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This story is No. 2 in the series "Waifs and strays". You may wish to read the series introduction and the preceeding stories first.

Summary: The second (much longer) installment in the Waifs and Strays AU. Covers season 1. Please READ THE SERIES INTRODUCTION!

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Multiple Crossings > Joyce-Centered(Current Donor)vidiconFR1598780,0851591501417,02628 May 115 Jul 14No

Poetry and Romance

Chapter 12 Poetry and romance

Rupert Giles sat in the staff lounge, reading a rather interesting work on Rusalka, though he doubted he’d ever need the knowledge, when he was interrupted by the humourous voice of the Comp Sci teacher.

“It seems you’re rubbing off on people.”

“I beg your pardon?” He looked up at her from over his glasses. She stood there, wearing a black top with a red sweater over it and a pair of black slacks and red shoes and she was lovely, and she was far too young and he could not, in good conscious, drag her into his life. She held out a cup of coffee to him, and he accepted it and she sat down by his side.

“I caught Buffy Summers reading Emily Dickinson. In class; under the table.”

“Oh dear. Reading poetry. What ever will happen next…”

“Well, reading teens; that must be a sign of the apocalypse, right?”

Giles winced. “God, I hope not. So what did you do?”

“Not much. I looked at Owen Thurman. She blushed and put it away.”

Giles grinned. “Effective. And Mr. Thurman?”

“I told him to look up her works online. So, budding romance?”

“From what I understand Mr. Thurman’s romantic brooding attracts a great many young ladies. Or had you not observed this fact on your rounds in the cafeteria?”

Jenny gave him an amused grin. “They do seem to gravitate around him don’t they? I’d say like flies around a candle, waiting to be set aflame, but he seems curiously oblivious and unwilling to burn them.”

“A point in his favour. Though for the life of me I can’t see how reading Emily Dickinson makes one a romantic prospect.”

Jenny snorted. “I suppose he’d have to read about the Dewey Decimal system? Or…” She looked at his book which was open at a rather fanciful illustration of one of the semi naked river spirits. “Errr…Half naked ladies?” She blinked at him in surprise.

“Rusalka. Russian river spirits. Like nymphs, only nastier. But no.”

“I see. So what would you consider romantic?”

Giles looked at her. *Lord, she is beautiful. It’s never going to work Rupert, don’t fool yourself. She’s eleven years younger than you; and not interested in an old fogey.* He looked at her easy grin and wickedly gleaming eyes. *She’s toying with me. Well now, two can play that game.* 

“It would depend on the circumstances.”

“Circumstances? How is romance dependent on circumstance?”

“Whom one is wooing, what the state of the romance is.”

“State of the romance? You sound like you’re giving a political presentation, not charming a lady.” She took a sip of her coffee, her eyes twinkling with amusement. She mad an airquote with one hand. “And now, Rupert Giles will read the State of the Romance.”

He took of his glasses and polished them, running through his mind the poems that might be suitable. He put them back on and noted that several of the older staff members were looking at them with interest. And it hit him. He grinned to himself as he sipped his own coffee, and he realized she knew how he drank it and that he knew how she drank hers. Interesting. And before he knew it he was reciting to her, in a soft, gentle voice.

“Vivamus, mea Ginevra, atque amemus,

rumoresque senum severiorum

omnes unius aestimemus assis!

soles occidere et redire possunt;

nobis, cum semel occidit brevis lux,

nox est perpetua una dormienda.

da mi basia mille, deinde centum,

dein mille altera, dein secunda centum,

deinde usque altera mille, deinde centum;

dein, cum milia multa fecerimus,

conturbabimus illa, ne sciamus,

aut ne quis malus invidere possit

cum tantum sciat esse basiorum.”

Jenny felt her blush rising. Her Latin was rusty, but she knew what basia meant and centum and mille. Dr Edwards, who taught Latin to such students as could be hounded into taking it as an extra was looking on with both interest and a wide smile and her blush moved down her face and shoulders to her breasts. *Damn the man. I don’t even know exactly what he’s saying and he’s making me blush.*

She was eternally grateful that the bell rang at that time and she could flee the lounge without it looking like that was what she was doing.


