Out of Heaven
I take out my plane ticket, look it over and wonder for the thousandth time whether or not I'm doing the right thing.
I know Buffy is relying too heavily on me and I know she will never stand on her own as long as I stay here to support her. When I first realized what was going on I had no doubts about what I had to do but my certainty was shaken when she revealed where she had been. That was a major shock and I couldn't help but blame myself for not seeing what was happening right in front of me. I knew almost from the moment I saw her that she was hiding something, that something was wrong, but I was too happy just having her back to give it much thought. My daughter was back and that was all that mattered until I realized I couldn't allow her to be my little girl any more... and that's why I'm leaving but before I do that I have one phone call to make. I have a son I must say goodbye to.
The phone rings a couple of times and then I get an answering machine. I really dislike those devices and I consider the possibility of just hanging up and calling back later but I decide to leave a message hoping that maybe Blair is there and will decide to pick up the phone. I get lucky for once and he does. As soon as he hears my voice he immediately asks me what's wrong. That surprises me. We've known each other for less than a year and yet,even at a distance, he can read me better than people I've known my whole life. Of course, it's not just me. Blair has a way with people, I saw it the first time he came to Sunnydale in how he connected with the children, especially with Buffy. She had been almost lost inside herself then too.
I explain to him everything that has happened, relieved because for once I feel like there is someone I can turn to, someone I don't have to be the adult with --which is ridiculous considering that both Spike and Anya are several times older than I am, but the idea of turning to either one of them for advice is totally absurd.
At first Blair is understanding, especially when I tell him that Buffy had been in Heaven. He doesn't sound all that surprised about that, it's almost as if he might have known. It is when I tell him about the fact that I'm leaving that things change. For the first time I hear Blair truly angry, or maybe disappointed, and I realize something else I missed along with his teenage years: I have never had my son yelling at me before.
"Are you nuts? You can't leave her now. She needs you."
"She needs to stand on her own. She needs to take responsibility for herself and her sister."
"No she doesn't. I don't care what the law says about her being an adult, she's not ready."
"It is her responsibility."
"Let me ask you something, dad. Forget about the fact that she was recently torn from Heaven and is struggling to come to terms with that, forget about her duty as the Slayer and tell me, when you were twenty, would you have been able to do what you are asking her to do? Would you have been able to support yourself and a younger sibling? Would you have been able to provide for a child's needs both physical and psychological on your own, with no adult support whatsoever?"
I try to imagine myself in that position and while I would love to delude myself believing that I could have done it, the mere thought of Ripper being responsible for taking care of a hamster, let alone a child, is terrifying.
"No, I wouldn't have been able to do it, but..."
"Then let me ask you something else. If Buffy had been raised by her Watcher, like most Slayers, would her Watcher have deserted her at some point because she had reached a certain age and was deemed legally to be an adult?"
"No, of course not, a Watcher is expected to take care of his Slayer for as long as he lives, or rather for as long as she lives. Watchers are more likely to survive their Slayers than the other way around."
"And what happens to the Slayer if she survives her Watcher? Would she then be left to fend for herself?"
"No, in that case the Council would assign her a new Watcher who would then take over. Pretty much like I did when Merrick died."
"So Slayers are usually isolated from their families to allow them, almost force them, to remain focused on their duty to the exclusion of everything else, right?"
"Yes, you could say that."
"And yet you expect Buffy to take care of herself, her sister and the whole world while trying to earn a living. What's she supposed to do? Flip burgers between apocalypses?"
"No, of course not, but..."
"Then stay. You once told me that you had always believed your Slayer would be your only daughter, well then act like her father and take care of her. Help her out. Yes, Dawn is not your daughter, not by birth, but you are the closest thing to a parent that child has right now... as a matter of fact, if I remember correctly, Dawn has never even really seen her so-called biological father and Buffy is her sister, not her mother. Their mother's absence does nothing to change that fact. The most you can hope to achieve by leaving is the creation of an even greater vacuum, your absence won't help them fill the void... and remember that that's not the only problem you have there and those two are not my only sisters."
"What do you mean?"
"As bad as the situation with Buffy and Dawn is, I'm just as worried about what's happening with Willow."
"Think about it. She just found out that she pulled her best friend out of Heaven, that's a lot of guilt for someone to deal with and with everyone else dealing with their own issues she has no one left to turn to. In addition to that there's also the little fact that you told me that she is messing with some very powerful and dark magic. She needs someone there to make sure that she is in control of her power and not the other way around. Tara is a great girl but from what I've heard so far it seems to me that magic-wise Willow has left her behind and you know it. There's no turning back, she has the power and she needs someone who can teach her how to handle it. Pretending that her power just isn't there won't help."
"I'm not sure I have that kind of power either." I remind him. I'm aware of just how fast Willow's power has grown and the truth is that it frightens me sometimes.
"All the more reason for you to stay there to keep an eye on what's going on. I have the feeling that if things are left unchecked someone will wind up dead, and that would be the best case scenario. A group of kids most of whom don't even qualify as twentysomethings --plus a teenager, a vampire and a former demon-- trying to deal with these things on their own while they hold literally the future of the whole world in their hands would be a recipe for disaster."
"You may have a point there."
"So you'll stay?"
"I'll stay, at least for now."
"OK, I'll stay. So how did you get so wise?" I say trying to break the tension, and maybe learn a little more about my son's past.
"I'm not wise, just worried. Buffy is the Slayer and I believe that as such she has more than enough stuff to deal with as it is without you leaving and adding to that burden... and I think maybe because I don't know her so well I may be able to see something you can't, or maybe it is something you've been trained to ignore."
"A scared little girl stuck in the body of a mystical warrior and trying desperately to be brave."
I have to smile at that description even as I consider just how much truth there may be to that statement. Blair has appointed himself as my Slayer's overprotective big brother and he takes his role quite seriously. "Will you and Jim come for a visit? I'm sure Buffy would like that."
"As soon as we can get some time off. Part of me still can't believe she's back. I missed her."
"So did I."
After I hang up the phone I take out my plane ticket once more, I look it over one last time and then smiling I tear it into a thousand pieces, grateful that Buffy won't ever know how close I came to leaving her.