Title:

Author: Kendra A. (kendraangelusslayer@yahoo.com) [http://blurred_ice.tripod.com]

Rating: PG-13

Disclaimer: The original Alonna—Gunn's sister—is not mine. Nor is anyone ever on either Buffy or Angel. I own nothing except this new Alonna and her feelings. Sue me not; I own not even the computer on which my work is saved.

Summary: Somewhere around twenty years in the future (the exact time doesn't matter much), Fred and Gunn's daughter contemplates some touchy subjects.

Pairings: Former Fred/Gunn, a little bit of Fred/Wesley, but nothing hands-on.

Warnings: When I say touchy subjects, I mean it. Some people really take this stuff seriously. What this fic is about is race and some of its effects. Don't like it? Don't read it.

Continuity: Um. Fred and Gunn have gotten together, Wesley and Lilah's torrid affair is acknowledged. I suppose that Connor returned from Quortoth unaged in this here ficcie, because I want him to be close-ish to Alonna's age. I'm not spoiling too much, here, I don't think.

Author's Notes: I realize that this fic might come off sounding… false? If it does, that's my own problem as an author, because I swear to God that every single one of these feelings is true. It's real, it exists, I know because I've got them. It's by no means a Mary Sue, but Alonna's character is based on me and some of my own internal debates. This was meant to be cathartic. I think some of the issues are important, and everything is 100% for real, so… Yes. Contemplate on that for a minute.

Additionally: No offense is meant to anyone by this fic.

Feedback: Esteemed in the highest, with the exception of flames. But even those can be interesting sometimes.

Sometimes, Alonna hated being black.

Well, no. That wasn't true. She'd never had a problem with her cinnamon-colored skin. She'd never really experienced that kind of discrimination that people talked about. She'd never been the butt of a racist joke, and she'd never felt… set apart… from the people around her.

Never, that is, until now.

Alonna hadn't ever really thought about how she and her mother looked together. Winifred Burkle had always sworn that they looked alike. Both of them had silky hair, knobby elbows, turn-up noses and a predisposition towards freckling; both of them had wide, easy smiles and big brown eyes, high cheekbones and a skinny body. A couple of times, when she was little, Alonna's friends had asked if she was adopted, but that straightforward method of asking questions had disappeared as they'd grown older, and Alonna had eventually forgotten.

No—not forgotten. Just buried in the backwaters of her mind and let rot until now.

The problem now was that Winifred Burkle was dating.

That in itself wasn't the problem. Charles Gunn had died in a police shooting when Alonna was eight, and perhaps back then she would have been angry that her mother was moving on, but now, at fifteen, older, taller and infinitely more wise, Alonna knew that Winifred deserved companionship as much as any other grown woman.

The problem wasn't who Winifred was dating, either—at least, not exactly. Wesley was a nice enough guy—certainly handsome, with a cute British accent even if it was dulled slightly by decades of living in the States—and his daughter, Julianna, wasn't bad. Alonna didn't know her well enough yet to say anything more concrete.

The problem, straight and simple, was that they were white. That was the problem.

Alonna hated it.

She wanted to like Wesley, because her mother obviously did, and Alonna wanted her mother to be happy. Julianna, though several years younger, seemed like an honestly nice girl, and Alonna didn't much mind the idea of becoming friends—or maybe even… stepsisters?—with her.

But the truth was, it was all of a sudden excruciatingly difficult to sit down around a table and be the only one there who was black. It was odd, being so aware of the color of her skin; Alonna had never truly thought about it before. It had never made a difference. She had never cared.

All of her family—excluding Uncle Lorne—was white. Funny how she'd never noticed it. Aunt Cordelia and Uncle Angel and their son, Connor; Winifred and all of the Burkles, back in Texas; all of the "family" in Sunnydale—Dawn, Buffy, Xander, Anya, Willow, Spike, Giles… None of them had ever treated her differently or anything, but still. Odd.

