For those of you who have been reading so far, I've made a few changes. I was reading my posts and was horribly embarrassed by the typos I failed to catch before posting. I didn't realize that this website doesn't need html tags for italics and bold and so I deleted those, I've also added division lines where needed so the chapter doesn't look like it just runs together. So sorry about that guys, I'll be more careful from now on. P.S. these were my errors not my beta's.
A big thanks to Sanityfair for always reviewing my chapters and making wonderful suggestions and corrections.
Buffy walked up to the receptionist's desk in the counseling offices at Pen Bay Medical Center, giving the woman her name and information.
"Miss Summers, yes, you will be meeting with Dr. Maclay today. She will be out shortly," said a portly woman with overly teased curled bleached blonde hair that was pulled into a horrible attempt at a bouffant.
Buffy sniggered and got a glare for doing so, but she couldn't help it, she was reacting to the woman's inadvertent rhyme, and her nerves were a bit on high alert. Looking down in shame, she walked over to a chair and sat down, taking in the sterile environment of the office. Its walls were white, and the fluorescent lighting made the room very uninviting. Looking around, she noticed she was not the only patient waiting. Across from her sat a woman reading a magazine. The woman's age was indeterminable, but she looked anorexic. Her cheekbones jutted from her face as well as her clavicle jutted from her chest. The woman wasn't anorexic; Buffy knew because this office was for cancer patients. Said woman was also wearing a headscarf, and in that instant Buffy knew the picture this woman created would be her in a few months. Shaking off the shiver that ran up her spine, Buffy decided to go through the magazine selection provided to the patients in order to not have to look at the poor woman any longer. She got up to grab an interesting looking "People" magazine when she heard her name called. Looking up, she saw a blonde woman smiling at her.
"Are you Buffy Summers?" The woman took her hand and gently squeezed it in greeting.
"I'm Tara Maclay, follow me and I'll show you to my office."
Dr. Maclay had long blonde hair; Buffy looked at it and self-consciously touched her head, feeling only the scarf William had tied there earlier. She watched the young woman who couldn't have been much older than her walk ahead taking in her long flowing lavender skirt trimmed in gold embroidery. She had on a brown sweater, but Buffy had noticed a brown and blue tie-die v neck shirt under it when she had asked her to come in. Dr. Maclay was also wearing a long beaded necklace, which she had wrapped twice around her neck. Kind of a hippie. This might be of the good. She thought. Maybe she'll prescribe something to take the edge off, preferably something smokeable. Buffy laughed out loud at the thought of getting high. Yeah, right, like that would work. If Buffy and alcohol are unmixy, then Buffy and drugs had to be worse.
"Are you okay?" Dr. Maclay asked her while giving her a funny look.
"Yeah, I'm fine, just remembering something."
The doctor nodded and continued walking.
"This is me," she said walking up to a door and holding out her arm. "Please come in, take a seat, and make yourself comfortable."
Buffy walked in and sat on the cushy couch. She took in her surroundings as Dr. Maclay sat in a comfortable looking worn club chair that fit her "earthy" look perfectly. The room smelled of lavender, and she saw there were some lit candles. Definite hippie. She told herself. The walls were a calming green color, not too dark but not too light. She felt herself relaxing in the calming ambiance.
"How are you doing today Miss Summers?" the woman asked, smiling welcomingly.
Dr. Maclay had a very kind face, and her blue eyes shone with gentleness and sincerity. She gave Buffy a feeling of kinship and, she felt she could speak to her without judgment.
"Please, call me Buffy. I'm doing okay today."
"Well, Buffy, then I must insist that you call me Tara. Would you like some tea or water?"
"I'm okay for now, thanks."
"I'm going to ask you some questions, so I can get to know a little bit about you, and then we can go from there. Does that sound good to you?"
"Buffy, when was it that you were diagnosed with breast cancer?"
"About three months ago." Buffy picked at the invisible lint on her jeans.
"And it's stage three? Am I correct?"
"Yes, stage three." Buffy made eye contact with her as she gave this answer. She wanted the doctor to know she had no illusions of her prognosis.
These were very technical questions, which allowed Buffy to relax a little more; she had not been looking forward to discussing her emotions with a stranger.
"I can see you've already started chemotherapy. Do you have anyone to help you after a session?" Tara crossed her legs and placing her notepad on her knee.
Buffy became uncomfortable with the question and felt her body tense up. How would she explain William?
