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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)vidiconFR1598780,0851591501409,82228 May 115 Jul 14No

Tricksters and treatments

Author’s note:

I tried uploading this two days straight and failed…it appears to be working now.

Below are a number of questions asked in a review. There are no great revelations in the answers, I just thought they might be better read if they were in the notes. Hope people still enjoy this, and please let me know about inconsistencies or stupid mistakes! And if you like it of course.

"supposedly elected" - ooookay. From the same family, all the time (with ONE exception).

Supposedly elected...yes, well let’s just say Simon does not approve of the way his family has manipulated the Concordat until now. If there are no opponents running...

"may not resign without permission from the Grand Coven" - that explains why Simon couldn't get out of the position. What made the Grand Coven change their minds? Or did he deliberately lose a duel?

"can only be forced to resign after losing a duel" - hmmm... Did this, historically, lead to lots of duels between family members?

The answer is quite simple: Sunnydale has no coven and is not part of a coven area except the High Coven of California (no one wants the Hellmouth...)...his official residence is now Sunnydale...So he was no longer eligible to be the Grand Magister. In almost any other place they'd simply have asked a few witches to go and live in the place, or founded a coven centered on it, but not live there.

Who was the woman who held the position of Grand Magister between Simon's grandfather and father? Surely not the person who made Simon's grandfather a paraplegic? I can't believe Simon's father would simply have allowed her to retire quietly in that case.

This will be treated in a future chapter when the Apprentices receive instruction, but I can reveal that the woman did not challenge or defeat Simon XIII. She agreed to step down.

If it takes that much money to run the Concordat, I'm surprised the Meier family still has any money left. Or did they loot from the defeated enemies?

It takes several million dollars a year. (About 12 by my calculations, in a year without elections) The Meiers are loaded. Off the scale rich. They've got tax dodges like you wouldn't believe and they've been making millions for generations. And of course a pound of vampire dust does bring in money on the open market...

Well. at least the part about the identity-hiding spells explains why Giles doesn't know. But why can Simon tell people? Is it because he was the Grand Magister? Or because he only talks about former holders of the position and doesn't try to say the name of the current one? Oh, in chapter 20 Penelope said that "it will take a week or two to get messages to all the members for the election". Does that mean the election hasn't been held yet? Is no one holding the position at the moment?

So far everybody Simon has told has been a High Magister, or family, or an apprentice, people unlikely to betray him. Simon can reveal his previous position to anyone and nothing prevents the Grand Magister from revealing himself, except common sense. 

The election has been held....but it was more of a write in...And there is a new Grand Magister…who will make an appearance.

Sounds like Simon's father was a real piece of... something one shouldn't say in public. But you mentioned in chapter 9 that it was his grandfather who started teaching him when he was very young, not his father. So, was it the grandfather who forced him to "activate" the latent abilities? Considering how dissapointed Simon's father was, I'm actually surprised he didn't try to produce more children.

Simon's father was a lovely man. Just plain wonderful. Salt of the earth. A bit like the salt of the earth of the Romans at Carthage.

We'll get into Simon's early training when I get to the training of his apprentices so I won't answer that here if you don't mind...

And who says Simon XIV did not try? And succeeded...He did keep a harem in Hooghwater, or at least a few obdient mistresses, but he needed a certain type of woman to produce a proper heir. We'll be getting deeper into that later as well.

Chapter 25: Tricksters and Treatments

Joyce Summers was having a busy morning. It was odd for a Thursday, with some actual buyers and many people just coming in and viewing. And in between she could work on her inventory.

Willow and Amy had been rather disappointed they couldn’t be there when Simon performed his healing ritual on Danielle. Joyce however had firmly put her foot down, school came first. Simon would give Penelope a ride to the hospital with Danielle where both would be given a physical check up. After which he’d go to work and then pick the two women up to go to the park. They’d determined the treatment had to take place at noon and there was no time to get his two students out to the park at Hooghwater. There had been much pouting. Which had been callously ignored.

Joyce was a bit worried that Simon might injure Danielle, which would strain his relationship with Willow as well as load him with guilt. But she also knew he couldn’t not try it. It was a dilemma, and working would help keep her mind of it.

At half past twelve Joyce realized she was hungry and went to the office in the Gallery to eat her brown bag lunch. She missed her usual lunch date with Simon…but he had work to do…and the afternoon was the best time for the ritual. She sighed and turned on her computer to check her mail and see if the inventory program she’d bought was working.

