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A Delicate Beauty

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B (pov)

 

“What am I supposed to do? Huh?” I yelled, upset, trying to fight back my oncoming tears. I looked at the man I’d spent the last ten years of my life with. “How can you just throw me away like this?” He remained stoic, just staring.

I sighed and pulled in a deep, painful breath, watching as my replacement moved into my house, with my man, taking over ‘my’ life. Anger built up inside of me, threatening to burst forth. I glared at the young bitch, my fury taking over. I snapped and stormed over to the girl. “You bitch!” I screamed, drawing my hand back.

Alain, The Immortal asshole, intervened, grabbing my hand and pushing me back, away from his new ladylove. “I’m sorry.” He whispered, adding. “It was only a matter of time…you had to have known.” I glared at him through my tears, trying to force myself to be angry. “I am sorry.” He repeated again.

I nodded at him. “Yeah, I know you’re sorry… tell me something I don’t know.” I turned, tried to muster up some dignity and walked out the front door, stopping just outside to look up at the sun. My bags had been packed and conveniently set on the landing. I hoisted them up and headed to my car. I glanced back at the place that had been my home for the last ten years, sorrowful, hurt, lost and confused. “Out with the old, in with the new.” I muttered to myself.

I shoved my suitcases into the back of the car, gingerly got behind the wheel and slowly drove off, away from my home. I couldn’t contain the hurt. My eyes overflowed, the tears seeping slowly over my cheeks gave way to sobbing and left me wiping at my face as if I could wipe it all away.

I finally pulled over and cried, cried until I had no more tears, until there was nothing left for me to do but start the car moving again. I wasn’t sure where to go. It wasn’t like I had any ‘real’ money, well not anymore. I’d used all my money traveling, playing with that son of a bitch, gambling, and on shoes… oh my God… why did I need all those shoes? What the hell had I been thinking?

I picked up my cell phone and hit #1 on speed dial. No big guess there whom I was calling…right? I waited for the pick up. “Hello.” “Dawn.” I practically yelled into the phone. We did the appropriate amount of small talk before we got down to business.

“Okay, what’s happened this time?” She asked.

I sighed, upset that she knew me too well. “He put me out with nothing! Moved another woman in… right in front of my face too… practically a preschooler.” I blew out a harsh breath; letting the anger that’d built up, slowly fade away.

She was silent for what seemed like an eternity before she finally asked. “Well… what are you gonna do now? Where are you gonna go?”

Well damn. It was my turn to be silent now… cause I just assumed I go to hers. I bit my lip and forged on. “Well Dawn…. I was kinda thinking that I could stay with you until I got back on my feet.”

I was met with silence again before she spoke up. “How bout, you come over, I’ll make us some lunch, we’ll have a nice relaxing drink and we’ll discuss things? Okay?”

Okay, now I was upset. “You don’t want me to stay with you?” I asked, offended.

She scoffed over the phone. “I just got married… we’re still in the honeymoon phase and its not my fault that you wasted the money that Giles split between all of us. We all got the same amount… well, truth be told, you and Faith got most of it, because of what you both went through.”

I stopped the car in the middle of the road, got out of it and started pacing, not believing what I’d just heard. “So, Giles gave me more money than you… and what? You’re mad?”

Cars were lining up behind mine but I didn’t give a damn. They could honk all frickin day as far as I cared.

Dawn sighed over the phone. “No Buffy, I’m not mad. I just don’t understand why you’d throw all of your money away like that.”

“It’s not like I planned on it.” I stated lowly. “It was just… Alain kept traveling and doing things… and I didn’t want to be beholding to him… I never imagined or realized that he wouldn’t grow old with me… or that I’d be tossed out because I got…. Long in the tooth.”

Dawn laughed. “You’re not long in the tooth.” She stated, amused. “You’re in the prime of your life.” She added, sighing. “Come on over and we’ll discuss things.”

“Yeah, okay, I’ll see you soon.” I breathed into the phone.
“Oh and Buffy.” Dawn’s voice filtered through the phone. I looked at the receiver, putting it back to my ear. “Yeah?” I questioned.

“Don’t think that I don’t love you… because I do. You know that right?” She waited for me to answer.

I sighed. “Yeah, Dawnie…. I know. I love you too.” I cut off the connection and looked at the long line of cars, at the people yelling at me, giving me lots and lots of fingers and colorful suggestions.

I climbed back into my car, and headed to Dawn’s.

I finally made it to Dawn’s place. I parked and sat there, trying to wipe the running mascara off my face and fix my hair. I took a deep breath and got out, making my way to the door. I knocked lightly and waited.

Dawn opened the door, smiling, rubbing her swollen belly. She grabbed my arm and pulled me inside, flinging the door closed. “Are you okay? You look like crap.” She winced. “Sorry, I didn’t mean crap as in… shit…. I meant it as in… you know… bad.”

“Thanks?” I offered up, allowing myself to be enveloped in her arms. I pulled back and looked at her and patted her belly. “You doing okay?” I asked, trying to start up a conversation. She looked at me, contemplating something or other. “Yeah, I’m good… well we’re both good.” She smiled, continuing. “We’re working on the nursery, almost got it finished.” I smiled and nodded and silence ensued, encasing us in its quiet.

“So what are you gonna do Buffy?” She asked.

I sighed, looked down at the floor and back up at her. “Well, I’m not sure.” I sighed again. “I’ve got all of seven hundred dollars, a car, two suitcases full of designer clothes and several bags of shoes.” I looked back up at her, willing myself not to cry.

“You could go back to Giles.” She offered.

I looked at her pointedly. “Dawn, he’s in his sixties, not doing all that great and he’s on a fixed income. It won’t be long until we have to take care of him…. I can’t go to him and tell him I need money and a place to stay… especially after he told me that this would happen.” I shook my head in disgust.

A smile crept over Dawn’s face. “Who are you kidding? You just don’t want him to give you the, ‘I told you so’, speech.”

I smiled and nodded, agreeing. “You got that right.”

We laughed and snuggled up against one another, talking about old times and the things yet to come. I sighed when nightfall started to creep in. I pushed myself up off the sofa and gave Dawn a big hug. “I’d best get going.” I groaned.

She looked up at me, expectantly. “Where to?” She asked lowly, adding. “You know, I guess you could crash out on the couch for a few days… just until you figure something out.”

I smiled and looked down at the floor; slowly bringing my eyes back up to meet hers. “Nah. I wouldn’t be able to sleep, what with you and Craig still in your honeymoon phase.” I reached out and ran my hand over her belly again, adding. “Although, you did put the cart before the horse, so to speak.” We smiled and said our good byes. I turned to leave and she grabbed my arm, stopping me. I looked into her questioning eyes. “I’m gonna head over to Wills and Kens, just for the night.” I smiled. She nodded and softly closed the door as I made my way down the hallway.

I made my way back to my car, picked up my phone and dialed the states, calling Xander.

“Yo, Talk to me baby.” He stated casually into the phone.

I smiled. “Hey Xan, It’s me.” My smile widened.

“No, it can’t be.” His voice seemed to shine through the phone. “How are you? Is everything okay? How’s everyone?” He asked.

I breathed in deep and steadied myself. “Everyone’s fine here. I needed to ask a favor of you.”

“Yeah, what’s up?” He questioned.

“I need a place to go, somewhere to stay until I can get back on my feet. I was thinking that maybe I could hang out with you for a while.” I took another breath and waited.

“Buffy..” He hesitated. “I don’t know what to say. I’m fixing to get married and I’m not sure that Karen would approve of you staying with me. I don’t want to rock the boat here, ya know…” He paused and took a deep breath. “Tell you what… I’ll talk to Karen and we’ll see what we can work out, okay?” He waited for me to answer.

I tried to put a smile on my face, trying to sound happy. “That’s fine Xan. I’ll get back to you sometime about it. So when’s the big date?” I questioned.

“It’s just in a few months. Can you believe it… by the way, you’re all welcome to attend. I know it’s not really possible what with the ocean and all between us… but I still love you guys, you’re my family.” He stated.

“Hey you never know, maybe we could swim or something. Listen, I need to run, its getting dark and I’m headed over to Will’s.” I smiled again.

“Yeah okay, later then, tell them I love them. Bye.” He severed the connection.

“Yeah, I’ll tell them.” I muttered lowly, closing the phone.

I cranked the car and headed to Will’s, unsure of what to do. These people were my family, granted I’d kinda been scarce the last ten years… but I’ve been busy… who am I kidding, I’ve been an absent friend. I sighed and pulled up outside of their loft. I steeled my nerves, hardened my skin and stepped out of the car and up to their door, knocking loudly.

I heard fighting just inside the door. “I’ll get it. No! I’m gonna open it! No you’re not! Get out the way!”

I looked at the door, wondering just what the hell was going on. Finally the door flung open, and crashed against the wall. I was face to face with three little girls around the ages of seven I’d say and upon a closer look I noticed that they were exactly alike, identical. I wondered how in the hell Will and Ken were still sane. They looked up at me and stared back. “Mary, Hannah and Tara?” I quizzed them.

“Yep.” They said in unison.

“Is your mom home?” I asked.

“Yep.” They said.

I smiled, amused but annoyed. “Well can I come in?” I asked.

The little darlings started singing, taunting me. “You can’t come in… you can’t come in…we don’t know you…. You’re not our friend.”

“Girls! What are you up to?” Willow came around the corner and stopped abruptly, staring at me. “Buffy?” She questioned.

I smiled and met her halfway, hugging her as if I hadn’t seen her in ages. “It’s so good to see you.” She whispered, squeezing me tighter.

“You too.” I whispered.

The girls started chanting again, running in circles around us and wiping their sticky little hands all over my skirt. “Ken!” Willow yelled. “Ken!” She yelled again. She looked at me. “She’s ignoring me. Hiding.” She offered.

I looked back to the little angels and thought, ‘I wonder why.’
Ken finally made an appearance, looking tired and haggard. She rustled the girls out of the living area and into their room. I looked around, noticing how much work they’d did on the loft since the last time I’d seen them. “It looks great.” I stated, smiling, motioning around the place.

Willow looked around the area, nodded, and flopped down onto the sofa. “A little here, a little there and then one day, it was… well, here.”

I smiled; glad to see that Wills hadn’t changed much, or any at all.

“So what brings you to our neck of the woods. I figured you’d be ready to sail off, do your regular cruise thing.” She stated, curling up, snuggling against the cushions.

I sighed. “Yeah, well about that. Uhm…” I looked up at her. She raised her eyebrows and leaned forward, waiting.

I blew out a short curt breath, deciding to bite the bullet. “He put me out to pasture… literally.” I looked into her eyes, continuing. “I’ve spent all these years, blowing everything I had just to keep up with him and now that I’ve got some years on me, well, he found someone half my age and moved them in.” I looked down at the floor.

I felt my chair shift and arms encircle me, pulling me close. “I’m sorry. Are you okay?” Willow asked. I nodded. “I will be.” I said.

“Where are you staying?” She questioned.

I sighed again, not liking this one bit. I looked at her. “That’s the thing, see all I’ve got left is about seven hundred dollars, a car, and clothes. Dawn’s married and expecting, Xander’s getting married, Giles is well Giles and that leaves you… and I hate to bother you… but I don’t really have anywhere to go.” I looked back down to the floor, cursing the tears that were building back up in my eyes.

Willow enveloped me in a hug, squeezing, trying to comfort me.

“We’ll figure something out.” Kennedy stated from the doorway. I looked up at her as she made her way over to the couch and flopped down on it. “Got to tell you though, we’ve only got the two loft rooms and well not to be blunt, well yeah….” She smiled up at me. “To be blunt… you can’t sleep with us so that leaves one of the bunk beds, meaning you’ll have to share with the girls.” Ken smiled at me.

Willow stepped in to help me out. “It’s not that bad. It’s a huge room with two bunk bed sets… so there’s two full beds and two twin size.”

I looked up at her. I guess she really wasn’t helping me out after all. “I could just sleep on the couch.” I offered.

“Sorry Sweets.” Kennedy interrupted. “But my office is down here and the only time I can work is when the horde is out cold.” Willow nodded, agreeing. “I do a lot of work at night too.” She stated lowly.

I nodded and smiled, saying. “It’ll be fine. I really appreciate it.”

They smiled back at me as if everything was just hunky dory.

I got ready for bed and laid down in one of the bottom bunks. My body and head kept jarring back against the mattress with each jump on the bed. I heard Ken coming down the walkway, making noise along the way. The kids scrambled up into their beds and laid still. I looked over at the open door and saw Ken looking in, smiling at me. That bitch. She closed the door and as her footsteps faded my body started jarring back against the mattress again, my teeth racking together with each pounce on the bed. I closed my eyes and willed myself not to kill the three little devils.

I woke up in a puddle of pee. “Great. Just fucking great.” I stated, sitting up and shaking the fluid off my hand. I looked down at my bedclothes, soaked in the vile smelling liquid. “Who peed the bed?” I screamed.

The dog raised his head up, looked at me, got up off his rug and jumped on the bed. He hiked his leg and pissed all over the comforter. “Ahhhhh!” I screamed, scaring the dog and bringing Willow running into the room.

“What’s wrong? What’s wrong?” She questioned, looking around frantically, upset.

“Your dog pissed on me.” I yelled.

She breathed out as if relieved. “Oh, is that all? You scared the hell out of me. I thought Mary had turned one of the other girls into a frog again or something… you know… worse.”

I looked at her in disbelief, wondering what the hell could be worse than being covered in dog piss. Wait. “A frog?” I questioned.

