5. Getting Into the Rhythm
Well, like I promised, a new chapter. This will be the last update for this story until the new year, sorry guys. I hope you have a wonderful Christmas and an even better New Year, filled with many Buffy and Harry Potter related adventures!
Chapter Five: Getting Into the Rhythm
It was now two weeks since Willow got the job at Hemery High. Every day, except for the weekends, Willow would go to school at 8:30, arrive at 8:45 and have a lesson at 9:00. Two days out of five, Tuesday and Thursday, Willow would have the next two free lessons. She spent these marking papers and preparing for other lessons. Then she would go to lunch and have a talk with Anya and Tara. After that she would have lessons until 3:00, when she would wait for both Faith and Wesley and together they would go and pick up Dawn from kindergarten. They would get home at around four, have a snack and then Faith and Wesley would go upstairs to do their homework. During these two hours, Willow and Dawn would make dinner together. Or rather, Willow would make dinner. Dawn would just watch and talk about her day. Then, between six or seven o'clock, they would all have dinner together. Willow tried to vary the foods as much as possible and then the kids could choose their favorites. After dinner, they would all clear away their plates and Willow would go and get Dawn ready for bed. Faith and Wesley, depending on if they had finished all of their homework, would either watch TV or study some more. Sometimes, Faith would go downstairs into the basement and play on her drums for an hour or so. Wesley would then talk to Willow. Together they had completed his science project four days earlier than expected and both were very proud of it. Wesley had even presented it to Faith, who had said that it was a "bomb." Wesley still had to be in bed by nine, and surprisingly, he didn't argue. He would leave their company at 8:30 and go upstairs to have a shower or read in bed.
This was the time when Faith and Willow would take out their math books and do some math. Willow explained the topic that they were studying, but would never help her with her math homework. Said it wouldn't be fair to the other kids. Then at half past nine, Faith would also go upstairs, followed by Willow who would check on Wesley and Dawn. Lights out was at ten. And Faith didn't argue. Happy that the kids were asleep, Willow would then go downstairs to the kitchen to do her homework - prepare classes and mark papers. Mr. Giles usually came back before ten thirty. They exchanged some words, never a long conversation. Both were tired from work. Willow usually made it home at eleven and went straight to bed. They were getting into a rhythm that suited all of them.
Willow had the weekends off, as Mr. Giles was home then. Willow would ask the kids what they did on the weekend, but she'd always get the same answer. Either at the mall or doing their homework. Mr. Giles just didn't spend time with them.
So, on one Friday evening, when Willow could sleep late the next day, she waited in the kitchen as usual for Mr. Giles to return home from work. Today, however, she was planning on having a little talk with him.
The door opened and closed at ten twenty-five. Like always, Mr. Giles came into the kitchen and greeted her with a "Hello Miss Rosenberg. How was your day?"
"Fine. Yours, Mr. Giles?"
"Long. I'm glad it's the weekend."
Willow raised her eyebrows.
"Really? Are you planning on relaxing or having fun this weekend?"
He shook his head, pulling out a cigarette and lighting it.
"No, I still have a lot of work to do. I'm just glad no one will be breathing down my neck about it."
"So you plan on staying in again?"
"Well, what about your children? It's the middle of October the weather will change soon. Have you ever thought about taking them out somewhere for a change?" He looked at her.
"My work is very important to me miss. Rosenberg. I take it very seriously. My long painstaking hours are what enables them to have a fine education and almost anything they want."
"That's right. Almost anything. Because they don't want everything. They don't care about having fancy things, they're not like that."
"So, you think that after two weeks of tutoring, you know everything about them?"
Willow shook her head, smiling.
"Oh God no. I do however know that they lack the one thing every child needs. Fun with their parents."
"How can you come here and tell me how to raise my children?" he hissed in a deadly whisper.
"I'm not telling you how to raise them. I'm telling you what to do so that they wouldn't be afraid of talking to you." He sat down across from her.
"What do you mean?"
"Tell me. When was the last time you scooped Dawn into your arms and spun round and round with her in the living room? Or when was the last time you played baseball or football with Wesley? Or the last time Faith came to you for help with anything?"
He kept looking at her, frowning.
"I know that work is important and that having all these luxurious things are good. But they are your children. Your own flesh and blood. You made them together with a woman you love. So tell me, would it really kill you to spend at least one day of the week in their company alone? Because they are dying for it. All they want is your love and attention. Did you even know that Faith was having problems with math before Buffy told you to hire me to tutor her? Did you know that Wesley stopped going to competitions because you got wrapped up in your work? Or that Dawn likes to talk about going to the toilet and doing poo poo? Do you even know that your youngest daughter is so very much like you? And that she can talk, that she's so smart and creative?"
