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Chapter 90: Two Weeks to the Day

Three Weeks Later. FPOV

"I'm going to miss you," B says and she gives me a little kiss on my cheek. We've been lying in bed just holding each other for a while now. I don't know how long but it feels like it's been hours. That isn't a bad thing. If she never lets go of me and I die in her arms I still won't get enough of her. I feel so safe, so secure when she holds me like this and I'd be lying if I didn't admit at least to myself that she's turned me into a pussy for this shit. I wrap my arms a little tighter around her and she squeezes back just as hard. We've been living together for so long it's hard to imagine a whole day without seeing her but that's gonna be happening for a week, at least. This is something that I have to do, but I don't know if I'm going to make it that long without seeing her for more than a couple days.

"I'm gonna miss you too, B," I say and she hugs me a little tighter. We've just been lying here for about half an hour and I'm sure the kids think we're crazy. I'm leaving in the morning and we've been in here since eight o' clock just holding each other. The last time I had to leave like this I took off to find that warlock who was killing those slayers. The one Addy was having nightmares about and it terrorized her for months. It was a pretty fucked up situation and I had to leave right away, I didn't have time to sit and think about it. Well, this is something I've had plenty of time to sit and think about and I'm starting to change my mind. I'm starting to chicken the fuck out and I don't want to go. I don't want to leave my bed or the safety of my wife's arms. I wanna just lie here and listen to her heartbeat and feel her pressed right up against me.

This whole trip wasn't real up until now. It was just an idea I've had for a really long time and I never thought it would ever happen. It's one of those things you keep telling yourself you're going to eventually get around to but you never do. Even when I was making the plans, making the reservations and talking to my kids about me leaving for a few days, it still didn't feel real. Now that I'm supposed to leave in nine hours it's really fuckin real. My stomach has been tying itself in knots for the last half hour and I have this weird tingly feeling going up and down my spine. I feel like I'm gonna throw up, that's how fuckin nervous I am. It's really fuckin weird. I can slay demons and hunt down vampires and save the fuckin world from the worst evil ever, but the thought of getting on a plane and heading out for a few days cripples me.

"You're so tense, sweetie, are you nervous about tomorrow?" she asks and she starts rubbing my back. I nod my head because there's a big lump in my throat and I don't want to try and talk. If I try to talk I'll end up bawling like a baby. I'm not that codependent. I'm not about to cry because I'm leaving my family for a few days. I'm about to cry because of the thought of where I'm going. I've never been there before and it's scary. I'm nervous, I don't know what to except, and I won't have a safety net to keep me from falling off the deep end. "I wish I could be there with you. The first time I went back I went by myself. It was so hard and I regret not taking someone with me, but I know this is something you need to do on your own." She's gonna kill me with sweetness tonight. "Are you sure this is something you have to do on your own?" She sounds a little timid and I don't blame her. My emotions have been all over the place today.

"Yeah, babe, this is something I gotta do by myself," I tell her and my voice sounds so fuckin strained 'cause I'm trying really hard not to cry. If this is how I'm acting before I even leave the house than how the fuck am I going to act once I get there? Man, this is gonna suck so fucking hard. She lets out a little sigh and I feel bad about it. I know how she's feeling right now. She feels useless 'cause I'm going through this and she can't do anything to help me. Well, she's helping me just by being here but there's nothing she can do to make this any easier, to make this just go away. I feel like I need to say something to comfort her. "I know you want to go with me, but I need you here, B. I need to know our babies are safe or else it'll be too much, ya know?" She lets out another little sigh and gives me a kiss on the side of my head. She can be such a mother sometimes.

"Yeah, I know. I just hate seeing you like this. I wish there was something I could do to make it disappear; kill a demon, wave a magic wand or something. I hate feeling so useless," she says and I can't help the little chuckle that escapes my throat. See, I told you I knew exactly what she was feeling. She lets out her own little chuckle and I hold onto her a little tighter. Any tighter and she's not gonna be able to breathe. I don't think she cares, though, otherwise she would say something. B doesn't put up with being squeezed to death for very long. Hmm, death by cuddling, you don't hear about that every day. Man, my mind gets pretty fucked up when I'm trying to avoid something. Maybe I need to stop being such a fucking pussy about this and just own up to it. Yeah, that sounds like it could work, ya know, if I weren't such a fuckin pussy about it.

"Don't forget my dad said if you need any help just give him a call. They can be total assholes when they wanna be," I say and she lets out another little sigh. The kids are still out for winter break so B is gonna have all three of them by herself while I'm gone. It isn't that big of a deal 'cause they're old enough now that they don't have to be watched like a hawk all the fuckin time. It makes things easier, that's for fucking sure, but they can be dicks when they get stir crazy and B is going to be too worried about me to take them anywhere. Maybe she'll just pawn them off on the neighbors or something. Then again maybe she'll want the distraction and decide to take them to the movies or to the park or something just to get her mind off things. Or maybe I'm blowing this way outta proportion and she's not gonna be worried at all.