"Umm, yes. I have a friend who just recently came to stay." She silently willed Tara to drop the topic.
"That's good," Tara said, smiling. "You need all of the support you can get and having someone with you may help you to stay positive."
Buffy only smiled. If this woman only knew how complicated things between her and her friend really were.
"What do you do for a living, Buffy? How do you spend your time when you aren't receiving chemotherapy?"
"Mostly read and sleep. I didn't realize how tired cancer makes you," she said this with a sarcastic laugh, as if she'd chosen to have cancer. "I'm unemployed. My uh, father, he left me some money," She tried to control the anger in her voice as she completed the last part, but her hands automatically turned into fists at the mere mention of the man.
"So he's deceased?" Tara asked, not missing the bitterness not only in Buffy's voice but also her body language.
"Your father? He passed on?" she asked again.
"No." Buffy looked at her questioningly.
He'd certainly passed on from her life but not from being alive. Hank had decided to make up for his years of negligence when her mother had died. He'd set up a bank account in Buffy's name where he deposited a substantial amount of money on a weekly basis. It was his way of trying to erase the guilt of leaving his family financially uncared for while he went and traipsed around Europe with his new wife (the secretary) and kid. There was no denying Hank was a world-class asshole, but who was she to deny his money? As his daughter, she was owed the years of child support he had never given her mother.
"I see you've gotten rid of your hair. What made you decide to do that?" It seemed as though Dr. Maclay was not going to go easy on her, even if this was her first session.
Buffy laughed bitterly. "I don't know, maybe the cancer."
Tara took a deep breath realizing her mistake.
"I'm sorry, Buffy. I didn't mean to sound insensitive. What I meant to ask was what made you finally get rid of it? A lot of my patients find that to be one of the hardest steps in accepting they are ill."
"It was a spur of the moment thing," Buffy toyed with the loose end of her scarf. "It was actually this morning. I looked at myself in the mirror, and I didn't like what I saw, so I decided to get rid of it. I thought my hair was what was making me look worse than I actually did, but I guess I was wrong. I still look like a cancer patient."
"I think you look quite pretty," Tara said honestly.
"Why Dr. Maclay are you hitting on me?" Buffy asked jokingly.
Just then she noticed a picture of Tara and a red headed woman kissing on the lips hanging on the wall.
"Oh my god! I am so sorry. I didn't know," she said, realizing her faux pas and slapping her hand over her mouth to keep anything else that may have been inappropriate from coming out.
"It's okay," Tara said, laughing at Buffy's reaction. "It seems we both have foot-in-mouth syndrome today."
Buffy noticed the other person in the picture and uncovered her mouth to say,
"Hey! Is that Willow Rosenberg with you?"
"Yes, that's my partner Willow. Do you know her?"
"I went to high school with her, but back then she wasn't of your um, persuasion?" She didn't feel quite comfortable calling her a lesbian.
"She had a boyfriend, but I didn't know her that well. Then after we graduated we all suspected… but no one knew for sure."
Tara laughed inwardly at her patient's clumsiness around the subject but chose to ignore it. She wasn't speaking like that to be insensitive, and she was just not used to the subject of homosexuality.
"That's quite the coincidence. You must be from Sunnydale, California then. What brought you all the way out here?"
Stumped by the question Buffy panicked as she tried to think of a better reason than the truth, needing a place to hide. She didn't want to look her in the eye, she knew she was a bad liar, and Tara would have picked up on it right away. She shrugged her shoulders and said,
"I've been here once before, and loved it, so I thought it would be perfect, somewhere peaceful where I could get away from everything and just relax."
Tara didn't believe her; she had noticed how Buffy hadn't made eye contact and the way she had panicked and shot out a hurried answer. This was something she would have to delve into further.
"Well, Buffy, it looks like our time is up. What do you say we pick this up same time next week?"
"Next week?" She had thought this would be a once a month thing if that.
"Yes. I think it would be best for us to meet once a week. It will help with your outlook on your situation. If I find that you are doing well, I will meet with you less often."
"It was great meeting you, Buffy." Tara said, holding out her hand and smiling.
"You too, Tara," Buffy answered shaking her hand. "Oh and tell Willow I said hello."
"I would love to but unfortunately due to patient-doctor confidentiality, I'm not able to do that." Tara said.
"Oh, well okay. Guess I'll see you next week then."
