Joyce shivered at the thought of anyone laying a hand on her daughter. Her getting into fights at school was a different thing altogether, they had been other kids not an adult male. Buffy could have been seriously hurt, or worse, if the stairs had not been there for Ted to fall down them.
Buffy had shown little remorse over what had happened and that bothered Joyce a great deal. What was going on that she did not care about taking another life? Joyce remembered the stress and tribulations of being a teenaged girl. There were times she wished she could take Buffy into her arms and tell her it was all going to be all right, but Joyce knew seventeen-year-old girls did not want to hear that from their mothers.
One thing her relationship with Ted had taught her was that it was time for her to move on. She had never dated anyone but Hank Summers and had been scared to get her feet wet in the dating game again. It was not easy when you came with a ready-made family, particularly when the child in question was at that awkward and emotionally trying time as Buffy was.
So, was it better to have loved Ted and be without him or never to have had his presence in her life? Joyce wagered a little of both was true. Joyce should have listened to Buffy's protests a little more intently. But what if Buffy did not like any man who was not her father? Where would that leave Joyce? As much as she loved Buffy she did not want to live the rest of her life out alone.
She heard the front door close and looked into the hallway to see Buffy coming in for the night. It was late but Joyce was not sure how to handle discipline at the moment, Buffy had been through the wringer lately.
"Hi Mom," Buffy said as she removed her coat.
"Hi honey. How was your night?" she asked, clutching the mug of hot chocolate with both hands.
"Oh fine, same ol'. How about you?"
What could she say? That she had been sitting here in the dark contemplating whether she was withering away into nothing? "Fine," she said offering her a smile. Nothing much had changed, neither talked about what was really on their minds or how they were feeling. Avoidance was something they were both good at. Had she taught Buffy how to be that way or was it a part of her?
"I'll see you in the morning," Buffy said as she walked to the stairs.
"Good night, honey." Joyce finished her hot chocolate and brought the empty mug into the kitchen. She rinsed it out, the water overflowed over the cup's rim into the sink as Joyce stood looking out the window into the night. Looking outside, one could imagine life was normal, that she had not fallen in love with a robot and that before she knew he was a robot she thought her daughter had killed a man. She sighed and turned off the faucet, wiping her hands on the towel determined to stop focusing on Ted and what might have happened. The important thing was that it did not happen, she and Buffy were okay, that was what was important.
Story ©Susan Falk/APCKRFAN/PhantomRoses.com