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The Many lives of Joyce Summers

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Summary: A series of short stories and vignettes that reveal glimpses of lives in which Joyce Summers was not a gallery owner. Inspired by Challenge 7316

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Multiple Crossings > Joyce-Centered
Television > Colombo
(Current Donor)vidiconFR131240,934716119,43629 Jan 1321 Aug 13No

Whom the gods love

Author’s Note:

Unbeta’d. Blame me for any and all mistakes.

The following ways of notation may be found in this story. This is excluding whatever I need to represent chatting, texting and stuff like that.

Speech: “Who’s on first.”

Thought: *What’s on second.*

Vision: #I-don’t-know’s on third.#

Many thanks to SeinSchatten for the recommendation. Disclaimers at the end.

Whom the gods love

One will be born who will bear two, One of love one of jealousy, one who will carry the line, one who may break the world.

Once beloved, twice a mother, shorn of love's sweet memory, bears but the bitterness of four betrayals before death comes.

Prophecy of the Oracle

Olympian Heights cemetery, July 2001

There were a lot of people at the memorial service. Their mother had been quite famous as an artist after all. Some of her works were on display, too.

There'd even been a few offers, here, before they'd even buried her. Buffy knew that they'd have to sell some of them. Considering that Joyce had only started to make real money from her art the past few years, they might have to sell some pieces that their mother would've wanted to keep. But they had to eat and have a place to live and clothes to wear and then there was college for both of them.

And no doubt their father would take a cut. As Dawn's guardian.

As Buffy stood and shook hands in a mechanical manner and was commiserated to, as Dawn wilted in grief beside her, her eyes kept moving back to the relief on the opposite wall. They would have a copy made and have it placed on the grave. It depicted two women in profile, facing each other. Neither Dawn nor Buffy knew who the other woman was. But several of the drawings that hung upon the walls, of the sketches, even one or two models for larger sculptures, showed her.

The strange thing was, Joyce hadn't known, as far as Buffy could tell. Yet that relief was achingly, heartbreakingly beautiful. It spoke of deep, immense love. There had been offers for the relief, too.

As a matter of fact the price of their mother's work was going through the roof. Which might explain why her grandparents had tried to get custody of both Dawn and of Joyce's 'remaining works', arguing that Buffy wasn't a fit guardian for either. He'd won on the second, but not the first..

And that why he was here now, schmoozing. As were their grandparents, who hadn't taken notice of them while Joyce was struggling and been firmly shown the door when she became famous. Buffy and Dawn just didn't have the energy to fight them, too.

And then there was silence. Silence moving in waves away from the door. There was a woman standing in the doorway, here eyes fastened on Hank Summers.

Buffy and Dawn looked at her in disbelief, then at the relief. Beside them, Hank paled.

The woman moved slowly, striding across the room, the crowd of well-wishers parting before her. She ignored Buffy and Dawn, turning to Hank.

“We will speak later, Messenger,” she told him in quiet but deadly tones.

Hank swallowed and started to edge out of the room.

Dawn glared at the woman suspiciously. 'Who're you? What're you doing here?”

“We will talk later as well. About many things,” the woman promised.

Buffy reached out and grasped the woman by the hand. There were clear marks around her wrists, as if she'd been chained. “What happened to you?”

“You don't think that they could have kept me from you and your mother without chaining me up, do you, Buffy?” the woman said softly, a hand rising to touch the smaller woman's cheek.

Buffy blinked, not expecting that answer. “Oh.”

The woman smiled. “Later, child. Later,” she moved away. Ten minutes later, Joyce's parents were gone as well. Things got better from then on.

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Willie's Bar, July 2001

The door opened and the gathered demons looked up, disturbed. The hot news on the grapevine was that the Slayer's mother had died and that the Scourge of Demonkind was severely unbalanced by the loss. That meant either opportunity or great trouble. Added to the problem with Glory, and the number of demon patrons was actually small.

But the woman who entered was alone and things in Sunnydale were more chaotic than they had been in years. So to see a mortal woman enter was more of an opportunity than it would be under normal circumstances.

