The Mezzanine (deird1) wrote,
The Mezzanine
deird1

Commentary - Just The Four Of Us



So, here’s a commentary. Because lavastar is evil, and wants me to do commentary on something I’ve already talked about at length, even though I’m so going to run out of things to say.

This is for my remix fic, Just The Four Of Us. Go read it!

The fic looks like it always does, and the commentary is in blockquotes.


When I originally posted this, for the Remix, it had a summary of “Some promises take a long time to keep.” Referring, of course, to Cordelia’s promise at the end of the story.

It also was originally going to go up with warnings for “spies, storybooks, family, and badly-made coffee” – but I decided that would be a dead giveaway that it was written by me, so I left them out.


Just The Four Of Us (The Back-To-Front Big Mystical Telescope Remix)

The “four of us” is Wynn’s family (including all three parents).
“Back-to-front” is because it’s backwards, chronologically. And the “big mystical telescope” is referring to Cordelia watching them.


A promise is a promise, right?


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These centred bits are all from Cordelia’s perspective. Talking (mainly) to Xander, and (sometimes… a bit) to Wynn. I wanted to begin with a reference to Cordy’s promise to watch Xander, given that that’s how I came up with this whole fic in the first place.


“Last call and all that crap.”
(A line from the original fic. All these bold bits are taken from it. This is a quote from Cordelia.)

The fic I remixed was called Last Call, referring to Cordelia visiting Xander just pre-death. And my fic begins with Xander’s death – it seemed appropriate.


And then there was a death.


Wynn sat there beside his bed, one of her hands holding his, the other clutching tightly to the hand of the grey-haired woman sitting next to her.

The grey-haired woman being Dawn. Wynn’s aunt. (Well, sort of.)


Wynn kept talking, softly. “Apparently, he’s got a new girlfriend.”

“Another Slayer?”

“Not this time. He helped her with a flat tyre, or something. No mystical associations whatsoever. And he says she’s really pretty.”

They’re discussing Wynn’s son, Jesse. I decided that, growing up around several hundred Slayers, he’d probably end up dating quite a few of them.


“Alright Jess.” Her father managed a grin. “Tell him to open doors for her, compliment her shoes, and make sure that-”

“That she isn’t going to horribly slaughter him and eat his head?”

(Given Xander’s dating history…)


“That’s the one. We have a Wynn-er.”

This is an in-joke between the two of them. I use it further on, too. It seemed like a Xander-ish thing to say.


“Oh, Daddy.” Wynn felt a laugh bubble through her, pushing tears to the surface with it. She blinked, hard. “I’m going to miss you.”

“Me too,” interjected the woman beside her.

“Of course you are.” He patted her hand weakly. “That’s because I’m incredible.” A gentle smile.

I really can’t imagine Xander getting un-jokey, even – especially – if he was about to die.


Wynn tried to smile back, but couldn’t quite manage it. The best she could do was a sort of wobbly upturned mouth and some very teary eyes.

She swallowed, and said, “Dad, I think-” …and he was gone.

Just gone.

She bent forward, kissed his cheek, and whispered, “Give my love to Mom and to Mama… and to Faith and Papa Rupert. And say hey to Aunt Cordy for me.”

She’s seen quite a few people die, by now.

(Just to clarify which is which: Mom is Buffy; Mama is Willow.)


And then it all overflowed and she was crying – sobbing – in her aunt’s arms. They sat there, and wept together, and waited for something to change.


“Hey” right back atcha, kid.

I wanted Cordy to talk to Wynn, throughout the fic. Even though Wynn wouldn’t hear a word of it.


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And yeah – I said I would be, and I meant it.
Even though I’m pretty sure you thought I was being metaphorical.


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(Well, really, if your dying friend told you they’d be watching you forever, would you take them seriously?)


They sat for a little while.

And then there was a cup of coffee.

I wanted to go straight into a happy domestic situation. To point out that this fic is actually fluffy, rather than completely obsessed with death – and also to clarify that “Mama” is now alive, and yes, we’re going back in time.



“Here we go. Percolated, lots of cream,” – that was Wynn’s – “A-positive,” – Angel’s – “and plungered, black.” Mama took the last mug off the tray, and slowly seated herself back into the chair, frowning slightly at the effort of sitting down one-handed.

You wouldn’t believe how long it took me to decide on Willow’s coffee preferences. I kept thinking of different kinds… Mostly, I decided to go with what I’ve got because there’s a nice contrast between Wynn and Willow.


“Are you okay?” Angel looked concerned.

“Just some arthritis, same as normal.” Mama raised an eyebrow, and added, “Which you’d know if you dropped in more than once a decade, lazybones.”

I think Angel would still try to keep in touch – but I don’t see him hanging around very much.
It’s got to be pretty depressing seeing everyone you know growing old around you.


“Sorry.” He lapsed into Standard Brooding Face (as her father called it). “It hasn’t really been ten years, has it?”

“Eleven,” Wynn answered. “Last time you were here, Jesse had just started walking.”

(Also here for the back-in-time clarification.)


“Oh. Really?”

“Really.” She took a sip of her coffee, and grimaced. “Mama – you forgot the sugar again.”

“Oh, yes. You do like that, don’t you?”

Wynn started getting up. “I’ll just-”

“Oh, don’t bother.” Her mother waved one hand and muttered something Latiny, and the sugar bowl promptly appeared in the middle of the coffee table.

I liked the idea of old-agey Willow still doing housework through magic, and feeling slightly guilty about it every time…


Mama, that’s not-”

She looked sheepishly – and a little stubbornly – at Wynn, and shrugged. “Well what do you expect me to do? Get my poor old aching self up out of this wonderfully comfy chair and hobble all the way into the kitchen just to get my daughter sugar for her coffee? I don’t think so.”

Trying to write character voices for people who are fifty years older than normal? Challenging.


“You could have let me get it myself.”

“Rubbish. You’re a guest.” Mama turned to Angel. “Xan keeps saying we ought to move into somewhere smaller to make the housework easier, but I just… I love it here.”

