Army Aunt and assorted agonies
Author’s note: First of all, thanks for reading and reviewing, I greatly appreciate it. Secondly, thanks to those who recommended me: Bigman, dawn, FireWolfe, Roth, Tiggergirl, trongod and Wolflady. Since several of you asked, Amata Juarez is not the same as the canon male exchange student Ampata Gutierez. The names are similar since I’m mean that way. ;-) I asked a friend of mine who teaches at the University of Lima and he says that as far as he knows Ampata has no meaning in either spanish or Quecha, so I decided to go with Amata, which at least means ‘beloved’. Chapter 37: Army aunt and assorted agonies
The dripping woman stood under the arch when the stream suddenly cut off. Willow and Dawn swallowed. Behind them in a very, very tiny voice Buffy said the words “Oh shit…”
The woman raised an elegant auburn eyebrow and removed her soaking wet service cap from her dripping hair. Her face was heart shaped and her features were enough like Buffy’s that she could have posed as the Slayer’s older sister. Her regulation length hair however, was a rich Vermont autumn leaves auburn and her eyes as green as Willow’s. She levelled a stern gaze at the nervous and guilty looking girl, her rosy lips compressed into a thin line.
Buffy rose out of the wading pool she’d been hiding in like a very reluctant Venus from the waves. “Yes Aunt Arlene?”
Willow gulped. Her fear of the identity of the woman had been justified.
“Can I ask why this young lady, who, from the descriptions I’ve received, I assume is Willow Danielle decided to douse me with rather a lot of water?” She asked in a resonant and deceptively mild voice.
Buffy swallowed. “I’m sorry Aunt Arlene…I don’t know.”
Arlene Ellis turned her brilliant green eyes on the other two wading pools in which Xander and Amy were trying to hide. “And who might you be?”
Xander swallowed and rose. “Xander…” Xander stopped at the raised eyebrow. “Alexander Lavelle Harris, Ma’am!” He almost sprang to attention. He would have if he’d known how.
Arlene turned to Amy who flushed and gave her a pleading look. Arlene merely raised the eyebrow a little higher. “Well?”
Amy rose. “Amelia…Amelia…” She threw another pleading look at Arlene whose gaze was level and merciless.
Amy sighed in defeat. “Amelia Morgana Agrippa Apollonia Circe Minerva Madison.” She gave her friends a desperate look. “Please don’t tell anybody…”
Willow blinked. “Ummm…are they you-know-what names?” She gave Arlene a look. The Major was stripping of her jacket and tie, both were wet through and did not seem to be paying attention.
“I-I don’t know…T-they’ve been in my mother’s family for generations…I-I think so…”
“Willow Danielle…can you tell me please what the reasoning behind hosing me down was?” Arlene interrupted the by play. It was clear the woman did not think there was one.
Arlene bent over as she spoke, taking off her sopping wet shoes.
Willow swallowed. “I-I thought you were mom and dad…”
Willow flinched as Arlene eyed her as if questioning her sanity.
“I-It seemed a good idea at the time…” Willow tried desperately.
“I see…I will fetch my luggage…I shall go inside and change…when I get outside again I expect you to be here…and we will discuss a suitable punishment for you.” Willow winced.
Arlene left the garden and the kids heard the trunk of a car open and then the front door open and close after a while.
Buffy groaned and turned on her sisters. “What the hell were you thinking Wills! Have you got any idea of what mom is going to do when she finds out?”
Willow whimpered. “I just…I wanted to…I thought mom and dad might find it funny…”
Dawn nodded vigorously. “C’mon Buff! You know mom would’ve laughed…after chasing her round the tree a couple of times…”
Buffy nodded. “Yeah ok…but Aunt Arlene…I can’t quite see Aunt Arlene finding this funny….”
Willow gulped again. “So…what’ll the punishment be?”
Buffy ran her hands through her hair. “I don’t know…Fifty thousand laps around the block? A hundred thousand push ups?” Willow’s dislike of strenuous physical exercise was well known to the Slayer. It had become abundantly clear in both PE and the self defence and martial arts lessons they were all taking.
“Oh no…” Willow’s face fell.
