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A Parent Should Never Have To

A Parent Should Never Have To
Words: 600
Rating: PG
Character: joyce
Setting: AU, what if Joyce hadn't died?

It wasn’t the first time.

Joyce sat. She couldn’t do anything- but sit as the day slipped away. She couldn’t do anything but hang her head, cry, curse herself. She couldn’t get her daughter back.

It wasn’t the first time Buffy thrust a suitcase and a plane ticket into her hand. Here is what Joyce could do.

I can’t do what I have to do if I have to worry about you. I will get Dawn back. But you need to get the heck out of Dodge.

It wasn’t the first time, but was so sure it wasn’t the last.


With shaky hands she picked up the remote and flicked through the channels. Nothing. No news from Sunnydale.

She turned it off and thrust the remote away with disgust. Wrapping her arms around herself, Joyce paced the floor of the hotel room. She glanced at the sun streaming through the windows and shut the thick curtains, blocking out all disgusting light and resumed pacing.

Once she’d reached the opposite end of the room, she turned and scrambled back for the remote, turning on the TV and flicked through the channels. Nothing. No news from Sunnydale.

And then the phone rang.


A lone figure stood in front of the door to 1630 Revello Drive. The suitcase clenched in white knuckles contained clothes dirtied by days of waiting and hoping and wondering and pacing and wondering and hoping and waiting. Words whispered through tears over phone lines from across the country rang in her ears. Repeating themselves. Begging to be believed, but she wouldn’t believe them.

The second she touched that doorknob. The second that she walked into the house. The second she went back to her life, it would all be true. Every last one of those lies would be true.


Joyce never liked wakes. She thought potlucks were depressing enough as it is. As she lay in bed that night unable to sleep, she thought maybe they should have had one. There hadn’t really been a funeral.

A hole dug in the earth, a body lowered into it.

For the head stone they’d settled on “She saved the world. A lot,” but that hardly meant anything. A hero in a hidden grave, six feet below nowhere and no one would know what she had done. That was not a funeral, it was a disposal.

Maybe she should’ve had a wake.


Dawn didn’t come out of her room for days, and even once she decided to occupy other parts of the house she didn’t really talk. Too much guilt.
Rupert came over a few times daily with food. But mostly he came so that he wouldn’t have to face solitude.
Spike visited after the sun went down, drank a cup of cocoa and let Joyce get things off her chest.
Willow and Tara and Xander and Anya would stop by occasionally, trying to cheer things up. On the surface anyway.
Even with all these people around her, Joyce was so alone.


The path of life was supposed to be a simple one. You’re born. You grow up. You get a job. You get married. You have children. You die.

Things are supposed to happen in a certain order, in a certain way.

But things don’t happen normally when your daughter is a vampire slayer. Was a vampire slayer.

Joyce was so sure she’d know what her life would hold. It didn’t involve divorce, it didn’t involve a daughter she never really have, and it didn’t involve burying her first born. There’re just some things a parent should never have to do.