1. Life Gets Better
Chapter One: Life Gets Better
"Hey B." Faith greeted her favorite aunt when she got home.
"Hey Faith. How was school?"
"Pretty much the usual. You know, teachers going out of their way to make you feel as unimportant and stupid as possible. Man, we haven't had one decent teacher this year. All of them are getting old, forgetting what they were saying in the middle of the sentence. I'm surprised they don't fall asleep during a test. Or even worse, drop dead."
Buffy smiled. Yep, that was Faith. She was no longer the twelve-year-old girl she was two years ago. She was now 14 and in Junior High. The way she dressed had changed considerably over the years as well. When Dru was alive, she had dressed only in jeans. Now, she wore leather mini skirts and revealing shirts. On some girls her age that would look comical, but Faith didn't really look her age. She did have things to reveal. And this worried Buffy because she knew that boys could be cruel. Whenever she had tried to talk to Faith about it, she just shrugged in answer. Said they wouldn't try anything in school. She hoped William would talk to her. But he was too deep in his work.
"I know how you feel. Any homework? And where is your brother?"
"Yeah, we have a history paper and Wes is in detention." Faith answered, going to the fridge and taking out a coke.
"In detention? Why?" Buffy asked, worried.
"Don't really know. He wouldn't say. Although some of his friends said some older kid teased him about not having a mom or something like that. Well, Wes didn't take it well. Apparently he hit the boy and got sent to detention for fighting."
Buffy cocked her head a bit, frowning.
"I see. And did he explain to the teachers what happened?"
"B, come on. You were in school too. You know teachers. They don't care. They'll just tell you that you should have kept your temper. Isn't there one teacher in this world who would actually listen to a student?" Faith asked, frustrated.
"There is. I know one. So, when is Wes coming home? Or does he need me to pick him up?"
"No, I don't think he really wants to be around people right now. He'll come home alone. I think he gets out at four or sometime like that."
Buffy nodded again, still worried.
"So, um, when's dad getting home?"
"I'm not really sure. I think the same as usual. At around eight or so."
Faith's face fell and sighed.
"Well, I'm off to do this history paper. I'll see you later, B."
"Ok, see you later."
Faith went upstairs and Buffy continued to make dinner in the kitchen. They were gonna have pizza with salad. Hence her putting frozen pizza in oven and cutting up vegetables. They had dinner at six, both Wes and Faith not saying much. Dawn on the other hand was telling them all about how she had played with her dolls all afternoon and then had gone to the toilet and did poo poo.
At eight, Buffy had put Dawn to bed and told Wesley to go take a bath. Faith was still shut in her room, hopefully doing that paper for history. It was nine by the time William finally came home.
Dressed in his usual suit for work, he came in and greeted Buffy without even looking at her. He walked straight to the kitchen and took a bite from the pizza they had left for him.
"It's cold." He commented, looking at Buffy.
"Yes Will. Pizza does get cold after three hours waiting for someone to eat it. Dinner was at six, where were you?" she demanded, finally getting sick of him not looking after his own kids.
"I was at work. I told you I'd be longer this week."
"No William, you didn't tell me. You never tell me. You just expect me to be here because I always say yes. Well, I'm sorry, but I really can't take this anymore. Now, you know that I love you, but you either pay more attention to your kids or hire a nanny. I can't cook, I hate to clean and you know that. I do have a life outside of this house you know."
William stared at her, shocked.
"What are you saying? You're not going to take care of your nieces and nephew anymore?"
"That's exactly what I'm saying Will. I've been looking after them for a year now, but I'm done. I highly suggest that you take some time off from work and bond with your children. You don't know them and they don't know you anymore."
"I can't do that." He answered, pulling out a cigarette and lighting it.
Buffy crossed her arms over her chest and raised an eyebrow.
"And why the hell not?"
"Because I got a promotion, which means I have to work longer and harder than before."
"I see. You know, you surprise me. You used to be such a caring father, who adored his children and would do anything for them. You and Faith were inseparable. But ever since Dru, you've lost contact with them."
"Don't you talk to me about Dru!" he snapped, his eyes flashing.
