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Crazy is Just A Choice

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Chapter 31

 

Two and half years later

 

“Good lord, Joy! Get down from there!” I yelled.

 

“It fun!” She screamed back at me.  She was standing on Ken’s shoulders.  Kennedy was holding her knees like that was a perfectly safe position for her to be in.

 

“No worries, Momma. I’ve got reflexes like a jungle cat,” Kennedy said, grinning more like a jackass than any cat I’d ever seen.

 

“Like cat,” my daughter repeated, smiling.

 

After Joy’s first birthday, I’d at least relaxed a little.  I mean we’d had run-ins.  The child of two slayers did not go unnoticed.  A stray vamp here and there… a couple of demons… but we’d stamped them out pretty quickly.  We hadn’t faced the big bad yet.  Of course, it was getting closer every day. 

 

Everyone was “looking into it.”  Which basically meant that we spent all of our free time researching ways to defeat Ate. We still weren’t even sure what we were up against.  How or what she’d try… it was hard not to think about it.

 

Besides the day-to-day threats of some evil being trying to harm my child, there was always Kennedy to worry about.  She was always scooping her up.  Throwing her in the air. Letting her stand on her goddamn shoulders. It was enough to give me a heart attack. 
 

“Please do me a favor… and put her two feet back on solid ground, before I kick your ass.” I told K.

 

“You absolutely suck the fun out of everything.” Kennedy said.  But she did put her down.

 

Joy ran up to me.  She was passed that stage where she waddled all baby like and for a three year old she was fast. Her dark hair was pulled back in a loose ponytail (thank B for that one, cause her hair caused me nothing but nightmares) and it was falling in her face.  She hit my knees and wrapped her arms around my legs.

 

“Wook at my shoes,” she said holding out her feet.  “Wights!”

 

I bent over and scooped her up.  “I know. They’re awesome, huh?” I hated those freaking shoes.

 

She nodded wisely and pushed her hair out of her eyes.  “Kennie is fun.  I wanna wide again.”

 

“No way, Jose.” I told her.

 

Kennedy sauntered up to me.  “And who do you love?” She asked Joy.

 

“Kennie!” Joy said, clapping her hands.

 

Oh for the love of all that was holy.  It was impossible to leave her alone with Ken for more than a few seconds at a time. I was pretty sure her brainwashing would be the death of me.

 

I rolled my eyes at Kennedy.  “You know that annoys me.”

 

She patted me on the back.  “She gets annoyed by everything. Doesn’t she?” She asked my daughter.

 

Joy nodded again like she understood any of what we were fucking saying. She was wiggling in my arms and I hated it.  She used to be completely content with me carrying her everywhere.  It would worry B because she was afraid she’d never learn to walk. But she was walking by nine months old. And after she got her balance, she was running.  And trust me, she could run.

 

“I want down,” she mumbled, struggling against me.

 

“Nope. Give me a hug.” I squeezed her to me. “And maybe if you give me a kiss too, I’ll let you down.”

 

She put her little arms around my neck and leaned back.  She was staring me in the eyes.  Trying to figure out if she should believe me or not, I guessed. “Okay, momma.” She relented and hugged me and kissed me on the cheek.  “Bedder?”

 

I pretended to think about it for a minute. “I guess…” I told her when she started wiggling like crazy.  I bent over and sat her back down on the ground.  She took off before I could even stand back up.  “Wait!” I yelled after her.  “You can’t run off!”

 

She stopped and put her little hand on her hip.  Her bottom lip was stuck out. Fucking Buffy and her mannerisms. “I not goin anywhere.”

 

“Right, like I believe that.” I said, motioning for her to come back. “You’re stuck with me and Ken until your mommy gets back.”

 


 

B, Red, and Dawn had gone into town.  Joy’s birthday was tomorrow and they were plotting something ridiculous and most likely dangerous.  Like a fucking bouncy house or something.  Obviously something that our kid and everyone else’s could break their freaking necks in. Even though we couldn’t let her out of our sight, she still had friends. There were several other slayers with kids around her age.  There was always someone running around the castle with her.  I would’ve preferred a low-key birthday party but nothing with Buffy was low-key. Hence those retarded light up shoes she was wearing.  Every damn demon trying to get her just had to follow the freaking blinking lights running at top speed. Of course, they’d have to catch her and good luck with that one…

 

She narrowed her eyes at me like she was contemplating running off anyway. She turned around and looked at the pond (the first place she always ran) and back at me.  “I…” she started.

