Buffy gets a well done from the boss.

I Want to Thank You

By JoeB1451

Disclaimer Buffy belongs to Mutant Enemy.  Oh God! Belongs to Warner Brothers.

Buffy sat at her favorite café in Rome.  It was just down the street from the Vatican, and the surrounding architecture was magnificent.  She was seated at 'her' table and was reading the newspaper as she enjoyed her breakfast.  Well, reading was something of an overstatement; Dawn had suggested to her as a means of learning Italian she read the newspaper everyday and translated the words she didn't understand.  In the beginning it meant she only got one or two stories 'read' as she was constantly going back to her English/Italian dictionary, but over the course of the last couple of months she was starting to pick up the language.

"Pardon me Buffy, do you mind if I sit here?" A kindly, older voice asked.

Buffy's head snapped up, she hadn't detected this persons approach.  Okay, he looked harmless enough; he was elderly, taller than she was and rail thin.  He had a pair of glasses with coke bottle lenses perched on a thin nose in front of a set of laughing eyes.  He was wearing typical American tourist wear with a pair of khakis and a light blue windbreaker with a matching ball cap with some kind of nautical stuff on it.

"Sure, have a seat.  But you know me, I don't think I know you," she replied.

The stranger sat down and smiled at her, "I'm God," he told the young woman.

Buffy blinked, "You'll understand that I want a little proof of that," she said in a disbelieving voice.

The stranger nodded, like he expected that response. Then reaching behind himself he pulled a battered leather wallet out of his back pocket.  He opened it and handed it over to Buffy.  She took it and saw an international drivers license in the top sleeve of the wallet.  It said, "God, 1 Heavenly Way, Heaven.  The zip code was an infinity sign."  Buffy stared at the license, the picture was too good for this to be a real license, she still cringed when she though of her own.

"I was thinking more of a demonstration of some kind," Buffy said as she handed back the wallet.

The stranger glanced around, "We're a little close to the Vatican for anything showy," he said.

"Scared they'll detect you and do something to you?"  Buffy asked in a slightly teasing tone.

"Detect yes, but do something?  I'm more worried at the response.  Whenever they figure out I'm in the neighborhood it's like kicking over an anthill.  A lot of the people in that building aren't as young as they used to be, and I'd hate to cause any heart attacks.

"So, how about this instead?"  Reaching out he tapped Buffy's newspaper with a finger.  Buffy started, her paper was now written in English, with her notes in the margin written in Italian.

"Okay, that was pretty good, but I know several people that could do the same thing," Well, three counted as several right?

"Tough crowd," the stranger said, but he was smiling.    He reached up and touched the back of Buffy's hand.  Suddenly Buffy felt warm and safe, she was loved, her family was safe and everything would work out.  The feeling lasted an Eternity and it was over in an instant.  As it started to fade Buffy felt herself wilting inside.  She had spent the last two years building her defenses, shutting away the memory of her time in Heaven, hoping that someday she would return there but until then she would live in this world.  She feared when the feeling disappeared this time she would be unable to rebuild them again and it would destroy her.  But, the feeling didn't end, instead it settled itself in her soul, were she knew, in the quiet times, she could touch it and have it fill her again.

She looked across the table at the stranger and said, "God!" It was at the same time the most reverent prayer, and the most causal blaspheme ever uttered by a person.  Buffy sat stunned there for an instant, then her face crumpled and she cried, "Where were you?"  It was not the cry of the Senior Slayer, not the woman who has saved the world more times than she cared to remembered, it was the cry of a young child, separated from her parents at the mall when she first sees them coming through the crowd.

"Buffy, you have to understand, I really can't get directly involved in things, usually."

Buffy's eyes hardened, "What do you mean, 'usually'," she asked, her voice getting a little angry.

"Ever hear of Sodom and Gomorrah?  That was me, getting directly involved in something."

"So you get indirectly involved?" Buffy retorted in a, 'you gotta be kidding me' voice.

"Let me tell you a story," God began.  "There once was a lady named Mary, she lived a just and devout life…"

"I think I know this one," Buffy all but snapped.

God stopped; people usually didn't interrupt him.

"You know, Mary, the donkey, three guys with the camels and gifts, no room in the inn?"  She prompted him.

