abetterlie: (Default)
It's one of my favourite memories that aren't. I think it must have happened, because why would Vail make up something like that? Or maybe it didn't. At this point, I don't care.

But what I remember is this: Mom and Dad - Colleen and Lawrence Riley, if it needs to be clearer - went through a bad time when I was ten and Mere was six. They tried to keep it from us, but you notice stuff. At least when you're ten you do, and when most of the other parents of the guys you go to school with are divorced. This was when I started to have this idea of running away to the circus, or something. Anyway, Christmas came, and a visit from my grandmother - Dad's mother - and of course she picked up on something being wrong, too, and made these comments to Mom where she was saying one thing but you could hear in her voice she meant something else. And after a while, Mom just about exploded, said "it's none of your freakin' business", took the car, and drove away. She didn't come back for hours, and there was supposed to be a party for Dad's collegues at our house - every year, someone else hosted the Christmas office party, and this year it was Dad's turn. Nobody was telling Mere and me anything, still, except Dad saying I should keep Mere busy, would I do that? So I tried. And I kept imagining Mom going away, or whatever was wrong turning out to be that either her or Dad was deathly ill or something, and felt more rotten by the minute.

Mere wanted some more of the cookies, though we weren't supposed to eat any more before Christmas dinner, but I didn't care about that anymore and went down to get some. The party had already started, and nobody would notice. So I went down the stairs, and there she was. Mom. Back. And she was kissing Dad. Not a peck on the cheek kiss or a good morning darling how are you kiss or something like that - it was the kind where you feel embarassed watching when these are your parents. Except I didn't, not this time. I was just so relieved. She was glowing, and so was Dad when he came up for air, and I knew whatever the bad thing had been, it was over now. They'd stay together. Nobody was sick. Best Christmas present ever.

You can't keep track of seasons or a calendar at Quototh. My father was always frustrated about this, because he wanted to obey the holidays and teach me how to. When I first came here, Fred tried to work out how many years had passed and how old exactly I was and what happened when, but math genius or not, she could only come up with estimations. But I think I can guess what happened in Quortoth when I was ten. I nearly lost him. He was aging, you see; he hadn't been a young man when we arrived there, and now he was starting to be old. Too old to be just fast enough, strong enough to beat every creature there on his own. They nearly got his leg that one time. It had been one of our tracking exercises, that's why I wasn't with him, and when I showed up, he was already bleeding, couldn't run anymore because of the leg would, and the smell attracted even more enemies. It took me nearly two hours to kill them all. Later, I realized I was now strong enough to carry him, and we got to a cave where we could rest for the night. He was furious. Not with me, with himself, because he knew it wouldn't be the last time his body betrayed him.

"I don't need any more tracking games," I told him, which was my way of promising I'd take care of him, just as he had of me when I had been too weak to kill for myself, and that I wouldn't leave him. That he'd be safe.

"No, I don't think you do," he agreed. I was happy then. There is no kiss involved, but it's my other favourite memory of that year.
abetterlie: (Default)
You know the thing about memories? You can rewrite them. All the time. So sure, a summer memory. As it should be. So it's summer, 2006, and Lawrence and Colleen Riley celebrate together with their daughter Mere. Mere just finished high school. She's their only child, which means they're a bit over anxious about her, but she managed to persuade them to let her make that cross country road trip with her boyfriend anyway. Her grades are good, save math, because Mere always sucked at math, but who needs math later in life anyway?

They're all sitting around the table, with Colleen's sister come to town to celebrate her niece's graduation, and Mere is on to her second pizza (getting cold, because Mere is talking all the time). Colleen wanted to cook something extra special and couldn't believe Mere wanted pizza instead, but it was her daughter's big day, so, pizza from some Korean with a fake Italian name it was. Lawrence is printing out the pictures of Mere in her robes which he took earlier and she says she'll confiscate them, because she looks so dorky, which isn't true, and Lawrence pretends not to understand a word of her babble anyway. Her boyfriend thinks they're all insane, in a good way.

None of them ever met a single employee of Wolfram and Hart. None of them ever saw a demon. They remember everything just the way it happened, and nobody ever brainwashed them into believing they had another child.