She walked towards the dog stating casually. “Mary’s a witch, the other two are slayers.” I nodded; cause really, what the hell could I say. She bent over, ruffled the dog’s fur, kissed him and stated. “He’s old, he can’t help it anymore.”

I looked at her and nodded, cause what else could I do; the dog was incontinent, of course that makes sense, his nerves were probably just shot to hell from the hellions. I showered, changed, threw my pajamas into the trash and made my way downstairs, following the smell of freshly brewed coffee.

A mug was waiting for me on the counter. I picked it up and let the tension flow from me. Ken put her morning paper down and looked up at me. “So Buffy, I was thinking about your predicament. I know this slayer in the states. She’s got a kid and her old man up and left them cause he couldn’t deal with the demons coming after them all the time.” She took a sip of coffee and looked back at me. “I’m sure she’d welcome you into her home, hell, she could use an extra slayer around to patrol. She’s got a house, several rooms and I’m sure she’d welcome the company.”

I looked at Kennedy as if she were an alien.

She smiled. “I’m just saying. She doesn’t have any family and neither do you; well you don’t have a man, that’s what I mean. Her and her kid were abandoned, kinda like you. You might could help each other out… just until you find something better.”

I continued to stare at Kennedy. She sighed, continuing her spiel. “Listen, the other slayer sharing duties there died. She’s alone. She’s got a small child. She needs the help, otherwise she probably won’t make it.”

I nodded and took a big sip of coffee. “I don’t even know her. How can I just move in with a stranger?”

“We’re all strangers Buffy. You’ll get to know her, you’ve just got to try.” She looked at me, reaching over to touch my hand. “What other options do you have? You could really help her out, at least until we can get another slayer settled there.”

I looked into my coffee cup, thinking.

That night while I laid in bed, getting my brains jarred out of my head from all the jumping, I decided that the states didn’t sound so bad; a big house, rooms, and just one kid, one… well right now that sounded pretty damned good.

I got up and told Ken that I would go. Willow smiled up at me as Ken got up to leave, saying. “Great, I’ll call and get the okay.”

“Wait. You didn’t know if she’d go for it, but you already asked me?” I stated more than asked.

She winked. “Trust me, she’ll listen to the voice of reason, just like you.”

I watched Ken leave and turned to face Wills. “So what’s the girl like?” I asked.

She shrugged. “I don’t know. I’m not sure who’s she’s talking about. Don’t worry. I trust her to do the right thing and she wouldn’t do anything to hurt you?” Willow stated.

I scoffed. “Yeah, right. Like she didn’t enjoy leaving me in that room with the bouncing brood.”

Willow laughed, snorting out a bit of coffee. “That was me.” She laughed again. “It was so funny.” She snorted, leaning over the counter laughing, causing me to laugh along with her.

Kennedy came back a bit later. “It’s all settled.” She handed me an address. “Her name’s Lehane.” She stated. “I’ll have someone meet you at the airport to take you to her place.” I looked down at the piece of paper and missed the wide-eyed look that Willow was giving Kennedy. I looked up just in time to see them turn away from each other, each not saying anything. “Something wrong?” I asked. “What aren’t you telling me?” I questioned.

Willow shrugged, nodding her head back and forth. “We’re just gonna miss you Buffy.” She gave me a quick hug.

“That’s it then, it’s settled.” I looked up at them unsure. They nodded, comforting me, trying to ease my fears.

The rest of the day was spent selling my car to a local dealer, buying a plane ticket and biding my time until the time came to go. At least I had some cash now, that’d give me a little bit of freedom when I landed.

They dropped me off at the terminal, hugged me and waved bye. I took in a deep breath, checked my luggage and made the waiting area just in time to be called. I took several deep breaths, trying to back down the anxiety that was rapidly reaching my surface. I boarded the plane, asked for several stiff drinks and leaned back against the seat, closing my eyes, wondering what I’d be met with when I arrived.

It was too late to back out now. The plane was moving, taking me away from the home I’d known for the last ten years of my life, taking me away from my only family and friends and dropping me off into the wild blue yonder.

I looked out the window, silently praying that somewhere, somehow, the fates would step in, fix this mess that I made and somehow along the way, fix me.

 

 

Part 2.

 

My eyes opened suddenly with the jarring of the plane. The captain was speaking through the intercom and it took me a few minutes to register just exactly what he was saying. I ran a shaky hand through my hair and glanced at the ten or so empty liquor bottles that now adorned my serving tray, wishing that I’d left the liquid courage alone.

The flight attendant offered me a hot towel and I gratefully accepted it, wiping it over my face, using it to try and wipe away my sudden case of nervousness. I blew out a breath and waited, watching as everyone around me, settled in for the final landing.

As the wheels touched down my heart rate sped up, instantly making me regret my choice to come here. I don’t think I’d ever felt so put out in my entire life and that right there says a lot.

I watched as everyone around me started filtering through the plane, exiting. I blew out a shaky breath, retrieved my carry-on from the overhead compartment and shuffled out into the aisle and up to the exit.

I pretty much walked on autopilot all the way to the luggage pick up and hesitated, thinking through all my options again, before I finally gave in and walked towards the receiving area.

This part was pretty easy and left no room for doubts. Kennedy, true to her word, had taken care of everything. A man in uniform was standing off to the side, holding a sign that read my name. I took a long look at him, steeled my nerves and slowly walked over.

He looked at me. “Buffy Summers?” He asked, waiting and watching as I slowly nodded my head.

He reached over and took hold of the tram carrying my bags and started pushing them toward the exit. He stopped, turned to look at me and waited. “Are you coming?” He finally asked, knocking me out of my daydream state.

I shook off my stupor and really looked at him. “Yeah.” I half answered, instantly moving towards him, following him.

He smiled as we approached the car, quickly and efficiently threw the bags into the truck and opened the door for me. “Name’s James.” He stated.

That almost got a smile out of me. I shook off my amusement and got into the back of the car, waiting for him to walk around and get in behind the steering wheel. He cranked the car and looked back at me.

“Home James.” I stated, watching as he smiled, turned and pulled out into the busy intersection.

I tried to keep myself busy on the long ride to wherever: Magazines, novels, radio, you name it and I’d tried to keep myself occupied. I pulled the address out of my pocket and read the town’s name again. I leaned forward, towards the front of the car. “So what does this town have to offer?” I asked.

He glanced at me through the rear-view and laughed, not offering any explanations or any knowledge.

I sat back in the seat, and silently cursed him and Kennedy. Wasn’t much of anything I could do unless I jumped out of the moving car and forgot about my clothes and stuff and truth be told, I’m kinda vain, I liked my stuff and I sure as hell planned on keeping it; so I did the only thing I could… and that was picking up a magazine and actually reading the articles.

About 20 or so minutes later we left the interstate and started going through county roads until we finally pulled onto a long winding road that turned from asphalt to gravel. From there we seemed to come to a small town with a junction, turned left and went out into the country. I looked out the window and watched as civilization slowly faded from view.

I put the magazine down and looked ahead, watching as we turned off again, this time driving through several farm style houses. We passed them and continued on the country drive, only slowing to turn again, this time heading towards an old barn style home, set against a backdrop of mountains, with a stream off to the right. It was like something out of a rustic movie.

I sat in the car and stared out the window, not really sure what to do.

James left the car running, got out and started taking my bags out of the car, setting them on the ground.

I pulled in a deep breath and hesitantly got out of the car, looking around, taking in everything. I have to admit, if you were into that sort of thing, it was beautiful. I slowly walked toward the landing or porch or whatever you wanted to call it, walking the set stones right up to the steps and door.

I stopped suddenly, eyeing a pair of underwear haphazardly thrown into the bushes next to the porch. Okay, that’s something you don’t see everyday but this is the country, maybe that’s how they dry their clothes here, although I’m not planning on hanging my delicates out in the bushes anytime soon, that’s for sure.

I took a couple of steps and heard the car change gears. I turned and watched in horror, my mouth hanging open in disbelief, as the car pulled off down the road and left me behind. I moved quickly down the steps and out onto the stone path, wanting to chase the car and beat James to death, but reality stopped me: Well reality and Jimmy Choo.

I looked at my bags sitting out in the dirt and was in complete and utter shock and something else that was rapidly building; anger. “That bitch.” I paced a bit, my mouth almost foaming in fury. “I’m gonna kill you Kennedy.” I vehemently stated to no one in particular.”

I turned and stomped back towards the house, got to the door and hesitated. I can’t just barrel in there, all demanding and acting like an ass. This is deliverance country; hell they probably see a squirrel and automatically get a knife and fork. I saw that movie where the locals cooked people as if they were a slab of meat. The secret’s in the sauce and I sure as hell didn’t want to be the secret of the week.

I calmed my nerves and knocked on the door, waiting… and waiting. I knocked again, this time a little louder. “Hello?” I called out, adding. “Anybody home?”

I knocked again, looking for a doorbell or some kind. Not finding any I prepared to knock again when I heard something on the other side of the door. “Hello?” I called out again, watching as the doorknob slowly turned and the door opened.

I didn’t see anyone and that’s when I looked down and into the face of a little boy, wearing cowboy boots, guns in holsters and a big hat… and nothing else; scratch that, make that a little girl.

She looked up at me, the big hat falling down over her eyes and in the closest thing she could muster to a ‘tough’ voice, said. “Sup?”

I stood there frozen momentarily, not knowing what to say or do; finally I realized that I was the adult here. “Is your mom home?” I asked.

That’s when I heard someone coming through the house and pretty quickly at that, wearing a tool belt and splattered with plaster. She wiped her face and smeared a white streak across one of her cheeks as she quickly assessed the child, making sure I didn’t hurt the little angel and then assessed me, freezing right in place, staring. Well, we both stared, her at me and me at her.

“Buffy?” She finally asked, her face scrunched up, her brow furrowed. “What are you doing here?” She added, still looking at me all confused like.

I guess I was a bit confused or loopy myself, I looked down at the address again and then looked at the number on the house, then looked back at her. “I’m looking for Lehane.” I offered up meekly.

A look of utter disbelief settled over her face. “You’re Elizabeth?” She asked.

I nodded yes, mimicking her shocked look.

Then she did something completely unwarranted or called for. She burst out laughing, finally calming herself long enough to state the obvious. “Oh man, I bet you really want to kill Kennedy huh?”

I just kind of arched my brows, cause that was the understatement of the century.

I just stared at Faith, not really knowing what to do. I watched as she glanced down at her child, watched as her brow furrowed when she realized the tot didn’t have on her panties, watched as the child looked up at her mom and realized that she was in trouble for not having on her clothes and try to leave.

Faith reached out and touched the child’s head, holding her in place, refusing to let her leave. She looked over at me, stating casually. “Phone’s over there.”

“Phone?” I questioned.

She looked back at me, telling me, calm and casually. “Yeah, I’m sure you’re itching to get this all straightened out… so, phone’s over there. Call away.”

I nodded and walked to the phone, dialing the number from memory, watching as Faith made the little girl look up at her, questioning her. I heard a few protests coming from the child and then watched as a little foot stomped against the floor in protest and watched again, this time in amusement, as Faith turned her toward the door and made her get what I’m supposing is, wet panties flung out in the bushes.

The little girl started crying as she marched back in the house. I heard Faith faintly in the background. “If you’re big enough to know they’re wet and fling them in the trees, you’re big enough to wash them out.”

I watched as Faith marched the stomping, protesting little girl down the hallway and heard a last little scream before complete silence took over, followed by a faint little pop and muted crying. I tried to look down the hallway as I waited for my call to go through.

Finally Kennedy picked up the phone. “Hello.” She stated.

“I’m gonna kill you.” That’s all I said and she knew exactly who I was and why I wanted to rip her a new one.

“What’s your problem now?” She asked, feigning ignorance.
“You know damn well what my problem is!” I ground out.

“I didn’t lie. You needed a place. She needed help. Nothing’s changed.” Kennedy stated, exasperated and tired.

My anger boiled over. “She’s a murderer. I can’t live her with her. I could never trust her.” I almost yelled.

I turned and saw Faith standing in the doorway. She met my eyes momentarily, looked right through me, turned and walked into another room.

I sighed into the receiver, not knowing what else to say, afraid that I’d already said way too much.

I heard Kennedy sigh too, before finally asking, stating. “She heard you didn’t she?”

“Yeah.” I sighed, feeling kind of stupid.

“Well you’re stuck for the moment.” Kennedy stated, adding. “Make your peace and get along at least until I can get you another place to stay and get another slayer there.” She sighed and then added. “You really need to try and make it work though, it’s not like you have any other options and its not as if you’re qualified to join the ranks of the working.”

I rolled my eyes, refusing to bite off into an argument. I remained silent, waiting.

“I’ll call you when I come up with something else.” Kennedy stated before severing the connection.

I looked at the phone, sighed and slowly put the receiver down.

I looked around the house, pulled in a deep breath and walked to where I saw Faith go earlier.

I walked into the kitchen area where Faith was sitting at a counter, quietly drinking a cup of coffee. I eased over and sat on a bar-stool across from her, not really looking at her, just kind of keeping my head down as if I were admiring the counter top.

“I paid for my crimes Buffy.” She stated.

“What?” I looked up at her.

She sat her coffee cup down on the counter and pulled in a deep breath. “I paid for my crimes, by human standards.” She looked me dead in the eye, continuing. “That’s more than you or any of your group did.” She pulled in a deep breath, adding. “Whatever any one of you did, you either ignored it or justified it but you never, ever paid for your crimes.” She stood up from the counter, looking at me. “I did. I paid in full for every little thing.” She moved closer to me, making me feel small and dirty. “This is my home and you will not come in here and look down on me and you will not make my child feel uncomfortable and you damn sure won’t be getting to make me feel like I’m still some trashy little nothing that’s below you.” She stepped towards the doorway and looked back at me. “Not here, not now, not ever again.” She looked at me pointedly, stating. “You can’t make me feel guilty anymore.”

