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The Journal

By BuffyL

Romance / Fantasy

The Journal

The Journal

Allison O'Donnell-Carter sat in her father's attic staring around at the boxes of junk he'd collected over the years. He wasn't really a man you could call a pack rat, but this attic said differently to her. There were boxes upon boxes upon boxes of random things.

Old toys that had belonged to Allie and her older bother Edward.

School projects that Allie and Edward had accomplished.

Silly drawings that Allie had scratched out long ago when she'd desperately wanted to be as wonderful an artist as her father had been.

Drawings that their father had done throughout the years.

Clothing that had been worn by Allie and Edward as they'd grown up.

Little souvenir figurines that their father had bought on his many travels.

Postcards their father had sent to Allie and Edward.

It was all going to have to be sorted out and soon. Just a month ago, Allie's father had passed away peacefully in his bed. He had been 93 years old and had lived a long, full life. He'd loved his children with all of his heart. He'd guided them and picked them up when they fell. He'd place kisses on their knees before he bandaged them when they'd fallen off their bikes.

The one thing he'd never do, though, was talk about their mother. She'd died in an accident when Allie had been only six. Her father had been devastated. Edward and Allie had ended up living with their Uncle Xander for three months while their father had grieved alone in the house he'd shared with their mother.

Allie didn't remember too much of her mother. Six years with her hadn't been long enough to cement a firm foundation of memories. What she did remember, though, was that her mother had been beautiful. She'd had long, flowing blonde hair that smelled like sunshine and vanilla. Her skin had always had a gentle glow from the kiss of the sun and her embrace had been warm. She'd had beautiful blue eyes that would randomly change to a green or a gray or even an almost clear blue some days. Allie had inherited those eyes, but the blonde hair had belonged only to her mother. Edward and Allie's hair matched their father's dark chestnut coloring.

Edward remembers a lot of their mother. He'd been fourteen when she'd died. Allie remembered that he'd taken it hard. Almost as hard as their father. After she'd died, he'd gotten into a lot of fights at school and had really rebelled against authority. He'd landed in jail once when he was seventeen for punching a teacher. Their father hadn't known what to do with Edward and had let him sit in jail overnight. Things eventually settled down with Edward when his wife Celeste had come into his life his second year of law school. She'd been a wonderful and healing influence on him. She'd gotten him into therapy and after a year and a half of it, he'd finally come to terms with his mother's death and his father's hermetic lips about the whole thing.

Allie sighed and began moving the boxes out of the attic and all the way down onto the first floor. Her husband, Stephen, and her sixteen year old son, Liam, were coming over to the house to help her sort through everything. Edward, Celeste, their twenty-three year old son, Eric, and their nineteen year old daughter, Scarlet, were coming over later in the afternoon to help. But for the next four hours, Allie was alone in her father's house surrounded by the things he'd loved and cherished about their lives.

On her fifth trip up to the attic, she found a very large box in the farthest corner of the attic marked with her mother's name. Allie had a sudden intake of breath at the discovery. She hadn't known this box existed. When she and Edward had come back from their Uncle Xander's, everything that had had anything to do with their mother had disappeared. Pictures, jewelry, makeup, clothes…. Everything had been taken away except for a picture that Edward had managed to save and keep in his room. As far as the kids had known, their father had burned or given away all of it.

Allie sat down on the floor by the window and pulled the box over beside her. She hesitated at opening the box at first, but after a few moments, the curiosity overcame her. Sliding the box's flaps away from each other, she opened the box and reached inside. The first thing she drew out was a picture of her mother and father at their wedding. It hadn't been a big wedding. Only about ten people or so had attended from what their Uncle Xander had said. Her mother had worn a simple white, strapless sheath dress that went just below her knees. Her blonde hair had been straight and she hadn't worn a veil. Her father had been in a simple black suit with a black tie and a deep blue shirt. The picture Allie held was a full body shot of her parents staring into each other's eyes in front of the white gazebo in the park downtown where'd they gotten married.

After a long few minutes of analyzing the picture, Allie set it aside and moved on to the rest of the box. It was mostly pictures of her mother, some taken by a camera, others drawn by their father. An old SLR digital camera was sitting in its case. There were a few little Ziploc bags of jewelry, a black velvet box that contained a large silver cross on a chain, and some letters that her mother had written her father on his many trips. Her mother and father's wedding album was in there along with other albums that held numerous pictures of her mother.

Finally, Allie reached the last item in the box. It was a thick, leather bound journal that was cracked and aged. She opened it up and on the first page was a picture of her mother and father when her mother had been probably just a teenager by the looks of her. Two claddagh rings, one large and one small, were in a small Ziploc bag that was stapled to the page. Allie remembered they were her parents' wedding rings. Above the picture and beside the rings were two words in her father's handwriting.

Our Story

Allie tried to recall if she'd ever in her life seen this journal, but nothing came to mind. Curious, she flipped through the pages to find her father's handwriting throughout the journal along with randomly placed photos with a feminine handwriting describing each one on the side.

Allie flipped back to the second page of the journal and began reading, leaning against the wall to get comfortable.

This was Buffy's idea. She wanted me to write everything down. Everything I could remember about us. Which, in truth, is everything. I remember every detail of our lives together…. And of our lives apart. However, the apart is something I would easily forget if I could.

So, where do I begin? The first time I saw her, or the first time she saw me? The two incidents were months and months apart. I wasn't something anyone would be proud of when I first saw her. But she changed me in that one small moment. I was sitting in a beat up, blacked out car in the parking lot of her high school in Los Angeles. She was so vibrant and full of warmth and light. I could feel it from where I was sitting, which was a very good distance away.

She had been only fifteen that day we'd both never forget. That was the day she'd been called as a Vampire Slayer. She was sitting on the stairs of her high school waiting for someone. Unfortunately for her, it wasn't the someone she'd hoped for that had walked up to her. Merrick was his name. He was a good Watcher. He cared for her. Loved her even. How could he not? How could anyone not love her?

He took her to the cemetery that night and showed her her first vampire. She'd accidentally staked him in the wrong place before finally finding the heart and killing her first vampire. But her becoming the Slayer wasn't the reason I wanted to become someone.

No.

