Mom

Mom

by A.j.

I met her young man today.

I never thought that my little girl would ever bring someone home. Don't get me wrong, I don't think my little girl is physically ugly or anything. Far from it. She's got her grandmother's looks. My mother's.

Momma used to say that my girl was blessed by the Old Ones both in beauty and spirit. For the longest time I didn't see it. The shy little moppet, that grew from the fiery baby she was, in no way resembled my mother's predictions. In fact, during her gawky stage, I was pretty sure mom had exaggerated. A lot.

I believe it now. When I look at my daughter, I... I am so proud of her. Over the last few months, I've seen her grow and bloom. Oh, she's still shy as a mouse, but underneath... My girl's come into her own. More than I knew.

But Momma did know. She said that the little one's hair was not just a coincidence. Mom always used to complain that I didn't inherit. She bitched and moaned from here until I conceived that the bloodline was dead, and I was betraying her and all our family stood for by marrying a "reformer." Only mom and gran would have called Ira Rosenburg, practising Jew, a "reformer." Very few people would call a Jew an upstart or "young in his beliefs." Hell, the religion is over 4,000 years old.

Of course when I brought any of that up, mom would snort and bring out our heritage. Yup, I was raised Pagan. Not too sightly for the wife of a man who is so Jewish the smell of bacon gives him hives. What can I say? I was in love. I still am.

Fortunately, mom settled down once my girl was on the way. She decided that she would even tolerate Ira. They had even started playing Mille Borne before mom died. Of course, the only reason Mom forgave him was because the line was continued, untainted. Ira forgave *her* because she stopped badgering him about putting up protective wards. (She did anyway, but he never knew.) And so peace was preserved in the McCallum/Rosenburg household.

My baby got the mark. Bright red peach-fuzz adorned her head from day one. Mom was over the moon. She'd been royally unpleased at my not receiving it. I got the same training, but it didn't stick quite as well as it could if I'd been marked. At least that was what mom said.

Well, Mom prophecied before she kicked the bucket. She said my baby would be the strongest the line had ever seen. She had the mark, plus she had the eyes. Mom said only very few descendants got both. Red and green. The commercial colours of the much celebrated Christian holiday. Little do they know what power those colours hold in a human, marked.

They are power. They show a line. They are Fey.

Wow. I've gotten completely off topic. My girl brought her young man home tonight, and might I say, he's quite a catch. Well, I wouldn't have a couple hours ago, but now.. He's all tall, dark, handsome and... IRISH!! Mom would have sprung something in joy. Well, if she hadn't incinerated him first. But if she'd let my daughter explain, she probably would have busted out in a fertility-spell-dance right in the middle of the living room, declaring that if either of them *ever* used a condom, the Old Ones would come and take large chunks out of their flesh. (Of course, she encouraged me to use them.) Who knows, maybe she wouldn't have tried to kill him in the first place.

He was polite too, considering. He kissed my hand. A *true* gentleman. Yeah, there was that little misunderstanding, but I'll get to that later. I don't think they're lovers yet. There isn't that *closeness* that happens after an intimate encounter. They will be soon, I hope. If they don't, I'm going to have a serious talk with my daughter. One just does not let a boy that good looking go.

Of course he isn't really a *boy.* This guy is a *man.* He better damn well be by now. She's a smart girl, mine is. Like I said, I'm proud of that little slip.

That's the other thing mom predicted. She swore up and down that my little one would be slight of stature. Sure as hell didn't feel like it when she came out. How that little thing (110 soaking wet!) was ever 11 pounds at birth... Ack. All I have to say is that I was *DAMN* glad I opted for drugs.

Before tonight, the only thing left to do was manifest. At least, that's what I thought. I'm glad she did the way she did though. There was some bad stuff going down in this town. Even for the suburbs. Why did we move here, again?

Oh, yeah. Mom. Dammit. That woman knew what she was doing, didn't she. Of course, for the longest time, I didn't see why she told we should come here. First I thought it was because of Xander. That boy is a sweet one, but if he were any denser, someone would come and use that brain for a new kind of radio-active fuel. I admit, my girl wasn't the most beautiful chickadee in the universe for most of her life, but !?!?! In the last two years... There've been times where I've just stopped myself to stare at my little one.

She is sooo pretty. Long red hair, bright green eyes, line features (pixie ears and strong but delicate cheekbones), and that tiny waist! For all's sake, if she weren't my daughter and I weren't completely in love with my dear husband, I'd have to stop myself from making a pass at her!

Dang. Off subject again. Her man. Right.

Well, to be completely truthful, she *has* brought someone home before. He was some kind of musician or something. He was nice enough. I don't quite remember what he looked like other than his hair colour seemed to change from meeting to meeting. He was smart though. He saw my girl for what she almost was.

I'm not really sure what happened to him. Something about a world tour. Hm. Musicians. Anyway, my baby wasn't too broken up about it ending. She was sad for awhile, but I think that deep down she knew he wasn't going to be around for the long run. He did well with her though. He gave her a confidence she had been missing. When they first started going out, she was passive and quiet, though she *had* improved considerably because of 'hanging out' with Buffy.

Now there's a subject I'm apprehensive to get into. Much as I thought she was a sweet girl, there was something definitely ... interesting about her. Mystical energy just seemed to converge around her. I was pretty surprised that with all that power flying around, my daughter's powers didn't emerge. Little did I know.

