TITLE: "Little Plastic Castles" (1/1)
AUTHOR: Marie-Claude Danis
EMAIL: [email protected]
SUMMARY: About feeling numb and helpless. A 9/11/01 fic.
I hadn't prayed to God since grade school. I have today.
* * *
Buffy and I, we had a schedule. Now that we were living together, settling comfortably in our own little two-bedroom apartment, we needed to find a way to work around our different sleeping habits. We did, after all, both very much want to spend a considerable amount of time together in bed, be it for rest or, well, recreation. This is how it was going to work.
Buffy would get up every morning around 8:30, just in time to see Dawn off to school. Then she'd have breakfast and read the paper, before wandering back to our bedroom for another few hours of sleep. Around noon we'd both get up and start our day. We'd poke around until sundown, and do most of our activities thereafter. Then Buffy would go to bed around one in the morning, and I'd follow soon after.
Repeat as needed.
As luck had it, it had been everyday for close to four months now. I'd always been a creature of habit; this was one I could definitely get used to. Somewhere in there a routine with her had become one of the best things in the world.
And so this morning I stirred awake around 7:00, as usual, when Dawn got in the shower. I rolled over and wrapped my arm securely around the warm, pink flesh by my side, and she moaned happily, adjusting to the new position. I drifted off again.
I woke up again at 8:30, when Buffy slithered out of my embrace and got out of bed. She thinks I don't wake up when she does that, but I do. Every time. 'Cause that way I get to watch her walk around our bedroom in her underwear in the bright morning light, and am reminded of why this is all worth it. This morning she put on sweats and a cotton tank top, pulled her hair up in a loose ponytail, and tiptoed out of the room quietly. I smiled, and went right back to sleep.
What must've been about an hour later, she crawled back into bed, as expected. I yawned, stretched, and reached for her.
She shook my arm and I opened my eyes, to find her kneeling next to me in the wrinkled sheets.
And let me tell you something.
I'd seen this woman fight Hell itself. I'd seen her watch her mother die. I'd seen her afraid. Frightened. Scared witless. I'd seen her grieve, I'd seen her give up. But what I'd never seen was that look she had on her face now. I flinched at the sight, and felt the world tilt under us.
"Buffy, what's wrong?" I sat up, blinking away slumber and pushing the hair out of my eyes.
She looked at me, gaze blank with terror. "The sky is falling," she whispered.
Then she tugged at my arm and I followed her into our livingroom. The television was on, and she stopped right in front of it. I stood next to her and watched in quiet horror as the world, as we knew it, ended. She reached for my hand and squeezed it. She asked if it was okay to cry.
I couldn't think of a better time to.
* * *
That night, after hours spent watching, after holding Dawn until she fell to bed exhausted, after Xander and Willow and Tara and even Angel, after everything, Buffy and I made an exception to our carefully thought-out schedule, and both turned in early, together.
I laid on our unmade bed, showered and sporting only a pair of boxer shorts. I rubbed at my face, wrung out and numb, and reached blindly with my free hand to touch her back. She was sitting on the edge of the bed, on her side, with her back to me. She hadn't changed clothes since morning and didn't look like the thought to do so had even crossed her mind.
"Yeah." He voice was horse, barely there.
"Come to bed, pet..."
Another long moment. "Yeah." She reached to turn off the bedside lamp and joined me atop the rumpled sheets. We faced each other and held on. Legs tangled, foreheads touched. She couldn't stop looking at me now, and I couldn't look away. She touched my cheek with shaking fingers.
"What am I supposed to do?" she breathed, crying.
I tucked her hair behind her ear, fighting my own tears. "What do you mean, love?"
A sob shook her and her fingers dug into my back, clinging. "When I can't do anything to save the world?"