Again, I own nothing! Not either show, and not the song either the owners are, respectively: Joss Whedon, Jerry Bruckheimer, and Rascal Flatts. No profits are being made here. I'm just playing with them...
The second story in my 'Not As It Seems' series. This contains a slightly changed portion of the funeral part of the CSI: Miami episode 'Lost Son' (Season 3; Episode 1).
I miss you so much
Your light, your smile, your way
And everything about us
Though you're gone, you're still here
In my heart, in my tears
Yeah, you sure left your mark
We were just getting started
It wasn't long, it wasn't long enough
But it was long enough, yeah it was long enough…
To last forever
Sometimes I get so mad;
I scream and swear at this
'Cuz this isn't how we planned it
I sit here, in a cold room.
Waiting on you
To run back through that door, to the way it was before
You left, it wasn't long enough, it wasn't long enough together
But it was long enough, yeah it was long enough
To last forever
I feel cheated (I feel cheated), defeated (can't believe it)
Can't believe that you're gone (you're gone, you're gone)
Oh, it was wrong (so wrong)
It wasn't long enough
It wasn't long enough, it wasn't long enough…
It wasn't long enough, it wasn't long enough…
But it was long enough; yeah it was long enough, to last,
To last, to last forever…
Forever- Rascal Flatts
Today is a terrible day. Today, I have to watch as a member of my family is laid to rest. Today, we have to say goodbye to Speed. This is a day I always knew could happen, I just wished that it never would. But, what makes this infinitely worse is that he's leaving behind a young son and a pregnant young wife as well.
Buffy is devastated. According to her family and friends, she isn't taking Tim's death very well. She lies in their bed in a near catatonic state for hours at a time. The only time she shows signs of life is whenever Joseph is around. Everyone is worried that she's just going to fade away, and now so am I.
She was away on business for the IDC when I had to call her and break the news to her. I don't think I'll ever get the sound of that heart-breaking scream out of my head.
She's a widow at twenty-three years old… and then there's Joseph. My little nephew can't understand why his daddy isn't going to be coming home to play with him anymore. How do you make a five year old understand something like death?
The sound of bagpipes fills the air. The grief is a palpable thing. There are so many people here to mourn the loss of Tim Speedle. Sitting in the front row reserved for immediate family sits a young blond woman, and on her lap is a dark-haired little boy with large blue eyes.
There are no tears, but the empty, hollow look in their eyes speaks volumes of the bewilderment they're suffering from.
For Buffy Summers-Speedle, there are no words to describe the grief and pain she's feeling. She would like nothing more than to curl up and die again, just so she could be with her beloved husband. But she has more than just herself to consider. She has a young son that doesn't understand why his daddy has gone away, and why he won't be coming home. And then there's the child that she never got the chance to tell her husband about, just waiting to come out and greet the world.
Why her? What has she done that's so wrong? Why is it that when she finds true happiness, something or someone comes along to tear it away from her? Or was she just the PtB's favorite butt monkey? She couldn't help but wonder.
How was she supposed to go on living without Tim in her life? If not for Joseph and the baby she was expecting, she would go under, body and soul. Tim had been her everything. And now he was gone.
And it wasn't like it was a demon that killed him. So she couldn't even have the satisfaction of killing the one responsible. As the Slayer, she wasn't allowed to kill humans, no matter how bad she wanted to. It wasn't within her jurisdiction to do so.
The one thing she did know, however, was that she needed to get away from Miami for a while. There were too many memories of Timmy here. So, she was going back to the main compound of the IDC for a couple of weeks, to grieve and hopefully to recover enough to be able to function normally.
The funeral had been painful enough, but when Joseph ran up to the coffin and knocked on it, calling out for Tim, that had been one of the most heart-breaking scenes I've had to witness. I just wanted to grab him and hug him to me. But Buffy got to him first, quietly explaining that his daddy had gone to Heaven to be with God and His angels.
I knew by the lack of tears on her face, that Buffy was going into Slayer mode. It was the place inside her that she went to, so that she didn't have to deal with her emotions. I'd seen her do it before, when Joyce died.
