The oddness of twins and parental disapproval
In which we explore the family relations of our heroine Chapter eight: The oddness of twins and parental disapproval
Joyce rose at eight thirty, brushed her teeth and ran a brush through her hair, removing her contacts and putting them back in after rinsing them, wincing a little at the rawness of her eyes. She walked into the lounge in her dressing gown a few minutes later. A Washington Post
and an issue of the LA Times
were on the table and Simon was drinking coffee on the couch while reading his book. The Post
had been read, even if neatly refolded. Joyce sat down on his lap and kissed him. “I forgot to thank you properly last night.”
Simon looked a bit nervous. “You may not have much to thank me for.”
She nuzzled his neck. “What do you mean? It was wonderful.”
“You might want to take a look at the Arts and entertainment pages of the Times.” He looked genuinely upset.
Joyce sighed and rose. “You’re no fun this morning.” She pouted at him and he smiled, if a trifle uncertainly.
Joyce sat at the table and Simon poured her a cup of still hot coffee. “What do you want for breakfast? I waited for you. I checked on Dawn, she’s still sleeping.”
Joyce smiled indulgently. “Let her sleep. She’s always more cheery when she wakes up on her own. Umm, what are you having?”
“Just more coffee and a croissant until Dawn wakes.”
“That will be fine, but I’d like some juice too.” Simon nodded, rising and picking up the phone to place the order.
Joyce picked up the Times and searched for the indicated sections. The front page of the arts section showed Diana Vishneva performing a grand jeté and a raving review beneath it. She smiled and turned to the next page. The headline and the picture made her blink. Impromptu dance with Baryshnikov Famed dancer Mikhail Baryshnikov danced with a young lady from the audience after yesterday’s performance of SwanLake. Under the guidance of Prima Ballerina Diana Vishneva and Kirov Dance Mistress Natalia Makarova the young lady performed very credibly. Mr. Baryshnikov and the members of the Kirov ballet refused to divulge the name of the young danseuse, Baryshnikov stating only she was very charming and he hoped to dance with her again.
The picture showed Dawn, a delighted smile on her face, held high above Mikhail’s head, legs straight, back curved and arms wide. The dancer was obviously trying to hide his own smile.
“Dear me.” She blinked at Simon rapidly, eyes growing wide. “Lolly reads this. Dad reads this! ”
“Try the entertainment section.” Simon said hesitantly.
Joyce hurriedly turned to it. Simon looked nervous. Last appearance by the grand old lady? Mrs. Dorothy Buffum Chandler (97) spent most of last night’s performance of SwanLake in the company of the reclusive New York philanthropist Simon Meier. Mrs. Chandler has been confirmed to be suffering from cancer; the disease is rumored to be beyond treatment. Mrs. Chandler, after whom the Dorothy Chandler pavilion is named, stated she was delighted that the first ballet enacted in the Pavilion was performed by the Kirov ballet and that she was glad to have seen it performed in such delightful company.
A picture below, taken in the intermission showed Mikhail seated between Buffy and Dawn as Dawn was gesturing with her hands and the old lady and the dancer laughing. The subscript read: A lively discussion about dancing techniques.
The picture next to it showed her and Simon, walking into the foyer, flanked by the usher and Dawn. The subscript to that read A romance in high life?
The accompanying text caused her to wince: Dr. Meier, (52) who rarely appears in public was surprisingly accompanied by a lady and her daughter. The lady has been tentatively identified as Ms. Joyce Summers, a 36 year old divorcee with two daughters. Ms. Summers was wearing a Hubert de Givenchy dress and a set of Meier family jewelry known as the Stella Saphires; named for Dr. Meier’s grandmother Stella and designed by Pierre Cartier.
“I’m sorry Joyce…”
“Oh stop the guilt trip Simon. It’s nothing I can’t deal with…I hope…” Joyce groaned. “Lolly is going to laugh her head off. Shy nerdy little Joyly hitting the gossip pages. Is there a phone I can use?”
Simon nodded. “By the bed and one in here. What ever you prefer.”
She stood and went to the phone by the couch. “I may need the moral support.” She decided to call Lolly first. Lolly was an early riser and subscribed to the LA Times, her father drove to the post office to get his. She dialed the number from memory and it rang twice before being picked up.
“Charlotte Penkowski.” Her twin sounded distracted, Joyce noted.
“Lolly? This is Joyly.”
“Joyly! Well. What an amazing coincidence. Seen the paper yet?” Joyce could hear the amusement, curiosity and sheer evil pleasure of tormenting her older sister in Lolly’s voice.
Joyce took a deep breath and replied evenly. “Yes, Simon was kind enough to show me the relevant pages this morning.”
“So it is you and it is true. And when were you going to tell me?” There was an odd mix of satisfaction, curiosity and hurt in her voice.