The same house Wynn grew up in. And where all of Buffy’s things are still kept. I didn’t say it in the fic, but I thought the main thing stopping Willow from moving was actually Buffy’s bedroom, and the last bits of her not being there anymore.


“It’s a lovely house.”

“It is.” She glanced at Wynn, and said pointedly, “And despite what some people think, a little mystical housekeeping is not going to end with me snapping and destroying the world over the price of fresh fruit these days.”

(That’s one of my favourite lines. The idea of Willow destroying the world over fruit prices makes me grin.)


Wynn sighed. “Mama…”

“Besides, I’m not moving into somewhere with only one bedroom. Your dad’s started snoring again, and there’s no way I’m spending every night in the same room with him. That really would end with me snapping.”

There’ s a lot of relationship-clarifying in this section. Willow is Wynn’s mother; Xander and Willow live together; yes, they do share a bedroom… sometimes.


Wynn suppressed a smile. She had a point.

Time for a new topic.

“So, how’s the whole evil-fighting thing going?” Wynn frowned, and clarified, “Err, I mean fighting evil, not fighting evilly… Of course, you’ve done plenty of that too… Not that there’s anything wrong with… Well, of course there is, but…”

I hope those lines came across as somewhat Buffy-esque. I was certainly writing them in her voice. And both Angel and Willow notice it.


Angel and Mama shared a look, and Mama nodded. “Not just your imagination. There really is a resemblance.”


She’s right, you know. You talk just like your mom, sometimes.

I wanted to make Wynn and Buffy very closely connected – so they have a lot of similarities, in some ways.


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Nope. No metaphors here. Which you probably should have figured out back in high-school. Slowpoke.


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My very best approximation of Cordelia’s voice. Which I’m normally pretty bad at…


“And you’ll take care of them? Cause I’ll give you hell if you don’t.”

In the original fic, Cordelia talking to Xander. In this, all about Wynn helping take care of Slayers.


And then there was a battle.


She finished fastening the bandage firmly in place, and the girl grinned, picked up her sword, and with a quick “Thanks,” ran straight outside again.

Wynn sighed, and pushed her hair out of her eyes again. “Twelve stab-wounds down, and… oh… say five hundred to go.”

Sharon looked up from the head wound she was disinfecting, and smiled. “Never ends, does it?”

“You do realise I’m not actually a Watcher, right?”

I didn’t want Wynn to be a Slayer – but I almost made her a Watcher. In the original draft, this section was Wynn doing some translationy stuff at Slayage headquarters. And then it was Wynn dropping her husband off at headquarters, and bringing Jesse along.
Finally, I decided that she wouldn’t be a Watcher at all, but she’d be on-hand for apocalyptic help of the snacks-and-bandages variety. Much like Joyce.


“Hey – it’s an apocalypse. All hands on deck. Especially anyone who knows first aid – and sorry, hon, but that includes you.”

I think she’s actually a nurse. But whatever she is, she’s got first aid training. Kinda necessary, when your house is involved in regular battles.


“Unfortunately.”

The tent door was pushed aside, and another Slayer stumbled inside, looking pale.

Wynn murmured, “Here we go again…” and got to work.


Just make sure you get something to eat some time tonight. Can’t have the medical team passing out.
…not that you can hear me.


(Mostly a clarification that Wynn isn’t listening to these bits.)


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It’s taking a pretty long time, actually. But, hey, I’ve got time. And I’ve gotten to see some pretty cool things, over the years.


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“It means Joy in Old English.”

(Wynn’s name, that is. This is here as a reference to baby name choices, and also because she just had a baby, and hey! joy overload!)


And then there was a birth.


Mama leaned down and very carefully transferred him from Wynn’s arms to hers. The baby blinked a bit, but didn’t seem to mind.

As I have mentioned elsewhere, babies blinking is one of the cutest things known to man.


He was so cute! With his little nose, and his little arms, and his teeny fingers, and the way that he just looked at you with his little eyes…

Wynn lapsed back into contentedly watching her son, and sighed happily.

Her parents were cooing over him together – she caught a whispered “Wynn’s eyes” and “our grandson”, but not much more.

It didn’t seem to matter much, though. Watching them watching him was almost as good as watching him – almost, but not quite – and she didn’t really need words as well.

(Did I mention I have three nephews? And that I have spent extensive time in hospitals watching various relatives cooing over them? And doing a fair bit of cooing myself? Well, yeah…)


Her son. She had a son! Really and truly, right there, looking so wonderful, and perfect, and little, and… some other word meaning wonderful…

She’s just given birth. Vocabulary is not her biggest concern right now.


“You look tired.”

Her aunt was standing by the bed. As Wynn turned, she reached out and brushed some very messy hair out of Wynn’s face.

This is Dawn, again.


“I’m so proud of you, sweetie.”

“I am.” Wynn blinked, bemused. “…tired, I mean.”

“That’s pretty understandable. Mind you…” Aunt Dawn glanced over at the corner. “Matthew looks even worse.”

Wynn’s eyes followed hers to where Matthew was sitting, looking haggard, but still smiling rather vacantly.

“Poor Matt. He looks wiped.” Wynn smiled affectionately. “Lightweight. He hasn’t just had an entire person pushed out of his body. Why does he get to look more awful than me?”

“Because you’re all maternal and glowy. And he just gets stuck with Exhausted Father Stare.” Her aunt frowned, thoughtfully. “Actually, that’s almost exactly how Xander looked when you were born.”

All new fathers look like that, to some extent.

And more confirmation that, yep, Xander’s her father.


“Really?”

“Uh-huh.” She smiled, and added, “Don’t worry, hon – we’ll get out of here in a minute so that you guys can sleep… once I’ve had a chance to hold the baby, anyway.”

Priority number two in everyone’s mind when someone they know has just given birth: making sure they’re okay, that they’re getting a chance to sleep, that they’re not getting overrun with requests to hold the baby, that they’re having time for just them and their kid…
Priority number one: holding the baby.


The baby. Her baby. She had a son! Who was so lovely and precious and teeny and exactly…exactly what he should be.

Everything was just perfectly right.

Except, of course…

Wynn suddenly realised that she was gripping Aunt Dawn’s hand pretty tightly.