How would it look in the photo albums, with white white white everywhere, and one little black Alonna all alone?

God, it hurt. It was enough to make her cry. She'd find herself thinking about how she was the one who stood out, who didn't fit in, and her lips would press together and she'd get a tight feeling in her chest and she'd have to stop doing whatever it was she'd been occupied with and just try to calm herself down.

It wasn't fair. She wanted to belong, she wanted to fit in, and she found herself thinking things like why couldn't Mom have been black instead? She hated herself for it.

We look alike, Winifred had said. She still said it, all the time, as though she believed it. It made her so happy that her daughter had inherited her odd frail willowy looks and slender features. She didn't understand—like Alonna suddenly, forcefully did—how people didn't look at your features, they looked at your skin.

Alonna had started noticing things, like when she'd go places with all of her Burkle cousins in a group, strangers would assume she wasn't with them. When Winifred introduced Alonna to her physicist colleagues from UCLA, they'd all blink and look surprised when they realized that this was the daughter their Winifred talked about all the time.

She and Connor called each other cousin, and he would introduce her as his cousin to his friends. They'd all do a doubletake and would invariably ask, "You two are really cousins?" It wasn't because their features didn't match. It was because Connor was white and Alonna was black and that was all that people saw.

The thing that really made Alonna's stomach lurch was the idea that if Winifred's thing with Wesley became serious, and one day Alonna and Julianna and Wesley and Winifred were all out somewhere together, people would look at them and connect her mother and Wesley and little blonde Julianna and think family, while Alonna was bumped off to the side as friend. Or maybe even—Gods forbid—babysitter.

Wesley and Julianna didn't look alike at all. Winifred, who had met Julianna's mother—a woman who had used to be some hotshot lawyer for an old enemy of Uncle Angel's—said that Julianna had her square face and broad features and her blonde hair from that side of the family. Alonna didn't know, herself, but she knew that people would connect three white people who didn't look alike as a family unit more quickly than they would add her to the equation, as well.

It had probably made a little more sense to the innocent bystander when it had only been Alonna and Winifred. After all, there was the unknown factor of who the father had to have been. But now…

Alonna knew that two white parents did not one black daughter make.

She knew there was nothing wrong with being adopted. She knew that tons of people who were adopted were part of a well-adjusted family unit and in the long run it didn't matter, but damn it, she didn't want people to think she'd been adopted! She didn't want to be the odd one out, the mismatched piece of the puzzle, The Person That Didn't Fit.

But it looked like that was the way it was going to be. And this didn't seem strange to anyone else.

Alonna couldn't think of anyone she could talk to about this without feeling extremely awkward? Anyone in her family? She could see it now: "Sorry, but I've suddenly got this aversion to your whiteness…"

Not likely. Who could possibly understand not fitting in this way, suddenly realizing that you were different and that everyone had known but not really ever bothered to tell you? Who could understand her resentment towards the people she loved the most?

Alonna slowly forced herself to go over her options again. Winifred? No. Connor? Maybe he'd listen and not be hurt, but despite the differences he experienced with his pseudo-vampiric abilities, he wouldn't understand. Angel? Cordy? No, and no. The last one was…

Lorne.

The last member of their odd little family, the other one who didn't fit—he was green, for crying out loud. He must know—would he know? Maybe he'd think she was presumptuous or fresh or selfish.

But as Alonna thought about it, she realized that Lorne could never think that. Lorne was an empath—used to deciphering other people's feelings, used to helping out, used to listening.

Maybe he'd even known all along how she'd eventually feel. Maybe he wanted her to figure it out for herself.

Maybe he wanted someone to talk to, too.

- END -

So, what do you think? Is this a standalone, or should I sequel it and really get into the nitty-gritty? Is this good? Does it suck? (If it does, can you tell me more discreetly than that?) Do you believe it? Am I a big fat liar? Tell me what you're thinking right now. Please?