Disclaimer: I own neither BtVS nor the Anita-verse.
A/N: This'un might require an explanation. It's at the end of the fic.▬~▬
Setting down the groceries carefully she toes the door shut behind her with one tennis-shoe-clad foot. Her eyes are tired but cheerful, her movements quick and easy as she unloads the foodstuffs and puts them away in their various cupboards.
Once finished, she heads to the living room, newspaper tucked under her arm. She is greeted with a harsh beeping as the answering machine comes within earshot. Her eyes, a vivid hazel, are wary - she approaches the black plastic appliance as if nearing a wild animal.
Her hand would be shaking, if she were the sort prone to such physical manifestations of nerves, as her finger nears the 'play
' button. She depresses the switch slowly, reluctantly, then leaps back almost as if afraid of being bitten as his voice fills the room.
"Buffy? It's me...
There is no need for an introduction, she knows the speaker's voice almost as well as her own. She worries her lower lip anxiously as his words play on.
"... I want to see Nathan.
" He sighs, "It's been almost six months...
She can hear the agony in his voice and it kills her inside to know that she put it there. She hurts him by keeping him from seeing his son - their
son. It kills her even more to know that it hurts Nathan too.
rights, Buffy: the court gave me visitation. You can't keep him away from me, it's not right...
" There is anger in his voice now rising alongside the sadness, they mix to give her a picture of the despair she causes him.
Uncertainty joins the anger, "He does want to see me, doesn't he? Buffy...
" At last, resignation comes, his next words are full of it - ponderous and sad, "Call me, let me know when... whenever it's convenient I suppose.
There is a pause in the message and she listens to him breathing for a short time, her eyes filling but never quite spilling the salty burden that is hers to bear.
When he speaks again - at last - the words are almost torn from him. They make her cry out, they break her heart all over again: they are what keep her up at night long after Nathan has gone to bed.
"I - I miss you, Buffy.
Her hand would be shaking, if she were the sort prone to such physical manifestations of nerves, as her finger nears the 'delete
' button. She fumbles with the switch, blinded by her tears, trying desperately to erase the knowledge that he still loves her.He still loves her.
She cries then, sinking down onto the ground beside the telephone and wrapping her arms tightly around her knees to rock back and forth, heaving great wracking sobs that are all noise. Her tears never fall, she hoards them like diamonds. She does not think she deserves the release that a true 'cry' will give her.
How can she deserve relief when all she does is cause pain?Her
After she has calmed down, she will remember that she left him because he was too dangerous. She will remember that she believes that any amount of pain is worth saving her son from the life that his father lives. She will remember that he calls every third Saturday morning, and that she sends Nathan to a convenient friend's for a sleepover every third Friday night.
Her son will not be back until long after she has cleaned herself up, removed the message, and destroyed all evidences of grief. Another month will pass and Rafael will call again, the cycle will repeat. She will keep him away for as long as she can.
She will keep them apart for as long as she can, keep the man she loves and the son they share as far from each other as possible because she will not lose them both.
Because she will not have a monster for a son.
Because she doesn't remember when white and black became gray and she was stuck wishing for the old days.
Because some part of her, some small devious little part, still remembers holding a stake and the soft explosion of a million particles of dust. Though that part is long-suppressed, she still fears it, and the padded jackets it brings.
Her hand doesn't shake this time, and her finger finds the 'delete
' button without error.▬~▬
A/N: Ok, in the Anita-verse Rafael (the wererat king) has an ex-wife and an eight-year-old son, so with some fudging of timelines I made his ex Buffy. This is loosely based off the 'Normal Again' challenge. Any further queries can be e-mailed to me.
So... like it, love it, loathe it with the fiery intensity of a thousand hot suns? Lemme know!