“I only met him a few weeks ago. We’ve only been dating for about a week.”
“I see. I was planning to come down this weekend for a few hours of gossip anyway…” Lolly sounded hopeful.
“Yes, Lolly, we’ll be home this afternoon.” She rolled her eyes at Simon who grinned, placing his hands on her shoulders.
“Did Dawn really dance with Mikhail Baryshnikov?” Lolly sounded awed in spite of herself.
Simon nipped Joyce’s neck and Joyce squeaked. “Yes! Yes she d-did.” Simon nibbled her earlobe and Joyce tried to dislodge him with her free hand. He chuckled deeply.
“What was that Joyly?”
“N-nothing.” Joyce let out another yip as Simon’s hands moved to her front and cradled on her stomach and his teeth grazed the back of her neck.
“Sure sounded like something on this end.” Lolly chuckled. “Maybe I should let you two get on with it?”
“No, I just need to hit someone with the newspaper. Give me a second while I roll it up.” She glared at Simon who raised his hands in surrender and withdrew.
“Well I’ve got to get Celia out of bed. She’ll want to see Buffy and come along I’m sure.”
“Harry coming too?”
“Oh yes. I’m fairly certain he’ll want to meet your new young man.”
“Good, it’s been a while since we’ve seen him.”
Lolly laughed. “See you around two in the afternoon?”
“Yeah, ok. You’’ll be staying for dinner, of course. Love you Lolly.”
“Love you too Joyly.”
Joyce hung up. She glared at Simon who gave her an angelic smile of innocence. “Simon… that was incredibly juvenile.”
“You should be ashamed of yourself! What will Lolly think?”
“That I’m very much in love with you and can’t keep my hands off you?”
Joyce had to laugh. “Well, yes. But you are not going to do that while I call my parents, ok? Mom would have a heart attack.”
Simon smiled. “I make no promises.”
“Simon…” Joyce began warningly.
“We could make a deal…” Simon interrupted with an evil grin.
There was a knock and their order was delivered by a maid and Joyce tried to look relaxed as it was placed on the table. She could feel Simon’s eyes on her and when the maid had left she spoke. “What sort of deal?”
He sat on the couch, beside the phone, patting his lap. She warily come over and sat down, primly on his lap. “What deal?”
He put his hands around her waist and drew her close, smelling her hair. “I do no touching beyond this. And you call.”
She blinked. “That’s it?”
“You were expecting more?”
Joyce blushed. “Well I thought you might make a run for second base there for a second.”
“I don’t steal bases. I try to earn them.” He tightened his hold and Joyce leaned against his shoulder.
“Very well, deal.” She reached for the phone, again dialing the number from memory.
“Family of early risers?”
“Mom will have been in the garden for two hours at least. We hardly ever bought vegetables when I was younger. Dad should just be back home from buying the paper. He reads the politics section first.”
The phone was answered by a male voice. “Ellis.”
“Dad? It’s Joyce?”
“Joyce? Is there trouble?” He sounded worried. He’d been very upset about the problems with Buffy and the collapse of her marriage, just like he’d been hurt by the failure of Arlene’s two marriages.
“No Dad, no trouble. Is mother there?”
“We were just about to have breakfast. Well I was. She calls it brunch.” Her father rose after her mother since he’d given up working regularly at his law practice.
“Can you go to the arts section of the paper? Second page.” She heard a rustle as her father did so.
“Did you get a piece in there for the gallery?” He sounded amused as well as pleased. She heard him gasp and her mother’s voice saying; “Is that Dawnie?”
“Joyce, is that Dawn dancing with Mikhail Baryshnikov?” Her father sounded incredulous.
“Yes. Ummm. Can you go to the entertainment section? Second page as well…”
There was a scuffle for the receiver. She heard her father protest and firmly being told to sit down and this was a thing between mother and daughter.
“You have some explaining to do young lady!” Her mother’s voice hovered between gratified and indignant.
“Good morning to you too, mother.” Joyce replied dryly.
“Don’t you good morning me, young lady!” Cecelia Ellis barked. “When did this start!?”
“Last week, Mom. And I’m only calling now because it’s in the paper.”
“I see. When do we get to meet him?”
“Well Lolly, Harry and Celia are coming by this afternoon. Can we wait a bit until we are more certain?”
“Joyce, unless your financial situation has considerably changed you cannot afford a de Givenchy dress. Not to mention the jewelry.”
“They’re a loan, Mom.” Joyce explained patiently.
“No they’re not. At least not the dress. I’m hardly going to wear it.” Simon’s voice was a low rumble in her ear.
“Simon! Shut up!” Joyce hissed, hoping her mother had not heard.
“Joyce… Is he there?”
“Yes, Mom. We’re in a very nice suite in a hotel in LA. Separate bedrooms.” The last was added before her mother could comment. She could feel Simon shaking with pent up laughter.
