Growing up.

It's painful.

It hurts.

It leaves wounds and scars that never quite heal.

It brings a drop of pleasure and a bellyful of pain.

It makes you cry.

It even makes me cry.

It strips a princess of her crown and leaves her alone and bewildered in the hostile world she used to rule.

It leaves her scared and shaking and small.

It brings with it demons.

The kind that are evil and the kind who just don't like you.

Most people only ever see the humans.

Only a select few see the rest.

And only an even more select few fights them.

And only one girl fights alongside one of them.

That girl is all grown up now.

She's left rulerdom behind.

She's left jewels behind.

She's become someone even her first love wouldn't recognize.

Not that he would bother to try or to care.

Growing up means looking a vampire in the face and telling him you care about him.

It means looking past the thin shields people put up to protect themselves.

It means realizing that even heroes are not perfect.

It means accepting that.

It means loving them anyway.

Ah. Love. Love is another can of worms.

Growing up means falling in love.

I'm not talking about your first blissful, sweet romance that ends when one of you goes off to college.

I'm talking about the other kind. The kind that makes you feel as if you are going to die.

The kind that tears you up inside.

I can't get him out of my head. I have a wonderful boyfriend and I'm in love with the one man in the world who will never ever love me back.

Not the way I want him to.

I wanted someone to look at me like Angel looked at Buffy.

I have someone who looks at me that way.

Only my wish has changed.

I don't want to be worshipped. I don't want to be placed on a pedestal and classified as something I cannot possibly live up to.

I want Angel.

And I'm confused. I'm not stupid. How could I fall in love with a vampire?

Maybe I am just an idiot.

But whenever I think that, Angel walks in. He looks at me silently, and I know he sees the real me. I know he loves me, if not in the way I want him to.

And I want to cry.

I truly am just an uninformed idiot.

But he doesn't care, so why should I?

Growing up hurts people.

You yell at your parents..

You curse the family name.

You throw things at your brothers and sisters.

You lose yourself in dates and parties and grades and work and responsibility.

But the lucky few get through it.

The lucky people find someone worth living for.

I am one of the lucky few.