Soft Whispers by Baseketcase
Summary: Buffy Summers wasn't good doing at things. Mostly all things. She would start something and never finish it, then there was her uneasy promptness. After a huge wake up call she had to make some big life changes. She was forced to pick a less safe route to support herself and she never thought it may end up being the most interesting decision she would ever choose. Spuffy AU/All Human
Categories: Spuffy Fantasy/AU, Comedy fics, General Fics Characters: None
Genres: Angst, Romance
Warnings: Adult Language, Sexual Situations
Challenges:
Series: None
Chapters: 3 Completed: No Word count: 8057 Read: 5811 Published: 05/16/2014 Updated: 08/25/2015
Story Notes:
This is a new story I just came up with. Spuffy are AU and I wanted to play around with a new idea. I'd love some reviews on this one. :)

1. Chapter 1 by Baseketcase

2. Chapter 2 by Baseketcase

3. Chapter 3 by Baseketcase

Chapter 1 by Baseketcase

Buffy Summers was daydreaming again. It was easy for her to think about all those wonderful times when she was a kid with no responsibilities. She'd play roller hockey with the next door neighbors; the summers were a cool, refreshing swim at the pool with the high diving board in her childhood home. She had it made and now she's an adult, whatever that means.

"Summers?" She heard her name being called and turned to the voice. It was just Anna; the surrogate den mother of the workplace.

"What?"

"Boss is calling you." She motioned her wrinkled hand toward the hallway.

Buffy bit back and stood up from her chair, nearly everyone was looking at her now. This felt like all the embarrassing moments in high school when she got called into the principal's office without knowing anything.

She made her way to the back halls of the office at the end. The last time this happened to her she was blamed for something that someone else in the office caused. This happened often. Buffy just went with it for fear of being fired. She was pretty sure she had a few enemies in the building. Not to mention it doesn't help that her personal attendance record may have been corrupted since recently. She blamed her cousin for lending her that hand-me-down wreck of a transportation.

Buffy knocked first below the letterhead on the door of her main supervisor. He was the person who had hired her; the only employee here who she thought would always have her back in the most professional sense.

"Come inside Ms. Summers." She heard from behind the door. His voice was low and quiet, that can't be good.

Buffy slowly took a seat and clasped her hands together soundlessly. Her palms were starting to sweat and she knew if she didn't have it under control her supervisor was going to have more reason to question her. She hoped he didn't. It was a good thing he wasn't attractive. He was still married and neutered by his wife so she didn't have to worry about any weirdness.

She believed he liked her despite her not always being the best at her job. She tried, really. But by the blasé look in his eyes right now, she didn't know what to think. She put on her best professional smile and stared forward. Eye contact, she had to remind herself of this and ignore his mannerisms.

"Buffy, I called you in here for a big reason. I know how hard you try here and your dad helped you get this position and I owe him a favor for something he did for me a long time ago. But…" He paused, licking his lips to make sure she was still breathing. Buffy was hanging on to his words and she was doing her best not to interrupt him. "…I don't know if you're making progress here in this firm."

Buffy's jaw dropped. She mentally told herself to pick it up and attempted to regroup her nearly appalled expression. "I do try very hard at this company. I admit, I take responsibility for coming late a few times—"

"Twenty." Christ, he actually kept track.

Buffy's stutter came back and forced everything she had to keep it under wraps. Her livelihood was at stake here. And she was going to find out why the one person whom she thought had her back all this time was suddenly losing faith in her.

"I'm sorry, I hold myself accountable, no excuses. I will do better from here on." She hoped using her lawyer terminology would win some points or at least his belief in her abilities. "I can promise you, I won't let you down."

She used the smile her mother gave her, showcasing what her genetics bestowed onto her in valiant features to her boss. It was the only good thing her mother gave her. Maybe if she had her mother's love she wouldn't make so many mistakes in the workplace.

"Buffy, I am so sorry. You know I am not saying this as a personal decision. To be perfectly frank, your lack of attendance speaks volumes. I don't have any other choice. The policies are as stands. This company has rules. I often see you daydream, go off in your own world when you are on the clock supposed to be doing work. Sometimes you only do half a job and not all of it because you refuse to ask for help. Like the time you broke Annaka's computer when your station was heavily infected with some malware and didn't alert the floor tech."

