Time. It's such a novelty, a trivial concept, yet it passes you by without you realizing just how much time has passed or how fast.
Take me, for instance. I'm forty years old and it seems just like it was yesterday that I was younger and had options. But, … now, where I'm standing, looking back... well I certainly did make a few mistakes and I find myself constantly asking what if? What if I'd of done this instead; what if I'd of said that? I guess, we all wonder about choices we made, things we passed up, decisions, whether they were good or bad.
I was living in the there and then when I made most of mine... and ten years later... after my last set of decisions and actions, well, now I'm living with a few regrets.
Sighing, I sip my coffee, watching as the dark beauty runs along the green grass, chasing after and playing with the three children. Their giggling, echoing up along the building, assaulted my ears and my heart. I smile, thinking to myself that that, well that could've been my life. It should have been.
I watch as the other dark beauty comes into focus, kissing her mate, before accosting the children, making them squeal louder. I watch them play, touch, caress; their love on display for everyone to see and envy. I look at the balcony next door and see Willow watching them, her own regrets playing over her features, tears forming in her eyes. We were so stupid. I watch as Will quietly leaves and turn back to watch a life I turned down, pushed away. I ache deep inside and it's just like yesterday, like everything happened yesterday. I relive it all the time, because it's where I really fucked up. It's my what if moment; the one I constantly return to, wondering, dreaming, wanting. It's too late now but that doesn't mean that I can't still think back on it or still want it now.
Of course it all comes back to Faith.
Faith: Dark, mysterious, deep, flowing with an intensity, a current so strong that I've never actually felt anyone close to what I felt for her, ever. Of course I masked it behind loathing and hate.
Anyway, We'd been back and forth in each others lives so many times over our life spans. Sunnydale, the first, Scotland, Italy, England and lastly Cleveland. And in each place, that magnetic pull worked on us and in each place I pushed and chose another instead of her. In Sunnydale, of course I chose Angel. I knew she was pulled to me, that her current ran through me and of course I reveled in it, liking her attention. Of course I gave her the yo yo treatment and acted all innocent when the string finally broke. When that first apocalypse happened, of course I felt her, could see the hurt and need in her eyes but instead of letting the attraction pull her toward me, I pushed her into Robin's arms and of course I had Spike. In Scotland, well I really hurt her, drew blood. We'd gotten close, too close, so close breathing had become an issue and I squashed her and used Satsu, another slayer, to dig a blade into Faith. I watched her from a window as she left quietly. Again in Italy, she opened up to me and I laughed and chose some other guy, an immortal. England, well she was reserved and for some reason her and Kennedy had bonded. They were close, just friends though and I don't think she ever had a friend before. And she loved Ken with all her heart and confided in her without restraint. Of course Kennedy and Willow were together so I got intel and information about Faith that I could always use against her at a later time.
And then Cleveland happened. I think Faith must've been about twenty-seven. I was thirty. We ended up in the same house and again, we were drawn together, that attraction pulling us closer and closer and I had every bit of information I needed to hurt her and of course I used my tongue like a knife and cut little nicks into her daily. Only this time, Willow joined in. Willow was still with Ken at this time, only, she kind of wanted this other witch Calliope. And instead of her just fessing up, she started using Kens friendship with Faith to throw a wrench into both relationships.
She started accusing Ken of being intimate with Faith. Of course, I knew that it was untrue. But not everything is fair in the fight or want of love and/or people. I jumped onto the, 'you're cheating with my best friends honey', train and made their friendship a living hell. Even knowing that Faith was madly in love with me, I just wanted, I guess to inflict a bit or torment back on her for everything that she'd ever caused me to feel.
And I did. I cost her her friendship with Ken. We made it so they couldn't even talk to each other without it causing a riff in Ken's and Will's relationship. I knew that Willow wanted out, that she'd outgrew Ken and instead of just telling her to be an adult and admit it and move on. I helped with malicious scheming.
So me and Will busted up the only friendship I think Faith ever had. Still she didn't know that we were doing it on purpose.
And still she stood in front of me, made herself vulnerable, her heart on her sleeve and confessed everything to me. Offered everything of herself to me. And she wanted it all. She wanted commitment, marriage, babies, home, hearth, loyalty, passion and instead of being honest, I just hit her where it hurt the most, used her past against her and threw in a few digs about her and Kennedy. After her nodding her head in agreement with me, she mumbled something about, 'yeah, I guess that's all you could see.' and walked away quietly. She was alone, without even a friend anymore.