She heard the extension in the living room being picked up. “Joyce, what are his intentions?” Her mother’s voice. Dad probably wanted to listen in.
“Good grief, can you two possibly get more Victorian?” Joyce let her exasperation be heard. “I’m a grown woman! He’s a grown man! We’ve been dating for a week. He took me and Dawn to see a ballet. He’s very nice. He’s a complete gentleman. And I’ll introduce you when I feel good and ready.”
There was a Momentary silence. “Very well dear.” Her mother sounded subdued. “Your father and I love you very much, and we worry. Do let us know…”
“I will, Mom. Love you too.” She heard the connection break and hung up. “Well that could have gone better.” She glared at Simon. “You could have kept silent. Jerk.” He seemed utterly unrepentant, nuzzling her neck. There was a creak and the door of Dawn’s bedroom opened. Dawn sighed as she took in the scene before her.
“Doesn’t that ever get old?” She gave her mother a pointed look. Joyce put her hands over Simon’s larger ones.
“Not really, no. Breakfast? We need to leave fairly soon, Aunt Lolly is coming over to Sunnydale with Celia and Uncle Harry.”
“Really? Cool.” Joyce rose and went to help Dawn brush the curls out of her hair while Simon called for breakfast. Dawn was beside herself when she saw the pictures of her in the newspaper and even more excited when she heard that better quality pictures would be forthcoming. Alice arrived to help pack the dress, braiding Dawn’s hair in a twist that Joyce made a mental note to try and duplicate sometime. They left, Simon tipping the staff that had attended them and quickly got on the highway to Sunnydale.
Dawn chattered incessantly on the way, utterly delighted she could show her ballet friends the pictures of herself dancing with Baryshnikov, wondering what they would say. Joyce smiled a lot at Simon. Simon smiled a lot at Joyce.
They arrived in Sunnydale and Simon swung past the grocery stores to pick up extra food and supplies for the visitors and they arrived at Revello Drive before twelve. Buffy and Willow were sitting in the porch, talking. When the car drew up on the drive way Buffy rose, arms crossed.
“Well I hope you have been behaving yourself? Done nothing I wouldn’t do?” She smirked.
Dawn ran out of the car and hugged her. “Buff! I danced with Mikhail Baryshnikov! And I talked to Buffy Chandler, you know, the lady you’re named after! And the ballet was wonderful and my picture is in the paper! Three times!”
Buffy blinked; her arms automatically closing around her sister. “Really?”
“Uhuh! I have the papers and everything! There are more pictures, we’ll get them and Simon loaned me a necklace and a there was a maid to do my hair and it was the most awesome night ever!”
Buffy looked at her mother who nodded, holding the folded newspaper and looking at her daughters fondly. “Why don’t we go inside and talk. A little help with the boxes?”
Willow and Buffy eagerly helped carry the boxes and luggage inside, dragging it upstairs and dropping it there. Dawn spread out the papers and Buffy and Willow looked in amazement at the pictures.
“Holy shit.” Buffy muttered it but her mother heard.
“Buffy, language.” She rubbed her eldest’s back. “Aunt Lolly, Celia and Uncle Harry are coming over this afternoon. I called your grandparents. And now I have to call Arlene, in case anyone she knows reads the LA times.” She rolled her eyes.
Simon grinned at her. “Need moral support?”
“No. I can call Arlene all by myself.” Her glare told her daughters not to ask and she went upstairs to place the call.
Simon grinned at the three girls. “We should get the groceries out of the car and put them away.”
They quickly did so, Dawn still chattering. Janice appeared half an hour later, much to the relief of Buffy and Willow whose knowledge of ballet was limited to ‘girls in tutus jump gorgeous guys in tight clothing.’ The younger girls withdrew upstairs where the frequent exclamations of ‘No way’ and ‘Way!’ showed that a pre teen conversation was taking place.
“Arlene? This is Joyce. You on maneuvers?”
“Yes. Joyce, is this important? I need to lift off in twenty minutes.”
“Sorta… erm… I’m seeing someone.”
There was a silence. “That couldn’t wait two more days?”
“It’s in the paper.”
This time the silence was lengthier and heavier. “What did you do?” Arlene asked in a resigned, older sister tone of voice.
“Nothing, he’s just rich.” Joyce replied defensively.
“Rich.” Arlene sounded skeptical.
“Very, very rich?” Joyce tried.
Does Mr. Rich have a name?”
“Is he nice?” Arlene tried a different tactic.
“Do the girls like him?”
“I think that is a yes on Dawn and a definite maybe on Buffy, and Buffy is coming round to a yes.”
“Good for you. Joy, gotta hang, flying coming up. I’ll drop by to see you, the girls and Boy Wonder asap.”