My daughter still misses that girl. Buffy was the first real female friend my girl ever had. Yeah, she had Xander and Jesse, but there are somethings girls just *can't* talk about with guys. Or their mother. What's more, Buffy was a good person. When she left... I really thought my baby wouldn't be able to take it. I think my daughter still believes she's alive. I pray she holds on to that hope, and that it isn't false.

Ack. I sincerely need to take a writing course. I *still* haven't gone into my meeting. That's pretty odd too. Something tells me it will go down in a couple history books as *the* worst first contact between a mother and a possible son-in-law.

Okay, I was sitting at home. I'd returned from a dentistry conference in Las Vegas (boring, yeah, but they pay's good.,.) the day before. Anyway, I was just sort of relaxing, something I don't get much time to do, and my baby just stuck her head in through the doorway.

"Mom?" She chirped. (Yes, my daughter is one of those annoyingly cheerful people.) "I was wondering if I could bring someone to meet you."

Still not really there (I was in a meditative state, leave me alone,) I did the kind of "Ehh...?" thing old people do.

Smiling indulgently, she repeated the question. This time, not wanting my girl the brat to have further smugness cause, I answered quite clearly. Well, actually, I rather turned on the 3rd degree. I get that way when disturbed.

"Who? Why? When? Should we wait until your father's home from China, and do I have to cook?" I love the whip tone.

"No, you don't have to cook, I'd prefer not yet, tonight, because I want you to, and ... well... Hm."

Something was going on.

"Who is it?"

My darling child moved further into our Spanish-style kitchen, and commenced shuffling. Now, my daughter is not one of those feet shuffling fools. She's a body shuffling-maniac. When she is nervous, her entire body curls up like a spring and shakes. It's kind of amusing. Well, it would be if she weren't so embarrassed.

Knowing she would continue like this for hours, I tried to put her out of her misery as quickly a possible. "A new friend? Boyfriend? Lover?" I'd thrown the last in just to make her giggle.

My sweet girl nearly fell over. I knew then it was going to be an interesting couple of hours.

"Um, uh, uh, nnh, w-w-well, n-no." It was pretty amusing watching her try and form a sentance. I mean *really*. Her face just sort of went completely limp; her jaw came to rest somewhere below her collar bone.

"W-w-well, um, he's kind of," she paused, scuffing her toe against the floor. I couldn't help it anymore. It was FUNNY. I swear, the fact that I held out as long as I did surprised me. I really tried to cover it. I did. Hand over mouth, arm over stomach, I tried to swallow it as best I could. It didn't work.

"Mom!" Oh, the look on her face set me off even more. It was all righteous indignation and teenage bluster. I was *not* reacting like she thought I should be reacting. Moms are supposed to be all prim and proper. I was supposed to be grilling her on her "activities," not laughing.

It was right here that I realized something. My daughter didn't know me at all. She expected me to react like the persona depicted on televison. For all that I can say about my mother, she *did* let me get to know her. This was one of the most stark realizations I've ever come to. Let's just say, it was more than enough to stop my laughter. Face serious, eyes somewhat tearful, I turned to her.

"Baby. It's about time."

If it weren't physically impossible, I would have SWORN her eyes widened further.

Okey, doke. Time for the "June Cleaver" 'tude. Instantly, I did the "body-soft-and-momish-eyes-glowy-and-comforting" thing. When you're a mom, you learn to do these things pretty quickly. This time though, I'm pretty sure I broke some kind of a record. Stretching my arms wide, I cahjoled her towards me.

"Come here, sweetie. Tell me all about the man who's stolen your heart."

***

Two hours later, I was feeling pretty good about life. From the stumbling broken sentances I could coax from my daughter, the young man I was going to be meeting was named Angel Boyle. He was older, financially independent, and (shock of all shocks,) they'd been dating for nearly a year. Hmph. Right around the time the rainbow-headed kid had gone the way of moon boots.

To be truthful, I wasn't too sure. What kind of name *is* Angel, anyway? Now Boyle is *definitely* a nice Irish name. That gave me a nice little buzz, I *have* to admit. Now, before you go off on me about "nationality stereotypes," remember, *I* married a Jewish man AGAINST my mother's wishes. I'd never wished and prayed that my baby would find a nice Irish boy and pump out chillun's. HOWEVER, given the opportunity, I *definitely* wouldn't object. My point (now that I've wandered *yet again*) is that with a name like Angel, I was bracing for a body-pierced nightmare.

Well, I didn't get the body piercings, but I sure go the nightmare.

It was when he walked in the front door I started to *seriously* have my doubts. Don't get me wrong, he *is* handsome. DAMN handsome. Dark hair, dark eyes, great shoulders. Let me put it this way, he'd look FUCKING GREAT in leather pants. Problem was, he had this sort of aura thing around him.

Hmph. Let me state here (again) that I am no great talent when it comes to aura detection. It was another of the powers Mom said skipped me by because I didn't get the mark. Thing is, I *was* trained in line magickary and am a mid-level adept. I may not be fantastic, but I'm adequate, and this guy's aura was screaming wrongness at me.

So, of course, after the formalities (hand kissing!!) I drug out the Mom attitude. I gave him a sharp looking over, deciding the only thing I could, un-supernaturally, call him on was his age. He appeared to be 27 or 28. Not exactly prime dating material for an 18 year old girl. So, with a solid dose of wariness, and not a little foreboding, I went to bat.