Buffy gulped. Hearing her weaknesses pointed out loud was not doing her any good. Maybe she needed to hear it. What he was saying wasn't entirely incorrect. She had a habit of finishing her processing onto other employee's stationary. But that last one was for a good cause. Buffy wasn't a math or computer wiz. Her father may have boosted her recommendation to the supervisor before she was officially hired. It was probably catching up to her now. Her father taught her to be more independent right out of high school. She had managed to work in the company for a couple of years. But her amateur knowledge is showing now clear as day.

Maybe it was too good to be true. She could have tried harder. This is true. Buffy wasn't the type of person to give up, even if work was tough for her. Who really knows the person who influenced the situation? Anna, as old and unpractical as she was, couldn't have directly come to the supervisor to rat Buffy out. There was probably someone in the office who thought she was on the take. That she was only hired because her dad made it happen. It wasn't true, Buffy did try but she didn't think her boss focused on her weaknesses more than her other more positive qualities.

She didn't want this to happen; she had to think of something. Anything to make him reconsider.

"I'm sorry. I'll try harder. I know it sounds bad and I do apologize." Buffy said, the dejection already paramount in her tone, she was beginning to crumble, her professional voice taking a backseat. She was losing confidence fast.

Blinking back the first batch of tears, she threw her hair back, collecting herself.

This can't be it. Her supervisor looked at her as if she was a contestant on a game show and she just told him the wrong answer to a question he asked.

"I apologize too." He said, clearing his throat. "I can't let you stay here Buffy. I just can't, you're a liability to this firm."

This is the most emotion she'd seen from her supervisor, this was huge. He actually cared about her. But if that were true then why is she feeling as if the world was a vortex and she was being sucked inside?

Buffy looked down, clucking her tongue. She almost lost it there. Arguing with him was pointless and they both knew it. If only her father didn't sprout her up in his referral, if only she were more competent and less of an incumbent, if only she actually had something in life she was good at and didn't have to make her parents force her to do things she wasn't excited about, if only she was like everybody else, had their life together, came on time, focused on one thing and was exceptional at it. If only things worked out for her right now. If only someone believed she could do it right and give her another chance.

She looked up, her eyes almost seething with a mixture of anger, waves of tears and pain.

"You are making a mistake."

He sighed and leaned back in his chair. He had so much power. He could give her one more chance. He could change everything by granting her another chance to become a better worker. He looked at her, dark green eyes bore into her near meek hazel ones. She swallowed roughly, waiting for him to say something.

"Your fate here is decided, if I let you stay, I'm taking the biggest risk of my life. I can't be biased Buffy. Don't give a two weeks notice, I will send your final pay check today in the mail. Sorry."

Buffy launched up from her seat. She couldn't hear anymore of this. Now he was patronizing her and it was overstepping his professionalism. He is acting like the victim but also putting on an image that he cares. If he cared then this conversation would have never taken place or even dragged on. His pretentious empathy was only making things worse.

She huffed up and grabbed her bag, about to leave his office unexcused when she turned around. Last bit of self-assurance still left in her system and she was going to use it.

She turned around completely and stared at her supervisor, looking him up and down as if she were scanning his body for impeccable danger.

"Remember when you asked me to dinner that time before the Christmas party? I still remember that. I am so glad I said no."

She backed away and continued. "I don't waste my time with scum bags like you."

With those last words she didn't catch his reaction but she was sure he didn't see it coming. Just like his future pending divorce. She never told Human Resources about the incident and she didn't want legal troubles involved but she knew she had the last word. Being separated is not the same thing as being divorced; apparently he didn't get the memo.

She closed the office door behind her and ran to the bathroom. Her tears were coming with her as she collapsed on the couch letting every possible emotion there was out of her.

A bunch of people came into the ladies lounge and gawked at her, she could feel their eyes on her like she was an animal inside a cannel and this was the last thing she needed.

"Leave me alone ok?"

Buffy only heard Anna's voice ushering people out saying she has it handled. The only thing on Buffy's mind right now is drinking and downing a chocolate tub of ice cream from Safeway.

She felt Anna crouch to her level and rub her back gently while she wept all she had left.

"I don't want to talk about it. I am so embarrassed you don't even know."

"Of course I know, Brian is a douche bag honey. The whole office is on to his act. We didn't expect he would do this though. We thought it was going to be someone else actually."

Buffy raised her tear-stained face. "You knew?! Oh my god, why didn't you tell me he was going to fire me?"

Anna brought over some tissues and watched Buffy dry her face and blow her nose.

