The light seemed far too bright and she didn't understand it, or what was going on, in her sleepy haze. Buffy blinked her eyes open a few more times then she rubbed her face.
She realized that she had left her watch on last night, about a second before realizing she had left everything on from last night when she found herself too tired to even go change for bed. Buffy let out a slight groan, then she lifted her wrist up so she could check the time and almost screamed at what she saw.
In a hurry, Buffy sat up on her bed and reached out quickly for her alarm clock, finding herself not all that surprised when she noticed it's blank face staring back at her. Next, she tried to flick on her bedside lamp but was even less surprised when nothing happened but a small clicking noise.
"Fuck," Buffy hissed, hurrying out of bed and out of her room, going straight across the hall to pound on her sister's door a few times before letting herself in.
"Jesus, Buffy," Dawn moaned, waking up herself. "Where's the fire?"
"It's almost noon, Dawn. You're late for school, get up. And hurry."
The one eye Dawn had opened squinted at her older sibling. "Oh, well, let me guess..."
"Yes, okay, I didn't pay the light bill. Sorry. I will get right on it, alright? Just please get up and get moving would you?" she asked, throwing some clothes on Dawn's bed before reaching around for some of her sister's school supplies.
Dawn slowly began to sit up. "Why even bother? The day's already half done."
This was so not the day for this.
"Fine, Dawn," Buffy said, throwing her hands up. "Don't go, just go right on black to sleep." Buffy turned away before her sister could see the tears beginning to build and she started for the door, closing it behind her. Buffy leaned back against the hard wood, trying to calm the hell down. "When they come to take you away at least we''ll know better than to be surprised," she said softly to herself.
But Dawn heard it as well, having crept her way over to the door. She felt guilty instantly.
Dawn heard Buffy's footsteps moving away and she slowly opened her door and headed for the bathroom to get help get herself ready to go.
At the sound of a loud thud and a string of curses, Dawn guessed Buffy just found out that the water was also turned off, something that she had figured out moments before herself.
Dawn finished getting dressed the best she could then went to the kitchen to grab some bottled water to brush her teeth with before grabbing all of her books and school supplies and going to find Buffy.
"Sorry about the water."
Dawn shrugged and look anywhere but at her.
Buffy stood for a moment then bowed her head. "Okay well.. let's get you go school."
"They're still going to take me aren't they?"
"I don't know, Dawnie. It's possible." She reached for a pen and hurried out a note. She knew she should go in there with her, but she dreaded what she knew would come from it. Dawn reached for the door but Buffy stopped her, her heart climbing into her throat. "I'm gonna sell the house Dawn. That's where I'm going now, to see what we can do..."
Dawn shot her a look then she shrugged away. "Do whatever you want," she told her angrily then hopped out of the car, stomping her way up to the school.
After that meeting, Buffy grabbed up a paper and sat in her car looking for jobs.
She didn't know how much time had passed but she'd made a few dozen phone calls, set up plenty of appointments so far and had made a hefty list of places to hit when she got the phone call from Willow. One she was surprised hadn't come sooner.
"Is there some reason we've skipped our classes today, missy?"
Buffy sighed. 'Come to think of it...' She tried to think of the best way to get everything out, apparently she was taking too long though.
"Yeah, sorry Will. I just..." she sighed again.
"Dawn was late for school because the power wasn't paid for, neither was the water and who knows what else. It's not like we have a million chances to screw up you know and it's like an every day fear that they're going to come and she'll be gone."
"Oh Buffy..." Willow cried out, hearing her friend's voice starting to close up on the other line.
But she kept trying to truck on. "And now she's even more pissed at me because I told her we've got to sell the house. You know that's the last thing I want but we just cannot afford it. I signed all the paperwork and got it set up today, now we just got to pack, find a new place and wait for someone to be interested. And I still don't know how we're going to make it. There will still be rent, food, gas, clothing, power, water, everything... and I just don't know what to do Will..."
"Buffy, it's going to be okay. We're going to get through this, you know we're all here to help you and Dawn with anything you need sweetie. It's going be fine, trust me."
There was a few minutes of silence and she could hear Buffy's battle between breaking down and trying to pull it all back together.
"What are you doing now?" she finally asked.
"Looking for a job."
"A job? Buffy, you don't have time for one... with Dawn and classes and..."
Buffy bit her lip. "I'll figure it out. Somehow. I'll probably have to drop out, at least for awhile, but it's gonna be okay. Just like you said."
Willow remained quite though there was so much she did want to say but finally she let out a sigh of her own and promised to call her later and maybe stop by as well, which was the only good news Buffy had heard all day. Then after the hung up she went to go see what she could do to help and see who else she could get involved as well while Buffy went back to searching.