"Aren't you a little old for my daughter?"

His response was *definitely* not what I expected. Instead of blushing, wincing or even getting defensive, he laughed. Full, flat out, from-the-belly, laughed. Strange thing was, so did my daughter.

I was missing something here. I hate that.

"Willow. Sweetie?" Heehee. I love pulling out the ice-cold-IamyourmotherdoasIsayordie-voice. Even at the age of 18 my baby stops cold and nearly strains something coming to attention. I have that girl *trained.*

"Honey, go in the other room. I need to discuss something with... Angel?" I deliberately put a question mark at the end of that line. I was bound and determined to find out what was going on. Besides, it was fun watching that hunk squirm under my SUPERMOM scrutiny. Now I know why mom was such a happy bitch when I was young. This scaring your child stuff is a blast.

"Uh, sure, mom." She slunk out of the room, casting tentative glances in her man's direction, trying to reassure him he would be okay. HA!

As soon as I heard the den door click shut, I smiled. Evilly.

"Angel?"

Heehee. The tone worked with him too. Ram-rod straight, shoulders out, arms stiff at the sides. I should have been a drill sergeant. Of course that would have meant boot camp and years of physical labour.. nevermind.

"Yes ma'am." He kept his eyes straight ahead. I circled slowly around him, inspecting the man who wanted the right to date MY daughter. Of course what he didn't know was that I was really trying to read his aura.

Shit. I should have paid more attention to Tante Hilde during those lessons. Who knew the fate of my daughter's social life would fall into those rusty teachings? ::sigh::

I wasn't getting anywhere. Hmph. Direct approach time.

"Angel..." I stopped in front of him, just to his left. "...why is your aura tinged with black?"

He shot a startled and wary look at me. "What?"

Deciding Drill-Sergeant-Annie wasn't the best tone choice, I opted for one with less steel and more seriousness.

"Look. I love my daughter and trust her judgement, but I have a bit more experience with the world. Something is off about you and I won't give my permission on a relationship unless I have some sort of an explanation." Arms crossed, I stood, waiting for answer.

All I have to say is that if I thought this boy was squirming before! First, he started shifting foot to foot. Then his shoulders tensed. Then the head came down to the chest. He looked all the world like a coiling spring. As in my daughter's case, it would have been funny if it hadn't been so serious.

Then he sprang.

"Mrs. Rosenburg..." He sighed. Let me just say now that I adore guys who compose their thoughts. Ira is a prime example. He *never* says anything he doesn't think out completely first. Well, except when he's in bed, but that's fun and (usually) not serious.

"Mrs. Rosenburg, I just want to say that your daughter is the most important thing in my life." He paused here. It might have been for effect, but I didn't get that impression. It seemed like he was uncomfortable speaking for long amounts of time. Or *any* amount of time, for that matter. I don't think he does a lot of public speaking.

"She helped me through a very tough time in my life. She's amazing." I swear on all that is holy his eyes were glittering. Now, don't get me wrong. I'm as much a romantic-sop as the next girl, but his aura was still freaking me out a bit. You may not understand, but I'm a mom. My most basic instinct is to protect home, hearth and young. My girl's the only child I have. I don't want her getting hurt. I said as much. His answer..

"No one will ever harm your daughter. Not while I walk this earth."

The look in his eyes when he promised me that... I'll never forget it. I could see in his eyes that he would give up is very soul to protect my daughter. His tone never wavered, his eyes never disengaged. He believed *every* word he spoke.

Tough shit.

"Look, Angel, that's nice. Unfortunately, I don't really care."

It was like watching a balloon deflate. His entire body just sank in on itself. Shoulders drooped, back curved, and legs sagged. If he'd been a child, I would have lain bets that he'd have been in the fetal position. I, however, *didn't* back down. There I stood, doing my best Annie Oakley impression, ready and willing to do battle for my baby. I'm sure to an outsider it would have been fairly amusing. Here I am, all 5 feet 3 inches, staring down a 6'1" bulky man, *and* making him twitch.

"I am a mother. Whatever I was, whatever I will be, my top priority is my daughter." Trying to see if my point hit home, I caught his eye. Now, I'm not the kind of person who gets guilty easily. Hell, Momma wasn't even able to pull any kind of trip on me, past the age of thirteen. The only two people in the world who could *consistently* drop me at ten paces were my friend's mother, and my sophomore year shop teacher. Both of them currently reside in Kentucky. Looking into this man's eyes... It was like standing in front of Mr. De la Vega, trying to explain why I was three days behind on re-assembling his wife's car engine. This guy *knows* pain.

I am *so* not kidding. If there is such a thing as a walking bruise, this guy is *it.* How can psycho-mom tell all this, you're asking? Remember those aura lessons I skipped? Well that's because I was brushing up on my "inner-being" reading. Yup. I don't do it often, but when the subject's willing (and I'm nosy enough) I can deep scan with the best of them. It was the only thing that got mom off my back long enough to *meet* Ira.

I haven't done it to one of my daughter's friends though. It always seemed... invasive. Hell, aura stuff is basic and surface. It's one thing to squint your eyes and pick out colors, it's *quite* another to conciously stare into someone's deepest center. I knew I had to though.