I stared up at her, listening, watching and waiting, not knowing what to say, so I just kept my mouth shut and watched her back as she left me in the room alone. I turned and saw the little girl staring up at me. I looked at her and half smiled and watched as she scrunched up her little face and turned away from me, leaving the room just like her mother did.

I slowly got up from the counter and carried Faith’s cup to the sink, rinsing it and setting it to the side. I walked into the living room and stood there, looking around. I finally heard them outside and I walked to the window and peered out, watching as they ran and played together, laughing and squealing in delight.

I mustered up a bit of dignity, walked outside and sat on the steps.

“You want me to take you to town?” Faith asked.

I looked up at her, half smiled and nodded no. She looked at me as if sizing me up before she finally nodded. “Well let’s get your bags inside then and get you squared away.” She moved towards the bags, looking back over her shoulder at me. “Then we can bitch about Kennedy and devise a plan to get her back.” She smiled, almost laughing, adding. “Although with that brood of hers…. I’m thinking she’s getting paid in spades already. I smiled and relaxed, nodding, agreeing with her.

Faith picked up several bags and I filled my arms with the rest and we walked back to the house, each of us stopping abruptly when we saw a pair of panties flung in the bushes next to the porch.

I heard Faith sigh and then I heard the little girl, coming toward us. I turned and watched as a little pair of pink cheeks ran towards us, showing off her other pair of pink cheeks, as she continued on by us and around the house.

“Amanda!” Faith yelled, dropping my bags and giving chase to the little girl. I sighed, shook my head and wondered just what I was doing here. I dropped my bags, sat on the steps and watched as Faith marched an angry little girl up and into the house. I tried not to laugh as the child was made to fetch the offending drawers and did laugh as she gave me a scowl of a look, her little lips poking out.

She stomped back into the house, her all cheeks rosey and bouncy and slammed the door in my face.

It got quiet all the sudden and then there was that high pitched squeal again and I knew that her mama had popped her little butt cheek but good. I eyed the door warily, watching as it slowly opened for me. I looked at the child, stating. “Thank you.”

I watched as she turned and showed me her backside, now ever rosier and pranced off to somewhere in the house.

I sighed, picked up a few bags and walked into the house, wondering just what I had gotten myself into now. I sat my bags inside the door, closed it and went to sit in the living room to wait for Faith. I threw myself into a chair and pushed back against it, getting comfortable.

I sat there, trying to figure out what was wrong, what an odor was and why I was feeling so uncomfortable. I got up and looked at the chair, realizing that I’d sat down on those peed in panties. I pinched the offending item and picked them up, looking at them disgustedly.

“Haven’t I been pissed on enough lately?” I asked myself.

“Something you’re trying to share?” Faith asked from the doorway.

I turned and looked at her, watching as she hoisted up a couple of bags and ascended the stairs. I grabbed the rest of my bags and followed her up and into a small room that was definitely painted for a baby.

“I know.” She stated looking at the room, adding. “But it’ll do for now.”

I looked around, noting how the paint looked fresh, even smelled fresh. “No, it’s fine, it looks new.” I added, hesitantly running my hand over it.

“It is.” She stated.

I looked at her again, this time really taking in her appearance and that’s when I saw the small bump forming. “You’re pregnant?” I asked.

She sighed. “Yeah, got one running round, another in the oven and my old man says, see ya, wouldn’t want to be ya.” She half laughs: Her face showing uncertainty. “Men.” She stated.

I watched silently as she exited the room. I sat down on the bed wondering just what the hell I was going to do. She was right earlier when she gave me what for, so that and everything else all mixed together was giving me a hell of a headache.

So what was I going to do?

That’s easy. I’m gonna stay until something better comes along or until Kennedy gets another slayer to help out here. I wasn’t just gonna bail and let some demon have them for lunch and its obvious now, Faith’s not in fighting form.

When Ken got things settled, I’d go home.

It’s just a matter of time.

 

 

Part 3

 

Note to self: Look at floor before you step. Of course, I’m referring to the toys that seem to litter the floor, making walking a dangerous game of chance. I mean, sure, legos don’t really look all that menacing but step on one, and you’ll know that it was probably a toy made by the devil himself.

I know cause I’m currently trying to get one of those damn things out of the bottom of my foot now. It’s either toys or panties or God forbid… play dough, now that is a true menace to society and its something that you really don’t want to have to deal with. Oh, and for the life of you… if it gets into your hair, like its all up in mine, well then bode my warning and don’t wet your hair to get it out. Why? Cause it turns into a big pile of slimy goo and will turn your hair whatever awful color its been made into.

I think my foots all right, won’t need any stitches, just a big band aid and a few days of TLC but my hair, Oh My God, what the hell am I gonna do about my hair. It’s a little… mint colored and very slick and I probably won’t have to condition it for a couple of years but I hear that greasy look is coming back. What to do? What to do?

“Bubby?” Amanda asked from beside me.

I looked back into the mirror, running my fingers through my hair, trying to figure out just when during the night, this little angel beside me, broke ranks and used me as her play table… and just where was my slayer attributes… I mean I lay there, out to the world, while she made Ronald McDonald out of my head.

“Bubby?” Amanda tried again to get my attention.

I kept looking at my hair in the mirror. “Just chew your gum…. Work on blowing that bubble, okay?” I asked, still worrying about myself. I leaned closer to the mirror and eyed my scalp closely. “When’s your mom coming home anyway? She just had a doctor appointment.” I put another dab of ‘the works’ into my mane and started working it in, again trying to get more of the slick mess out of what used to be my beautiful head of hair. I half glanced at Amanda. “Did you get that bubble?”

I looked back into the mirror and froze, thinking, well that doesn’t look right. I didn’t want to look. I closed my eyes so I wouldn’t look. I shook my head cause I knew I had to look but didn’t want to. Okay… I took another, longer, slower look.

“Oh hell.” I whispered as I looked at the little girl with gum stuck all in her hair; her face black from where the gum stuck and dried.

At that moment, right then, right now… my hair was completely forgotten and my mind was a total blank; the only thing running through it was that when Faith got back, she was literally going to kill me.

I mean, it was me who bugged the hell out of her. I can watch her. No need to hire a sitter. I can do it. I can. No problem. Easy as pie. Cake. I mean really, what’s it been now? Three days? Three whole days and what’s happened. I backed over her chickens but really, who needs chickens and we ate really good that day. Okay, I kinda turned all her sheets and towels and clothes pink, okay, everybody’s clothes and stuff was pink but we were all pretty in an off color kind of way. It’s not like I was used to doing laundry and I know she didn’t ask me to wash clothes but I just wanted to help out a bit, albeit I hindered more than helped. I mean who knew you had to separate them and who knew there were so many piles after you actually sorted them… my way was much better. Clean. Dirty.

Oh My God... and lets not forget little Amanda walking into the kitchen carrying my dildo, revving it up like an electric pickle.

I shook off my current thoughts and looked back at the child, who was looking up at me with big blue eyes and curly blonde hair, now marred with gum. How the hell did Faith of all people have a blonde haired, blue-eyed child? That’s just not logical.

I fingered the sticky mass of curls. “Ice.” I stated, lifting up the child and heading into the kitchen, instantly sitting her on the counter and getting the ice.

And that’s what I spent the next thirty minutes doing; trying to freeze the gum so I could pull it out of her hair. Did she scream? Oh yeah, just like Bloody Mary. Did I freak out? Of course not: What I did was get out the peanut butter and spread it over her head… cause that’s what you do for gum. Right? So I worked in the peanut butter and laid her on the counter and used the nozzle to rinse all the muck out of her hair.

I was actually breathing a bit easier, cause some of it was actually coming out. I sat her up, dried her off and examined the rest of her silky little curls. She still had a bit of residue next to her scalp, but a little bit of precision cutting and you’d never be able to tell. And hey, slayer here, Faith would never know.

So I was looking through the drawers and that’s when I heard the running water, well the nozzle and I turned slowly, watching in some kind of slow motion horror facsimile or, well never mind, cause I’m not really sure what that meant. The gist of it was; that Amanda had procured the nozzle and was currently watering everything within reach in the kitchen.

Of course with me being all reliable and all, I ran to her, of course I slipped in the water, sliding all the way up and crashing into the cabinet. I mentally counted to a million and pulled myself up, automatically shutting off the water.

I dried up the water as quickly as I could and sat Amanda back up on the counter, turned, retrieved the scissors from their hiding place and got ready. I carefully aligned the scissors to the precise location of the problem. “Don’t move.” I stated, well instructed actually. Did she move? Do I even have to ask? Hell yeah, she moved and just as I snapped the scissors together. Off came a huge lock of hair. Was that the worst thing? Of course it wasn’t; the worst thing was that it cut right at the scalp. A whole lock! Gone. There was now a white circle showing where her hair used to be.

I might as well just pack my crap and move to Malaysia or somewhere like it. If I hurried, maybe I could just pin a note to the kid, tie her to a tree and get a head start.

How in the hell did I get myself in this mess? Oh, that’s right. Faith got herself knocked up and had to go to the doctor, so if she hadn’t of had sex, well then all this wouldn’t be happening now. That bitch. It’s all her fault.

“Bubby.” Amanda stated lowly, bringing me out of the twilight zone and back into the kitchen.

I looked down at her, waiting. “I seepy.” She mumbled. I nodded and watched as she raised her little arms for me to pick her up. Who can resist little arms wanting you to hold them? Well I couldn’t. I picked up the child and grimaced as her little peanut butter hands wrapped around my neck, her fingers twirling through my hair. I took a last glance at the ruined kitchen and slowly walked into the other room, instantly heading for the overstuffed rocker.

You know, I actually groaned when my feet left the ground. I felt like I had run a marathon or something. My whole body was tense, on edge and I was dreading the return of Faith but regardless of that, I found myself nestling deeper into the cushions, slowly giving into the strong pull of oblivion.

I woke some time later, stretching, smiling at that nice, warm feeling that getting a long overdue nap can cause. I looked around, deciding to turn on the television, figuring that I could maybe catch up on my soap opera.

I had the feeling that I was forgetting something. It was right there on the tip of my tongue, right there in the recesses of my head, just barely out of reach and it was slowly coming forward but then, Richard came in and caught Susanne with his brother Dominic, who’s wife was actually his half sister, who’s cousin was a MILF that he’d banged in the parking lot of the Big K, and all sense went right out of my head.

That’s when I heard a noise upstairs. That’s when what I’d forgotten came crashing back like the Hindenburg. I jumped up and bolted up the stairs and into my room. Paint. Everywhere.

I froze and took in the splotched paint covered room. The walls were blotched, the windows were covered, the ceiling was splattered, the rug, the bed, my clothes, the door, the kid.

“Oh Fuck.” I muttered.

The first thing I did was glance at the clock. And the next thing… and I’m not proud, so don’t think I was happy to do what I did, but you just have to realize that necessity is the mother of all evil… and I needed to get things back in order and organized before Faith made it back home. I was on the clock. It was a race against time and I didn’t have time for this anymore. Okay, so I glued the kids butt to the floor… but just to keep her still and in one place so I could get things back in order; not her skin, just her pants, only she was in them. I’m not that desperate, well not yet, give me another thirty minutes and we’ll see.

So I stuck the kid in place and I used every ounce of slayer speed, elbow grease and gumption that I could muster to get the room back together. Granted, it wasn’t as nice as it was in its original form, but I got it looking almost descent. Well I got up all the…. Well I got the blotched stuff out and dried up what I could and slapped a coat of greenish brown paint on everything. Hey, it wasn’t a pretty color… but it was a custom mixed color, complements of ‘Amanda.’

I was finally ready to throw the linens and clothes into the wash. So I went to lift up Amanda and damn, she didn’t budge. That was some really good glue. I had to strip her out of her pants just to get her off the floor. I actually took a minute to look at the pants that were now attached to the wood floor. Maybe I could chisel them up later. Oh well that’d have to wait a bit.

I carried the kid and the clothes and put them into the wash, the clothes, not the kid. I got us a couple of juice boxes out and finally sat down, glad to rest a minute. I watched as she sipped on the drink. Suddenly her eyes got big and she grabbed herself and I’ll admit that I panicked.

“Hold it… hold it.” I yelled, lifting her off the stool and down to the floor. “Run.” I yelled, watching as she took off towards the bathroom. I actually laughed. There was no need to panic, not really, guess my nerves were a bit on edge.

I moved into the living room and relaxed back against the sofa, casually flipping through the TV Guide, surfing through the channels. I looked out the windows, glanced at the clock again and decided to straighten up the living area. I wanted things to look good.

Right now, appearances were pretty much all I had going for me… and that wasn’t saying a whole hell of a lot.

I started picking up the toys that littered the room.

“Bubby!” Amanda called from the bathroom.

“Yeah?” I yelled back, continuing to try and make the room look presentable, not lived in.

“Come wipe me.” She yelled.

I scrunched up my forehead, still picking up toys. “Honey, wipe yourself. You’re a big girl now. You’ve got to learn how to do it.” I threw some toys into the chest and continued walking around the room picking things up.

“Kay.” She yelled.

I folded the afghans and draped them over the furniture neatly; straightened the magazines, put the books back onto the shelves, picked up the candy papers and juice boxes that we’d ate during our little adventure.