Ordinarily Willie wouldn't allow a murder on the premises. The Slayer didn't like it, and that dislike tended to translate into fists meeting his face.

Tonight might be a good night. With a floor show. The demons took stock of who was there and in the mood. The woman moved to sit at the bar, barely glancing at the monstrosities surrounding her. That was not unusual. Most people ignored the super natural even when they came face to face with it. A huge Polgara demon called Shrtuz eventually rose, deciding he was the strongest there this evening.

Willie cleared his throat. “Lady? You might want to leave. This ain't your sorta place.”

“Your name is Willie, right?” The woman asked in a melodious voice. She was tall and blonde, Willie noted.

“Yeah?” Willie asked warily.

“I'll have a whisky. Actually, you may leave the bottle,” the woman looked up. Her eyes were as grey as the sea, and filled with unfathomable grief.

Willie sighed. Some people just didn't want to be helped.

The Polgara demon stood behind the woman and put his hands on her hips. “Honey, I'm home.”

“Are you terminally stupid or do you just have a death wish?  the  woman asked.

That was not the reaction that Shrtuz was expecting. He wasn't the brightest Polgara, and they weren't noted for intelligence anyway. Finally he decided on a witty retort. “You DIE!”

His arm spikes extended he charged. Only to have both spikes grasped in a grip firmer than steel, and then snapped of at the roots. Screaming the demon withdrew, but to late. The woman flipped the spikes in her hands and slammed one in each eye. Shrtuz went down. The woman wiped her hands on her jeans as the patrons hastily left, leaving Willie to face this one alone.

Willie swallowed and took out a bottle of 80 year old whisky that a vampire had given him to settle his tab.

“So... What's a lady like you doing in a place like this?”

The woman looked at the bottle, then slammed the neck against the bar. It cracked neatly and she removed it, cork and all, with a slight twist of her hands. Then she put it to her lips and drank.

“A funeral.”

“This ain't a funeral parlour, Lady,” Willie pointed out.

“I thought you meant this soul-sucking town on a hellmouth in general, sorry,” She took another swig.

“Ah. Anyone I would know?” Willie ventured, having a horrible suspicion.

“Probably. You've met my daughter. You know her as the Slayer. I understand that you've been giving her some trouble, all of you. Not telling her what she needs. Hiding things from her,” the woman gave Willie a nasty look. “That stops now. That. Stops. Now.”

Willie gulped. That look was worse than any he'd ever felt. And he'd felt some doozies. He picked up a glass to spread the dirt on more evenly, and his ‘polishing cloth’ and tried to pretend he was a normal bartender, listening to the tales of woe of an average Joe.

“D'you know how I met her?” the woman sipped at her bottle.

“Your daughter?” Willie asked confused.

“No, her mother. Her other mother.” A tear ran down the woman's face and splashed to the torn surface of the bar. The scars healed. The varnish seemed to restore itself, the dirt of decades was swept away.

Willie looked at the spot and started to tremble.

The woman ran her finger though the tear, expanding the area that was whole and clean. “Maybe I should introduce myself. I am Athena, daughter of Zeus.”

Willie dropped the glass and it shattered on the floor like a broken heart.

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School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) 1979

Most art schools in these modern days did not draw the attention of their ostensible patrons. They were filled with people with little vision and less talent. Too many people 'wanted to do something with art'. Too few were willing to put in the gruelling hours of practice needed on top of native talent to master the basics of the old, basic skills. Anatomy, the careful study of nature. How stone and bronze shaped under careful attention.

In the old days such people as were unable to meet the rigorous demands of both the craft of art and the society that bought it might have been relegated to painting the same scene over and over, for tourists who did not know what they were buying. In these modern days they made conceptual art.

But the occasional bright star of the old kind appeared.

That was hardly unusual. What was unusual was that Athena kept watching her, couldn't keep her eyes off of her.

Joyce Adelin was attractive enough, even beautiful. But Athena was a goddess. And she didn't go for beauty of body. Aphrodite was beautiful. And that said enough of the value of beauty as far as Athena was concerned.

Joyce tended to work late into the evenings, or start early in the morning, or both. She sketched on pads of paper, in the margins of newspapers, on placemats and napkins. She moulded clay on riverbanks and formed whole, human shapes in the shared studio.

