Buffy's room, uncomfortably stripped and bare, seemed to shrink and cringe away from Joyce's starving eyes. Go away, it seemed to say, whatever you're looking for, it isn't here.

Joyce could no longer tell that this was Buffy's room – her personality had been surgically removed; it could have belonged to anybody, old, young, male, female. The room had no aura about it anymore.

Buffy was gone.

And she wasn't coming back.

There was a note on the bed.

Like a man in the desert to a glass of water, Joyce snatched up the note and scanned it. Her daughter's hands had held this paper, her daughter's heart had written these words –

No. It hadn't.

Just like the room, the paper held nothing of Buffy.

Her note was blank.

Blank, like Buffy had nothing to say to her mother? Blank, like everything she wanted to say was too painful and complicated to put down? Blank, because she'd run out of time and left in a hurry?

Blank, because there was nothing that Buffy wanted to say.

Tears forced themselves through her eyes, screaming her despair to the world. Buffy was gone. Gone, and there was nothing here for Joyce to hold on to. Her daughter had looked her in the eye and walked away. And Joyce knew that, if Buffy could somehow go back and change things, she wouldn't.

What have I done?

What do I do now?

Joyce stood up and let the paper flutter to the floor, catching at the updrafts to keep itself afloat. It brushed the carpet and lay still, apologetically. Joyce stepped over it and through the doorway, turning back for one last look.

Buffy had cut herself off from her mother. Joyce owed it to her to do the same.

She closed the door firmly on what was left of their shared life.