It was Buffy herself. As I watched her listen to her parents fighting, I felt the strongest urge to burst in to her room and carry her away. I wanted to protect her from all the evils of the world. But since I couldn't enter her house uninvited, I had to settle with watching over her night after night. She didn't know it then, but I saved her a few times in her first months as the Slayer. I couldn't bear it if anything had happened to this wonderful creature.

Then, one night, she was gone. Her mother and father had decided upon a divorce and Buffy was whisked away with her mother to a little town up the coast called Sunnydale. I followed her there, of course. She was ready for a new life, away from being the thing that had cost her her friends and her school and the life she'd loved. But what she didn't know was the quaint little town she'd just moved to was sitting on the mouth of Hell.

I followed her that night after her first day of school. She was headed to a club on the other side of town. She knew I was there, though. She lured me into an alley and kicked me to the ground from her hiding place on a bar high above me. I gave her her silver cross necklace that night.

I couldn't really tell what she thought of me at first, but as circumstances kept throwing us together, it became apparent that she had feelings for me. I couldn't bring myself to hope they were the same feelings I held for her, but they were. It almost makes me wish I still had the scar on my chest from her cross that second time we kissed. I loved her so much that I'd killed my sire for her. I'd spent a century with my sire, shared everything with her…. She made me and I destroyed her for a girl I barely knew. A girl that had captured my heart so completely.

It nearly killed me that night Xander and I found her in the Master's lair. She was laying face down in a pool of water and she wasn't breathing. She'd been dead. Thank the gods for Xander's love for her and his living lungs. He brought her back to this world and to me.

That whole summer she was gone, I could do nothing but think of her. I drew hundreds, maybe even thousands of pictures of her. She had infected me like a drug. I was addicted to her. But I couldn't have her. Not really. As much as I craved her, needed her, she needed to stay away from me. We were supposed to be mortal enemies. I wasn't good for her.

When she finally came back…. She wasn't in the best of moods. Of course, being killed at sixteen by a Master vampire bent on bringing about Hell on Earth would probably do that to a person. She was scared. Terrified, really. And it only made it worse that the Master's followers planned to resurrect the Master using his bones. Buffy stopped it from happening and with the destruction of the Master's bones, her fear had been partially relinquished. I held her that night for hours, whispering comforting words to soothe her frayed nerves.

Of course, that night made it that much harder to stay away from her. I tried. The gods know that I tried. I did everything I could to try to convince her to stay away from me, but I was in love with Buffy Summers and she with me. We were two magnets drawn to each other. The more I fought by her side, the more I craved her. It was almost unbearable how much I wanted her. Needed her.

She did everything in her power to draw me in, not knowing exactly how hooked I was already. That Halloween she'd dressed up as a woman from my century thinking it was what I wanted. She hadn't known how much I despised those women and it had nearly gotten her killed by Spike. I think it was that night that I stopped fighting myself. I wanted to spend every possible moment I could with her and I allowed myself to do it.Of course, fate didn't like that. We didn't know about the loophole in the curse that had given me back my soul. The night I finally said it out loud, the night I finally admitted to her exactly how I felt: "I love you. I try not to, but I can't stop." That night of her seventeenth birthday changed everything for us. She gave me everything she was. She opened herself to me completely and I did the same for her.

We made love that night.

Her first time.

Our first time.

Our last time for a very long time.

The loophole in the curse said that if I were to experience a moment of pure happiness, that I would lose my soul again and become the monster known as Angelus once again. We hadn't known. (Hell, now that I think about it, it's a wonder that it hadn't happened before that night.)

My poor Buffy. She had to endure months of pure hell and torture by my demon. Because she was the reason I fought…. The reason I became the man instead of the demon…. He hated her. He became infatuated with her. It wasn't like the time with Drusilla. That had been just for fun. Just an experiment truthfully. This time with this girl…. It was personal for him and he had to scratch the itch she'd left under our skin. He had to get rid of her at any cost.

When Acathla crossed Angelus' path, he pounced on it. Sending the world to Hell would surely kill her and he would finally be rid of her. But it hadn't gone as planned. Buffy's best friend Willow had discovered the dead Jenny Calendar's Restoration Spell she'd been working on when Angelus had killed her. It was part of the reason he'd killed the teacher. (The other reason was that obviously it would upset Buffy because her beloved Watcher Giles was in love with Ms. Calendar.)

Angelus managed to thwart Willow's first attempt at the spell, but he hadn't really expected the fledgling witch to try it again. While Angelus and Buffy fought to the death, Willow worked on putting my soul back in my body. She succeeded, but it was too late. I didn't remember anything when I came back and I was extremely confused as to why the woman I loved was holding a sword above me ready to take my head off. I didn't know where I was or even how I'd gotten there. All I knew was she was there in front of me.

I can't imagine how hard it was on her for her to know exactly what had just happened and to know what she had to do. She told me years later that it hadn't actually dawned on her until moments afterwards exactly what she'd just given up. I remember the excruciating pain in her eyes as she told me she loved me and I remember the taste of her despair on her lips as she kissed me for the final time. Then I remember the pain in my chest and I looked down to find her sword shoved all the way through me. Her pain and shock stricken face was the last thing I remember before Hell took me over.

I was there for a hundred years, I think. Where Buffy was, it was only three months. I found out later that she'd run away to Los Angeles and become one of the many faceless teenagers on the streets trying to hide from their past lives. It was a girl named Lily that Buffy had known in Sunnydale as Chanterelle…. Part of a wannabe vampire cult that had discovered the truth about the vampires they worshiped the hard way…. That had brought Buffy back to the life she'd ran from. It took Buffy a trip to a different hell to find her way back to her old life.

She managed to get semi settled back into her old life and when she had finally been ready to let go of her pain, ready to say goodbye to me, I came back from Hell. To this day I still don't know why I was brought back. Was it because of her love or the Powers That Be's need for a champion like me that brought me back? Whatever it was, it yanked me from Hell and brought me back to her.

She helped me recuperate and become some semblance of who I'd once been. But we both knew it was different this time around. We walked on eggshells around each other. God, how I still loved her, though. I was still drawn to her warmth and light and goodness and beauty. I tried to ignore the old rising feelings that I needed to get away from her. I knew what would happen if we got too close again and I couldn't bear to put her through that again.