"Angel..." It was time for the cold, reasonable tone. "I'm going to ask you something. Please be honest with me." I paused, trying to gather *my* thoughts. "My daughter doesn't know this.. We come from a long history, my family does. My lineage can be traced back nearly thirty generations, up my mother's side, to the McGlory's. We are line."

He knew. It surprised me a little, yes, but it also made thing simpler. If he knew what a line member was, then he would know something of our power.

"I see you have an inkling of what that means." I just had to ask. Call me bad, but I needed to know what he knew.

"I know." His voice held a new note of respect. "You are decended from fairies. You and your family claim ties to the white and Wild magics that banished the Evil ones."

"Very good. So you can understand me when I ask you, why is your aura black?"

That caught him. In his favor, he didn't shrink again. Hmm. When faced with an emotional jab, he is vunerable. Intimidation and Power bring out the armor. With a tone even more stern than those I'd excercised earlier in the evening, he issued a single command.

"Don't run. I won't hurt you."

He Changed.

Boom. Power that had been waiting YEARS exploded though my nerves. Every cell in my body awoke, screaming for what little Power I had in me to come to my aide. The mortal enemy of *every* line member was standing in front of me. Asking to date my daughter.

"Get Out." An electric charge snapped in front of me as I hissed the threat. My daugther had been dating a demon. You know, at the time, the only thought in my head (well, besides PROTECTKILLMAIM) was 'Mom must be laughing her ass off, where ever she is.'

Back to the electrical storm building in my living room.

Across from me, Angel hadn't moved an inch. His face was stone-still, eyes hard but accepting.

"We weren't going to tell you. Not about this."

"I can see why. Why are you still here? Get Out." A twitch of power here, a tug there... If he didn't leave in the next thirty seconds, he was gong to get his ass roasted by every ounce of power I had in me.

"Mrs. Rosenburg, you don't know everything. I'm not the demon, he's not me..."

"I don't care. GET OUT!" By this point, the room is buzzing with power. I was spitting mad and deeply mean. Fifteen seconds...

"MOM!! What's going on!?"

Damn do I have to work on that girl's timing. "Get BACK, Willow!" If she knew or not (and according to his earlier words she did,) it didn't matter. She didn't *know* the demons like I did. I'd trained for nearly 20 years to battle against these things. She could only know what *he* had told her.

"Baby, go back to the den. Mom's going to handle this..."

"No!" With strength a running back could admire, she came charging down the hall. She slammed into Angel so hard, she knocked him five feet to the side.. just enough to let him avoid my power ball.

Shit! Oh, dammit, kids and those damn romantic feelings! Arg. Other parents get the occasional smoker, or drinker. Me? I get a daughter who falls in love with someone who has a piece of ultimate evil inside of him. DAMMIT! Now I have to replace that new entertainment center I bought Ira for our last aniversary.

Hands on hips, eyes about a quarter-inch wide, I moved to stand over the two prone forms. I was seriously pissed off. Not only had my daughter ruined my plans to incinerate her boyfriend, she'd caused me to lose about $5,000 in electronical equiptment.

Charred bits of plastic and wire were still falling when Willow started to stir. I did give Angel some credit. He'd twisted during the blast so he'd taken the brunt of the explosion. He wasn't in very good shape. There were small bits of plastic and metal sticking out of his shirt, obviously impaled in his skin. Serves him right.

"Willow Anne Rosenburg. Get out from under him and stay away." You think the tone I used to get her out of the room was serious? This puppy coulda encased the sun in a permanent ice age. I used the time it took for Will to pull her self from under that *thing* to recharge. Come hell or bad coffee, he was going to be vacuum-filler by the end of the night.

Well, that was *my* plan, anyway. Apparently, not my daughter's.

I really didn't notice anything happening until the shock-wave knocked me into the far wall. It really wasn't a very pleasant experience. Hitting a hard wall at about 20 miles an hour is definitely *not* the way to stay conscious. It was an uphill fight to keep my eyes open, trying to see what had thrown me nearly 15 feet. The edges of my sight-line dimmed as I scanned the wreck I once called my living room. My mind perked up pretty fast when they landed on my daughter.

Wow.

Double wow.

Standing in the smoking ruins of what was once a 35 inch television was something magnificent. Eyes *glowing* white, red hair standing on end, crouched in a battle-stance, the thing that had knocked me back glared at me. Dear gods. My daughter had manifested. What's more, she was in control. Complete control.

DAMMIT! Mom was right again.

Let me explain something to you right now. There are hundreds of levels to line magic, each of them different in their emergence. I'm somewhere in the middle. My manifestation was pretty okay; I only blew out the power for Beverly. Beverly, Massachutses, that is. Mom moved us there from Evanston, Illinois in a fit of whimsy. For those of you not versed in geography, Beverly is just across the bay from Salem. What can I say? Mom was weird.

ANYWAY, the electrical charge I let go that fried the power-company circuits wasn't very high for a line member. At least that's what mom said. Her manifestation was a lot bigger. Luckily, she was in the presence of other members, otherwise it could have been a lot worse. SHE was the cause of the the great mid-west blizzard of '58. Like I said, Power reveals itself in odd ways. My POINT is, when I was sitting on that floor, almost unconcious, I wasn't thinking about how mad I was at my daughter for attacking me. I was thinking "how could I have *missed* this!?"