She looked up and smiled again, slightly teary, and explained, “Mom should be here.”

(Buffy died when Wynn was seventeen.)


Her aunt nodded, understandingly. “She would have loved this.”

“She really would.” More hand grippage. “I really miss her.”

“Me too.” There was a slight pause, and then she quirked an eyebrow and said, “Of course, it might be for the best. If she had been here, she never would have forgiven you for the name. Thirty years of waiting for a boy and she still doesn’t get to use her namesake-of-choice? Oh boy. It would have been epic.”

Wynn grinned, remembering. “That bad?”

“Oh, you have no idea how close you came to being called Rupertina.”

The original fic had Xander and Willow agreeing on Jesse or Wynn, depending on gender, and Buffy holding out for William or Rupert. This is a reference back to that.


“It’s a good choice though, right?” She was suddenly worried. “The name I picked?”

Her aunt smiled again. “Well, you’ve managed to make two out of five grandparents thrilled beyond measure, so I’d say you’re doing pretty well.”


Three out of five, actually. Although the third one probably has a lot more to do with the fact that his middle name’s William.

Wynn calling her son “Jesse William” is one of my favourite things about her. She decides to give all three of her parents a gift – because she knows just how much those names mean to them.
And I love the idea of Buffy, in a heaven-ish context, still getting really excited over Wynn.


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It’s been interesting.
And it turns out, even the boring things can be pretty interesting, from the right perspective.


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Cordelia’s comment being to do with the fact that, for Wynn, it’s kind of a boring evening. But having just seen who she’s going to end up with, it’s kinda different for us…


Or maybe even because of it.

And then there was a plate of hors d’oeuvres.


“Uh-”
“Sorry-”

They both hesitated, their hands hovering above the last feta-and-bacon bite.

Wynn looked up, and the man smiled, and pulled his hand back. “Here, you take it.”
“No, that’s okay. You can-”
“No, really. I’ve probably filled my bacon-bite quota already, anyway.”
She took it. “Thanks.”

He was still smiling awkwardly, and Wynn smiled back – and groaned inwardly. She really didn’t want to get stuck here making stilted conversation with this guy for the next half an hour.

(This is Matthew. He’s pretty nice, really.)

Just because you offered me food, that doesn’t count as flirting with me. Go away, and let me talk to someone else.

“I’m Matthew. Uh… Matt.”

“Hi. I’m Sarah.” There were a couple of seconds of silence, and then she looked across the room, said, “Oh, there’s one of my friends. I should…”, gave him a half-smile, and walked away, trying to look as if she was aiming for a particular person.

I have performed the exact same move at parties, on many occasions. It’s the standard get-out-of-this-without-being-too-rude strategy.


Luckily, the house was pretty packed, so it didn’t take Wynn long to lose herself in the crowd.
A crowd made up of Watchers discussing dead languages, and Slayers discussing combat techniques, and absolutely no-one she felt remotely interested in talking to.

The main reason I decided against making Wynn a Watcher is because she’s surrounded by it. If she was a Watcher, it’d be all a competitive thing of Going To Be The Best Watcher Evar!!!, and family pressures, and so forth. Whereas Wynn knows heaps about the whole thing, but would rather do her own stuff instead. Which I think is much more interesting.


Everything was so busy.

Thankfully, there didn’t seem to be that many people in the hall. Just three people talking near the front door, and a cute guy looking at the Memory Wall.

A huge wall of photos, basically.


He glanced over at Wynn. “Slayer, or Watcher?”

Everyone at this party can be assumed to have some kind of connection to the Slayage biz.


“Neither. Err… my sister’s a Slayer.”

He nodded, and extended a hand. “Daniel.”

“Sarah.”

“Nice to meet you.”

She was always Sarah at these parties. Made it easier to blend in – too many people would recognise her if she used her real name.

Wynn’s in her early twenties during this section. And at the height of Being Her Own Person.


Daniel had returned to looking at the photos.
“I like the one with the Slayers training together. It’s an interesting shot.”

It’s from Buffy’s backyard, back in Sunnydale, mid-season 7.


Potentials, not Slayers, Wynn thought, but didn’t correct him. She just nodded.

“And the one of Mr Giles. Wow, he looks so young.”

Also from Sunnydale.


“Mmm.”

“And this one… I wonder who that is.”

Faith. Mama always said it was “Faith at her most un-Faith-like”, but Mom had insisted that far-away-and-peaceful was what Faith would be like “underneath all the Faithness”. Wynn could never decide which of them was right… but she liked the photo.

Buffy knows Faith much better than Willow does. (Or in my head she does, anyway.) And Willow is much more used to seeing surfacey-Faith.


“It’s kinda pretty – like she’s remembering something she liked,” she commented.

Daniel let his gaze take in the whole wall. “You know,” he said, “I’d say I’m fairly well-versed in modern Slayage history. But I can’t figure out who half of these people are.”

Wynn could. Wynn knew them all. She could still remember Mama holding her up and pointing out who was in each photo as they first went up on the wall.

…which we get to see, later in the story.


She smiled, sheepishly. “Yeah, me neither.”


You know, one day you’re gonna have to work out that who you are and where you come from? It’s actually pretty cool.


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…especially if you know the whole story.


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Definitely time to change topics.

And then there was an email.


Dear Mama and Dad,

How are you guys? Miss me yet?

Well, college has reached week nine, and


Wynn paused.
What exactly was she supposed to write about? Should she really let them know about…

She sat back and looked around the room, at the rumpled bedsheets… the smashed window… the eleven stolen mice (and four more still loose somewhere behind the furniture)… the leftover pizza slices, slowly congealing on the desk… the axe… the stack of textbooks, still unopened and unread…

Coming up with random items that sound like they have an interesting backstory is really hard. I’m proud of the eleven stolen mice, though.

And no, I have no idea of precisely what was happening.


classes are going well. I’m really enjoying living in a dorm, too – although it’s a bit too loud, sometimes.

Gotta go! I’ve got an essay to finish.

Love you both,
Wynn



Good idea. Never tell parents everything – even parents like yours.


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…especially if you care.


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Two more soldiers down. So much for fighting the good fight.