Up until it was time to go get Dawn, Buffy went place to place turning in resume's and setting up interview times and just looking for anything she could. Dawn didn't speak to her the whole ride back, but when she walked in, she turned around and shot a glare Buffy's way. "Light's are still off."
She closed her eyes. "Yeah, sorry, I forgot. I'll call them right now."
"They won't be able to come out this late so what exactly do you suggest we do? I do have homework and will probably need to eat and... nevermind... I'm just going to go to Janice's okay?"
"I can..." Dawn bumped into her on her way back to the door and she sighed, "Want a ride?"
"No," Dawn said hotly then opened and slammed the door.
Buffy slunk down to the ground, pressing her back to the way behind her and her knees up to her chest. She pushed her hands into her hair and took a few deep breaths, wondering how in the world they were going to make it through this.
Buffy's eyes wandered around the empty room, stopping on one of her favorite pictures of the room. It was one of just the three of them, her, Dawn and their late mother Joyce. She slunk on the ground over to it, lifting it up off of the table and bringing it down to her, her mother's shinning face making the heartache almost too much to bear. "Why did you have to go?" she asked aloud, her voice hoarse.
She was here one day, gone the next. No warning, no nothing. Now here she was.. all alone. And everything was so messed up and out of control.
She'd been told more times than she could count that it was supposed to get better, but she believed that less and less with every passing day.
It was a few days later and Buffy had been on her way to another interview when she got a call from her friend Lily, begging her for a favor.
"Oh, come on Buffy. It's perfect. Good hours, nice pay, easy work. All you have to do is spend some time with a little old lady, a sweet and funny old lady at that. She already has a driver, a cook and a nurse who stops by every other day and is on call in case you need her. She's just lonely and that's where we come in. So you just spend time with her, make sure she takes her meds, and clean up a little around her house and such."
"I don't think I'm the right person for this, Lil."
"You're all I've got. I already told my boss all about you and Grace as well. They thought you sounded perfect. And really Buf, you're all I've got on such short notice. So please? Just go meet with her, be a temp for a day and I'll take over until we can find someone if need be."
Buffy sighed. She knew she need the money like yesterday and did want to help her friend out, she knew how much her clients meant to her and Buffy admired everything she did, she just never thought it was for her she supposed.
Buffy sighed again. "I'll at least check it out," she said tiredly into the phone and heard Lily's smile through her voice on the other end with her thank you's and promises. "Where do you want me to go?" she asked and spent the whole ride as she tried to find her way to the woman's house learning about her and the situation.
Buffy looked herself over in the windows to the large house then knocked on the door.
A minute later she was face to face with one Grace Callahan. "You must be Buffy."
"Yes ma'am," she returned the smile and stuck out her hand, "It's very nice to meet you, Missus Callahan."
"Oh, none of that child. You feel free to call me Grace," she said cheerfully as they shook hands then invited her to come on inside.
Grace led her through the house to the kitchen where she met the cook but, more importantly, the two sat down and spent a little time getting to know one another better.
Buffy was surprised how well she got along with the woman as well as her lack of interested it seemed with any of her qualifications, which was excellent for her seeing as she really had none. But Grace never asked about her work experience or schooling or anything like that, only personal but not too personal things to get to know her better.
And that was fine with her.
And Grace also never spoke anything about being sick or seemed it at all. Also something Buffy didn't mind.
Buffy finished her cup of coffee then they continued through the house, giving Buffy the grand tour of the place, leaving her mesmorized by it, something that Grace found herself laughing at more than once.
Buffy smiled. "What? It's just so... beautiful!"
"Well, thank you dear," she replied and gave some backstory to the house and its history with her family.
"Do you live here alone?" The house may have been beautiful and part of her family, but it seemed so awfully big and lonely to have it all to yourself Buffy thought.
"No, my grandson lives here as well, although he is quite a busy man and is hardly around. It's usually just me."
Buffy could see why she was interested in the program then. Even if some of the servadepaturents lived here as well, it still seemed lonely.
"His name is Angel O'Shea, my grandson that is," she reached for one of the pictures and handed it to Buffy, pointing him out, "that's him."
Buffy felt a little pitter-patter action going on with her heart as she stared at the picture but once she realized it shook it off. "Seems like a nice guy," she offered, "Can't wait to meet him."
"If you're lucky, you just might. But he's usually working so comes home later most days. Sometimes he is around on the weekends though. But he is nothing short of living up to his name," she said with a smile.
And that's how most of the day was spent.
Buffy got the tour of the house, excluding going up the attic, but was shown how to get up there and what was in it, and the area that was more Angel's, just shown where it was as well. She also got in some of the housework. She did a few loads of laundry and cleaned up a bit. But mostly, she just spent time talking and hanging out with Grace.
When it came time to leave, she was happy to have agreed and couldn't wait to see how this all played out.
For a while, she was able to forget about her every little problem and sort of dreaded having to go back out to face them.