But it isn't healthy for her to suppress her feelings like that. She needs to grieve in order to be there for Joseph.
Once the funeral was finished, people came over to offer their condolences. It was all Buffy could do to keep standing. She wanted to go to sleep and wake up in Tim's arms, finding that this was all just a terrible nightmare.
As the other mourners started to leave, Buffy just stood by the grave, unwilling to leave Tim alone.
Dawn watched as Buffy stood alone by Tim's grave. She could see the grief etched into her sister's face.
By now, Dawn was sure that Buffy was mentally berating herself for not being here, and not being able to protect Tim. She wasn't sure how to help Buffy, though she wanted to, so badly.
Walking up to her sister, Dawn wrapped her in a fierce hug. "I know that you want to stay here for a while; so Tara, Willow, and I are going to take Joseph back to the house for a nap, okay?"
Not even bothering to take her eyes away from Tim's grave, Buffy murmured, "Thanks Dawnie. I'll be home later."
Leaving her sister alone, Dawn walked to the car. She was stopped by Horatio on her way. "How's she doing?"
"Not well. If I know her, she's blaming all of this on herself right now. Wondering what she could have done to prevent this."
"Why would she blame herself? There's nothing she could have done. It was all a tragic accident."
"You know that and I know that, but Buffy has this wicked guilt complex ingrained into her personality ever since she became the Slayer. She takes it personally when she can't save someone, like she failed in doing her duty."
"I get that. It's called survivor's guilt. I've known many men and women on the force that have suffered with it, including me. Is there anything I can do to help?"
"Seeing as you were the one with Tim when he died, maybe you can get her to see reason. I don't think that she'll believe anyone that there was nothing she could have done."
"I'll do what I can to help her see reason. I'll get her home too. You just take care of our nephew right now, alright?"
Nodding her head, as she starts off again, Dawn has one last bit of advice for Horatio. "Whatever happens, don't let her fall into Slayer mode."
Looking confused, Horatio asks, "What's Slayer mode?"
"It's the place inside of her that Buffy will retreat to, when she can't or won't deal with her feelings. Don't let her go there H." With that, Dawn leaves Horatio alone with his thoughts.
Slowly making his way to Buffy's side, Horatio ponders what Dawn just told him about Buffy. When he reaches her side, he gently takes her hand into his. "How are you holding up, Buffy?"
Squeezing Horatio's hand, Buffy whispers, "I can't believe that this is happening. I keep thinking that I'm going to wake up any moment now, and find that I was having a bad dream… but I can't seem to wake myself up."
Turning to look up at Horatio, as tears well up in her eyes she asks "Why can't I wake up, H?" And as the strength to keep herself upright dissipates, she crumbles to the dirt covered ground. Harsh sobs racking her body, as the shield she'd been hefting for days now finally breaks into pieces.
Gathering the distraught young woman into his arms, Horatio slowly rocks her as the tears he's also been holding back start to flow as well. Several minutes pass as they cry together in shared grief. As he holds onto Buffy, he whispers words of comfort to her.
He understands her pain and guilt all too well, because he has been wondering what he could have done to prevent Speed's death. Logically, he knows that it was poor gun maintenance on Speed's part that caused his gun to fail him; but personally, Horatio wonders if he could have done anything differently.
"How am I supposed to go on without Tim? I'm just trying to keep from dying, H. I can't breathe. I feel like I can't breathe! Why is this happening to me?! Oh God! Why do I have to keep losing everyone I love?!?" Buffy cried into Horatio's chest, clutching at his shirt like someone who was drowning.
Horatio's heart was breaking for Buffy. She was in so much pain, and there was nothing he could do to alleviate her suffering. She had already been through more than anyone her age should have to. He understood why she would retreat behind the shield of protection the Slayer offered her. Life was so hard and painful, and at times, it felt like it was never-ending.
But to have to make the kinds of sacrifices she's had to in order to save the world from absolute destruction… Horatio admired her for her strength.