In the original fic, this line was referring to Anya and Tara (I think). Here, it’s about Buffy and Faith.


And then there was a funeral.


The house was so quiet.

Wynn couldn’t sit still – but she couldn’t do anything, either. She kept wandering the room, slowly, aimlessly, wanting to watch TV and then realising she didn’t want to, flipping through books and then putting them down unread, standing up and then sitting straight back down.

Wynn is seventeen. And she’s just lost a parent.


It was so quiet.

Mama opened the door, and walked in, carrying a cup of coffee in each hand.
She sat down, and silently passed one cup over to Wynn.

“Thanks, Ma.”

A nod – and a shared sad smile.

“Dad’s driving Giles home – so it’s just us two, for the moment.”

“Okay.” Wynn sipped her coffee, and made a face. No sugar. She should go and- no. It didn’t really matter.

(This is a reference to the earlier section, with Willow still forgetting sugar, several decades later.)


‘The two of us’… That sounded so weird. Two – plus Dad. That meant that when he got home, it’d be ‘just the three of us’. Forever.

Gratuitous title reference! Woo!


No more Mom. No more Mom watching old movies with her. No more Mom practicing crossbow in the backyard. No more Mom and Mama doing each other’s hair in silly styles and laughing together. No more Mom trying to be cross and starting to grin halfway through. No more Mom and Faith swapping stories of best vampire dustings.
…no more Faith, either.

I had much less time to set up Buffy’s place in the story than I did with everyone else. This paragraph helped.

Faith and Buffy, by the way, are absolutely best friends in this fic. Faith would have been over there often.


Wow.

Wynn hugged her cup in both hands, kept drinking her really gross sugarless coffee, and wondered what it would feel like to cry again.


I am so, so sorry. I really am.


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I get to see all the good bits…


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“Because you deserved it, dork.”

And then there was a dress.

(This is where it starts getting all fluffy and domestic.)



“Okay, just move a bit more to the left.”

That’s Buffy. With a camera.


“Are you sure those are the best earrings? Maybe you should try a different pair.”

That’s Willow. Who is rather nervous.


“No, left, Wynny. Away from the doorway.”
“Wow. You look gorgeous, sweetie.”

And that’s Xander. Who’s all proud and fatherly.


“You might be too cold. Do you have a wrap?”
“Okay, now put your chin up a bit more…”
“I’ve got a wrap that might work. Just a minute-”
“Will, she’ll be fine. The gym’s heated, isn’t it Wynn?”
“Sweetie, smile! I want at least one photo with a good smile. Please?”
“Just remember not to dance with anyone who’s pale, or room temperature, or otherwise pulseless.”
“Oh, and you should take spare lipstick with you…”

“You know,” Wynn commented, “I keep telling my friends how laid-back you guys are. Could you maybe, um, be laid-back for a bit? ’Cause otherwise I’m going to have to start telling everyone how you can go from zero to chaos in two minutes flat.”

Her parents paused – and exchanged sheepish looks.
Mama stopped rummaging through her purse, Mom lowered the camera, and Dad raised an eyebrow, and said, “Why don’t we take it in turns?”

I liked Xander taking charge here.


He walked over to Wynn and hugged her. “You look lovely, Wynn, you really do. Now…” He looked at her sternly. “No curfew breaking, no drinking alcohol smuggled in by your classmates, no sneaking off somewhere else without asking, and I don’t care what your mom says – making out with vampires is not okay, no matter how reformed they are.”

An ongoing subject of teasing, between the two of them. I couldn’t see Xander ever being happy about the Buffy-dating-vampires thing, but he’s not angry about it anymore, either.


Mom said “Hey!” and threw the camera bag at him, but he just caught it, grinned, and kissed Wynn’s cheek.
“Have a great time, honey. Er… Will?”

Mama stood up, and presented Wynn with “Lipstick, some clips in case your hair starts coming down, spare Kleenex, and some holy water… just in case.”

The first three are all things I tend to take with me to weddings. I’ve never taken spare holy water, though…


Wynn tried not to laugh. “Thanks, Ma.” She deposited everything on the couch, and gave her mother a hug.

Then she turned to Mom, who raised the camera hopefully. “Photo time?”

“Okay,” Wynn nodded.

“Great!” Mom grinned, and took three photos of Wynn looking gorgeous and smiling… another three of her looking gorgeous and gazing romantically into the distance… and one of her sticking her tongue out at the camera.

She’s sixteen. A photo of her being silly is required.


And then Mom started smiling in a misty-eyed sort of way, but kept trying to deny it until Dad wrapped his arms around her and whispered “Our baby is all grown up and going to the Junior Prom.” – at which Mom had to grab lots of Kleenex, and said “Okay, I admit it. I’m all sentimental and mushy.” in a very muffled voice.

This is one of my favourite moments. Especially because Xander is deliberately calling her “our” baby, meaning Willow-and-Buffy-and-Xander’s baby, and including Buffy as part of the “our”.


Wynn grinned. “Mushy superhero gone soft. Alert the vampires!”
Then she snuggled into Mom, took away the Kleenex, Mama picked up the camera, and Wynn and Mom both made their best Summers Smiles…

The smiles will, of course, get mentioned later.
The main reason I put them in here was because I wanted right away to emphasise the Buffy-Wynn relationship, given that so far we hadn’t seen any of it. Also, it was kinda fun having a mislead about whose daughter (biologically) Wynn actually was.



Hey, just try not to get hunted down by honeymooning vamps, or attacked by hellhounds, or stuck in a forest full of bear traps, and you’ll be doing way better than we ever did.

That’s all from season 3, with the two dances they went to during their senior year.


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…and the bad…


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“I’m not gonna wish that it never happened, ‘cause we know how that ends up.”

And then there was an argument.


This argument starts with Buffy, and then alternates between her and Wynn until Willow interrupts.