"I know. Joseph's the worst when he gets bored. He used to be such a quiet little boy, what happened to that?" she asks and she sounds like she's trying to figure it out. It makes me laugh a little and I give her a little kiss right over her heart. I get a big whiff of her perfume and damn I'm gonna miss the smell of her. I might have to steal her perfume and take it with me and spray it over the bed I'm gonna be sleeping on. Even though I've mostly been freaking out about where it is I'm going, I really am going to miss her. She's my rock and being all the way across the country without her is gonna be tough. But no one is forcing me to do this. If I really didn't wanna go I'd just cancel my flight and reservations. It would only take five minutes then I could forget about all of this, but like I said before, this is just something I need to do.

"Maybe he's making up for lost time," I say and she laughs a little. I love the sound of her laugh. I think it's one of my favorite sounds. My favorite sound in the whole world is the little throaty moans she lets out when she's coming. Yeah, that's definitely my favorite sound. My second favorite sound, for those who are wondering, is the sound of my kids getting along whenever they play together. It doesn't happen very often but whenever they decide to make nice and pull out a board game or a deck of cards they're always laughing their asses off and it's one of the most amazing things I'll ever hear. I have a few more but I won't bore you with the details 'cause who really gives a shit besides me? "I hate that I'm not gonna be able to do this whenever I want." She lets out a little chuckle again and I pull back just enough to look at her beautiful face.

"Baby, you're going to Boston for three days, you're not dying. You'll still be able to hold me hostage whenever you want when you get back," she says and I frown a little bit. I can't believe she's acting like it's not a big deal. And I'm not holding her hostage. I'm just letting her hold me and holding onto her like a baby kola holds onto its mom. Ok, so maybe she does have shit to do and I'm stopping her from doing it but she can always do that later. Or make Mattie do it. Then again the last time he tried to do laundry the washer overflowed and we had about two thousand dollars worth of water damage to the floor. I have some more packing I need to get done, especially if I'm going to steal her perfume. "I need to take down all of the decorations. Or do you want me to wait until you get back?" Yesterday was Christmas and like almost always it was pretty awesome.

"You can go ahead and take 'em down if you want. I don't care either way," I tell her and give her a little kiss on the lips. Hmm, she's wearing the cherry flavored lip gloss. I love it when she wears the cherry flavored lip gloss. The kiss lingers for a few seconds and I want it to turn into more but before it does B pulls back with a cute little smile on her face. We've been together almost two decades and I still think she's the most beautiful creature to walk this planet, especially now that she's getting older. I don't know what it is about the little wrinkles around her eyes but they're so fuckin sexy. Guess I think they're like her war wounds or something for making it this far. She's also got some gray hairs showing up and I think that's sexy as hell. She's not very happy about it but I love it.

"I don't know, it might be kind of weird," she says and gives me a little kiss on the top of the head. "We always do that together." If you haven't noticed Buffy's really big on tradition and sometimes it can be annoying. How it became a tradition that we take down the Christmas decorations, I'll never fucking know. Some years it can be pretty fun, though, especially when the kids leave the house. One time B tied me to a chair with the garland and went down on me for forty-five minutes. There's just something about this time of year that makes B really frisky. I don't know what it is but I hope it never goes away. "I could just leave them up until you get back. We can take them down then." I get a little smirk on my face and leave another little kiss right over her heart. I would answer her but then it would be dirty and she might not like that. I don't wanna risk losing this contact.

"Mom," Joey says when he walks into the room holding a box in his hands. Thank God, he just saved me from having to say something and I know I would've made a total ass out of myself. "Addison won't let me play with her." Addy's going through a phase and it's getting kind of annoying 'cause little Joey feels left out, but I get it. When I was her age I didn't wanna play with kids that were younger than me. Nope, I wanted to hang out with the cool older kids and I wasn't gonna be caught hanging out with some little wimp if I could help it. "And Matt won't play with me 'cause he's talking to Brooke." Yeah, Mattie's still dating Brooke. It's kind of surprising. At least it is to me. I thought high school romances only lasted a month or two and then burn out? Then again, look at Red and Oz. They started dating junior year and didn't break up until college. Boy's got it bad, that's for fuckin sure.

"Well it's almost your bedtime anyway," B says and he gets the saddest look on his face that I've ever seen. Damn, this kid is really good at pullin at your heartstrings. He takes after me with a little bit of B thrown in. With our genes I'm surprised all of these kids aren't con artists working the streets of Vegas. I'm sure they'd make a couple thousand a night if they did that. Why the fuck am I thinking about that? Damn, my thoughts get weird sometimes. "Do you wanna come snuggle with us for a little while?" I can't help but let out a little sigh. Not because I think she's babying him, but because if she's babying him then she can't baby me. I know that sounds petty and yeah it's pretty fuckin stupid to be jealous of your own kid but I'm the one who's leaving in a few hours. I was kinda hoping to have B all to myself for a while. Guess that's the end of that.