"Fine. But what I said stands. I have a friend, Willow; I can ask her if she can help you out. I suggest you stay in during the weekend, we'll come by and you can meet her. She's really nice and loves kids. And kids love her. Well, I have to go now, I'll see you later." She said, and with that she turned around and left.
William slammed the desk wondering when things got so messed up.
* * *
"Buffy! I'm home!" Willow called as she walked into the two-bedroom apartment that had been her home for the last two years.
Two years ago, in 2001, Willow Rosenberg, Cordelia Chase and Xander Harris had moved to Los Angeles. Xander and Cordelia were dating and had an apartment. As Willow was their best friend since childhood, they had let her live with them until she found her own place.
Cordelia and Willow had found a job as waitresses at Pizza Palace. There they met Buffy Summers and the three of them hit it off instantly. Buffy had even offered Willow room in her apartment and Willow had accepted.
So, here she was. It was now 2003 and Willow was still working with Buffy and Cordelia at the Pizza Palace, as well as tutoring kids in math in the evenings and the weekends. Cordelia and Xander were still dating. If they kept it up like this, they would be the longest lasting couple Willow knew of that wasn't married. They had been dating for eight years, since the start of college.
It was a Friday night and Willow had just come home from another tutoring lesson. She walked through the living room into her bedroom. She dumped her bags next to her desk and turned on her laptop. Walking to her closet, she looked into the mirror. Her appearance hadn't changed much in the two years. The hair that had been long in 2001 was now cut short, just under her ears. It was still bright red. Her eyes were a green blue. She noticed that she had gained weight. Not too much to make her look chubby, just enough to pronounce her curves. Sighing, she changed into some home clothes and checked her e-mail. She heard the front door open and close, signaling that Buffy was home. She jumped up and hopped into the living room, squealing.
"What's up?" Buffy asked, smiling at her best friend. Buffy was a petite blonde, with pretty blue eyes and long wavy hair. She wasn't the stupid kind of blonde though. She was very smart and next to being a waitress, she helped her mother and stepfather run a shop and gallery.
"I got it! I got it!" Willow said, hugging Buffy.
"That's great Will! What exactly did you get?"
"The job! At Hemery! As a math teacher! I start next week! Oh, I'm so happy! No more waitressing! Yay!" she said, jumping up and down.
Buffy's face fell.
"No more waitressing? You're quitting your job?"
"Buffy, I have no choice. I cannot possibly be a waitress and teacher and tutor at the same time. I am quitting waitressing and giving tutoring to Xander. Buffy, I've always wanted to be a teacher. This way I'm gonna teach everyday from 9 till 3 in the afternoon. And I have to mark papers and stuff. Please be happy for me."
"Oh Willow. You know that I'm happy for you. It's just that I'm going to miss you at work. Who will I turn to when we have a bunch of annoying kids? You were the only one who knew what to do with them. Cordelia and I just lose our temper. But, if teaching is what makes you happy, then I am happy for you. So, how should we celebrate?"
"Dunno. I guess we could go and see a movie with the others. But we don't really have to celebrate."
"Are you sure?"
"Anyway, don't you have a date with a certain Riley Finn?"
Buffy shook her head.
"No, he's been busy with work and what not. We haven't been able to get together in ages. Plus, me babysitting my stepbrother's kids doesn't really help the situation. Anyway, how was your tutoring?"
"Terrible. That kid is so daft it's unbelievable. I'm serious. I mean, he's twelve, that's easy math. And I explain it to him in every way possible, but he still doesn't get it. I tell you, this kid I will not miss. Unless he goes to Hemery and then I have to teach him nearly everyday."
Buffy laughed. Willow looked really tired.
"Listen, why don't you have an early night, huh? It might help you relax and all."
"Yeah, you're probably right. I do need some sleep. Plus, no tutoring this weekend, so I'm happy. I'll see you in the morning. Goodnight."
"Night." Buffy answered as Willow went to her room.
Two hours later, after re-thinking everything that had gone on that day, Buffy also retreated into the bedroom and was asleep in seconds.