***

When I woke up, it was like it had been a dream. I was settled on the living room couch, the peach blanket that normally adorned the back of the couch was settled over my legs. I shifted slightly discovering an ice-pack precariously balanced on my forehead. Okay, so it wasn't a dream. Was it?

A quick glance at the entertainment center for confirmatinon proved even more inconclusive. There it was, stately and frightening in all it's high-tech glory. At this point, I was well and truly confused. Up to that point in my life, I had never hallucinated. Well, accept when I had that peote in the mid-seventies... nevermind. I wasn't anywhere *near* peote right now, and other than a pounding headache, I wasn't sick. Well, sitting on my duff wasn't going to get me any answers. The only thing that could was finding my daughter and *it.*

After about five minutes of false starts, grunting, groaning, and some all-out cursing, I *finally* got my unsteady feet under me. Too bad it was unnecessary. As I made my first gargantuan effort to step foraward, my daughter popped her head around the hall doorway, scaring the hell out of me.

"Mom."

I immedieately drew back into a protective crouch. It was weird, and painful. Weird because I was protecting myself against my daughter. My baby. The child I gave birth to and raised. Painful because my head still hadn't recovered totally. However, the necessary outweighed the weirdness and pain. Yeah, I'm a mom first and fore-most. I'd rip my own arm off to protect my child, but I wouldn't offer it up to be ripped-off *by* my child. Hey, I'm not stupid.

"You manifested. And you didn't tell me?"

Damn it. I could feel my eyes starting to shine. I *really* didn't want to get mad right then. Anger is dark, and very frightening. It's an emotion that line-members must keep under strict control. We all have bad tempers. It comes from the fey blood.

It's pretty well documented that faeries are evil when provoked. They have little emotion, but when it's felt, it's felt *deeply.* It's the only constant trait they pass on to their children. I' got a pretty bad share of it. Of course, I'd started to wonder about my daughter. Past second grade, she'd been the most even-tempered compliant little bit of a girl I'd ever met. Let's just say, any and all theories I had on her not inheriting were completely blown out the window the second my back hit that wall.

From my position, bowed infinitely near the cream carpet, I could see the entire room. Oh, didn't I tell you? I *did* go to combat training. Anyway, Tio Andreas always said, get close to the floor. You're harder to see, harder to hit, and can do both better to the opponent. Staring up at my daughter, it was still very hard to believe that this little thing had enough power in her to blow me across the room. And still be strong enough to get me to the couch and conjur a new entertainment center.

Willow looked about ready to bolt. Her mouth was pressed into a tight line, and her arms were crossed over her chest. She didn't look in the least threatening. In fact, she looked like a seven year old who knew she'd done something she was going to get punished for. If there was someone who looked exactly opposite to the fey princess who'd attacked her own mother, it was the girl standing in front of me.

"Mom..." Her bottom lip trembled. It was so absolutely pitiful. Ducking her head, she tried to collect her thoughts. It was something she'd picked up from her father.

At this point, I really didn't know what to say. Or do. There just isn't an instruction manual on how to proceed if you daughter manifests great fey power, falls in love with a demon, brings him home, and nearly kills you. Sometimes I *really* wish I'd been born Polish.

"Mom," she tried again. The bright cloud of red hair was brushed back with a careless toss. "Mom, I didn't know. Why didn't you tell me?" Tears that had been so valiantly trying to stay in their ducts spilled across alabaster skin. "When- when I did the first casting..."

She turned away, not able to speak. It's something else she gets from her father. Whenever he has really important to say, can't look at me. He says that I am to intimidating.

Silently, she walked over to the large picture-window overlooking our back yard. It was dark outside, but the strong halogen lamp Ira'd installed a few weeks ago glowed cheerily from it's lofty perch on a 12 foot pole. Tugging a lock of her own hair, my daughter contemplated the pastoral scene. "The first casting I did was restoring Angel's soul to his body."

Whoa. Didn't see that one coming.

Choking slightly, I tried not to make a sound. My daughter needed to get this out, and I needed to let her. However, I filed this little snippet of news away, hopefully keeping it for posterity.

"It was right after I got attacked in the Library at the end of Junior year. Th-the day Buffy left." I could hear the crack in her voice. After nearly a year, Buffy's departure still hurt. "We, Cordelia, Giles, Xander, Kendra and I- Right before the attack, I was attempting the spell. Dru -a really bad vampire- burst in right before I went into concentration."

She glanced casually over her shoulder. From the tone of her voice, I'd expected tears. Maybe a piteous glance. Nope. Fey princess had returned.

"Mom. Why didn't you tell me? From what I saw back there.." her voice cracked in rememberance of how she'd thrown me into that wall. Her eyes, however, didn't change. They were hard as ice and demanding answers. "You knew about this. You know what I am. You didn't tell me."

All take it! I would like to say right now, that it is normal for every conscious line member born to be introduced to their heritage. Even members that drift away have some genetic memory of what they are. So, I was truly shocked when Mom, Gran's spirit, and the Council of Ten made me promise I would not reveal my daughter's nature to her until her twentieth birthday. I still don't understand that.

"Baby, I wanted to tell you, but I was over ruled." Sighing deeply, I sat back on the couch. My headache was still killing me.

"Mom!" The teenage indignation was back. This time, there was a dark snapping of power to enforce her threat. "It's not like this was something light! You kept knowledge of my very *being* away from me! When I finally went into concentration for Angel's spell, I had no idea what was going on! One minute I was chanting some latin curse, the next, I was *in* Tir-na-Og!"