"No, we didn't know…we just knew it was going to be someone from this department."

Buffy never told Anna about Brian's advances toward her when she was first hired. Back then he wasn't married, he played the field and later being newly married still didn't stop him from the beginning transgressions on his own employees. Buffy had to wear long black skirts and baggy clothes to hide his prying eyes. It wasn't her fault she looked like her mother. None of this was her fault. She was just trying to do her job. Apparently it wasn't good enough. She knew he was hard on her after she told him no to dinner. But it was obvious he liked her. He didn't need to tell her. He would find moments when she was in the kitchen on break to be alone with her but most of the time other co-workers had come in, spoiling his attempts.

God knows what would have happened if they were working late overtime. Buffy wouldn't have a safety net much less a forced ride home.

"Yeah well, why didn't I see it coming? I should have. My dad should have never gone to this company with my lack of experience."

Anna sighed, brushing Buffy's hair out of her eyes so she can clean off her blotchy tears. "I know sweetie, I know. Maybe this is meant to happen in some way. I know how uncertain this sounds but, maybe you can finally look at something fresh along your path. It isn't over until it's over, you know?"

Buffy almost laughed at the corniness of her former co-worker. Anna was the one who always looked out for her. Since Anna never had children she considered Buffy her daughter if she ever had one. Anna gave her encouragement every time she would come in late or get scolded at work.

"Yeah, maybe I could find something I'm decently good at. I don't know what I qualify for though."

Anna chuckled, helping Buffy stand up straight as she sat next to her, holding her hand. "Honey, you are young and you have amazing talents that you probably haven't found yet. But I know you need to survive, so that's why I brought this…"

Anna presented the Classifieds section of the Los Angeles times. Buffy was deathly afraid of it. Anna seemed persuasive and handed her the folded newspaper with circle markings over various job titles.

Before looking at it Buffy stood up from the couch, she went to the bathroom to completely clean up her face and when she emerged Anna was waiting patiently for her.

"Thank you." Buffy said sincerely. "I think I just need to leave this place."

"OK well I hope you are feeling better. You have my number, if you want some help finding something new then just call. Until then, don't let him get to you. He's a bastard and his marriage is falling apart."

It's impolite to laugh now of all times but the corners of Buffy's mouth couldn't help but lift up. She let a giggle slip but caught herself taking a deep breath. She needed to breathe. All of her emotions were just laid out on display. Even if it's around Anna, she still wasn't one to be so dramatic. She supposed this time it was ok, she was just blatantly laid off from 2 years of steady work.

"Maybe you will also find someone who is on the same level as you. I know you are quite private and I respect that but I want you to be happy. You are such a beautiful, strong girl. Any man will be so lucky to have you in his life. Since Anatoly passed, there isn't a day where I don't think about the moments we shared together. I want you to find your happiness. Keep your eyes open. If he knows you feel the same, he won't let you go."

Buffy sniffed upon hearing this. She gave a sad smile but she knew better than to stretch it outward. Anna was just trying to make her feel better; this isn't a guarantee for everyone in their life. Least of all people, to her.

Buffy dusted herself and straightened out her work clothes, getting ready to leave the building for good.

If Buffy didn't know any better, this was a departure far from what they normally share with each other. This is beyond office comradery. Anna sounded genuinely concerned and this is what scared Buffy. But falling in love, finding that one person as she just said is a lot harder than people think. Her life is too chaotic to even notice a man giving her attention. Maybe her life will get better, who knows, but her love life, that remains non-existent and she was ok with that.

Buffy hugged Anna and they said their goodbyes as she collected her belongings in a box, making sure to turn the corner from cubical hell and never look back. It felt like a promise she would keep. Never would she look back and dread. Having that last minute heart to heart with Anna truly helped. And she did have the older woman's number in case she needed help. But Buffy didn't want to abuse that privilege. Life is best battled by yourself most days because in the end of everything, you are always alone and can't rely on anyone else.

She pressed the button and stepped inside the elevator. She forgot the Classifieds were tucked under her arm and glanced at it with lazy, tiring eyes.

"Hopefully this leads to bigger and better things. I don't even know anymore." She stared at it then sighed sadly.

Chapter 2 by Baseketcase
Author's Notes:
Spike is referred to as William in this story and he's a bit OOC, but still some "Spikeyness" in him. Working on the next chapter, should be up soon! :)
Daddy! Higher!" five-year-old Jessie squealed with delight while being pushed in the swing by her father.