I actually had to ring up my mother and ask her for feedback about what mothers and fifteen-year-old daughters would fight about – because I couldn’t remember any arguments we had back then…


“Well, maybe if you’d thought about it before-”
“I am so thoughtful! What about Christmas, when I made-”
“Christmas? That was months ago! You can’t use once-a-year events to excuse every stupid idea you-”
“Red and blue are the school colours! How is that stupid?”
“The most expensive stuffed animal in the place? Really? When you could just-”
“No, really, how’s it stupid? ’Cause I always thought I was supposed to take pride in my school.”
“You know perfectly well you weren’t trying to-”
“Well, I guess if you’re more used to burning schools down-”
“Oh! Young lady, you know that was just to stop-”
“Yeah, I know! The end of the world!”
“Which is kind of important!”
“You always say that! Well, the concert was important too, and you completely-”
“You’re bringing that up again?! I said I was sorry for-”
“That’s so unfair! You think you can just-”

“HEY!”

They turned. Mama was standing there, hands on hips, looking at them both. She raised an eyebrow. “Anyone want to explain?”

Wynn said, annoyed, “Mom won’t let me go to the movies with Paul!”, at the same time as Mom said loudly, “Your daughter didn’t put the cereal away!”

While it wasn’t the reason for including this scene, I did enjoy having Buffy and Wynn appealing to Willow for argument-support – and both getting equally carried away over the fight.


“Uh-huh. ’Cause that’s not what it sounded like when I came in. And, you know, the movies seem pretty okay to…” Mama frowned. “Wait a second. Wynn, didn’t I ask you to put the cereal away twice this morning?”

This was so unfair!

Wynn glared at them and yelled, “I hate you both! I’m not talking to you, ever!”

She turned and ran up the stairs, hearing Mom’s furious yell – “Wynn Sarah Maclay, you get back down here!” – behind her.

…and that was why I wrote this scene.
I wanted Wynn’s full name to be revealed in a completely non-fluff way, and decided that having a parent yell her name out in full when she’s being a brat would work perfectly.

Wynn is, of course, named after Tara.


She slammed her bedroom door violently, and flung herself down on the bed, sobbing.


Okay – seriously. You really didn’t need to yell like that. Especially not over something so pointless.
But hey, who am I kidding? You’re a teenager. Yell away.


I like Cordelia being snarky. :)



- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -


…and the incredibly familiar.


- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -


She stared at her nails, noting the ragged edges and the chipped polish.

And then there was a magazine.


Wynn pushed her bangs back with one hand, and tried to picture what she’d look like with her hair long and bangsless.
And hopefully with blonde highlights.

(“Bangs” is such a weird word. Why can’t you guys just say “fringe”, like normal people?)


Kinda cool. Maybe.

Of course, it would help if her nose wasn’t so stupid and freckly.

Willow has freckles. I thought Wynn should too.


Wynn glared at her nose in the mirror, and thought wistfully about the GirlGlam! girls, who had perfect noses that completely weren’t the wrong shape, and definitely had no freckles.

Public Service Announcement: Do NOT read beauty magazines – they will only make you feel ugly.

I have an alarming tendency to put exclamation marks in made-up brand names. They just sound so excitingly tacky…


At least her eyes were okay. Especially with the makeup – although she wasn’t really sure if it was the right colour. She’d have to try out different kinds, and see what worked.

According to GirlGlam! she ought to be tweezering her eyebrows, too. But Wynn kinda liked her eyebrows the way they were. And her eyes. They looked just like Mama’s.

She used to think that most of her facial features were inherited from Mom – until her sixth grade teacher explained that it was biologically impossible – but these days she could sort of see that she had Mama’s eyes and chin, and Dad’s ears.

This is when – for people who haven’t read the original fic first – we find out which mother is actually the blood-related one. (It’s Willow.)
I liked the idea of Wynn being thoroughly aware that Willow gave birth to her, but also knowing that you inherit your looks from your parents – and not seeing the connection there…


She had Mom’s smile, though – biology could go screw itself, because she really did. It was a genuine Summers Smile. Everyone said so.

Except that it looked really weird right now. The lipstick was way too orange.
Wynn frowned, and consulted the magazine for advice.


You want advice? Lighter lipstick, darker eyeshadow, and keep the bangs – they’re cute.

Cordy, of course, knows exactly what would work for Wynn’s looks.


- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -


And you know, I really have enjoyed it all.


- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -


“It should be a lot easier than a brain-sucking egg baby.”

And then there was math.


“…times three, minus seven, is… um…” Wynn concentrated. “Seventy-five. Ooh! No! Seventy-four.”

“Yes! We have a Wynn-er!” Her father grinned, and he and Wynn high-fived.

(See? In-joke.)


That wasn’t the entire answer, though.

“So… wait, is that seventy-four square inches? Or cubed inches?” She frowned. “Don’t you… um… check what numbers you added, or… wait a second… where did we get the six from? Was that a six inches, or just an ordinary six… Dad?”

It was surprisingly hard coming up with a maths problem that could be given to a nearly-twelve year old and yet still be confusing enough to stump Xander. (He’s bad at maths – but not that bad.)
I figured confusion about units would work. I have trouble with that – and I’m an engineer.


Dad was looking more confused than she was. “Uh…”

“So, how do I figure it out?”

“Um…” He looked over to the couch. “Can you guys come and help?”

“Nuh-uh.”

Dad looked back down at the math book. “Please? You know I’m hopeless at this.”

Mama smiled back at him. “I also know it’s your night for homework helping. And plus I’m watching a movie.”

“Buff?”

Mom was asleep with her head in Mama’s lap, and didn’t reply.

(She’s had a long week of slaying things.)


Wynn pulled the book towards her, and started trying to peek at the answer section without Dad noticing.
Luckily, he wasn’t paying attention.

Definitely not based on me. In no way have I done this. Nope.


“Come on! This is your daughter’s education you’re risking! We need the Mommy-and-Mama section of the parenting team over here, stat! I’ll do anything.”

I rather love this conversation.


“But… movie…”

“Wynn’s grades…”

“Dishes for a week?”

“Actually, I was thinking of something a bit more…”

“Ooh. Mmm?”

“Mm-hmm.”

“Or…”

“Uh-huh…”

“Ohhh…”

Silence.
Wynn looked up, curiously. Mama and Dad were now somehow managing to say stuff just by using their eyebrows in very complicated ways.