Buffy grimaced. “I just hope she won’t take it out on us too…you know, the whole platoon suffering for the misdeed of one?”
Willow stood straight. ‘I’ll make certain she knows none of you knew what I was going to do…” She shot Dawn a warning look and the youngest nodded vigorously, relieved at the possible escape from adult ire.
They stood around under the tree waiting in trepidation. The kitchen door opened and Arlene exited, in a bathing suit with high cut legs in light green and flip flops. Xander gaped, so did Buffy and Dawn, but for different reasons. This was definitely the most casual they’d ever seen their aunt. She was carrying a bucket, filled to the brim with ice. Willow eyed it with wide eyes.
Arlene eyed the teens and grinned. “Which of those pools is yours Willow?”
Willow pointed at her pool with a trembling finger. “T-that one ma’am…”
Arlene walked over to the pool and dumped the contents of the bucket into it. The ice drifted out from the splash to scratch the soft plastic sides. A sudden movement brought her next to the younger redhead and then Willow was spluttering in the pool.
“EEEEEKKKKKKK!!!!!” Willow gasped and squealed in the suddenly much colder water as Arlene dunked her a few times. “Buffy! Help!”
Buffy eyed her grinning aunt with surprise. Aunt Arlene had always been the least playful of her two aunts, always serious, reserved around her nieces…and yet here she was dunking her new niece…obviously more amused than annoyed.
“Don’t even think about it Buffy…” Arlene gave her oldest niece a warning look.
Buffy looked at the splashing Willow as she was dunked and rose up again. “Sorry Wills…I never mess with the US army…”
Dawn however decided it might be fun and jumped at her aunt, only to be caught, flipped and dunked as well. Her squeal rattled the glass in the new arch windows.
Arlene rose, flipping back her still damp hair. She glared good naturedly down at the two girls shivering in the water and then at the other three, waving a hand at the wading pools. “Do you have another one of these things?”
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Joyce and Simon drove up to the house in comfortable silence until Joyce spotted the green jacket and skirt hanging from a folding clothes line stuck from the window on the first floor.
“Ummm…looks like Arlene’s here early…But why did she wash her clothes…”
Simon nodded at the traces of water in the driveway. “I don’t think it was voluntary…”
Joyce’s face twisted in dismay. “They wouldn’t have…”
Simon chuckled. “Bet you next
year’s Halloween costumes that Dawn’s behind it…”
“I say Willow…she’s been very playful lately…Shake on it?”
They solemnly shook hands, and then grinned.
Simon sighed. “Well…only one way to find out…” He got out of the car, opened the door for Joyce and grimaced. “I hope she isn’t a hardliner…I really don’t feel like being ‘sir-red’ her whole stay…”
“I’ll have a word with Bomber Ellis, don’t worry.”
Simon smiled “Bomber Ellis?”
Joyce sniggered. “Oh yeah…years ago she dropped a flour bomb on a transport during an exercise and ‘accidentally’ hit a jeep full of high ranking referees…” She saw Simon’s face and gulped. “Oh dear…”
Simon gave her a bland look. “Yess…”
“A-are you the one who…swore to get her back?”
“Oh no Joyce…all
of us swore to get her back…Not all of us have gotten around to it…yet.” He grinned. “A pity I’m not in uniform…” He strode quickly to the arch, Joyce following…to be hit in the face by a stream of water from a hosepipe.
Which suddenly cut off.
Joyce had never heard that particular tone of honest to goodness fear in her older sister’s voice. Arlene was wearing a leaf green swimsuit like she’d not seen her wear since her college days…and then only if their mother was really far away. A pair of stylish sunglasses were perched on her hair, the legs tucked behind her ears. And she was holding a hosepipe.
Joyce grinned. Her staid, professorial, early old, US Army model officer sister had just pulled a practical joke. The first one in she couldn’t remember how long… Apparently the same one that had been pulled on her. She hoped Simon’s reaction wouldn’t destroy the first spark of playfulness Arlene had displayed in years…
“Sir…!” It could only be called a squeak.
“Captain…Ellis…we meet…again.” Simon flicked his sopping hair back from his forehead.