Ho-ly, shit. This was worse than I'd thought. Tir-na-Og? She'd been to the homeland. Tir-na-Og is a different name, kind of, for Avalon. It is where the Old Ones reside. Tir-na-Og is the most beautiful place in any plane of existence. It's Ireland, only with brighter colours, more sun, and one REALLY BIG castle. Only the strongest of the strong ever got a *glimpse* of the homeland, but *my* daughter did it on not only her first casting, but her VERY manifestation! God-dammit, why didn't they let me train her!? My amazement and outrage must have been pretty damn apparent. It drew my spitting kitten up short.

"Oh, God." I was pretty out of it. MY daughter, little ole' Willow Anne Rosenburg had been to TIR-NA-FREAKING-OG!?

"Mom are you okay?"

I must have blacked out from shock or something because the next thing I knew, Willow was crouched in front of me, eyes bright with concern. Shaking my head, I tried to get the cobwebs out of the way. I really needed to stay clear headed right now. My daughter and I needed to have a serious talk, and me passing out just wouldn't do.

"Lord - Baby, could you do me a favor?" It took just about everything I had to cup her cheek with my palm. "I need you to go get me some asprin from the medicine cabinet. You and I have some talking to do. I'll tell you about your heritage, and you can tell me about… Angel."

Smiling slightly, my daughter inclined her head. "Okay. As long as you promise not to fry him again."

::sigh:: The things we do so we don't get killed.

"Fine. For now."

Taking my statement at face value, she smiled. With a grace I'd only glimpsed before, Willow rose from her crouch, and bounded across the now-clean living room. Watching her titian pony-tail disappear past the low Spanish-arch, I slumped back into the soft cushions of the couch.

Okay, it was a major concession on my part, but I *did* keep some pretty major stuff from her. Yeah, I'd been told *specifically* not to talk to her, but I'm rebellious dammit! I should have ignored authority! Damn the Man! Whatever! Besides, if she was fully trained, she could have easily destroyed Angel when she'd first discovered his identity.

It's amazing how a headache can clear your thinking.

I didn't get much more time to go over this sudden clarity though. Industrial-size Bottle-O-Relief in hand, my daughter bounced back in. Man that girl has mood swings.

Gratefully, I accepted the two capsules she offered and the half-glass of water. I never could take pills with out something to wash them down. No supernatural reason, I just can't.

Dragging a large comfy chair to face me, Willow settled down and waited. God, you have no idea how hard this was. I was about to break a direct order from my mother, my mother's mother, *and* the ruling aristocracy of Tir-na-Og. The council of Ten consists of ten elected officials. They rule Tir-na-Og for periods of five hundred years. That may seem like awhile, but faeries are long lived.

Half-breeds aren't that short lived either. Mom only died because she got hit by a bus. That didn't stop her from hanging around though. The old biddy chose the worst times to interrupt to. There was this one time.. Wait, you don't want to hear about that. IRA still can't think about that without cringing. Hmph. I'm avoiding the topic.

So. I had to talk to my baby about her being a faerie. Again, it's not something they dedicate an entire chapter to in parenting manuals. Now, I have already told you most of what I told her. A woman in my family, many generations ago, caught the attention of an Old One. I'm not giving names because that would give anyone reads this power over my family.

Names ARE power, and neener, neener. You don't get any. Sorry.

Anywho, they had lots of fun in bed, nine months later, she was joined by a little girl. This wasn't much of a big deal, except, she (the mother) had a trace of fey blood in her (from way before,) so the child became MORE than just a half-breed. This kid went on to do lots of nice deeds for both mortals and the Old Ones. In doing so, she was blessed by the council. This blessing basically stated that her decendents would have the ability to tap their fey sides. Resulting in Power. Long story short, that kid went and had a daughter, and SHE went and had a daughter, yadda, yadda, yadda.

So, my daughter and I are line members.

Giving her this much information didn't exactly help HER mood though.

Sitting across from me, eyes narrowed and mouth compressed, she didn't look too appreciative of my little informational relay.

"I already figured this much out Mom. Having access to the biggest occult library outside of Europe gives me some research material."

Whoa. Occult library?

Seeing my confusion, she dropped her annoyed act. Looking a bit guilty, she shrugged.

"I- I just know."

"Occult library?"

Willow turned pink.

"Um, uh.."

"Dear? Is there something you want to tell me?"

This is where I'd been wanting to go all evening. Just *how* did she come into the position of finding out about vampires? Or becoming involved with them? Yeah, we live on the Hellmouth, but I'm pretty sure she didn't know that before high school. Not to mention, occult library!?

Turning her face back towards the restored entertainment center, Willow shrugged again. She looking pensive, she started to speak.

***

"…and that's how we ended up falling in love."

Nearly two hours later, my daughter finished her narrative of the past three years.

Wow.

That pretty much covers it. My daughter had spent the last three years fighting the forces of evil. So much and so often, I definitely had to revise my earlier opinion. SHE has more life experience in that area than I will ever hope to accumulate. That saddens me to no end.

As a mother, there are two things constantly in your mind. The first is love. There is no way on earth that anyone who has not experienced it can understand the pure and total love a mother or father has for a child. This baby comes from *you*. It was a part of your flesh that's now walking around. It is the scariest and most beautiful thing you can ever do, bringing forth a child. With that love, comes a protective instinct.

