Author: Meltha

Rating: G

Feedback: Yes, thank you. Through BtVS season 3.

Distribution: The Blackberry Patch and If you're interested, please let me know.

Summary: The Mayor recalls who he cares about the most.

Author's Note: Written in response to btvsats20's round 4 challenge 2: "Who do you care about most?"

Disclaimer: All characters are owned by Mutant Enemy (Joss Whedon), a wonderfully creative company whose characters I have borrowed for a completely profit-free flight of fancy. Kindly do not sue me, please, as I am terrified of you. Thank you.

Husband and Father

Edna Mae had been the center of Richard's life. It had been a very different time then. When he looks at the kids today, the girls wearing skirts that barely cover their unmentionables and the boys roving from one to the next, whispering "I love you"s only to forget them as soon as they've gotten what they wanted, he finds it hard to believe it's the same dimension as the one that once saw him courting his future wife.

There had been rides along the Pacific coastline on a bicycle-built-for-two. He'd sung her the song about Daisy in his tuneless voice as they peddled along, and she'd laughed at him, not unkindly. The Christmas cotillion when she had worn that dress of soft pink gingham with the picot lace around the hem, the Sunday afternoon dinners with her parents and three brothers looking at him disapprovingly, the Founder's Day parade that he had escorted her to, complete with brass bands and waving flags, all of them had been wonderful, happy, innocent, carefree fun.

When he finally decided to propose, he'd drunk three sasparillas ahead of time to give him enough gumption to ask her. It had backfired on him, though, giving him a terrible stomach ache on top of the army of butterflies that was already fluttering around in there. She'd insisted they stop at the pharmacy for something for his dyspepsia, and unable to take waiting any longer, he'd dropped to one knee next to the soda fountain and asked her to be his wife. She'd laughed again, that sweet, bell-like laugh, and said yes. He'd never been happier.

Some days he still remembers that laugh, almost thinks he hears it floating around his office as he makes plans for world domination and better ways to clean up litter. There had been no children, of course, an unfortunate by-product of the spell, and sometimes he wonders if he would have gone through with it if he had met Edna Mae before he began preparations for becoming a demon. But there had been Christmases and picnics and years of bicycle rides along the shore filled with that happy sound of laughter. Eventually, though, it became obvious that she was aging and he wasn't. He never quite told her the reason why, but he supposed she probably guessed roughly what was up. She'd kept good humor about it at first, but as she began to show wrinkles, age spots, her brown hair slowly infiltrated with gray and then white while he remained the same as ever, she'd been embarrassed, and finally, bitter.

Edna Mae had been well into her seventies when she died, and her mind hadn't been quite right for years. Richard, now posing as her son, had stayed faithful, of course, and he'd taken care of her. When she died, long since having forgotten who he was and her gentle tongue having grown sharp and cruel with senility, he had her buried far from Sunnydale. He knew too well what kind of things went on in the cemeteries there, and he was determined for her to rest in peace, even if it meant they were separated. He cried every night for what felt like decades, and perhaps it was. The one side of an increased lifespan that he'd never considered before was that it made grief unending.

It was a long time before he felt anything like love inside him again, and when it came, it wasn't the same feeling he'd had for his Edna Mae. Instead, it was the bittersweet love of a father for a daughter he'd never had. Faith came to him long after he'd decided there was no one in the world for him to care for anymore except himself. She was another one of those girls he saw every day in the malls and on the streets of Sunnydale, blatantly and completely sexual in a way he believed could only lead to her heart being broken, if it hadn't been already. He couldn't help thinking that he and Edna Mae had more fun with their shy hand-holding and stolen kisses than Faith ever had with any of the boys she was with, feeling a sad stab of pity for the death of the way things once had been. Still, he thought as his chauffeur drove past her new apartment and he glanced up at her window just as the light went out, though love might have changed in the century that he'd lived, it was nice to have someone to love again.