I stood back, admired my work and sat down, propping my feet up on the coffee table, celebrating and relaxing at a job well done. I closed my eyes, glad that this day was over.

“Bubby…”

I kept my eyes closed, relaxing. “Yeah?” I asked.

She hesitated but just slightly. “I start my perud.”

Well that didn’t sound right. “Perud?” I sat up running that word through my brain. “Perud.” Then a word fell into the big puzzle. “Period?” I turned and looked at the child. “You got your period?” I stated shocked, disbelieving.’

I stared at her, watching as she shook her head yes.

No fucking way. I pushed off from the couch and walked to the bathroom with Amanda following closely behind me, her little feet keeping right up with mine. I pushed the bathroom door open and froze. I looked at the toilet, the tub, the walls, the shower curtain, the floor, the trashcan; all smeared with shit. I glared at the little girl, who stood there looking oblivious. I’m gonna kill her. “That’s not your period.” I almost yelled. I pulled in my emotions, trying to calm myself down. “That’s…. that’s …. Shit.”

I took another look at her, realizing that the bathroom wasn’t the only thing covered in poo.

I lost it. I admit it. I’d met my match. Demons, not a problem: Vampires, dust in the wind: Kids covered in feces, not my problem. Okay, so maybe if I’d have wiped her, we wouldn’t be looking at a piece of painting out of the Picasso era, but still, you can’t pin this one on me. I mean she’s how old?

“How old are you?” I asked, to which she just kind of shrugged.

“Great.” I muttered, as I pinched the back of her shirt and pulled her along behind me. I hit the front entry and kept right on going, straight to the great fresh air outside and right up to the outside spigot.

I unwrapped the hose, stripped the kid naked, turned on the water pressure and viola; kid wash.

So here I am, outside, spraying a naked and now screaming, squirming and fighting kid with a hose. I’m making leeway, knocking off the brown… stuff but unfortunately not the smell. I’ll still have to bathe her. I hold her tighter, continuing to make sure that all the crap is coming off and that’s when she suddenly yells, or bellows would be a more accurate word.

“Mommy!”

I turn and stare right into Faith’s face. She doesn’t say anything, just eyes me up and down; eyes her kid. A vast array of emotions filters through her eyes. I can see she’s making a mental check on the kid and then she looks at me again. Me; the one with the hose still turned on her first born. She shakes her head, stating. “ I don’t wanna know.” And then she just walked into the house, leaving me outside, alone, and still holding the hose, which to be completely honest, suddenly somehow, went limp in my hands.

I walked into the house shortly after Faith entered, pulling the child behind me. I closed the door and looked at Faith’s back as she stared into the bathroom.

“I can explain.” I offered.

She turned, slightly miffed. “About what? The bathroom covered in shit? Or about giving my child an enema with the hose?”

Okay, so maybe I couldn’t explain and really, truthfully, I didn’t want to… but at least I wasn’t alone in the corner. Nope, little Amanda was standing right by my side or maybe it was that I still had hold of her. Guess maybe I was gonna use her as some kind of leverage to save my own ass. Yep, that was pretty much it.

Faith held her hand out for Amanda, “come on, lets get you cleaned up. I can smell you a mile off.” I watched as Amanda went to her mama and as they slowly ascended the stairs. They hesitated momentarily and Faith looked back at me.

“The cleaning stuff’s underneath the sink.” She nodded and went back up the stairs.

I looked towards the bathroom, thinking of what awaited me in there.

“Shit.”

 

 

Part 4

 

A few days had passed since, ‘el mess of poopay’; whatever you want to call it, well it had passed. The kid cleaned up nicely and I finally got the stench and mess in the bathroom all cleaned up and sparkling. I still hadn’t told about the new paint decoration in the bedroom or about the pants that were still stuck to the floor. I’d been fighting myself for days, just staring at those pants, screwdriver and hammer firmly in hands to chisel them off the floor, but truth be told, I was too scared, scared I’d mess up the floor.

I sighed and slowly walked downstairs to the waiting crew and our morning ritual of breakfast. I eased around the door frame and looked at Faith and Amanda, who were sitting at the table, each quiet and still waking up.

I put on a smile and entered. “What’s for breakfast?” I asked brightly.

“Chicken.” Faith stated casually, still looking at the newspaper.

I half smiled, nodded and calmly stated, trying to keep my tone light and cheerful. “Wonderful.” I sat down and watched as Faith got up and retrieved my plate from the microwave and sat it in front of me.

OMG… there is a God and I’m in heaven, well as close as I’m gonna get right now. Before me sat a beautiful plate of grits, eggs, bacon and toast. And I’m not really a grit girl, hell I didn’t even know what a grit was. And where do they come from? Anyway, it didn’t really matter cause I was hungry and I pretty much inhaled it, sifting through parts of the paper and drinking another large glass of milk. I swear it was the best milk I’d ever tasted. “What kind of milk is this anyway?” I asked, getting nothing but a smile out of Faith, whose look made me drop my head and study the paper.

When I finally glanced back up, Faith was staring at Amanda’s head, well that bald spot to be more precise and I practically froze up right at the table… if I’d had a lump of coal up my butt, well I’d of had a diamond the size of Fort Knox but… She surprised me; Faith did. She smirked, and half laughed and drank some more of her coffee. I stared at her, watching as the sun shone through the blinds, lighting up the raven highlights in her hair, taking her in, what I thought she was and who she really is.

She looked up all of a sudden, catching me watching her. I looked down at the paper again and pretended to read, trying to hide the sudden blush that took over my face and body. I was suddenly sixteen again and anxious, I mean, here I was embarrassed by the full on blush that I had acquired but more than that; I was confused by the affect of the blush itself. So I was looking at her, that’s not a reason to get all girly and blush. Is it?

“I’m going to have a boy.” Faith stated randomly.

“What?” I asked looking up at her as if she’d just grown another head.

She laughed and put her paper down. “The baby’s a boy.” She smiled and looked up at me. “I’ve got to do a few last minute touch ups in the nursery, maybe add some boy colors to the trim so we’ve got to get your room completed.” She picked up her mug and drank her coffee, which now was pretty much milk with a splash of coffee and grimaced.

Oh boy. I kind of stiffened in my seat. Should I tell her about the room or should I just try and fix it myself. What to do? What to do? The only thing I could think to do was to somehow stall her; that sounded pretty good to me, so that’s what I did. “So uhm… where will my room be?” I asked, trying to get things on another level and get the nursery a forgotten thing of the past.

She looked up at me. “Well I’m thinking we’ll convert the den over. You’ll probably be more comfortable in there and then you won’t be bothered all the time by the kids.” She stared at me as if waiting for a reply when none came she looked at me, really looked at me, making me squirm and everything. “Is there something wrong?” She asked, watching me closely.

A bead of sweat trickled down my forehead and I looked at her, calm, cool, collected. I smiled, shaking my head no. “No, what could be wrong?” I asked.

Her eyes hardened and her voice steeled. “What did you do?”

She got up from the table and I panicked. I jumped out of my chair, squealing like a stool pigeon. “I didn’t do it. She did.” I pointed at the little criminal, losing all credibility with each passing second. I pulled in a huge breath, continuing on my rant. “I’m not used to keeping kids… I didn’t know I couldn’t let her out of my site… I had no idea what she was capable of… I tried to fix it… I didn’t want you to find out. I’ll make it better… you won’t even know that it was…” My voice trailed off when I realized that she was smiling at me.

“Chill B, lets just see what the damage is.” She started walking up the stairs and I hung my head and followed behind her. She paused at the door, mentally gearing herself up to look behind the door. She cracked her neck, turned the knob and pushed the door open.

She stood there, taking in the puke colored walls. I pushed past her, walking in, thinking I could explain the new color scheme. She eyed the ceiling and looked around and then she saw the window and took a few steps in, and what do you think happened? That’s right. She stumbled over the pants stuck to the floor.

I lunged for her, catching her, helping her regain her balance. “Careful.” I muttered, checking to see that she was all right.

She nodded, smiled slightly, whispering, “thanks,” before taking a good look at the little pair of jeans glued to the hardwood flooring. She leaned down, fingering the clothing, checking them out. Looking up at me, she asked. “You glued her to the floor?” Then she burst out laughing, her face red, her breaths catching until finally she calmed down a bit, stating. “Man, I’ve been tempted to stick her somewhere but I just never had the balls to do it.”

I actually smiled and relaxed, then sat beside her on the floor and let the built up anxiety leave my body.

She nudged me. “You know you don’t have to be on pins and needles all the time. It’s like you’re a parent for the first time. I get that, hell, it’s not like I didn’t make mistakes. I still make them but the main thing is, regardless of what happens, all that matters is that your heart’s in the right place.” She smiled up at me, adding. “I’m not gonna freak out on you, or make you leave, you’re welcome as long as you want to stay, so relax okay?”

I nodded yes, and fought to keep that blush from building up again. I tried to cover my nervousness by directing my attention back to those little pants. “Will they come up?” I asked.

She laughed. “Yeah, a little solvent and maybe some paint thinner or remover… will have this fixed up in no time.”

The room, it took weeks. We’re all still walking around paint splotched. We could have gotten it done sooner but the fumes weren’t all that good for Faith, just smelling them for any length of time made her sick and I mean deathly sick, so a lot of the work that could be removed from the room, like the window and trim, well we took them down and outside, where she could work on them and not be bothered and we did the inside work little by little and that included getting those little jeans up and off the floor.

I sat there, outside, watching Amanda run around chasing a few new chickens, hens, laying hens that is and casually watched as Faith removed paint from the window and scraped the glass clean.

I watched as she slowly ran her fingers over the wood, feeling it, making sure to not leave any remnants of paint behind and then she was looking at me and it was as if I was caught up in her stare. We froze momentarily, each caught up in something bigger than either of us and then suddenly she pulled her eyes from mine and I watched as she went to Amanda quickly, instantly picking up the crying tot and soothing her little pecked legs.

I sipped on my lemonade and went to staring up at the sky, wondering just what is was about living in the country that made things seem so easy and carefree. I smiled as I heard Amanda giggle and watched as she went back to chasing those birds, the earlier boo-boo now forgotten and a thing of the past.

Morning came early. I glanced at the clock and then looked at it again. No F’in way. She was not waking me up at 5:00am. I grunted and nestled back into the blankets. My warmth disappeared and I sat upright in bed, glaring at the two smiling faces staring down at me.

I got up, still in tank top and pajama pants and shoved my feet into my animal slippers and grouched all the way out to the barn behind them. I wiped my eyes and watched as Faith plopped Amanda onto a saddle that was straddling a low wall and picked up a bucket, quickly thrusting it into my hands. She motioned over there, and I looked following her motion, and saw some big hairy, things.

“I’m guessing… you think I know what you want?” I growled out.

“Milk.” She stated as she started cleaning out a stall.

I looked back at the beasts. “I’m not milking that thing.” I stated louder than I intended.

She dropped her pitchfork, stating, “okay, you clean the stall and I’ll do the milking.”

And that was all it took, I looked at the… droppings and instantly changed my mind. “No, that’s okay.” I stated, continuing. “I’ll get the milk.”

I turned my back to her, still mad, well fuming to be more precise and if she could hear my thoughts and the words I was mouthing, well I’m sure I’d be eating soap right about now.

I looked at the bucket, pulled in a breath and sized up the ‘things’ to milk. I was not gonna let her get the best of me. No way. Not one fucking chance in hell was she going to make me say uncle.

I blew out a sharp breath and stalked towards the… “What are these things anyway?” I asked.

“Goats.” She stated as if that were a normal thing.

My mouth fell open. “Goats?” I asked, disbelievingly. “Goats? I’ve been drinking goat’s milk and you didn’t bother to tell me? Why in hell would you be drinking that? It’s not like you can’t buy regular milk in the stores.” I looked over at her, my face snarled up in disgust.

She stopped what she was doing and faced me. “Well, Amanda couldn’t handle the processed stuff. She got sick from drinking it, something about the chemical process they used; she was allergic to it and honestly, she tolerated the goat’s milk a lot better and it had a sweet taste that she loved. Not really a choice when something makes your child sick, you do what you have to.” She turned from me and went back to work.

I eyed the goat’s stuff, inching closer. “Couldn’t we just hold her up to its milk thing and let her drink from the source?” I asked.

She laughed it off. I’m being serious and she’s laughing as if it were a joke.

Anger built up in me again. I put the bucket under the… I don’t know, nozzle thing and grabbed hold and started yanking, my brow furrowing at the lack of milk. I yanked again harder.

“Buffy.” Faith stated from behind me.

“Buffy.” She stated again.

I was annoyed now. “What?” I almost yelled out.

She sighed, biting against returning her own venom coated words. She looked at me, her face stoic and stated. “That’s not a nanny and that’s not a teat.”

I froze and looked again at what was in my hand. I let it go and the goat turned and nudged me in the shoulder.

Faith laughed, taunting me. “Oh he likes you.” She walked away and grabbed up Amanda, still laughing. “We’ll just leave you two alone… I wouldn’t bend over backwards though if I were you.”

I looked down at the straw covered ground, my face full of fury, like I’d bend over and whatever.

The goat nudged me again. I turned to look and found it right in my face and then the worst thing that you can imagine happened. It licked me right in the mouth, frenched me all the way down to my toes.

I screamed and spit and jumped around, bending over hocking out every bit of saliva left inside my mouth, trying to wipe my tongue and them BAM, something struck me hard against my ass and I went flying across the ground. I rubbed my butt and looked up at the goat, make that the soon to be dead goat and heard laughter. I turned and looked and Faith was doubled over, holding her gut, cackling so hard, she could hardly breathe.