And friendless because Ken was actually trying to work on her relationship with Will, even though Will had already moved on. So Ken lost her friend as well.... but did we quit accusing her of sleeping with Faith? Of course not. We needed them to be together so we wouldn't be guilty. I was kind of going back and forth between Angel and Spike and honestly, I think Will had already consummated her relationship with Calliope, even if she wasn't admitting it.
I'll give it to Ken though, she toughed it out, she didn't have a chance though, but she tried and after a year or so of trying, she finally caught Will and Calliope in the act and left.
So Willow settled into her new relationship with her witch and I finally got to sit back and relax... Faith had just left all of us alone. I still saw her around, but she didn't try to interact with me anymore. I did notice that when Ken left she welcomed her back with open arms; comforting her as best she could. They comforted each other and I don't mean sexually, although that did change after about a year. I remember the morning I noticed it. I always take my coffee outside on my balcony. And as usual, daily, I'd see Faith and Ken on their way to teach some of the younger girls but this morning, for some reason I caught the looks they were giving each other, the shy smiles and the small touches.
Of course it bothered me and of course I was jealous, because hello, Faith was supposed to always pine and mope after me, right? And of course I tried to get her back onto the worship Buffy train because, well having people that want you, well that makes you feel good about yourself. So, I did what any self absorbed bitch would do and I tried to get her to fall back into my light and imagine my surprise when my sun didn't radiate across her face anymore. I mean here I was, turning on my charm, so she'd notice and want me again, and all of a sudden, her face lit up, she smiled, those dimples coming into play and she walked away from me, completely ignoring me and forgetting that I was even talking. And she walked right up to Kennedy, both of them smiling at each other, like the whole freaking world didn't exist.
Right then and right there, I realized what I'd lost because that hum, that current, well that was Faith, because she's the slayer, the head of the line and that current was now all over Kennedy and they were projecting and I had missed out on all that energy, all that electricity and I found myself cold.
Willow and I argued that night. Because really, we'd pushed them together. We'd accused them of doing something that neither had ever done because we were guilty. And Calliope, well Calliope after getting her fill of Willow decided that she liked someone else and had just excused herself from the relationship.
So Willow and I watched Faith and Kennedy from afar, sitting up high on our balconies. Each of us seething, each of us wanting to point our fingers and say, 'Ahah! We knew you two were cheating.' Wanted to but didn't: Each of us also knowing that we were to blame for this mess.
Willow tried to get Kennedy back, but she found out that Ken's sun now shown on Faith and vice versa. She was even going to do a spell but we talked and decided that we had caused this mess we were now in and we should suck it up. We'd both hurt them so much, plus, it was them, this was never going to last. We could just wait them out. Faith didn't do relationships, she could never be faithful and Kennedy, well Kennedy was almost as bad as Faith.
So we watched them daily. They were like some dark, broody, Hallmark moment. Each in leather, each gorgeous, dark, deadly, dangerous and they fit like a well oiled glove. Both extremely feminine but with masculine energies. Strong, defiant and yet somehow both equally eloquent and giving, loving. They fit. They weren't fighting or hurting one another. They complemented each other. It was another year before me and Willow decided that maybe they were for real. I mean it'd been three years since Faith stood in front of me and I decimated her. Another year for Kennedy to catch Willow in all her lies and now another year has passed and they seem to have become a couple and a good couple at that. But this just could not last... I could not fathom it. Faith offered everything to me that I was now seeing her give freely to Kennedy.
What the hell? Right? Flowers, wine and cheese, music, picnics during the day and underneath the stars: Dancing in the moonlight, sunrise strolls, moonlight strolls, hand holding, kissing, smiles and touches, the whole shebang.
I know that I'm really mad at myself, because I didn't believe her, didn't believe what she was offering to me. I didn't know she had it within her to give, but then again, I guess I didn't really ever know her at all.