She really shouldn’t have gone for the cheapest option, cataloguing various types of gardening supplies was not quite the same as cataloguing art after all. Maybe she could ask Willow to help. Her second oldest daughter had recently been looking rather longingly at certain expansions for her own computer and had spent all her allowance on the old one and her new clothes. A job might be just what the doctor - and the art historian - ordered. Somehow Willow as a waitress at Pizza Hut did not appeal to Simon and Joyce.

And it would allow her to bond with the redhead a bit more too. There was a stutter in her mail program and someone called Weeping_tree wanted to chat with her, but she refused. She wasn’t comfortable with accepting chat requests from total strangers and certainly not after what happened to Willow. She took a bite out of her ham and cheese sandwich with English mustard…how quickly had she gotten used to Simon’s favourite brand…

There was nothing interesting in her mail except further spasm from Weeping_tree and her attempts at using her inventory program kept resulting in an early version of Nick Moore’s famous Iron Flower to be classified as ‘Salix Laevigata’ and poor Tessa’s bronze Child weeping by the river had been classified as ‘Salix Babylonica’ she gave up. She really needed a new program. Or Willow. Or both.

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The Slayerettes entered the library to find Rupert Giles hammering at a keyboard. “Infernal contraption! The fires of hell are too good for you!”

Buffy looked at the smoke blackened machine. “I think its dead Giles.”

“I know that Buffy. Don’t you have a class to go to?” Giles went into his office and returned with a hammer and a set of insulated pliers. Buffy blinked as the librarian pulled the power cord out of the computer with the pliers, followed the cord to the power socket and then pulled it out there as well.

“Ruddy stupid thing. Nothing wrong with a card file system. The only thing computers ever brought mankind is trouble. Trouble I tell you!” 

The door opened again and Jenny Calendar came in, followed by Dave, who was pushing a small cart. “Hello Rupert…I come bearing a new computer. Well Dave comes pushing it, but it’s the same thing.”

Dave looked at the ground, avoiding eye contact with the others in the room.

Buffy walked up to him. “Hey.”

Dave didn’t reply, looking down at his hands, clenched on the push bar of the cart.

“Hey. Dave?”

“B-Buffy. Hello.” His voice was uncertain.

“Thanks for warning me.”

“I-I shouldn’t have told you to go…”

“He was called the Corruptor, Dave… Simon says it’s a minor miracle you out from under his thrall even partially.”

Jenny nodded. “Yeah, SoS said the same. He said it needed a strong pure emotion to do that, a selfless reason.”

Giles took of his glasses, put them on the table, then his jacket and hung it on a chair and with some satisfaction ripped the monitor and keyboard cords out of the computer. “Whoever this online friend of Miss Calendar’s is, he is right. Very few who fell under the influence of Moloch ever escaped under their own power. I’d like to interview you as to your reasons at a later time.”

Dave blushed. “No! I-I mean…R-rather not.” He stole a glance at Willow who was looking at the new computer on the cart. Xander noticed and grinned at Buffy, who winked.

“If you prefer. Don’t you lot have classes?” He looked pointedly at the teens.

Xander leaned back against the library banister. “Naah. We’ll stay here and watch the fireworks.”

Willow grinned. “We do have to go, and I’m certain Miss Calendar and Mr. Giles want to have discussion about the Victorian era or something…”

All the teens noted how the redhead’s words affected the two adults. Jenny blushed furiously at the memory. *Oh god…I forgot…she was there…the whole SCHOOL is probably talking about us…*

Giles had ducked under the table, ostensibly to pull the computer out from under it, but he could feel their eyes upon him and his face and ears were hot. *Bugger. She was there…she’ll have told everybody…I must be the laughingstock of the school…No wonder they look at me like I’m a pervert…And that stupid poem…Edwards still can’t look at me without that damn twinkle in his eyes…*

Buffy gave her sister a look. “Wills…we are going to have a loooong talk. ‘Cause you’ve been holding out on us again with the secrets, and you know that’s still not allowed…Especially about boyfriends.”

“Hey, this is not about my boyfriend…” Willow winked at Miss Calendar and quickly walked away. Buffy and Xander followed and Dave hesitatingly did the same.