 

“Don’t even think about.” I said, walking over to her.  “If you wanna go down there, you know we have to go with you.”

 

She was still pouting.  “There’s Uncle Xandy.” She got Xander and Andy’s name confused.  I think she thought they were one person.  Which did nothing but amuse the shit out of K and me. She pointed to them. I’m not sure what the fuck they were doing. Probably just getting out of the castle.  That place could make you go crazy.

 

“So?” I asked her.

 

She huffed like I was annoying.  Seriously, I wished I cared.  “Come on,” she said grabbing my hand.  She grabbed Ken’s hand too. “Can we swing?” She asked, running and fucking jumping anyway. 

 

We picked her and swung her up and down all the way to the pond.  It was her favorite thing to do.  I refrained from telling K not to dislocate her shoulder and shit. No need to share my paranoia with the whole world.

 

When we got down there, I could tell they were arguing.

 

“It shouldn’t be this close to the pond.  That’s a liability,” Xander was saying.  He jumped when he saw me.  “Oh hey Faith!” Okay, he was hedging.

 

“What shouldn’t be this close to the pond?” I asked him.

 

“A tree!” Andy rushed out. 

 

“Why would a tree be a liability?  What kind of tree is it?” What were these two up to was the better question probably.

 

“Oh you know how trees are….” Xander said.

 

Right. “What the hell are you two doing?” I asked them.

 

Xander ignored me and scooped up Joy.  “Ready for your party, birthday girl?  You’re gonna be three whole years old tomorrow.  That’s a record.  You’ve never been three before.”

 

She nodded at him.  “Yep. And I getting….” And Ken put her hand over her mouth.

 

I eyed them. “Wait a second, getting what?” I didn’t like where this was going.

 

“Nothing. Nothing,” Andy said. “She’s getting a cake, right?”

 

Joy nodded. Ken’s hand still over her mouth. “Mmm-hmm.” Ken let go. “And …” And hand back over mouth.

 

“Oh hell no,” I said, moving Ken’s hand.  “And what else?”

 

Now she realized I wasn’t supposed to know.  Great. She was looking at the three of them and they were so obviously shaking their heads no it was ridiculous. Like I couldn’t fucking see them and shit.  “Nuthin,” she smiled at me.

 

I took her from Xander and sat her down on the ground.  I bent down to her level.  “What are you getting?”

 

She clapped her hands.  “Cake. And princess house!” She squealed and the clapped her hand over her mouth.   

 

The three of them groaned.

 

Oh no way. We’d talked about this. She did not need a playhouse the size of my first damn apartment.  With stairs. And a slide.  And little rooms where she could fall down. Or an evil tiny demon could hide. B and I had gone round and round about it.  I thought I’d fucking won that one. I should’ve known better.

 

I stood up. “You three jackasses know this?”

 

They all looked around.  Still hedging. Bastards.

 

Ken shrugged. “Maybe.  But you can’t freak out, Faith.  It’s not a big deal.”

 

“Playhouses are dangerous.  I told B that…”

 

Xander put his hand on my arm.  “It’s not like we’re gonna make her sleep in it or anything.”

 

She jumped up and down.  “Can I sweep it in?” Shit. I was gonna kill them. Right after I killed B.