A few short weeks later a call resounded out around the school. “They did it!” The girls were running this way and that, excitement laced throughout their words. “They got married!” I remember going over to the window and looking out and there they were, both of them, dark, beautiful, smiles brighter than the sun. They were radiant: Both of them dressed in off white, knee length dresses, their hair done upwards, makeup minimal. They glowed, each of them holding a delicate bouquet of pale violet flowers. They hugged Xander, Giles, Vi, Rona and Angel, who was hidden under a huge umbrella. They got into Faith's Jeep, Faith standing up on the side step and throwing her bouquet, her smile breaking my heart, and her laughing outright as Angel caught her bouquet. I could faintly hear Ken, saying, “I'm gonna keep mine.” They smiled at each other and drove off, and I add under duress, into the freaking sunset.
The next three years drug by and silently I still watched them from my balcony, watched as Willow silently regarded them from hers, until one day we decided to just watch them together. On and on we went until one day, I coughed, choking on my coffee. “Oh my God.” I breathed out, listening as Willow did the exact same thing. “Faith is pregnant.”
Our couple watching intensified. We watched every little interaction. Sun, moon, stars, the whole nine yards. Picnics, stargazing, making out under the moonlight, Kennedy reading to the baby as they relaxed in the cool green grass, her hand absentmindedly rubbing Faith's growing midsection. Kennedy built them a gazebo, right out in front of the apartment complex, where all the teachers resided and we watched them hold each other daily, dance together, touch, smile and kiss and we also watched as Kennedy led Faith by the hand, bag in tow, to the hospital: Watched as their small group of friends excitedly followed after them, Xander slowing to yell out at us as he passed. “Slayer tot Gooooo!”
Of course we went. It was the first slayer baby that our generation had had. The only other slayer baby that I knew of was Robin Wood.
Seventeen hours in labor and Kennedy burst through the doors, a smile so big, announcing to everyone. “She's okay. Had a helluva labor, with no pain meds.” She added. Her smile still big, she dug deep into a bag and produced a handful of blue cigars. “It's a boy. Healthy. Seven pounds, fifteen ounces. He's a whopper.”
“What's his name?” Giles asked.
Kennedy laughs. “No clue, we were kinda surprised that we had a boy.” She laughs again, adding. “Won't be long though before the little rugrat has a name.”
“Angel is a good name.” Angel offers, adding. “Just saying.” Everyone laughs.
Giles speaks up. “Ahh, Rupert is also a good name, I might add.” He smiles at Kennedy, who shockingly answers. “Rupert.” She tsks a few times, continuing. “I don't think Fai will go for Rupert, now Ripper.” She hesitates. “She might be all over that.” Giles blushed, a huge smile lighting up his face.
Later on, after everyone cleared out. I quietly made my way to the nursery and looked at the baby. He was all pink and rosy, dark hair and eyes. He was definitely his mother's child. I could already see his dimples in his pudgy cheeks. “You alright?” Angel asked.
I jumped and looked over at him, tears building in my eyes. I shook my head no and looked back at what should have been my son.
I should've guessed what they'd name him, really, what else could they. Alexander Liam Lehane and of course his nickname was Ripper. They had a total of three men in their lives. Giles, Angel and Xander and they honored every one of them. I was surprised to find out that Kennedy's parents accepted Faith and by proxy accepted the new baby. Willow was surprised as well, because they couldn't stand her. It was a bitter pill to swallow. But we swallowed and continued to watch their lives build and unfold right before our very eyes.
They went back and forth between nicknames for the baby. It was Lex as in Lex Luther, pretty sure Xander had something to do with that. And then the other was Ripper, for Grandpa Ripper. And Giles sure did dote on him. Him and his new wife, Patricia became the parents that Faith never had and the Grandparents that Faith needed for her son. I'd also learned that Giles had given Faith's hand to Kennedy in marriage, something that nobody had bothered to even mention to me. Not that they ignored me or excluded me or anything, they just didn't talk about Faith to me, ever. If I wanted info I had to ask specific questions.
And life went on, with me watching from my little place in their world. Little Lex was a beautiful boy, brown hair, just a bit wavy, light chocolate eyes, a smile complete with dimples that'd melt your heart and he was adored by everyone. Of course his parentage was magically assisted and he'd look like Faith at times and at other times he'd favor Kennedy. I guess you could say he was a combination of both of them and if I had to admit it, they made a beautiful kid. Sometimes I'd sit and wonder what he'd look like if I was his other parent. I'd picture him with my light brownish blonde hair, my hazel eyes or my quirky nose, my mouth. Oh my God.. I never mentioned his mouth, he had Faith's mouth, full lush lips with that slight dimple on that bottom lip. Every time I got a good look at him, my heart longed for what should have been mine but wasn't.