It's a perfect summer's day, and they have many more of those ahead.

That's my summer memory.
abetterlie: (Default)
He had meant to stay away. That was what his request had been all about, staying away. But Connor told himself he had to be sure. Sure that it worked. After all, magic was capricious, nobody knew that better than he did, and it wasn't like Angel, Darla and Todd Campbell were the most trustworthy of sources anyway.

On the day that the spell would be broken which gave Lawrence, Colleen and Mere Riley and their various friends and relations the memory of having raised a son named Connor, a happy child who never gave them more serious problems than the loss of teeth until he got hit by a van and survived without a scratch, Connor skipped class, drove to his parents neighbourhood, bought some pizza and showed up at their front door. He had it all figured out. If they didn't recognize him, the spell was truly broken, and he would say he was the delivery boy with some pizza. Of course, they hadn't ordered any, but it could be a simple misunderstanding, someone giving the wrong address. And he would have seen them one last time.

If they did recognize him, if the spell was still intact, he'd say it was a surprise, that he wanted to spend some time now that the new term had started. He'd find something to say. And he probably would not try to have the memories removed again, because seriously, whom could he ask?

Lawrence's car was outside, but strangely, so was today's newspaper. Which was odd. His father and mother both were always reading the L.A. Times during breakfeast; they had a well-established routine of switching various parts. Connor checked, and the mailbox was full with today's mail as well. And yet the car was there. His mouth began to feel dry. He rang the doorbell, and nobody answered.

Maybe they all decided on an impromptu visit somewhere. Aunt Jane's, for example. Or Yosemite. His parents always loved Yosemite Valley in autumn. Indian Summer and all. For a long weekend. It was Friday, after all. But why was Dad's car outside if that was so?

He wavered, then decided to use the keys he still had. Just to check. If they were was a note somewhere about that long weekend, he could leave the keys in the house anyway. He probably should.

Why would they leave you a note if they don't remember you anymore?

Connor opened the door, and the smell assaulted him at once, the smell which would not have been noticable for any normal human being yet. Not blood. No gore. Simply the start of decay.

Lawrence and Colleen were in their bed, which was where they had been at midnight between Thursday and Friday, sleeping. Lawrence's glasses were lying on the book he had been reading before switching out the light. Mere was in her room, but fully dressed for what was obviously a secret party, lipstick, eyegloss and all, lying on the floor in front of the openend window, as if she had been planning to climb out. None of them showed any physical signs of harm.

In his head, he could hear the voice of Colleen Riley, as he had never heard it in reality, reading to her small son, reading a fairy tale. Briar Rose. One prick of a thumb, and the entire castle fell to sleep, because there was a curse. Only they weren't asleep. The fairy tale had gotten it all wrong. He felt their pulses, but he knew as soon as he saw them. Dead. All three. Dead.

Time splintered. He was five years old, and finding his parents again in a supermarket, after having been so sure they were lost, but here they were, embracing him, and wasn't it silly to have been afraid? He was five, only it was hard to count the years in Quortoth, and found Father again after five days of tracking, and the skin around Father's eyes crinkled which meant Father was pleased and proud, and wasn't stupid to have ever doubted he'd find him again?

He was seventeen, or so they said, and Angel's minions Fred and Gunn brought him to the sea to deceive him and talked about Angel's secret plans for Father. He raced back, back, back, but it was too late. Father was dead. He was seventeen, and Mom and Dad gave him enough cash to buy Tracy her dress for the prom as a surprise, and Mere teased him mercilessly about his taste, and nobody ever went away. He was eighteen, and dealing out death for his goddess, though there was a choice, wasn't there, there was always a choice, and then she was gone, and how dare that man try and committ suicide, how dare he leave his family? Stupid human face splintering beneath his fists. He was eighteen, and earned a place at Stanford, and everyone was proud. A toast. A toast to family. Family was everything. Wasn't it?

Oh, I don't mean this family.

He picked up the phone next to his mother's bed and dialed Justine's number. Justine was whom you shared your parents' dead bodies with; this much he remembered. She ought to be here. They had to burn them, hadn't they? When she picked up, he said:

"Dead. They're all dead."

Then he hung up again.


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July 2010

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