August 2, 2012 - National Nothing Day
Summary: **Part of the 2012 LiveJournal's Twisted Shorts August Fic-A-Day** series, also known as the 'Wacky Holiday Series'. Buffy finds some friendly people that help her heal.
Challenge: for the livejournal 2012 August Fic-a-Day Challenge.
Warning: slightly darker Buffy.
Timeline: AU post-season 2 for BtVS; vaguely season 6 for Matlock, but change the dates so they line up.
A/N: Remember, the dates in the title won't match the dates of the holidays; those are mentioned in the story. So glad I was able to write an Andy Griffith story for this series.
Disclaimer: BtVS/AtS characters belong to Joss Whedon/Mutant Enemy. Matlock characters belong to Dean Hargrove, The Matlock Company, Viacom Productions, Paramount Network Television, and CBS Television Distribution. I claim no rights to any copyrighted material. Please do not copy or take this story without my permission.
Ben Matlock was a bit of a contradiction to those who weren't his close friends. As one of the best defense attorneys in the state of Georgia, if not the country, he made very good money. One would think that he would have flashy clothes and an equally flashy car, eat at the finest restaurants…those kinds of things. But no…he wore the same gray suit year after year, ate hot dogs from vendors on the street…and generally complained whenever he had to spend money. Most people thought his picture should be in the dictionary next to the word 'thrifty'; harsher people substituted a different word, though.
It was his almost habitual hiring of people down on their luck to work around his house that confused his acquaintances even more. Okay, so on the one hand, he got cheap labor – assuming the people he hired actually did the work he hired them for – but on the other hand, he was letting unpredictable people know where he lived. It was a bit foolhardy on his part.
His latest employee was a very young girl. So young, in fact, that he insisted that his daughter, Leanne, was always present when he spoke to the girl who called herself 'Anne'. He wasn't so foolish as to put himself into a position where somebody could accuse him of impropriety with a minor.
Anne had showed up just after the New Year, and after she helped him stop somebody who was fleeing the scene of a crime that could prove his client's innocence, he offered her some work and a place to stay. Something about her eyes made it impossible not to help her anyway he could.
For two weeks she worked harder than any of his previous temporary employees. His house never looked so clean and fixed up. In fact, he was running out of things for her to do and she still hadn't shared her secrets with them. He knew she had some pretty major ones if her nightmares were any indication. The first night they heard her cry out, Leanne had to be restrained so she didn't go into the basement where the girl insisted on sleeping. When the girl was ready to talk, they'd be waiting, but they wouldn't force her.
Now he was worried that Anne would leave before they could help her. So he devised a solution he hoped would work.
When she woke up from her fitful sleep, Buffy (aka 'Anne') quickly got dressed and went upstairs to get her list of chores for the day. Over the past six months, she kept working as long as she could so she'd drop in exhaustion when she finally went to sleep. The hope was that if she was really tired, she wouldn't dream as much. The hope was a lie, though; her nightmares were consistent whether she fell asleep immediately or not. The only good thing about being exhausted was her mind didn't wander to the people she left behind in Sunnydale.
At least they had a Slayer there now.
After she left Lily in Los Angeles to go home, Buffy came back to find a brunette Slayer taking care of some vampires and joking around with the gang. It stung that she was so easily replaced, but it freed her from the Hellmouth too.
Since leaving again, she basically went where her dreams led her. The Slayer dreams…not the nightmares about Angel.
For money, she'd either do odd jobs like she was for the lawyer guy and his daughter, or if things were really tight, she'd hustle guys by arm wrestling them. Once or twice she even did some street fighting for money.
That method was to be avoided as much as possible, though, because it tended to attract the wrong kind of attention. One time she barely escaped becoming a slave for some creep who thought it would be interesting to have a female as tough as her. She kind of regretted his death…a little. Then she justified it to herself that she was saving his present and future slaves.
Fortunately, this town was pretty quiet after she took care of the baddie she came for. Plus there was the kindly older gentleman who seemed insistent on helping her. It felt nice to be worried about again. Her eyes teared up momentarily as she remembered the good times with her mom…before the Slayer issue drove them apart. Ruthlessly she shoved those thoughts back into their box in her mind and walked into the kitchen to start breakfast.