Jenny groaned. “Oh lord…everybody in the school…”

Giles muttered from under the table. “We’re never going to live this down…” He swore and there was a crackle. “Damn! Bloody thing.”

Jenny sniggered. “The computer can’t help it Rupert…that demon shorted out half of Sunnydale when he went up. And the repercussions of his digging through the internet…I don’t even want to think of that.”

“That’s actually rather odd…it seems as if the damage is repairing itself. Money being returned, files straightened, destroyed data restored…that sort of thing. At least that is what the papers say.”

Jenny swallowed. “Oh man…not another demon on the internet!”

“If it is, it’s not one out to do harm it seems…but we had better look into it.” He pulled the burned computer out from under the table and looked at it as if it was at least one of the horsemen of the Apocalypse. 

“Rotten stupid thing. I haven’t been able to register a single book for two days!”

“What happened to the card files?”

“The bloody stupid school board decided to sell the cabinets…and the movers dumped out the cards…” He gestured at the heap of paper piled in the book cage. “Which never would’ve happened if you hadn’t sold Flutie on the idea of digitizing the stupid thing!”

“It’s not my fault that the School board decided that they could cash in on selling the old filing cabinets Rupert, I advised keeping it as back up!”

Giles glared at her. “I told you this was bad idea! The entire catalogue is on this thing and now it’s destroyed and how in hell am I supposed to track the lending? This is all your fault!”

“My fault? MY FAULT? Where were you when the school board was selling the cabinets? Why didn’t you officially object? You didn’t, did you? You just gripe and moan and bitch and complain and then shout at me! Where were you when the movers took the cabinets? Did you leave instructions on how they should treat them? Arrange for boxes? Do anything constructive? Did you, you moronic British…librarian?!” 

“Miss Calendar…Jenny…” The bell rang. Giles looked up. “Don’t you have class?”

Jenny glowered at him. “Yes…but we will continue this conversation…later.”

Giles sighed heavily as he watched her leave.

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Dave caught up with the others in the hall. “Buffy…I’m really sorry.”

“It’s okay Dave. We’ve got experience with people who aren’t exactly themselves.” Buffy grinned at Xander who groaned.

“Will you quit bringing that up?”

Dave looked at them strangely and turned to Willow. “Willow…I knew…He wasn’t real…I-I should have warned you…Kept you safe.”

Willow put a hand on his arm. “Dave, everybody warned me about him. And I still didn’t listen. If you’d told me that a demon was stalking me on the internet…I’d have shouted at Buffy for trying to get you to turn away from Malcolm…” She shrugged sheepishly.

“I-I Should have tried, Willow! I should have done that for you.”

“You did your best Dave, you saved Buffy! If you hadn’t…I’d never have forgiven myself.” Willow insisted.

Dave glanced at Willow with a shy smile. “I know.”

Xander cleared his throat. “So, are we gonna get into class today?”

Willow grinned. “You want to get into class?”

“Well I sorta heard we got a new principal…I’d like to go one day before being sent to his office…”

Buffy nodded enthusiastically. “I’m in favour of that! Let’s go!”

As Xander and Willow went ahead to catch up with Amy Dave lightly touched Buffy’s arm. “Buffy, is there anything I can get Willow, that she would like?”

Buffy gave him a long look and then grinned. “Cheese. Real Gouda or Cheddar…but real cheese.”

Dave blinked in surprise. “Cheese? Not flowers?”

“Cheese. And flowers.” C’mon, let’s get to class.

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Danielle Moritz was hobbling through the undergrowth. The old paths through the park were heavily overgrown and the going was rough for an old lady with a cane and an uneven gait. Penelope and Simon lent a hand or arm in support frequently. Still she felt winded by the time they reached the huge standing stone deep in the park.

Penelope swallowed as she felt the ambiance. “Goddess above…”

Danielle let out a sigh. “What a wonderful place. Hhow can anything so peaceful exist so near a Hellmouth?”

Simon had thrust his cane into the ground and had hung his jacket and hat on it, and now was taking of his shoes and socks. “It’s a very large abluarium, I believe. I think it cleanses the local ley lines. And it carries Peace and Avoidance enchantments.”

“How old is it?” Danielle looked around the shade dappled clearing, feeling the reservoirs of magic that lay under the great standing stone.

“Well…I’d say at least two thousand years.”

“Two thousand years? I didn’t think the Native Americans had this sort of skill in crafting magic…” Penelope mused.