Tara watched Buffy walk out the door and began jotting notes in her notebook. This one would be a tough nut to crack. She could see how protective she was of her life from the way she guarded her answers. She seemed like a nice girl, just very well armed, and she couldn't help but wonder what had caused her to put on the armor in the first place. She could tell that she would have to work extra hard to find out.
On her drive home, Buffy realized she wasn't ready to go sit on her couch and think about how sad her life was. She decided to go to Camden Harbor Park instead and take a short walk around. She parked her little red VW Cabriole along the side of the road and went off for her walk making sure the car was locked. She walked through the amphitheater taking in its stone steps and the beautiful library building ahead of it. She could definitely see why people chose to have their wedding ceremonies celebrated there. She noticed that the harbor wasn't that far beyond the amphitheater and found herself walking toward it enjoying the cool breeze against her face.
Looking for a place to sit she saw a man wearing a black leather coat sitting on a bench facing the water lost in thought. Recognizing his profile she thought. What are the odds? Taking a seat next to him she said,
"Fancy meeting you here."
Surprised that a stranger would talk to him like that he looked at her and smiled in recognition.
"Fancy that," he said.
She smiled back at him then looked ahead at the dock taking in the beautiful ships and their sails along with the way the sun was starting to set over the ocean perfectly casting a beautiful light.
"Amazing isn't it?" she asked. "I don't know why, but I'm always drawn to the sea, maybe it's the California girl in me."
"Must be it," he answered.
"Hey, what's with the short answers?" she asked him. "Is something the matter?"
"Dunno. No, nothing's wrong, just taking in the view."
She nodded her understanding and went back to looking at the boats. This really was a peaceful spot with the seagulls making noise and all of the hub bub happening on the dock. They both continued to silently watch the waves rock the ships up and down when suddenly she felt his hand take hers. She looked at him, opened her mouth to say something when he spoke,
"How was your appointment?"
Deciding that she liked the warmth of his hand on hers she said,
"It was good."
He nodded but didn't say anything. She felt awkward and didn't know what to do. Should she move her hand away or leave it as it was? She liked the feeling, so she decided to leave it and turned her palm up to entwine her fingers with his. He tried to hide the feeling of satisfaction brought about by her small gesture and continued looking forward.
"Hey you know what's funny?" she asked, feeling nervous at their closeness, "Tara, my shrink, is dating Willow Rosenberg."
"Who's she?" he asked.
"Oh, that's right. You wouldn't know her. Wait, yes, you do. Remember, the redhead Xander was hitting on that time? The one I said I thought was gay?"
"Think so," he said searching his memory for the girl.
"Well, I guess she is cause she's living here and dating Tara. What are the odds?"
"Not many," he answered.
Buffy frowned at his lack of interest and felt a shiver run through her body. It was getting cooler as the sun was coming down.
"You okay?" he asked.
"Guess I should have worn a jacket." She shivered.
"Here," he said standing up and taking off his jacket.
"No, Will, I'm fine. You don't have to."
He'd already placed it around her shoulders and was now leaning over her, eyes fixed on her mouth.
"Will–"she started to say.
Suddenly his lips were on hers, and she found herself responding, opening her mouth to let his tongue in. Just when she placed her hand on the back of his neck, searching for the curls she had always played with when they'd kissed in the past and remembered that they were no longer there, he pulled away.
"What? " she asked, feeling a little disoriented by the sudden cold she felt on her face. She felt as though she had just been splashed with cold water.
"'M sorry luv," he apologized. "Didn't mean that. Got a little overtaken by the feel of this place you know?"
She was shocked that he'd been the one to pull away. It should have been her. What had she been thinking letting him hold her hand in the first place? That's what had led to this. Standing up from the bench she said,
"Um, you know what, William? I should be heading home. It's almost dinner time, and I wanted to take care of a few things while I have the energy."
"Buffy, wait," he called as she started to walk away.
"I'll see you at home. Bye," She called out as she sped up trying not to make it obvious that she was trying to run away.
"Bloody buggering fuck!" he yelled to the shock of passersby, particularly one small child holding his mother's hand.
The woman gave William a disapproving look, but he ignored her. Why'd I have to go an' do that? He asked himself. Now I've gone and really cocked things up. There was a plan. He had carefully laid out a plan, but as usual he'd been too impatient to follow it through. Her lips had looked so delectable so glossy and plump…
"Bugger!" he yelled again when he felt himself getting hard.
Gonna need to get a hobby. He told himself. Nothing to do now but sit 'ere and wait this one out.