It took everything in me to leave her. I hadn't intended on breaking the news to her right before her prom in a sewer on a routine patrol, but she pushed me, like only she can. I broke her heart and mine in that sewer.

It wasn't until after her graduation and the fight with the Mayor that I finally managed to walk away. To her it might have looked easy, but for me…. It was like walking through gelatin. Every step was harder than the last one. Her blood, so recently injected into mine as she saved my life from the Killer of the Dead poison, was singing inside of me. It called out to me even from across that long distance between us. Even with my back turned on her. Everything in me wanted to turn around and run back to her. But I couldn't. I couldn't put her through that. She deserved more than what I could offer her. She deserved some semblance of a normal life that I could never have offered her.

When I made it to Los Angeles, the first thing I did was go straight to a bar. I wanted to drown out any thoughts about her. Every night for three weeks, I got completely drunk, but her face and her voice and her smell wouldn't leave me. The memories would never leave me. Her powerful blood would never leave me. I dreamed about her constantly. I called her and hung up hundreds of times just to hear her voice. Sometimes I called to tell her how much I loved her and how much I wanted to run back to her and beg her forgiveness. But every time I talked myself out of it. Every time I hung up on her. Every time I remembered the reasons why I'd left her.

Doyle found me somewhere in all of my misery and showed me the way to redemption. The Powers That Be sent him visions of people in trouble and I, as their champion, was supposed to save them. It gave me a reason to fight again.

I thought I was doing ok until he got a vision of her in trouble. I didn't even think twice about it. I packed a bag and ran back to Sunnydale to watch over her. She was fine, of course. She can handle herself. But I couldn't bear the thought of her in danger, so I fought in the shadows, never letting her know I was there.

But she knew. Our connection was always so deep. She felt me and when she found out she was right, she came to confront me. I regret what I did at the end of that twenty-four hours, but I had to do it. It was to save her.

The blood of a Mohra demon regenerates. When I thought I had killed one, its blood mixed with mine and I became human again. Falling back on my old ways, I thought it wasn't for real. That it wouldn't stick. That I would somehow manage to hurt her again. So I went to the Oracles and they assured me I was human and it was permanent.

I didn't think twice. I ran out to find her and, luckily for me, that feeling in my gut that told me she was near still worked. She was so glorious bathed in that sunlight as I walked up to her. The look on her face…. It's laughable now, but then…. It was so beautiful. I pulled her to me and kissed her with everything I was. I poured every last ounce of love I held for her into that kiss because this time, there were no strings attached.

We tried to talk ourselves out of jumping right back into things until we'd figured everything out, but of course our passions weren't to be ignored. It only took one tiny touch of our hands to set the flames of our desires into a full blown explosion. We spent the next few hours making love to each other. Getting to know each other's bodies like we hadn't ever dared to before.

The magnificence of that day would never be topped. But it was short lived. The blood that had regenerated mine also regenerated itself. She was so peaceful looking as she slept, I didn't have the heart to wake her when Doyle told me about the Mohra. Besides, I had to prove that I could live in her world as a human. That I could still protect her in some way.

Of course, I was wrong. I was never strong as a human. The demon would've killed me if she hadn't have come for me. She rescued me just after the demon promised more of them would come and the Slayer would die in the battle against them.

I couldn't let it happen. She had to live and I had to be strong to protect her. To make sure she lived. So, I went back to the Oracles and begged them to change me back. The only way to accomplish it was to take back the day. To erase the glorious day we had shared together and only I would carry the burden of the memories. It was the hardest decision I ever had to make. Harder than the decision to leave her.

She cried and promised that she would never forget. We held each other and the kisses we shared echoed the despair of that last kiss before she sent me to Hell. In a flash, it was all over. Or rather, it began again. Only this time, I had the knowledge to prevent it. It took everything I had in me to kill that demon in my office. She walked away from me that time and I couldn't have known when I would ever see her again.

Poor Cordelia and Doyle. They had to deal with the fall out of that day that wasn't. And they didn't even remember why I was so miserable this time. Of course, it only got worse. My friend Doyle died saving me only two weeks later. He passed on the visions to Cordelia, though, so I would still have a purpose. A reason to fight. A reason to go on with my life and to try to claim my redemption for all the evils I'd inflicted.

Not long after, Wesley showed up in town. He had been Buffy's Watcher after Giles had been fired for loving her. Of course, Buffy and Faith both rebelled against the new Watcher and he was soon thrown out. First by Faith when she chose the side of evil and then by Buffy when he and the Council refused to help me when I was dying of the poison. He'd been booted out of the Council and found himself a lost soul.

Of course, Cordelia and I took him in and gave him a job. He proved to be a valuable asset to our team. Not long after he began working with us, Faith came out of the coma Buffy had put her in and she sought her revenge. She'd traded bodies with Buffy, thanks to a little help from the long dead Mayor, and had wreaked havoc on my Slayer's life before Buffy's friends stepped in and reversed the spell.

Then Faith came after me and mine. But something had changed in her. She was ready for her redemption. Buffy showed up while I was trying to save Faith. It hadn't looked good, I admit, but she truly was crying out for help. Buffy didn't believe it, of course. And how could I blame her after everything Faith had done to her. But I couldn't let Buffy ruin Faith's chances. I hurt the woman I love yet again and kicked her out of LA.

I couldn't stand hurting her like that, so I went after her to apologize. I met the boy…. Riley I think his name was…. And he was a puffed up little soldier. He really believed he could protect Buffy when he was only a weak human. She proved him wrong and he couldn't take it. He began going to vampire brothels to get a taste of the darkness Buffy lived and fought in. In the end, though, they weren't meant to be and he left.

You sound a little too happy about this. -Buffy

Of course I do. I hated that twerp. Now go away and let me write.

Where was I?

Around this time in Buffy's life, Dawn came along. Her little sister turned out to be the Key to a portal that opened up the doors to many different worlds. A group of monks had turned the Key into a girl and placed that girl in Buffy's life, altering the memories of everyone so the Key would be well hidden from the Hellgod Glory. Glory hunted for the Key, but Buffy protected her too well.