He still looked at her, frowning, though Willow could tell that the things she had said to him meant a lot.
"I'm not saying you're a bad parent, even though you remind me of my own parents, and they were terrible. They were workaholics too. I rarely ever saw them. It took my mother four months to realize I had cut my hair. Buffy told me that you and Faith used to be inseparable. Do you know what she says about you now?" He shook his head.
"She says that she would very much like to talk to you. But she's afraid that she'll interrupt you and that you'll shout at her. She needs her father. She needs you. I promise you that you won't get fired if you have one free day. Just think about it. They'd all be very happy. Isn't that what you want? Isn't that what their mother would have wanted?" she asked as she stood up.
Still he said nothing, even though his jaw was now set.
"I have to go. It's late and I've had a very long day. I'll see you again on Monday."
She smiled at him one more time and then turned to leave. She was at the front door when she heard a noise upstairs. She put down her bags and walked up the stairs. There at the top sat Dawn, crying.
"Dawnie, sweetie, what's wrong?" she asked, scooping her up in her arms.
In the kitchen, William was putting out his second cigarette, running his fingers through his hair, pacing. He hadn't heard the front door close yet, so he walked into the hall. He heard voices on the landing upstairs so he looked up and what he saw broke his heart. There was Dawn, his little princess, sobbing into Willow's shoulder.
"Sshh. It's ok. It's ok. What happened?" Willow asked, rocking her. She hadn't noticed William.
"I-I was sleeping. I saw mommy." She hiccupped.
Willow closed her eyes and held her closer.
"You remember mommy?"
Dawn nodded, still more tears falling down her face.
"And then what happened?"
"I saw daddy. A-a-and then, he was gone. Poof."
William's heart constricted.
“You mean he disappeared?” Willow asked gently.
"Daddy's not going to go poof, is he?" Dawn sobbed.
A tear fell down Willow's face and she shook her head.
"No, daddy's not going to poof."
"I miss mommy. And I miss daddy too."
"I know. It's ok. Come on. Let's get you back to bed."
Dawn shook her head.
"Back to Mr. Gordo? I'm sure he's lonely. Maybe he thinks you went poof."
Dawn's crying subsided a bit and she looked at Willow, her eyes wide.
"Mr. Gordo." She said and then jumped out of Willow's arms and ran into her room.
Willow followed her and saw her get into bed and hug Mr. Gordo.
"Don't worry Mr. Gordo. I won't go poof." She told him, closing her eyes. Soon she was asleep again.
Willow closed her door and turned back to go downstairs when another door opened. This time it was Wesley's door. Willow looked and saw Faith coming out of it.
"Faith? What were you doing in Wesley's room? Is he still awake?" she whispered, walking to the door.
Faith turned around her face like the one of a deer caught in someone's headlights.
"Willow? What are you still doing here? Isn't dad home yet?"
"He is. I was leaving but then I heard Dawn crying so I came to check on her."
"Dawn was crying? Why?"
"Had a bad dream. Said she saw your mom and dad go poof."
Faith's eyes widened.
"Is she ok?" she asked worriedly.
"Yes. She's asleep again. Now, what were you doing in your brother's room at this hour?"
Neither of them noticed William who had walked up the stairs and was now listening to them.
"Um, Wesley wanted to talk to me about something."
Willow raised her eyebrow in question.
"He wanted to know if dad would come and watch him play a match next week."
"Is he asleep?"
Faith shrugged. Willow walked through the still open door and saw Wesley sitting up in bed, looking at them. Willow turned on the lamp on his desk and beckoned Faith to come in as well. Wesley scooted over and they all sat on his bed.
"Wesley, how come you never told me you have a match next week?"
He shrugged, not quite looking at her.
"Can I come and be your fan?" she asked.
"Oh, would you? That would be so great. Mom and dad used to come all the time..." he broke off, looking down at his hands.
Willow looked at Faith.
"After mom died, dad stopped coming. He was always too busy with work."
"What kind of job does he do anyway? I never had the chance to ask him, whenever he's home he's either sleeping or he's locked in his office."
Willow frowned, trying to remember. She was sure Buffy had told her.
"Um, I think that he's the head of some office. Euro-Atlantic Partnerships I think."
"Euro-Atlantic Partnerships? What, he like helps people from Europe hook up with people from America?"