On Wednesday evening Buffy braved the vision of her mother snuggling on the couch and walked into the den, sitting opposite her mother.


Joyce looked up from her book, the now inevitable glasses on her nose. “Yes honey?”

“Do you know anything about Emily Dickinson?”

Buffy could see the faint stiffening in her mother’s shoulders and the sudden tightening around her eyes. Simon must have noticed the change, as he looked up in some alarm.

“Dickinson? Why do you want to know about Dickinson?”

“Ummm, something to do with school.”

“Homework?” Joyce’s voice was clipped.

“Sort of.” Buffy looked at her mother with some amazement.

“I see no reason why I should know anything about an agoraphobic lesbian shut-in whose questionable mental stability was worsened by caring for her invalid mother while her brother, who was married to her best friend, had illicit and noisy affairs with a nymphomaniac in the next room. And NEITHER SHOULD YOU!” Joyce’s voice rose in agitation until both Buffy and Simon looked at her in amazement. She flung down her book and stormed up the stairs.

Simon gave Buffy a worried look. “I assume that doesn’t happen often?”

Buffy felt the tears stinging in her eyes. “No. I…I…”

Simon rose and sat next to her, asking with his eyes and then putting his arms around her as she nodded. “Is it a boy?”

Buffy gave him a look. “That obvious?”

“Yes. That may be part of the reason why your mother reacted the way she did”

“Oh.” Buffy flushed a little. “What Mom said, was that true?”

Simon pursed his lips. “Essentially correct, if quite uncharitable. You know no reason why simply asking about Dickinson would do this to her?”

“No.” Buffy said it in a tiny little voice. “Is she angry with me?”

“I’ll find out. But I don’t think this was aimed at you. Don’t worry Buffy. But can I ask a name?”

“Owen… He’s…nice.”

“Ladies man?”

“Ladies ignoring man. He broods.”

“Aha. Reads poetry, especially Dickinson, broods, wears black. Writes poetry too. Ennui. Getting an image here.”

Buffy smiled, a bit wanly. *Have to ask Wills who this Enious bloke is.* 

Simon rose and ruffled her hair, kissing her forehead. “I’ll go find out what is bothering your mother.”

“‘Kay.” *That felt… nice… A dad thing.*

Simon walked into the dining room where Willow was looking at him with wide eyes, obviously astonished at what she’d heard. And Xander had ducked down in his French homework. “Willow, would you mind sitting with Buffy? I don’t think she should be alone right now.” The redhead nodded and went to sit with her friend, who had drawn her legs up onto the couch and had flung her arms about them, her eyes barely peeking over her knees. Simon squeezed Xander’s shoulder comfortingly and went upstairs opening the door to the master bedroom.  

Joyce was sitting on the bed, against the headboard, knees drawn up, arms tightly around them; a posture so similar to her daughter’s Simon had to suppress a smile. He sat next to her and put an arm around her.

“Would you care to explain to me why you just bit off poor Buffy’s head? She’s almost in tears.”

Joyce sighed. “I thought I was over this.”

“Want to tell me?”

“Not really.”


Joyce winced. “Much later.” She let out a breath. “I need to talk to Buffy.”

“Yes. His name is Owen by the way. Sounds like a bloody romantic poet.” He gave her a mock scowl.

Joyce smiled. “Well at least we both guessed her real reason for asking.” She nudged him with her elbow. “You’re picking up this parenting thing real fast.”

He grinned. “You try keeping randy teens out of a hospital ward for a while and you pick up the rudiments.”

Joyce leaned into his shoulder. “A month ago she would not have come to ask me. Thank you.”

“It’s my very great pleasure. Go talk to Buffy, the longer you wait, the more difficult it becomes.”

She sighed again and rose. “The most annoying thing about you is that you’re right so often.”

“I assure you I screw up as often as any other man. If not more often.”