Not many adults could handle the weight of the world on their shoulders, but for it to happen to a fifteen year old- forced to accept that weight, and to not only handle it, but to survive and thrive for seven years- that was an amazing feat. Buffy was a true hero.
She was one of the most inspiring women that Horatio had ever had the privilege of getting to know.
As her sobs subsided, Horatio stroked Buffy's hair soothingly for a long while, listening as her breathing evened out, indicating that she had fallen asleep. Gently lifting her into his arms, he carried her to the SUV. In sleep, she'd wrapped her arms around him, and buried her face into the crook of his neck.
Once at the SUV, he had to carefully shift Buffy, so that he wouldn't drop her while he opened the door to the SUV, settling her into the passenger seat. After he got in, he drove her back to Speed's and her house.
Back at the house, everyone considered family had gathered to grieve for Speed in private.
But seeing H carrying a sleeping Buffy into the house, many of the occupants stood up to help him, with Faith reaching him first; gently removing her sister Slayer from his arms, she carried Buffy to her bedroom.
Laying her precious cargo onto the bed, Faith stepped back to allow Willow and Tara to get Buffy undressed and into Tim's favorite shirt as her sleep shirt. They then tucked her in, watching as she instinctively snuggled into Tim's pillow.
Back in the living room, things had gotten even more somber. Giles removed his glasses, cleaning them, as he cleared his throat. "I think it would be prudent to discuss what is going to happen now, as I feel that Buffy will be in no condition to deal with the aftermath of this tragedy."
"So, what are you proposing?" Horatio asked, as the unspoken and obvious leader of the Miami side of Buffy's family.
"I think it would be a good idea for Buffy and Joseph to come back to Cleveland. I don't think it would be conducive to Buffy's healing process to stay here in Miami, where the memories of Tim will constantly besiege her. She needs to be allowed to grieve him without all the reminders of what she has lost, here in this house." Giles recommended.
"Wait a minute. You want to take Joseph and her away from here, but what about us? We love them too. I agree that staying in this house won't be good for her, but why do they have to leave Miami?" Eric demanded. "They're our family as much as they're yours!"
"Yo E, chill! It ain't like we don't get where you're coming from, but we want to do what's best for B and lil' J. We know B slightly better than you guys do, and we feel that she will be better off far away from Miami for a while. It ain't like it'll be forever. And you guys can always come visit them in Cleveland." Faith admonished.
So, as the immediate future of Buffy and Joseph Speedle was being discussed, Buffy was lying in the bed that belonged to her and Tim, staring blankly at the wall, wallowing in her grief.
There was an imperceptible shift in the air, filling the room with a familiar scent. As the mattress dipped, Buffy shifted in bed, "Why did you leave me?"
"Oh baby. I didn't want to…but I had to. I'm so sorry for leaving you and Joseph." Tim replied as he lay down on the bed, pulling Buffy into his arms for one last embrace.
"I can't do it Timmy! I can't go on without you here with me. It's too hard!" Buffy cried, as she burrowed into his embrace once more.
Tilting her chin up, so that he was looking into her beautiful blue eyes he said, "Yes you can Buffy! You have to. Joseph is going to need you now more than ever. You're a fighter baby, and you will survive this too."
"It's not fair! You died before I could tell you the good news; that I'm two months pregnant. I was going to tell you when I got home from my trip; the IDC healer confirmed it the day before you died."
"Oh baby, you have to know you made me the happiest man on the planet. I've never loved anyone as much as I love you."
"I should have been here. If I had been home instead of away on IDC business, I could have protected you somehow. I should have been with you at the jewelry store."
"No! Buffy none of this is your fault! I won't have you thinking that way! This was my fault. Both you and H warned me about keeping my gun in proper working condition; and I was careless, and that's what led to my death."
"I miss you so much already, baby! Everything is so bleak without you. It wasn't enough time. It wasn't long enough! We should have been forever. We were supposed to grow old together surrounded by our kids and grandkids."