"OK, OK, ready? And, here, we, go!" William said, pushing his daughter in the swing so high that he ducked underneath the seat and came out the other end. The crinkles at the corners of his eyes appearing as he smiled widely watching his daughter's happiness grow by the second.

It was a nice, breezy day at the park and William felt it was right to take his five-year-old rambunctious daughter out for some good fun. They hadn't a whole lot time to spend together as of recently. William's work life interfered with his personal life more than he deemed appropriate. He would love to spend every waking minute with his daughter but balancing his schedules can be incredibly trying to deal with.

William smiled and backed out of the way as Jessie swung her legs in a momentum that was racing higher than the swing set. It was truly rare that he had a chance to spend with her so he cherished every time work had allowed him a free afternoon or evening to do so. If only he had a job that granted him more time to spend raising her; watch as she made new discoveries in her young mind and often pick up things. She was an inquisitive child as most are at her age.

William's Auntie would help out when she could but he knew in a few weeks she would be busy and he would have to figure out how to work out being around his daughter with his already busy schedule. He needed a plan. Sometimes it felt like he was doing everything alone and without Jessie's mother in the picture, his life seemed a lot harder than he imagined it was five years ago.

He didn't want to think about his ex now, but in times he got to spend with Jessie, his ex just came up naturally. The reality was Jessie needed a proper mother. She needed a role model in her life, and with her growing up so fast, she could use someone to relate to. Especially when she grows to puberty, he didn't want to think about her getting older. It was already hard enough the last several years trying to raise her. He did the best he could. His Auntie helped watch her when he needed her to. His Nan lived with his Auntie not too far away but he worried that she wouldn't keep up with Jessie's energy. He relied too much on his Auntie to cover his absence and he knew that all too well.

His family did what they could and so did he but he knew he needed more help. He needed someone professional, someone who knew how to be a caretaker and nanny at the same time. He was about to get an idea when Jessie stopped swinging and stared at him.

"Daddy, um, why are you so quiet?" Jessie moved her hair sloppily out of her eyes.

"No reason lovely. Just enjoying my time with you is all." William tried to mask his doubts with the best smile he could muster. It was the same smile he used at work to conceal his personal problems and soldier on. "How are you my darling? Sun is about going down, are you having fun?"

Jessie nodded enthusiastically. She grinned and he couldn't help but notice she carried his smile. It was strange how much she resembled him the more she grew. He saw more of it each day. The only thing Jessie got from her mother were her temper tantrums; Jessie wasn't afraid of being a loose cannon sometimes. He was grateful his genetics still won out over his ex's, it could be a very challenging thing had she looked like someone he didn't particularly care for anymore.

Jessie wasn't aware of everything when it came to her mother but she knew that her mother wasn't in her life anymore. William couldn't help but remember the day he told his daughter the news that her mommy would no longer see her. Jessie wouldn't do anything. She barely ate; all she did was sleep, fuss, scream, yell and fight when William tried to discipline her. It wasn't any use. He had to just leave her alone and let her cry it out.

One of the worst things he ever did was take the advice of his staff editor and take her to see a counselor. She was way too young for something like that and it was wrong to leave her alone in the room with a complete stranger. Eventually Jessie opened up to Nan, she talked about all of her issues and they cried together. William watched the scene and couldn't help himself as he cried silently. His own daughter was in pain and he was angry. So angry at himself for not picking a proper mother for his child and angry that her biological mother turned out to be one of the worst people to ever come in his life. Jessie cried herself to sleep that night in Nan's house and William vowed, from that day he would do everything he could to keep Jessie away from that intense amount of pain. He knew Jessie was psychologically damaged from everything but he also knew, in spite of everything, she was a happy, good child that he wanted to be there for whenever she needed him.

William held out his hand but Jessie ran to his chest and slung her arms around his torso giving him the monster of all bear hugs. Jessie made him feel like he was the most important person when she hugged him like this. It could also mean Jessie wanted something in secret and was just acting like a princess in order to receive it. He was too smart for that so he was going to say it was both. Jessie is a good girl but not above being a charmer for trying to get what she wanted.

William laughed softly at his daughter, kissing the top of her head.

"I love you, you know that lovely? You're my angel and I'll always be here to protect you." William said softly, squeezing Jessie in the hug as she began to pull away.