 

See here was the thing about the kid… it wasn’t like she courted danger or anything, but we needed to be honest, she sure as hell could find it easy. Once when we’d turned our backs for a split second, she’d climbed the damn tree in the backyard. Before we could get her, she’d hurled herself out of it and landed on her feet… like a fucking cat, but that’s beside the point.  She could hide in tight little spaces and we’d spend hours (okay possibly more like a few minutes – it just always felt like hours) looking for her.  And she’d be curled up asleep in one of the damn closets on the other side of the freaking castle.  Give her something sticky and it would be in her damn hair. She’d climbed through the railings on the staircase.  On top of every damn cabinet, bookshelf, dresser, etc. she could fucking find. She was into everything. All the time.  Food.  Paint. Play-doh.  It didn’t freaking matter.  She was always making a mess and hiding it.  Getting into some kind of trouble.  Giving her a house to play in all to herself would be like giving a terrorist a bomb. In fact, I was beyond certain that if we weren’t standing out here with her right now, she’d have hurled herself in the fucking pond and taken a dip.  It was a freaking full-time job keeping up with her. 

 


 

Before I could choke all three of them, B and Red walked down from the castle.

 

“Mommy!” Joy screamed and took off running.  “Where’s Dawnie???” She asked, looking around.  The kid loved Dawn. Possibly because she spoiled her rotten.

 

“Inside wrapping someone’s birthday present,” B answered, scooping her up and kissing her on the nose.  “Did you miss me?”

 

Joy nodded. “Momma’s mad. We in trouble,” she said making her little frowny face and then pointing to the three jackasses standing in front of me.

 

Buffy scrunched her face up at me.  “What’s wrong?”

 

I glared at her.

 

B looked at the rest of them and raised her eyebrow.

 

Ken held up her hands.  “She’s the one that told,” she said, pointing to Joy. 

 

Red rolled her eyes.  “You just threw a three year old under the bus, Kennedy.” She said.  She took Joy from Buffy.  “You’re gonna have so much fun tomorrow.”

 

“I knowed!” Joy said, clapping her hands.

 

B walked over to me.  “Faith…” she started.

 

I held up my hand.  “Nope. Don’t even.  I can’t believe you.” I couldn’t help how mad I was. I mean we’d fucking talked about this. “What the hell is wrong with getting the kid a doll or something?” 

 

“Oh! A doll?” She asked.

 

B eyed me like great, now I have to go back to town.  Well, sucks to be her I guessed.  “Faith, you’re being irrational.  Normally it’s cute… but, come on….” She tried pouting. “It’s just a playhouse. It’s not like we got her a motorcycle or anything.”

 

Motorcycle… ugh.  See here’s another thing. I didn’t have one. Because I couldn’t. Because Buffy wouldn’t let me. Because it was fucking dangerous and I’d get hurt and you’d leave me all alone to take care of our daughter… and blah blah fucking blah.  So even though I’d always wanted one.  Had my fucking eye on one for six months now… a Ducati Panigale fucking superbike (that’d I’d finally, finally talked G into letting me get)… she’d pouted and whined like a baby till I freaking relented. 

 

She saw my face fall and knew she’d hit a nerve.  “Oh come on baby… that’s not the same thing.  You know that.”

 

I shook my head.  “Not gonna work.” You know what, fuck this.  “I haven’t gotten Joy’s present yet...”

 

Buffy looked confused.  “What? But I was getting it. We’d talked about that.”

 

“No. You got her a damn playhouse. So… I have to get her something.” I smirked at her and walked over to Red.  I kissed J on the cheek.  “Momma’s goin out. I’ll be back tonight. Love ya, suga bug.”

 

“Faith, wait…” B started.

 

“Nope, I’ll be back tonight.  Have fun putting your house together,” I called behind me.  Two could play this fucking game. 

 


 

“So the thing is… I can’t take it tonight.  You’ve gotta deliver.” I told the guy standing in front me.

 

“No problem miss. I’ll be there at one o’clock.” He answered.  “You sure this is what you want.  You seemed a little hesitant last week.”

 

I smiled at him. “Just be there at one,” I told him, handing him the cash.

 

He took it from me and smiled. “You’re going to be trouble, aren’t you?”

 

I smiled at him before climbing back in the car.  “A whole shitload,” I told him, before shutting the door,

 

So what… B was gonna kill me. It was worth it.

 


I made one more stop and then decided to go have a drink at the local pub before heading back home.  There was no way I was getting roped into putting that freaking house together. I’d let them deal with that.

 

As soon as I did get back to the castle, B pounced.  “Where’ve you been?” She asked.  She wrapped her arms around my neck and kissed me. 