The fact that Xander manages to seduce Willow over the top of Wynn’s head, just by knowing each other so well that they can communicate complex sexual descriptions purely through “mm”s and eyebrow movements, is highly enjoyable. And very fun to write – especially Wynn’s observation on the whole thing.


Parents were weird.

Finally, Mama blushed bright red, said “Okay, you win… tempty-guy…” and came over to help.


Wow. I didn’t even think that was anatomically possible.


- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -


Even when you guys are being completely crazy.
Because, really, the crazy’s half the fun.


- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -


The dysfunctional little Slayerette gang.

And then there was a birthday cake.

Originally it was Wynn’s birthday. Then it was Buffy’s. Then it was Wynn’s again. And then it was Dawn’s.



“No way.”
“Yeah – look. It’s a double word score, so it’s-”
“No, not the double, the word. No way is ‘Szletvicai’ a real word.”
“It really is.”
“What does it mean?”
“The yellow secretions emanating from a decapitated Thurok demon. I had to research them last week.”
“Oh, that so doesn’t count…”

Benefits of being a Watcher. You can kick arse at Scrabble.


Wynn was bored. She wandered from the living room through to the study, where Dad, Papa Rupert, and Aunt Dawn’s boyfriend were discussing something dull and Watchery, round past the kitchen, where Mom and Mama were getting very giggly, and then back out to where Faith and Aunt Dawn were playing Scrabble.

(Introducing: today’s cast of characters!)


Faith finished her turn, and looked up. “Hey, Maclay.”

Again with the name. I thought Faith would be likely to call her “Maclay” rather than “Wynn”. I couldn’t really see her using Wynn’s real name, and most of the nicknames I could think of (“kid”, “midget”, etc) seemed more suited for Faith talking to Dawn – even these days.


“Hi, Wynn.”

Wynn smiled. “Happy birthday, Aunt Dawn.”

“Thanks!” Her aunt glanced down at her Scrabble tiles, and sighed. “Oh please, tell me I can use words in Ancient Babylonian…”

Drawbacks of being a Scrabble-playing Watcher. So many words you know and aren’t allowed to use.


“Not a chance.”

“Damn.”

“Are you having a good birthday?” Wynn asked.

Wynn is clearly bored, and trying to get in on the conversation. Which Dawn hasn’t quite realised yet – but she’s about to.

(Wynn’s nine right now, by the way.)


“Yeah, I am.” She wrinkled her forehead. “Didn’t you ask me that an hour ago?”

“Yes… But it’s still your birthday.”

Aunt Dawn’s mouth twitched, and she sighed dramatically and pushed the Scrabble board away.
“Well, before Faith kicks my butt by using rude words, why don’t we go and finish off the birthday cake?”

Faith winning Scrabble through swear words would be highly entertaining – and must be ficced. (Anyone? Plotbunny, free to a good home…)


“The cake’s all gone.”

“It is?”

“Yep.” Wynn flopped down on the couch next to her. “Dad ate the last piece.”

Faith raised an eyebrow. “No surprise there.”

Aunt Dawn looked at Wynn very seriously. “Well… why don’t we send a raiding party in to pillage and plunder the kitchen, and see what we can find?”

People who take kids seriously are awesome. And Dawn is definitely awesome – so she has to be one of them.


“Okay.”

“Excellent.” She picked up three of the wooden Scrabble things, and handed one each to Faith and Wynn.

(What are those Scrabble things called, anyway? Is there an official name?)


“What the- uh… heck?” asked Faith.

Changed from “hell” because Faith just realised she’s standing next to a nine year old.


“Tile stand. Traditional weapon carried by Viking raiding parties.”

“Right.” Faith grinned. “Do we have a traditional battle cry?”

“Wynn?”

“How about just lots of yelling?”

Yelling at the top of their lungs, they charged through the dining room and the kitchen (where Mom and Mama were smooching next to the sink) and started hitting the fridge repeatedly with their tile stands.

This image is one of my favourite things from the fic. It has everything I enjoy about fluff.


Mom reached out and grabbed Aunt Dawn’s hand. “Wynn’s allowed a maximum of two bowls of ice-cream,” she said firmly, and went back to licking bits of frosting off Mama’s face.

Writing a several-year relationship for three people is complicated. It’s not the point of the story – so if it was just two people (Dawn/Andrew, for instance), then you could just have occasional scenes with Dawn and Andrew smiling at each other, and a couple of kisses from time to time, and there’d be everything you needed for a happy background relationship.

With three people, though, it’s much more of a balancing act. I had to make sure that all three possible pairings were getting screen time – to emphasise the fact that it isn’t ‘two of them… and one extra’.

For the record: Wynn giving birth was a Willow/Xander scene, the prom was Buffy/Xander, the argument was Buffy/Willow, the maths homework was Willow/Xander, and this is Buffy/Willow.


“Sure.” Her aunt smiled at her. “Want some ice-cream?”

“With syrup?”

“Oh, definitely.”

They retreated back to the living room, each carrying a big bowl of ice-cream with syrup – and Faith also carrying a bottle of something Wynn wasn’t allowed to drink.

“Very successful raiding party, ladies,” said Aunt Dawn, and they all clinked their bowls together in celebration.

…like you would with wine glasses.


Do you even realise how incredibly cool your life is?


- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -


And you’re all such a lovely little family.


- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -


“You know I never stopped loving you, right?”

And then there were broken windows.


There were thuds, and crashes, and Daddy was yelling, and something slammed into the wall and the whole house shook, and Wynn huddled in a ball and tried to stay quiet and tried to stay hidden and tried to stay still…

Wynn is seven. And from now on, it’s “Mommy” and “Daddy” rather than “Mom” and “Dad”.


And suddenly it was all quiet.

Wynn didn’t move. Her parents had been very clear: she had to keep hiding until she was told to come out, because no matter how quiet it seemed, there could still be Glurgulgarron beasts or Hæsch monsters lurking just around the corner.

Not many kids would have standard rules for “if demons break into our house” – but Wynn does.

She was obviously going to have a more-dangerous-than-normal life, so I decided to put this scene in here to emphasise that, yes, she does, but she also has people to protect her.


She shut her eyes, and stayed still.