Joyce grinned at the giddy sound of her eldest sister’s voice. Flying helicopters and digging through layers of dirt were her loves. One of the reasons she never managed to hold on to a man, according to their mother. “Lolly, Harry and Celia are coming by this afternoon. Take care ‘Lene.”
“Always, but thanks Joy. Love to the girls, Sis and the beanpole, eh?”
“ ‘k. Have fun!”
“I will, you too.”
Joyce came down, humming to herself. Simon gave her a fond look. “Long conversation?”
“No, I was putting my dress out to best effect for Lolly. Aunt Arlene sends her love,” she told the girls. “And how are things here?”
Buffy theatrically put her head on the table. “Thank god for Janice, I could not take another Jeté, glissade or whatcha macallums.”
“I can imagine.” She looked fondly at Buffy, remembering long, mostly one sided conversations about skating.
Simon went to the kitchen to make tea and coffee and get juice for Willow. The teens sat looking at the picture of Joyce and Simon. “You looked beautiful Mom. Totally gorgeous,” Buffy sighed. “I’ll never look so beautiful.”
“Nonsense. You’re both very pretty girls and in the right dress you’ll knock the socks of them even more. There is something to be said for dressing up however,” She looked at her picture with some satisfaction. She looked thoughtfully at Willow. “Green for you,” Then at Buffy. “and I think a nice deep red for you.”
Buffy blinked. “What?”
“Dresses dear. Just thinking of the prom.”
“Isn’t that a touch early?” Buffy looked amused.
“Never hurts to plan dear.”
After coffee and tea Simon and Joyce withdrew to the kitchen to bake, ultimately assisted, at least in the eating of dough part, by Willow and Buffy after the girls finished their homework, or at least as much as they wanted to do then. The cookies were slid into the oven just as there was a noise outside, a car horn being sounded and Buffy bounced out of the kitchen, then to the door, throwing it open. “CELE!!”
A girl in jeans and a tight sweater, long dark blonde hair in a single braid and with large dark blue eyes jumped up the steps, hugging Buffy. “Buff! Love the look. Who’s that?”
She glanced at Willow who started to flush. “That’s Willow, my best friend, she’s staying over.”
The girl slipped out of Buffy’s arms, holding a hand out to Willow. “Celia Penkowski. I’m Buff’s cousin. Almost any friend of Buffy is a friend of mine.”
Buffy rolled her eyes at the familiar phrase. Willow blinked, uncertain at the ambiguity of the wording. “Umm. H-hello. I’m Willow, Willow Rosenberg. I go to school with Buffy.”
“Don’t mind Cele. She’s been saying that since I introduced her to Annie Ustrad when we were nine and Annie kicked her butt at miniature golf.”
Willow blinked. “O-oh. Well I’m really very bad at miniature golf and I don’t do very well at most sports anyway, so umm, no butt kicking in any way from me. We could do some logic puzzles or a spelling bee, or a maths quiz and I might, you know, gently kick, but not miniature golf.”
Celia grinned at Willow. “No need to get nervous Willow. It’s just family in joke. I am so totally over getting my butt kicked at miniature golf you would not believe it.”
Celia stepped up to Joyce and hugged her. “Hello Aunt Joyce. Where’s the Beast that will not waken?”
A voice from behind her spoke sharply, if with affection. “Celia! We discussed this! You will not talk about Dawn that way!”
“But Mom…” Celia looked put upon and he voice was whiney.
“I don’t care if you say making up silly nicknames for Dawn is tradition. Now apologize to your aunt and there will be no name calling.”
“Yes, Mom. Sorry, Aunt Joyce.”
Joyce smiled. “It’s quite alright dear. Good to see you again.” She smirked at Lolly, who looked confused at her sister’s placid reaction to the name calling perpetrated against her youngest.
Charlotte was being hugged by Buffy and Harry by Joyce when Dawn thundered downstairs, closely followed by Janice. Celia caught her in a hug. “Hello Dawn. How’ve ya been?”
Dawn looked at her wide eyed. “What’d I do?”
“Sorry?” Celia blinked.
“You never call me Dawn, unless I do something wrong. So what’d I do? Was it bad? I’m sorry?!” Dawn looked honestly confused and upset.
Joyce started laughing, looking at Lolly’s expression of disbelief.
Celia gave her mother and aunt and exasperated look. “Nothing to worry about Eater of larvae, just that Mom thought calling you stuff was wrong.”
Dawn blinked. “Oh. But its tradition.” She said it so matter-of-factly that even Lolly started laughing. She raised her hands in defeat. “I give up.”
Lolly looked round. “So where is this man of yours Joyly?”
“Making tea and coffee.”
Celia ran into the house and the kitchen, followed closely by Buffy and Dawn. The Summers’ girls were rather surprised to see Celia tightly hugging an amused looking Simon.
