or Missy from accusing her of doing something wrong.
She recalled the first time her father had hit her. It had only been two weeks since she had been sent to live with Hank and Missy and she had been called into his office, just like today. He had accused her of stealing twenty dollars from Missy’s purse and she had denied it. That time she had received a black eye.
Last year, she had tried running away. She had paid a kid at school to drive her to Sunnydale to stay with Jenny. But Jenny had called her father as soon as she had arrived and Hank had sent a driver to pick her up and bring her back.
At first she had been angry with Jenny, but Buffy soon realized that she was only doing what she thought was right. And when Jenny had called to see how she was doing, Buffy lied and told her everything was fine. Jenny wouldn’t have believed her if she had told the truth anyway.
Who would? Hank Summers was a pillar of the community, a lawyer who donated thousands to charity and posed with kids in the Cancer ward of the hospital. Of course, that was due to his wanting to run for office one day. A fact which made Buffy a liability to him. Broken homes did not go over well with the voting public, apparently.
She often wondered how far Hank would go to keep her a secret. After getting to know him over the past three years, she didn’t think there would be a distance he wouldn’t travel to make his dirty laundry go away.
God, she had to get out of this place! She was rotting away in the white marble Hell of the Summers’ mansion and she feared the future when Hank would lose his temper completely with her.
There was no way she would be able to defend herself either. She was five foot nothing and her weight had dwindled down to almost skin and bones. Her parents wouldn’t have wanted her to waste away like this. They would have wanted her to fight and be strong. What did she have to fear? It couldn’t get much worse.
Kneeling down beside her bed she rummaged through the boxes that she kept underneath it. A blue box marked with a big fuzzy bunny sticker held her parents’ address book and she quickly ripped off the lid to find it. Opening the cover, she began to scan the names of friends and relatives, hoping to find the one person that would help her.
She didn’t know his last name. It wasn’t Giles, she knew that. Giles’ sister had married so she wouldn’t have kept her maiden name.
It seemed like yesterday that he had held her hand and made her feel so safe with his reassuring smile and kind eyes. He had said ‘anything’, if she needed ‘anything’, she could come to him.
Of course, there was the possibility that he wouldn’t even remember her, that he would slam the door in her face. On top of that, what if he had moved? What if he had moved back to England or something?
Shaking her head of the doubts running through her mind, she continued to search for his name. She had to try, at least.
She sat back against her bed and set the book on the floor. Three Williams. One that lived in England, another in New York, and the last in Las Vegas. She couldn’t afford to travel abroad or cross country, so she would just have to take her chances in Las Vegas.
William Pratt, here I come, she thought with a sigh.