Swords of Light – Interludes Title:
Mother, Mom Author:
Twilight Unicorn: The Vampiric Unicorn Rating:
PG (for discussions concerning death and adoption) Timeline:
Placed in the first year after Immortality's Gift
, during Mother's Day. Summary:
Dawn is having trouble adjusting to Buffy being her mother. Characters:
Dawn, Buffy Disclaimer:
The only thing I own is this story and the Alternate Universe I've created. Author's Note:
In memoriam of my birth-mother, and dedicated to my step-mom.
"I'm not going!"
"But Dawn, we've been planning this for awhile now, and today's the perfect day to do it," Buffy said in confusion from where she leaned against the doorway to Dawn's room.
"Why should I? She isn't really my mother
is she," Dawn snapped back, raw anguish in her voice.
"Maybe not by birth, but she is by the feelings in your heart, Dawnie," Buffy explained soothingly as she stepped further into the teenager's room. "I don't care,"
Dawn shouted in anger before throwing herself onto her bed and burying her face in a pillow.
The Slayer sighed heavily, and slowly made her way over to the bed, then sat on it. Quietly, she asked, "Why don't you want to do this, Dawn? We've been planning to go to Mom's grave on Mother's Day for a month now. Help me understand."
The younger woman turned onto her side away from Buffy, roughly brushed away the tears that were falling, and answered with a slight tremble in her voice, "It's just...I don't know what to call her anymore! She's officially my grandma by blood and my mom by paper, but in my heart, she's still my mom. And then there's you: you’re my true mother, but according to the adoption papers you’re my mom on paper only, and my sister by blood. I don't know what to think and feel anymore about all this!"
"You're not the only one, Dawn," Buffy admitted softly. "Every time you jokingly call me 'Mom' I find myself looking around me for someone who's not there. I'm having a difficult time coming to terms with the fact that you're actually my daughter, not my sister. I'm afraid that I won't be able to take care of you the way Mom did. I've felt that way ever since she died."
Sniffing loudly, Dawn twisted her upper body around so that she faced Buffy, and saw the same uncertainties she felt reflected in the older Slayer's eyes. She sat up, and studied her sister/mom for a moment, then said, "You really feel that way?"
"Yes," came the simple response. "I wouldn't lie about this. You mean too much to me to do that. I was actually pretty happy when I signed those adoption papers. It's just that coming to terms with everything after that isn't so easy."
A sad and tentative smile touched Dawn's lips upon hearing those words. She then confessed, "Know what I'm finding hard to handle? I don't know if I should call you Mother, Mom, or simply Buffy anymore. I want to recognize our blood ties, but I'm not sure how to go about it without it being too strange. I also still want to recognize Mom in all of this, too."
Buffy looked down, and took Dawn's hands into her own. She studied them, and remembered a painful time when she had had to convince Dawn that she was
related by blood to her. Softly, she quoted her own words, "It's Summers blood," and felt a sudden rightness fill her. Looking up directly into her daughter's eyes, the Immortal Slayer said suddenly, "I have an idea."
"What," Dawn asked, startled.
"You want to recognize me and Mom as being both
your mothers. I don't want you calling me Mother, 'cause that's just too formal, and you calling me Mom and Mom Mom is just too confusing. So how about this: you call Mom, Mother or Joyce; and me Mom or Buffy. Would that work?"
The younger woman tilted her head to the side, and closed her eyes, and thought, Mom, Mother. Mother, Mom. Wait, something's missing
, and opened her eyes and replied, "I can handle it, if I can call her Mommy as well."
A smile slowly grew on Buffy's face as she said in agreement as she tenderly squeezed her daughter's hands, "I like that."
Dawn returned the smile, then abruptly lost it and ducked her head. In a small hesitant voice, she inquired, "Can we still go to her grave today?"