“I knew it was you from the pictures. Hello Dr. Simon.”
“Hello Celia. I’m glad to see you again. And looking so well.”
Buffy blinked. “Dr. Simon… YOU are Dr. Simon. Cele’s Dr. Simon… Why didn’t you tell us?” She looked outraged and confused.
“Because I did not make the connection myself. And I haven’t met her in almost eight years.”
Celia finally let go. “I couldn’t do that last time; I wasn’t allowed to get up.”
Simon smiled. “I know, I was the one who decided that. Shall we go to meet your parents?”
Buffy and Celia exchanged looks, and then joined arms. “Lets shall!” Both girls giggled. Dawn rolled her eyes.
Simon shook hands with Harry, a tall, thin man with a long faced balding head of loose graying black curls, glasses and a kind expression.
“Dr. Mayer. A great pleasure meeting you again.”
“Mr. Penkowski. It is very good to meet you this time under happier circumstances.”
“Though I think our farewells will not match the last time we parted.” Harry winked. Simon winked back.
Lolly rolled her eyes and threw her arms around Simon. “Men! It’s good to see you. Especially in these unexpected circumstances. Now if you’ll excuse us, I’ll just grab Joyly, drag her upstairs, take a really good look at that dress and gossip.”
Dawn looked at Janice who had edged away from the group. “Don’t go Janice; I don’t think Celia wants to hear about the ballet, much.” She grinned at Buffy. “And I know I lost Buffy and Willow waaaay before the first act ended.”
Buffy hugged her sister. “I should know better than to try and fool you about ballet. I should fool you about ant larvae being candy. Biology never was your strong suit.”
Dawn glared, wrinkling her mouth and nose in disgust at her sister. “I was five. It was icky. You were mean.” Simon looked interested and Harry put a hand on his arm.
“Why don’t we sit out here and I’ll tell you all about it. I’m sure the girls have lots to talk about.” Lolly stuck her tongue out at him and dragged Joyce off, grabbing two cups of coffee from the kitchen and drove her sister up the stairs before her, the children going upstairs as well. The last thing Buffy heard was: “Now let me tell you a little about Buffy and Celia’s misspent youth…” She winced despite herself.
Buffy let her cousin into her room, closely followed by Willow. Celia took in the camp bed; the extra clothes hanging in the closet, styles her cousin would never ever wear, and looked her question.
Willow’s lip trembled unhappily and Buffy moved over to her, giving her a hug and sitting her on the bed.
“It’s alright Wills, Cele can keep a secret.” She looked over at Celia. “Wills’ parents are gone. A lot. Mom lets her stay here; otherwise she would be home alone.” The ‘far too often’ was unspoken but readily understood. Celia nodded.
“That’s cool. Different though.”
“Mom alone is different than Mom with dad. Mom with Simon…” She rolled her eyes in disgust. “Is like trying to keep two bunnies apart.” Willow giggled and Celia fell on the bed, laughing.
“Well at least he’s a really good guy.”
Willow looked between the cousins shyly. “How do you know him?”
Celia shrugged. “I was eight, in the hospital to have my tonsils out and I became really ill, couple of other kids and me almost died. And it really hurt; I couldn’t breathe a lot of the time. And then the doctor in charge of my case called this doctor who was in the neighborhood to give a lecture and this guy came in, all dressed in tweed with this white coat and basically took one look at me and gave me an inhaler and said it was a rare type of tuberculosis. I had to use the inhaler for a couple of years, take plenty of exercise, and keep out of the night air.” She scowled. “My parents still use that excuse to keep me from going out.”
Buffy laughed and then her face took on a calculating expression. “They’d lose that if Simon told them it wasn’t needed anymore wouldn’t they?”
Celia’s face lit up. “Would he do that?”
“If there’s no reason to keep you in, sure. Let’s ask him later.”
Celia nodded. “So… how have you been... otherwise?” She glanced between Willow and Buffy.
“Willow knows and believes. So does Simon.” Buffy gave Celia a broad smile.
Celia’s eyes widened. “Both? Wow. And have you killed any vamps here?”
Willow gave Buffy a mock severe look. “She knows too?” I thought it was supposed to be a secret? Is there anyone you haven’t told?”
Buffy pretended to think. “I think maybe Mom and Cordelia don’t know,” She rolled her eyes. “You and Xander would not have found out if he hadn’t been in the library. I mean, what was he doing in the library anyway?”
“Probably looking at books to see if there were any pictures of semi naked ladies.” Willow nodded sagely if a bit sadly. Buffy and Celia sniggered. Celia put a hand on the red head’s shoulder.
“Willow, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”
Lolly looked at the dress on the bed and then up at her sister, older by thirty six minutes. “Joyce, take out your damn contacts and put on your glasses.”