“M-major Ellis, now sir…C-Can I say sir, I really, really didn’t know it was you sir…”
“I see…Can I ask what your reasoning was? To hose your sister and myself?”
Arlene opened her mouth, her eyes wide. Behind her the children were trying to hide in the pools. Then she looked back over her shoulder, grinned and winked at Willow, who flushed a bit. “It seemed like a good idea at the time, sir.”
Simon looked stern. “I see…were you inspired to perform this action by someone.”
“Sir, punishment for that was already meted out sir!”
“That was not a superior asking a junior officer for information, Arlene…that was Simon asking Arlene who pulled a prank on her…Willow or Dawn?”
Arlene looked over her shoulder again. Willow nodded diffidently. “Willow…Simon.” Joyce grinned. *YES! I’ve got the perfect costume for you…damn, wet shirt is a good look on him…rowr…*
“I see…and how was punishment meted out, Arlene?” Simon asked mildly.
“I…errr dunked her in a wading pool with ice sir, Simon.” Arlene corrected herself.
“I see…” Simon grinned. “Buffy…Xander…Amy…Willow…Dawn bucket of ice…each. Stat.”
Arlene gulped. “Sir?”
“Vengeance, Major…is best served…icy cold…”
Joyce laughed at Arlene’s horrified expression.
Arlene Ellis sat shivering at the table, wrapped in a large fluffy beach towel, her hair hanging damply around her ears watching in disbelief as Simon pushed Dawn on a swing. Buffy, Xander, Amy and Willow sat lounging under the tree, drying up. Chinese had just been ordered. Joyce was wearing a dark blue dress, dry after her misadventures, and sitting next to Arlene.
“Holy heaps of hand grenades heaved in hand baskets to hell…” She whispered in disbelief. Arlene had been modifying her language around Joyce’s offspring for years but this one made Joyce giggle.
“Oh come now, you deserved it…”
“Joyce…that’s Old Bloodybones
…Old Bloodybones is pushing Dawnie’s swing! Old Bloodybones dunked me!”
“Simon! Holy SHIT
Joyce…You’re banging Old Bloodybones…”
“You knew who he was when you came here…And I’ll thank you from refraining from using such language around my children.” Joyce gave her sister a reproving look. Arlene ignored her.
“I knew he was involved with the Meier Houses, not that he was Old Bloodybones
“What’s with Old Bloodybones anyway?”
“It’s a nickname Bones…you know, as an Army Doctor, err Star Trek…and because he’s well…a really….errr…”
“Stick up the butt stiff disciplinarian?”
Joyce giggled. “You know…I somehow can’t imagine that…he’s usually all ‘oh Joyce they didn’t mean it’. Or ‘Oh Joyce they’re just children’…”
“He wasn’t even angry…He just…I thought I was going to be scrubbing toilets every training weekend for the next decade!”
“Simon? I-I can’t imagine him being that…vindictive…”
“Joyce…he’s a good officer…but in the seventies and eighties people manoeuvred to get out of his commands. He’s scary
Joyce looked at her lover as he pushed Dawn. “Scary…I see…He did tell me he was strict…but I never imagined…scary.”
“Well…lets put it this way…No one will ever believe it…That I’m not scrubbing toilets I mean. “
Joyce grinned. “Well…he hasn’t taken his revenge for the bombing yet…”
Arlene groaned. “Oh man…I never made the connection…I mean; nobody ever
thought Old Bloodybones would get involved with anyone
! Except Satan!”
Joyce shrugged. “Actually, he didn’t make the connection to you either… it was two divorces ago…And from how he tells it I think most of them actually thought your bombing run was quite amusing…eventually.”
“I’m just glad nobody took pictures of what happened just now is all.”
Joyce grinned. “Oh, I sent Buffy for my camera…Mom will love them…I’m sure Simon can find a happy home for some of them too…”
Arlene gasped. “Y-You…wouldn’t…”
“I seem to recall a certain picture of me…in a tree…” *Upside down in skirt going commando, but lets not go there…* Joyce still winced at the thought of that debacle.
“Joyce!” Arlene whined. “Please?”
“I’ll consider it…” Joyce grinned. “Let’s go get some more drinks from the kitchen.”
Arlene sighed and followed. Joyce grinned back at her still damp sister.
