I've been believing in something so distant
As if I was human
And I've been denying this feeling of hopelessness
In me, in me

All the promises I made
Just to let you down
You believed in me, but I'm broken

I have nothing left
And all I feel is this cruel wanting

We've been falling for all this time
And now I'm lost in paradise

As much as I'd like the past not to exist
It still does
And as much as I'd like to feel like I belong here
I'm just as scared as you

I have nothing left
And all I feel is this cruel wanting

We've been falling for all this time
And now I'm lost in paradise

Run away, run away
One day we won't feel this pain anymore

Take it all away
Shadows of you
Cause they won't let me go

Until I have nothing left
And all I feel is this cruel wanting

We've been falling for all this time
And now I'm lost in paradise

Alone, and lost in paradise

~Lost In Paradise

"I hope you realise this is bending the rules again, but I just had to…..," Mom sighs heavily. "It's funny – well not funny - even knowing what I know, I'm upset. I'm hoping you can be more open-minded. I already know that you are, far more than we ever were." She stops speaking to pace back and forth in front of me. "I want you to listen, to pay attention. I know it's going to be rough to hear the truth. Hell, I could barely listen to it.

"But maybe, one day, you can forgive. You have such great capacity for that. Not sure where you got that from. It certainly wasn't either of your parents."

I wake, tears streaming down my cheeks, dread, fear and something far more deep seeded tearing at me.

"Buffy?" always beside me now, Angel reaches to wipe at the tears I can't seem to stop.

"I dunno. Another dream," I can barely speak through the pain I can't explain. "My mom, she was talking."

That grabs his attention, "tell me what she said?"

Still hiccuping I can barely get the words out, and I have no idea why I'm so upset. "She said something about keeping an open mind, that maybe one day I can forgive.. . whatever it is I'm about to find out and it's not good."

I climb out of bed feeling cheated again. Yet another night and I wake up in this state. It's like we're not allowed to have a quiet night and a morning of happy peace.

Instead I'm a total wreck, padding to the bathroom, bawling for some unknown reason; yet knowing that something horrible is about to happen.


Holy shit I know that voice! I'm barely even dressed from our 'conserve water shower' when I hear the familiar voice calling from downstairs.

I rush headlong though the hallway and down the stairs, almost colliding with Dawny in my rush.

"Dad!" we both scream at the same time.

Yet something is wrong. He's standing at total ease in the middle of the hotel – in the middle of a group of Potentials, Vampires and Demons. I stop just in front of him as Dawn rushes headlong into his embrace.

I realise I' a dumb blond, but this is completely wrong.

Dawn finally steps back and he looks at me – and I know that look. I also know what Lorne is standing behind me, in his direct line of sight, yet my Dad is not phased.

That horrible feeling from this morning returns. I'm shaking before he opens his mouth to explain. "How?" is the best I seem to be able to articulate.

"Buffy, there are some things I need to tell you, to explain," he sighs deeply, nervously, stepping away from Dawn who immediately sidles over towards Giles and Spike.

It dawns on me – in a suffocating rush. "You knew?!"

"I've always known," he admits slowly. "I was, in fact a member of the council until just after you hit puberty." I think he still holds some pride in that statement.

Angel is behind me, Giles jaw is literally on the floor – and I've seen that man shocked before – this goes beyond.

I can't seem to breathe as I gawk at him. "You sent me to a mental institute when you knew all this was true? You let that happen?!" I want to scream, but I can't seem to pull in enough oxygen. I feel like someone has dropped a 4 storey building on my chest.

"You have to understand…" he begins again.

"I want you to listen, to pay attention, " I close my eyes trying to get a grip as I hear Mom's voice again. The dream now makes sense.

"They knew," Dad continues. "I wasn't permitted to be your Watcher, I had to let you go, to pay the price so that you could be everything…"

"They needed me to be," my tone sounds flat even to my ears. Inside I'm freaking, feelings of betrayal the likes of which I have never experienced flood me. It's all too much, too fast.

"I have to get out of here," I can't stand the looks of the potentials, of my so called father.

"It's too dangerous," Angel grabs my arm as I make a beeline for the door.