Joyce gave her a near panicked look. “B-but…”
Lolly rolled her eyes. “Good god, you’ve got it bad. Joyce, this is not Brad Peterson in High school, nor Hank with his ridiculous notions on female beauty, this is a man of the world, a medical doctor for heaven’s sake! I’m sure he knows you wear contacts, I’m sure he knows they sometimes irritate. Just put on your glasses.”
“O-okay.” Joyce removed her contacts, blinking painfully and reached for one of her sets of glasses, the steel rimmed ones she had used at work, that hopefully were more sophisticated than the horn rims that made her look like a librarian or the black ones that made her feel like the nerdy girl she had been in school. Lolly in the mean time looked over her dress and its accoutrements.
“A real De Givenchy.” Lolly ran an admiring and careful hand over the fabric.
“Well he can afford it.” Joyce said it almost apologetically.
“That’s not the point. The point is he wants to see you in it. Which begs the question what else he wants? Is he looking for a courtesan? A roll on the hay? What?”
Joyce hesitated; then she went to her bureau and opened a locked drawer, taking out the two letters that had come with the dress. She handed both of them to her sister. Charlotte read them, eyes widening. She gave Joyce a ecstatic look once she lowered Simon’s letter.
“Lady love of his life? Ring and necklace? Joyly… ”
“He wants me to marry him.”
“Phew. Well he makes up his mind fast. The necklace seems more important than the ring…”
“It’s a love necklace, handed to the intended of the oldest son. It’s been in the family since the 15th century. The rings are only from the sixteenth and nineteenth century.” Joyce said it absent mindedly as she looked at her eyes in the mirror, wondering if they were too bloodshot and fretting over what she could do about it.
Lolly gulped. “Oh. That’s old.”
“Should I go with this one or the tortoiseshell?”
“Joyce! He’s not going to dump you merely because of your glasses, stop worrying.”
“You love him.”
“I think so.”
“You want him.”
“Don’t bother denying it sis. I know you too well.”
“It’s too soon.”
“How many dates have you been on?”
“Well, he arrived last Saturday morning for breakfast, then we went to lunch, there was dinner at the Italian, then we went to the park with Dawn on Sunday, Lunch every day, he’s been there for breakfast every morning, he’s there in the evenings for dinner, stays to help the kids with homework, we went for coffee and I took him out to buy jeans. He looks really good in jeans.” She added the last a bit dreamily.
“And then there’s the ballet. He’s been here every day for the past week. That’s at least seven dates, by my count. A lot of time spent together. He helps the kids with their homework?” Lolly sounded interested.
“Yeah, He’s really good about it. Buffy’s French is even improving.” She smiled.
“So he likes the kids.”
“You should have seen him carrying Dawn yesterday, he was so proprietary. Did you know he funds at least one Foster home in each state? And he’s a pediatrician.”
“I know he’s a pediatrician. He’s the man who saved Celia. Dr Simon.”
Joyce turned around. “So that was what that whole thing outside was about. You knew him? Why didn’t he tell me?”
“Joyce… We, Harry, Celia and me, may remember him very well, but he he’s probably saved dozens of children throughout the country. He probably barely remembers our names, let alone our faces. Celia still gets a Christmas card each year, he promised her that. How was he to know that a girl called Penkowski he saved eight years ago was your niece? He met you once if I recall. And he used a different name. Well somewhat.” She smiled.
“I suppose you’re right. I didn’t recognize him either, and I shook his hand to thank him. Buffy even hugged him back then.”
“See? How was he
supposed to remember. Now, let’s go down.”
“The steel rims? Or the tortoiseshell?”
Lolly sighed. “Joyly…”
Joyce meekly went down stairs, steel rims firmly in place. Harry and Simon were seated outside on the back swing and discussing childhood pranks. “So Dawn set fire to Celia’s Barbies after she read about the Salem Witch trials? And Celia took vengeance by building a ducking stool with Buffy. And ducking Dawn?” Simon sounded both amused and disbelieving.
“They were energetic times.” Harry said sagely. Simon laughed. “Lively.”
The men looked up and Simon’s face took on a strange intent look. He rose, empty cup in hand and gestured with it. “I’m getting a refill. Joyce?”
Harry was about to rise and get himself some but Lolly sat down next to him and kept him back. “Just bring the pot out will you, it’s nice out here.”
Joyce preceded Simon with some trepidation. She heard him putting down his cup and put down her own, hand trembling a bit.
“I was wondering if you ever wore specs.” She winced, old insecurities rising up.
“Sometimes the contacts irritate my eyes. I only use them rarely.” She spoke apologetically.
Suddenly she was turned around and he kissed her fiercely, pressing her back against the fridge. After some time they had to come up for air and she gave him a dazed look. “W-what?”
“You look incredibly sexy in specs.” His eyes smouldered.