She shaved marble until it shone and the parts that did not look like her subject had gone.

She painted in oils though she preferred pencil and charcoal. But the medium of choice was clay, and when not clay, bronze.

Her teachers, some of them at least, occasionally tried to convince her to take a more modern approach to what she depicted. To see the 'inner strength and portray that.' Joyce refused firmly. It was her art, her vision. And in what she sculpted displayed the strength and weaknesses of what and who she chose to carve. 

An old woman, worn down by care, but still strong, and loving as she played with her granddaughter. 

A soldier of a forgotten war, seen only in an old black and white photograph, grieving for his comrade.

A politician, deposed by the vote of the people he thought loved him, brought low and despairing.

That was what Joyce Adelin saw. But Joyce also gave the old woman a bag of candy for her granddaughter, and visited her in her final days, as she lay dying in her daughter’s house.

And she tracked down the soldier and sat with him in his sitting room as his wife bustled about with coffee and cake and listened to him as he grieved for a friend dead in Korea.

She'd even written the politician, though she disagreed with him, touched by his honest confusion, punished as he was for his willingness to compromise.

That was what Athena loved about her. She wanted that love, that compassion, that humanity. She wanted it for her, Athena, not for Athena the Goddess.

That was why she'd posed as a Norwegian architecture student called Idunn Bil (and hoped her Norse counterparts wouldn’t mind), visiting the States to broaden her horizons and had admired Joyce's sketches as she was drawing by the river. That was why she'd bought her coffee and a muffin, and met her again after Joyce's class.

That was why Athena currently sat on Joyce's bed, draped in a very small towel, in a dingy room off campus, and was being studied intensely by a young woman the bridge of whose nose was smeared with clay as she carefully put the finishing touches to a small, tasteful nude.

“There,” Joyce smiled. “All done. Are you sure you won't take some money?”

Athena shook her head. “No, I've no need of it. But once it's dry, I'd like a squeeze.”

Joyce put a wet cloth over the table furthest from her bed and gently put the sculpture on top of it.

“OF course, it’s the least I can do,” Joyce smiled again.

Athena started to pull her clothes back on and felt idiotically gratified that Joyce kept looking at her. Even if it was only with an artist's eye. She even felt a blush rising, which was ridiculous. Goddesses didn’t blush when mortals ogled them.

Joyce looked away, blushing herself. “I'm sorry. I-I don’t usually look at my models that way.”

Athena smiled. “I don’t mind being looked at like that. By you.”

Joyce gulped, her eyes going wide. “Oh…”

Athena stood up, a thrill running through her body. She undid the buttons of her shirt once more. “Want to look again? With different eyes?”

Joyce blushed. “I-I‘ve never been with another woman,” she whispered.

Athena felt her own blush rising. “I’ve never been with anybody.”

Joyce smiled a little. “Maybe we can make this memorable for each other then,” she said as she started moving towards Athena, undoing her peasant blouse as she went.

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Chicago, June 1980

Idunn was watering the plants on the balcony attached the small apartment she shared with Joyce. Well, maybe apartment was a big word. A studio. A kitchen, sitting and bedroom in one, with a small bathroom. And a large balcony. And plants, and sculptures, and drawings, and plans for buildings. It was home. It was more home than Olympus had ever been

“Well, well, well,” a sly sarcastic voice drawled. “What’ve we got here?”

Athena whirled round. “Hermes,” she whispered.

“What are you doing here, sister?” he looked around in disapproval. “In this sty?” he sneered.

“Go away, Hermes,” she told him firmly.

“I think not. Father sent me to find you. He is not pleased,” Hermes took out a handkerchief and dusted down the small couch before he sat down, crossing his legs.  

“Really? Father isn’t pleased? What a surprise. And what isn’t he pleased about?” Athena asked coolly.

“Lightning, Athena! You swore to remain a virgin!” Hermes roared. “And here you are, living, consorting, with a mortal! Your throne is fading!”

“And? If I fade, I become mortal for a few dozen years,” Athena stated defiantly. “I can live with being mortal. And dying, as long as I’m with Joyce.”