As if this wasn't enough, Buffy's mother died. Joyce, the kindest person I've ever known next to Buffy, was taken from this world by an aneurism left from the brain tumor she'd fought so bravely against. Buffy called me and told me and she didn't even have to ask. I ran back to be with her. To comfort her. And once again, we reinforced why I'd left. We were dangerous together. So, I left again.

I hadn't been faring much better than Buffy, though. Before the death of Buffy's mother, I had been dealing with the resurrection of my sire, Darla, as a human. Wolfram and Hart had brought her back to torment me. They and Darla put me through hell. Eventually, Darla's original sickness…. Syphilis…. Had come back where it had left off. Wolfram and Hart brought in Drusilla to change Darla back to her former self in front of me. That had sent me over the edge. I went to a very dark place that I couldn't find my way out of.

I fired my friends, abandoned my life, and went on a quest to destroy Darla, Drusilla, and Wolfram and Hart. Eventually I hit rock bottom and came back to my senses. It was a long and hard journey back, but I made it.

Only to be sideswiped with the most devastating news I had ever received in my entire existence. Buffy was dead. She'd been killed saving her sister and the world from Glory. My long and hard climb back from rock bottom was suddenly nothing and I was back there again. I left my friends and LA and hid for four months in a monastery in Sri Lanka. It turned out they were life sucking Shur-hod demons. (Buffy's telling me to add in that it was her way of kicking me in the butt and getting me back to my life.)

Learning to move on and deal with the loss of her was a lot, but I managed with the help of my friends. Of course, I should've known death wasn't a permanent thing with Buffy. Especially when she had a friend who was as powerful as Willow. They brought her back and I didn't hesitate to go to her. I had to hold her. I had to make sure she was real.

But when I saw her, everything fell apart.

The look in her eyes told me everything.

They'd yanked her from Heaven, not Hell.

She was beyond miserable. I really don't think there was a word for what she was. And it hurt more than I could put into words that I couldn't help her. I spent four days and nights talking to her and holding her, but it didn't help. There was nothing I could really say or do to ease the pain over what her friends had done to her. Over the peace she had lost to come back to this cruel hard world.

When I returned to my life in LA, the backlash from my time at rock bottom hit hard. I had thought to lose my soul in Darla and end it that way, but she wasn't happiness for me. (I guess I wasn't really trying because somewhere inside my mind, I knew that.) Nine months after that night, she came back into my life pregnant with my child. Vampires can't have children, but somehow, she was pregnant with my child. And it wasn't a demon she was carrying, it was a human.

A boy.

My son. His soul fed her and made her a temporarily better person. She sacrificed herself to bring him into this world.

Connor.

My beautiful son Connor.

I was suddenly a single father at 248. My first thoughts were to run to Buffy and ask her to be his mother, but I couldn't do that to her. She was dealing with so much, I couldn't add that to her. It would've been selfish. So I dealt with it on my own.

In the midst of the birth of my son, a man from my past came back to haunt me. Daniel Holtz. He wanted revenge for what Darla and I had done to his family and he'd gone to a demon for help. Truthfully, I can't blame him for wanting revenge on Angelus, but I wasn't Angelus any longer. His misguided attempts at revenge coupled with the demon behind his return to this world, Sahjhan's dealings with a prophecy, it turned my friend Wesley against me. On top of that, Wolfram and Hart had been spiking my blood with my son's.

Wesley became convinced I was going to kill Connor, so he went to Holtz and together they made a plan to steal Connor from me. Wesley was double crossed and Holtz ended up kidnapping my son with his partner Justine. I found all of this out almost too late. When I caught up with them, Wolfram and Hart was already there to take my son from Holtz. Somewhere in all the chaos, Sahjhan showed up and opened a rip in the fabric of reality.

Quar-toth.

Holtz ran with my son and took him to hell. I tried to stop him, but I was too slow. I tried everything I could to get him back, but everything failed. Here was rock bottom once again.

But only two weeks later, my son returned. He was a 17 year old boy hell bent on destroying me, but how could I have blamed him? He was raised by a man that hated me in a place like Quar-toth. He had every right to hate me too, really.

Holtz, in a final act of revenge against me, had his partner Justine kill him and blame it on me. When Connor found out, he came after me. He and Justine tied me up with steel cables, put me in a metal coffin, and sunk me to the bottom of the Pacific Ocean.

All the while, Buffy was dealing with a betrayal of her own. She'd gone to a very dark place of her own (and I will not talk about what she did in that time) and when she returned from it, she found her life in ruins. Xander had left his fiancée, Anya, at the alter. Willow had become addicted to magic. Tara had left Willow. And Dawn had become a kleptomaniac.

As she tried to put the pieces back together, a silly boy with a gun came and ruined Willow's life. He shot Buffy and accidentally shot and killed Tara right in front of Willow. Willow, who had been recovering from the magics, lost it. She absorbed all the magic books in Giles' Magic Shop and went on a mission to destroy the world, flaying alive the boy who had killed her Tara.

"Allie!" Edward's voice came floating up the stairs.

Allie jumped and slammed the journal shut. She was very confused by what she was reading. According to this journal, her mother was some sort of vampire slayer and her father was a…. vampire. It had to be just a story that her mother and father had made up, right? They were going to make this a book.

"There you are." Edward came over and stopped dead when he saw the journal. "Where did you find that?"

"In a box with mom's name on it. There were pictures and drawings and then…. This." Allie stood up and held the journal up. "Do you know what's in this?"

"Yes."

"You do?" Allie looked at the journal. "When have you seen this?"

"I found it…. Just after mom…. I asked dad about it when we got back from uncle Xander's and he…."

"What? Eddie, he what?"

"He told me it was all true. Every word."

"But this is…. Well, crazy talk is what it is!"

"It's not. It's all true. Uncle Xander and aunt Willow and aunt Dawn…. They all told me the same story."

"How can this be true? I mean…. Vampires? Slayers? Mom and dad!"

"How far have you gotten?"

"What?"

"In the journal. How far have you gotten?"

"Uh…. Apparently aunt Willow is a super witch and she flayed some guy alive for killing a woman named Tara. Now I sound crazy!"

"It's not crazy, Allie. It's our family history."

"This isn't family history, Eddie! This is a horrific fairy tale."

