I do not own Buffy or Highlander.A/N:
This is the third story of a series, and you probably won't get a lot out of it without having read at least the first story. (It's very short.)
--New York, 1971
“Hey sweetie, what’re you working on?” asked Betsy as she entered the kitchen. Her daughter looked up from the pile of homework and books spread out on the table.
“History project,” said Joy. “I don’t suppose you could help? I’m dying here!”
“You’re not dying,” Betsy scoffed as she searched their cupboard for the powdered lemonade. “Ah ha!” she cried as she found it. She immediately busied herself filling two glasses. “And anyway,” she added as she stirred in the cold water, “you didn’t seem to appreciate my attempt to help you with your Julius Caesar report.”
“Yeah, but that was ‘cause your version isn’t the way it is in the history books,” Joy shrugged, accepting her lemonade with a quick thanks. Her mother boosted herself up to sit on the high counter.
“History books. Ugh,” said Betsy. “When I was your age-”
“-history hadn’t been invented,” Joy recited dutifully. The blondes exchanged fond smiles. “But really, Mom,” continued Joy, “you may have met Julius Caesar, but you can’t possibly have met everyone
who’s dead and famous.”
“You’d be surprised,” Betsy smirked. Her daughter rolled her eyes.
“Alexander the Great,” Joy said, tone daring her mother to prove knowledge of that august personage.
“Your half-brother,” said Betsy smugly. Joy’s jaw dropped.
“No way!” she cried. “No freaking way!”
“Yes freaking way,” Betsy parroted calmly, kicking her heels idly as she watched her daughter gape. “You’re a lot alike,” she added after a moment of contemplation. “You were both precocious children, endlessly stubborn, with a great love for horses.”
“Except I’m probably not going to conquer the known world,” Joy pouted.
Joy had always known that her mother had had other children over the ages, but being told that Alexander the Great
was your big brother
was somewhat discombobulating. And it certainly put a new spin on competing with your siblings, thought Joy. How on earth could a modern American girl hope to compare with Alexander the Great
“Maybe not with an army, that’s slightly out of vogue, but I have no doubt that you’ll accomplish great things, just like all your brothers and sisters,” Betsy soothed.
Joy looked skeptical, and still a bit overwhelmed, so Betsy gave her an encouraging smile.
“For the record, you’ve already surpassed your siblings in terms of turning my hair gray.”
Joy snorted. “Mom
…” Joy knew very well that her mother hadn’t gained a gray hair since, well, never. Betsy giggled.
The two were silent for a minute. Betsy sipped her lemonade and gave Joy time to assimilate the knowledge she had just gained. Suddenly the girl frowned and pulled her history book closer. She flipped back two pages and started reading a passage under a poorly rendered bronze statue that was apparently supposed to be of her mother.
"Mom..." she trailed off.
"Yes dear?" Betsy continued to kick her heels.
"If Alexander was your
son, that means you were Olympias, right?"
"Yes, I suppose it does," said Betsy as she frowned in thought. It was much easier for her to recall her children than it was to recall what her own name had been at any given time.
Joy turned to stare at her mother, an odd expression passing over her face.
"What?" asked Betsy, resisting the urge to check if she had spinach in her teeth. After all, they hadn't been eating spinach.
"Geez, mom! You were such a bitch
It was Betsy's turn to let her jaw drop. "Excuse me?" she said, caught between confusion and disapproval for her daughter's vulgarity.
"Really, Mom - conspiring to kill your husband, having an oedipal relationship with your son..."
"What?!" Betsy was off the counter and gripping the text book before Joy had a chance to blink. She grimaced as she read the historian's version of that lifetime. "What a load of tripe," she complained. "Is this the education I'm paying thousands of dollars for? Because if it is, then I ought to just home school you."
It was an old complaint, and Joy didn't take it seriously. She waited for her mother to elaborate on the 'tripe.'
"Ok, so maybe I was in the middle of a really lousy century, but I really wasn't that
bad. And Philip was a pig," she sneered. "And so maybe I conspired against him just a little teeny bit-"
have him assassinated!" said Joy. Betsy shrugged, but didn't deny it.
"But I never
had an unnatural relationship with any of my children. Well, unless you count occasionally masquerading as their
children, but that's a different sort of unnatural altogether. Oedipal relationship, my ass. Alexander was gay!"
Joy choked at her mother's matter-of-fact exclamation. "Really?" she asked. "The history books hint, but..."
"He was quite gay. But then, at that time it was acceptable for men to keep company with one another, provided they also did their duty by a woman. Alexander did his duty and then found pleasure with men."
"Oh," said Joy, and frowned. "It's funny," she said finally. "We think of ourselves as so progressive today, so accepting, and yet we commit hate crimes against people who are different."
"If by funny, you mean sad," her mother agreed. "But I'm glad you're open minded."
Joy shrugged. "I can't help it. My peers used to tease me about how involved we’ve been in the civil rights movement, but I'm your daughter before I'm their friend."
"And I'm proud of you for that, Rejoice."
They were both silent for a moment as they considered the state of the world and the attitudes held by the populace. Joy broke the mood.
"Socrates," said Joy suddenly.
"Did I know him?" Betsy asked, adroitly following her daughter's train of thought.
"He was an excellent philosopher. I spoke with him extensively on the subject of love. I think we were mutually impressed."
"Not my brother?" Joy sounded slightly disappointed.
"Sorry, kid. No relationship whatsoever."
"Plato? Aristotle?" she tried.
"Never met Plato," replied Betsy. "But I heard about him, and read his work. Don't trust a word of what he says that Socrates said, by the way. And I hired Aristotle to tutor Alexander, remember?"