"I don't wanna lay down. I wanna play checkers. Will you play with me?" he asks and he has the puppy dog look in full effect. If she doesn't play with him then I'm going to. I really don't want to move but he just looks so sad. His sister is ignoring him and his older brother is busy talking to a girl. I kinda get how that feels. I always wanted to hang out with the cool older kids but they barely let me and when they did they just used me to get stuff. Being the baby of the family can really suck sometimes, that's for sure. B sits up a little bit which makes me have to sit up and I'm not very happy about it. I was comfortable right there and now it's gone. I want to pout and push B down and lay on her again but I don't wanna look like a freak so I won't.

B pats the bed and Joey hops up, fake tears and pouty lip gone, and he starts setting up the board. I lie back and watch my son and my wife play checkers and all of that shit I was feeling earlier just goes away. They don't go away all at once but they're slowly draining from my body. It's kind of amazing how just being with your kids can do that, especially when they're being good. Sure he cheats sometimes and Buffy lets him get away with it, but it's still fun to watch them play. B isn't too much of a stickler for the rules. She says it has something to do with this robot named Ted who dated her mom back in SunnyD before I showed up, but she didn't wanna talk too much about it. Said it makes her sad thinking that the only guy who could really make her mom happy was a freakin robot.

Anyway, what I was trying to say before I trailed off was, I really don't fuckin know how I'm going to survive this trip without my kids. I can't take them with me because I'm gonna be too distracted to really pay them any attention, but just holding them or being around them is calming and I don't know how I'm gonna manage without that. This is the part that I've never been good at. The waiting game. Knowing where I'm going and having no fuckin idea what to expect is killing me. I'd rather just go and get it over with but I'm not as impulsive as I was before. I can't just take off on a whim when I have a family to take care of. That would just be a fuckin slap in the face to everyone, especially B since I'd be leaving her in a lurch. All I should be worrying about is tomorrow and whether or not I'm gonna piss out when I get to the airport. Here's hoping I grow a fucking spine.


I don't think I'm saying anything you don't know when I tell you that I can be kind of a pessimist. Sunnydale broke me. There's really no other way to word that. After I had to send Angel to hell things were never the same and my outlook on life changed. Then everything with Glory happened and my mom died, I died, I was ripped out of heaven and things went to hell in a hand basket. Even after I got better and I stopped being so numb, I always expected the worst in every situation and especially in people. So when we relocated to Northern California and the scooby gang started to drift apart I really didn't think we'd ever be back together again. Well, pessimistic-me needs to bow her head in shame because she has totally been proven wrong.

"That's so disgusting," Willow says and crinkles her nose. I'm trying really hard to get my laughter under control because it's getting hard to breathe and people are starting to stare. I'll admit I've had a little more to drink than the others and it's true that I don't hold my alcohol very well, but in my defense Xander's story is really funny. "Xander, why would you do that to another human being?" She does bring up a very solid point and I think I've been living with Faith for too long. I have a feeling back in college I wouldn't have thought this whole 'putting a dead rat in someone's lunch box' would be such a laugh riot. Apparently it is because as soon as Xander said that's what he did to one of the guy's on his construction crew I spit the beer in my mouth out and I can't stop laughing.

"He deserved it, Will. The guy's always trying to one up everyone else and bragging about it nonstop whenever he does. He needed to be taken down a peg or two," he says and takes another pull from his bottle of beer. I finally calm down enough to breathe at least semi-normally and I think my face is going back to its normal color. Not that there's anything wrong with being purple, I just don't think I pull it off very well. "So Buff, what's it like having the ol' ball and chain out of the house?" They both look at me with curiosity on their faces and I'm kind of stumped for words. Faith left for Boston this morning and I have a lot of mixed emotions about it. On the one hand I'm proud of her for being so brave and facing her personal demons the way she is. On the other hand I'm unbelievable worried that something bad is going to happen. But I don't want to be a downer so I put on a little smile and shrug my shoulders.

"It's kind of weird. I walk into the living room and expect to see her watching a football game with the kids or teaching the dogs a new trick," I say and Willow gives me that playful little smirk that she used to give me back in high school and college. The one that says 'you've got it so bad'. I would point out that she's got it really bad with Sky but there's no use pointing fingers when we're having a great time. "Her being gone is making me appreciate her more. You never really know how hard it is to run a household until you don't have any help." They both nod their heads but there's no way they can really understand it. Neither of them has three kids, two bratty dogs, and a dishwasher that won't stay fixed. "One thing that doesn't suck: knowing all of my candy isn't going to be eaten before I get some. I'm taking comfort in the fact that my Snickers are safe for now."

"Maybe you just need a better hiding place," Willow says and takes a sip of her drink. "I use a glamour to hide mine. What looks like a decorative platter with some pretty rocks on it is actually a decorative platter with yummy Hershey bars. Sky thinks she's going crazy because she can smell the chocolate but she can't find it." Willow using her witch-fu to hide candy, why am I not surprised? She should probably be more careful with that stuff. Little Ashlyn is starting with her magic lessons and her mommies should be setting a good example when it comes to using it. Then again my kids have been training to be slayers and I'd be lying if I didn't admit I use my slayer strength when doing things the normal way would take too long. Like picking up the back end of the car and straightening it out instead of backing up and trying to get in the spot straight.