 

I kissed her back.  “Town,” I answered.

 

“And? What’d you get?” She pouted.

 

“A drink,” I shrugged.  She was not getting shit outta me.

 

“You got our daughter a drink?”

 

I ignored her question.  “Where’s J?”

 

She followed me into the library.  “Upstairs with Giles. He’s reading her a book about thirteenth century ghouls.”

 

“So, she’ll be asleep in about ten minutes?”

 

She smiled. “If she’s not already.”

 

“Good, she’s gotta big day tomorrow.  What with that freaking house-sized, tarped monstrosity I saw out by the pond just now.” I said, moving past her.

 

“Faithie, you’re still not mad about that are you?” She whined.  “You know she’ll be fine…”

 

I shrugged. “Whatever.  Not much I can do about it now.”

 

She walked up behind me and wrapped her arms around my waist.  She kissed the back of my neck.  “Whatcha get today?”

 

I hated when she did that.  Well actually I loved it, but no way was she getting me to tell her a damn thing. “I told ya.  I got a drink.  I was just getting out of helping put that thing together.”

 

She moved in front of me and looked me in the eyes.  “I don’t believe you.”

 

I shrugged. “Sucks.” I moved past her and walked up the stairs.

 

Giles was holding Joy in his lap, glasses perched on his nose.  He had the book he was reading propped on the armrest. J was fast asleep.

 

“What’s up, Poppy?” I asked him.

 

“Faith, I truly wish you’d refrain from calling me that.” He moved the book so I could take Joy from him.

 

I laughed. “Not gonna happen.”

 

He sighed. “Of course not.” He smiled at my girl. “She just fell asleep.”

 

I picked up the book he was reading.  “Ghouls? Seriously?”

 

“She quite enjoys the pictures,” he said. 

 

I opened the book and inside the front cover was a picture of some monster with fangs the size of my arm.  Jesus. “Dude…” I said, handing the book back from him.

 

He looked at the picture.  “Oh those things are harmless.  They’re the size of a very small child.”

 

Great, I thought.  Just big enough to fit in that fucking playhouse.  Joy wiggled in my arms a bit and threw her arm around my neck.  “Oh well, I guess we should go to bed.”

 

“Right. Good night.  Big day tomorrow.” He got up and turned off the light.

 

“Yep,” I answered, walking out the door.  “Can’t freaking wait.”

 

 


 

 

Twenty-seven screaming kids.  Twenty-seven. I didn’t know we knew twenty-seven kids.

 

“Who the hell are all these monsters?” Ken asked.

 

I shrugged. “Not a freaking clue.”

 

The birthday party started at twelve.  That was about thirty minutes ago.  I kept staring at my watch. 

 

“What are you waiting on?” Ken asked.

 

“Nothing.” She was not in on my little secret.  Hell no.  She’d felt the need to keep that fucking playhouse from me.

 

And what a fucking playhouse it was.  Seriously, like I said… the thing was bigger than my first place in Sunnydale. Which, okay… wasn’t that big, but it was way too damn big for a three year old.

 

And here was the biggest kicker of all – it was pink.  With freaking purple trim.  No shit.  When they’d taken the tarp off, Joy’s big green eyes lit up like she’d just been given a giant ass pink and purple house.  Really… there was no better metaphor.  She squealed like the little chick she was and ran straight to the slide and started crawling up it.  Completely freaking backwards… trouble and all.

 

And seriously, I couldn’t tell you how hard it was not to scream ‘Stop’ or whatever. But B had given me the death stare that basically said you aren’t getting laid for a month if you say a word… and well, I’d learned my lesson there last year.  So… mum’s the word. I’d just sit back and let her fall backwards, headfirst right the fuck back down it…like she’d just done…. Damn it.

 

I went to get her, and Ken grabbed my arm. “Stop, she’s fine.” 

 

I followed her gaze towards the kids gathered round her.  She was giggling.  Then she got back and did it right the fuck over again.

 

“Oh my good god.  Is there booze around here anywhere?” I moaned.

