The Girl who would be God-Princess (Part I)
Everything either belongs to Joss or it should, no infringement is intended and no profit is to be made. When you get right down to it I’m not really worth suing anyway unless you want a share of an underpaid civil servants wages and it just wouldn’t be worth the hassle trust me.
* * *This is the first of what may turn out to be a number of ficlets revolving around the childhood of one Rebecca Wyndham-Pryce. In many ways you can attribute my inspiration to Kiwikatipo whose insights, reviews and comments on the Compelled stories have been very welcome and more than valuable (not to mention often extremely prescient).Hyperion Hotel – Los Angeles – December 2006
Illyria had picked up the crying infant before Wesley could do so himself and by the time Faith walked back into Wesley’s room, after fetching something from her own across the corridor, the God-King was cradling Rebecca in her arms. Faith’s immediate reaction was akin to horror at the sight of the ancient, blue-haired demon-god with her baby in its clutches but that immediately shifted to astonishment when she realised Illyria was in fact gently dancing around whilst singing softly to the child.
Faith threw a look at Wesley who shrugged. ‘Fred looked after Connor at that age’ he said.
‘Your child is less placid than Connor was’ Illyria commented between verses of the lullaby she was singing. ‘I can sense you are unhappy with me holding your daughter’ she said after the next verse. ‘I would never injure the offspring of my Wesley nor allow any harm to befall her so your apprehension is misplaced but take her’ she told Faith and carefully transferred the tiny bundle to the slayers arms.
If anything Faith seemed more awkward and far less certain of herself handling Rebecca than Illyria did but the pacified baby didn’t resume its bawling and yawned instead, somehow it was more fascinating to watch than anything Faith had ever seen and instantly wiped any stray thoughts about threatening Illyria with her scythe. She had repeatedly caught Wesley staring in wonderment at their daughter too in the days since they bought her back from the hospital together.
‘Since I do not sleep I am willing to watch the child at night so that both Wesley’s sleep patterns and your own are not too disrupted’ Illyria proposed.
Wesley smiled. ‘I’m sure we’re both grateful for the offer Illyria’ he responded, ‘but I think both Faith and myself would rather handle it ourselves’ he told her.
‘The offer stands should you change your minds’ Illyria told them. She judged a few weeks of shattered sleep would break them down and they would accept the offer eventually.
‘Nearly feeding time’ Wesley noted, looking at his wristwatch.
Faith grinned. ‘You just want to get another look at my new improved rack’ she replied.
Wesley laughed. ‘I wouldn’t have even thought improvement was possible but I guess we’re all wrong sometimes’ he responded.
Illyria sighed. ‘I imagine this is the cue for yet another one of your sideswipe comments regarding my lack of cleavage’ she said to Faith.
‘Nah I think I’ve overplayed my hand at that one’ Faith replied with a gentle smile.
The God-King narrowed her eyes. ‘I would certainly hope not’ she said. ‘If you were to desist all the snappy comebacks I have been formulating whilst alone on the roof would have been in vain.’
‘Everything is sparring with you isn’t it?’ Faith responded, her smile widening.
‘It keeps me sharp’ Illyria told her. ‘If you are uncomfortable with feeding Rebecca in my presence I will leave’ she offered.
Faith considered it then shook her head. ‘Got to get used to breastfeeding in front of people anyhow’ she replied. ‘Giving a broad definition of people to include you I mean’ she added.
Illyria tilted her head to the side as she was wont to do when considering something. ‘I am gratified our verbal duelling has also enhanced your own skills in that area’ she said. ‘Factoring in the expansion in your vocabulary during your association with my Wesley your barbs are far wittier and more rapier-like than they were’ she judged.
‘Feeling under pressure there Blue?’ Faith asked sweetly.
‘Hardly’ Illyria replied, watching with interest as Faith sat down on the edge of the bed and unbuttoned her blouse. ‘Does that feel natural?’ she asked quizzically.
‘Yes and no’ Faith replied.
‘I surmise your people didn’t nurse’ Wesley queried of Illyria, not that he was looking at her, he was transfixed by just how beautiful and perfect his wife and daughter looked right now. He was glad he had proposed as soon as her pregnancy became known although he was never going to live down his stag night, Rupert was going to pay for that humiliation.
‘You surmise incorrectly’ Illyria told him. ‘Although not mammalian it was the nature of my species to use a talon to cut open one of our tentacles and allow young hellspawn to suckle small quantities of the birth-parents blood for sustenance’ she explained.
‘Oh yeah, that’s
a pleasant image’ Faith responded with a grimace, she had seen a picture of Illyria’s original form in a very old book and the visual her mind just generated was pretty unpleasant.
‘It is to me’ Illyria responded, ‘It helped bonding between parent and child also’ she stated. ‘Prior to defeating her in battle and taking control of the clan after her death I was very close to my... mother’ she told them, deciding that was the correct term to use.
‘You killed your own Mom?’ Faith queried, living the dream she thought to herself.
‘She would have wanted it that way’ Illyria reassured the slayer. ‘There was no malice involved and I did not prolong her suffering at the end.’
‘They fuck you up your Mum and Dad...’ Faith quoted, earning a smile from Wesley. ‘Let’s do better ourselves okay?’ she asked him.
‘That’s the plan’ he replied. ‘So what was your mothers name?’ he asked Illyria curiously.
Illyria watched the tiny human child nurse from its mother’s breast with interest. ‘Enyo’ she replied.