"I think the moral lesson of the story the last time I tried to use magic was Buffy and magic are unmixy things," I say and they both laugh. I glare at them a little but it was pretty funny, even if I don't want to admit that out loud. Willow was trying to teach me some basic spells, floating a pencil, casting a glamour, changing ice to fire, really simple stuff that the freshman at the slayer school have all been able to accomplish. Only according to the records at the school none of the girls almost burned down a kitchen when I tried to do the ice to fire spell. Faith made me promise I would never try magic again it was three days before the dogs weren't too afraid to walk into the room without looking really nervous. The kids still tease me about it sometimes in a playful way so I let them get away with it. "So Xander, how's life at Casa Harris? Are Lily and Miranda getting along any better?" Now it's his turn to be put on the spot.

"Yes, thank God. I don't know exactly what happened but one day it just started getting better," he says and takes another pull from his beer. "Lily started helping out more instead of leaving it all up to me, and they started bonding. I had no clue what I was going to do if things didn't get better." I can't even imagine going through something like that. Getting a divorce has to be hard on everyone involved, but then finding someone new to love and being overjoyed but then your kid doesn't like them? Sounds like something I don't think I would survive. There was one point where our marriage was so broken I really thought we were going to get divorced. It was right after I had Joseph and things between Faith and I were so bad we could barely stand to be in the same room. But things are better, and yeah sometimes it's still a struggle, but I don't think we'll ever let it get that bad again.

"Guys, I don't want to rain on our parade, but when did we grow up?" Willow asks with a smile on her face and Xander and I both laugh a little. It is an odd question because it doesn't feel like I've grown up. I still feel like the girl in high school who sneaks out of the house to see her significant whatever. Only now my significant other sleeps in the bed next to me so whenever I want smoochies I just have to scoot over and pucker up. That sounded really wrong, and I'm going to forget about it immediately. "We should do something crazy. Something totally spontaneous that we would have done when we were kids." I don't really remember doing anything spontaneous. All of our fun was usually preplanned. Xander gets a kind of confused look on his face and I can't help but wonder why.

"Uh, Will, this is the kind of spontaneous fun we used to have when we were kids," he says and looks around the semi-crowded bar. There are enough people that there's a nice atmosphere but not so many people that I feel suffocated. Just like the Bronze back in school except this is a much different crowd. And by different I mean older. "We used to go to a local watering hole, hang out, dance, and talk about whatever was on our minds. Only now instead of drinking soda and eating raisins." Willow blushes a little bit and I can't help but think it's adorable. She doesn't blush much anymore, or stutter, or babble, so it's nice to see a bit of the old Willow every once in a while. "We're drinking beer and eating pretzels." He has a point that cannot be denied.

"No, we did other stuff," Willow says and that came out with a bit of a whiney tone. I guess she's trying to deny the undeniable. Wow, try saying that three times fast. "We partied. I clearly remember partying taking place. Most of the time they ended in violence with the blood and the gore and zombie attacks." She steals a glance at me and I can't help but look away. All I wanted was a nice quiet dinner with my friends to reunite after being gone for the summer and what did I get? A big house party that ended with most of the guests being killed by zombies. "But we did have irresponsible fun from time to time." I do remember there being some irresponsibility. Like the time she cooked up some homemade ecstasy in the science lab and we took it at a frat party. That was pretty irresponsible.

"Alright, I accept your challenge," Xander says and finishes off the rest of his beer. We haven't been here for very long so neither one of us is drunk by any means so he's being loud and weird on purpose. "Tonight we are going to have some spontaneous irresponsible fun. Lucky for us we live adjacent to a place that is known as the Disney World for adults where irresponsible fun is their business." Oh great, I know exactly where he's going with this. "So should be pack into one of our cars now and head out to Vegas. Maybe go to a strip club, or a night club, or another type of club where grown people can shimmy and shake or watch other shimmy and shake?" My eyes get a little wide at the thought of going to a strip club. I've never been and never will. To be honest I'm too intimidated and nothing is going to change that. From the freaked out look on Willow's face I'd say she has the same problem.

"You know, I have an early meeting that I can't be late for. I think maybe we should just stick to our calmer version of partying," she says and I can't help but smirk. From the look on Xander's face I'd say he planned that. He can be such a brat sometimes. "But next week we'll go somewhere to shake and shimmy until we're partying like it's a year we shouldn't specify unless we want to reveal our ages." I can't help the little giggle that escapes and she smiles too before she takes another sip from her drink. Ok, so we've never been party animals and whenever we did get wild and a little out of hand it was instigated by Faith. Ah, Faith, I miss her so much already. Yeah, I've been keeping my mind off of it by spending time with the kids and picking up the slack that's created by her absence, but mostly I've been kind of pouty because my girl is gone and won't be back for a few days.