 

“I tried, but Will was all no, you are not drinking at Joy’s party…” She shrugged her shoulders.  “Sorry.”

 

“It’s okay,” I said following J with my eyes tumbling along the top of the staircase. “I’ll just sit back and wait for the concussion.”

 

B and Red walked up to us.

 

“What are you two doing?” Willow asked.  “You look like you’re conspiring.”

 

“Nothing,” we both mumbled.

 

“Any luck?” B asked Ken. 

 

K shook her head.  “She’s tight-lipped. Sorry princess, I tried.”

 

Buffy patted her on the shoulder.  “Thanks.”

 

Aww, fuck that. I hated when they pulled that shit. I did not get their fucking relationship.  A lesser person would have already killed them.  So checks in my column and all.

 

“I don’t know what you’re getting at B.  There is nothing going on.  Why are you being so damn paranoid?” And Joy just jumped off the top of the staircase. I was seriously not going to make it through this day.

 

“Are you kidding me?” She started laughing.  “You’re calling me paranoid.  That’s the funniest thing I’ve heard all day.”

 

“Laugh it up, slayer.” I motioned to the kid with my head.  “Cause when she breaks a bone somewhere, I’m making you sit up with her monkey ass.”

 

She put her arms around me and pulled me to her.  “I love that you’re protective.  But she’s a slayer baby.  You know she’s fine.”

 

She was most likely right.  But there was no way to be sure.  What were we supposed to do? Put her through extensive tests and shit?  We had not way of knowing how strong she was… well, except for the fact that she continuously would throw herself off the highest thing in the room, bounce around on the floor a bit, and then get the hell up and do it all over again.

 

I had a new respect for my mother at least.

 

“Oh, look who’s here, Joy…” B called.

 

I turned and followed her gaze.  Satsu. Welcome back, mixed feelings.

 

So the kid… she loved the chick.  She always brought her some wicked ass toy from wherever the hell it was she’d been that month or whatever.  And she wasn’t as careless as Ken with her.  Mostly because my threats of killing her slowly when she threw Joy in the air were actually true, but she listened.  But she still had a major thing for B.  So… I tolerated her. And that was fucking enough… cause no one ever said I was a damn saint.

 

“Sat,” Joy called, running up to her. 

 

“Happy birthday, snuggle bug,” she said, hugging her.  “I’ve missed you.” She pulled a doll from behind her back. “I got you a new friend for your birthday. Her name is Mika.”

 

“Thank you very much,” Joy said, just like she and B practiced for two hours this morning.

 

B and Red ran over to greet her. So did the rest of the merry Scooby gang. Well… except K. I rolled my eyes at her. She nodded.  We shared at least one common dislike.

 

“Maybe I could sneak a couple of beers in a cup or something,” she whispered to me.

 

I nodded at her.  “You possibly should, because there’s about to be cake.”

 

Giles walked up to us.  “There are a lot of children here.  I didn’t know this many slayers had children.  Where have I been?”

 

We both shrugged.  “Same place we have. I don’t know how they keep up with all of this,” I told him.  “B remembers everyone’s name.  It’s freaky weird.”

 

“Oh well, good for her,” he turned already ignoring me.  “Ah, cake!” He said, leaving us standing there. Traitor.

 

Andy was wheeling some monstrosity of a cake towards the party.  It looked just like the damn house she got. I had to admit that it was impressive.

 

“Holy shit…” I said to Kennedy.

 

She rolled her eyes.  “How do you know nothing that is going on around here?  He’s been working on that thing for three days.”

 

I smacked her in the arm.  “He hid it from me I’m assuming.  Because it’s shaped like the fucking present she wasn’t supposed to get….”

 

“Oh, yeah.”

 


 

All the little kids sang happy birthday to her.  I’ll spare you the details of Happy Birfday, because you know little kids can’t make that sound yet… but it was cute.  And it was immortalized forever on two digital recorders (Xander and Dawn) and three cameras (Red, B, and Giles).  So we wouldn’t forget, B said.

 

Ken had been able to secretly scoot away though and get us two beers in little cups with princesses on them.  But shit if I was gonna complain. 

