Title: Living at a Pace That Kills: Chapter Ten
Spoilers: None so far
Warnings: Violence and language and character death
Summary: Buffy’s life after the fall of Sunnydale takes a tragic turn, turning her to a hunter.
Disclaimer: The only real major difference in the Buffy story is how things ended up after the last episode of the series. It doesn’t follow the comics. All characters and storylines from Buffy and Supernatural belong to their original creators, not me.
Note: I would like to thank the people here at LJ for all the nice reviews. People elsewhere online have gotten REALLY nasty with me, so I do thank you. :)
SEE THE REST OF THE CHAPTERS HERE.
The woman taking pieces out of people in the front of the building was not the same one that had sliced open my stomach and killed my family. I didn’t allow that thought to persuade me however; it was the same thing. It was simply wearing the body of some other poor host. In a very atypical move, I remained frozen in place, unable to think clearly. It wasn’t the alcohol either. Although my senses had been dulled slightly, I knew what kept me rooted to the ground. It was fear. By the time I felt Dean tugging at me harshly to move, I was unaware of how long he had been doing it. I shook my head, afraid the thing would see me.
“Come on,” he whispered urgently, before pulling me as far to the back as we could get.
We slid into the kitchen and got as far back as the storage room.
“How do you get out of here?” he growled at a line cook, who looked terrified.
Everyone from the kitchen was huddled together on the dirty tile floor, some crying. I felt horrible for them. They had no idea what was really happening.
“The doors are locked at midnight. We can only go out the front,” he stammered, trying not to cry.
“Stupid damn rules. Do you know how many people are going to die because of this?”
The cook shook his head, his eyes wide.
“Of course you don’t…” he mumbled, pulling me down with him to the floor.
I leaned against him, doing my best not to break down. I wasn’t used to feeling so beaten down by something. I wanted to go out and fight it and kill it, but the thought of approaching it terrified me. My stomach turned, making me feel that I was going to vomit.
“What about Sam?” I whispered, suddenly remembering that he was out there somewhere.
“He’ll be just fine. He knows more about this damn thing than we do, remember?”
I nodded, still not convinced.
“Why aren’t we out there? We need to do something.”
I made an effort to stand, but he pulled me back down.
“As much as I hate to say this, right now, the best thing we can do is stay out of the way. We don’t know how to defeat this thing. If any of us has any clue, it’s Sam. So he’s the best one for the job. All we can do is sit back here and avoid being eviscerated.”
Not being able to say much to that, I laid my head on his shoulder and closed my eyes, doing all I could to block out the sounds of flesh being torn apart and people screaming for their lives.
It was difficult to say how much time had passed before the killing stopped and the lights came back on. I didn’t want to go back out there. For a moment, I wished that the thing had just killed me back in Vancouver so I wouldn’t have to live with the type of fear I felt then. I didn’t have much of a choice though once Dean lifted me to my feet. Something told me he knew how I was feeling, for he said nothing as we wandered to the front. The second we stepped out of the kitchen, I smelled death. It engulfed my senses and hijacked my mind, causing the memories of the night everyone had died in my house to flow in. As we made our way through the remains out former partygoers and diners, I squeezed my eyes shut. I simply couldn’t take it anymore.
“We should stay…” I muttered incoherently, “…wait for the police…”
“And tell them what, exactly?” he asked, ignoring my request and dragging me at a slow pace through the corpses, trying to avoid them.
“I don’t know. We can’t just go.”
“Yes, we can. Oh, God…”
I cringed as I heard him step on something. Although I didn’t look down, I could tell what it was. An organ, perhaps a heart had been smashed beneath his shoe. Whatever particulars I wasn’t certain about, it didn’t matter. We were walking amongst the dead, those stripped of their skin, innards, and lives. It felt like a warzone. That was when things got loud. Everyone who had been behind us in the kitchen had made their way out and were making noises I rarely heard humans make. Unable to look back at them in fear that I may lose what little composure I had left, I merely listened to many drop to the floor into what could have been someone they had known.
When I finally got the nerve built up to open my eyes, I could see Dean looking around erratically. The expression on his face told me he was afraid of what may be lurking through the bar, but he said nothing. As I clutched him, the dread I felt forced me to keep my eyes peeled, silently hoping that whatever had been there would not return. It was too noisy for me to listen for anything, which made me feel a bit handicapped. I absolutely loathed the entire situation.
We reached the very last stool at the end of the bar closest to the door. He leaned me against the bar, motioning for me to sit. I stared at him in sheer bewilderment.
“What are you doing? Why aren’t we leaving?”
“We will. I just need to figure out where Sam is first.”
I knew the way he felt. It was the same way I had felt in regards to Dawn every time something put us in jeopardy. Still, I was petrified. The little girl in me, the one who hadn’t yet known that monsters were indeed real and how strong I was, shone through. All I wanted was to run into the streets and keep running until the thing killing everyone around me stopped.
“Buffy,” he said, sensing my fear, “you’re going to be okay. Just stay here. I’ll be back before you know it.”
I heard his words, but they meant nothing. They flowed into my mind and were immediately squashed by the larger feelings of sickness and panic. My body was literally shaking and I felt that if I said anything else, it would come out not as words, but some mess of a twisted language. Instead, I just looked at him, hoping he would get the message that he’d better hurry his ass up because I wasn’t going to stay there much longer.