"Hey now, just because we're not at some high scale night club where they play loud techno-ish music that makes you wish you were deaf doesn't mean we can't shake and shimmy," I say and put my drink down. I need something to distract me and dancing with my friends sounds like the perfect cure for the little black cloud that's starting to form above my head. "Come on, let's go dance." I grab onto Willow's hand and stand up. As I walk by the table I grab onto Xander's and drag both of them out onto the dance floor. There are plenty of people out here showing off their stuff but it isn't too crowded that we can't dance together. Dancing with Will and Xander isn't like dancing with Faith, though. It's more reserved, a little on the goofy side because they both admit they're not good dancers. God, how pathetic and codependent am I? Faith hasn't been gone for more than twenty-four hours and I'm already sick with longing.

"Hey Buff, don't pout," Xander says and grabs onto my wrist. He spins me around and then spins me back and I end up right against him chest. I look up into his eyes and he has a playful smirk on his face. I can't help but smile back and we start dancing a little closer than we were before. "Faith will be back before you know it. I'm sure she's fine. She's probably making snow devils and pelting some of the neighbor kids with snowballs." I can't help but laugh at that. That does sound like something Faith would do. She would go back to her old neighborhood and find some little kids to talk with. She would probably say things like 'back in the day we used to hang out at…' and stuff like that. They're right, if she's hypothetically having a great time than I should have a great time too. So here I go, about to have a great time. Just watch, it's going to happen. Any moment now when those pigs start flying, I'm going to have a super great time.


I've been standing in this spot staring at the ground for…only God knows how long. The ground is covered in snow, the breeze has a strong bite to it, and I think my fuckin nose might freeze off. The cold is one of the many things I wanted to get away from in Boston. I thought heading out to California would be a great change in scenery. Maybe I'd even buy a bikini and get a tan lying on a beach watchin all the hotties doin the exact same thing. California was supposed to be my gateway to a new life, a better life. But that didn't fuckin work. Wherever I went I took myself with me and I was pretty fucked up back then. You saw how it all went: murder, covering up the crime, betrayal, going rouge, more murder, and a whole lot of other fucked up things I'd rather not talk about right now.

I can't complain now, though, 'cause my life is awesome. I have a beautiful wife; my harbor in the storm. I have my amazing kids; my reminders to be grateful. I have friends, a kick ass job, and a great dad who care about me. Basically everything anyone could ever ask for. I have everything she didn't and stranding here staring at the ground I feel guilty. Not about who I was or the things I've done. I feel guilty for who I am now. I don't know why I feel guilty. She never fuckin cared about me so why the fuck should I care about her? But there's this part of me that cares. The part of me that feels sorry for her because she was so unhappy. I think she did the things she did because she was so fuckin sad and she didn't know how to deal with it so she took it out on me.

It makes sense if you think about it but I don't to make that much sense of it. I don't want to justify what she did to me because it's unforgiveable. No kid should ever have to go through what I went through because of her. She drank herself to death and she tried to take down everyone around her. What kind of person does that? My mom, that's who. My fucked up, selfish, mom who should've had to pay for what she did to me. I guess she did, though, considering she died in a pool of her own vomit. Exactly two weeks from today is the anniversary of my mom getting really fuckin drunk and throwing up all over herself and was too out of it to get up or even just roll over and she drowned. I was already with my watcher when it happened. I didn't go to the funeral, didn't see the point, but now I wish I had. I'm standing here for the first time staring at her headstone and I can't believe I actually feel sad and sorry for her.

Lorie Isabelle Lehane: May 8th 1963 – January 10th1999. That's it, that's all it says. No person detail like Buffy got when she died. Just her name and her birthday and the say she died. That's what I left my mom with because I was too fuckin wrapped up in my own shit to deal with any of it. Then again it's kind of a good thing that I was. If I had come forward instead of staying with my watcher I would've been taken away by social services and I never would have went out to California, which means I never would've met Buffy. Kinda trippy to think about since our lives are so entangled together, but it's still something to be really fuckin sad about. I don't even know if any of her family showed up to the funeral. My grandparents on her side of the family were still alive when she died and she has a brother, but I never met him. She told me about him all the time. Said I reminded her of him 'cause I'm such an asshole just like he is.

My mom thought everyone was an asshole. Everyone who tried to help her give up the booze and have a better life was an asshole in her book. She did what she wanted and she never apologized for it. Well, that's not really true. Some nights when she was really fuckin out of it and throwing up all over the bathroom floor 'cause she missed the toilet I'd go in and try to clean it up and she would apologize to me. She said she was sorry for hurting me, sorry for bruising me and scaring me. She said she wished we had a better life but nothing every worked out for her. Then she would say something really fucked like 'nothing ever goes my way. I got you for a kid, there's enough proof of that right there'. Yeah, how the fuck was I supposed to take that? I was only eleven when she told me she didn't want me, that I wasn't good enough for her. I believed every fucking word she said, which is the saddest part of all.