"No. Euro-Atlantic Partnerships are relationships between European and American countries. He makes sure none of them are arguing and stuff like that. I think he's the head of the British department. Him being British and all."
"Oh, that's gotta be important if he spends so much time with work." Faith said.
"Has he met the Queen?" Wesley asked.
"Oh, who cares about the Queen? I wanna know if he met Prince William, cause if he has then he can meet him again and give him my phone number."
Willow chuckled. Wesley rolled his eyes. Outside, in the hall, William smiled too.
"Even if he has met either of them, I don't think that he has the right to call or email them and give him his daughter's phone number. Beside, Prince William is twenty-two years old. He's too old for you. I don't think your dad would approve of you and him getting together."
"And besides, why would he want you if he could have some hot actress or model or princess?" Wesley teased.
Faith hit his arm.
"Watch it four eyes. As to dad not approving, he'd probably forget in a day or so that it happened. He keeps forgetting important stuff. And he doesn't pay attention to us anyway, I don't think he'd even notice if I flew off to England."
"Yeah, but if you married the Prince, you'd be rich and dad wouldn't have to work so much anymore."
William shook his head. When had all of this happened? He was about to go to bed when he heard Willow.
"Guys, no matter what your dad is like, no matter how much attention he gives you or how much time he spends with you, he loves you more than anything in the world. I know that I have no right to say the things that I'm going to say, because I wasn't there and I don't know what it's like when the love of your life dies. I do however know what it's like to lose a loved one. Not because of death, but because of betrayal. Faith, you remember I told the class about Oz? Well, he was the love of my life. And he betrayed my trust. He cheated on me, after three years of dating he cheated on me. And then he left, saying he had some things to work out. I didn't have a say in any of this. After he left, I felt like I was split down the middle and half of me was gone. I have never felt so terrible in my whole life. When somebody breaks your heart, the feeling is indescribable. I can't tell you what it's like, but I wish with all of my heart that you two never have to feel it in your life. But it happens. And people react in different ways. I started dabbling with dangerous things, things that could have killed me. Your dad, he took the less painful way, he turned to his work. We had to find a way to pass all the time that we now couldn't spend with the person we loved."
"But he could have. He could have spent time with us. I mean, he loves us, doesn't he?" Faith asked.
"Yes, he does love you. And I don't know why he didn't spend time with you. Maybe because you brought back all the memories of your mother. Memories he just wanted to forget. Or maybe he was scared, because he didn't know how to raise three children all on his own. Or maybe he was scared you would run out of money. So, he started to work more and more. He is working so much for you three. He knows it's hard to get into decent colleges and he just wants you to have the best education possible. He just wants what's good for you. He wants you to be happy."
"But we're not happy. We miss him. Sometimes, I really do wonder if he still loves us. He hasn't told us so ever since mom died. He used to say it to her and to us all the time." Faith mumbled.
"Faith, your dad is just hurting, that's all. But he does love you." Willow insisted.
"How do you know? Has he told you?" Wesley asked.
"No, he hasn't. But how could somebody not love you, when you're all so nice and smart and polite and just tons of fun to be with?"
Faith and Wesley blushed.
"Now, off to bed. It's been a long day and I need my beauty sleep. Come on Faith. Goodnight Wes."
"Night Willow. Night Faith."
In the hall, William quickly went to his bedroom and shut the door. Faith and Willow walked to Faith's room and Faith lay down in bed, while Willow closed her window. She turned back to Faith and smiled when she saw that Faith was already asleep.
"Night Faith." She whispered and walked back into the hall, shutting the door.
Willow jumped, her feet leaving the floor. Clutching her chest she turned around and came face to face with a slightly smirking Mr. Giles.
"Are you crazy?! You don't just sneak up on people like that. Especially not in the middle of the night. And what are you thanking me for?" she hissed.
His smirk widened.
"For the things you said. In there and downstairs. They meant a lot, to all of us and I really appreciate it. I haven't paid you yet, have I?" he asked, scratching the back of his head.
"What? Paid? No, not yet." Willow said.
"We haven't even settled on your salary either. Listen, pet. I was thinking of taking the kids to the beach tomorrow. And seeing as they like you so much, I was wondering if you would like to join us?"
"Yes, I'd love to. What time should I come by at?"
"Around twelve. Is that ok?"
"Twelve is perfect. I'll be here. But I really have to go now. I'll see you tomorrow and thanks for inviting me. Goodnight." Willow said and walked downstairs, smiling.
William heard the front door open and close and smiled to himself. Content that he had done the right thing for the first time in two years, he went to sleep.