Enjoy a new, very short, and totally unbetaed glimpse of Buffy in Italy, titled Unburden.
When she left Sunnydale, she left everything behind.
She carried nothing with her.
The time since the permanent closing of the Hellmouth have been about accumulation. She has a complete new wardrobe. She has a new apartment, filled with new furniture. A new city, filled with new people.
And a blank slate where her past had been.
At first, she’s excited about rewriting the past. She could tell anyone anything, as long as she can get Dawn to back her up. She can start from scratch, no destiny or prophecy hanging over her, as free as she’d been before Merrick, before Giles, before, before, before.
She lightens her hair, practices her smile. She wears pink and white again, sandals and flimsy heels. She becomes the image of ‘California girl’ - pretty, happy, shallow.
Heads turn as she walks by. Wolf whistles follow in her wake. She appreciates the sentiment, but it isn’t what she was going for.
She shortens her hair and her heels. Elegant boots, tailored pants and jackets. She becomes the image of feminine empowerment - understated, confident, intelligent.
Vacationers ask her directions. Businessmen request recommendations for bistros. Both ask if she’s available to join them, with a wink and a slow glance up and down her body.
Definitely not what she was looking for.
She puts her hair in a ponytail. Denim and tee shirts. She becomes the image of tourist - backpack, camera, wide eyes.
She blends. People ask where she’s from (she lies), what she’s seen in her travels (she lies), where she’s going next (she lies).
She hoped her lies would become her truth, that she could become the person she pretended to be. And it works, to a point.
But alone in the dark, she doesn’t smile, she doesn’t lie. She doesn’t blend.
She just is.
She learns you can’t rewrite your past. She learns she doesn’t want to, despite the pain and loss and darkness. She doesn’t want to, for she’d lose the joy and lessons and love as well.
So her past becomes less blank. Her walls become less blank. She searches the internet for replacements of the photos that were buried in Sunnydale. She finds her mother in highschool, her parents on their wedding day, herself as an infant, a girl, a teen. A Slayer.
She fills sheets of paper with memories of her childhood, her life before, her life after. Memories of Dawn, of Willow and Zander, of Cordelia and Oz, of Giles, of Faith. Of Angel. Of Riley.
Of dying, and resurrection, and living but wanting to die, and dying but wanting to live.
Of how she was helped and hindered and how every step made her who she is.
Of how she is happy with who she is. Of how she still grieves those she’s lost.
Of her mistakes, and brilliance, and stupidity, and courage, and cowardice.
Once her memories are exhausted, she writes her dreams. She writes her future, possible and not. She writes her fantasies.
She sends long letters to those she loves.
She writes long letters to those she’s lost, and wishes she could send them. Stacks of letters to her mother, to Merrick, to Kendra, to the innumerable nameless victims she found on the streets of Sunnydale.
To him, she only writes “I miss you.” Pages of it, like lines done as penance.
When she left Sunnydale, she left nothing behind.
She carried everything in her heart, her memory.
The time since the permanent closing of the Hellmouth have been about unburdening. She has her memories, the moments of past that made her present, will make her future. She has her people, her joys and love.
And one day, she has a letter in old-fashioned handwriting that reads “I miss you too”.