I let out a little sigh and shiver as another breeze whips around the back of my neck. I slowly bend down and gently place the three roses I brought with me next to the headstone. I've never been to a graveyard like this before and I honestly don't know what to do. The only time I'm ever in a cemetery is to kill something undead. I've never been on this side of it. I've never been one of the family members of a person buried in a graveyard. It's kinda makin me think about the way I act in a cemetery. Has anyone ever used my mom's grave as a place to sit when they were waiting for a vampire to rise? Has anyone ever stood on her headstone while they were hoppin from grave to grave 'cause they were really fuckin bored? Yeah, it's a slab of stone with some engravings on it, but now it seems like so much fuckin more than that.

"Hey, Mom," I say and I feel like such a fuckin idiot. If my face weren't so red from the wind than I'd be blushing. I feel so stupid talking to a piece of stone but I feel like I've been holding this in forever and I need to get it out. I feel like if I go back to Lincoln with this still inside me it's going to become toxic and make me go crazy or something. "God, I feel so fuckin stupid. Alright look, I've never done this before so I don't know how it's supposed to go, but I have some stuff I need to tell you." I wonder if she could actually hear me. When Buffy told me about heaven she never said anything about hearing anyone's thoughts or prayers or whatever. I hope my mom can hear me because I really need to fuckin get this out and it would be great if she knew what I really thought. Oh well, I guess there's no real way to find out.

"You treated me like shit. You never made me feel worthwhile and I fuckin hated you so much." I never said it was going to be anything good. I just hope she can hear it because she was a horrible fuckin person and she needs to fuckin know that even if it doesn't really matter all that much anymore. "I think you died 'cause I ran away and I wasn't there to call someone when you hit the bottle too fuckin hard." A few tears escape and roll down my cheeks before I get a chance to wipe 'em away. God, why am I crying like a little pussy? It's the truth, though. She died 'cause I wasn't there to help her. "But I'm not sorry I ran away. I'm not sorry 'cause you were fuckin wrong. I didn't grow up to be a crack whore like you always said I was gonna." Yeah, can you fuckin believe it? Most people want their kids to be lawyers or doctors. My mom said I would be workin the street by seventeen.

"I'm a wife, I'm a mom and I treat my family so fuckin good. My babies are beautiful and my wife is the most amazing person on the fuckin planet," I say and my voice cracks a little bit. I thought I would be really pissed off once I started talking and thinking about all of the shit she did to me, but I'm not. I'm starting to feel some relief. I didn't think that would come until later. I still got more shit I need to say, though, and I'm not gonna fuckin leave until I've said it all. Even if the cold is starting to make my body hurt. "And Dad's now. We own a shop together and he's married to someone nice and good." Well, most of the time she's nice and good. "And they have a kid together and it hurts watching him with her 'cause you fuckin stole him from me." My voice cracks and I have to stop for a second. I didn't think I was gonna get this upset but this is the most important part so I guess it's understandable.

"Dad never laid a damn hand on you ever, but you got up on that witness stand, and you lied your God damn ass off," I say and more tears roll down my cheeks. My dad was arrested when I was ten. They got into a fight and it got really loud and some of the neighbors called the cops. When they got there my mom started sayin that he was trying to hurt her, that he was crazy and she was afraid of what he was gonna do. So they took him away and I never fuckin saw him again. I still can't believe she fuckin did that. All he ever wanted was for her to get better, to put the booze down and choose us for once instead of that shit, but she never fuckin did. It's why I stopped drinking after Mattie was born. I started going out and drinking when I couldn't deal and one night and I accidentally hurt my baby when I threw a glass against the wall and some of it cut him. I was becoming my mom, plain and simple.

"But none of that matters now. None of it," I say and my voice cracks again. I don't know if I can get through this. God, why did I fuckin come here alone? I don't think I can finish this by myself. It's so fuckin scary, just standing here alone talking to her like this even if I'm not sure she can hear me or not. I gotta stop being such a damn pussy and just get it through it, though, or I'm never gonna be ok. "All the beatings, the names you called me, the shit you said about Dad when he was gone, the men you brought home, none of that matters because I love the life I have now so much fuckin more than I hate you." I wipe off my eyes and my tears slowly come to a stop. I didn't think it was gonna go like this at all. I honestly didn't know what to expect but I feel so much fuckin better already. I feel like this rotted part of me has finally been cut off and I can just breathe.

"Well, I need to get back to my family. I miss 'em too much," I say and pull the collar of my jacket up since the wind is starting to pick up a little more. "Have a nice afterlife." I turn and walk away and I don't think I've ever felt like this in my life. Maybe the day Buffy told me she loved me and I realized we could make it work. Maybe on the day my son was born, but I'm starting to doubt it. I hate to admit it 'cause it sounds fucking awful, but I feel like when I go home things are going to be different. It's almost like I can be better at just being me 'cause I finally faced what I've been afraid to do for so fuckin long. I didn't want to admit that I hated my mom 'cause that felt wrong. Kids are supposed to love their parents and respect them and all that shit. But I didn't 'cause my mom was such a fuckin God awful human being.