But, there was always tomorrow.
At least she hoped.
Grace stood in the door, watching the young blonde fading away down the road and smiled before coming back inside and closing the door. She walked over to the phone and dialed up Lily's phone number to thank her for going out of her way with everything and for sending over her friend.
"So everything went okay then?"
'Had it ever.' Grace complimented the young girl she had met today many times over and thanked Lily and the agency even more times than that. Buffy was quite a breath of fresh air, just what she had been looking for. She wasn't one of the other girls, which she already knew from Lily earlier, but even if she hadn't it wasn't hard to tell. She had no problems with any of them, they just didn't quite fit the bill she wished they would have.
After her call with Lily, she checked the time then rang up Angel to tell him the news as well. She always kept him informed about everything, but she did kind of dread telling the news of the last girl's sudden departure. It wasn't her fault really, she had a family emergency come up out of nowhere, but she was still going to have to do some convincing that it worth it. And to her, it really was.
It had only been a few days before Angel had already become used to hearing all about this Buffy girl every night when he came home at night. He wondered if his grandmother actually loved this girl as much as she obviously seemed to, or if she was just trying to convince him of it. But, either way, he knew she wanted to keep her around.
And that was what had him on the phone for hours trying to explain that to the same people who'd sent her over in the first place.
Apparently, this Buffy girl wasn't exactly one of their employees and not exactly qualified to be one either, she was just a friend of one of the girls who did a favor, but to Grace that just didn't matter. It didn't matter much to him either seeing as the whole time he had his own doctor coming by just about every other day and was on call anyway.
It was nice to have a back up but it wasn't that important, at least not anymore.
To them though, it was another story. This Buffy was just there sort of like a temporary and now they'd found someone else to come in.
And that was now one big problem.
He had already tried talking to these people and even offering to double the pay but they kept trying to sell him for this new girl. It was quite irritating.
It had taken hours of his time, they kept ignoring him basically, he was doing this instead of working like he should have been... and best of all is he hadn't even met the girl he was fighting so hard for. It was pretty laughable, but he was on his grandmother's side and wanted to make her happy so... here he was.
He could tell though how nervous they were on over the phone and he wondered if he should have just gone over there instead. He knew this probably would have been a much shorter conversation if he had as he scared the holy bejesus out of most of them, which is why he rarely ever went in and was never around when their people were over. Now it seemed like a good idea.
Tired of the woman's voice going on and on on the other side of the line Angel finally growled. "Who's the friend?"
The woman audibly sucked in her breath for a moment. "Uh.. the one that..."
"Yes," he growled again.
"Lily. Uh, Lily Steele, sir."
"Can I talk to her please?"
"Look, we're obviously not getting anywhere so since she's friends with this Buffy girl I'm guessing she has a phone number or address for her which I'm going to ask for and then go over your heads and ask her to continue coming over myself."
He heard the woman fretting about and finally he heard a door open and a few random other noises before the familiar voice of Jenny Calendar. And after going through all of this again, they finally settled on a new agreement.
'Why couldn't they have just gotten her in the first place?' he asked himself angrily as he looked at the clock, noticing how much time he'd wasted with the other two before.
Sighing, he picked the phone back up and dialed home, hoping bringing Grace some joy would make it seem worth it before he went back to his day.
"Looks like you really made an impression."
"What are you talking about?" Buffy asked, fumbling with the paper in her hands as she scanned for any ads she might have missed.
"You, my friend, have been hired to be the permanant replacement for one lovely Grace Callahan. And that grandson of hers is even doubling your pay for it."
Buffy sat there shocked. "But.. I can't..."
"You can and you should. Jenny's already agreed and Grace loves you and you need the money."
"I'm no more qualified to do this job then I was the day you asked me to do it."
"Doesn't matter, at least not this time. She's your only client and she's already taken care of as before. She just liked you and didn't want to see you go."
Buffy sighed and thought about it for a moment.
"Can I sleep on it?"
"Sure, you wouldn't be going back until the first of next week anyway right? Jenny'll be here in the morning I believe, might be in over the weekend some more but you should think about it and let us know."
The next morning Buffy had made up her mind and called in to speak with Jenny about getting everything set up properly. She even went in for about an hour to do a little bit of almost training and to sign papers and things like that.
After she left she went back to job hunting.
She hoped it would help having one more permanent job with pretty regular hours to show for as she searched for a second and possibly even a third one to go along with it. The very generous offer to double her pay was great, but she knew it wasn't enough for them right now. But it would obviously help and that was something they were in serious need of.
It did worry her though. It was a lot of pressure in some ways, especially when she had no idea what she was doing really. Whatever she was doing right though she hoped she could keep up. This was a lifesaver and she was afraid to mess it up and be left nowhere all of sudden down the line.