Buffy was in so much pain, that Tim could hardly bare it. He wanted to take her pain away, but he knew that it would take time. He cursed himself for his carelessness and laziness. If only he had kept his gun clean, he wouldn't have had problems with it in the clutch.
As he held her while she cried, he was flooded with dozens of regrets. The most prevalent being that he couldn't be by her side as she faced all the obstacles life would throw at her. He also regretted the fact that he couldn't be there to watch his kids grow up. He'd never be able to pass on his love of cars and motorcycles to Joseph, and he wouldn't get the chance to hold his newest child in his arms. He'd never get the joy of watching his baby have a world of firsts- first words, first step, first anything… Oh he was such a fool.
"Buffy, oh Buffy…I am soo sorry. I wish things could have turned out differently. I would love nothing more than to hold you forever. Please forgive me for leaving you and Joseph this way." Tim begged as he broke down and cried for all that was lost.
Still holding on to Tim, Buffy kissed him, their tears commingling. "Hush, love, of course I forgive you. I love you. Nothing will ever change that! I would forgive you anything." Running her fingers through his hair- something she had always loved doing- she held onto Tim as he cried, their roles reversed.
After his tears subsided, he moved to kiss Buffy, pouring all the love and passion that he felt for her into it. As they continued to kiss, the air became charged with desire. Slowly, he started to unbutton the shirt she was wearing, as her hands reached out to relieve him of his clothing.
Once all articles of clothing were removed, they each took their time to touch and explore the other's body, knowing that this last act of love would be the final time they could be together until their next life.
This joining was both bittersweet and poignant. Each touch, every sigh was memorized and savored. Each caress, each kiss held an edge of desperation to it. Together they climbed, peak after tantalizing peak… culminating to a glorious almost simultaneous release.
Spent, they lay together in a tangle of limbs, savoring this reprieve from the inevitable parting. "Baby?"
"Can you do something for me?"
"I know you need to take some time to recover, but please don't leave Miami for too long. If I know H, he's feeling some major guilt about my death, and I think it'll make him feel that much worse if you and Joseph leave for good."
"I need to take some time away from here to deal, but I promise you, I won't leave here forever. Miami is home for me. Even though it's given me plenty of sorrow, it gave me my greatest joy as well. And I'll keep an eye on H for you. You have my word, love."
"Thank you, baby."
Slowly untangling himself from his beloved wife, Tim rose from their bed. "I have to go now, baby. They're calling me."
Rising to her knees, Buffy shuffled over to where Tim stood, and giving him one last kiss, "I love you, Timothy Speedle. My heart and soul belong to you, completely, and forever."
Returning the kiss and the sentiment, Tim replied, "And I love you, Buffy Summers-Speedle. I'll be watching over you and the kids, always… Be secure in the knowledge that I will be here for you whenever you need me. All you have to do is call to me. Be safe and be happy. That's all I ask of you…"
And with that, Tim faded from view, leaving Buffy to crumble onto the rumpled bed, to cry out her grief once more.
After finishing with her latest crying jag, Buffy wearily dragged herself out of bed. Noticing Tim's favorite shirt crumpled on the bed, she grabbed it and put it on, she went to their shared walk-in closet to grab a pair of worn and faded jeans, pulling them on. She then proceeded to pile her hair into a messy bun on top of her head.
Leaving her room, she went to check up on Joseph. In his room, she found her baby boy thrashing and whimpering in his sleep. Quickly gathering her baby boy into her arms, she cuddled him close, rubbing his back in a soothing manner.
Unaware that her future was being hotly debated, Buffy made her way to the family room. As soon as she entered, all discussions ceased.
It was obvious to all the room's occupants that Buffy had been crying again. Horatio immediately went to her, and placed a hand on the small of her back, guiding her to the armchair he had just vacated. He held his nephew, while Buffy got settled into the chair, before gently handing Joseph back to her; he then perched on the armrest of the chair, keeping in constant contact with Buffy.
Alexx, being the mother hen of the CSI group spoke first, "How are you holding up, baby?"