Buffy made a sound that was something between a sob and a laugh, then gathered the younger Summers into her arms, and rocked side-to-side gently. In a comforting tone, the Slayer answered as she smoothed the teen's hair back from her face, "Of course."
The Summers women stood holding hands before a beautifully sculpted gravestone that was inscribed: Joyce Summers:
Devoted Mother, Guardian, and Friend.
You Will Be Remembered Always.
The light of the noon sun shone angelically down upon them, and gave witness to their silent tears.
In a near numb voice, Buffy said, "I didn't think it would hurt this much after all this time."
"I don't think I'll ever get used to it," Dawn said in concurrence, her voice unsteady.
The Immortal Slayer sniffed mightily, squeezed the other woman's hand, and stepped away while saying, "You go first, Dawnie."
The younger Slayer nodded, knelt before the grave, and placed the roses she had been holding in her right hand upon the ground. Remaining where she was, Dawn reached out and gently ran a hand across the tombstone. In a quiet voice that could barely be heard, she whispered somewhat tearfully, "I love you, Mommy, and I miss you. A lot's happened, but you probably already know all that, watching from Heaven...but I'll say some of it anyway. Faith's dead, and I'm a Slayer like Buffy now. I found out that Buffy and Angel are my real parents, but that doesn't mean I don't think of you as my mom still! It just means I have two moms instead of one. It's kinda cool. And having Angel as my dad feels right...a lot better than when I thought of Hank as my dad. He takes good care of me. I've moved with Buffy to LA to be with Angel, and my schooling's improved a lot. I've made new friends there. They know about me and the family, and are cool about it.
"Buffy and I had a long talk about her and you being my moms, and we made some decisions. I'll be calling her Mom, and you Mother. I'm happy about that, and I hope you are too. I guess I should go. Know that I do love you, and I'll come back when I can to visit. Until then, Mommy."
Dawn rose to her feet slowly, turned around to face Buffy, and said, "I'm going to the car. I'll see you there."
The older Slayer nodded, and watched her daughter leave. Once the teen was no longer in sight, she turned around and knelt before the grave of her mother. She placed her own bouquet of flowers beside Dawn's, saying, "She's gown a lot since you died, Mom. Living the life we do, she's had to. I'm happy living with Angel. He's been a great help, and I love him even more than I did while in Sunnydale. It seems that us being separate only strengthened our bond, and we're officially married now. Working with him on a day-to-day basis has been amazing, and a load off of my back. The people we work with are a crazy bunch, but I wouldn't have it any other way.
"I miss you. A lot. I keep wondering if I'm doing alright with Dawn, if I'm getting it right. Was this how you felt raising me...and Dawnie? I never really realized how much you did for me until now, and I'm grateful for what you did. We had our differences, but what family doesn't? I miss our talks, and I've had to make some tough decisions without your input. It's hard, but I keep going. Angel was right: I'm not alone.
"I hope I'm making you proud, Mom. Everything's different without you here...and I know I'll have to go through this with the others too. I don't want to, but it'll happen anyway. You're in my thoughts constantly. Whenever I find myself making a tough decision, I wonder what you might've done, and know what to do."
Buffy wiped away a few tears, and said sadly, "I gotta get going. I'll try to come back as much as possible, Mom."
The Slayer stood, looked for a moment longer at the grave and the flowers set before the tombstone, and with a heartfelt sigh, left.
The sound of a retreating car filled the now empty graveyard, then became silent. A presence that had remained unnoticed by the two women slowly became visible. A woman in a white gown and golden hair stood before the gravestone, gazing sadly yet fondly in the direction the Summers girls had gone, before turning around. Looking at the flowers upon the grave, the woman said, "I am
proud of you Buffy. You've done a good job with Dawn...far better than I ever could. I love you too, Dawn, and miss you. You both take good care of each other, and I'll see you here again."
With those words, the spirit of Joyce Summers reached down, took the flowers into her arms, straightened, and slowly disappeared, a loving smile upon her face.