“They had Wizards here too you know. The Order was never limited to the Eurasian landmass, it’s a bit arrogant to think that the Wizards of the Americas could not do the things those over the ocean could do. Take of your shoes would you Nanny?”

Danielle smiled. “Don’t we have to do this skyclad?”

“Not really. I think that was just a lot of people who wanted to have an excuse for running around in their birthday suits. You can if you want to.”

“No thanks. I’ve seen you in yours. No need to feel shy…” Danielle smiled wickedly and Simon rolled his eyes.

“Not in a long while Nanny. Get your jollies elsewhere.”

Penelope knelt and helped her friend take of her shoes and socks. “Can I join?”

“By all means, nothing secret about it.”

Simon sat down in a lotus position and he gestured for the two women to do the same. They did so, Danielle with some difficulty. Simon took deep breaths, closing his eyes. The witches breathed quietly as they watched. The man’s shoulders relaxed imperceptibly and his face became serene. When he opened his eyes they were solid orbs of white light.

He leaned forward and touched Danielle on her temples. They sat for a few minutes, silent and unmoving. His eyes scrunched up in pain and Danielle’s rolled back in her head. Energy crackled around her, white light discharging on trees and rocks and grass harmlessly and sinking into the earth it came from. The old woman rose of the ground an inch or two and her face twisted into a grimace, her mouth opened and she let out a scream of pain. The crackling light continued for several minutes and the scream rang on and on until finally the last of the white flickers strobed off to earth itself on a mountain oak.

Penelope swallowed heavily as Danielle collapsed on the ground, vomiting a foul smelling black bile. Simon turned to her, his yes still white, face beaded in sweat and twisted with pain and effort. He reached out a hand and touched her chest. Penelope screamed.

Danielle’s eyes fluttered open to see Penelope convulsing whilst she floated an inch or two off the ground, thin streams of blood and some yellow brown substance running from her nose and mouth. She shivered. She imagined she hadn’t looked much better. She wondered if there was danger…Simon was using magic on Penelope without having previously discussed it…was he taking over their minds? Was he attempting to wrest power back for himself? As Penelope slowly sank back to the ground with tears streaming down her face, Danielle tried to sit up, but failed. 

Danielle saw Simon close his eyes, saw his face regain its composure as the wracking pains stopped whipping through his body, saw him open his eyes, revealing the dark chocolate brown with the glints of amber and green that had so fascinated her when she first saw him as a serious toddler…and look at the two of them, and her especially, with deep worry. He stumbled to his feet, moving to her, feeling her pulse and helping her sit. He dragged out his folded handkerchief and she used it to wipe her mouth. He moved to Penelope on trembling legs and knelt by her.

The other witch glared up at him, spitting some of the foul brown-yellow liquid from her mouth. “There’s water in my bag, and some tissues.” Simon nodded and searched through her bag and came up with two bottles of water and a box of tissues. He handed one bottle to Danielle and another to Penelope. Both drank deeply after first washing out their mouths.

Penelope glared at him again. “What the hell was that?”

“I honestly don’t know…I think the Spirit of this place felt that you needed help…I heard it tell me that you were still needed and that not just death, but also life may bring unity…” Simon shook his head. “I hate the whole cryptic prophecy crap.”

Danielle chuckled. “You sound as if you work with a lot of prophecy.”

Simon leaned back against the monolith and spoke in a tired voice. “And lo, in the place of judgment in the Lands of the West, Five shall rise to seize the mantle of power, and four shall be young and one shall be a Queen of Darkness. And the Guardian of the East will fall, and Death will be his dominion.”

Danielle rose shakily. “Oh, Simon…”

Penelope was pale. “There’s prophecies about you? Goddess…”

“Well…the death ones, those are always fun. And I wasn’t sure that one was about me until I found out about Pulchritudia Black.”

Danielle ran a gentle hand down his face. “It wasn’t your fault Simon…no one would have accepted them…” Her face became thoughtful. “We should reexamine that matter now that we know Pulchritudia Black was involved however.”

Penelope nodded. “I’ll bring it up next session.” She looked at Danielle and gasped. “Holy shit.”

Danielle turned to her. “What’s wrong?”

Penelope searched through her bag and handed the other witch a small powder compact.

“Take a look for yourself.”

