Summary: Buffy almost, but doesn't.
Fandom: Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Spoilers: season 1 & 2, "anne"
Title, Author and URL of original story: Five Pay Phones Buffy Almost Called Giles From by sahiya. Original can be found here: http://sahiyasfanfic.starkravingsane.com/fivepayphones.html
I. The phone at the bus station in Sunnydale
She doesn’t have to do this. She’s already bought the ticket, of course, she’d slid the crisp twenties through the metal opening in the teller window and when the ticket touched her hand, she’d shivered. Now she sits on a bench and waits. It’s only fifteen minutes but it may as well be forever. The paint on the bench is chipping and someone has carved the name ‘Carlos’ into the weathered wood. She has the urge to add her name but she knows better than to leave a trail.
Hasn’t she left enough of a mark on this town?
Across the terminal, which is a nice word for concrete lot, there is a pay phone. Someone has left the phone off the hook, swinging free; it’s black plastic baking in the sunlight.
The urge to call Giles is nearly intolerable. She’d just have to dial and say, “Would you come get me?” and he would drop everything. He wouldn’t even rinse his teacup or grab a jacket before sprinting to the car.
She has three quarters and a few dingy dollar bills in the pocket of her overalls with her ticket. It would be so easy, so easy.
Nothing is ever easy anymore.
II. The phone across the street from the coffee shop
This is not the L.A. she recalls from her childhood. She’s in a bad part of town, not the well-manicured suburb that she’d occupied during her early teen years. The big white house with the blue swimming pool in the back yard, less than twenty minutes from all the good stores and dress shops.
Instead she spent the last two nights in a dark and damp hostel. It’s inexpensive and she reminds herself it’s only until she can find something more permanent. Until she gets a job with a steady paycheck.
The first day she spent in her miniscule room sobbing into her arms, the pillow to dirty and scratchy to be up against her face for so long. When night fell, something in her body told her to go out. Something twinging deep within her, letting her know that this place wasn’t safe and it had nothing to do with gangs or guns or drug lords.
In the morning, she stumbled out to find coffee and maybe a pastry big enough to tide her over until dinner. Her face is swollen from crying and she orders a plain black coffee and a muffin, the two cheapest things on the menu. She sits outside to eat them and across the street is a phone.
She doesn’t have any loose change, but she could dial collect. Giles would gladly accept the charges, she imagines.
An old guy walks by her and leers, calling her baby under his breath like a coward.
She finishes her coffee and it leaves a bitter taste in her mouth. She crosses the street and picks up the receiver. She dials collect but when the recorded voice of the operator instructs her what to do next, she hangs up and walks away quickly, refusing to look back.
III. The phone in the alley by the dumpster
She took the night shift to resist the urge to hunt. She doesn’t realize the reason at the time, but it’s why all the same. She hates the uniform – the little checkered apron and the white shoes. She wears nylons even though it makes her knees sweat because she can’t stand the thought of her bare leg coming into contact with anything in the diner.
Turns out, though, she’s pretty good at waiting on scumbags and poor people. She remembers everything people ask her for and that’s half the battle. When people try to stiff her on the check, she’s always faster than they are, catching up with them before they can disappear and holding on to their arms so tightly that they fumble to give her the rest of the money swiftly.
At the end of her first week, she holds her paycheck in her hand and smiles a little to herself. It takes her a few moments to identify that she’s having an emotion that doesn’t completely suck. The first thing she wants to do is show Giles that she can be responsible if she wants to. But she pushes the thought away, not exactly ready to deal with it quite yet. She’s getting closer but she’s not there.
She walks east toward her apartment, the sun coming up to greet her.
When she wakes up in the late afternoon, she’s still alone. She’s out of milk, out of clean clothes, and the good feeling from earlier is long, long gone.
IV. The phone outside of the blood bank
It isn’t like she hasn’t seen a dead person before. In fact, dead people who are in no danger of getting up and fighting back are her favorite kind of dead people. But there was something about Rickie that creeped her out. How can someone’s youth just be taken away?
Giles would say that the same thing has happened to her.
She hears his voice clearly now, in her mind. She knows what he would say about her breaking into a blood bank, about threatening the nurse, about helping Lily even though she’s been trying to get away from that. He would take this moment to remind her that she’s never going to be able to get away from any of it. She doesn’t know why she thought running away would do it. She’s killed vampires in L.A. before.
She’s in the phone booth and she let’s the phone ring once before hanging up so hard the whole contraption creaks and trembles.
Books and homesickness isn’t going to save Rickie and it isn’t going to help her now.
V. The phone at the bus station in Sunnydale
She really wanted Giles to be there when she got off the bus. It’s a stupid wish – she didn’t tell anyone she was coming home. It’s weird being back. There’s something about the air that’s familiar and heart wrenching. It makes her eyes prickle.
She hopes Giles isn’t too mad. She hopes that he can forgive her eventually.
She starts the trek into the heart of town and the sun is just starting its descent. She almost, almost goes to Giles first. She really wants to but if her mother ever found out about it, she’d be kicked out again.
She hopes that he’ll hug her and she hopes that he won’t. She might fly into a million pieces if he hugs her and she doesn’t deserve his forgiveness.
She’ll get it anyway though.
It’s why she came home.