Wesley raised his eyebrows. ‘As in the Greek Goddess of war and violence?’ he asked. ‘AKA the “Waster of Cities” and usually depicted as being drenched in the blood of her enemies.’
‘Good old Mom’ Illyria replied nostalgically. ‘I was pleased to learn that she was still venerated long after her passing.’
‘She was better remembered than you
were’ Wesley remarked. ‘No offence meant by that’ he added quickly, Illyria could be touchy.
‘None taken’ Illyria replied. ‘My birth parent put more effort into propaganda during her reign than I did during mine. Her PR Campaigns seem to have imprinted her name on the collective consciousness more effectively in the long term than my military ones did’ she said with a shrug. ‘Who would have guessed?’ she asked rhetorically, wondering if any of the other advice her mother had given which she had chosen to ignore was any good.
Wesley smiled. ‘Wasn’t Enyo supposed to be related to Ares?’ he asked quizzically.
‘We don’t mention that branch of the family’ Illyria responded sharply then wishing to change the subject returned her attention to Faith. ‘I am grateful you agreed to allow me to become Rebecca’s godmother’ she said.
‘Yeah well I was hoping you’d spontaneously burst into flames when you walked into Church’ Faith deadpanned. ‘Hey if I still took the Catholic thing seriously you couldn’t be’ she said, ‘got to be baptised and confirmed in the Church to be a godparent according to the head honcho in Rome.’
‘Fortunately Wesley’s Anglican Church only requires baptism from any Christian sect as a prerequisite’ Illyria replied. ‘I have been researching the traditions and responsibilities of the role’ she explained. ‘The shell was baptised so I meet the criteria’ she stated as confidently and assuredly as ever. Wesley considered it likely that the possibility of demonic deities becoming godparents never occurred to the General Synod of the Church of England but he decided not to make an issue of it.
‘Taking it that seriously then?’ Faith asked Illyria with mild surprise.
Illyria nodded. ‘I take all duties and responsibilities seriously’ she replied. ‘Also I am justifiably concerned that now you have borne Wesley a child the importance of your relationship with him will far outweigh mine in his eyes’ she said. ‘I cannot risk losing him so I must make efforts to be a part of the family unit’ she explained. ‘Killing you as a solution is less viable than ever unfortunately’ she added regretfully.
‘Well hell, that’s a bonus for all those labour pains I went through’ Faith replied wryly, stroking her daughters cheek as she did so, she was so soft it was amazing.
‘Please do not make light of the situation’ Illyria requested. ‘You know how difficult it is for me to seek to ingratiate myself to another in any way’ she said.
‘Yup, having to suck up to your consort’s concubine because she can have his kid and you can’t has gotta blow big time’ Faith responded. ‘No, wait, isn’t that your boyfriend’s wife
these days?’ she asked smugly.
‘Faith’ Wesley interjected in a disapproving tone. It was difficult enough for Illyria to talk this way without the scorn. It seemed not a day went by that he wasn’t chiding one or another of them, well except for those days when they agreed on an issue, usually that he had done something wrong. He genuinely loved both of them although Illyria was likely correct that Rebecca’s arrival would shift the balance in their odd triangle in favour of his daughters mother. It might have been an easier situation to manage if either of his lovers had been more placid but as it was “Psycho-Slayer” and the “Blue-Meanie” were never going to be less than sparky and volatile both with him and each other. As he had taken to telling people, it wasn’t a relationship, it was an adventure
‘After all the shit she’s said to me over the past couple of years she deserves all the crap I can feed back’ Faith told him.
Illyria opened her mouth for a vicious retort but thought better of it. ‘Enjoy your minor victories at my expense’ she said eventually. ‘I will still outlive both you, your daughter and your most distant descendents’ she said eventually. ‘In the interim, despite our mutual resentment, it seems a destiny I am yet unable to thwart that we have to coexist’ she told Faith. ‘I am willing to accept it if you are and undertake to treat my consorts offspring as if my own’ she promised.
‘By which I assume you don’t
mean you’re planning to cut open your arm and feed Rebecca your blood’ Wesley couldn’t resist remarking, earning a scathing look from both Illyria and
Faith. ‘Well I’m sorry’ he said, ‘but frankly Illyria in all this negotiating with Faith regarding the future of our admittedly rather unusual relationship I have to ask why you’re only talking to her not me?’
Illyria and Faith looked at each other then both turned back to Wesley. ‘When you want to pet the hellhound you ask the permission of the owner not the dog’ Illyria told him, Faith nodding her agreement with the sentiment.
Wesley sighed and looked at the third woman in his life. ‘You won’t be difficult for Daddy too will you sweetheart?’ he asked the baby.
‘Bet you fifty bucks she has him wrapped around her little finger before she can walk’ Faith remarked to Illyria.
‘You had better be offering extremely good odds to entice me to risk money in such a foolish wager’ Illyria replied. ‘My... I mean Our
Wesley’ she said correcting herself for the sake of diplomacy, ‘is a sucker for a pretty face’ she noted.
Sometimes whilst pondering alternate realities Wesley wondered if life with Lilah might have been easier after all, it was difficult to imagine her as a Mommy though he decided as Faith passed Rebecca to him and began to button up her blouse again. Looking into his daughters clear blue eyes he also realised Illyria was right about wanting exceptional odds on that bet. ‘I love you very, very much’ he told the baby softly. ‘But I’m going to apologise in advance for your very unusual childhood’ he added.
It was considerably better than either of her parents had been though.