Joyce swallowed. “I do?” *Specs…sexy…wow…kiss me again.*
“Has no one ever told you that? What fools men are.”
“T-they are?” He kissed her again, deeply. She felt his hand slipping under her loose shirt, caressing her stomach, the finger tips just brushing the bottoms of her breasts.
There was the noise of a cleared throat from the door. “Are we gonna get that coffee anytime today?”
Lolly was standing in the doorway, looking very amused. Simon reluctantly backed off; Lolly glanced at his hands as they became visible from under her twin’s shirt. “Why don’t you go outside Simon, Joyce and I can manage the coffee. And we might even get to drink some.”
Simon grinned. He gave Lolly a look and then kissed Joyce again, deeply and passionately. Then he nodded at Lolly and walked back out onto the porch.
“He thinks I look sexy in specs.” Joyce leaned against the fridge, almost certain she would collapse if she didn’t.
“I would never have guessed. At least we know he’s not Brad Peterson in disguise.” Lolly looked at her shaking sister in with some amusement. “He probably has a librarian fetish as well.”
“Lolly!” Joyce blushed, unwilling to admit the same thought had crossed her mind, pushing herself slowly away from the fridge and leaning against the island. “Damn, that man can kiss.”
“I’d say he showed both enthusiasm and skill. Shall we get the coffee?” She took the pot from the coffeemaker and carried it out. Joyce followed, slowly, carrying her own cup and Simon’s.
Lolly filled the cups and they drank, talking about day to day things, Harry’s accountancy firm, Lolly’s Interior decorating business, Joyce’s gallery. Simon kept silent, listening attentively and asking the occasional question, never volunteering information. When the talk moved to art and political affairs he joined in freely. After an hour or so Buffy, Willow and Celia came down, looking nervous. Celia cleared her throat.
“Ummm… Dr. Simon? Can I talk to you in private?”
Simon gave her an amused glance, rising and led her into the dining room, sitting at the table and looking at her expectantly. “Yes Celia?”
Celia sat down, taking a deep breath. “You know those instructions you gave when I was sick?”
Simon blinked. “Which instructions?”
“Keep warm, get plenty of fresh air and exercise, avoid the night air and use the inhaler?”
“What about them?”
“Could you, maybe examine me and you know, tell my parents I can go out at night?”
Simon blinked, again. “Are you still using the inhaler? I seem to remember canceling the medication…” he looked thoughtful as he cast back his mind to earlier years.
“No, I stopped using that when I was thirteen.” Celia’s face suddenly became wrathful. “You mean that…They’ve been keeping me from going out…”
Simon grinned at her. “Apparently. I must admit that I’m surprised you fell for it for so long.”
“Ooohhhh! I am so going to get even!”
“Well not tonight if you please. I’d like a nice quiet family dinner.”
“Oh, very well.” She sniffed. “Because it’s you.”
Simon laughed. “Well, if that was all?”
Celia grinned. “Unless you want to play doctor.”
Simon gave her a look. “Your records were quite clear, no congestion, damage, normal mammary growth, nothing to indicate the presence of the disease in your system. So it’s not really needed.”
“Mammary growth? What does that have to do with it?” Celia blushed.
“In some cases that’s influenced. It’s rare, but can be an indicator. Usually a difference in size or speed of growth.”
Celia nodded. “Ah, ok. Well then…” She squared her shoulders and marched back outside. “MOM! DAD! You’ve got some splainin’ to do!”
Simon followed her out. Celia’s parents seemed resigned to their fate. Joyce was telling her sister she was amazed the ruse had lasted as long as it had. Buffy was sunk in laughter against the house that her world wise and savvy cousin had been hoodwinked by her parents so neatly. Willow was grinning at Celia who was spluttering that it was totally not fair and not funny at all.
Simon beckoned Joyce with his eyes. When she came into the kitchen he was cutting vegetables for the evening meal. “Ah. Yes we should start dinner I suppose.” She knew she sounded disappointed.
“Yes, we should, the casserole needs some time in the oven.” She sighed and walked over to help him. As she rather despondently got out her own cutting board and put it next to his, he put down his knife and caught her, lifting her onto one of the stools easily and kissed her. Joyce was uncertain how long the kiss lasted but she heard some strangled noises behind her and became aware of her eldest daughter and her niece standing in the doorway. Buffy had covered her eyes with one hand and was groaning, Celia was very red in the face, whether from a desire not to laugh or other reasons she did not know.
“Very much like bunnies, yes.” Celia managed to say it before running away into the garden, followed by Buffy who was mouthing something like ‘gross’. Willow, red faced, shrugged apologetically before running after them.
Joyce smiled her face very red. “Well at least we’re providing entertainment to the teens…”
Lolly looked around the door. “The adults thought it quite amusing too. You do realize Harry and I were standing here for a full five minutes before the kids showed up to see what we were doing?”