"That's another Mary," God explained.  Getting back to his story, "Mary lived on the banks of a river at the base of a mountain.  One year the snow fell long and deep up in the mountains and the spring rains came fast and warm so all of the snow started melting at once.  The water rushed down the mountain and the river started rising.  Mary's neighbors came with a car and tried to get her to leave, but Mary said, "If you want to leave go ahead, but I have asked The Lord for help, he will not forsake me."  So the family left.  The rains kept falling and the river kept rising until Mary had to move to the roof of her house's porch. Then a small boat came down the river and the men in the boat saw Mary on her roof and motored over to her and told her to hop in and they would rescue her, but Mary sent them on their way saying, "The Lord will provide."  But the rains kept falling and the river kept rising until Mary was forced up on to the roof of her house.  Finally a helicopter flew over and spying Mary on her roof tried to get her to climb a ladder they dropped down to her, but she waved them off calling, "The Lord will keep me safe!"  The crew of the helicopter flew off.  The rain kept falling and the river kept rising and Mary drowned."

"I know just how she felt," Buffy mumbled.

God ignored the Slayer and continued, "Mary got to Heaven and was met at the gate by Saint Peter. He welcomed her, but she was having none of it and demanded to see the Boss.  Saint Peter showed her in and she came right up to my desk and said, "God, I'm pissed at you.  All my life, have I not lived not only the word, but the spirit of my faith?"

I was forced to nod, as she had done that and more.

"Then can you tell me why, the one time I asked you for help, you let me drown?"

"Let you drown?"  I asked incredulously.

"Yes!  I asked for help, and you sent nothing!"  Mary all but shouted.

"No help?  What do you call the car, the boat, and the helicopter?"

Buffy opened her mouth to retort then shut it again.  She looked off, lost in thought; finally she looked at the being on the other side of the table.  "Giles, Willow and Xander."

"And Cordelia, Oz, Ms. Calendar and all the others.  Oh, I didn't compel them to help you, if people are going to have free will, then it needs to be free will, but, lets just say I may of pushed things along sometimes."

"Did you 'push' Willow to yank me out of Heaven?"

"No, that was Willow's decision. I will confess to being the source for the Urn of Osiris she used in the ritual, but we both know if she hadn't gotten that she would have gone looking until she found something she could use.  I just gave her the best shot of getting you back intact."

"You could have held me in Heaven though, couldn't you have?"  Buffy asked in a low, dangerous voice.

God nodded.

"Then why didn't you, didn't I do enough?" 

"You did all I could have hoped for, and more.  But do you think Willow would have stopped?  Even then, she was out of control.  If I had stopped her attempt, she would have attempted even more risky spells to try and get you back, and yes, I could have countered every spell she could have tried and kept you in heaven.  Do you know why I didn't?"

Buffy angrily shook her head.

"Because she would have destroyed herself trying to get you back.  As it was she came close to destroying everything, but she chose not to."

Something suddenly clicked for Buffy, "You used us, all of us.  You knew that if Willow brought me back it would upset the balance and give the First the opening it used to try to get us.  YOU let Willow bring me back so I would slap the First down for you!"

God looked slightly surprised, then smiled, "Not quite.  I'll grant you, I wasn't unhappy with the outcome, but that wasn't what I was hoping would happen.  And once again, you exceed my expectations."

Buffy cocked an interrogative eyebrow at him.

"When the Slayer was first awakened, I kind of hoped that the Shadow Men would keep pace as the population of humans increased.  But they chose to consolidate their power, they feared that if multiple Slayers were created that they would band together and overthrow the Shadowmen's control.  So, until very recently there has only been one girl in all the world.

You've made it the way it should have been.  That's why I wanted to stop by and thank you.  You done good girl."

Buffy sat there in a small state of shock.  Very few people had ever thanked her, and the pat on the back was good too.

"There is one other thing," God began.

Buffy looked back up at God, suspicion back on her face.

Seeing it God smiled wider, "Giles is seriously underestimating the number of Slayers that Willow woke up.  There is no way you are going to be able to keep this quite.  You might want to be thinking up some contingency plans."

"Willow says the two hundred or so that she's found is about all there are," Buffy stated, a look of worry starting to appear on her face.

"There are almost two-thousand Slayers out there Buffy," God told her.  "They' re going to start making the news in a couple of weeks.  Your PR better be up to snuff.

Well, it was nice talking with you Buffy, but I really have to be going," God said as he stood up and started walking out of the restaurant."

"Wait!"  Buffy called after him.

God turned.

"Will I ever see you again?"

"Count on it," God assured her.

Buffy smiled.  "What if I have to talk to you?  Can I get your cell-phone number or something?"

God smiled back, "I'll tell you what Buffy.  You talk, I'll listen."  He then turned and walked into the crowd of people walking down the sidewalk and was gone.

Dawn found Buffy about a half hour later still sitting at the table with a bemused look on her face.  "What's up?" She asked her sister.