Hi, all! Just a short angsty fic from me today. It’s unbeta’d, so do let me know of any mistakes.
Many thanks to enigmaticblues for running this Spuffyfest.
Standard disclaimer: The characters aren’t mine, just the story.
Feedback: Yes, please.
She had never been one for visiting graveyards.
Not in the traditional, non-Slaying, visiting the dead sense.
She couldn’t afford to be sentimental about the resting places of the dead. Not in Sunnydale, where, far too often, they didn’t stay resting or dead… as she understood from television that they did in most towns. As for the non-Slaying activities she got up to in graveyards, she was a teenager. If your hottie vampire boyfriend mostly shows up in cemeteries, you kiss him in cemeteries.
She knew the significance of the stones she stepped around on a nightly basis, of course. The graves of teachers whispered silent reproach for her every spare moment not spent studying, and every moment she’d been too slow, or busy, or distracted to save them. The graves of classmates no older than her were likely to disgorge their newly evil occupants at any moment.
She couldn’t let herself think about that fact that people with lives, and loves, and sometimes voices that hadn’t even changed yet had been buried and silenced forever beneath her feet, quickly forgotten by the town at large as new losses piled up and new graves were dug beside the old. She had to be able to walk past Jenny Calendar’s grave, and Billy Fordham’s, and Harmony Kendall’s, and not think about them, or her own failures. There was always another monster lurking, ready to give her the punishment a part of her was sure she deserved, and plant her next to them.
Then her mother died.
She didn’t have much time to visit the grave, afterwards. She was suddenly responsible not just for her sister’s safety, but for her everything. The spot, though, was hallowed ground for her. She was always aware of it on her nightly rounds, even when, as she contrived to ensure, it stayed out of her sight. She could feel its presence behind hills and trees. It was as different and distinct and painful as the part of her that was grieving Mommy even as she shopped and sneezed and fought and died.
Her own return from the grave turned the grief and guilt to envy. She was sickly, quietly jealous of the ones death had freed to whatever sort of afterlife they’d earned.
She held the feeling at bay, concealing it even from herself as best she could. She felt she owed it to her needy sister, and her meddling friends, and even her strangely gentle va– … to at least try to stay alive. When she emerged from under the ground a second time at the end of that dismal year, the boneyards that had dominated her life practically since puberty resettled themselves into something like what other people saw: rows of white stones you respected but mostly ignored, unless you had a particular reason to be among them.
In one moment, all her gravestones were gone, swallowed up by hell and earth with the rest of her town.
She hadn’t minded, at first. All she’d been able to feel was gratitude, gratitude and relief that it was finally over. But as the weeks went by, the loss of her graves started to ache. Her mother, her teacher, her friends… all of the town’s dead had fallen into one mass grave, and their once hallowed ground was desecrated. And the ones who died in the fall of Sunnydale were buried all unmarked.
Even those who wouldn’t have had a gravesite when they died anyway.
A grave was somewhere to go when you wanted to be near to the memory of a person. When you just wanted to sit, and think, and be sad, without answering questions, or answering demands, or answering the phone.
It was ok to be sad at graveside. It was expected. When you looked at a headstone of Beloved Person, date of birth – too damn soon, people generally bowed to the mores of the graveyard and shut the hell up. Maybe even went away.
If you sat before a headstone, brought hand-picked daisies… or bourbon… nobody asked what you were thinking about. Or gave you any grief for your grief, because what else, really, were you supposed to do at a graveside? Hula hoop?
But now, if she sat down at a grave because it held a man named William, people asked if she’d fallen. There was nowhere to go with her grief. Nowhere to put it.
So she held the grief at bay. Buried it as best she could.
She owed it to her lo– … to at least try to live.
Originally posted at http://seasonal-spuffy.livejournal.com/396715.html