But I don't have to feel guilty anymore. I don't have to feel anything but relieved because I said it and nothing bad happened. I walk out of the cemetery and head back to my rental car and I feel so fuckin relieved. I feel like I can really breathe for the first time in a long fuckin time. I finally came to see my mom, finally owned up to the guilt I've been carrying around for letting her die. I didn't just let her die, though. I wished her dead. After my watcher took me in and I remembered what it was like to have someone who cares about you, I wanted my mom to fuckin die. I wanted her to get hit by a car or maybe even killed by a vamp. For the longest fuckin time I felt like I killed my mom 'cause I ran away and got a better life and she was still living in shit. But she had a fuckin choice. She coulda put the bottle down, gotten into rehab and cleaned herself up but she never fuckin did and finally I don't feel guilty about it.


I've had a lot of time to think since Faith has been gone and not a lot of it has been good. She went to visit her mother's grave and try to make peace with some of the things that happened to her as a child at her mother's hands. I've been thinking a lot about my mom too. How much I miss her, how much I wish she was still around to give me advice on life and raising kids. But especially how much I wish she could see how my babies are turning out because I think they're turning into wonderful people and she's never going to know that. She's never going to meet them, never going to see any of the pictures we've taken over the years of moments I don't want to forget, never going to be proud of me for what I've done with my life.

As you can see things have been depressing in my mind for the last couple of days. I've tried to keep myself busy but my mind has been wandering a lot today. Right now I'm doing the dishes and the kids are over at Dawn's house playing with their cousins. Well, the younger ones are at Dawn's playing with their cousins. Matthew wanted to stay home in case Brooke calls. The training house is closed for winter break and most of the girls have gone home to visit their families but Brooke is staying with Xander and Lily. She doesn't have any family to go home to and they've sort of become her surrogate mother and father even if none of them have acknowledged that or not. She spent Christmas and New Year's with us and I'm finally willing to admit that she and my son do make a really adorable couple.

That's another thing my mom's never going to get to see. She's never going to see my babies grow up and find love and have babies of their own. The thought of them having children terrifies me because I was so lost when I first became a mother and the thought of them going through that too isn't a comforting one. I hope they decide to stay close when they grow up so I can help them out. When Matthew was born I felt so scared and I felt like I was doing everything wrong and it made me so sad knowing I couldn't just call my mom and ask her what I should do. I want my kids to be able to do that with me. I need to start being more open to the fact that they're going to date and fall in love and eventually have sex because that's what I, and almost every other teenager on the planet, did and I was so distant from my mom I couldn't even turn to her for comfort when everything went so horribly wrong.

I guess I need to start being there for my son more. That girl might break his heart and I don't want him to feel like he can't turn to me for comfort. He's always been kind of a stereotypical boy. He's more of the strong silent type when it comes to his emotions and he totally gets that from Faith. He used to worship her when he was younger so it's not insane to think that he picked up on some of her not so good habits. But it's still important for him to know that I'm there for him. Even if he doesn't want to talk about his problems or what's going on in his relationship I don't want him to feel all alone and like he can't come to me if he wants to. Wow, I have been a horrible mother to him. Instead of letting him know it's ok to fall for someone, that it's normal to want that type of connection, I've been trying to stop it from happening. And not just with Brooke. I was like this with his first girlfriend too.

I dry my hands off on the dishtowel and wipe my eyes. Why I always do the dishes when I feel like I need to cry and just think about things, I have no idea. I've been that way since Sunnydale and I did it a lot when Mom got sick and especially after she died. I needed to let some stuff out and dishes and crying while covering it up with music is exactly what I did. Anyway, I make my way upstairs and I let out a little sigh. I hope this conversation goes easy. I really don't want it to be one of those talks that feel like I'm trying to pull teeth. And not just his, sometimes when I'm really uncomfortable talking about something I have to force the words to come out of my own mouth or they'll never be said. But I feel like I owe him this. We've both been through a lot of bad times together, like when Faith and I split up for a while and I feel like I need to make this up to him.

I knock on his door and wait for him to say come in. If he were a couple of years younger I wouldn't wait but he's a teenage boy now and it's important not to just walk in. Not only for him but I really don't need to see what he's doing behind there when he's by himself. I had to learn that lesson the hard way a couple of times. Once in college when Xander had a little too much to drink he told me how many times a day he used to…relieve himself back in high school but I always thought he was exaggerating. Now that I actually live with a teenage boy I know that he wasn't lying. In fact, he was probably toning it down because now I know that if he's in a room alone he probably has his hands down his pants and why am I still thinking about this? I came up here with a purpose and I need to stay focused.