So I just continued watching.
Watched as he grew, watched as he was included in the picnics, the sunsets, the sunrises, the dancing, playtime. I watched as he crawled, took his first steps, heard him say mamma for the first time. I watched as they loved him, loved each other, shared touches, caresses, kisses and I cried. I'd silently watch Willow as she watched them regretfully as well. We were in an agony of our own making.
Lex grew fast; toddling soon became running. Fragmented words soon became sentences and he was happy, healthy and very much loved. And again our worlds were rocked. Just like last time, Will and I were watching, smiling at them as they played, shocked when we saw Faith, hug Kennedy around her belly, lean over and kiss her gently on it and we knew as she patted it that they were expecting another baby. We sat quietly, tears slowly running down our cheeks, watching as they were oblivious to us, them the only things registering in their minds.
Several months later, again I stood in the nursery window, looking at the twin girls. And they were just like Lex, dark hair, eyes, dimples, and those same beautiful lips that I'd been watching from afar for years now. Ten years. I blew ten years. Faith was now thirty-seven, Kennedy thirty-five. Will and I were forty. We'd never been married, never had children and we were so full of what's ifs and regrets that we'd never heal ourselves fully or move on.
And just like last time, we settled in to watch the new additions to the family. Cote and Cassie, little identical girls, who were so beautiful and enchanting to watch, completely different from their mothers. They were little frilly girls, who hated dirt and critters that crawled, who liked dresses and having their hair braided. They should have definitely been my daughters and once during a minute of weakness I approached them, angry, hurt and overstepped my boundaries.
I'm not sure what happened. I just snapped. There they were, Kennedy and Faith standing around, joking with each other, touching, laughing with their kids, just playing and smiling, looking so happy and I was … not. So I ran at them, knocking Ken over and causing the babies to cry. I verbally attacked Faith and tried to undermine her marriage and family. I was so out of it, out of bounds, I didn't even realize that I'd went after them in the communal day area with people around and watching. I'm kind of shocked to say that I got my ass handed to me by Faith. She hit me so hard and so fast that I didn't even know I'd been hit until the wall behind me cracked. Turns out she's very protective of her family. She never had one before and she was very intent on keeping hers and keeping it drama free. She told me in no uncertain terms, to back the hell off and that while she might not know what being a good wife or mother entailed she'd been taught what not to do by her parents.
She helped her wife up, kissed her lovingly, made sure she was alright, then they picked up their kids and walked away from me.
I shook myself out of my stupor and ran after them. I apologized to all of them, telling them that I was sorry, that I just got jealous and wasn't thinking rationally. That I just wanted what they'd found and then I left them, feeling their eyes on me as I retreated. Everybody's eyes were on me.
Giles had a few words for me. Standard stuff, you know... 'You didn't want her and she tried for years. She's found happiness.' Of course I got the standard speech from everyone, Patricia, Xander, Vi and Rona and even Angel put his two cents in. I didn't like it, but I did understand it and I did respect it. It took them a long time to even bring their kids around me again and even now, if they do, it's wary.
Willow understood, because she lost someone who loved her that much too. We blew it, big time. So we continued suffering in silence, living vicariously through the snippets of family life that we didn't get to experience.
And that brings us to today. I'm out on my balcony again, watching Faith run around on the green grass, chasing her children, listening to them squeal. Lex is running around showing his athletic prowess, the two twins, Cote and Cassie, are toddling, stumbling, but laughing and trying to get away from the tickling hands of Faith. All of them, stop abruptly, look at Kennedy, smiling, instantly running to her to grab the frozen ice treats that she was bringing to them.
I watched as they sat on the grass, sharing their different flavored ice treats. All of them hugging and hanging on each other, smiling and laughing, all enveloped in love.
I feel Will sit next to me and we reach out and link hands, continuing to watch silently. I can hear her sigh and I know it resonates deep within me as well. I give her hand a squeeze and look back to what I lost.
I have so many regrets and I feel like I've lost so much time. I missed out on so much. And I feel like I'm waiting, waiting for them to finally get tired of the charade, to walk back to me and Willow, to profess their dying affection and bring me back to life.
I'm still waiting. Always waiting.