She gave him a fond look. “Sure you do.”

“One word: necklace.”

Her lips twisted into a smile. “You’re sure that wasn’t an elaborate ploy?”

He shuddered. “Joyce… I was certain you were going to slap my face and run away screaming insults and never see me again. The last method I’d use to woo you would be by showing you family jewelry with such traditional implications.”

“Oh. Does that mean I don’t get to wear it?” She said it teasingly.

“The minute you ask.”

She blinked. *Well at least he does not waver from his goal.* “I’ll just go down and talk to Buffy.” She backed out of her room, eyes a bit wild. She walked down quietly and into the living room. Willow scooted away from Buffy, almost cowering like a deer in the headlights. * Oh dear. Have to do something about that too. Poor Willow.*

 Joyce sat between the girls and put her arms around her daughter and hugged her close before Buffy could say or do anything.

“I’m sorry dear. It’s just… I have some very bad memories about Emily Dickinson. I thought I’d dealt with them.”

“Y-you’re not angry with me?”

“No Buffy, absolutely not. Simon said his name was Owen?”

Buffy let her head fall back on the couch. “God, am I that obvious?” Willow giggled.

“Only to parents dear. And to those who’ve been sixteen. I haven’t forgotten everything.”

Buffy smiled, remembering the ‘I don’t get it’ conversation of a few months before.

“Now, I’m not going to give you two...” She gave Willow a significant glance and the redhead flushed in spite of herself. “A mother-daughter talk. I’ll trust you not to do anything stupid merely because he knows how to quote poetry?” *Unlike me.*

Buffy gave her mother a small nod. She didn’t even roll her eyes. There had been a pleading tone in her mother’s voice that was more warning than anything she could have said. *A story there. And not a nice one I’d say.*

Joyce gave Buffy another hug. “I’m so sorry honey. I shouldn’t have shouted. Forgive Me?” 

“Sure, Mom.” Joyce gave Buffy a final hug. Sitting back she noted the still slightly widened, doe like eyes on Willow. *Apology time there too.* 

She drew Willow into a hug and the redhead gave a startled squeak. “Sorry you had to hear that Willow. That was the infamous Johnson women’s temper. Not an excuse, but will you forgive me as well?”

“O-oh.” Willow gave Buffy a nervous glance and Buffy shrugged ruefully.

“Ayup. I do it too. One day I’ll bite your head off.”

Willow looked up at Joyce, a slight smile on her face now, eyes back to normal size. She snuggled into the older woman’s shoulder unconsciously and gave a contented sigh. “Apologies accepted.” Joyce tightened her hug.

Buffy looked at the two and felt her own temper rising. *If I ever can get my hands on that bitch mother of hers…*

Joyce looked over her shoulder, noting her daughter’s expression, moved herself around a little and drew Buffy into a one armed hug while still holding on to Willow with her other arm. Buffy made a little noise and mimicked Willow, snuggling into her mother. When Joyce looked up she saw Xander standing in the doorway, looking at the three of them with a wistful expression on his face. She smiled when Dawn came up behind him and hugged him.


Xander sat on the camp bed in the unfinished basement, looking at the mess of boxes that still sat there and the yellow lines where the walls were going to be. Willow and Buffy and Dawn were preparing for bed upstairs. He’d volunteered to use the shower first until the one in the basement was finished, according to Simon it should be possible to put in more than one. He heard a creak as the door to the basement opened and then he saw the blue grey pumps Joyce had been wearing coming down the stairs.

“Xander? Can I come down?”

“Sure Ms. Summers!” He rose quickly.

She came further down and stood by the bed. “May I sit?”

He smiled and gestured. “Su casa es mi Casa.”

Joyce sat and looked up at him. “Do you mind sitting as well?”

Xander nodded and slouched down next to her.

“I’d like to apologize for that little scene this evening.”

“Hey, it’s alright.”

“No it isn’t. I shouldn’t take out my problems on you children.”

He raised his brows. “Children?”