 

I looked at my watch again.  It was one o’clock. And then I saw the guy walking towards us.  Dude was punctual. I handed my drink to Ken. “Be right back,” I said.

 

I left her standing there.  She was just about to ask me what the hell, but I gave her no time…

 

“This is awesome,” I said, when he handed me the box.

 

“I had my wife wrap it.  I thought it would be more of a surprise that way.  I left the rest of the stuff up by the door, like you said.”  He was smiling. He looked down at the party. “I’d ask which one’s yours, but it’s really obvious.”

 

J was swinging on Xander’s arm.  “Yeah, we look a lot alike, I hear.”

 

He nodded. “Well, I don’t want to keep you. Hope she likes her gift.”

 

I smiled at him.  “No worries.”

 

I was careful with the box as I walked back down.  I didn’t want to hurt anything. I also didn’t want Joy grabbing it out of my hands.

 

Everyone was watching me when I walked back to the party.

 

“No gift, huh?” B asked, her eyebrow cocked.  “What is that?”

 

I shrugged.

 

“Is that my pwesent?” Joy asked me, running up and of course, trying to fucking grab it.

 

I bent down carefully.  “Yeah. But you have to be careful.” The box was wrapped so that it just had a lid on it and she could take it off.  “See, just pull this off.”

 

Here’s the one time I was glad Giles had the camera out… cause her face was just about the best face I’d ever seen.  When she pulled the lid up, her eyes got so big… well, let’s just say I was numero uno right then.

 

She reached in and pulled it out.

 

“Gentle,” I said, holding her hands.

 

“Look mommy!!!” She turned to B, “I gotta puppy!!!” She was literally shaking she was so excited. She pulled the little golden retriever out carefully. “A puppy!!! A puppy!!!” I was holding the pup too. She was still a little thing.

 

“You’ve got to be careful.  She’s a baby,” I reminded her. 

 

And she was being.  She sat her down gently on the ground. She was petting her softly.  Some of the other kids ran up to see her.  She was a cute little thing.  Okay, so not many things make me coo… but come on, puppies were adorable.

 

I’d been to see the guy about a week earlier.  And I’d done my research.  We had a lot a room and I always wanted a dog.  And we needed one that was good with kids.  Even though B had said no like a thousand times. 

 

“Oh bloody hell,” Giles said.

 

I winked at him.

 

B was standing there in front of us, her mouth opening and closing.  I had never really gone completely against her wishes before. I guessed I’d sent her into a state of shock. 

 

“Oh my god!” Ken said, laughing.  “You are in so much trouble.” She bent down next to J.  “You love her already, don’t you bug?” She asked her.

 

“The most,” Joy said. 

 

I stood up and looked at B.  She still wasn’t speaking.  The rest of the gang bent down, fawning over the pup.  Let’s face it… none of us had had a pet.  Well I’d heard there was a cat once, but I couldn’t be sure…

 

“Faith,” B finally said. “Can I talk to you for a moment?”  She didn’t wait for me to answer before turning and walking away from the crowd.

 

‘Screwed,’ Ken mouthed at me. 

 

I made sure no one was looking before I flipped her off.  See, some things change.

 

The look B was giving me was quickly making me reconsider my decision.

 

“What…the…hell?” She asked.

 

I decided to go for innocent.  “What?”

 

“We so talked about this...” she said.  Okay, she was pissed.

 

“We talked about the fucking playhouse too, but that didn’t stop you.”

 

She frowned. “That’s different.”

 

I swear to god, fucking Buffy logic.  “How, twinkie?”

 

“It just is.” She was pouting.

 

“Aw, come on B… look at her.”

 

She followed my gaze.  Joy was sitting more still than we’d ever seen her.  The puppy was crawling on her lap, licking her face.  She was so happy she was grinning bigger than she had all day.

 

She rolled her eyes, but she was smiling.  “You’re in trouble.”

 

I put my arm around her.  “I’m always in trouble, Buffy. What’s new?”

 

She was still watching Joy.  “Nothing. I love you,” she whispered before kissing me on the cheek.

 

“So I did good?” I asked, kissing her back.

