Larry Blaisdale lumbered through the door and Joyce pursed her lips. She hadn’t remembered him being quite this large.
He slouched down in the char beside her and scowled as he asked, “How can I help you, Mrs. O’Neill?”
She raised an eyebrow and said, “You can stop picking on my son to hide the fact that you’re gay.”
Larry bounced out of his seat, hands fisted, to loom over her as he asked, “Did he tell you that? I’ll kill
,” she commanded firmly, pointing first at him then at the chair. His mouth flapped as his ass instantly hit the seat. She was glad to see that some
things were instinctive, at least. “Now, please remember that Xander is my son
and killing is not allowed. And, as I was going to say, no one told me. I’m very observant, Mr. Blaisdale. That happens when you have 11 very different children.”
And when you’re from an alternate reality and have already been told certain things by your daughter, the Slayer. Her life had certainly gotten strange.
“Oh,” he mumbled, paling as he looked down at his clenched fists.
She covered one with her hand and said gently when he looked at her, shocked, “If it helps, I don’t think anyone else has noticed.” She squeezed his hand. “There is absolutely nothing wrong about loving who you love or wanting who you want, Larry Blaisdale. You’re 17. It’s about time you learned that.”
“But my Dad
,” he whispered miserably.
“Your father is part of the Space Telemetry Program and they are some of the most open minded people on the planet,” she said staunchly. “And if your parents can’t accept who you are, then my door is always open. So long as you behave yourself.”
His face turned red and he scowled as he said, “You mean as long as I keep my fag hands off your kids.”
Her eyebrow arched as she said sharply, “No, actually I mean as long as you stop slamming my son into lockers whenever you take a notion.”
He leaned back, looking sheepish as he said, “Oh.”
Joyce sighed as she said, “Honestly, Mr. Blaisdale, I don’t care who revs your engines as long as what you do with them is both safe and consensual.”
He flushed as he said, “You should probably call me Larry.”
She grinned, patting his hand. “Of course. Now. Do you want to speak to Mr. Platt?’
His eyes slid to where the counselor was watching them through the glass. “Do you think is should?”
“He could help you with your parents,” she said, tilting her head. “And it can’t hurt to talk about it.”
“Alright,” he said, hand turning until it engulfed hers. He looked her in the eye as he asked, “If they can’t handle it?”
“Then come to me,” she said simply, cradling both his hands in hers. He was a big boy but, in a lot of ways, he was still just a boy.
She squeezed his hand, then let go and stood, patting his shoulder as she passed him. A bell tolled overhead.
Joyce nodded to Mr. Platt. “He’s all yours.”
She walked away, down the hall and out the door, feeling lighter. If hugs, hot chocolate, and memories that weren’t technically hers were all she had to change this world then, by God, she was going to use them to the best of her ability.
She walked into the quad in time to see Cordelia, hand clenched tight around Jonathon’s arm as she poked a sharp finger into Harmony’s chest, saying, “…and I’ll be friends with whomever I damn well please because I follow nobody’s
lead, no like you. And do you know what that makes you? Sheep. You’re all sheep. So go bleat in someone else’s direction.
Jonathon was watching her like she was his goddess.
Joyce grinned, murmuring, “That’s my girl.