"Come in," I hear Matthew say and he turns the music down. He found some of Faith's old CDs and he's been playing them nonstop. When she put them in a box in the attic, I thought it would finally be the end of Rob Zombie and The Distillers, but then Matthew went through the box and picked some of them out. I open the door and walk inside. He's sitting on his bed reading a magazine and he looks totally relaxed. He hasn't been missing Faith as much as the younger kids are and that's why I sent them over to Dawn's. I thought it would be good for them to get out of the house and be distracted by their little cousins for a while. I sit down on the edge of the bed and he looks up at me for a second but then starts reading the magazine again. I love being ignored by my kids. You have no idea how amazing it feels and yes I'm being sarcastic.

"I need to talk to you about something," I say and slowly take the magazine out of his hands and put it on his end table. Now he doesn't look too happy with me but he doesn't say anything. At least he isn't going to be argumentative about it. He's going through a phase where he likes to be a punk, as Faith says, but he hasn't been acting too bad today. He's still not looking at me, though. He's staring down at the bed. "Since Mom has been gone I've had a lot of time to do some thinking. I've been thinking a lot about my mom and how I used to shut her out of my life because I was afraid of how she would react if she found out about certain things, like me being a vampire slayer or the fact that I was dating a vampire who was like two hundred twenty four years older than I am, and I owe you an apology." That definitely got his attention.

"Why?" he asks and I let out a little sigh. This is going to be hard. Even though it's been years, talking about my mom is still really hard for me. The kids ask about her sometimes. They're curious about what my parents were like and why they've only met Faith's dad but it's still really hard opening up to anyone about it. Dawnie and I sometimes talk about Mom and the things we used to do together but whenever we do one of us always end up crying and usually it's me. I look down at my hands and pick at my cuticles a little. I'm sure he's really confused right now but he isn't asking anything which I appreciate. I need a moment to gather my thoughts and if he was rushing me I'd probably just forget about the whole thing and leave.

"Because I haven't been here for you like my mom was there for me," I say and look up at him. The kids hate it when I talk about Angel. They can't comprehend the fact that I used to be with someone other than Faith so when I remind them that I did have a life before them they kind of freak out. But this is important and Matthew needs to hear it if he's going to really understand what I mean. "After my mom found out I was a slayer and after the dust settled, she was there for me. She didn't like that I had to put my life at risk every night and when your mom blew into town she wanted me to give up slaying altogether and let your mom handle it. When I started dating Angel again, my mom didn't like it. She thought he was bad for me, that he was going to drag me down." A lump starts to swell in my throat and I have to choke it down just to keep going.

"But she was always there for me. She always let me know that she was there if I ever needed to talk." I look up at him and he looks worried. Probably because his mother is about to have a breakdown and he doesn't know what to do. Seeing my mom upset always freaked me out too. "I've been handling this so bad, Matthew. I shouldn't have been so bullheaded." I have to stop again because tears are welling up in my eyes. I knew this was going to be really hard. I hate being right all the time. "I'm just so scared. I kept everything from my mom. She didn't even know I was dating Angel until after he turned into a psychopath and started killing people and even when I told her I lied and said he was a college boy who tutored me in history." I'll never really understand why my mom ever let me out of the house. And that's what this is all really about; fear.

"I know Brooke is a good kid. She's smart, she's kind and she treats the people around her with respect. I shouldn't have been trying to keep you two apart and I shouldn't have been so cold to her. I'm just so afraid something bad is going to happen with the two of you and you're not going to tell us about it until you're so overwhelmed you don't know what to do. But I need you to know you can always come to me. Always, ok?" I say and he nods his head. I reach out and wrap him up in a big hug. It's more for me than it is for him but I don't really care. He hugs me back just as tight and the tears start to flow. God, I really wish Faith was here. She always makes me feel better when I'm upset like this. She isn't coming back until tomorrow, though, so I'm just going to have to wait until then to get some love from her.

"Nothing bad is going to happen, Mom," he says and it makes me hug him tighter. Of course something bad is going to happen. They're teenagers and they're in love, that's a recipe for disaster. Hell, I didn't get together with Faith until we were grown women and bad things happen to us all the time. Whether it's slayer related or if we're just having marital problems, bad things happen. But that's life and denying Matthew those experiences, even if I want to save him from that pain, is selfish and I shouldn't be doing it. "But if she turns into a vampire I promise I'll tell you." I can't help but laugh at that even though the thought is pretty awful. If she was turned Matthew would be so devastated. And not just Matthew but all of the girls at the training house would take it really hard. They've become like a family or something.

"Thank you," I say and pull back from the hug. I take a moment to just look at his face and I can't believe how great this kid has turned out. He's a kind, sweet boy and I'm surprised he isn't breaking hearts all over this town. He does have Faith's genetics in the looks department but thank God he takes after me when it comes to dating. I really hate the thought of my baby breaking girls' hearts all over the place. "Why don't you come help me with dinner? I really don't think Mom would appreciate it if she came home and the kitchen was burned down because I was too distracted while trying to cook." We laugh a little but he gets up and we head downstairs. I know I said that he can come to me whenever he needs help but in all honesty, I really hope he goes to Faith because if that little girl breaks my baby's heart and I have to see him cry about it I might end up breaking her neck.



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