"It depends from moment to moment, Momma Alexx. But, I have to be strong. Joseph needs me to be strong for him." Buffy answered even as her lips trembled from the effort of holding in her tears.
"Can I get you some tea, Buffy?" Tara asked as the unofficial mother hen for the Sunnydale group. "Maybe even something light to eat?"
"I don't think I could eat anything, but some tea would be nice."
"Buffy, you should try to eat something, if not for yourself, please think of the baby," Dawn pleaded.
Sighing, "Maybe some toast would be good?" Buffy requested. "Nothing too heavy though. I don't think I could keep it down."
"Sure Buffy, anything you want." As Tara headed to the kitchen, Buffy turned to the group, asking, "So what were you talking about when I came in?"
Clearing his throat, as he removed his glasses for cleaning, Giles answered, "Well, we were discussing what your plans would be for the immediate future. It seems that we are at an impasse on what should be done."
"What do you mean? What should be done?" Buffy queried as she looked at Giles.
"Yes well, some of us think that you should come back to Cleveland for a while, to take some time and grieve, without reminders of Tim. While others—"Giles looked towards the CSI side of the family, "Others want you to stay here."
Both sides of her family were looking at her, making Buffy feel like a caged animal, which was making her uncomfortable. She unconsciously leaned into H's side, and he placed a protective hand on her shoulder before speaking. "Buffy, we'll respect whatever you want to do, but we want to make sure that whatever you choose is your decision alone. No one wants to influence you unduly."
Tara returned from the kitchen at that moment, with a tray holding a ceramic pot of chamomile tea and some buttered toast. She placed it on the coffee table in front of Buffy, offering her a gentle, comforting smile. "I'll hold Joseph while you eat, if you want."
Nodding in acquiescence, Buffy allowed Tara to take Joseph, reaching for the cup of tea and a piece of toast. Thinking over what she and Tim had discussed in their room not too long ago. "I do need to take some time away, but it won't be for too long. For better and for worse, Miami is my home now. I won't run away from home again. Joseph and I will spend a few weeks in Cleveland, but then we have to come back, and get on with the business of living. Timmy requested that of me, and I won't break my promise to him."
Confusion abounded at the statement that Buffy had spoken with Speed. "Buffy sweetie, how could Tim have requested that of you? He's gone." Willow questioned delicately.
Knowing what the Scoobies were thinking, she shook her head before replying, "I know you guys think I'm hallucinating or something, but I'm not. I spoke to Tim not more than twenty minutes ago. And he asked me not to abandon his family, here in Miami."
"Buffy, are you sure it wasn't the First? You know it could take the form of whoever was dead, and since it has a grudge against us, it could have easily come back to taunt you." Giles lectured.
"I knew that you might think that, Giles. But it wasn't the First, believe me."
"How can you be so sure Buffy?"
"Because, the First is incorporeal; and Tim most definitely wasn't incorporeal. You just have to trust me on this. He came to me one last time, and he held me, and we talked." Buffy told them, fighting the urge to blush.
Spike, who had been standing in a corner of the room, not bothering to get involved with the argument, had had enough. "Oh bloody hell! I know a simple enough way to find out!" Stalking over to the chair Buffy was sitting in, he leaned down close to smell her, breaking out into game-face. "The chit isn't lying. I can smell the git's scent on her."
The two women of the Miami group gasped at the change in Spike's face. "What the hell is that!?" Calleigh exclaimed. "What happened to his face?"
The Scoobies looked at each other, wondering why no one had bothered to tell Calleigh or Alexx about the supernatural. Xander decided to clue them in. "That ladies, is a vampire. Albeit it a neutered vampire, but a vampire nonetheless."
"You can't be serious? Vampires don't exist!" Alexx denied. "They're just the stuff of nightmares."
"Welcome to your nightmares… and welcome to our world." Faith quipped sarcastically.
"This is your spiel G-man. Take it away." Faith announced, with a shake of her head.
"As you can see, vampires are real. As are other creatures that you always thought were fiction. Including, but not limited to: vampires, werewolves, a variety of species of demons, ghosts, succubi, incubi. All manner of creatures you've told yourself couldn't be by the light of day, they're all real."
