I Can Fix That
A/N: I know it's short; my updates will be pretty erratic for the rest of my senior year ('08, w00t!). Spot the allusion and I'll give you a cookie. Enjoy.
Charlie couldn’t find an excuse to call Xander for more than two weeks. He gave up on a good excuse and went for flimsy ones – the window stuck, a door wouldn’t lock right, “I just replaced the damn water-heater and this one is just as finicky as the last one. I don’t suppose you know what to do about that?”
The house had never looked so good or worked so well. Xander’s store was flourishing – he’d started doing more artistic stuff and seeing how it sold. At first, they were little figurines that looked like nothing so much as bored whittling. Eventually, he moved on from highly stylized furniture to small sculptures of everything from squirrels to people. Xander had been selling busts of people for over a month when Charlie confessed he would like a demure bust of his mother.
There were a library of photos to choose from, and each picture had a story. Xander spent three afternoons talking to Charlie over old albums, until he felt like he knew Margaret Eppes as well as he had ever known Joyce Summers.
“She reminds me of my own surrogate mother,” Xander mused on that thought aloud one day.
“Not your natural one?” Charlie blinked.
“I wasn’t adopted or anything,” Xander laughed at the professor’s confusion. “But my parents were alcoholics – y’know, not good for much. When I was in high school, I met Buffy Summers. Her mom was one of the nicest ladies in town. And she was a real lady, y’know? Graceful, charming, beautiful, well-educated, and loving. She really cared about all of us, all of Buffy’s friends. She died a few years ago. She was the only person I told that I was trying to be a Master Carpenter. All my other friends went to college, to get degrees and ‘real jobs.’
“But Mrs. S understood. She knew that I wasn’t right for that stuff, no matter how smart I was or wasn’t – though she’d always tell me I was a lot smarter than the girls or I gave me credit for. After I got my mastery, my friends still didn’t think that it meant anything. They just wanted me to fix the toilet and hang new doors and pay for the house. Eventually I decided that wasn’t enough, that I didn’t want to pay for my friends to be lazy.”
Charlie got to laugh this time. “When I was younger, my brother would always tell me that my math couldn’t do anything in the ‘real world.’ He said I’d just end up a teacher or professor in some stuffy classroom and never do anything. My clearance is higher than his will ever be because of that same ‘useless’ math – math that he doesn’t hesitate to use on cases now that he understands a little better.”
“It sounds like your mother was the one who really understood you,” Xander said quietly.
“She did,” Charlie murmured. “And it makes it worse, because…I don’t think I understood her
“Moms are like that. You don’t have to love someone to understand them, and you don’t have to understand someone completely to love them. Great moms do both. Their kids are rarely so talented. It takes a lot of maturity and experience to understand people fully. She knew you loved her, Charlie. That’s all that matters. She could get the feeling of understanding from someone else – your dad, maybe. Her family, maybe. But what’s important is that you loved her and she loved you.”