"Yes, it is. But it's mom and dad's horrific fairy tale. They went through a lot just to even be together, let alone have us." Edward sighed. "I really wish dad had told you about it."

"This can't be true."

"It is, Allie. Would you just trust me?"

"But…."

"They never talked about their past to us and with good reason. Mom had dad write this about two weeks before the accident. She had intended to show it to us when we were old enough, but…. The last entry in that journal…." Edward sighed and looked away. "Just finish it, Allie. You need to know the truth, ok?"

"Eddie…."

"I'll finish this. Just…. Go in your old room and finish reading it."

Allie stared at her older brother for a long moment. She could tell he was serious. "Fine. I'll finish it."

"Thank you."

Allie sighed and went down to the second floor, opening the door to her old room. It was still the dark pink and purple she'd left it as at nineteen. Her father had never had the heart to change it. She went over to the overstuffed chair and ottoman and curled up. Turning on the light on the table beside her, she flipped through the pages to find where she'd left off and began to read again.

After that, Giles took Willow back to England with him so she could learn to cope with her magics with a coven he knew there. Buffy discovered that she no longer needed to protect Dawn from the world. She embraced the grown up Dawn was becoming and embraced the new life ahead of her. She finally learned how to live again and not just exist.

Me, however, I was left at the bottom of the Pacific for three months. I found my mind drifting a lot first to Cordelia, whom I had started to believe I was in love with, and then back to Buffy. I imagined all of these scenarios where I had never left her the night of her graduation, or I had never had the Powers change me back to a vampire, or I had gone to Buffy with Connor and asked her to be his mother…. Those three months, I began to miss Buffy even more than usual.

When Wesley found me, I was delirious. I hadn't eaten in three months and the starvation had nearly driven me mad. But I fought back. I fought the insanity because I knew that someday I would go back to the arms of the one I loved and fight with her and I had to be around for that.

When I returned home, Connor had been living with my friends. They didn't know what he'd done until Wesley had informed them. I also found out that Cordelia was missing. Once I got back on my feet, I went searching for Cordelia. While Connor was dumping me in the ocean, Cordelia had apparently been promoted to a higher power. She was on a different plane watching over us.

Things seemed to settle down for us in LA, but in Sunnydale, they were just getting started. Back when Buffy was a senior in high school, around Christmas, the First had reared its ugly head and had tried to get me to kill myself. Buffy had managed to save me with a little help from the Powers That Be. Now, the First was back and attacking the Slayer line. Potential Slayers all over the world were being targeted and killed along with their Watchers. Giles managed to save some of the files from the Watcher's Council in England just before it was blown up. He brought the first of many potentials to Buffy's house for protection and guidance.

Things in LA eventually picked up. Cordelia was back, but she had no memories of who she was. Somewhere in the midst of it, a new big bad came into town. The Beast. Apparently I had known him, but I didn't remember it. I had known him as Angelus. So, to get the memories out of me, and an effort by the Beast's master to bring even more chaos, I agreed to release Angelus. Of course, he got out and Faith had to be called in. I had made them promise to leave Buffy out of it. She didn't need to deal with everything she was going through and her worst nightmare at the same time.

Faith managed to capture Angelus and get him back in his cage where he belonged with a little help from Willow. Once that was all over and Faith returned to Sunnydale to help Buffy, Cordelia revealed she was pregnant by my son, Connor. I had known there had been something going on between the two of them, but this was beyond my wildest dreams. Not to mention they had only had sex only weeks before and not months.

It turned out that Cordelia wasn't Cordelia at all. She was infested by a Power That Was and the thing she was pregnant with was that Power that had seeped its way into every fiber of her being. I went to stop the birth and kill Cordelia, but I was too late. The thing was born. We called her Jasmine. She had some power of mind control. Everyone, with just a simple look, worshipped her. She took away our free will.

Out of my group of friends, Fred saw it first. She'd been working on getting blood out of Jasmine's shirt and it had seeped into her blood stream. Jasmine's blood was the key to breaking that spell. Fred ran for a few days and finally managed to bring me over with a bullet first to Jasmine's chest and then into mine. Eventually we figured out that Cordelia's blood worked just as well and we brought over Gunn, Wesley, and Lorne too.

I thought to bring over Connor as well, not knowing he could already see her true face. That he wasn't under her thrall. We became fugitives then. Running from Jasmine who could see and use everyone and everything that was under her influence. Wesley found a way into a world she'd previously conquered and I went there in search of a way to be rid of her.

The only way to break her spell without bleeding Cordelia to death was to reveal Jasmine's true name. I found the keeper of Jasmine's name and returned just in time for her world debut. The spell was broken over her. Unfortunately it caused chaos in the streets and a deep depression welled inside my son. I went out to stop Jasmine from doing something drastic, but it was Connor that destroyed her.

The sadness in his eyes just before he ran off broke my heart.

When I returned to the Hyperion in search of Connor, Lilah was waiting with an offer. She was going to give me the keys to Wolfram and Hart's LA branch. I hadn't planned on taking it until I saw Connor on TV. He'd taken innocent people…. families hostage in a department store. I made the deal with Wolfram and Hart and I gave up my son. I erased his memories and placed him in a loving home. All he knew was that he was loved and he'd never experienced the hell I'd put him through.

As for Buffy in Sunnydale, the battle with the First heated up. She was facing an army of ancient vampires called Turok-Han that were extremely hard to kill. Wolfram and Hart had also given me a file and an amulet to help Buffy, so I took it to her in Sunnydale. She was in the middle of a fight with a demonic preacher named Caleb. She won, of course. I gave her the file and the amulet and I had intended on fighting with her, but Buffy had a different idea.

I was to be her second front. If she couldn't defeat the First, the army of Turok-Han would spread. I didn't want to leave her, but she was right. Before I left, though, I asked her about our future. I had to. She made up some silly metaphor about cookie dough and needing to bake before she could even think about the future, but as I was walking away

It was not a silly metaphor. It was a brilliant metaphor, thank you. –Buffy

As I was walking away, she told me that she did think about the future, but it would be a long time coming. I smiled and told her that I wasn't getting any older.