"Yeah, I know, you always say that…"

"It's because I mean it love, it's just you and me. You know that." William leaned down to kiss the tip of her nose and pretended to honk it.

Jessie bit her lip, looking down; even at such a young age she has the ability to be so expressive and deep. Another inherent trait she got from her father.

"And maybe mommy? Please daddy? Can she come back to us? I miss her…"

William wanted to say but she was barely there you in the beginning. The only time his ex acted like a mother was the day before she was sent to court so she wouldn't seem unfit. Turns out, she was unfit and the judge sentenced her to rehabilitation until she straightened her act together.

"No, not this year sweetie. I promise its going to be a positive rest of the year and years after that to come. Remember what I told you? That I love you no matter what? That you mean the absolute world to me and I would never ever let anyone come into our lives to hurt us again? I truly mean that and I want you to know this every day. I am here for you and I will be there for whenever Auntie and Nan can't."

"But daddy, you work too much…mommy never worked too much and I miss her a lot."

Jessie hit a nerve and even though she was very young and didn't mean to, it still stung nevertheless. Having a serious conversation with a slightly underdeveloped 5-year-old was never an easy task. She was right about his working too much, wrong about everything else regarding her mother. William cleared his throat delicately.

"Your mum needs to get better. I told you, remember love? Once she is all better then we'll see what happens, maybe you both can see each other. I understand you're upset. I try very hard to be around for you but it becomes difficult for me. I still try because I love you and I would do anything for you."

"Bring her back." Jessie begged with her eyes, biting her lip sadly and sucked her thumb. William sighed, immediately pulling her thumb away from her mouth and turned her tiny chin to face him.

"She needs to bring herself back. Now you and I are doing just fine. Bringing up your mother also makes me feel very upset, I want to try and make things better for everyone this year. Can I ask you to not talk about her in front of me? I am not angry with you sweetheart but I need a clear mind sometimes so I can continue to make a better life for us. When you're older you will hopefully understand me, for now I am asking you, please, no more talks about mummy again. Please?"

Jessie was near crying and let her tears cascade down her rosy cheeks in the open fall breeze. William wiped any new ones before they came down. He looked at his daughter with a strong smile but underneath he was sullen and scared. William always put on a brave face for his pride and joy. Jessie was his everything and he would literally kill for her happiness. Piss off his daughter and you will answer to him forthwith. And his ex did her fair share of bullying her own daughter and he was damned if he would allow this to happen again. He only hoped the court had issued a restraining order along with her rehab sentence. The decision was way too generous in his opinion.

He crouched down to Jessie's tiny level and gave her a big hug, their second big expressive hug in just one day. William was overwhelmed by the emotions. Jessie was a loud, boisterous girl who was so sensitive underneath it all. After the hug came to a natural end, William and Jessie picked themselves off and he helped her dust off any remainder of sand from her clothes. She had a habit of having too much fun sometimes. William was trying to keep up with all her energy. Being a young father himself, he had some left of from his youth that didn't exactly go away.

Jessie tugged one of his arms down and told her father she wanted to go get some frozen yogurt. William almost said no but saw that look in her eyes; it's the same look he used to give people when he really wanted something growing up. He relented and they got inside the car as he drove from the park to the yogurt shop that was connected to the café where all the college students study. If Jessie was getting a sweet treat then William was definitely making way to get a coffee to keep up. Sugar and children are the same as children and roller coasters. He needed to be prepared for all the loudness from his daughter until it goes away 5 hours later.

They were near the shore docks and William suggested they sit on the benches that overlook the horizon on top of the Pacific Ocean. As he sat down with his coffee and Jessie with her dollop of frozen vanilla in her cup, he decided to bring her body closer to his for safety. Keeping his daughter closer made him feel better about everything. All the stress he dealt with, the work he's obligated to finish, deadlines and then unfortunate mishaps, he needed this small natural comfort to keep him sane. He remembered missing the moment Jessie was walking for the first time because he held a 15 hour work load that day. Thankfully Auntie taped it on her phone and William had the chance to see it but he would have wanted to see it better with his own eyes in person. It was sad that day when he came home so tired only to come back to see Jessie fast asleep in her crib. Having his daughter next to him right now made up for all the past turmoil he had to wrestle with.

"Daddy?"

"Hmm, yes darling?"

"Do you think we all go to heaven even if we're bad?"

William was thrown for a moment. Jessie is known for being herself with the questions but it never ceased passed William when she asked questions like these.