“Really Arlene…what got into you? Don’t you know there’s a drought on?”
Arlene shivered and rubbed herself with the towel again. “I-I don’t know…I’ve just felt lighter the past few months…” She looked at the children and then whispered. “I-I stopped taking my suppression potion…I’ll tell you why later…but I think that might be part of it…”
Joyce nodded. “Simon mentioned that sort of thing might affect a person, change their personality.”
Arlene sighed. “I wish I’d been there last week…you know, to meet Clarice?”
“Us too…It would’ve been awesome to see you being bossed around for a change…”
“Oh come now ‘Lene…you know you have a bossy side…”
“Yeah…okay…But what’s she like? What are they all like?” Arlene looked wistful.
“Pretty fun actually…good company. Clarice…has been very lonely. I’ve never seen anyone so happy at finding a place to belong…I can’t imagine what it must be like, to be a foundling…to know your parents aren’t your parents… “She tilted her head and listened to the chatter of her children, smiling.
Arlene winced. “Yeah…that could be pretty bad…”
Joyce smiled slyly. “And of course you’ll get a chance to meet her tonight…Mom and Dad are bringing her over…she had a breakdown…and mom thinks more family will do her good. Charlotte and Harry and Celia will be here tomorrow.”
“M-Mom is coming here?”
“Yeah…Arlene? Are you alright?”
“No…I need to go…I’ll be back.” Arlene rose and Joyce looked after her worriedly. She came back a few minutes later, obviously having splashed more water on her face.
“Mom is gonna kill me…She’s gonna kill me…” Arlene hugged herself and shivered.
“I’ll tell you tonight…after the kids are in bed…”
“Well normally that would be around three…but since Buffy can’t hunt with her nose full of Hrackesh she’s going to get a few good nights of sleep in.”
“Hrackesh? Didn’t she use a copper knife? That was about the first thing mom told me and Lolly.”
Joyce’s mouth twitched. “Yes…well…Buffy didn’t pay attention in class. Lets call it that…you gonna be okay ‘Lene?”
“Until mom kills me, yeah. Or Clarice” The last two words were whispered and Joyce barely heard them.
The sound of a car pulling up awakened Joyce from her thoughts as to what might be her second oldest sister’s problem, and the steps on the porch made her rise. She opened the door just as James was reaching for the bell.
Cecilia was holding on to a sleepy looking Clarice who yawned and gave small wave. “Hey.”
Joyce stood aside and James gave her an amused smile at her silence. “Vamp 101 still sticking I see…”
“Yeah, well bitten once, twice shy…”
James gave her a look. “Bitten?”
Joyce, still in her beachwear, pointed at her neck.
James swallowed at the fading scar. “I see. I did not notice that the last time…”
“Yes…happens when you go blind onto the Hellmouth…”
Cecilia had been hugging Arlene who was holding herself rather stiffly. Clarice stood blinking until Cecilia let go of Arlene. Arlene held out a hand. “Good evening. Arlene Ellis. Nice to meet you.”
Clarice shook it rather tentatively. “Clarice Starling, nice to meet you as well.”
“I trust you’ve been well?”
Clarice gave Cecilia a look. Her mother shrugged. Clarice faced Arlene again. “I’ve been better, but I’m getting there.”
“Good to hear. Well, we’ll be talking…I’ll go put on something less revealing.” She turned and left.
Cecilia looked after her, worried. “That…was not good.”
Joyce bit her lip. “No…she’s afraid.”
Clarice looked between them. “Afraid? She doesn’t just hate my guts?”
“No…scared almost out of her wits…haven’t seen her this frightened since her third grade play…”
Clarice winced. “I hate public speaking. I get riddled with nerves.”
Joyce grinned. Apparently it did run in the family.
The doorbell rang and James, still standing by the door got it, and accepted the several bags of Chinese food.
Clarice eyed the bags with astonishment. “Joyce…are you feeding a battalion?’
“No…Buffy and Xander.” She smiled indulgently. “Just as well Simon’s loaded, they’d eat me out off the house if I had to pay for it myself.”
“I knew it! You want him for his money!” Clarice gave her sister a playful grin.