Whatever you child chooses to do, a parent's first rection is to protect. It was that instinct that was screaming bloody murder. A parent is driven beyond sanity with wanting to protect their offspring. It was now pretty glaringly obvious that Ira and I had failed. We, the people who were responsible for he well being, and, heavens forgive my old-fashionedness, her innocence, had royally screwed up.

I had never wanted my husband's support more.

Unfortunately, the bastard (I'm kidding, really..) was in China.

"Oh, baby.."

The heavy emotion clouding my mind was apparent in my voice. It cracked.

Staring at my daughter, I could finally see. She wasn't a child anymore. She hadn't been for the last year. She was a woman. I - *We* had just been too blind to see. They say that if you stare at something for so long, you develop an image of how it *should* be, rather than how it is. I had looked at my baby day in and day out for the past eighteen years, but today was the first time I had seen her.

I said earlier that I was proud of her. I'd like to emphasise that now.

I did too. Physically, that is.

Let's just say I nearly knocked the poor thing out of her chair.

Hugs rock.

Well, okay, *I* rock when I hug.

*FINE*, we *did* end up falling on the floor. ::sigh:: I'm an emotional hussy, okay? I meant to get through this recitation without reminding you about how sappy I get.

It was worth it though.

"Oh, sweetie. I'm so sorry." I mumbled through the rocking. She was crying too, though, I'm not really sure if she knew why. Maybe she knew how deeply I loved her, or maybe she could feel the sorrow I held for not being there for her.

Eh. I'm pretty sure it was just because I was crying. I'll stick to my sappier notions though. They're more appealing.

However, I knew there were things that still needed to be said. Pulling back from the rib-crushing embrace, I looked down at my daughter.

"I still think that Angel should die."

That did it. Any sympathetic emotion my daughter had been feeling dried up, leaving only cold, hard fae princess.

"WHAT?! After *all* I've told you!? You *still* want him dead? Dammit, Mom!" Jumping to her feet, she spun away from me. Changing her mind, she turned, staring down at me with about the equivalent contempt she'd give a frog. With my daughter, that's quite a bit of contempt. Biting off her words, she continued. "I thought you understood. I was wrong." She was about ready to stalk off again, when I found my voice.

"I understand you believe that, but it's not right!"

That stopped her. Eyes glowing, she came up with the only argument she could.

"But-!"

"Hush, you." I held up a hand. I'd dealt with five screaming two-year-olds at a birthday party. Dealing with pissed-off fae princess was a similar concept. Shock 'em quick, and hit 'em hard. "What I mean to say, is that I *can't* trust him until I have proof. I love you. More than anything on this earth. It'll take more than his and your word of honour to convince me of his intentions."

Boy did she look ticked. I really didn't want to know the thoughts running through her mind. I'm pretty sure I would've had to slap her silly because of them.

I do have to give her some credit though. She pulled herself together and managed to bite out a question. What's more, it was a relevant one.

"What's the one thing in the world that *will* convince you he's good?"

I answered without hesitation.

"A soul reading."

Surprisingly enough she relaxed, minimally, and nodded.

"If that's what you need."

Without preamble, she grabbed my arm and drug me back through the kitchen. It was something kind of amazing, considering she yanked me from a sitting position on the floor. Apparently enhanced strength was part of the package. Hmm. Thinking about it now, I should have suspected something was up when she never needed help bringing in groceries... Those non-perishables can be pretty heavy.

Finally, after much moaning and whining from me (HEY! Asprin can only do *so* much!) we arrived at our destination. The guest bedroom. Happily, it wasn't up any stairs. I probably would have fallen down them. Not *so* happily, Angel was unconsious inside. Apparently she hadn't taken him too far to heal. I nearly lost it when we entered the room. All helpless and barely conscious… It was all I could do to reign in that pesky protective instinct.

Did you know that incineration is just damn fun?

Willow must have sensed something, because she gave me a stern visual warning. I'm sure it translated to something along the lines of "hurt him, and the house is a goner." Eh. Too bad. Giving me a nudge, she pointed me to the far side of the bed.

I rounded the bed on wobbly legs, finally settling near his side. Gratefully, I sank to the soft surface. Man, I must have hit that wall *pretty* hard.

Anyway, the bed was pretty small, so there was no way I could avoid coming in contact with his bare skin. My daughter had stripped his upper body (I'm not sure about the lower part due to blanket coverage, but I'm sure my daughter's still too much of a prude to take off more than his shoes and socks. ::sigh:: The dissapointments of parenthood.) It took quite a bit not to recoil at the temperature.

That's one thing I don't get. I have problem enough with Ira's cold feet when he gets in bed. How the heck do people stand Vampires? EVERYTHING is cold! Okay, yeah, it could be kinda exciting.. cool shock of skin against fevered skin.. rising excitement.. ACK. Tangent girl strikes again.

So, there I was, sitting next to this half-naked dead guy. Right. A person needs to be conscious so that the soul reading can work. What's more, they have to agree. It was a sure bet that if I tried to wake the guy, he'd pass out again. I *did* try and kill him. At the time, I was still planning on it. Instead, I tagged my daughter on the shoulder. She had settled on the sleeping vampire's other side. Sending her red hair swinging violently, she jerked her head in my direction. Apparently, my desire for Angel's death was pretty obvious. She gave me one good glare and turned her gaze back the the th- PERSON sleeping below us.

