It has been forever since I posted something. Real life and real schoolwork kind of got in the way. But I'm still around, and I'm still writing! Just very slowly. I hope you enjoy!

Set in a vague post-Chosen universe.

Depression.

No one ever said the word in that long, horrible year. Or maybe they did, but never to her face. Never in a way that would matter. And anytime she thought it, she just pushed it back down. But she knew- even when she couldn't admit it- what she was feeling.

A colorless world. Everything and everyone else moving but never her. She was stuck. Frozen in place as the world moved and shifted around her. Trapped. Everything muted. Nothing getting through. Nothing but-

It makes her wonder. How many others? How many others had been like her in the long line of infant warriors? How many more would be like her in the future, even in this new world of soldiers.

Giles would know. He has all the records, and even if they lie… well, she has gotten far too accustomed to puzzling out the things no one will say. And Giles has always been good at that.

Together, they could surely figure it out. But talking to Giles would make everything in her past real, and she just isn't ready, so she stays silent.

And yet.

The thought haunts her. Tugs at her, won't leave her alone. Follows her around for months that first year after Sunnydale. Until she finally looks across her dining room table on a rare night when they are alone, and asks him flat out.

"Giles? How many slayers have killed themselves?"

He nearly chokes on his ravioli.

"Buffy! Wha- why on earth do you want to know that?"

"I was just wondering. Maybe if, if it's a… danger, we should set up some sort of, I don't know, counseling? For, uh, for depression?" She prays that he hasn't caught the way her voice wavers on that last word. Depression. It's the first time she's said it out loud.

But when she meets his eyes, she can see that he noticed. His eyes are incredibly soft. Warm in a way she hasn't seen in a long time. "Buffy…"

"It can't-" her voice cracks. "It can't have just been me, Giles."

He looks startled. "What you did was sacrifice, Buffy, not suicide."

"Not that. You know I'm not talking about that. I'm talking about later. After." She doesn't add that he wouldn't know, since he wasn't there. She doesn't need to.

There is fear now, on his familiar, fatherly face. She is confused, until he speaks and she realizes what he must be thinking. "You didn't-"

"No! No, I never tried. But…"

"But?"

"I wanted to. I thought about it. How I could- how I could make it look like an accident. On patrol or something."

Giles takes a sharp, surprised breath and covers her hand with his own. She smiles in acknowledgement, but pushes on.

"I didn't try to get help. Didn't know how to ask for it. I wasn't even sad most of the time. I was just…numb. Like, like I couldn't feel anything less than the extremes. Extreme pain. Extreme p-pleasure."

She can feel herself blushing, but she ignores it. "But even that was…muffled. Like it was far away. And it wasn't just after I died, not really. I didn't want to die, but I just felt so cold. So heavy. And I'd been feeling that way for a long, long time.

"It's not like that anymore. I feel better now. I really do. But I've been thinking about the baby slayers. And I know it's different now, with so many. It's less lonely for them. But we're asking them to fight. We're asking them to make this huge sacrifice. They don't have to do it. I know they have a choice now, and that's great, but they're slayers Giles. It's in their blood to fight. It's in their blood to die.

"And what if the depression is in their blood too? It's passed down through families sometimes, Giles. What if we're all just a little bit…broken?

"I just- I think we should let them know that they really aren't alone. That there's someone to talk to if they need it. That it's okay to ask for help."

He squeezes her hand again. It takes a moment to place the look on his face, especially through the tears in both their eyes, but then she realizes. It's pride. He's looking at her with pride.

"I won't lie to you Buffy, suicide has happened. More often, I think, than we can possibly prove. And I think you're quite right. About letting them know how to ask for help. And that it will be offered to them, no questions asked."

His fingers tighten on hers, and she looks up from the place mat she's been studying. The ferocity behind his next words startles her.

"I need you to hear me. You, my dear, are not broken. You have been dealt a hand that most aren't even able to fathom. You have seen more, done more, than many three times your age. And the way you've met those challenges, it has nothing to do with being The Slayer. It is because of you. Because of who you are. And you are so strong and so brave and so wonderful and I don't tell you that nearly enough. But you are not broken."

Tears are sliding down her face, and landing in her pasta, but Buffy can't bring herself to care.

If she were better with words, maybe she'd be able to articulate how she felt. How his words, and his pride, and his overwhelming faith in her, made a knot in her chest she hadn't even been aware of, loosen. But she is not a wordsmith, and she never has been. So the only words she has will have to be enough.

"Thank you."