“Bitch.” I stated loudly.

Faith stopped abruptly, looked at me and then started laughing again.

I got up, dusted off my butt, mustered up some dignity, well tried to, not too many people could come back from animal sex and courtship, but I was not most people, no, I was Buffy Summers and I was getting the hell out of Dodge, cause when the going gets tough, the tough gets going, at least out of the barn and away from where I could be seen.

I tried to get away but Amanda caught up with me, holding up her little arms to be picked up and I couldn’t say no. So I hoisted her up into my arms and walked towards the house with Faith in tow, still smiling and laughing and I’ll admit… I laughed too, well now I was. As a matter of fact both Faith and I laughed like idiots all the way to the porch, where we sat on the steps, still smiling and relaxing... well, until Amanda decided to make things serious again. She looked at both of us, her eyes all big and proud, her smile growing wider second by second and then she wiped the smiles off both mine and Faith’s face with one little word.

“Beech.”

 

 

Part 5

 

Things didn’t die down as quickly as I would’ve liked after the, ‘incident.’ No, do you think that Faith would just let it go, she picked on me shamelessly, getting her jollies at my expense; always making comments about, ‘Billy,’ as in billy-goat, the new love of my life. She tormented me so much that I was actually ashamed to show my face the next morning at breakfast.

I did a few deep breaths, mustering up the courage to face them, and I say them because little Amanda had taken to teasing me too. I blew out a nervous breath, hiding on the staircase and thought back to the night before and… Faith. She was laughing and said something to the extent of… “Don’t worry about what people will say B; you love who you love, you just can’t help it and before you know it, we’ll have little chupacabras running round.”

I was like chupa what? So she filled in the blanks for me, saying, “You know, little goat boys but don’t worry, regardless of how they look, we’ll still love them.”

I rolled my eyes and straightened out my clothes, getting the courage to enter the kitchen with them and I did. I walked in as if I was cool, calm and collected and sat right across from my teaser and tormentor.

She put the paper down and half smiled at me, as if she was appreciative of my courage. She got up, got my plate and sat it in front of me and poured me a big glass of milk. Of course I stared at the milk… I knew it was just a ploy but I wasn’t going to let her get the best of me now, no, I had to get back to the top and I would no matter what.

She sat back down, her brow arched, smirking at me as I eyed the milk. She picked the paper up and started reading it again and I took in a deep, nerve steeling breath and grasped hold of the glass.

“It’s still good milk.” I stated flippantly and lifted the glass to my lips, drinking.

“What makes you so sure that its milk?” Faith stated casually from behind her paper.

I… spewed… milk… all over the table. The thought that it could be something else instead of milk literally did me in, I could not drink it, much less swallow any and she probably ruined it for me for life.

I glared up at her, wiping the spittle from my lip.

She lowered the paper and smiled at me. We sat there, sizing each other up for quite some time… well until she went back to reading the paper.

I looked back down at the milk and thought to myself, dignity’s over-rated anyway and there’s always tomorrow… and there’s payback, gotta love payback. I looked at Faith and smiled.

It’s been a month now… and the goat, it’s still in love. Seriously, it follows me everywhere. One morning I heard something moving outside my window, so I go and look out and low and behold the goat is peeping in at me and Faith, the sweetheart that she is, has been shamelessly taunting me and in a way like only she can. I’m mortified.

It’s actually kind of crazy how well we’ve been getting along. Well, minus the ‘me’ freaking out over Amanda wearing my three hundred dollar designer shoes to jump in mud puddles with. That was just ugly. She cried and my ranting just up and died on me. Here I was, mad as hell over something that was inanimate and here she is, just playing and having fun, not a clue to the world that what she was doing was wrong.

I shamed myself. But that little child taught me something that day and that something is that children love you completely and wholly. And they’re forgiving. I yelled, acted like a real ass and yet she still clung to me, still looked up at me with those big blue eyes and still put her heart out for me to see and it literally tore me to pieces.

So I wiped her tears, hugged her and apologized then donned a pair of those expensive, designer shoes and went skipping through the mud with Amanda. We had a ball. And of course I learned the value of putting up things that couldn’t be replaced, out of reach and out of prying little hands.

I’d started spending a bit of time with Amanda in the mornings, giving Faith free time to work. I remembered back to a few days ago, we were just sitting in the swing on the front porch, watching Amanda play in the sprinkler and I suddenly wondered just how was she earning a living. I mean, I hadn’t seen her going to work since I’d been here. And before I knew it, I’d blurted out. “Just how are you making ends meet? I haven’t seen you work? You do have a job, don’t you?”

She smiled and nodded, looking me right in the eyes, which was still an uneasy feeling for me. I mean, Faith, looking you in the eyes and speaking. It was unnerving. She pulled in a soft breath, readied herself, almost laughing, stating. “Well, that’s kind of funny.” She paused, before continuing. “I write spam.” She stated casually.

“What?” I asked, looking at her as if she was crazy.

“Spam. Filler, Ad’s for companies to send out to the masses.” She replied.

I scrunched up my forehead, confused, but decided to let it go. So she’s working. But anyway… that’s how I’d come to care for Amanda for a few hours a day. See, Faith had been working late at night, after everything had been taken care of and way after Amanda had been tucked in. It just seemed natural to offer my time, to help out a bit.

I guess it would be an understatement at this point to say that I was growing attached to them. I felt comfortable, at home and I just adored Amanda. I still had a problem with some of her habits, such as flinging her panties in the bushes and hightailing it around the house naked.

Which brings us to today. Faith’s working and it’s a rule, during the hours of 8 am. to 12 pm. Faith is not to be bothered, unless it’s an emergency.

Okay, so I’m making a late breakfast and I can hear Amanda in the living room, playing an old electronic keyboard. So I’m smiling and concocting a breakfast for champions when I realize its suddenly gotten quiet. I’ve learned; quiet is the devil’s friend. I removed the breakfast from the stove’s eye; learned that too and started cleaning my hands, heading right for the living room when the music started up again.

“Whew.” I instantly relaxed and returned back to the stove.

I got the breakfast ready and went to get Amanda, who was sitting on the small bench playing the piano, her booted feet swinging back and forth, her guns hanging off to the side, her hat bobbing in time with the tune she was attempting. First thing I noticed were those little butt cheeks shining for the whole world to view.

“Amanda.” I got her attention.

“Why are you naked?” I asked, patting my foot and crossing my arms, my best attempt at appearing, matronly and in control.

She threw her little head back, still mashing on the keys, swinging her feet and stated. “I just like wearing my body.”

She went back to playing, rocking side to side, in what I’m assuming to be, her rendition of Ray Charles.

I couldn’t help but smile and shake my head. She was definitely Faith’s child all right. Oh, don’t get me wrong, Faith doesn’t play the piano naked, at least I don’t think she does… but I wouldn’t put it past her. Hell, at this point in time… I don’t think I could even trust myself not to trip the light nudetastic.

So later on in the day; we’re all outside, me, sitting in my usual place on the steps, sipping lemonade and watching Faith and Amanda as they dug and weeded through flowers.

It was such a nice, easy flowing activity, and it just seemed to move in slow motion. Faith in her cut off overalls, her hands covered in work gloves, sitting on her knees in the dirt and pulling out the unwanted weeds and batting away the occasional… creature… and Amanda, wearing a big ole floppy sunhat that looked like something out of an old oriental movie, bobbing up and down when she walked.

So I sat and I watched them dig through the earth and all of a sudden it was as if the entire world faded and all that was left was the two of them. The sun shown down behind them, illuminating them, giving them a bright backdrop and the trees overhead cast just enough haze to make them view-able and surreal.

Amanda and Faith looked at each other, smiled and then leaned in for the sweetest mother/daughter kiss. Amanda’s little grubbed hand palmed the side of her mother’s face, leaving a lasting impression of the tenderness that was occurring.

They rubbed their noses together, smiling at each other and I watched in complete awe as that little hand slowly slid from Faith’s face.

I caught Faith’s eyes for a second before turning my attention back to Amanda and I watched that big sunhat flop as she galloped off to do something else. I looked back at Faith, who’d started back to work in the flowers when something touched my arm.

I turned and saw Amanda, holding up a small, yellow daffodil for me to take. I looked at the offering and back to Amanda and slowly reached out to take the flower. She smiled big and leaned in and gave me the softest peck on the lips, turned and pranced off to play.

I looked at the flower and my heart literally melted and I realized that even though I’d been around the world, did everything imaginable, that I’d missed the most important thing, life.

I turned and looked into the eyes of Faith. We held each others gaze, each looking with intent and fascination. She finally broke the hold by half smiling and slowly returning to her work.

That’s how I spent the rest of the afternoon. I watched them, completely at peace on the outside but on the inside, my emotions were completely out of control.

 

The next day was quiet, too quiet. Faith was bothered by something she received in the mail and her somberness filtered over to Amanda and that’s how we spent our day. Faith worried and paced, which was something I was totally unprepared for and Amanda mirrored her mom’s anxiousness. I watched them carefully, my fear and worry also building up.

The evening brought with it the cause of all the day’s problems; Faith’s husband showed up and it was a complete mess.

I have never seen Faith so out of it or incapable of dealing or handling anything, but her emotions were all over the place anyway, she was either almost laughing or crying at any given point and this was not good for her or the baby.

I could hear them yelling from the other room. She’d asked me to take Amanda and I did and hopefully I did enough to distract her from what was going on around us. I’d given her my game boy and hooked up the headset so she’d be into the game zone and while she played I listened.

I was already angry, I mean, he showed up and just completely turned his back on Amanda, as if she was some sort of demon magnet and now listening to him yell about the other baby and its genetic composition, well it only infuriated me more, not to mention, he was dead set against signing away his parental rights to either child, much less signing divorce papers. I leaned against the door, listening closer, listening to him threaten her with taking the children and worse if she didn’t give into his demands. I stood there waiting for Faith to kick his ass… and the unthinkable started occurring.

I could hear Faith’s resolve melting and I wanted to scream, to run into the room and bash his head in. He didn’t come to check on his family, he came to see what they had that he could take from them, even tried the age old, if you don’t give me this or that, as in money, that he’d make waves, this was just not happening. My adrenaline and anger surged.

It suddenly got quiet and my last nerve snapped. I glanced back at Amanda and quietly went to the drawer where Faith was keeping the legal contracts, the one for the divorce and the one for custody of the kids. I grabbed them, a pen and slipped outside.

He finally exited the house and I was waiting, anxious to see him, hit him if need be, hell, I wanted him to say or do something, cause I was sure as hell ready to give it back to him. He strode up to me, looking as if he’d just won the lottery and every cell in my body quickened and instantly, the slayer in me woke up.

I hoisted him up off the ground and basically pissed all over the nearby territory, marking Faith, the children, the home as mine, claimed them without even asking for their permission. It took every ounce of strength I had just to not kill him but he had a job to do, and I knew I wouldn’t maim him before he completed it.

I thrust out the contracts on the children and the divorce and waited as he signed them, daring him to cause waves or make any sudden moves. He handed me the contracts and I grabbed him, making him stay put until I eyed them over. I tried to sign as a witness but acted like I couldn’t…. so I got him to turn around, to let me use his back as a sort of make shift table.

I scribbled my name and then stuck the pin into his shoulder blade and smiled triumphantly as he made his leave, calling out over his shoulder something about dykes. I watched his car until it faded from my view. I wasn’t worried, I knew, that with my threats and the knowledge that he had of the afterlife, they’d never see him again… and I wouldn’t have to kick his ass or have him ate up by some demon or something. Didn’t hurt one bit that I’d mentioned that last bit to him either.

I turned to go back into the house and found Faith standing there watching me. I stopped, unsure as to what her reaction was going to be. I was thinking she was going to flip out, angry that I’d intervened between her and her husband. I waited, fearing the worst.

She stood frozen and just watched me. I finally swallowed and walked up the steps toward her, only stopping when I got right in front of her.

“I’m sorry, I know it wasn’t my place…” I tried to explain, but she nodded her head no, silencing me and continued to look at me, so I obliged and waited for whatever was fixing to happen, to occur.

We stood there quietly, taking each other in, until she grimaced and pressed her hand against her stomach. I closed the distance, instantly cupping her hand, trying to determine if she was all right. She removed her hand and placed it on top of mine, holding my palm against her stomach and that’s when I felt a tiny little fluttering.

I smiled, glanced at Faith and almost laughed before the seriousness of the day got to me. I slowly removed my hand, straightened up and faced her. She looked at me for a bit and then finally hesitantly reached out, nodded, letting me know everything was all okay, she took my hand, entwining our fingers together and pulled me behind her into the house.

I closed the door and smiled as I locked it.

 

 

Part 6

 

 

We didn’t speak about the husband incident, it was more of a quiet understanding; me being glad he was gone and Faith being glad that someone had finally stood up for her. She had a new ease about her: a feeling that comes when you realize that you’re truly not alone. I was feeling it too and I liked it.

Amanda had pretty much put her father out of her little head the minute she’d left the room and I was ecstatic about it, I mean, wouldn’t it be cruel to leave her wanting after something that was just unobtainable.

Okay, Okay… don’t tut me. Truth is, I didn’t want to share her beyond Faith… and I wasn’t planning to have to compromise.

Anyway, today was a big day here, that’s right; we were going off, together, to Xander’s wedding.

We’d gotten up early, packed the house and left at first light and I truly have to tell you I was about to scream bloody murder.