 

“No… you did well.” She grabbed my hand and started towards the group. I followed her.

 

Before we got down there though, she stopped and turned around.  “Do you see her, Faith?”

 

I looked past her at Joy.  She was sitting in Red’s lap still playing with the puppy.  Dawn and K were squatted next to them. “Yeah, she’s fine. Why?”

 

Buffy smiled up at me, but she had tears in her eyes.  “It’s just…” she started.

 

“Why are you crying, babe?  Is it the dog? Fuck… I’m sorry.” I pulled her to me.

 

She wrapped her arms around me.  “I’m happy, dork. Can’t I cry when I’m happy?”

 

I pulled her to me tighter.  “No. You can’t.  You freak me out when you cry.”

 

She giggled. “Did I tell you I loved you?”

 

“Yep. But you can tell me again.”

 

“Okay, I love you.” She wrapped her arm around my waist and looked over at J. “Thank you.”

 

“For what?”

 

“For everything.  For her. For you.  Just for everything.”

 

I bent down and kissed her again.  “I love you too, Buffy Summers.”  I held my breath. There was one more thing I picked up yesterday.  I wasn’t sure when I was going to pull it out, but hell… now was as good as a time as ever… “Reach in my pocket,” I told her.

 

“Why?” She wiggled her eyebrow at me.

 

“Just do it, gutter-mind.” I grabbed her hand and guided it to my front pocket.

 

She fiddled around a little bit.  Apparently I’d shoved it in there deep.  She was looking at me, trying to figure out what she was doing.  And then she felt it.  Her mouth made that little ‘O’ face.  “Oh my god….”

 

I guess it would have been more traditional if I’d gotten down on one knee. But when the hell did we ever do anything the traditional way… So I bent down and whispered in her ear. “Will you marry me?”

 

She gasped. It was a good sound at least. She was looking away from me at everyone. She was definitely in shock now.

 

I was still turned towards her, my lips against her ear. “Is that a yes?” I pulled the ring out of her hand and slipped it on her finger.

 

Then she turned and jumped in my arms and wrapped her legs around me. “Yes!”  She through her arms around my neck and kissed me… hard.

 

And I kissed her back.  I loved the way she would kiss me when she was excited.  It was close to one of the best feelings I’d ever had. Then I remembered… twenty-seven kids.  “Whoa. Let’s not give everyone a show.”

 

She nodded and got down.  “Oh my god.” She was staring at the ring.  It was a rock… I mean I knew some shit.  “I have to go show Will and Dawn,” she squealed, running off.  And then she turned around and ran back.  “I love you!  I love you!” She was as happy as Joy. “Will! Dawnie!” She squealed again, running off.

 


 

I stood where I was and watched her.  She was showing off.  Joy and Xandy (Xander and Andy) were busying following the puppy around the yard. Along with half the kids. Well the ones not swinging off the biggest playhouse in Scotland anyway.

 

Ken sauntered over.  “Goddamn it, Faith,” she said, scowling.

 

“What? Jealous?” I smiled at her.

 

“I totally will not hear the end of this.  First a baby… now a damn marriage… you are screwing up my game here.” She folded her arms. “Do you know what Willow’s gonna want now?”

 

I winked at her.  “Sorry.”

 

B looked over at me and waved.  Joy was rolling around with two doofuses and the dog.  I was the luckiest woman on the planet.

 

“I’m gonna forgive you…” she said.

 

“Why’s that?” I asked, turning toward her.

 

“Well… because you’re my best friend.” She slugged me.  “And because you kinda deserve it.”

 

I turned to look at her. “Wow, that may be the nicest thing you’ve ever said to me.”

 

“Aw, hell. Don’t let it go to your head.” She smiled.  “Seriously though, you kinda do.  I hope you got everything you wanted…” she added.

 

“Yeah,” I nodded.  I had. I knew there was something coming. There was always something coming. But… I knew you have to let some things just come or go… and I couldn’t walk around for the next decade and a half being worried about every little thing…

 

“…J! Don’t put the freaking puppy in the playhouse!”

 

Okay, well some things weren’t gonna change that easily.