“Oh heavens no…I want him because he’s an animal in the sack.” She winked salaciously.
Leaving Clarice to look after her with a looked of dumbfounded astonishment, she went into the garden to set out the food.
James groaned. “Could have lived very well without that information…”
Cecilia nodded, blushing a little. “Me too…”
Clarice shuddered. “You think you’ve got it bad? My sister is sleeping with my brother…If I think about that too much I still think my head will explode…”
Joyce in the mean time had put the food on the garden table, ready to enjoy at least one advantage of the unseasonable warmth.
Dawn looked disappointed and Joyce noticed. “Something wrong Pumpkin?’
“Ummm…I’m not that hungry?”
“Why not dear, are you ill?”
“Err…I may have had a Twinkie…”
“A twinkie. As in a single Twinkie has made you lose your appetite for Chinese food?” Cecilia had joined the table, Clarice and James in tow. She knew ell her youngest granddaughter’s fondness of Chinese.
Buffy snorted. “More like three packets of Twinkies…”
“BUFFY!!!” Dawn whined loudly.
“She was going to find out anyway Dawnie…might as well bite the bullet now.” Buffy shrugged.
“Three packets…heavens Dawn…what were you thinking?”
“Err…I was hungry?”
“Someone stole my lunchbox this morning…” Dawn looked genuinely upset. The Winnie the Pooh box had been a gift from Hank before the divorce.
“We’ll get it back sweetie…don’t worry…but you were hungry…what about a sandwich?”
“But…there were Twinkies!”
Joyce looked at the faces around the table. Xander looked like he was in complete agreement with his youngest sister, Willow was grinning, Buffy and Amy were laughing and Arlene…looked wicked?
Arlene spoke “Well…maybe next time you’re so hungry I’ll get you an MRE…”
Dawn paled and looked as if she was about to be sick. “Oh GOD!! Not that!”
“Sorry mom…Please...please don’t let Aunt Arlene feed me MRE’s…”
Joyce gave her older sister, no longer the oldest; a look. “MRE’s?”<br> <br>
“Meals ready to eat. We use…different terms for them in the military.“ Simon said, giving Arlene a long look.
“They were curious…I let them have a taste…it wasn’t punishment, I swear!” Arlene was babbling frantically at Simon’s scowl.
Joyce smiled a little. Apparently her sister wasn’t quite used to having a general-in-law yet.
“Very well…Dawn…next time make a sandwich…now let’s eat.”
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After dinner, when the slowly cooling evening had driven everybody to dress again, Dave came by to rehearse. He seemed more than a little disappointed when he heard that Willow had worn a bathing suit and he had missed it.
“I wouldn’t have minded lying in a wading pool…”
“I’m sorry Dave…but you did have to help your mom at the shop…”
“Yeah…but after that?” Dave sounded plaintive.
“I’m sorry…I just didn’t think…” Willow apologized by kissing him, lightly, on the lips. And then she blushed
Joyce coughed. “Lines?”
“Err?” The two echoed.
Joyce rolled her eyes. She took Dave firmly by the arm and put him next to a grinning Xander, who was sitting opposite Willow. “Sit. Read lines.”
“B-But…” Willow began.
“Willow…this is MacBeth…I don’t think Shakespeare would exactly approve if the first witch and Banquo started to make out in the middle of the scene.” Joyce said firmly.
Arlene, who was listening in, sniggered.
Willow pouted. Dave grinned. “We could call it avant garde…”
“Dave! Behave!” Joyce turned a stern eye on him.
“Sorry Ms. Summers!”
“And have you asked you parents yet if you can come to dinner tomorrow?”
“Errr…No Ms. Summers…”
“Then do so…if you can kiss my daughter at this table, you can certainly eat at it.”
“Yes Ms. Summers.”
“Now, once more, from the beginning…”
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Buffy looked up in astonishment when Aunt Arlene came in with her grandmother, Clarice and mother to tuck her in. That just didn’t happen. Not even on the rare occasions the girls had stayed over with their aunt in Chicago. Going to bed at Aunt Arlene’s was more like going to bed in a barracks. Reveille at 06.30, hold the bugle. If they were lucky.
“Sleep well Buffy.”