What with Faith having to pee every 4 miles and Amanda constantly asking questions, well maybe not questions… but her constantly going, “oooh cars”, well it was getting on my last nerve. After my third spastic fit of the trip, Faith took over driving and I crawled into the back seat to sit with Amanda, who promptly unhooked her car seat and sat in my lap. I swear that kid is like some kind of octopus: Before I knew it, she’d cupped my breasts and asked me where my boobies were.

She shocked me into silence. No kidding. Me. Quiet as a frickin mouse. What could I say, nothing that’s what, so I sat there and stared at her, but Faith, well, she started cussing and that was only because when Amanda asked the question, she drizzled the coffee that she’d just drank out of her mouth and onto her shirt… otherwise she’d have been laughing so hard that the car would’ve been swerving all over the road.

I finally pouted myself out, cause, really, could you stay angry with these two?

We pulled into the small chapel around three and slowly climbed from the car. Faith changed in the backseat while I dressed Amanda in the front. I watched as Faith slid into the sundress; watching her grimace, inwardly cursing her luck at ruining her suit. A small smile graced my features.

I smoothed myself out and touched up my hair and we made our way into the chapel and sat to watch the ceremony.

It’d been a while since I’d seen Xander and the years had been kind to him. He’d filled out a good bit but it was his face that showed his accomplishments. He had this serene glow about him and as his bride marched down the aisle, his eyes danced and filled with love.

It was a short ceremony and concluded outside in the garden. I made a direct beeline to Xander and threw my arms around him.

I met his wife, Karen and caught up as quickly as possible. My attention drifted sometime during the conversation, became a blur and faded out.

I found myself entranced and caught up in the most beautiful sight. Faith and Amanda were off in the distance. The sun blanketed them, illuminated them, causing Faith’s body to silhouette against the fabric of her dress.

She swung Amanda around, lifting her and I watched enthralled as they laughed and smiled.

“Buffy?”

“Buffy?” Xander asked again, getting my attention.

I turned and faced him and he looked right through me and nodded up at Faith and Amanda, stating. “You’re falling in love with them, aren’t you?”

I looked at him hard, not really knowing what to say. I turned my attention back to Faith and Amanda, watching them momentarily before turning back to Xander, my system still shut down, silent.

He smiled at me. “It’s okay, you know.”

I remained silent, finally nodding up at him, wrapping my arms around him as he pulled me closer and enveloped me in a big bear hug.

I leaned against him and turned my eyes back to Faith and Amanda, watching them from afar.

We finally said our goodbyes to the wedded couple and climbed back into the car, heading home but stopped off at a hotel along the way, each of us, tired and spent.

I lay in my bed and stared over at Faith and Amanda as they cuddled against one another until they finally fell asleep. I silently waited, counted minutes, waiting for the inevitable to happen and it did.

Amanda started her nightly aerobatics; kicking, shuffling around, flinging those little legs and arms that’d somehow catch you in the ribs or throat area.

I smiled inwardly, my heart hammering inside my head, my mouth suddenly dry. I licked my lips and pulled in a deep breath. “Come over here.” I stated lowly, trying not to awake Amanda.

Faith slowly extricated herself from under the covers and padded to my bed. I moved over and gave her some room to climb in.

Our breaths were labored and heavy and the tension was thick enough to cut with a knife and yet neither one of us gave in. She eased under the covers, relaxing back into the pillows, sighing.

I watched her and shifted, pulling the blanket up and over her. “Are you alright?” I asked lowly.

She nodded, whispering. “Yeah.”

I licked my lips and moved closer, slowly inching my hand out towards her belly. She tensed and held her breath, waiting for contact.

My hand gently eased over her stomach and I watched her face, watched as she closed her eyes and bit her lower lip.

I tried to control my breathing, tried to back down all the emotions swirling around in my head and body but I was a lost cause. I closed my eyes and made myself calm down. I eased my hand over her stomach, feeling, searching for the baby within.

Faith placed her hand over mine and guided me downward and over and put some pressure on her hand, pushing me into her, allowing me to feel the tiny little movements of the baby.

We smiled and laughed as the little being moved and swirled under our touch. I forgot about being nervous and tense and leaned my head on her shoulder, my hands and movements grew bolder, more confident as I eased her top up and over her belly, my fingers tracing over her soft warm skin. I eased her pajama bottoms down a bit, exposing her belly to my touch.

I lay there, tickling my fingers over her skin, feeling her warm flesh, the baby’s movement and I was completely oblivious to the world around me.

And that’s how we fell asleep, wrapped around each other. Of course that’s not how we woke up, or how I woke up rather.

I couldn’t breathe, or rather I had the feeling I was being suffocated. I tried to push out a breath and couldn’t so I opened an eye and found a little leg draped over my mouth and nose.

I lifted the leg and sucked in some air, sat up partially and looked around. Faith was over in the other bed, sound asleep and I was here with the incredible kicking monster.

I rolled my eyes and crawled out of bed, making my way to the bathroom for an early shower.

Not ten minutes into the shower I felt something shift around me, the air or something. I turned and low and behold, there was Amanda, right there with me, naked as a jaybird.

“Faith!” I called, waiting for her to reply.

“Faith!” I called again.

“What?” She called out, her voice sleepy and annoyed.

I sighed and tried to back down my usual early morning snappiness. “Come and get Amanda. She got in the shower with me.” I waited for an answer but none came, then I heard some bumbling and fumbling around; grumbling filtered through the sounds of the running water. I waited for Faith to snatch Amanda out of the shower.

Then I heard it; the flush that is. “Bitch.” I muttered under my breath as the water turned from hot to ice cold. I screamed and tried to get out. Amanda screamed and moved towards me. We pretty much clamored out of the shower and stood there, cold, drenched and dripping in soap.

Faith stood there, eyes swollen with sleep and stated. “She’s out.” She turned, left us staring at her back and climbed back into bed.

I looked at her lying in the bed and I nodded, plotting to myself.

I put Amanda and me back into the shower and got us clean and rinsed, dried off and dressed and then I quietly left to get a bucket of ice.

We crept back into the room, me with a bucket full of ice and Amanda with a cube in each little hand.

We positioned ourselves around her, stalking, salivating over the payback.
Faith suddenly winced and grabbed her belly and that threw the payback out the window. I sat the ice down and went into nurse mode. I helped her up and waited nervously as she took a shower, with her declining my want for us to head to the hospital.

We finally got back into the car; our only stop was to eat at a local diner.

A pregnant Faith is something; really, every little thing annoys her, especially if she’s eating. The waiter kept coming over, trying to flirt with us, interrupting our meal, and then all of a sudden, every time he’d start to come over, Faith would wince out loud and grab her belly.

I sat and watched and caught the pattern, she’d interrupt his movement, halt him right in his steps, send him the other way. Guess he didn’t want to be birthing a baby or something.

I watched her in utter shock, although I must admit I still wasn’t getting the big picture.

She looked at me, took a bite of a burger and stated as she laughed. “Works every time. No body wants to mess with a woman that could drop a load at any given minute.” She laughed and then looked pointedly at me.

I sat there, staring, my mouth hanging open. “You’ve been doing that to me when you didn’t want to be bothered with me?” I half asked.

She pulled in a half breath and stared at me, stating, “maybe.”

I continued to stare at her, my hands reaching for the food on the table.

Faith suddenly bolted out of the booth and ran out of the restaurant with me close behind, flinging potatoes at her retreating form.

We collapsed outside on the ground, her laughing and me trying to rub potatoes in her face.

The next thing I know, a little munchkin jumped on my back, her hands filled with mushed food and each of them clasping around me, wiping the goo onto my clothes, to either hang there or drip.

I flipped Amanda over and held her in my arms, tickling her until she gasped and gave up, tired, panting for breath. I laughed and looked at them. Amanda was curled onto her side, smiling and pretending to be invisible so the tickling would stop and Faith was just lying there, serene, quiet, her eyes closed.

I reached out and touched Faith’s face, wiping off a bit of food that’d splattered there.

She opened her eyes and looked at me as I slowly ran my fingertips over her face.

“Are y'all gonna kiss now?” A voice stated from above us.

We looked up into the waiter’s face, each of us, coming out of the daze we were in. We went back in, paid the bill and headed toward home; each of us silent, thinking and eyeing the other inconspicuously.

 

 

 

Part 7

 

Time passes by when you’re least expecting it; you wake up one day and realize that weeks have passed you by and you’re left wondering where exactly the time went.

That right there pretty much summed up my life… and the here and now. I mean I pretty much came alive when I was called into slayer service and everything after that just spiraled into some kind of blurry nothingness.

My mom, Dawn, Giles, Alain: Now that I think about it, and I have been, thinking about it that is, I’m thinking that I’m getting my second breath of air, coming alive again so to speak… but to be honest, it’s more like… I thought I knew about life, love and living but with each passing day I come to realize that I didn’t really know squat… cause this here, with this family, now this was living. It gave me a purpose, they gave me a purpose and I finally felt at peace.

I’d finally gotten the hang of watching Amanda without burning down the house, don’t get me wrong, we still had tons of mishaps and most of them my doing.

One in particular comes to mind and it proved to be a huge embarrassment.

A few weeks ago, I’d gotten a job, and to be honest, I’d called in an old favor from an old friend, Robin Wood. He recommended me for a part time counseling position at the local school. Of course it was catholic, and I didn’t mind, didn’t know anything about Catholicism but that’s beside the point, they needed help with the troubled teens and that’s what I was gonna do; give them help, regardless of whether they wanted it or not.

Okay, so to get into the teen frame of mind, I decided if you want to win them, join them and I did, musically speaking of course. I’d just rock out day and night, make the hand signs, bob my head and carry on like a big dope. And this is where I made my first big mistake. I’d gotten in the habit of making some kind of hand sign and stating ‘rock on’.

And you’re probably thinking why is that a mistake. Well, see, me and my bright ideas decided to teach it to Amanda, who’s like three and a half now, she’s small but she’s so bright for her age really; like she can talk very well, well pretty much and she can potty but you’re asking for trouble if you let her wipe herself.

I got off track. Okay, so I taught her to say rock on and make the hand sign. And I’m just as pleased as punch, or I was up until Faith came home.

Amanda was so thrilled to learn something new and she ran right up to faith, shot her a bird and said, “fuck on mommy.”

Faith stopped dead in her tracks, looked down at her little girl and asked disbelievingly, “What?”

To make matters worse she picked Amanda up, I’m guessing to get her closer to her ears. By this point and time, I’m cringing, cause really, I’d no idea her ‘rock on’ would sound like that, but now that I’m thinking about it, she can’t say butterfly either, it comes out as fuckafly.

So I watched in fear.

Faith looked at her again and asked, “what?”

And little Amanda smiled big, shot another bird and blurted out something that sounded like, “fuckher mommy.”

Faith arched her brows and looked directly at me and me, well I was looking at the floor, the ceiling, the door was looking pretty good, anything but looking into Faith’s eyes.

I finally sighed and explained about the ‘rock on’ and got a ‘you fix it’ speech and believe me it was a lot worse than the yard work debacle.

Just a week ago, I was working outside and I tipped over the wheel barrel again and I threw a tool and said something to the extent of, ‘I’m sick of all this shit’, and low and behold, later that night, Faith was reading in her rocker as usual and Amanda walked to the door and pointed out it and said, “mommy, look at all that shit out there’.

Faith actually smiled at that before cutting her eyes at me, and me, well, I was cringing, waiting for the earth to swallow me up.

Okay so back to the problem at hand and the new words learned or mis-learned to be more accurate. I’d created an embarrassing little monster cause little did I know it yet, but I’d have to go to work for a crisis.

Faith was at the doctor’s office and I was alone with Amanda and the phone started ringing off the hook. Long story short: A kid was crashing, talking suicide, stuff like, ‘I give up’… so I got up and went, no questions asked. They called; I went.

So I grabbed up Amanda and we headed to school.

So we’re walking past the nuns or sisters, who weren’t very tolerant of my living arrangement anyways, and they hesitated and scowled at Amanda and me as we’re walking up to them and past them.

What do you think Amanda did? Well I’ll tell you. She shot them a bird and said, “fuck on.”

They scowled, huffed and scurried away from us sinners… so we entered the room with the deranged kid, who was being questioned by yet another sister.

Amanda goes right over, hangs ten, or really a bird and tells them all, “fuck on.”

The sister acts like the devil incarnate just invaded heaven, the kid laughs like crazy and everything turns out just fine. Go figure.

Another day, another dollar and I’m looking for… another job, so until I find one, or Robin can hook me up again, I’m back to watching Amanda so Faith can write.

And this brings us to today or THE DAY, as we’re all calling it.

Faith and I had a little argument over Amanda’s… ‘Pets’. See its like this, she’d gotten some baby lizards and had been keeping them in a cricket cage, complete with cricket’s, flies and whatever else they eat.

So I’m making some lunch and she comes bee bopping into the kitchen and I sit her up on the counter and that’s when I see lizards attached to her ear lobes, just hanging there; of course I freak out, scream a bit, cause I’m thinking they’re attacking her… so I’m trying to hit them off of her and I’m freaking out more and in turn freaking her out.

I finally knock them off of her and she starts balling, yelling bout her ‘rear rings’ and I’m completely, utterly, baffled and silent. I mean; she was wearing them on her ears as jewelry. What kind of rational person would’ve thought that? I certainly didn’t.

Faith pretty much came downstairs and explained to me, that you just squeeze the lizard slightly, their mouth opens and you give them your ear to bite, let go of them and they’ll hang on forever or until they die.