"Good morning, Mr. Matlock, Ms. MacIntyre," she greeted her boss and his daughter when they came in twenty minutes later.
"Good morning, Anne," they replied in unison as they sat down with their food.
"Breakfast looks great," Leanne added with a warm smile…another reminder of the woman who raised Buffy that the teen had to push away so she could return the smile, albeit a touch forced on her part. It wasn't Leanne's fault that her friendly gestures reminded the young girl of her mother.
"Do you have my list for today, sir?" Buffy asked respectfully. Part of the morning routine that they worked out the first couple mornings was that during breakfast, he would give her a list of chores and any money she would need for supplies that day.
Ben paused as he was chewing; he hoped this would work. He swallowed and cleared his throat before saying, "Today's a special day…sort of a holiday."
Buffy looked confused. The only holiday she remembered in the middle of January was Martin Luther King Jr. Day…but that was in two days on Monday. Or at least that was the case in California. Maybe it was different here?
He went on when she didn't interrupt him, "January 16th is National Nothing Day. My daughter and I celebrate it by just sitting around and relaxing for the day. I play my guitar sometimes or we read…anything that is relaxing for us. All Leanne has to do is run to the store for the food tray we ordered yesterday. Since you are part of our family this year, we'd like you to join us in doing nothing." He didn't mention that this was their first year celebrating the odd holiday.
Despite the fact she had never heard of this supposed holiday, Buffy warily agreed to relax with them. But after a couple hours of sitting around, she started to get antsy so she got up to run through some katas Giles had taught her for meditation.
Ben and his daughter watched Anne exercise; the girl apparently couldn't handle the idea of being still.
"You're very good at that," Ben remarked when she finished and grabbed a glass of water. "Have you been studying martial arts long?"
"A couple years," Buffy answered tersely, uncomfortable with the idea of sharing anything from her past.
Leanne saw her agitation and quickly suggested, "You two feel like playing three-handed cribbage?"
Playing cards helped pass the time much better than sitting around reading – at least in Buffy's opinion. On the down side, it offered more chances for conversation as well. Her hosts were very sneaky about easing into the talk; they basically chatted about stuff in their own lives, then casually asked her if she had anything to contribute to a certain topic they were discussing.
Before she knew what was happening, she explained that she had run away from home after the police tried to arrest her for murder. Obviously, she left out any supernatural stuff, but she still told them more than anyone else had managed to discover about her in the past six months.
"I know you're nervous about telling us all this," Ben said, guessing by the look in her eyes that she probably wouldn't be there in the morning. "However, before you leave, why don't you let us see if you are still a suspect? Maybe there's a chance you can go home again."
As her dad went to the telephone, Leanne cut in, "Give me five dollars, Anne." When Buffy hesitated, she explained, "If you pay me a retainer, I cannot divulge our conversation if it turns out that you are still a suspect. The most I can do is recommend that you turn yourself in, then defend you against the charges."
Buffy knew she wouldn't be going back to Sunnydale, but it would be nice to know if she had to stay off the police's radar for the crime she didn't commit. She wouldn't tell them about the one she did commit.
A quick phone call to the police department in Sunnydale eased their concerns. Leanne found out that Giles and Buffy's friends gave the police Drusilla's description and the warrant for Buffy had been dismissed. Ben and his daughter weren't at all concerned that she was the person the police were looking for since the description wasn't anything like the girl in front of them.
They also guessed her real identity. Buffy found she didn't mind being Buffy again…if only for a few days.
Ironically, her nightmares about Angel lessened after she let go of some of her anxiety of the past. Unfortunately, she only had a couple more nights with the lawyers before her Slayer dreams had her on the road again.
When she reached into her coat on the bus, she found one of Matlock's business cards and $500 in tens and twenties. That was in addition to the money he paid her earlier for her work. She smiled fondly as she held the card. He was a really decent guy.
A/N: Had a darker Buffy than I intended, but I kinda thought that being on her own like that would make her more like wishverse Buffy.