I own nothing. Buffy and Angel people belong to Joss and Mutant Enemy. I'm just playing. Don't sue. The Anita Blake verse belongs to Laurell K Hamilton. Basically I own nothing. Authors Notes:
Set in the 'Guardian 'verse'. Set very, very early on. About a month or so after Buffy took Luke in.Authors Notes II:
I am alive, but it's been a long and tiring road the last six months. I don't recommend moving state/job/university at the same time to anyone.Spoilers/Warnings: SAP ALERT!!!
Joyce can't remember ever feeling this awkward. The last time she felt anything remotely like this was when Hank took her home to meet his parents. They hated her on sight and she knows that they thought very little of the Arts student their son wanted to marry. Joyce never really won them over and, even thought this situation is completely different, she can't help but draw comparisons between them. The young man Buffy has brought into their home isn't a potential suitor, however, but her... son. Son
. Joyce doesn't think she'll ever get used to that word, especially not associated with her daughter and a fourteen year old lycanthrope.
"Would anyone like some more tea or coffee?" Joyce asks, not because she's trying to be a good host, but because she's desperate. No one has spoken in at least five minutes.
"I'm fine, Mom," Buffy replies, shooting her a grateful look. "Luke, honey, did you want anything else?"
Hank stiffens at Buffy's words and Joyce finds herself wondering if it was the term 'honey' that bothers her husband so much or the affection and tenderness in Buffy's voice as she spoke. For a second, she fears that Hank is going to blow up again, but to her relief he remains silent.
"I'm good," Luke replies, eyeing Hank warily.
A part of Joyce echoes Hank's reaction to Luke, as much as she hates to admit it. To be completely honest, she's not sure how she feels about Buffy choosing to take Luke in. Maybe if Buffy had warned them, the two of them would have handled it better, but there was been no preparation. Neither Joyce nor Hank even suspected that Buffy would do something like this... and it scares her. Scares her because they don't like Buffy associating with anything supernatural. It's too much of a reminder of the world Buffy became lost in.
Another part of Joyce, however, is beaming inside with pride that her daughter has taken this young boy in. He looks so awkward, so lost, except when Buffy looks his way. When Buffy looks at him he sits taller, smiles, and tries not to show just how much Hank's behaviour is bothering him. Joyce knows enough about teenagers to know that at this point Luke doesn't like Hank. He doesn't like that Hank yelled at Buffy when she first told them Luke was staying with her, that for all intents and purposes that he was now her son. Luke doesn't like that Hank has hurt Buffy, but he doesn't let Buffy see it. He pretends he doesn't hate Hank with every fibre of his being. Joyce is more than surprised by his level of maturity, and his loyalty to Buffy.
"So, what school do you go to?" Joyce asks, this time because she's actually interested.
The question, however, causes him to falter and he looks to Buffy.
"Right now he's being homeschooled by a werewolf," Buffy explains, "but we're looking into local schools. We just need to find one that is tolerant of teenage lycanthropes."
Oh. Joyce isn't sure how to respond to that because she's not sure she's
all that tolerant of lycanthropes. Neither is Hank, if his behaviour is anything to go by. Luke is the first lycanthrope she's ever been this close to, at least knowingly, and it's more frightening than she expected it to be. She doesn't know anything about lycanthropes, except the fact that they shift into animals at the full moon and they're stronger than humans. She doesn't even know what type of lycanthrope he is.
"Are you a werewolf?" The question slips out before Joyce can stop it and she's mortified.
Luke, to her surprise, smiles at the question – or at her reaction to it. "No. I'm a wereleopard."
"Oh." She doesn't know if that's a good thing or not. "That's nice."
Luke's smile widened at the response and he relaxes a little.
"Do you have a pack?" Hanks asks.
His smile fades at the question and his body stills with tension at the inflection in Hank's tone. Joyce is momentarily scared at how Luke will react to Hank's hostility, at his blatant disapproval of the new addition to the Summers family. She holds her breath and waits, but it's not Luke who reacts, it's Buffy. Joyce watches with fascination as Buffy reaches over and takes Luke's hand in hers. Instantly, he relaxes at the touch and gives Buffy a look full of so much adoration that it takes Joyce's breath away.
"There are no lycanthropes like me in L.A.," he says. "The only pack I have is Mom."
Joyce frowns, confused. "Your mother? I thought your mother didn't accept what you are?"
"I don't mean her." His eyes flicker to Buffy.
"Oh..." Joyce's eyes immediately go to Hank who has turned an unnatural shade of red. Hearing Luke refer to Buffy as pack is obviously the last straw for Hank, or maybe hearing him call her Mom is. To be honest, Joyce doesn't think it really matters at all because the important thing is that Hank is about to explode. Not knowing what else to do, Joyce says the first thing that comes to her mind in a desperate attempt to change the subject. "So Luke, what do you want to do when you finish school?" She winces as soon as the words are out of her mouth because it's a stupid question. Luke is only fourteen, he's not going to know –
Both Hank and Buffy freeze at the reply and their heads snap towards the teenager in a way that almost makes Joyce laugh. They're both stunned by the reply, although for very different reasons. Buffy is looking at Luke with tears in her eyes, answering Joyce's silent question as to whether she told him about her illness. Hank is staring at Luke with... with something other than complete distain. He's still angry, Joyce doesn't think he'll actually calm down for a few days, but there's another emotion there now. One that wasn't there a few seconds ago.
Joyce finds herself looking at Luke as well. He's blushing under everyone's gaze and at that moment she feels something in her heart shift. It's a feeling she's only felt once, twenty-four years ago, when Joyce saw Buffy for the first time. She still remembers clearly the all encompassing love she felt when she met her daughter. Luke's words have inadvertently triggered the same reaction.
Her eyes fill with tears and the lump in her throat makes it impossible to do anything but stare at Luke, seeing her grandson for the first time.