Joyce picked up an orange from the fruit bowl and threw it at her twin. “Go away! Let me kiss in peace.”
“Well I’d like something to eat tonight, so no. Get to work you two. I don’t care how good Joyly looks in glasses, I want food!”
Simon sighed. “Oh, very well. Joyce, you entertain them. If you stay here we’ll never get it done.”
Harry laughed and Lolly dragged her sister of the stool. “Stop distracting the man with your alluring ways sis. You can come outside and tell me all about him…”
Joyce cast one last longing look into the kitchen, much to her sister’s amusement and then allowed herself to be dragged outside.
Dinner was duly prepared, in such quantities that Janice as well as Xander, who came by on the off chance, could join the party. The visitors left around nine, Simon dropping of Janice at home the teens at the bronze with the injunction to be home at half past eleven at the latest. Dawn had put on PJ’s when Simon came home, kissed him good night and was reluctantly herded upstairs by her mother to get some sleep. When she got down stairs again she was caught at the bottom of the stairs.
BtVSBtVS BtVSBtVS BtVSBtVS BtVSBtVS BtVSBtVS BtVSBtVS BtVSBtVS
Buffy and Willow walked into the Summers’ house after a short patrol and a long talk at the bronze.
Willow grasped her friend’s arm and pointed at a familiar shape hanging off the banister. A pair of shoes was lying discarded haphazardly on the bottom steps. “Buffy…is that a bra?”
Buffy groaned. “Oh god. They did not…” She closed her eyes and almost staggered into the living room. Joyce was, sitting with her feet on the couch, stockinged toes wriggling against a pillow, leaning into Simon, reading a book on sixteenth century silver marks and Simon was reading a rather garish paperback edition of the Bonfire of the vanities.
Joyce glanced at the clock. “Fifteen minutes late young ladies…”
Buffy looked at them in wide eyed shock… “You’re not…not…”
“Making like bunnies? “Joyce asked dryly, looking at them over her glasses. For some reason it made Willow feel three years old and back in kindergarten. “We do have some measure of self control you know. I’ll let the lateness of the hour be your excuse. Which lateness we will be speaking about later. Bed, now. I’ll be up in fifteen minutes. You two had better be ready.”
Willow nearly squeaked. “Yes, Ms. Summers!” and was out of the room before Buffy could stop her. Her mother rose, clothes in perfect order.
“But... your bra... shoes…” Buffy pointed at the offending items of apparel.
Joyce rolled her eyes. “The bra was chafing; one of the underwires has worn through. And I admit I threw the shoes towards the stairs instead of walking there.” She looked at her feet, wriggling her toes. “I was just nice and warm and comfy.”
“Oh…” Buffy blinked. “Ummm… “
“Thirteen minutes left.” Buffy ran upstairs. Joyce sat down. “That was rather clever of you, setting the alarm for ten minutes before they had to be home.”
“I figured you’d prefer not to be caught like rutting teenagers.”
“I had enough of that this afternoon.” She smiled. “I don’t mind the rutting part. It’s the getting caught part that gets to me.”
“I must admit there is a certain naughty thrill to it…”
“Enough that you want to face my sixteen year old daughter and her best friend and explain why your hands are on my breasts?” She gave him a mock scowl.
Simon seemed to ponder her question. “I think I need more experience with the latter before I can answer the former.”
She flicked his ear lightly. “Twit.”
“Gorgeous.” He rose, stretched and placed a soft kiss on her lips. “Be seeing you tomorrow.”
Simon blinked, looking worried. “I’m sorry?”
“You’re not leaving. As Lolly pointed out to me we’re on something like our seventh date. And we may not get beyond kissing tonight, but…” She sighed. “I’d just like to be able to fall asleep in your arms.”
“I can do that. Very soporific, me.”
“Just get your bag out of the car, ok? I’ll go tuck in the girls.”
“I’ll be right back.”
Joyce performed her nightly ritual, tucking in Willow and Buffy. Buffy was getting a touch exasperated by it, but she knew Willow loved the attention and would never embarrass her friend by refusing; knowing Wills would not dare ask for it if Buffy refused to be tucked in.
Joyce checked on Dawn and then went back downstairs. Simon’s bags were by the stairs and he was turning out the lights. She hesitated, and then moved towards him, putting her arms around his waist and hugged herself into his well muscled back. “You do understand, don’t you…”
Simon turned in her arms. “Completely.” He hesitated. “I may not be the most restful bed partner Joyce…”
“Nightmares?” She put a hand to his face.
“Sometimes. Sometimes Vietnam.”
“Oh! I didn’t realize…”
“I served in a M.A.S.H. unit. I think the last one was a while ago, but…” He shrugged, looking at his feet.
“We’ll deal. Come on.” She took his hand, leading him upstairs.