“Until you reach eighteen, yes.” She gave him a pointed look. He chuckled.


“And I’m sorry I didn’t do this earlier. But Willow…”

“Willow shows her emotions more now and… well at least my Mom sometimes hugs me. And knows what I like to eat, even if she never cooks.”

Joyce winced. “Yes… Xander, it doesn’t mean I don’t care about you. It’s just…”

“You only have two shoulders to snuggle into? And Wills seems to need it more right now.”

“Yes. Y-you do understand?”

“Yeah… Ms. Summers… You’re building a spare room for me in your basement. You’re down here apologizing for not apologizing before. I understand that you care, I know that you care.”

“Good. And if you ever need a hug, I’m there.”

Xander smirked again. “Dawn took care of it this time, but I’ll keep it in mind.”

Joyce lifted her eyebrow. “By the way Xander… I assume you were the one to teach her that ridiculous way to eat Twinkies?”

Xander grinned. “The only way to eat Twinkies!”

Joyce gave him a fond hug around the shoulders. “Ah well, I’ll just have to concentrate on teaching you both proper table manners then.”

Xander leaned into the hug. “Heck, with proper meals I’ll learn proper manners.”

“Good to hear.” She rose, ruffling his hair and kissing his forehead. “Good night Xander.”

“Good night Ms. Summers.” Xander changed into his nightclothes after she closed the basement door and lay down, smiling, on the camp bed. Sleep overcame him as he lay on his bed the soft touch of her lips still on his forehead. 


Joyce heard the sound of the front door slamming and winced. She looked at Willow who had startled up from the book she was reading. Xander dropped the bagel he was eating while doing his science reading. Simon and Dawn exchanged looks over the chessboard. The sound of pounding feet running upstairs and another slamming door led to Joyce putting down her own book on Florentine goldsmithing and walk up the stairs, rather more sedately.

She heard her daughter’s body land with a thump and a creak on her bed. She opened the bedroom door without knocking. Buffy was sitting cross-legged on the middle of the bed, hugging Mr. Gordo.

“You didn’t knock.”

“You were just going to shout at me to go away. I’d no intention of doing that. Hence I just skipped the useless knock and came right in.” She gave her daughter a bland look and Buffy smiled, just a little.

“Want to talk about it?” She sat down next to Buffy.

“Not really.” She gave her mother a look. “But I suppose that won’t stop you.”

Joyce pretended to think, tapping her chin. “Not when you nearly break two doors, no. I assume this is about Owen?”

“Yeah. We were supposed to have a date…” She gave her mother a worried glance.

“I guessed something of the sort.”

“You don’t mind?”

“As long as you obey the ground rules, no. Which does mean that next time I want to know where and until how late. Ten is still the time for you to be home on weekdays.” She gave her daughter a mock stern look, glancing at the clock which showed it to be a quarter to ten.

Buffy smiled. “Yeah, sure Mom. Like anyone wants to date me.”

“Well, he did.”

“He was dancing with someone else.”

“Male or female?”


“Sorry dear. So who was it?”

“Cordelia.” Buffy’s voice could have not been filled with more loathing if she had been discussing giant cockroaches.

“I see. So you were with him and she poached him?”

“I was late… I came in and saw them.”

“I see. And you didn’t talk to him?”


“Silly girl.”


“You were late. This Cordelia person saw her chance. A dance is just a dance Buffy.”

Buffy gave her mother an incredulous look. “B-but…”

“Tomorrow you need to talk to him. Why were you late anyway?”

Buffy looked uncomfortable. “I was taking care of… things.”

“Things?” Joyce’s eyes suddenly widened and a small flush rose to her cheeks. “Oh, Oh things, I see. Well make certain you’re not distracted by things tomorrow.”

Buffy groaned and buried her face in Mr. Gordo, ears glowing red as she realized what her mother thought she had been doing. “MOM!!!”

“Yes dear, leaving now.” Joyce departed swiftly.