Instantly, her face softened.

"Angel?"

Her voice was as soft as velvet. The dead guy responded instantly. Chocolate eyes fluttering lightly, he unerringly focused on my baby. She smiled gently, carefully tracing the light scar above his eye. I hadn't noticed that when he'd arrived. Must have been due to a piece of flying plastic or glass. I squashed a minute smug feeling. ~He got hurt 'cause of me...!~

Hey! I still didn't trust the guy! My daughter was fully manifested with witch tendencies, but that hadn't quite sunk in yet. It was a busy night, okay!

"Angel, Mom," she nodded slightly in my direction. "She needs your permission for a soul reading." The hand moved further down his face, tracing his hard cheekbones. "You know, the thing we did right after you came back."

That was a surprise. Though at that point it really shouldn't have been. There was such tenderness between them. He was obviously in pain, but there was such joy in him. It hadn't been there earlier. The emotion obviously stemmed from being near my daughter. If I hadn't been holding so stubbornly to my training, I might have known it then. Unfortunately, the body language completely gave me a miss. They were in love. However, the only thing that *did* register was the fact my daughter had done a soul reading. My baby did a soul reading? Not much harder than a soul-restoration but still pretty complicated.

Angel seemed to understand. In a voice stronger than I would have given him credit for, her answered her, his eyes shifting to lock with mine.

"If that's what is needed."

So that, my friends, is how I got on intimate terms with my daughter's boyfriend.

Now, participating in a soul reading is one of *the* most personal experiences you can have. Contrary to popular belief, or any belief the words "soul reading" arouse, a soul reading does *not* give you access to someone's memories. It gives you free roam through their soul.

Now there is a big debate in the world on whether or not there is or is not such a thing as a soul. Let me make this easy, we do. Each living thing has a deeper essence that makes it what it is. A tree is a tree only because it has a tree soul. It's the same with a human being. There are exceptions, however. Vampires and demons are it. Technically, vampires *are* demons, but we really don't need to go into that.

ANYWAY, when my soul touched his... I really can't accurately describe the experience. It's like ripping yourself apart and gluing yourself back together, but with something pasted on. In a good way. The feeling is something very similar to a constant orgasm. Or it can be. It is *the* most personal thing someone can do to, or with, someone else. A person can hide NOTHING from the other. It works both ways too. So, when I reached out, he reached out.

God, I *really* need a writing class. Eyuh! Hm. When we touched, I could see him for everything that he was. The demon was there, as I'd expected. Initially, that pulled me back. I didn't want the demon to have access to me, and because of the nature of what I was doing it *could.* But, I had promised both Angel and my daughter I would do this, so I couldn't back out. Pulling on all my courage, I lept forward...

...and encountered one of the most amazing people I will ever know.

He was in control. Complete control of the demon. Looking around the alien landscape that *was* Angel, I could see traces of the damage it had done this man. There were scars, but they were healing. Getting closer, I could also see a spider-web attachment. A tiny, gossamer fiber stretching out into the abyss. Curious, I extended myself, touching it lightly. It was to my daughter. This little-bitty thread connected them. If I could have grinned in this form, I would have. He wasn't lying about doing ANYTHING for her earlier. He couldn't. Lie, that is. This link was permanent.

Feeling somewhat relieved (though not *completely* relieved,) I moved on, towards the rest of him. Now, every person has a different soul. Well, DUH. What I'm trying to say, is that every person is uniquely patterned. Everything that has ever touched you leaves a mark and shapes you in some way. Inside, these changes are marked by color, or light, or even sound.

Basically, you're a walking 3-D IMAX movie. In a good way.

Moving on, I went looking. I knew it had to be there. For Angel to be able to change, *it* had to be present. The thing that had done so much damage. The evil one.

I was not disappointed. Mostly.

Far, far back at the edge, I found it, imprisoned. Yes, it still had tendrils of power connected to the man, but it was caged. Chained. Bound for good by bonds forged in fae magik. Damn, my girl does some fine work. I reminded myself then to have her look over the solstice spells. They always needed tweaking. Eeek, off topic. Where was I? Oh, yeah, the chains.. (Back to "serious mode.")

The chains were solid, thick power, forged for permenance, not just show. The power throbbing through them was enough to give even me a slight buzz.

That was all I needed to know.

Letting go, I came back to them. Just to be vindictive (I'd had a hard night! Lemme alone. A girl needs some fun..) I waited until I was fully conscious before smiling. Damn, the coming years are going to be fun. Watching that boy squirm is *habit-forming.*

He loves my baby so much it hurts. There is little even a well-trained line member can do against true love. Corny as it may sound, it *is* the highest power. Nothing can beat it, and if it *is* opposed, it isn't for long. It's kinda like putting up a paper barrier against an ax-wielding maniac.

I'm glad she's found him so young. Most mothers would be having an anxiety attack right now. "She's too young! She's got to know herself first!" All ramblings from women who don't know what it's like to truly *know* that the person across from you is *THE* one. They cannot say with conviction that the man they married was made specifically for them. I can. I see in my daughter's eyes that she will be able to. It is the most beautiful experience of any life time.

My girl found it at 18.

I told you my she was gifted.

Well, that's about it. I can't wait to see the children.

How you ask?

Fertility spell.

Mebbe the kids'll squirm more than they do…

FIN