I watch in stunned silence as Faith returns to writing, well as she waddles back to work and think to myself, this is way to country for my ass; seriously, its like a squirrel runs past them and they automatically get out a knife and fork; me I go, wow that’s a squirrel and they go, mmmmm, dinner.

So, Faith leaves me with a squalling kid and I can’t do anything because it’s ‘my fault’ that her… ‘pets’, ran off. After… two minutes of her crying, I’m about ready to self-combust, so I do what any sane, rational woman would do.

I ransack the house for something to catch the lizards in. What did I find? Well, the only box we had was a tampon box, so I dumped out the contents and grabbed up the box and went on a lizard hunt.

I found a stick and there I was, crouched over, sneaking; stick in one hand, empty tampon box in the other, trying to catch the pet lizards.

Five minutes in and I was ready to quit so I turned to look at the still tear stained face of Amanda, trying to explain it away

“I think they’re gone.” I said lowly.

“Nooooooooo.” She screamed.

I inwardly rolled my eyes and started looking again, poking my stick in the bushes and along the flowers and that’s when I saw it, a long green tail.

I readied myself, set my feet and got my special lizard equipment ready.

I lunged, box down, ready to retrieve, the stick in scoop and flick mode.

The lizard ran. I blocked with the box, flicked the beast with the stick, moved the box to intercept and the thing, at the last minute, caught hold of the stick, and jumped for freedom, only it’s freedom was right between my eyes.

I started screaming, jumping around, flailing the tampon box and stick, acting like I’m being eaten alive. The lizard’s faking me out; right, left, its beady little red eyes watching me for any sudden movements.

And I moved: I bolted forward and ran into the porch railing, the ringing of the metal meeting my head rung out loud and proud. I stilled momentarily and fell over backwards, still clutching the box and stick.

When I woke up, everything was blurry. Amanda was sitting across my stomach, jumping, pushing the air out of my lungs and Faith was laughing, holding up a video recorder.

I reached up and felt a huge goose egg right between my eyes. Faith finally lowered the camera and offered me a hand up, which at that point I accepted it, cause truthfully I was still dazed.

I got the rest of the day off and some TLC, which I really needed, even Amanda cut me some slack, she didn’t accuse me of losing her lizards, however she was still blaming me for killing her fish.

Really the fish weren’t my fault. We went fishing, caught a few and while she was playing I filleted them, who knew she thought they were her new pets… granted it made eating them kinda grimy, but they were fish. Never mind.

Anyway, that night, Faith cooked and we settled in the living room to eat dinner and watch some television and that’s when it came back to me that Faith had been taping.

We watched a playback of my lizard hunter days, complete with slow mo and playback.

I’ll tell you, life with these two, is anything but dull and truth be told, it’s quite a funny tape.

So funny in fact that Faith uploaded it and sent it to everyone we knew.

Payback is a dish best served cold I thought as I looked over at my tormentor.

I shook my head and smiled.

 

 

Part 8

 

Remember how I said time passes, well actually, it flies. I mean, one day you’re putting up baby stencils and the next you’re in a birthing class, learning how to breathe and not freak out, although, I pretty much was freaking out and breathing like a horse on speed.

It was kind of a surprise, the birthing class, well, I was surprised that Faith asked me to go into delivery with her and even more surprised when she asked me to go to those natural child birth classes.

I was like, “are you kidding? Have you bumped your head? You’re not gonna be knocked out?” I looked at her as if she’d grown two heads.

She got an, ‘are you crazy’ look and replied. “Are you serious?” She scoffed, her face showing a look of repugnant disbelief. “Of course I’m gonna be drugged up. What’d you think, that I’d just pop this puppy out my ass and it’d be pain free… wake up and smell the coffee.” She rallied and flopped herself down onto the couch, still annoyed and growing more upset with each passing second. “I don’t care if you are a slayer, it doesn’t prepare you for that kind of ache.”

She started rocking, relaxing and I’d pretty much learned just to let her rant and keep my mouth shut. It was like the closer we got to D-day, the more anxious and fidgety she got.

I did make a huge mistake, I watched the 3-dimensional birthing tape and it was okay, well up until the doctor made that incision there, you know, the one to allow the baby to come out without tearing the mother. Let me just say, that I felt it through the screen. I looked over and Faith was standing in the doorway watching me, arching her brows, as if saying, ‘see, birthing is a bitch’. I’ll tell you this; it gave me a new respect for what she was about to endure. It also got me thinking, what if the doctor wasn’t paying attention, he could sew her parts upside down or backwards, or… never mind, I don’t really think I should go there, nothing good would come of it.

Faith had been getting Amanda ready to be a big sister and it was just the most darling thing. She’d sit in the rocker and talk to her baby doll; the only problem that I could see was that she was dead set on the baby being a girl. Houston, we might have a problem.

Well to be honest: We always had problems; take last week for instance. Faith had been having all kinds of contractions, I’d taken her in to be checked like 4 times, and each time it was a false alarm. I was tired, annoyed as hell and if she kept this up, I was gonna be tempted to just take the bathroom plunger and suck that kid out myself.

Come on, she’s a slayer; she can deal with a little discomfort. No need to keep on pushing the envelope, I mean, haven’t you ever heard about the boy who cried wolf? Well, I was good and fed up with Faith and her crying labor. I know, I know, I’m being an ass, but that’s what lack of sleep does to you. It makes you doubt even the most simple of things and got me into a bit of trouble. I guess when it comes to women and babies, you should listen, and I learned that lesson the hard way.

See; after a week of nonstop false contractions, I was wary and just really couldn’t be bothered, so when Faith knocked on my door and told me that she was cramping pretty badly, I just rolled over, covered my head with the pillow and called out, “get some hot milk and go back to bed… you’re not due for another few weeks, let me sleep.”

I cringed waiting for the outburst but none came, in fact, she left me alone for a few hours but then she came back, knocking again and opening the door, stating calmly. “B, I need to go.”

I rolled over and glared at her, anger fueling my words and voice. “Listen, unless you’re ready to drop the load, leave me alone, okay. I’m tired to death of running you back and forth. Just lie down, relax and massage your stomach like that nurse showed you.”

She eyed me, nodded and backed out the door. I heard her moving back upstairs and a short time later, I could hear her bumbling down the stairs, Amanda following closely behind her.

I blew out an aggravated breath and pushed myself up out of the bed, I walked into the living room and stopped dead in my tracks.

Faith was leaning back against the wall, her eyes closed, her breaths coming short and even, her face etched in concentration.

My mouth literally fell open as I took in the full scene; suitcase by the door, water covering the floor, her face serious, flushed and just a bit ashen, sweat beading over her forehead and upper lip.

You know I was born blonde right? It’s true, cause the first thing I did was ask, “Who spilled their drink?”

Faith blew out a haggard breath and rasped out. “My water broke.”

That did it. All my training went completely out the window. I stood there frozen, until Faith’s next words reached my ears. “We need to go, they’re coming every 4 minutes.”

“Oh shit.” I whispered, running for the suitcase, only I tread through the water and slipped, falling backwards, right on my ass, my back and head slamming against the floor.

Faith grabbed her stomach and laughed, cringing, grimacing through the pain and humor of the situation. “Don’t make me laugh.” She gasped out.

I glared up at her, pushed myself up off the floor, balancing unsteadily, my feet sliding back and forth in the slippery fluid, ran for the keys, grabbed up the bag, grabbed her up and ran for the car.

I threw the bag into the back, buckled her into the front seat and peeled the car out of the drive and flew down the road, my hands constantly tapping against the steering wheel, my nerves and adrenaline on overdrive.

“You’re gonna be all right.” I kept stating over and over again.

She didn’t answer, so I cast a cautious glance over at her and Amanda looked up at me as if I were crazy.

My mouth fell open and I craned my head around to view into the back seat and saw nothing but the overnight bag. “Fuck.” I stated loudly, smashing my foot on the brake and turning the car around on the dime. I mashed the pedal and burned rubber, catching a tire before the car caught up to the speed of the wheels and lurched forward.

I closed in on home, jumped the ditch and slid up next to the house, jumped out of the car and ran into the house where Faith was sitting at the bottom of the stairs, waiting for me. I ran to get her and slipped in the amniotic fluid again, crashing back against the floor, my breath forced out of my body, yet another time.

Faith grabbed herself, trying not to laugh, warning me. “If you keep that up, I’m gonna have him here.”

I jumped up, skated over to her, helped her up and out and into the car and started off for the hospital again and this time, my nerves were on fire.

“They’re coming every minute.” Faith rasped out from the backseat.

My heart literally dropped down into my stomach, and my panic started to rise. “Well suck it back up. I can’t be delivering a baby out here in the sticks, I’m not made for stuff like that.” I half yelled, delirious.

She got angry, her own anxiousness starting to show. “You think I can control this? What? Did you just fall off the truck this morning?”

She groaned from the backseat and I started to hyperventilate. “Hold your legs together.” I called out, squealing the car around the turn into town.

Faith deadpanned from the backseat. “Gee, if only I’d thought of that nine months ago.”

I looked back at her and we both started laughing. It eased the tension and allowed us to relax a bit.

I finally made the last turn and pulled us up into the E.R. I jumped out of the car and ran inside, screaming at the top of my lungs. “Baby! Now!”

I guess they were used to people freaking out, they looked at me and calmly took a wheelchair outside to bring the patient in.

So they got Faith and I got Amanda and the suitcase and quietly followed behind them all the way into a room where Faith was hooked up to monitors.

Everything was happening so quickly, we’d just gotten to the room, set the bags down and started to relax when the doctor came in, measured Faith and said, “You’re lucky you didn’t have him on the way here.”

My eyes widened, and I was silently thanking God that she’d waited until we’d gotten here.

The nurse came in, threw me some scrubs and I pulled them on quickly as they started breaking down the bed to move it into the delivery room. I looked over at Amanda. “What about Amanda?” I motioned over to the child, wondering what we would do with her, because with my chaotic running around, I’d forgotten to call Faith’s friends to come and get her.

The nurse smiled and said, “don’t worry, I’ll sit right here with her, you’ll just be across the hall in delivery.”

I nodded and followed them into the delivery room, listening as if in a fog, as the doctors and nurses talked. “This is gonna be the shortest delivery in history.”

The nurses propped Faith up, and waited for the Doctor to tell them to push and they helped her lean forward to push.

I watched in awe and fascination, moving down to watch the little person enter the world.

The doctor gave the order to push again and I watched Faith as she concentrated and pushed through the pain. She closed her eyes and bit her bottom lip, her hair hung in wet ringlets over her face and her breaths rasped out shakily as she got to relax and wait for the next big push.

She was beautiful and I felt myself drawn to her as a feeling of peacefulness and intense pride drifted over me.

The pushing commenced again, until finally the doctor said, “one last time, a big one, come on now, you can do this.”

I watched as Faith gave her all, aided by the nurses and I watched as the doctor eased the baby out and turned him over in her hands, clearing his nostrils and mouth.

She clamped his umbilical cord and handed me some scissors and I lost it right there, tears flowed over my face as I slowly looked at Faith, who gave me a nod to go ahead and cut his cord.

“Cut between the clamps.” The doctor said.

I slowly reached out with the scissors and snipped the cord in two and looked back at Faith.

The baby started crying, taking his first breaths. The doctor wrapped him in a towel and laid him on Faith’s chest. I moved closer to the bed, silently and watched as she looked at him for the first time.

She cried and touched him gently, smiling as tears streamed down her face.

I reached over and laid a hand on each of them, smiling like an idiot, half laughing and half crying.

 

 

Part 9

 

You know, I thought I’d been in love before… but I was wrong. Everything I thought I knew had been replaced with real knowledge, everything I thought I’d felt had been overwhelmed by the here and now… and my here and now consisted of a little girl named Amanda and her new brother, named David.

I finally knew what it was all about. I mean, you could talk cookie’s till the cows came home, but when you got down to the bottom of all things real, children, they were pretty high on the list and quite possibly the most unconditional loving entities on the face of the earth.

That left Faith… and I was still conflicted over my awareness of her, sure I had thoughts but I also had fear overshadowing all those thoughts and I guess to be honest, I’m finding myself a bit of a coward.

So I watched the kids with an open heart and I secretly watched her with a guarded mind, afraid that she’d not return the feelings, afraid that she wouldn’t be able to move beyond our past… well, I’m just making excuses, in truth, I’m just afraid to take a chance, because if it blew up in my face, it could cost me all of them and that was just a risk that I couldn’t take, I wouldn’t take.

So I sat to the side and watched from afar and fell deeper and deeper in love and into denial, waiting for some kind of sign from above or something, anything really, to solidify everything I now found myself wanting.

I held off the job hunt for a bit, throwing myself into caring for Faith and helping her out, truthfully, she didn’t need any help, but I fooled myself into thinking that she did, that she needed a lot of TLC and needed to be pampered. Initially, she balked but finally gave in to my demands and allowed me to do for her and for the kids.

David was a cutie and just like Amanda; blonde, blue eyed and of a fair complexion; although he did pattern his eating habits after his mom, so I guess I’m saying that he was a little pig or piglet to be more correct.

He’d already put on about 5 lbs. Since we’d brought him home and he’d made his presence known, nightly, every thirty minutes to be precise, wearing his mom out, and making everyone tired and dark eyed: Hence me, getting up at 3 am. for the frequent nightly feedings and changing's.

Little David was slowly killing his mom, not literally, but mentally and physically; Faith was exhausted. She decided to stop with the breast-feeding, and I mean, right now, this minute because she couldn’t take any more sleepless nights. She simply had to sleep.