Not allowing me to protest in any nature, he vanished, off to search for his brother. Unable to look at the state of decay on the once very shiny wooden floor, I spun the barstool around, tried to distract myself by reading the names on the large bottles of alcohol, and then finally buried my face in my hands. The chance that I would break down was becoming very real, something I didn’t want to happen. It was one thing to be scared to the point that I was, but if I started crying, I most likely wouldn’t stop. Things would only get worse from there.
“Hey, you!” I heard someone hiss from the other side of the bar.
I looked up, confused. Standing between me and the bottles was one of the people that had been in the kitchen. He was glaring at me, dressed in a white busboy’s uniform. The arms and torso of the shirt were coated in dark blood, something I wanted so badly to ignore.
“What?” I asked, infuriated that he would say anything to me in such an insolate tone.
“All the witnesses have been told to gather over there,” he pointed to the far corner of the room where a collection of frightened people stood.
I simply stared at him, not moving.
“Just leave me alone.”
“Listen, lady, if you don’t get over there right now-“
“I don’t much care for the tone of your voice. Now quit fucking around like this is some kind of social event and leave me the hell alone!”
Infuriated with a reddened face, he frowned. Under any normal circumstance, I’m sure he would have just let my comments slide, but that wasn’t the case then. Instead, he advanced on me, something that I didn’t react too well. The alcohol had dulled my senses, slowing me down. I wasn’t too slow to not dodge the back of his hand, which swung through the air instead of hitting my targeted face. Rather than jumping out of the way, I fell backwards, off the stool.
Once I hit the floor, I quickly pulled myself to my feet, knowing it would be for the best. Aware of the fact that I wasn’t nearly as fast as usual, I improvised, throwing a glass full of alcohol in his face the moment I was standing up straight. It threw him off and I took that moment to knock him off his feet. I wasn’t in the mood for a fight, so I hopped over the bar and put a foot on his chest, pinning him to the ground.
“Leave me alone. Understand?” I snarled.
He nodded, crawling out from beneath my shoe and walking away. Resisting the urge to grab one of the liquor bottles on the shelves in front of me, I went back to the stool. It would have been very easy for me to complete my transition into an all out inebriated state with a few more swigs of just about any form of alcohol. Such a change would allow me to forget about what was happening for at least a few hours. I couldn’t do it though. I already felt bad enough physically.
Time couldn’t have passed more slowly. Mixed amongst a group of sobbing witnesses to what would look like a ritualistic murder to outsiders was not a really fun experience. The police were taking their sweet time getting there, but I was grateful for that. I didn’t need to get stuck in there for the rest of the night being interrogated. It was the thought of that which made me walk from the bar and look for Dean.
“Dean?” I called, looking around a building that was still a bit dark.
Several of the lights had shot out when that thing had been present. It caused a little over half of the building to be dark and parts that weren’t entirely dark were dim.
I turned a corner and saw him out of the corner of my eye. He was kneeling on the ground, his body as rigid as stone. I walked up behind him to see what he was looking at, only to gasp in horror.
“Oh…oh, no…no, no, no…”
Lying before the two of them was what used to be Sam. His torso had been torn in half and the pieces of him that the thing hadn’t ingested were strewn aside him carelessly. Most of his face and neck had been torn out, but I recognized him all the same. I felt numb. For a moment, I forgot that Dean was even there, looking at his family the same way I had looked at mine only a year earlier. I looked at him without saying a word and saw tears roll down his cheeks. He didn’t wipe them away and remained frozen in place.
“I’m so sorry, Dean. Oh, God…”
It was strange. I had only known them for a short time, but I felt so bad. A big part of it was because I thought that if I had taken care of the thing like I should have, this wouldn’t have happened to another family. Another thought, despite the ridiculousness of it, told me that if I hadn’t been so busy flirting with his brother, Sam wouldn’t have left the table. He would have hidden with us in the back, out of the path of danger.
“Hey…” I said, placing my hand on Dean’s shoulder.
He shook me aside angrily, wiping his face.
“Get away,” he hissed.
“We have to get out of here.”
“I’m not leaving him here!”
I wished I could do something for him, but the only realistic option was to leave as fast as possible.
“I know…” I said, my tone begging, “but we don’t have any time. Please…”
“Didn’t you hear me? I’m not-“
Unable to sit around and dispute the subject, I seized his arm and tore from the building. Regardless of my drunken state, I was still the stronger and faster of the two of us. And no matter how hard he tried to pull away from me, I was able to get to the Impala right before the police stopped at the bar. I could see them in the side mirror of the passenger side, the lights of their cars brilliant against the darkness of the night.
“Dean?” I asked after a few minutes of a dead silence.
I looked at him for the first time since I had forced him into the driver’s seat. He hadn’t started the engine yet. He hadn’t even looked for his keys. All he could do was look out the windshield, his mind most likely a blank.
“Please don’t talk to me. Not now.”
I leaned back against the seat and closed my eyes, scared that if I kept looking at him, I would start to cry. I had no right to cry at that point. If I did, it would show weakness, something I didn’t think he needed then. It must have been twenty minutes before I heard him move, rattling car keys. We rode back to the motel listening to some very melancholy classic rock song, one that made things worse than they already were.