Buffy groaned, falling back against her pillow, face flaming. *Oh God. I can’t believe she thought I’d been… Oh God, how can I face her…*

When Joyce came to tuck in Willow and Buffy that evening she studiously avoided looking Buffy in the eye. Her shoulders seemed to be more stiff than usual and her face was thoughtful. Willow noted all this and pounced as soon as Joyce left.

“Is she angry with you for going on a date?”

Buffy groaned. “No… I told her I was late for my date with Owen because I was taking care of ‘things’.

“Oh. Umm, that’s not a very good excuse Buffy; you’ll have to think of something better for Owen.”

Buffy groaned even louder. “She thought I’d been… you know.” *I can’t believe I’m talking about this…*

Willow looked confused. “Know what?” Suddenly her eyes widened and her face became beet red. “Oh dear…” Then her mouth started quirking. And then she laughed. Buffy glared at her. “Y-your Mom must have thought you were getting desperate ‘cause I stay here so often…”

“WILLOW!!” Buffy blushed, dragging up a pillow to cover her face. “I can’t believe we’re having this conversation.”

“I’m sorry it’s just funny. And here I was wondering why your Mom was so awkward.”

“Ugh” Buffy removed the pillow. “I’ll never be able to hold a normal conversation with her ever again.”

“I’m sure your Mom understands Buffy, she studied psychology. This is just a part of her little girl growing up.” Willow said it teasingly, but with a hint of sadness that made Buffy wonder.

“I’m going to sleep.” Buffy said firmly. “No more talking about ‘things’. No more hinting at ‘things’. No more ‘things’.

“What, you don’t like ‘things’? You’re swearing them off?”

Buffy’s answer was to throw her pillow at her best friend and groan. 


Buffy was humming and Willow was giggling. Joyce could hear it from where she was standing at the island in the kitchen, working on dinner. Simon was attempting to make a vinaigrette that would appeal to Dawn’s sweet tooth, Willow’s desire for tart- not too sour- a bit sweet and Buffy’s love of Umami. Xander was easy, he’d eat anything. Both girls were poker faced when they entered to help carry dinner to the table however. Joyce smirked as she poured a glass of apple juice for Willow and a coke for Buffy. She then gave her daughter a sly look.  “Big date at the Bronze tonight, honey?”

Buffy blinked, gawped at her mother then at a Willow, who was no help, merely mimicking her friend.

“Okay Mom, that’s seriously scary.”

Joyce pointed at the gold watch chain peeping out of Buffy’s pocket. “Your vastly improved mood since this morning, and that. Man’s watch chain, mid twentieth century. Is there a watch attached?” Buffy could almost see her mother’s nose twitching in curiosity.  

Simon sniggered as he was mixing oil with vinegar and Joyce sniffed.

Buffy sighed and drew it forth knowing resistance was futile. “Here. Go all ‘Antiques Roadshow-y’. Willow’s never seen you do it.”

Simon sniggered again. This time Joyce sent him a glare. 

“Nice. Mid twentieth century. 18 carat gold case, engraved with the letters O.W. Thurman, some time ago, probably for the original owner. Watch chain has been repaired several times.” She popped the case open, showing both the movement and the dial. “Silvered dial, gold hands, inlaid with mother of pearl. Not a very notable company, Henryson  but good quality. Swiss movement, but the case is American. In all a fairly good watch.”

Willow blinked. “Wow.” 

Buffy rolled her eyes. “It gets old real fast.”

Joyce gave her the watch back. “So why do you have his watch?” Then she blushed furiously. “Ah, yes, you were late.” Buffy grew equally red and Willow joined in, though she managed a giggle while Joyce and Buffy were merely mortified. Simon looked from the one to the other.

“I think I’m missing something here, but all my instincts scream ‘run’. So I think I’ll do that, figuratively speaking. Is he picking you up?” He glanced at Buffy, who nodded.

“At seven.”

“Well if you girls leave, we can cook and you’ll be in time.” He gave an amused glance at the flaming faces and Willow giggled again, dragging away Buffy.