"Except for leprechauns; the jury is still out about the leprechauns, right Giles?" Buffy joked weakly.
The Scoobies couldn't help but smile at Buffy's attempt at a joke. They knew that she was at least trying to make an effort at normalcy.
"Nice, the Buffster making with the funnies." Xander encouraged.
Giving his two "children" a scolding look, Giles continued, heartened by Buffy's ability to make a joke at this time. "The world is older than you know…"
Calleigh and Alexx sat there completely stunned with the information overload. Looking at the reactions of Eric, and Horatio, they had to wonder why they didn't look shell-shocked too.
"Why don't you two look very surprised? Did you know about this already?" Calleigh demanded, "And if you did, then why didn't you say something before?"
"Yeah, we knew some of it already. Tim, Eric, and I found out not too long after we found out about Joseph. Buffy confided in us about her calling, and everything it entailed." Horatio explained. "The reason neither of us said anything, is because it was basically a need to know situation."
Confused, and concerned Alexx interjected, "What do you mean, Buffy's calling?"
"Giles?" Buffy prompted.
"The mythos goes like this: Into each generation, a girl is born, one with the strength and skill to hunt the vampires, demons, and forces of darkness; to stop their swell in numbers… she is the Slayer."
Willow interrupted at this point, "At least that's the way it used to be. It's a bit different now, mostly thanks to Buffy."
"What do you mean by that? What did she do?" Calleigh wanted to know.
"See, from the beginning, one girl was called at a time. When that girl died, the next girl got "Called". And it was like that for millennia until Buffy." Giles told them, only to have Willow pick up the story from there.
"Somehow, Buffy escaped the notice of the Watcher's Council, until after she had been "Called", so she got to have what many girls before her didn't; which was a normal life."
"The old Watcher's Council was a bunch of stuffy, stiff-upper-lippy types that considered, and often treated the Slayer as their own personal weapon against evil. They would locate a girl with the potential, and either take her from her home, or in some cultures, the parents would give the girl to her Watcher, so that she could be trained for the possibility of being "Called"," Willow revealed, "But Buffy had grown up a normal, if somewhat shallow, teenaged Valley girl, and she adamantly insisted on trying to remain normal."
At that polite description of the way she used to be, Buffy snorted. "Please Will, you can say it. I was an insipid, spoiled, self-centered airhead. I was just like Queen C, if not worse. She would have been one of my wannabes."
Next was Dawn's turn to tell the tale. "But Buffy got expelled from Hemery in LA, for burning down the school gym to get rid of the vampires that had crashed the school dance. We ended up moving to Sunnydale with mom, after our parents divorced, because that was the only high school that would accept her. And that's when the real fun started…"
Puzzled over the irony in those words, Eric asked the question that was on the others mind. "Why do you say that? And why does it sound as if you're being facetious?"
"Probably because we are… I learned one important lesson at Sunnydale High, and that was to be afraid. Very, very afraid," Xander quipped.
As the explanations went on, Buffy remained silent for most of it. Preferring to let the others explain, while she cuddled and whispered to a now awake Joseph.
Getting further into the tale, they regaled the CSI group about graduation day, glossing over Faith's stint with the dark side, and then moved on to Willow and Buffy's freshman year of university, the Initiative, and finally to Dawn, Glory, and Buffy's second death.
The CSI group (including Eric and Horatio) were flabbergasted to find out the details of Dawn's true origins, and how the monks created Dawn, using Buffy's DNA. But when the part where Buffy sacrificed her life to allow Dawn a chance to live, none of them could hold back from commenting.
"So, what you're trying to tell us is that Buffy died not once, but twice?" Horatio asked in horror. "How is it possible for her to be here right now?"
"In a word: Magic." Willow declared. "Xander, his then girlfriend Anya, Tara, and I did a spell to resurrect Buffy two months after she died to save the world."
The CSI's bellowed "What!?!"