"I don't know. I hope so. Maybe if they apologize for all the bad things they did. Of course they will."

Jessie finished the last of her frozen yogurt, put it to the side and grabbed her father's torso once again. She was sticking to him like caramel to a green candy apple, her words she would often say to him when they were close.

"OK then…maybe you are right. Auntie says everyone can be invited to heaven."

"She did? Goodness, what other things has Auntie told you?"

"Yo Gabba Gabba is a show for babies and I am not a baby. Dora the Explorer is a role model for me. Auntie doesn't like when you cook sometimes. Haha, oh…she also said you still love mommy deep, deep, deep, deep down. I know I'm not supposed to say her name but Auntie and me talk."

William kissed his daughter's head strongly and bit his tongue back. His silently held response probably would make her weep for days if he wasn't so protective of her feelings. Jessie for some ungodly reason was attached to her mother as if she made some big impact on her life. William's feelings about her were obvious.

Did he love Angela? No. And that is a strong no. She is a staunch manipulator that ruined his life and made their daughter suffer severe nightmares when they were battling for custody during her own personal battles as an addict. She was never fit to be a mother, she threatened abortion several times but William told her he would stick by her side and help her raise Jessie. He would quit school and get an entry job, working his way up until he was hired in a position that provided enough for them and the baby.

Angela was so wrong for him from the start and he knew it. He was very young when Jessie was conceived and from that day on, he knew he had to grow up fast. Putting his dreams on hold to take care of a life he made with someone that he now utterly hates. The love he felt for her was drained by her lack of empathy for responsibilities. He took more on his shoulders than she did and her severe depression meddled into everything, making the days seem worse as they came. Angela was a selfish brat that was spoiled by her rich relatives. She never worked a day in her life but William was sure during her "modeling gigs" she was less than faithful to him. To think he wanted to ask her to marry him, it was a miracle he made it through all of that alive and with Jessie in tow. Angela scared him from loving another person again. Who would love a single dad at his age anyway? It's not exactly appealing since most girls out there believe he only dated them because he needed a babysitter. Biggest misconception about him.

At one point he did love Angela but that was old news long since she decided to ruin her life with dangerous influences. William put up with so much when it came to his ex. So much that the mere mention of her name boiled his blood and made his skin shiver to the point where goose bumps sprayed over his skin.

"I don't love her anymore but…" Jessie's wondering eyes looked to his. "I am grateful that she gave me you. And I'll always thank her for that gift."

Jessie smiled a wide, toothy grin that she stole from him by birth as she snuggled against his chest. "I love you."

William smiled, holding back tears that wanted to slip down his cheeks. It was a happy cry thankfully, so rare in his life. He adored whenever Jessie was affectionate with him in return. She was only five, but it was sweet when she gave back her love. It made him feel like every hardship and all those times he took care of her were all truly worth it.

On the corner of his eye William saw a young woman with sun-kissed, long blonde hair sitting on the corner of the docks, she couldn't be more than in her early twenties, carrying a notepad and pencil in hand. She took a seat calmly and breathed in deeply. Closing her eyes, her lips were slightly parted and it seemed like she was meditating. William tried not to stare as he found he was losing grip on his coffee take away cup. He was scanning the woman at the end, unsure of why his attention was pulled to her. He was sure she had a big story like everyone who came to the docks did.

When she opened her eyes she blinked a few times before looking down. It seemed like she was about to cry or she already did and now she was looking for peace. William was looking way too much into this girl, he didn't know her at all and already he's examining her as if she's the subject of some test he was studying for. He shook his head and stared forward. She wasn't his to stare at anyway. She probably had a boyfriend or someone she was seeing. Why would he waste his time gawking at a complete stranger? He didn't even take notice of her turning her body so her feet were propped up on the other end of the bench and her back leaned against the handle. He wasn't going to stare anymore. Angela truly wrecked his trust in anyone and it was time he devoted his full attention to Jessie.

"Daddy, what are you thinking about?"

"Hmm?" William turned slightly pink and looked at his daughter's curious blue eyes. "I was thinking about us. How I rarely get to do this anymore. I know I should make more of an effort. I promise you, things will change. I'll ask work for two months off if I have to."

"I'm glad you're here now." Jessie giggled her girlish laugh and cuddled up next to her father.

