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In Memoriam

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  • In Memoriam

    Season Eight - takes place directly after "Wolves at the Gate IV."
    Rated PG
    Synopsis: Rowena finds herself fighting for a funeral
    Disclaimer: Don't own them, but I'd like to arrange a leasing option...
    Genre: Angst


    "Ma'am?" Rowena poked her head into the conference room. "Renee's parents are here."

    Buffy looked up from her contemplation of the Scythe, brow furrowing. "They're not supposed to know where we are. Tell them they've got the wrong address."

    "They're already here, ma'am," Rowena replied smoothly. "I think Renee might have told them, in case of emergencies. Some of the others have been talking with them downstairs, telling them what a good job Renee did."

    Buffy blew out her cheeks in annoyance. "Fine. But this is the last time. It's a security breach that we can't afford." She nodded her head a moment, and seemed surprised to see Rowena still there. "What is it?"

    "Renee's parents?they were hoping to bring her body home for burial," Rowena stumbled out, shifting uncomfortably on her feet. "A bunch of other Slayers and myself were also hoping to take some time to go to the funeral. We didn?t know if you?d planned one."

    She watched, curious, as Buffy's eyes widened. "I hadn't?I didn't think of that."

    "Ma'am?"

    "Renee's body?Xander took care of it," Buffy said quietly, standing up to lean against the table, looking out the window.

    "Took care of it, ma'am?" The slightest edge of disapproval flavored Rowena's tone.

    "She was cremated," Buffy said flatly, still looking out the window. "Xander spread her ashes back in Japan."

    "By himself?"

    Rowena had teased Renee a little about her crush on Xander, girl-to-girl giggling about the only available male on campus ? I think he'd prefer Big Man on Campus instead of the only! Renee had laughed some weeks ago. When they met up in Japan, Renee said that nothing had happened, although a date might be in the future. She was serenely coy, only giving the barest details with a sideways smile.

    "He said he wanted to be alone," Buffy said defensively. "And Renee and he kind of had a thing, so I thought he'd see it through."

    "But?her parents?" Rowena sputtered. A sick feeling began to spread in Rowena's stomach. How the hell was she going to go back down and explain to the weeping Charbonneau family that she couldn't produce Renee's body, to send back and lie in the family plot? That, very likely, the earthly remains of Renee Charbonneau lay scattered in an anonymous Japanese garden?

    "Her parents probably wouldn't want to see her with a gaping hole in her chest," Buffy snapped.

    The red, teary eyes of Mrs. Charbonneau reminded Rowena of her own mother, the slow turn of the head as Mr. Charbonneau heard stories of his daughter's bravery galvanized her. Renee deserved better than this, a clandestine funeral in a land far from home.

    The golden gleam that once surrounded Buffy, Xander, and Willow - the three adventurers that set the spell in motion to seed the world with superpowers - was fast tarnishing. None of them, the three friends who controlled their fates and did with the Slayers (and now, their bodies) as they liked, could feel the change in the wind, the growing resentment. The latest such incident - Buffy's fling with Satsu, and Satsu's promotion within the week - were spoken of in harsh undertones of resentment - particularly among those in leadership positions.

    In awe of her commander, Rowena had robbed banks, put her life on the barest of lines, and had given up a good scholarship to UW-Madison. Now it seemed that her sacrifice - if it came to it - would be for her to personally seen to and disposed of by her commander.

    No one knew what became of Aiko's body after Buffy carried it through the Japanese fortress and decided to personally maintain vigil. Willow had barred the Japanese troops from coming in to see the body, explaining that Buffy needed the time to work through her guilt and grief. Buffy had met her once, and that was via videolink, Rowena remembered puzzling over.

    "Her parents would want to see her, no matter what," Rowena shot back, pleased to see Buffy blanch a little. Not everyone was still in awe of her. "There were more people that cared about Rowena than Xander."

    The silence held until Buffy spoke again, subdued. "So what do you think we should do? Her ashes are already spilled, and I don't think doing a quick chimney sweep through the castle is going to fool them. And there?s not a counseling textbook I can use as a cheat sheet for when they ask the hard questions."

    Rowena was about to bite her commander's head off, greater experience and all that crap be damned, when she realized there was a genuine question behind it. Some old memory haunted her eyes ? perhaps she'd had to be the bearer of bad news before.

    "Tell them the truth," Rowena sighed. "Tell them how brave Renee was, how she was one of the most talented you'd ever seen. Since the damage is already done, tell them, very gently, that the building exploded, and that you searched, but there was nothing left. If they're angry, be as respectful as possible. Give them the time they need, not just when you want to leave the room. I'll pack Renee's stuff up, send it over to them."

    Buffy nodded mutely.

    "I'll see to it, then." Rowena prepared to exit, but stopped, seeing that Buffy was making no indications of moving. "Ma'am?"

    "What is it, Rowena?" So she wanted to be left alone. Not unusual for this girl, but she had an army to take care of, Rowena fumed quietly.

    "I have family in Arcadia, Wisconsin. My mom and dad, and my two older brothers. I'd like to be sent there, if the time comes. And I?d like you to tell them what I was doing, how I did."

    "That's not going to happen," Buffy said, trying for a comforting voice.

    "It might," Rowena said calmly. "Leah has grandparents in Glasgow. They raised her, and probably would want her to return. There's more to us than what we do here, who we know here."

    "I get your point, Rowena," Buffy said, rolling her eyes, swinging back towards defense.

    "I don't think you do," Rowena said, staggered at her own insolence. She met Buffy's eyes directly to give her next words the full impact of her resentment. "Satsu. She's got a large family, parents, a sister, friends from school. In the midst of her lightning-quick promotion to base leader, I didn't know if you'd found out."

    The implication was clear, and Buffy flared.

    "Rowena, you are dismissed," she ground out.

    "Are you going down to visit the Charbonneaus?" Rowena persisted. She'd shame her commander into it, if she had to.

    "Yes. Give me a moment, and I'll be down. And if they hold a memorial service, you guys can attend."

    Rowena turned, closed the door.

    She'd won. But it wasn't a victory.
    Avatar is the work of the wonderful ladyofthelog.
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