Trying to defend their actions, Willow went on, "Well, we thought that Buffy was suffering torment in some hell dimension, because Glory was trying to return to her home dimension, which was one of the worst of the known hell dimensions. And I couldn't let Buffy suffer like that! Especially when Joseph was desperately missing his mama and the world was still in need of her."
"Why would you do such a thing? What if Buffy had been in Heaven? You would have torn her out of her well deserved rest!" Alexx scolded.
"Don't worry about it Lady A, when G-man and I found, we ripped all of them a new one," Faith assured. "But B wasn't too distraught to be back among the living. So everything ended up five by five."
"And Timmy knew about all of this?"
"Yeah, and even though he was mighty upset about it, there wasn't anything he could do. It was what it was, ya know?"
"So, what was the First, and why was Giles so concerned that it would imitate Speed to taunt Buffy?" Horatio asked.
At this particular question, Buffy answered, "The First was, is, The First Evil. And it's exactly what it sounds like. It's the thing where all other evil springs from. The source of all evil, if you will. And the reason it has a grudge against us is because almost a year and a half ago, we smacked it down big time.
It was trying to enter this world by destroying the Slayer line forever. It used its priests, known as Harbingers or Bringers to find and kill all the potentials in the world, and then kill Faith, and then me. Since the First could only take on the non-corporeal form of the dead, it could have used Speed's form. That bitch seemed to enjoy using my form the most. But then again, if I was that fugly in my true form, I can understand why."
With a questioning look, Horatio said, "Fugly?"
Heaving an annoyed sigh, Faith explained, "What we mean is frickin' ugly- which is then shortened to fugly, get it?"
Something that Buffy's other family said about Dawn's origins raised some questions, which he commented on, "You know that if what you say is true about how Dawn was "created", then the DNA evidence would show that Dawn is actually Buffy's daughter, rather than sister, right?"
At that statement, Dawn groaned. "Great. That's just bloody great! As if I wasn't freak enough as it was. Now, you're saying that my "mother" was five years old when she had me?!? Can I just saw, 'eewww'?"
"Did anyone else just go to a scary and disturbing visual place?" Xander asked, revolted, as everyone in the room raised their hands in agreement, including Buffy. Joseph had raised his hand as well, even though he really didn't understand the discussion, which caused many of the room's occupants to chuckle.
Drawing the conversation back to the First, Horatio asked Buffy, "So Buffy, what you're saying is that Speed really did visit you?"
"Uh-huh, that's what I'm saying."
"What did you two talk about?"
"Tim understood my need to go away for a while, but he asked me not to leave Miami permanently. I promised him I wouldn't. He asked me to keep an eye on you. He also wanted me to let you know that you shouldn't blame yourself for his death, either H. He said that it was all his fault, for not taking care of his equipment. And that there was nothing either of us could have done to prevent this. Not to torture ourselves with 'What Ifs'."
"I see, thank you for telling me that Buffy." Horatio responded affectionately, hugging her.
"No worries." Buffy responded in return.
After much discussion, Buffy decided to spend at least a week in Cleveland to take some time to grieve and recuperate. But when she felt ready, both emotionally and mentally, she would return to Miami. Where she could figure out what her next move would be.
While Buffy and Joseph were away in Cleveland, Dawn was going to stay in Miami, because she was attending classes at the University of Florida. Buffy asked Faith to stay and keep an eye on Dawn; to make sure she didn't get into too much trouble, while Buffy was away. Faith readily agreed, as she and Robin had broken up, and she needed time away from the Cleveland Hellmouth.
Once the plans were set, most of the Scoobies left to go back to whatever assignment they had left, in order to be there for Buffy in her time of sorrow. Which left Buffy with some alone with her CSI family.
"Are you sure you going to Cleveland is what you want, baby?" Alexx asked.
"Yes Momma Alexx. I just need to take some time for myself and Joseph. But I *will* be back. Besides, you were Tim's family, which makes you mine as well, so barring death for a third time, I won't abandon you guys if I can help it. You're pretty well stuck with me." Buffy promised.