“I should be patrolling…”
“Not with your senses blocked by Hrackesh stink.” Arlene smiled from the door.
“You fought one?”
“Your German shepherd? Yeah, he was cool…ohh.” Buffy suddenly saddened as she understood..
“Yes. I took down the Hrackesh that ate him.”
used a copper knife…” Arlene said teasingly.
“I’m never going to live that down am I?” Buffy sighed.
“No…I don’t think you will.” Arlene smiled more widely.
“I like it when you smile…”
“So do I…Sleep well dear.”
Arlene helped tuck in Dawn and Willow as well, visiting Xander, but not doing any tucking in his case.
Going into her room to pick up her briefcase she followed Joyce up the stairs and into the living room. Joyce sat down next to Clarice, who was snuggled into Cecilia and almost asleep. James was on the opposite couch and Simon came in with tea and coffee. Arlene sat down at the edge of an easy chair.
“Well…you wanted to talk to us Arlene?” Joyce began.
Arlene sighed and opened her case, taking out a battered manila folder and handed it to Joyce. Her younger sister opened it and gasped.
Photographs. Arlene, a younger Arlene, lying in a hospital bed, with a child in her arms, smiling down at it. Pictures of the child alone. A birth certificate for Evelyn Philippa Amanda Ellis, born to Arlene Barbara Ellis, father’s name not given. She looked at the date of birth, June 14th 1981. She wordlessly handed the file to her mother.
“After you broke up with Jack…?”
“Oh no…she’s his
. But he
was never interested in children…at least not with me
.” Arlene said bitterly.
“I gave her up for adoption…” Arlene’s face was set in a white mask of pain grief and guilt.
“Oh honey…why didn’t you come to me? I would have helped…” Cecilia said with tears in her voice.
Arlene gave her a dumbstruck look. “Wha’?”
“Honey…we all knew how you felt about Jack…and the way he dumped you…do you honestly think I’d have blamed you for wanting a baby with him?”
“B-But I gave her away!”
Clarice was leafing through the papers, Simon reading over her shoulder. “To a very reputable adoption agency…Anderson, Coopers & Willibrandt…and you made them keep track of her for four years...” Clarice was skimming through quickly and Simon was as well, her auburn and his brown head close together as they absorbed the information.
“Y-you’re supposed to hate me! Be angry!”
Cecilia moved over to the chair and pushed Arlene aside, to sit next to her. “Well…I can’t say I’m not upset dear…but if I understand Simon and Clarice correctly, you did a lot, much more than I did.”
“Arlene…we would have raised her, your father and I.”
The horrified sputters from her daughters caused her to glare at both of them. “And I’d probably have done a much better job than I did with you two!”
Clarice giggled. “I’ve heard that grandmothers are more lenient on their granddaughters…”
Joyce snorted. “Well…yes…I suppose…”
James smiled. “Will you be able to find her Simon?”
“Hmmm? Oh yes…I’ll have Michaela call the adoption agency on Monday, they’re closed in the weekend.”
Arlene shook her head. “It won’t be that simple…I just know it…”
“You stopped taking your potion.” Cecilia said it with certainty.
“But I’d been having dreams…about…a dark haired girl…a blond…a group of girls…I see them through someone’s eyes…and she hates them…oh god how she hates them…she wants them to die…And I know she’s tried…” Cecilia drew her daughter closer.
“I know the girl whose eyes I’m looking through is Evy…”
“I know she’s done thing already…she dropped a piece of scenery…and a paint bucket…and she’s so angry and lonely…I need to find her…”
“P-paint bucket?” Joyce stammered out. Simon looked up.
“Yes, a real big barrel of paint; dropped on some Asian girl…Joyce, are you alright?”
“She’s here…in Sunnydale. Willow told me about stuff happening at the school…”
Arlene froze her eyes wide and her face pale. Joyce moved over to kneel by her, while Cecilia ran comforting hands down her back. “Arlene…’Lene…”
“My baby‘s here…”
Simon picked up the folder. “I’ll get on this. Don’t worry. We’ll find her.” He gave Arlene a comforting squeeze on the shoulder and left to send a mail to the Institute. Michaela was going to be really annoyed with him…