The funeral had been horrible, but I had remained emotionless. In fact, I had barely spoken three words or shed one tear since my daddy's death. I can't remember exactly what happened, but soon after Daddy's death, Mommy had showed up and was crying and trying to turn my head away from the scene. After that, everyone had been trying to "comfort" me and get me to talk. I had heard the pity conversations from everyone-- including Aunt Willow, and Uncle Oz, and Uncle Xander, and Aunt Cordy, and Aunt Anya, and Grandma Joyce, and Grandpa Giles. After a while, Mommy started getting worried.
It wasn't really until one night-- about a month after Daddy's death-- that I had that strange dream. Or maybe it wasn't a dream. Maybe all of this had been a dream, and when I woke up, Daddy would be there to take me to school like he did every morning. I'm still not clear on that, but whatever it was, I'm not gonna question it. Instead, I'll just be thankful.
"It was not his time."
"If he's gone, then the Powers decided it was his time. Who are we to argue with..."
"It was not his time."
"We do not decide that."
They argued like this for a while, and my made my head ache. Finally, the woman's persistence got her somewhere and the man reluctantly agreed.
"What shall we do about it then?"
The woman paused and glanced at me, as if seeing me for the first time. "The boy..."
The man blinked and turned to me. "What are you pondering?"
With a small smile, the woman stepped forward and rested a hand on my shoulder. Suddenly, I was no longer in that strange room, but in another strange room. And I saw Daddy sitting in a chair only a small distance away from me with a worried expression. I opened my mouth to speak, but I saw Aunt Willow, followed by Uncle Xander and Grandma Joyce hurry into the room.
"Angel!" Aunt Willow cried. "What happened, is she alright?"
Daddy frowned. "I think so. They said they couldn't really tell me anything specific until a family member got here."
I looked up to see a middle-aged man come in. "Are any of you related to Buffy Summers?" he asked, looking at the people in the room.
I opened my mouth to say something, but Grandma Joyce beat me to it.
"I'm her mother," she stated.
The man nodded and stepped closer to her. "I'm Dr. Simons," he greeted. "Your daughter is doing well. She has a broken leg and several bruises, but other that, there was no serious damage." He stopped and turned to Daddy. "You brought her here?"
Daddy nodded wordlessly.
"And you are?"
"I'm her boyfriend. Angel."
I blinked in surprise. Boyfriend?
"What happened?" Dr. Simons asked.
Daddy looked uncomfortable as he tried to answer. "Um, well, we were walking home from a date and we were attacked by men with uh, knives."
"And you fought them?" the doctor asked in disbelief.
Daddy nodded, still looking uncomfortable.
The doctor sighed and shook his head. "Kids," he murmured under his breath. "Well, you can all go see her now." He glanced briefly and absently at me for the first time since he had been there as he told Daddy her room number and then left the room.
Suddenly, Daddy looked at me, noticing me for the first time. "Hey there," he told me, crouching down in front of me. "Are you here by yourself?"
I cocked my head sideways and nodded.
Daddy pursed his lips. "What's your name?" he asked me.
"Justin," I answered as if it were obvious. My voice sounded strange to my ears.
"Well, hello there, Justin," he said holding out a hand to me. "Very nice to meet you. My name is Angel."
I shook his hand awkwardly, still wondering what was going on.
"Angel, lets go see Buffy," I heard Aunt Willow say impatiently.
Daddy nodded and stood up. He was about to leave, when he stopped and looked at me. "We can't just leave him here by himself," he said.
Uncle Xander sighed and motioned for me to go over to him. I obeyed.
"Come on, little guy," he told me. "We're gonna go see a friend." He turned to Daddy. "We can report it to the hospital later."
Daddy nodded in agreement and took my hand. I glanced up at him and saw he had a small frown, but I didn't say anything. From the conversation with the doctor, I figured we were going to see Mommy. I hoped maybe she would know what was going on. And why nobody seemed to know me.
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