Joyce recovered some of her composure as she diced the celery. Simon looked thoughtful.

“Penny.” Joyce said.


Joyce blinked. “What?”

“If suitors and dates start showing up, I need a shotgun. I can sit on the couch, glare, and polish it.”

Joyce started giggling. “Buffy would kill you.”

“I’d almost say it would be worth it to see her face…”


“I’ll be good.”

Joyce smiled. “Good boys get rewarded.”

“Do they now?” He gave her a leer and she threw a piece of celery at him.

“Cook, Simon.”


The doorbell rang Buffy sprang to open it, not noticing that Simon exchanged an amused glance with her mother. Owen stood in the open door, blinking.

“That’s a nice clock.”

Buffy looked over her shoulder, glancing at the clock. “Errm…yes, that wasn’t running on time yesterday.”

Joyce had to stifle a laugh in Simon’s shoulder. *God, she’s like me with Brad Peterson…How history repeats itself.* She rose to meet the young man, Simon following.

She gave him a searching glance and shook his hand. “Joyce Summers.”

“Ms Summers, it’s a pleasure to meet you.”

He looked inquiringly at Simon. Buffy looked at Joyce. Joyce sighed. “This is my… riend, Dr Simon Mayer.” The hesitation made it immediately clear what their relationship was.

Owen extended his hand and Simon shook it, firmly, looking him in the eye and lifting his eyebrow ever so slightly. His voice was even and pleasant, but an undertone of command and warning was clearly audible. “Mr. Thurman. I don’t need to say anything do I?”

Owen visibly swallowed. “No sir, you’re crystal clear.”

Buffy sighed and took his arm. “Night Mom, night Simon.”

She closed the door behind her and Owen. Joyce looked at Simon incredulously. “What did you do to that boy?”

Simon gave a boyish grin. “That was fun. Way more fun than doing it to interns. Or junior officers.” He scowled. “If he hurts her, he’s toast.”

Joyce sighed, falling onto the couch. “Good lord. All your repressed parenting is surfacing.”

“Hmm.” He fell next to her and nibbled her neck. “Yet strangely enough, right now I don’t feel at all paternal. Or in any way parental”

There was a noise on the stairs and Willow walked down. By the time she could see the two Simon was picking up his book and Joyce had her shoes off and her feet on the couch. “I’m going to the Bronze, Xander has been throwing stones at the window for ten minutes”

Joyce sighed. “We heard. He could just have sat on the couch you know, he does sleep in the basement.”

“Yeah, but it’s a tradition.”

“It’s bad for my windows.” Joyce grumbled mock sternly.

Willow smiled and opened the door and Simon looked up. “Willow…”

Willow grinned. “We’ll be back at ten, I know, it’s a school night.”

Joyce gave her a smile. “Of course dear. Have fun.”

Willow left and they heard Xander’s voice ringing out. Joyce sighed. A car honked and Dawn thundered down the stairs in her usual headlong manner, carrying a small overnight bag.

“Night Mom! Night Simon, see you tomorrow!”

Simon blinked, but responded to the quick hug he got and looked at Joyce, who appeared smug. “Was this planned? A house free of teens for the evening?”

“No merely… fortuitous.”

“Well, it will be nice to spend a quiet evening on the couch.”

“Simon… I’m getting a bit tired of the couch.”

“Ah.” He looked a touch disappointed. Joyce smirked. *So he’s a human male after all.*

“I was thinking of going to bed…”

His eyes widened and his nostrils flared. He rose abruptly and before she could react had lifted her in his arms and was striding towards the stairs. “Simon!” She instinctively had thrown her arms around his neck and could feel the tension in his muscles. 

“Sorry Joyce, I’ll go all tender and loving after I’ve got you upstairs in bed.”


“By my calculations I have slightly less than two and a half hours to show you how beautiful you are. That is barely enough to scratch the surface, but it will just have to do. I do not intend to lose a minute.”

Joyce giggled. “Now that is an interesting thought.”

