rapidly, which gives me feels. It seems like it's been forever
since I conceived of this story, and though I'm happy to be
nearing the end, I'm also very, very sad.
I hope you read and enjoy - there's not much more to tell.
Dawn watched as her husband and children packed their belongings into nondescript moving boxes with a combination of incredible sadness and tremendous anticipation. She couldn’t believe they were leaving. Leaving her niece and two nephews, her sister and brother-in-law, as well as pretty much every other person she loved behind as her family headed for Bath, England.
An era had come to an end. Rupert Giles had passed away in his sleep from natural causes according to the autopsy. He’d already been gone for two days, and Lydia was holding back the funeral to give the family time to arrive and pay their last respects.
Liam was their stoic. At sixteen years old he’d made the argument that he hadn’t wanted to leave his friends, his school and part of his family behind, but he’d gathered up his courage – choosing to support his family instead of causing a scene that would make his parents feel more guilty than they already did.
Kathleen at ten was more accepting. She was looking forward to decorating her new ‘grownup girl’ room, which would hold none of the nursery memories she’d always lived with. She was sad at leaving her friends behind, and she would miss seeing her Auntie Buffy and Uncle Will, Grandpa Angel and Grandma Nina every day, for sure. However, both she and Liam had been promised brand new state-of-the-art computers with high speed wifi so they could visually contact them any time they wanted.
It would ease the separation a little, and that was all they could hope for.
Dawn wasn’t sure she was ready to take over the responsibilities of heading the Council, but knew she’d give it her best shot. Lydia promised that as soon as she was able to, she would work side-by-side with Dawn, showing her the ins and outs and pointing out who was who in the hierarchy. As a Chalmers, and a survivor of the horrible blast that had decimated the Council all those years ago, Lydia had been held in high esteem, since Giles had recovered and taken over the reins. Her knowledge would be most helpful, and Dawn was grateful for any assistance she could offer.
“I can’t believe you’re actually leaving!” Buffy called out as she entered the room and grabbed Dawn in a bear hug.
“You’re all going, too,” Dawn reminded her. “We’ll all be together for funeral.” She couldn’t help it then. Dawn’s shoulders began to shake, then she sniffled, until finally, the tears ran down her face as she sobbed. “Oh, Buffy… he’s really gone. It doesn’t seem possible that there’s now a world in which there is no Rupert Giles.”
As Buffy stood there silently hugging Dawn, knowing that there were no words to ease the pain of the inevitable, Dawn felt more like the baby sister she used to be, instead of the forty-nine year old she’d become.
“You never see it coming,” Buffy agreed, wiping her own tears from her eyes. She murmured into her sister’s hair, “It’s the part of life we all know, but refuse to acknowledge. Even though Giles lived more than a full life, it hurts that he won’t be here for the rest of ours.”
Liam ambled into the room, plopping himself into an overstuffed recliner. “Hey, Aunt Buffy.”
“Hey, yourself, kiddo. How’s the packing coming?”
“Almost done. Stuff that didn’t make the ‘bring with’ list has been tossed. Books and assorted paraphernalia boxed and taped; most of my clothes and shoes, as well,” he added. Looking wistful, he fumbled with his phone in his hands. “I’ve got the digits of everyone I have to keep in touch with, and said most of my goodbyes. It sucks, you know?”
Buffy smiled with understanding. Poor kid, he’d be miserable for a bit – until he met kids in his new school. That would help. “I know some of what you’re going through, Liam,” she said, hugging him around the shoulders. “My mom moved us from Los Angeles to Sunnydale after the divorce came through, and just in time for me to start a new high school. Now I know it’s not quite as far as the move you’re making,” she said when Liam gave her the stink eye, “but to me, it was like moving to the moon.”
“But we both survived,” Dawn said, even though she hadn’t technically existed during those years, “and so will you and Kathleen. I promise. It might not always be a breeze, but you won’t hate it,” she added with confidence.
“Well, I guess we’ll see,” Liam said as he rose from the chair and headed back towards his room.
“You done good, Dawnie,” Buffy said with the ever present presence of tears in her eyes these past few days. “Mom would be so proud of you. You’re a wonderful mother.”
“You’re not so bad yourself,” Dawn replied. “Right now you have your hands full with Brandon and Braden. Only five years old and so smart! And Jocelyn is growing up so fast. I can’t believe she’s already nine. And she certainly has Will wrapped around her little finger, doesn’t she?”
“When she hits her teens, I’m expecting fireworks,” Buffy laughed. “After all, she has Summers blood in her veins, right?”
Dawn simply nodded her agreement, looking proud as a proper Auntie could.
“Well, I’m gonna head back to my bunch, and let you get on with what you have to do. Thank god Angel will have all your stuff shipped after we leave. One less thing to worry about.”
“Just have to hope everything gets there in one piece. We’re all taking our laptops with us on the plane, so that’s a load off our minds. Liam can’t wait for us to buy him the latest tech after we’ve settled in.”
“Boys and their toys, huh?”
The scene at the airport was no less heart wrenching than the actual funeral, itself. The Summers sisters were finding it hard to let go of each other, hugging tightly and murmuring promises to keep in touch and to visit whenever possible.
Angel and Nina were having a hard time saying goodbye to their grandchildren.
Angel shook Liam’s hand. “You’re a fine young man, and I’m proud of you, lad. I’m sure your future will be amazing, no matter what path you choose to take.”
Nina held Kathleen in her arms. “Grandma will always love you, sweetheart, no matter where we live.”
The final boarding call blared out from the loudspeakers, and the separation became a reality.
“Call us when you land?” Buffy plead as her sister and family turned towards the boarding gate.
“I promise, you howler monkey!” Dawn yelled back, hearkening back to their youthful interactions.
The door closed behind them.
The Dowells settled into life with Lydia at the farm she and Giles had shared. Lydia emerged from her mourning a more somber individual than she used to be, but the love and attention she received from those Giles had loved without reservation helped restore part of her lost soul.
Connor and Dawn made sure Lydia was well cared for in her own home as the years passed and her health declined.
Lydia Evelyn Chalmers passed away at the age of 72 years old in September, 2049. The farm and its lands were left to the Dowell family in her will, at Giles’ request.