Danielle opened the compact and looked. Her face was less lined, there was more colour in her cheeks, the sagging muscles of the left side of her face had firmed up and the drooping lids of her left eye and the down turned corner of the left side of her mouth had returned to normal. And her hair was far redder; there was almost no white left. A quick look at her hands showed fewer raised veins the skin was smoother and less wrinkled.

“Goddess Simon…what did you do?” Danielle ran a hand over her face in disbelief.

Simon opened his eyes again and really looked. His eyes widened at the sight of her. “I’ll be buggered if I know.” He looked up at the monolith behind him, as did the witches.

Danielle blinked. “You know…If I didn’t know any better…I’d say that thing looks…smug?”

Penelope grinned. “A trickster as Genius Loci?”

Simon groaned and pressed his hands into his eyes. “As if I don’t have enough problems already.”

Danielle sniffed. “Well I’m not complaining…I don’t think I’ve looked this good in decades.” She ran her hands down her thighs, trying to see her bottom by looking over her shoulder.  “Do I look thinner to you Penny?”

Penelope started laughing. “Do I look half as good?”

Danielle studied her friend carefully. “You look a lot better. Less tired, a few wrinkles gone.” She grinned wickedly. “And whatever it was got rid of that ridiculous dye job…”

Penelope bristled. “Ridiculous? I’ll have you know that was done by a prize winning professional!”

Simon sat up with some difficulty. “Hairstyling aside…I think that your heart couldn’t handle much more. It felt irregular.” He stuck a finger in a small puddle of the yellow-brown fluid that Penelope had vomited up and grimaced. “Fat…Now you know what coats your arteries.”

Penelope’s face twisted in disgust. “Ugh. I suppose you still want me to go to a different cardiologist at home too?”

“A second opinion never hurt anyone and I’m certain my daughters and niece would like to get to know their great aunt… I’ll see to it that the medical costs are covered.” Simon stated firmly.

Penelope opened her mouth to protest but Simon silenced her with a raised hand. “I take care of my family…and if I keep you alive longer, I don’t need to step up to the plate to help clear up supernatural messes in San Francisco. Pure self preservation.”

Penelope took a swallow from her water bottle. “I-I…don’t know what to say…”

“Say ‘yes’. I’ll just have you added to my company insurance plan as a paid consultant.”

“Consultant? In what?”

“You did study psychology…I can use you to help settle the members of staff I’ve forced to relocate to Sunnydale and…”

Danielle had been looking at Simon with narrowed eyes. “Y-you’ve been paying for me…haven’t you? All these years?”

Simon shook his shoulders to try and get the tension out. “Of course I have Nanny. You wouldn’t have been happy in a nursing home.”

Danielle rose on bare feet and walked up to him, put her arms around him and gave him a fierce hug. “Thank you.”

Penelope drummed the ground with her fingers. “Simon…you brought people in to live on a Hellmouth? What about the dangers?”

“Only senior staff will remain, who are well aware and able to deal with most that goes bump in the night. Most of them will settle out of town or in the cottages here in the park. Junior personnel will be replaced by locals…who will be given some instruction, though most of them are unconsciously quite good at avoiding the most common dangers…” 

Penelope grinned. “Well I’d assume the dumb ones get eaten first…”

“Which actually might explain the unusually high intelligence of many of the locals. And it won’t be an empty position either…And it will allow you to meet with Joyce and the children more often. Travel expenses would be covered as well of course.”

Penelope nodded. “That would be nice; yes…” she pursed her lips. “I’ll need to talk with the girls…Mine that is. I’m sure they’ll want to meet all of you…”

Danielle giggled and then started to laugh. “What a tangled web we weave.” 

“Gods yes…next I’ll find out Gordon fathered a slew of illegitimate children.”

Danielle’s laughter halted abruptly, her eyes wide. “Gordon? Who’s Gordon?”

“My brother. He died in ’71.”

“Was he married?”

“Yes but his wife died…”

“In June 1956?” Danielle said in a frightened voice.

“How did you know that?” 

“I met a man who called himself Gordon Jackson in a bar in July 1956. I’d just ended a relationship. He was trying to drown his grief over his dead wife…We only spent a weekend together, but it resulted in a pregnancy…Sheila”

Penelope gulped. “Sheila is Gordon’s daughter?”

“I-I think so…I have a picture…we should…”

“Yes…As soon as possible…but it explains why Gordon went after the Witch Hunter. Sheila…Sheila was being stalked by the Witch Hunter…He must have guessed…”

Danielle gawped. “Gordon killed the Witch Hunter? He didn’t have magic!”