Then you melted into the shadows. It always annoyed me that you could do that. -Buffy

She won the battle by using the essence of her scythe and turning all the potential Slayers in the world into the real thing. Suddenly she was no longer The Chosen One. She was A Chosen One. This began a new era in her life as she went around the world searching for the Slayers she and Willow had made. She took over an army of Slayers and taught them and guided them through the hardships of being a Slayer.

At Wolfram and Hart, I kept tabs on Buffy, making sure she was ok while I tried to bring down the law firm that had been such a pain in my side for years. Unfortunately, another pain in my side turned up.

Spike.

Buffy had given him the amulet and he had ended up destroying the Hellmouth as the Slayers fought around him. I'll give him credit for the hero part of it, but I still believe it was to win Buffy back.

He did it because it was the right thing to do. I was very proud of him. –Buffy

Sure.

Anyway, the amulet was somehow returned to Wolfram and Hart, and with it came ghost Spike. He was trapped by the amulet and couldn't leave LA. So, I had to deal with this pesty ghost shadowing myself and my friends. Eventually he was made solid again and sent the universe into a crazy tail spin. Apparently, the Shanshu prophecy only allowed for one vampire with a soul to gain a reward. Since Spike had died saving the world, it gave him the credit to qualify for the prophecy. We had it out, but we'd apparently been had by Lindsey McDonald and his girlfriend Eve.

After that, Cordelia came out of her coma. (Or so we thought.) She helped me stop Lindsey and Eve and got me back on the right path. She transferred her visions to me and the first thing I saw was how to win the battle against Wolfram and Hart.

Unfortunately, a virus infected Fred not long after we lost Cordelia. It was the essence of an Old One. A demon named Illyria. It infected Fred and ate up everything that had ever been my friend Winifred Burkle. Its world was destroyed, though, so it had nowhere to go. Wesley took it in and decided to…. I don't know…. Train it, I suppose.

I decided not to let Fred's death be just another sad, random event. I used her death to get into bed with the Circle of the Black Thorn. The Senior Partner's eyes, ears, and hands on this plane. I made my friends believe I'd gone bad. Eventually, they discovered what was happening and I brought them in on my plan.

We were going to destroy every member of the Black Thorn and bring down the wrath of the Senior Partners. I didn't think we'd make it out alive, but Connor…. Who'd regained his memories thanks to Wesley…. He couldn't let us be destroyed. He went and found Buffy and explained everything that had happened.

She brought her army of Slayers, the ones that were ready anyway, and she helped us win the battle. We lost friends, though.

Gunn was killed.

Wesley was killed.

Spike was killed.

Giles was killed.

A lot of the Slayers were killed.

But we won. At the cost of family members, we won.

After we grieved our lost loved ones, Connor and I went on to fight with the army of Slayers and Buffy. I became her closest confidant and ally. Together, we were a force to be reckoned with once again. We worked hard to keep our relationship professional until we were ready for more, but it was so hard. We found ourselves in situations together that made it difficult not to want the other.

Finally, Willow and Connor came to us with a plan. Our army of Slayers had grown to thousands. We had enough to take on the second Hellmouth. Once that was shut, the demons of this world wouldn't stand a chance. So, once the plans were laid down completely and we'd assembled our army, we took on the second Hellmouth. Buffy and Willow opened it up and, much like the first battle in the Hellmouth of Sunnydale, we destroyed anything that crawled out of it. We lost a lot of good Slayers, Willow's girlfriend Kennedy among them, but we managed to close the Hellmouth. Buffy and I had to be carried out. We'd been beaten pretty badly.

When I woke up, things were different. I had a heartbeat. Blood flowed through my once cold veins. I had gotten my Shanshu.

I was human.

Of course, waking up to the wounds I had wasn't pleasant, but I was human for the first time in almost 300 years, so it didn't matter as much as it should have.

Unfortunately, Buffy was worse, even with her Slayer healing. Willow said her heart had stopped twice before they'd gotten her to the Slayer hospital. Xander had kept up a steady stream of CPR just to keep her alive. I stayed by her side day and night. I couldn't enjoy anything about being human until she was awake.

It took two weeks for her to recover and when she did…. She didn't know who she was or who I was…. Nothing. She was a blank. Amnesia. The doctors said that she would regain her memory in time, but they weren't sure how long it would take. I stayed with her every minute. It was hard to remind her who she had once been. I considered not telling her about the supernatural world she'd lived in, but in the end I couldn't lie to her. Being the Slayer was such a big part of who she was, I couldn't tell her about herself without telling her about the supernatural.

She didn't believe me, of course. Hell, I wouldn't have believed me. I sounded crazy. But Willow and Xander…. Even my son Connor had told her the same thing and she finally got over her fear of her old life. It took almost a full year before she began to regain her memories. I'll never forget the night she came running into my room crying because she'd just remembered that I was supposed to be a vampire and now I was human. Of course, I'd told her all about this, but she couldn't connect to it because she didn't remember it.

Now she did.

It took her only a month for her to regain all of her memories. It was almost like a flood for her. Once that first memory had come rushing in, the rest were quick to follow. We waited until she'd regained everything of herself before we talked about finally being together. I had waited years to be with her and it was finally going to happen.

I took her to dinner and a movie for our first real date. It was the first time food had actually tasted good to me since I'd become human again. We savored every bite of every meal we had together. I finally loved the taste of food. Since Buffy was still the head of the Council, she had to travel and make sure her Slayers were ok and that the demon and vampire population was being contained. I went with her of course and we got to relish in all the different cultures together.

It was in Italy, six months after our first date, in a gondola through the watery streets of Venice that I asked her to marry me. We had been having a romantic dinner on the gondola with the gondolier serenading us the whole time. I was so nervous, though I knew I had no reason to be. The ring was in my coat pocket and it felt like a twenty pound weight there. Buffy was oblivious, I think. I tried my hardest to act normal, but as soon as the Rialto Bridge came into sight, Buffy finally noticed how jittery I was. She asked if I'd had caffeine right as we came to the bridge. As we drifted underneath, I dropped to one knee and asked her to be my wife.

It wasn't a big wedding. Neither of us had ever really dreamed of a big blowout wedding. Besides, we didn't have time. The Slayers needed Buffy and I needed her too. Since I didn't have a steady job to keep me in one place, I followed my wife everywhere she went. Connor joined us every now and then, but he'd managed to settle down in England helping Willow out there. Buffy had managed to win him over and he'd given up his perfect life with his false parents to join the good fight once again. It pleased both Buffy and myself that I could finally share the world with my son.