What if they’d all gone?
All of them? Everyone?
What if no-one came to tell her she could stop hiding?
What if- no.

Stay still. Stay still until they come.

There were quiet footsteps, and then Mommy bent down and looked under the table. She had blue slime on her face, and she was holding her second-favourite sword.

“You can come out now, Wynny.”

“It’s alright?”

“It’s alright. They’re gone.”

“But – what if they come back?” And suddenly she was trembling, and crying, and Mommy was cuddling her and shushing her and telling her that everything would be okay, everything would always be okay, “because I’m here, and I’ll protect you, because you know what I am?”

Comforting scenes under tables are something I seem to do often. I’m not sure why…


A big sniff. “You’re a superhero.”

“That’s right. I’m a superhero.” Mommy hugged her tight and whispered, “And I love you very much.”

Like I said – the Buffy&Wynn relationship got a lot of emphasis in this fic. I thought this bit was very important, because eventually Buffy’s going to die, and I wanted to emphasise the fact that, to Wynn, Buffy being there means safety – and love. These memories would be very important to her, later on.



Aww… That’s just… Aww…


- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -


Which, really? No surprise whatsoever.
You three were always your own little group – the baby just sort of made things official.


- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -


“There’s only so many of us left.”

And then there were photos.

The Memory Wall: to be mentioned at a party, later.



“See?” Mama pointed. “That’s Mommy and Daddy and me, back in Sunnydale… and that’s Papa Rupert in his study…”

(That first photo is the one that Buffy looks at in Dead Man’s Party.)


Mommy passed Daddy the hammer, and said, “A bit more to the left, Xander. It needs to be right over the one of Dawn.”

“Sure.”

Mama carried Wynn over to some of the other ones. “This is Anya. She ran the magic shop, and liked going dancing…”

They can’t exactly say “This is Anya, a former demon who was engaged to Daddy.” Not yet, anyway.


“Buff, can you get me some more nails? I’m running out.”

“…and here’s Angel. Remember? He visited us last Christmas…”

“Xan, are you sure that’s in the right place? It doesn’t look…”

“…and Cordelia, who stopped being dead specially so Daddy could tell her all about you…”

…which is what happened in the original fic.


“Yeah, it has to be higher. You’re right.”

“Always am.”

“…and here’s Mommy and Faith visiting Seattle…”

(Because they’re best friends.)


Wynn watched. And listened. And learned.


Personally, I would have preferred a photo where I didn’t have bangs. But your dad kind of liked them, I guess.


- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -


So… thanks.


- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -


“I dunno who’s crazier, you or me.”

And then there was a big fiery dragon, who had kidnapped the king and queen.


“Stay back! I’ll chop you to pieces, foul feen!”

In the previous scene, Wynn was five. She’s now three – and starting to be based more and more on my nephews. (Not in terms of interests or personality – but in the way they interact with the world.)


“Wynn, what are you doing?” Mommy was looking a bit cross – but in a smiley sort of way.

(Because she’s going to have to be stern and discipliney, but she also thinks Wynn is about the cutest person ever.)


“I’m rescuing the king and queen from Fireflame the Dragon!” She waved her sword dramatically.

“That’s great, honey. Good for you! But-” Mommy knelt down and looked at her. “What are the rules, do you remember?”

Oh no.

Often, it’s not that they disobey the rules so much as forget the rules in all the excitement of having fun.


“No weapons in Mommy’s room…”

“And?”

“Um…”

“Mommy’s bedroom…”

“Mommy’s bedroom is a Slay Free Zone?”

I love that rule.


“That’s right. And I don’t want to have to take your sword away – so can you please slay Fireflame in the living room instead?”

“’Kay…”

“Good girl. Oh, and Wynn?”

Wynn stopped, and looked back at Mommy. “Yeah?”

“It’s ‘foul fiend’. With a D.”

(Because you have to get these things right.)


“Fied?”

“Fiend.”

“Fiend.”

“That’s right. Have fun dragon-hunting, honey!”

I love the fact that Wynn is being encouraged to incorporate slaying into her games…


Wynn ran off across the Mountains of Mistiness, and found Fireflame’s prisoners craftily hidden behind the couch cushions.


You really are your mom’s daughter, aren’t you?


- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -


No, really. I mean it. Thanks for letting me spy on you.


- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -


“You know that Sunnydale’s gone, right?”

And then there was a story.

Wynn would eventually know a huge amount of stuff about Sunnydale. Right now, she’s getting the much-more-censored version.



A red-haired woman in a dress.

Doing a story narrated entirely through stuff Wynn can see? Complicated. But necessary. She’s now about one, and thinking in very simple terms.


“‘Hahaha!’ laughed Glory, evilly. ‘You will never beat me! I’m going to kill you all.’”

Turn the page. A red-haired woman looking nasty. Other people looking scared.

“‘I am unstoppable! You cannot defeat me,’ she laughed. But then…”

Turn the page. A red-haired girl and a blonde girl, sparkling.

“Mama and Tara threw the magic dust all over Glory, and she vanished. Hooray!”

This is from the end of Blood Ties. And is actually pretty accurate – if told with slightly different dialogue.


Turn the page. Happy people.

“And everyone was safe again. The end.”

Daddy closed the book. “Time for bed, munchkin.”


That was… kinda fun.


- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -


I’d really love to know what you’re going to think when I tell you what I’ve been doing, these last few decades.


- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -


(The stuff that Cordelia’s been saying between scenes this whole time is mostly sort-of-addressed to Xander – from the end of Xander’s life. And they’re going to be seeing each other again soon…)


“We’re expecting someone in a few months. Me and Wills. And Buff.”

And then there were three.


“Wow, Will, you’re really getting big.” Buffy put her hand out to touch Willow’s belly, but then hesitated, and drew back.

Okay. The situation.
Buffy and Xander and Willow had a threesome after Chosen. (That’s from the original fic.) And Willow got pregnant. (That too.)
What happened is that, post-night-of-passion, they were all slightly embarrassed and decided not to talk about it, and just pretend nothing had happened. Which was awkward.
Then, a few months later, Willow rang up the others and told them she was pregnant. Which was way more awkward.
Right now, they’re trying to be supportive, and trying to pretend nothing’s wrong, and… feeling really awkward about everything ever.