They were having a small moment that he wished someone could capture in a painting or a drawing, something. He wanted to keep this memory with him for the rest of his life. That's what he wanted; this was all he wanted, a simple life. No more drama or outside distractions to combat with. He wanted his daughter to grow up in a normal way. It wasn't too much to ask, but realistically because life is so fickle, he had to keep fighting for it.

But that was just the thing when it came to getting his simple wishes come true. Nothing ever happens in a simple way. It's too late for him but not for Jessie. She needed him; William's happiness will just have to wait. Or it may never happen.
Chapter 3 by Baseketcase
Buffy imposed on herself an extremely limited budget and hated every part of it. Of course she never spent more than what she earned and knew how to save money so everything she needed was paid for on time, more or less. If she wanted to save something for herself it would have to wait. Some people don't get that luxury and she was one of those individuals. Even today she knew it was her last time eating at the corner bakery deli before trying to figure out what she wanted to do with her life. It was harder than she thought because she knew there was so much pressure from her mother's words to follow in her footsteps and get everything handed to you just by posing in a tawdry photo shoot or a frivolous music video; and walking up to human resources with a resume in hand and getting hired on the spot. It worked for her mother, why not her?

It was her time now, if her mother only wanted her to continue on her road of success. She didn't care what Buffy wanted.

Thinking about her mother turned her skin ghost white followed by goose bumps. She didn't want to be afraid of her but she was. Her mother was very shallow and had claimed Buffy was always wasting her life day dreaming about art and silly things that were nothing more than "meaningless dribble." Buffy didn't want her mother's life. She'd be damned if she was going to head down that road and feel the searing regret later on.

Buffy was different than what the world and her parents perceived her as. She never considered herself boring but then she didn't think she had anything special about her that really stood out. She liked strange things like painting, drawing, sketching, or at least the people around her tend to think it was weird to like those things because they were labeled as hobbies. It wasn't fair for people to judge her before getting to know her. It felt wrong to get sad over it also, Buffy knew it wasn't her fault. She couldn't help but like what she likes or be who she is.

Sometimes she wasn't always sure of that. "Getting your head out of the clouds is your golden ticket to happiness" her dad would say, and then again her dad was another story. He wanted her life to fit someone who was well educated and taken care of. She was much closer to him when she was younger but as time went on that had been less and less. Being the daughter of Los Angeles District Court DA wasn't an easy bonding ship. She much preferred his life before he moved up in his career, when he was just a district attorney's assistant. Now he is the lead state DA of the Superior Court. Buffy and her dad rarely if at all have moments where they could go out to dinner or just talk. The more accomplished his life had gotten the more they drifted apart from each other. But he always stated how much his work practically paid for everything she needed growing up.

She didn't know what she was going to do with her life but she knew she had to make it in something. She drove to Santa Monica and walked slowly to the end of the pathway that reached toward the docks. She hadn't come here in a long time; it was a place where she could feel calm and get her mind off the crazy pressures in life. She brought her notepad and pen along with her in case she had a need to sketch something random. It gave her peace whenever she drew, she couldn't explain it. She carried that feeling with her when she was very young and well into adulthood.

Being at the beach, soaking in the ocean mist made everything seem a little easier, until she drove back home. But every time she came there it was like she left hell and stepped into a new kind of heaven. People come to the beach to escape, think, collect their thoughts, observe or create art. Buffy wanted comfort; when she stepped out of the car and sunk her feet into the soft sand she began to close her eyes and revel in it.

She opened them when she heard shouting voices and moved away from a crowd of people playing volleyball. She frowned because she loved the sand and shores but the beach looked a little too overpopulated to enjoy it in solace. The best time to come was at night but it wasn't even sundown yet. She didn't want to miss the sunset's beginning cast so she slipped back on her flats and walked toward the end of the docks.

The tourism was higher than ever since late summer was coming to a close. Every type of person was here, from around the globe, on vacation, living in paradise, then possibly going back to wherever they came from. Buffy felt lucky she was so close.

As she walked the wooded docks she noticed the various street performers and artists trying to earn a living. People always speculated if the Santa Monica performers had just their talent to live on. Based on how they performed, it was pretty obvious how true it was. It must be nice to live your dream and make something tangible of it. She wondered what kind of lives people performing had lived. Often when she went to the docks near the fisherman's section, she observed all of kinds of people. Musicians, painters, sketchers, magicians and even the occasional break dancer all giving the finger to the American dream of going to school, earning a degree, living in debt and hoping all the work paid off for a sensible job in the end. But they stripped it from American to just dream, because for them, life was anything they wanted it to be. Must be amazing to live and breathe this mentality every day.