(I can also add that all this traveling around the world to the world's most famous cities awoke a love for history in Buffy. It was something she'd never really been interested in. I was very excited to finally get to share my love of history with her.)

While we were in St. Petersburg, an American art collector named Michael Shork spotted me drawing in Sosnovka Park. He seemed to love my work and bought a few of my drawings. He told his friends about my drawings and soon I had orders coming in for all different types of things. Buffy encouraged me to pursue drawing as a career, so I did. Every city we went to, I found a quiet place to draw the things around me or even some famous landmarks. I called Mr. Shork and he helped me put together an art show in New York City. It wasn't long before I was making some serious money at drawing.

Buffy and I had talked about children, but with my drawing career taking off and Buffy being so busy with her Slayers and she was still fighting, we decided not to try for children. It didn't stop her from getting pregnant, though. We were both stunned, but happy.

We started to make plans to settle down somewhere so we could begin our family properly, but when Buffy was fourteen weeks along, she miscarried. It was a devastating blow to both of us. We decided to try again, our busy lives be damned. We'd gotten a taste of family life and we wanted more.

Slayers weren't meant to carry children, so when Buffy had gotten pregnant….

We thought the worst when she miscarried two more times. I tried to reassure her that we could always adopt, but she was determined to have a child of her own. We went to so many doctors, I lost count. It was a demon doctor who finally managed to help her get pregnant.

We walked on eggshells for weeks, terrified the pregnancy would miscarry like the others. When she made it into her fifth month, we started to relax. We started to decorate the nursery finally.

Our son Edward Alexander O'Donnell was born on October 25th, 2014. Buffy was 33 years old and I…. Well, we were telling the world that I was 35, but really it was more like 287. Edward brought so much happiness into our lives. He was such a joyful baby. He only cried a little and that was mostly just to get our attention. Buffy fawned over him night and day. She couldn't believe that he was ours. After all those years of heartbreak, hell, and loss, we had finally made a family together.

Buffy finally left the Council in the capable hands of Faith, Willow, and Connor. She had no intention of missing any moment with our son. Now she followed me everywhere I went. Edward loved all the different sights he got to see as he grew up. He learned to crawl in Barcelona, Spain. He said his first word, "mama", in Montepulciano, Italy. He took his first steps on the grass in front of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France. He rode his first bike at his aunt Willow's house outside of London. Our son's life was littered with culture, history, and love.

Eventually, when it was time for Edward to start school, we had to settle down somewhere. Buffy chose Greenwich, Connecticut. It was a beautiful town and our home was Buffy's pride and joy. The Normandy style house with its seven bedrooms and 5 bathrooms was surrounded with enchanting scenery. Buffy had turned the place into a private oasis for our family. Edward and Buffy had three acres of grounds to play on that were laced with gardens, sprawling trees, and thousands of flowers. She had a heated pool installed and had a pool house built that was complete with a changing room, a powder room, and an exterior shower. She had stone terraces built to extend from the main house to support all of our outdoor entertaining since I had a flare for the grill.

It was exactly the type of place she'd always wanted and she'd made it hers. Buffy loved our house almost as much as she loved her family. She took so many pictures of it that in the process, she discovered a love for photography. Her favorite subjects, of course, were her house and her son. I hated having my picture taken, but she managed to get a few of me in.

I was glad that Buffy had found something to occupy her time while Edward was at school and I was away working on drawings for my buyers. I tried not to stray too far from my family for too long. I loved being home for supper and hearing Edward telling me all about what he'd done in school that day. I loved helping Buffy put him to bed and then curling up in our den in front of the fire and going through all the pictures Buffy had taken.For the first time in my long existence, I was settled and happy. I didn't think things could get any better for Buffy and I. We'd been through so much in our lives. Of course, I was wrong as Buffy usually likes to point out. She came home one day and she was…. Glowing is the only word I can think of. She was lit up from some inner radiance. I thought she'd just sold some pictures or had plans for the house, but it was so much more.

She told me she was pregnant with our second child. We hadn't planned for it, but the news was amazing.

But the news was also tinged with a hint of apprehension. The fear of another miscarriage hung over us. Buffy spent a lot of time at the doctor's and staying home and trying to relax. It was like we held our breaths for the next fourteen weeks. When we went in on the 22nd week, the doctor assured us our daughter was strong and healthy.

Our daughter.

We were having a girl. We were over the moon. Buffy had told me one night while we were laying in bed almost terrified to move that she hoped we were having a girl. She wanted a girl and I admitted that I wanted a girl as well. We got our wish.

Buffy got to pick out our daughter's name since I picked out our son's. Allison Joyce O'Donnell. We would call her Allie (because Buffy loved The Notebook; she'd had to buy a new copy of it since her old one had fallen apart she'd read it so much). Allie's middle name was to honor her grandmother that she would never meet.

Buffy went into labor six weeks early in the dead of winter. Our little Allie came into the world on January 25th. She was rushed away from us since she wasn't breathing. Buffy and I worried for two hours while the doctors worked to keep our daughter alive. We spent a month in the hospital with Allie before she was released to come home.

Edward loved his little sister from the first moment he saw her through the walls of the incubator. When we brought Allie home, Edward followed Buffy around everywhere. He learned to change diapers and he learned how to hold her and feed her. As he and Buffy walked around the gardens, Edward told Allie all about the flowers and about how much she would love growing up in the house because it was magical. He was the best big brother a sister could ask for.

After a few months of having Allie home, Buffy encouraged me to get back to my drawings. She had started to take pictures again, so I went back to work. Again I tried not to go too far from the house. I didn't want to miss a moment of my daughter's life. We fell back into our familiar routine and it felt even more magical with Allie around. She loved the water. Buffy would take her into the pool in summertime and let her splash in the water in her little float.

As our kids got older, they fell in love with the snow. Buffy had chosen our home because there would be snow in the winter time. She hadn't had that growing up and she'd wanted our children to be able to have the experience. Winter was the whole family's favorite time of the year. It was when uncle Xander and aunt Willow would come home for a visit. And Connor would come as well as Faith. It was a real family affair. Not to mention it gave Buffy an excuse to decorate our house even further. We always had two Christmas trees and our yard was always decorated with lights and a couple of lighted reindeer.

