Author: Kat Lee
Fandom: Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Character/Pairing: Buffy, Joyce
Challenge/Prompt: 1_million_words Numbers Challenge: 546
Word Count: 550
Date Written: 16 July, 2016
Disclaimer: All characters within belong to Whedon, not the author, and are used without permission.
She inches carefully through the darkness, her hands as tightly clenched as though she's still wielding her stakes. There is no real danger in this place, but nonetheless she's unnerved. She knows every inch, every board that will creak, every spot where the sun beginning to rise outside might catch and illuminate her skin. She knows how to get this done better even than her real job. She's been doing it for almost as long. She can make it --
The light switches on. Buffy stills, heart instinctively leaping into her throat, as her mother's small form casts a long shadow towering over her. She almost squeaks as she looks up at her. "Hi, Mom?" she offers weakly. She's saved the world a multitude of times. She saves lives every night, and yet now underneath her mother's stern gaze, the Slayer suddenly feels ten years old again.
"Don't 'hi, Mom' me!" Joyce snaps, her arms folded across her chest in a stance, Buffy knows, that is never a good sign. "Do you have any idea what time it is, young lady?"
"Hum? About an hour after I saved the world again?" Buffy tries, and Joyce sighs. It's the small, defeated sound she gives when she knows she can't really argue with her daughter. It's the sound of defeat but the sound of pain and heartache, too. Buffy's countenance instantly sinks lower.
Joyce shakes her head and glances at the watch she no longer takes off except when she's bathing. "5:46," she tells her. "Less than an hour for time for you to get up to go to school." Her eyes narrow at her daughter. "Do you have any tests today?" she quizzes.
Buffy quickly shakes her head even while trying to remember if that test Willow warned her about is actually tomorrow or today. What, she wonders tiredly, even is today? The fourteenth? Fifteenth? Sixteenth? Her days have been running together for so long now that there are times she barely even recognizes the sound of her own name.
"Go to your room," Joyce instructs sternly. "Strip out of those bloody clothes and leave them in the hamper just outside your room."
Buffy frowns. Since when is there a hamper outside her door? she wonders but doesn't dare ask.
Her mother suddenly sounds weary herself as she continues, "Don't set your alarm." Buffy's green eyes widen; she just barely manages to keep from her mouth from dropping open. "When you get up, we'll go get something to eat. Just the two of us. Your choice."
Buffy grins and darts up the stairs. She kisses her mother's cheek and flashes her a huge and grateful grin. "You're the best, Mom," she gushes, meaning it for the first time in a long time.
No, Joyce thinks, turning to watch her daughter continue bounding up the stairs. You're the best, Buffy. She knows no other mother's child has ever saved the world as much. If they're both a little weary, they both pretend not to notice. After all, they've got each other today, and beyond that, who knows? No one ever really knows how long they have. Joyce smiles as she watches the light bouncing on her daughter's blonde hair. At least her child came home this morning, and for that, she's eternally grateful.