I’d pretty much begged Faith to take something to help her sleep, she was beyond exhausted and had started to get sick, she finally had agreed, due to the fact that she wasn’t going to breast feed anymore and due to me promising to care for the baby and Amanda. So I gave her a pill and she was pretty much out like a light.

Of course I’d forgotten that David was a titty baby, and it really didn’t register that he wasn’t used to a bottle until he gagged over the plastic nipple and tried to root against me, then I guess he realized the difference or the quality of boob and boy did he scream. I tried to get Faith up but she was dead to the world. I’d given her a soma, cause hey, they help me, and it literally zonked her out.

Believe me, after 5 minutes of screaming, I was trying to wake her up and was starting to panic slightly. I was pacing, patting his little butt, rocking him, considering giving him my breast just to see; at this point I wasn’t above producing milk myself… and I was surely willing to try.

I finally gave up and invaded Faith’s privacy, bound and determined to free those milk jugs and give the boy what he was so set to have.

Low and behold, just as soon as I get her shirt open and her breast ready to receive the little tot, she opens her eyes and looks at me, her brow arching, silently questioning the position of my hand and the showing of her body.

I blushed, stating the obvious. “I just wanted some milk.”

She looked at me a little oddly, asking. “From the source?”

I turned 20 shades of purple. “No, not for me, I couldn’t get David to drink the bottle. He’s screaming his head off.” I turned and looked at him, pointing, intending to show Faith how distressed he really was and there he was lying on top of the comforter, angelically asleep. Oh that little turd. I looked back to Faith, who was still eyeing me curiously.

“Are you gonna let go of that?” She asked, looking directly into my eyes.

I looked over at my hand, which was still almost palming her breast and froze, my breaths automatically starting to become stronger, more ragged.

I suddenly pulled my hand back and away and looked back at her and our eyes caught and we sat there staring at each other until finally she sighed and I slowly leaned down towards her lips.

I hovered over her, a fraction away from her lips; my breaths shaky, my bottom lip quivering and I realized that she was in the exact shape that I was. I exhaled a ragged breath and lowered my lips to hers, gently sliding my lips against hers, feeling that delicious, warm, friction build.

We moaned into the soft, gentle kiss, our tongues subtly touching.

Her hand found my waist and gripped tightly as mine slowly maneuvered around her waist, pulling her tighter against me.

We laid there for what seemed like hours, kissing and lightly caressing each other. When we pulled apart, we stared quietly at one other, each afraid to say anything, both of us afraid to break the moment.

I quietly laid beside her, placing my head on her shoulder and wrapping my arm around her and we laid there together for hours, until the baby woke back up to be fed.

I got up, picked up the fussy infant and made my way to Amanda’s room. I peeked in and saw her still fast asleep, seems we weren’t the only ones needing to catch up on our beauty rest.

I smiled and quietly went into the kitchen, fixing another bottle. I looked down at the squirming baby and just told him like it was. “It’s this or nothing. You’ve been cut off.” I eyed him as he furrowed his brow, looking up at me. I put the bottle close to his mouth and touched his lip, waiting to see what he was gonna do. “So… what’s it gonna be?” I asked, watching as he finally accepted the bottle and drained it dry. I realized right then and there, that this kid was going to literally eat us out of house and home.

Faith was out and I didn’t want to wake her, so I did the next best thing. I called Willow just to get some advice on growing kids.

I found out that I could add some baby cereal to the formula, thicken it up, fill up this little slayer’s tummy and boy did it work. He finally got his belly full, burped and fell asleep peacefully.

The phone started ringing just as I got him laid down and sat down to rest a bit. I picked up the phone

“Buffy Summers?” The voice asked.

“Speaking.” I stated cheerfully.

The voice pulled in a deep breath and began. “I’m Megan Baros, uhm, I’m the slayer that’ll be replacing you.” She paused, waiting for me to speak.

I froze, didn’t know what to say. I’d completely forgotten after all these months. I started thinking, trying to figure something out, finally it occurred to me, and it would work.

“It’s not necessary. Things are working out.” I stated, tapping my fingers against the table nearby.

“It’s already set up.” Megan stated, adding. “I’ll be coming in about two weeks… your ticket's on its way. Tell Faith, I look forward to meeting her.” She started to hang up the phone.

I panicked slightly. “Wait!” I stated louder than I intended. I heard her hesitate on the other end. “I changed my mind. I don’t want to leave.” I stated lowly.

“Sorry but I thought it was already taken care of.” She breathed into the phone and disconnected.

“Oh don’t worry, it will be.” I muttered to myself, intending to call Kennedy and take care of this.

Just as I started dialing, Amanda came barreling down the stairs and jumped up into my arms, hugging me. She looked up into my face and smiled big and I automatically smiled back, forgetting about everything.

I pulled her close to me and hugged her tight and walked us into the kitchen where we started making a batch of pre-made cookies.

The smell of the fresh baked cookies drifted upstairs and woke up the sleeping beast. I smiled as she clumsily made her way down the stairs to where we were sitting. We smiled at each other and I handed her a warm cookie and we sat there, smiling, laughing and sharing food, well until our little man finally woke up and made his presence known.

We made our way into the living room. Amanda and I squished together on the sofa and relaxed, watching as Faith picked up David, sat down and leaned against me.

I smiled and pulled Amanda closer, smiling as I playfully shoved another bite of cookie into her mouth. She leaned against me and I held her close and slowly worked my arm around Faith, pulling her even closer.
I leaned back into the cushions, relaxing and watched them as they interacted.

I couldn’t help but smile to myself, thinking that I’ve never felt as happy or fulfilled.

 

 

Part 10

 

 

You know how you know you should do something, that it’s important but it’s just out of reach, suppressed somewhere in that gray area where matter just doesn’t seem all that plausible or credible?

Well, truth be told, that’s me, completely void of all things relevant.

I’d forgotten something very pressing and very important and it was about to spring forth and bite me on my ass, I just didn’t realize it yet.

A couple of weeks had passed by and I was oblivious to prior things, things that should have taken precedence over everything else. I’d forgotten to handle business and now, I was scrambling to keep my life together.

I’d been out jogging, trying to keep in shape and I’d just run up the porch steps, pulled off my muddy sneakers and entered the house.

I was smiling big as I ventured into the kitchen where I heard voices. I veered around the door frame and paused, looking at Faith and some unknown girl, who were setting at the counter, talking and I tried to get Faith’s attention, tried to look into her eyes, tried to get a reading if things were okay, because in all honesty, she was a bit pale and pallid.

She wouldn’t look at me, sure she glanced but she cut her eyes from me and had her body in a closed off position and I remember frowning, furrowing my brow, wondering what in the hell had this bitch done to make her act towards me like this.

And then I heard the why, the reason. “Hi, I’m Megan Baros.” I looked up slowly, looking at the girl who was standing before me, her hand held out to shake mine. I just stood there, what was long forgotten was now plunging to the forefront of my mind like a bullet. I looked over at Faith, who finally looked at me and there was nothing there: Her face was blank, her eyes steeled.

I came back to my senses, hearing bits of pieces of what the girl was saying, had obviously been saying… stuff like. “I didn’t like it here, didn’t belong, couldn’t get along, didn’t want to be around someone with her background, backwoods…”

I looked at the girl, my face becoming a mask of indifference. “Shut up.” I ground out between gritted teeth and pushed my way past her.

“Faith.” I whispered, half smiling, trying to get her to acknowledge me.

She turned from me, pulled her arm from my grasp and my mind went blank. I watched as she moved away from me, stretching the distance between us, making the wedge deeper, wider and harder to bridge.

Faith’s voice cut through the jumbled feelings and brought me back to here and now. “So why have you been assigned to me?” Faith asked, looking directly at Megan.

Megan smiled, way too jovially. “Well the last slayer died, leaving you unprotected and Buffy didn’t want to be here but agreed to come just until another candidate could be found, and I wanted to come… so I was chosen.” Megan smiled again, bouncing on her heels.

Faith laughed and caused us both to look at her curiously. She pulled in a deep breath, explaining. “Jesus… the last slayer was like eighty. She died of old age.” Faith laughed a bit more and finally looked to me. “How many times have you slayed since you’ve been here?”

That question caught me off guard. I looked at her hard, thinking back and you know what, my mouth kinda just hung open, suspended in midair, as I realized that I’d not slayed one time, hadn’t even seen a baddie.

I looked at Faith, who arched a brow, waiting for a response. She shook her head at Megan and me. “There are no demons here, at least there haven’t been so far. That’s why I chose to raise a family here.”

Faith scoffed and half smiled as she faced Megan. “You’re welcome to stay, I’ll spar and teach you what I know but if you’re wanting to slay on a daily basis… you’ll just dry up here.” Faith turned and walked away, leaving Megan and me behind. I watched her fade from view, my only thought being that she’d invited Megan to stay… so where did that leave me.

I looked to Megan, whose face had fallen, her hopes squashed at fighting evil. I knew what she’d be fighting if she stayed here, chickens and goats… oh and lizards.

I watched quietly as Megan called Kennedy, complaining and truthfully, after I got my shot at Ken… things were beginning to add up. See Kennedy was playing matchmaker all along. She knew that there was nothing here to fight. She just thought we, meaning Faith and me might need each other and I guess, no, I know, she was right… I just didn’t realize how much I needed them. Now I just had to make Faith understand that she needed me just as badly.

I walked into the other room, looking for Faith and eventually followed the noise outside to where Faith and the kids were sitting in a swing.

She ignored me and stopped me in my tracks. “Don’t. I don’t want to hear it. Just go.” She stated lowly, void of emotion.

“Faith.” I stated lowly, adding. “Please, just hear me out.”

“What for?” Faith asked, standing up and walking past me and into the house.

My anger got the better of me and I stomped into the house after her, determined to make her listen to me, determined to get back on good terms… hell… to make her quit acting so damned girlie. I mean who the hell would’ve thought she’d be all sensitive and … pink?

“Faith.” I called out louder than I’d intended. I heard someone behind me and turned, still angry and faced Megan who was standing there beside a bunch of bags, packed and ready to go: Both mine and hers.

My anger got the better of me and I walked over, snatched up the bags and walked to the car with Megan following slowly behind me.

I squealed the tires as we plummeted out of the drive way and onto the road, my anger only growing with each passing second.

Suddenly I slammed on the brakes, screeching the car to a halt in the middle of the road. I just sat there, thinking, running through my entire life but most importantly I thought about what I wanted out of life and right then and there, I made a decision, took control of my life, there would be no more running, no more beating around the bush, no, this was the new improved Buffy Summers… I wanted, I’d take and I’d have, no if’s, and’s or but’s and I would not accept defeat, no matter how loud I had to yell, no matter what I had to do. Like it or not, they’d become my family and come hell or high water, I would not lose them, any of them.

I stomped on the accelerator and turned the car on the dime, and caught a wheel as the tires caught up to the speed of the engine. I barreled back home, my passenger completely forgotten and slightly scared.

I sped the entire way home, and pulled up to the front steps, got out of the car and walked intently to the front door, opened it and stepped inside to utter chaos.

I hesitated at the doorway, watching as a naked, bubbly covered Amanda ran squealing through the house, being chased by Faith, who was barely holding up a towel trying to cover herself, also covered in bubbles and holding an equally naked baby, who was completely encased in suds.

Amanda streaked by again and Faith continued her chase, trying to get the wet, slippery child back into the bath.

“Faith.” I stated, stopping her in her tracks.

She froze, gripping at her towel, David her in her arms, his back pressed against her body.

I stepped closer, looking directly at her. It was now or never and I chose now.

“I’m not leaving. You’re not getting rid of me. I know I was a complete ass when I first got here, but that changed, we changed. Right?” I stepped closer, continuing. “I wanted to leave when I first got here, but not later, certainly not now, not ever.”

I gauged her for a reaction and was faced with nothing. She’d closed herself off to me and my heart sank and I panicked slightly.

I stepped forward, slightly angry and extremely scared. “What’s wrong with you?” I yelled, adding. “Are you blind? Seriously, Are you so blind that you can’t see something so obviously staring you in the face? Or are you just too chicken shit to act on it?”

Those last words got her attention and she looked directly into my eyes. Now was my chance and I inched closer. “Can’t you see… that I’m completely, utterly, madly in love with you… with all of you?” My voice trailed off, it’s raspy sound lingering around us.

Intensity hung in the air, thick enough to cut with a knife and then the unimaginable happened. David decided to pee and yes, it arched outward and hit me right across the chest, streaking up my shirt, I pulled in a deep breath, about to let loose a string of cuss words but stopped short when I noticed that Faith was smiling at me. I smiled back and then we both burst out laughing.

She reached over and tucked a strand of unruly hair behind my ear, her hand lingering there momentarily and she whispered. “I love you too.”

I smiled and watched as she turned from me, grabbed up Amanda and walked them back to the awaiting bath. I started to follow but stopped when I heard a throat clear behind me. I turned and looked at Megan.

“You guys are nuts.” She stated.

I smiled, adding. “You better believe it.”

I walked to the bathroom and peered inside, watching as they played in the bubbles and splashed the water, each of them smiling and laughing.

I leaned against the door frame, smiling, well until I couldn’t control myself any longer. I walked over to the tub and pulled Faith to me for a long overdue kiss.

She pulled and tugged me into the water with them, clothes and all and I pushed myself to the surface, completely covered in suds and laughed, grabbing my kids, that’s right, mine and splashing them with water and love.

As I watch them now, playing, laughing and just being together, I realize how lost I’d been my entire life and how one little thing could change the course of my future.

My future: I had one now. I’d found my place, my niche in life. I was home.

And home was good.