When Allie was four, she decided that she didn't like Buffy's decorating of the Christmas tree in the den. So, while Buffy was checking on dinner, Allie redecorated the bottom of the tree and demanded that Buffy fix the top half. Apparently a decorating addiction runs in the genes of the Summers women. Joyce had always liked to decorate and redecorate things. Especially the Christmas trees.

Now our kids are six and fourteen and they couldn't be happier. I'm a successful artist and Buffy is a successful photographer and sometimes decorator. I like to tease Buffy that we need a dog and a white picket fence to complete the American dream. She always replies that a picket fence wouldn't go with our house and that I'm the one who refuses to get a dog. (With two kids and two successful careers, I don't see how we would have time to train a dog too.)

It's called a dog training class. –Buffy

Allie flipped through two pages of photos of dogs that her mother had apparently wanted to get. Five of the pictures were Boston terriers that her mother had dubbed Galway. Now Allie understood why her father had struggled to find, buy, and train their Boston terrier that they'd named Galway. Her mother had wanted that dog. It had been a way for him and the kids to be close to Buffy.

Allie sighed as she turned the page and saw the date.

October 7th, 2028

Faith and Willow have called with an emergency with a demon. I didn't want Buffy to go, but she insisted that she "still had a calling". I've got such a bad feeling about this. After almost 300 years, I've learned to trust my feelings. It was the first real fight Buffy and I have had in a long time. The kids are outside running around with a few of their friends and I'm sitting here waiting for Buffy to call me. She promised that she would call me as soon as everything was settled.

October 8th, 2028

I haven't heard from Buffy. I'm really worried. Her cell phone is turned off.

October 9th, 2028

Willow called. She's…. Something happened….

There were tears that had stained the pages here and made them crinkly. Allie tried to keep from adding her tears, but it was a struggle. She didn't remember too much about what had happened to her mother. All anyone had told her was that it was an accident. A fatal car crash. Edward had taken it so hard and he'd turned ugly. Allie remembered her utter devotion to her brother and when her mother died, she had been angry at her mother because her dying had turned Edward mean.

Allie wiped at the tears and turned the page.

January 24th, 2029

It's almost Allie's birthday. I finally brought the kids home after three months at Xander's. I missed them, but I couldn't let them see me like this. I couldn't let them be absorbed in my grief too. It's taken everything I have not to be drowned by it.

She's gone.

Faith had to tell me what happened.

The demon had been too strong. She had been too out of practice. It was one wrong move in the wrong direction and…. Willow had tried to save her, but….

I begged Willow to bring her back, but she said there was no way. The last time they had brought her back, the urn had been destroyed. There were no more out there. I begged Willow to bring her back any way she could, but she told me it wasn't what she would have wanted. She was at peace last time and Willow couldn't bring her back from that again even if she could.

Edward is so upset. He's acting out. He's been suspended from school for fighting. He's never been violent a day in his life. His grades are starting to slip too.

She would be so upset with him.

I told the kids that she'd been in a car accident. We had decided long ago to keep our past from them until they were ready. They didn't need to know about all of that until they were both much older and more mentally prepared to deal with everything. Unfortunately, Edward found the journal in her office and asked me about it. I had to tell him. I couldn't lie to him about what he'd read. He didn't know what to think about it. Maybe it was a mistake to tell him. Maybe I should've told him it was a silly story his mother and I had made up.

I'm going to stow this away with the rest of her things. I don't want Allie ever finding out. She's so young and I only want her to have good memories of her mother. I'll put it all away because I can't bear to look at her face. I can't even utter her name without physical pain tearing apart my insides. For so long we'd tried to be together and we'd finally accomplished a life together.

It was too brief.

It was like a tease.

I don't know how I'll cope without her. If it wasn't for the kids…. They're my only saving grace in this dark new world. They're my life raft and I will do anything to make sure they grow up happy and healthy. Anything.

October 8th, 2072

I'm coming home to you, Buffy. It's past time for it. I couldn't leave them, but I know now that Edward and Allie will be ok without me. They have families of their own now and they don't need me to watch out for them anymore. We can finally watch over them together like we'd always planned.

I'll see you soon, love.

Allie jumped up and followed the sounds of movement. Her husband and son were there with Edward moving things around. Edward spotted her tear stained face and rushed over to her. He hugged her tightly as he led her out of the room.

"He wrote in it the day he died." Allie said. "Did you know that?"

"No." Edward took the journal and looked at the last page, reading the words their father had written the day he had died. An aged picture of their mother and father together was taped there next to their father's last entry. It was the last picture they had ever taken together.

"Eddie…. It's all true?"

"It's all true, pal."

"What they went through…."

"It makes everything seem different, right?"

"I used to be so mad at daddy for never talking about her. I never understood why he wouldn't. He loved her so much."

"And she loved him just as much."

"Why did she go? Why did she leave us?"

"I asked dad that once…. A long time ago…. And he said she went because the demon had found out about her family and it threatened to come after us. She couldn't let that happen."

"What did it want with us?"

"Revenge. Mom had destroyed most of its clan and it had finally found her. She couldn't let it come anywhere near us, so she went to it. But dad was right. She was too out of practice."

"She did it to save us?"

"Yes."

Allie sighed and stared at the journal her brother still held. "I can't sell this house, Eddie. Not after…. This place meant so much to her."

Edward smiled. "Now you know why I didn't want you to sell it."

"I can't rent it out to anyone."

"Then move in. Mom and dad wouldn't want this house to go to someone else. I think mom wanted our kids to get to live in it too. And their kids and their kids…."

"There's so many memories in this house…."

"And there's plenty room for more."

"I'd have to talk to Stephen."

Eddie smiled. "So go talk to him."

Allie smiled. "Thanks Eddie."

"For what?"

"For making me finish that journal."

Edward smiled. "Mom was a wonderful woman."

"I'm getting that now." Allie held up the journal. "I think I'm going to go read this again after I talk to Stephen." She nudged her brother with her shoulder and headed off to find her husband.

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