"Oh yeah," said Joy, chewing on her pencil. "Hannibal! Did you ever meet Hannibal of Carthage?"
"Sort of?" Joy encouraged.
"He worshipped me."
"Come again?" said Joy, taken aback. "Mom, if that's a euphemism for sex..."
"No!" laughed Betsy. "No, I was a Carthaginian deity, and Hannibal sacrificed to me before going on that mad elephants-over-the-alps expedition. I was in the area, so I dropped by and gave my blessing in person."
Joy was staring at her mother again. "Wait a minute. Mom, you were a goddess
?" Why hadn't she known this? You would think it would come up in conversation at some point.
"I was worshipped as one," Betsy corrected, draining the last of her lemonade and walking over to the sink to rinse out the glass. "They deified me after my 'death.' Dido-Tanit and all that."
Joy shook her head slowly. "Why are we only just having this conversation?" she asked. "It's not like I didn't know you're old like dirt..."
Betsy shrugged. "This is the first time you've asked."
"Silly me," said Joy, rolling her eyes. But she was asking now, so she might as well make the most of the opportunity. "How about Nero?"
"No, I was in Britain at the time."
"Never met him," Betsy shook her head.
Joy was looking ridiculously proud to have thought of two historical figures that her mother wasn't connected to. "What about Charlemagne," she challenged, hoping for a third 'win.'
"We had a thing when he was young," Betsy smirked. "I liked tall men."
"Mom!" groaned Joy.
"You asked," said Betsy with a shrug.
"Okay, Mom, what about Anne Bonny?" asked Joy, certain that she had regained the upper hand with her abrupt shift of geography.
"I was Mary Reade."
Joy gaped again. "You were a pirate
Betsy shrugged. "Sure. I've never been particularly moral, and piracy sounded fun at the time. Remember that this was during the time when it really sucked to be a woman. Not that it didn't usually..."
"But a pirate?" Joy protested weakly. Betsy just grinned, and Joy shook her head in exasperation. "Alright, Mom. What about Shakespeare?"
"I was in Queen Elizabeth's court at the time. I saw a few of his plays and spoke to the man, but didn’t know him well."
"Was it really Shakespeare?" Joy asked eagerly.
"What do you mean?" asked Betsy, frowning slightly in confusion.
"Well, there's an academic debate over whether Shakespeare from Stratford-Upon-Avon actually wrote the plays, or whether he was just a front man."
"I mourn the passage of academia into the realms of tabloid. Joy, that man vomited poetry. Shakespeare was Shakespeare."
Joy looked smug. "That's what I argued in my last paper - not the vomiting poetry part, the Stratford part."
"Who else can you think of?" Betsy challenged. "This game is fun."
"Jason," Joy fell back on the Greek classics, her current area of study. Betsy quirked an eyebrow, and Joy quickly elaborated, "Of Argonaut fame."
Betsy grinned. "Ah, now that
is a story for another day," she said.
"Mooom," Joy's face contorted at the thought of a good story being withheld.
"I'll tell you some time when you don't have homework," Betsy said. "It's a rather long story."
"Give me a hint?" Joy pleaded.
Betsy appeared to consider it. "If you can stump me with the next historical figure, I'll give you a hint."
Joy sent her mother a half-hearted glare, but immediately turned to rack her mind for someone that her mother couldn't possibly know.
"I'll make it even more fair," Betsy said suddenly. "I'll give you three tries."
"Achilles," said Joy.
"Your brother," said Betsy.
Joy groaned. "Alexander and
Achilles? Mom, am I related to all
the Greek heroes?"
"Hardly," snorted Betsy. "I didn't have that
"Columbus," said Joy.
"I heard his petition to the Spanish monarchs, dressed as a man, and joined his first expedition."
Joy gaped again. "You sailed with Columbus?" she repeated weakly.
"He was a bit of a bastard," said Betsy with a shrug. "Not so nice to the Natives. I stayed with them for awhile."
Joy was silent, face creasing in thought. She had one last chance to foil her mother and learn her relationship to Jason and the Argonauts. The whole challenge was ridiculous, Joy thought, because the sheer improbability of her mother knowing every
famous person was beyond absurd. And yet, somehow, she kept naming the ones that Betsy had met. A gleam came into her eyes.
"Jesus Christ," she said firmly. "Tell me that you knew Jesus Christ of Nazareth, and I won't even complain about not hearing the Argonaut story."
"Really?" asked Betsy.
Joy nodded again, looking self-satisfied.
"Jesus was a very sweet little boy who rarely cried and loved to be held."
Joy's jaw dropped. "...you were not
Mary," she accused. "There is no way you were Mary."
"Of course not," Betsy waved her hand dismissively. "I'm an Immortal who houses an essentially demonic force within me - of course I wasn't the mother of God!"
"So he really was the son of God?" Joy pressed, curious despite her sense of defeat.
"Does it matter?" asked Betsy. "He was, at the very least, a powerful prophet. It’s not my place to say whether he was the son of the One True God of Judeo-Christian tradition. I'm pagan, dear. I will say that Mary and Joseph were visited by spirits and that Mary believed she was pregnant by her God--and I was also visited by a spirit who told me to take the family in and protect them when they fled into Egypt."
"Were you at the crucifixion?" Joy whispered, staring at her mother.
"I was," Betsy murmured. "The spirit sent me a message and I went. I was there. It was terrible, like loosing any of my own children." Betsy walked over and pressed a kiss to her daughter's forehead, then silently exited the kitchen, lost in thought.
It was a good fifteen minutes before Joy could focus on her homework after that.
Kudos if you can name Buffy during the time Socrates was alive. And yes, this was a conversation between Buffy and Joyce before the monks' spell. Where is Mr. Buffy? Well, you'll find out eventually.