Buffy was all the more curious. She longed for this type of atmosphere, almost feeling envious all the while. It seemed unpredictable and authentic to the core. If she knew what she wanted to do then it would make sense. She wouldn't have to over think or worry so much along with the added pushing she received from her parents to succeed in their nearly impossible life standards.

She didn't want to think so brashly anymore. She used say when the pressures first started to bite at her if only she had superpowers and could magically block out all doubts that stayed in her mind preventing her from relaxing. But this was reality, she had to get used to life being so tough and deal with her thoughts just like any other single person would.

People crowded the docks around her and sometimes it would become a little claustrophobic. Today was different, most of the boisterous antics were left on the beaches, and she relaxed where she was.

There was some kind of party in the corner, loads of friends gathered together were cheering and clapping as the celebration went on. Buffy wondered what it was like to have people like around her. Somehow it seemed unreal to her, other times, maybe she didn't push herself out there enough to be near those kinds of people.

It wasn't like she didn't have a social life, her mom would have accepted her to be a socialite, but she didn't know her daughter all that well. It's something Buffy couldn't explain to anyone. She was just a private person, as private as it gets. She normally didn't get too close to anyone and she didn't in turn worry about people getting close to her, knowing her secrets. Possibly, who knows, betraying her in the end. She hoped that wasn't what people were really like. She had this cynical notion that everyone deep down wasn't very trusting.

But she knew she'd have to deal with them sooner or later. She liked watching children though; even in her baby-sitting days she'd love playing with them even though found it hard to discipline them. She thought they were amazing, but at the same time, she wasn't right for that job. She can't imagine anyone going through the challenges of caring for a child. It's fairly easy to play with them but raising them, teaching them life lessons, that was the main thing that terrified her about children. They were wonderful but they need manners and it was incredibly difficult to teach a child to learn and obey especially when all they really want to do is discover life as it goes.

She didn't want to think about how hard it must be for single parents out there. Unfortunately, for her, she never ran around with guys and wound up pregnant with a child. It wasn't her right to judge everyone else for something she didn't understand. She was still glad she was careful and didn't follow down that path. It seemed like the point of no return.

Buffy pulled away from her thoughts and sat down on the bench she knew well enough, taking out her sketch pad and pencil.

It was rare when she had impromptu moments with her drawings. Sometimes she would sit down and pull the images out but it never came to her that way. She was frustrated when she told herself she would create something. It's been a long while since she was inspired anyway; the last thing she drew was a mother and a little boy from a distance. She remembered the mother was sitting incredibly still and her son was feeding the pigeons. Nobody sat still enough to make a proper visual from. But at least it was an attempt.

Maybe she was wasting her time in theory but it gave her less stress. Artists make next to nothing when they offer to draw anybody in the city. Buffy tried to ignore that obvious truth but it hit home for her. There are some things you can't make a living out of.

She looked around the docks and saw something quite beautiful. A young man no older than she was but by the looks of his face, shown signs of early growing up and by his side a tiny girl with beige blonde hair were bonding with each other. The little girl was sloppily eating some frozen yogurt and her father or possible her older brother, was making her sure she was near him the entire time. He picked her up so she could look at the sunset setting behind the mountains in the distance. The dimly light sun cast a blaze of strong light across their faces and Buffy felt her drawing hand move on its own.

She turned her body so she could get a better angle and closer before freely looking to the sketch pad. Drawing children was almost second nature; this child had very round and bold eyes, even from a distance. Buffy couldn't make out the color but guessed they were a lighter shade of some sea color. Maybe green or blue, Buffy felt her hand going by itself with the shadowy personal creases of the family image.

Her cell vibrated, disrupting her concentration. She was almost finished with the last features of the drawing as she sighed heavily placing the note pad away and looking at her phone.

It was Anna, requesting for her to come by her place to talk with her. Buffy hesitated before she moved off the bench and made her way down the narrow pathway leading to the parking lot. The car she owned was almost on its last leg but it was good to her, like an old friend who had been through a lot but still pressed on. She knew the feeling all too well as she pulled out of the lot and took the familiar route to Anna's house.

She sighed to herself as she switched off the radio thinking about the people she drew at the docks. She was wondering why life can't be as simple as that. But she didn't finish the drawing, just like nothing in her life appeared to be finished.
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