Simon snorted. “In the first place, stress or anger or fear may break through latency…in the second place, am I the only one who finds these revelations about family to be so unbelievably coincidental as to be serendipitously miraculous?”

Penelope took up her lotus position again. “True, latency can be broken through, and Gordon wanted children more than anything. But he never wanted to marry again after Mary died. He measured every woman he met against her. And then to find out he had a child…who was being chased…”

Danielle shivered. “There’s something going on here…what or who is powerful enough to bring us all together? To reveal these family relationships? What is the point, what use is it to anyone?”

“It seems fairly pointless…it brings us closer together…I would hope. Simon tapped his chin. “I really don’t know.”

Penelope sighed. “I hate this…we need to know how and what and why this is happening now.”

Danielle nodded. “Right. What’s the common denominator?”

“We’re family.” Penelope grinned. “Sister in law.”

Danielle rolled her eyes. “My Sheila and Willow are Johnsons…So are Joyce and Buffy and Dawn…Your three girls Penelope…”

Simon grinned. “A veritable trove of Johnsons.”

“Shush, then there’s Joyce’s two sisters?” She looked at Simon.

“Charlotte and Arlene. Charlotte is Joyce’s twin; she has a daughter the same age as Buffy, Celia.”

“I see…it is an awful lot of Johnsons…”

Simon groaned. “Well Joyce does always say that she wanted a big family but I don’t think this is what she meant.”

Danielle’s sip of water went down the wrong pipe, and she coughed, her eyes wide. Penelope looked equally stunned and Simon, looking between them seemed dumbstruck.

“It couldn’t be…” Penelope whispered.

“It could…I mean no one in the Johnson line has ever had that particular power, but can you imagine what it could do with the power of a Johnson line witch behind it?” Danielle grinned. “It explains everything! The way she adopted Xander and Willow, the way all our family secrets are coming out of the woodwork…I mean Penny, when was the last time you talked about your siblings?”

Penelope nodded thoughtfully. “I haven’t talked about Gordon outside the family in years and only when we look at old photographs…Pippa…not since I told Patricia about her when she was pregnant with Prue… We were talking about names.”

“And why would I suddenly mention the fact that Sheila is the result of a drunken weekend? I’ve kept that secret for decades…even Sheila doesn’t know…and neither of us is weak willed. She cares for us…and we…respond.”

Penelope whistled. “Holy hand basket…the power she must have…”

Simon looked pale but he was grinning at the same time. “A Mother witch…”

“So what happened to trigger this? I mean, if she is this powerful why didn’t we find out years ago?”

Penelope looked thoughtful. “Is someone boosting her?”

Danielle laughed. “Of course. He’s sitting right there…Love and happiness Penelope! I dare to bet that Joyce has never been happier than she is now. And with every bit of family, every child she gains and can nurture, it will increase.”

Penelope eyed Simon. “Some boost.”

“She says he’s quite good at it.” Danielle grinned evilly.

Simon blushed and rose, pulling on his socks and shoes. “Benighted old besoms.”

“Well we’re not the ones getting boosted. I miss getting boosted. I could do with a good boost.”

“Penelope, stop teasing the boy. He’s always had enough trouble tying his shoelaces even when not distracted.”

Simon’s annoyed jerk broke his shoelace and he eyed the broken end, the aglet dangling sadly.  He sighed.

“Oooh, nice strong hands…”

Simon put on his coat and hat, dragged his cane from the ground and walked off as fast as he could with one shoe loose and all the dignity he could muster. The two witches, no longer as elderly as they had been, followed him, giggling. Danielle was twirling her cane as she went.

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They got into the car and Simon turned serious. “Well…now we know what happens when the Meier and Johnson lines cross…”

Penelope and Danielle stiffened. “Holy Mother Goddess…” Penelope whispered. “If you and Joyce have children…”

“I had vasectomy in ’66, before I joined the Army.” Simon said. “And yes, it was successful, and no reversal is not an option.”

Danielle looked just a touch disappointed to Penelope’s eye. “Yes…I still think…”

“I know you felt I was too young to make the decision Nanny…and it may have been the wrong one…now…but then it made sense. And yes, I also know how you feel about my military service…” He rolled his eyes.

