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Splinters by Lilachigh
Chp 5 At My Side
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Splinters by Lilachigh

Chapter 5. At My Side

He went. I knew he would. Seconds after I’d said, ‘How about forever. Is forever good for you?’ it was all big hugs and moody, dark-eyed goodbyes and promises to phone. Then he’d gone. Too much emotion for him to cope with.

I suppose I should be grateful that he came at all. I was feeling numb. I think I’ve forgotten how to cry. How can Mom be dead? That question still runs through my brain all the time, over and over again, on a continual loop.

The funeral seemed to be for someone else, some stranger I’d liked but hadn’t known very well. I’ve been to lots like that, haven’t we all? I’d wear something smart and dark but stylish that I’d bought the day before at the mall, I’d take flowers - pretty white ones because they go with the black outfit; I’d be sympathetic to the relatives, hope I sounded sincere, then I’d go home, ring Willow or Xander and after the first few sentences about how sad it was, how dreadful, we’d begin to talk about something else and I’d almost forget that somewhere there was a family who were in terrible pain.

But this funeral was for my mom.

Seeing Angel at least helped - for a while. But even as he was saying all the right things, being sympathetic, I knew he’d go. His comfort was nice, but fleeting. I knew that at any second, his arm would be taken away, and there’d be no one there to lean on. No one at all.

I haven’t been able to reach Dad. The phone rang and rang. Would he have cared if I had got through? Would he have dropped everything and come to be with us, to say goodbye to the woman he’d once loved?

Yes, probably he would because that would have been the right thing to do and Dad likes to look a nice guy to his friends and business colleagues. But he wouldn’t have stayed. Oh no, he’d have been away on the first available plane, probably telling me to forgive him, that it was all too hard to bear.

But I’ve got to bear it, haven’t I. I look at the anguish in Dawn’s face and know that I’ve got to carry my grief and hers. If I’ve heard those words once, I’ve heard them a thousand times in the last few days. ‘You’ve got to be strong, Buffy. We know you can cope. Joyce would expect you to cope, for her sake.’

I’d like to run away, to Los Angeles, to Spain, to somewhere, anywhere, that isn’t here. How can I go on alone? I’m not grown up. I still feel like a little girl, I want her back...I want her back....I want my Mom back...

But after Angel left, as I stood there, suddenly Spike was standing by my side. I always forget how fast and silently he can move. ‘He’s gone,’ he said flatly.

I didn’t need to ask who he was talking about. ‘Yes.’ My throat was so sore that the words came out harsh and ragged.

‘Great help that was, then.’

I stood silently, waiting for those dreadful words of sympathy that cut to the bone every time. People only say them once, but you have to hear them over and over again. They don’t realise the damage they are doing, how hard it is to hold everything together when you are being told over and over again how nice she was, what a good friend, colleague, person.

I don’t care about how good she was! That doesn’t help. I just want her here.

But Spike didn’t speak. I glanced at him. I couldn’t say he looked paler than normal, that would hardly be possible, I suppose. But he looked - well, strangely he looked like I did this morning when I caught sight of my reflection in the bathroom mirror. Distraught.

He reached out and took hold of my hand and I let him. He curled his fingers round mine and they felt hard and cold. I squeezed them as hard as I could, letting all my emotions flow down my arm into him, safe in the knowledge that he could take it.

I leant against his shoulder, feeling the black leather crackle under my weight and for a few wonderful seconds, I could feel the burden shift from me. And I remembered something Mom had said recently when I’d been moaning to her about Spike for some reason.

She’d smiled gravely at me and said, as if it was the greatest comfort to her, ‘ He might be your enemy, Buffy, but I know one thing for certain - when it counts, when it really matters, he’ll always be there. And he’ll never, ever leave you.’

To be continued

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