I can't seem to think, "then take me somewhere."

"Spike," it's an order.

"Nibblet?" Spike is becoming more of a mother then I could ever have been.

"I'll stay with Giles." I've never heard such a desolate tone from her. One quick look and I believe she will stay with him without a doubt.

I glance at my Father as Angel leads Spike and I quickly towards the stairs, to the tunnels under the hotel – to anywhere but here.

We hit the tunnels and I find myself running full out, tears blurring my way as I bounce off walls. I know the guys are behind me somewhere, but I can't be bothered to care where, or if I'm leaving them behind.

Why? What's the point of all this? Every time I think I have a small grasp, someone pulls the rug out from under me and drops me in a vat of acid. The most painful kind.

I trip over something on the ground, falling to my knees – but I don't even feel it as I hit the ground. How could he? How could he let us suffer like this, turn a completely blind eye to everything going on around him? To watch his family torn apart when he could have easily saved us all this heart break.

Angel's wrapped me in his arms. I can't hear anything over my own thoughts and tears. Lost in this blind hysteria of betrayal.

"Buffy," I hear my Mom's voice.

"Jesus," Angel quietly whispers, amasement clear in his tone.

I turn to find my Mom, real and crouching in front of me. "Mommy." I shift from him to my Mother. Gods I feel like I'm 10 yrs old. Completely drowning.

"Buffy, my daughter, my only real daughter." That strikes a nerve, I guess she would know the truth now. "There are so many reasons for why things transpired as they have. You know this, deep down, beyond the fact that he's your biological father – he did what he HAD to do."

Hello brain, thank you for beginning to function again. In all the odd situations - the one where my dead mother is kneeling on the bottom of a concrete tunnel with me, with my two vampires, is the situation where it all begins to make sense.

"Chosen One," this must be bad for the female Oracle to show herself again. She's crouching beside my Mother, as close as she can get with Mom and Angel hovering. "The path was chosen long before the bodies were conceived. You know of this."

"I know, but why does it always have to be like this?" Christ I sound like a whiny child.

She smiles sadly – I knew I preferred her over the guy. She seems to have some understanding of the turmoil. "Because without the trials, without Angelus having been the vampire he was, he could not be the man before you now." Even she said 'man'. "Without all the trials you had and will continue to endure, you could not endure the coming challenges."

"Who can I trust now…"

"Trust those who have been by your side since the beginning," she casually interrupts me. "The man at your side we have already informed you will be your greatest asset."

She said 'man' again. Funny how my brain completely comprehends when it comes to Angel. "Thank you." Is there really anything more I can say?

"I believe you have 3 powerful men at your disposal."

Did my Mother actually say that? I glance up at her from my place between her and Angel. "Jesus, Mother, only you could make it sound like that." But I can't help but smile as she smirks knowingly back.

I look around, the female Oracle seems to have vanished; "She's gone," Angel confirms.

I sniff, still feeling like a small, lost child, brush my hair from my eyes. "How do you cope?" I direct the question at my Mother.

"Slowly, carefully and only after knowing all the facts." She shakes her head, "I least I know you inherited my impetuousness."

"And your stubborn streak..."

"Which is a good thing," she finishes my sentence for me. She stands slowly, bringing me to my feet in front of her. "You need to back and listen to him. No, it won't be easy to hear – but you need to. Let him explain, let him give you the information he has. He *can* help you."

I hate when she makes sense. I nod begrudgingly. I know she's right . Technically he's another Watcher who can help us.

But still, it hurts, hurts more than killing Angel.

"Buffy," my Mom brings my attention back to her. "You're beautiful, and intelligent – don't let him tear your heart out. You've gone through too much to lose that now." I nod once, tears still streaming down my face. I can't seem to stop them no matter how hard I try, or how calm my brain feels.

She engulfs me in a more then needed hug. "I miss you, Mom."

"I know, I miss you too, Baby. I'm always watching now."

It feels so good to hear it, I know there's a Heaven and one day I'll see her there again.

"I love you, Buffy and am so proud of you." She kisses me on the lips and dissipates.