“It’s hardly as if it saved you money on condoms Simon. And as methods of suicide go, joining the Army was over elaborate and ineffective.” Danielle spoke pointedly.

“It nearly worked.” Simon shrugged.

“I KNOW DAMNIT!! AND DON”T YOU EVER DARE TO DO ANYTHING LIKE THAT AGAIN!!”

Danielle’s angry scream rang through the car. Simon and Penelope looked at her in shock.

“How do you think it felt for me? Knowing that nothing I said or did gave your life meaning? A reason for living? Putting you in the Grand Magistracy may have been completely stupid but at least your sense of duty wouldn’t let you kill yourself outright! Damn it Simon! You’re my SON!! My little boy! And yes I was selfish, and yes it was wrong, but at least you’re alive now…and have a chance of happiness…” Tears had been running down Danielle’s face as her tirade continued.

Simon parked the car and drew her in his arms. “Nanny…”

“I-I’m sorry…I…Simon…I’m sorry…”

“I…I need to think about this…I…” Simon sounded uncertain.

Penelope snorted. “You two…I’d suggest counseling but I don’t wish either of you on any of my colleagues…let alone both of you…”

Simon grinned. “Well…Marcel has been aching to get his hands on Nanny for years…”

“That’s just because he has a thing for redheads.” Danielle smiled indulgently and then sighed. “But it might be wise.”

“I suppose so…I’m sorry Nanny…”

Danielle put a hand to his face. “Idiot boy…Are you still in the Army?”

“Still in the Reserves…I’ve been busy with other things…”

“Still a brigadier?”

“No…Major General.”

Penelope blinked. “But you’re a doctor…”

“Someone has to plan and lead humanitarian missions Penelope, not to mention the medical side of normal ones. And The Top Brass likes being able to point and say there goes a son of a Founding Family, serving his country, good publicity and all. But I’m resigning, sent in the letter weeks ago.”

“What? Why?” Penelope sat up in the rear seat.

“When you don’t have much of a social life serving in the Army Reserves is a welcome distraction…when you want to be home with your wife and kids…not so much.”

Danielle grinned. “Wife? Have you even proposed yet?”

“No…well…not as such…she found the necklace…and she knew what it meant.”

Danielle gave him a look. “And how did she take that?”

Simon shrugged. “Not yet.”

“Not yet? Sounds promising. Simon.”

The two women exchanged glances and nodded. Danielle spoke. “What do we tell Joyce? About her Power?”

Penelope tapped her chin. “First I’d like to talk to a Mother witch…but it’s a rare talent…rarest I know off.”

Danielle’s forehead wrinkled slightly in thought. “I don’t know anyone on the West Coast…Simon? The East Coast?”

“Sorry…other than the Beckforths…who’re unlikely to want to help us…I can only think of some MoFu witches …”

Danielle thought for second on what he meant before glaring at him. “Very funny Simon…Why does it have to be such a rare one?”

Penelope sighed in exasperation. “Oh heavens Danni! Stop complaining. Your granddaughter is being taken in by a Mother witch! No one has ever described that as being bad.”

Danielle worried her lip with her teeth in a way that made Simon think of Willow when she was nervous. “It’s just we know so little about it Penny…what if…it made her…”

Penelope snorted. “Danni…you spent hours complaining at me  in the car about the girl’s lousy parents…why are you surprised that the first person to show her any actual interest, in a maternal way, gets her love so completely? I imagine she’d have done it if Joyce had no magic at all!”

Danielle sighed. “I suppose you’re right, but will Joyce see it that way?”

Penelope blinked. “There you’ve got a very valid point. Simon…I know you don’t want to keep secrets…”

“No.” Simon’s voice was decided.

”What?”

“I’m not keeping this from her. We’ll work this out, through it. We’ll talk to the children. I will not base my relationship with Joyce and the children on lies and deceit. Not anymore.”

Penelope was about to speak when Danielle put a hand on her arm. “They’ll work it out dear. And we’ll help. Now, onto more important things…what are you doing for Thanksgiving Simon?”

Simon smiled and started the car. “Spending it with my family.”

BtVSBtVS BtVSBtVS BtVSBtVS BtVSBtVS BtVSBtVS BtVSBtVS

I considered Simon’s Army Rank for quite some time and consulted several sources. Please consider Simon’s words above to be a primary reason why he could put so much time into the Reserves.

 
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