“I’ve got far more interesting thoughts. And I’ll put them into action later.”


Joyce was sitting on the couch wearing her red dressing gown, leaning up against Simon when Buffy and Willow came home. They did not sneak; they just opened the front door and walked in, subdued.

“Sorry we’re late Mom.” Her voice almost broke.

Joyce looked at her daughter’s face and the clock. Ten minutes to eleven. And clear traces of crying. She felt her heart contract and rose swiftly, moving to embrace her daughter.

“Oh dear.”

Buffy started crying. “I’d ask if you had a bad date, but I’d say it was redundant. He d-didn’t hurt you?” There was fear in Joyce’s voice.

Buffy sniffled. “No. But it was the most disastrous date ever.”

“You’re covered in dust.”

“Yeah, the Bronze was filthy.”

“Well, you two go shower, Buffy you take mine. I’ll be up in a bit.” She gave Buffy a last hug and the girl sighed. “And next time you feel the need to cry, do it at home. Please.” Buffy gave her a watery smile and nodded, then walked up the stairs shoulders bent. Willow went after her and Joyce looked after them worriedly.

Simon rose and put his arms around her, his blue silk dressing gown a striking contrast to hers. “Want me to go beat him up?”

Joyce sighed. “No. I don’t know what’s wrong yet. But she’s tired and emotional and needs to be in bed. I’ll try and get her to talk a bit tomorrow.”

“I wish I could help.”

Joyce smiled sadly. “It used to be easy. When she was younger she told me everything. Then she hit puberty and told me nothing. Now it’s getting a bit better.”  

“Dawn still tells you everything.”

“Can’t wait till she hits puberty.” She grinned wryly. “And I wonder what will happen to her first date, considering what you did to that poor Thurman boy.”

Simon laughed. “If I’m lucky I’ll have several years of practice before that. I’ll be even better.”

“She’ll die an old maid.”

“Good.” He nuzzled her neck. “I’ll wait here until you tell me I can go up; I don’t think Buffy would enjoy it if I caught her in the altogether.”

Joyce giggled. “God, yes. She’d scream the house down.”

They sat until Joyce heard her daughter walk to her own room. She went to tuck her daughter and her friend in and joined Simon in bed. She curled into him and let herself relax into his warm embrace and slept, hoping that the day would bring better news.


When Buffy sat down next to her the next evening after dinner she knew that her daughter was going to talk. She held in the sigh of relief and merely nudged Simon, who smiled at them and wandered away, probably to collect Xander from the dining room and sort through more of the boxes of junk the previous owners had left in her cellar and lofts. He seemed exceptionally fond of reclaiming material for a man so rich. Maybe that was why he was so rich. Willow picked up the chessboard and led a protesting Dawn away to the kitchen with a promise of hot chocolate. With marshmallows.

“He thought it was cool. The danger.” Buffy’s voice broke and Joyce blinked. Then her eyes widened as she realized what her daughter meant.

“Oh Buffy… I’m so sorry.”

“He thought it was cool Mom! How can anyone think that? The pain, the anguish, nearly dying! The people who get hurt. How can…” Joyce shut her up by dragging her in her arms. She did not say anything, and Buffy cried until she fell asleep. She had Simon carry her up.

Author’s notes:

The poem quoted by Giles was written by Catullus to his mistress Lesbia. Basia means kiss, Centum a hundred, mille a thousand. Giles has replaced Lesbia with Ginevra, the ‘Latin’ version of Jennifer. Ginevra is the same as Guinevere, for those who wondered.

Let us live, my Lesbia#, and love.

As for all the rumors of those stern old men,

Let us value them at a mere penny.

Suns may set and yet rise again, but

Us, with our brief light, can set but once.

The night which falls is one never-ending sleep.

Give me a thousand kisses, then a hundred.

Then, another thousand, and a second hundred.

Then, yet another thousand, and a hundred.

Then, when we have counted up many thousands,

Let us shake the abacus, so that no one may know the number,

And become jealous when they see

How many kisses we have shared.


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