“Yep. Can’t see my feet anymore.”

Buffy nodded.

Xander was looking at the notepad, frowning. “Car-seat,” he suggested.

A list of all the stuff they’re going to need. Or rather, a list of the stuff Willow’s going to need. Currently the plan is that Willow will have her own apartment, and the other two will babysit from time to time.


“Definitely.”

“Child-safety locks for the cupboards.”

“Not for a while, but yeah. Write it down.”

“Oh, and – last name. The baby’s kinda got three. How does that work?”

…to explain how they ended up with “Maclay”.


“Um…”

“Add it to the list.”

They lapsed into silence.

Awkward…


“Oh, um…” Willow looked up. “There’s an… I got another ultrasound a few weeks ago. And the photo’s on the table – I thought you guys might wanna see.”

“Oh, good.”

The photo was located, and they all stared at it for a minute or so.

Xander broke the silence. “Well, it’s got a head.”

“Yep. Definite headage, there.”

“That’s… pretty good.”

“Uh-huh.”

“Yep.”

Aaaawk-waaaard…


More silence.

Xander retreated back to his chair, and Buffy shifted uncomfortably on the couch.

“Buffy, could you pass my juice?”

“Oh… sure.”

The juice was duly handed over.

“Oh, hey, did they say your due date’s different?” Xander asked. “’Cause the Spock book said they sometimes change when the birth’s going to be when they see the ultrasound.”

“Wait – Star Trek said that?”

“No, Doctor Spock. The parenting guy.”

(My entire knowledge of who Doctor Spock is: he’s the parenting guy who people sometimes confuse with the Star Trek guy.)


“I know, dummy. I was kidding,” Buffy said.

Buffy quite often seems to tell jokes that people mistake for her being dumb – like the “Disney movie” thing in Crush. Right now, she’s joking a fair bit to try and relieve the weird tension in the room.


Willow shook her head. “Well, nope, still same old February 22.”

“Okay.”

“So…”

“Um…”

“How’s all the slaying going, Buffy?”

(They really haven’t talked much lately. They’ve all been staying out of each other’s way.)


“Pretty good,” Buffy nodded. “I’m about to go and help train some girls in France, because they’re not really very experienced yet. Which means weeks and weeks of Paris and shopping… but don’t worry, Will, I’ll be back in the country for the birth and-” She stopped short, and then finished lamely, “…and, um, everything. If you… if you want me there.”

“No, I…”

“No? Okay.” Buffy nodded, awkwardly. “Okay, that’s fine, if…”

“No – I mean ‘no’ as in… um… I mean, I want you there. Both of you. If you guys don’t mind.”

“Sure – we can be there,” Xander agreed. “Right, Buff?”

“Right.”

“After all, it’s your baby too – well, sort of, anyway – but you guys should get to be there for this.”

(“Sort of” because it’s only Buffy’s baby in that she was there for the conception.)


“Sure.”

“Absolutely.”

The three of them relaxed – slightly.

“So… has anyone talked to Giles lately?”

“Yep. I called him on Tuesday,” Xander answered. “He’s doing okay.”

“Good.”

Willow picked up her juice again.

“Ooh! I’ve got one!” Buffy sat up, and said firmly, “Diapers.”

“Actually, Buffy, I’m pretty sure that’s already on the list,” said Willow.

“Not what I meant.” She walked over and grabbed the notepad from Xander, and slowly wrote, “Teach… Xander… how to… put diapers… on babies…”

More Buffy jokes.


Willow giggled, and Xander looked indignant. “Hey! I’m not the only one who’s new at this. You’ve never changed diapers either.”

“Not true. I have a little sister,” Buffy pointed out. “I’ve been diaper-proficient since I was seven.”

Actually, technically Xander’s right. She’s never changed diapers. But she remembers doing it…


“Fine. But I bet I can get good at it pretty fast – once the baby’s born.”

“We’ll see…” Buffy put the notepad back down on the coffee table, and turned to Willow. “More juice?”

“No, thanks.”

“Okay.”

“So…”

“So…”

“Um…”

Still awkward…


“So, Willow, have you figured out where you’re going to be living yet?” Buffy asked.

“Not really. I haven’t had much time to look for somewhere.”

“Well, we could always…”

“Yeah – we could help you find somewhere,” Xander nodded.

“Really? Thanks, guys, that’s-” She paused. “But you two don’t have to… I mean…” Willow took a deep breath, and resolutely continued, “You guys shouldn’t feel obligated or anything. Not if you don’t want to.”

Willow’s pretty sure they’re only helping out because they have to. The others are actually not helping out, because they want to give Willow space. (Plus, they’re all being very silly.)


“Will, that’s-”
“No, we-”

Willow kept talking over them, looking firmly at the carpet. “I mean, I love you guys, and I’d love to have you around, but after all, it was just a one night thing, and you shouldn’t feel like you have to get involved just because of that. Really.”

Silence.

Buffy sat forward, and frowned slightly. “Willow, I think we- We want to… be involved. If that’s going to be okay with you.”

Xander nodded in agreement.

“So… can we?” Buffy smiled, and tentatively put her hand down over Willow’s very pregnant belly. “Be involved?”

Please note: “involved” in the previous sentence basically meant “involved with the baby”. In this sentence, it means “involved in a relationship”.

I wanted Buffy to be the one to get them together, because she’s more on the sidelines of the relationship than the others. It’s Xander and Willow’s baby – but Buffy gets them all together.



You guys really are ridiculous. It’s seriously taken you seven months to figure all of this out?

I think Cordy’s been sitting there going “Hello? Are you guys blind?!” for quite a while, now.


- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -


But then, you shouldn’t be surprised.
After all, a promise is a promise.


- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -


Her boy grew up. Into a damn fine man.

And then there was a goodbye.


She reached out and touched his cheek, smiling that brilliant Cordy smile. “I’ll be watching you.”

Xander smiled back. “I knew you would.”

And this was the end of the original fic, and the basis for mine.





I hope you enjoyed reading this!


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