Hermes groaned. “Athena, we need you. We don’t have anyone of your stature to replace you. Hestia has given up too much of her power. If you fade, the Olympians will be short one Goddess!”

“We’re already one short, brother dear. Father thought replacing a female with a male was a good idea. Not like he wanted one of you to step down,” Athena replied bitterly. “I don’t care.”

“Athena, Apollo thinks that the time of the Prophecy is nigh. We need you,” Hermes wheedled.

“Go away, Messenger! Leave. Don‘t come back,” Athena’s eyes were blazing. “I planned for you, and lied and bled. And you’re selfishness always, always screwed it up! Your stupid infighting and feuding! Well it stops now! I’ve had enough! I’m staying here, with someone who loves me and who I love,” she leaned over her half-brother. “Now go before a do a Kronos on you, understand?”

Hermes paled and gulped and faded out in a shower of gold.

Idunn leaned against the doorjamb and tried to stop her tears.

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SAIC Cafeteria

Joyce was feeling a bit ill, but nothing to worry about. She’d been queasy for a few mornings now. She was sketching an image of Idunn from memory. A shadow fell over her table. She looked up, disturbed.

It was a big man, with a beard, in a neat, dark, expensive looking suit.

“So you’re the little whore who seduced my daughter? I was expecting her to have a little more taste,” the man stated baldly and sat down.

Joyce froze. “Ah. Idunn said her family would not approve and not to expect anything from them. Much like my own, I suppose. Love means nothing to you, I guess, just the appearances, and a woman can’t love another woman?”

The man waved a dismissive hand. “Her name isn’t Idunn. And I don’t give a Spartan’s hairy arse for your modern day silliness about sex,” he leaned forward. “She’s the goddess Athena. Every time you bed her, she weakens. And then she’ll die.”

Joyce laughed incredulously. “You expect me to belie-”

Her words were interrupted by the loudest crack of thunder she’d ever heard, and a huge bolt of lightning struck the tree just outside. People screamed as a vast thunderstorm started to rage out of nothing.

Zeus reached out a hand and gripped Joyce’s wrist. “Gods cannot love mortals like this. The inequality is too great. Our passion would tear you apart and you cannot understand us,” he squeezed and Joyce felt the bones in her wrist start to pulverize.

“LET HER GO!” a desperate voice shouted. “Father, please, let her go!”

Athena was standing behind her father, pulling at his shoulder, panic on her face.

Zeus shrugged and half-turned, slapping Athena across the room, then released Joyce's wrist, then turned around fully and looked at his daughter impassively. “You know this cannot work, Athena.”

“It might not work for you. It seems to be working fine for me!” Athena spat from where she lay on the floor.

“You're needed, daughter,” Zeus voice was angry. “You're avoiding your responsibility.”

Athena was back on her feet. “You can take your responsibility and shove it! The responsibility of the gods burned down Troy, broke Athens and has caused untold mortal deaths,” Athena's face was white with anger and her voice trembled. “And you know what, father? I've had enough of being the voice of reason when all of you run off and play!”

Zeus looked at where Joyce sat, bent double, whimpering and cradling her wrist. He grabbed her hair and drew her head up roughly. “You think you love this bag of bones. But you know as well as I do that despite what you think it is only temporary. She lacks the courage of a rabbit, this o- AAGHHHH!”

A fettling knife was standing out from his groin and his eyes bulging, Zeus took a step back and removed the knife, very gingerly, eying Joyce who was holding another rather gruesome looking sculptor’s tool in her uninjured hand.

He looked at Athena and nodded with grudging approval. “Very well, not a rabbit. You gave her the Tools of Phidias?” there was interest in his voice.

“She deserves them, father. And that is the last that I will say about it. Now leave!” Athena glared.

Zeus shook his head and waved a hand. “You know as well as I that I speak the truth when I say this will not last. Think about it. I will return tomorrow.”

He walked into the raging storm and a massive lightning bolt struck him, and he disappeared in a flash of light.

Joyce cradled her hand. Athena gently took it and blew on it. The broken bones set and mended.

“Care to explain all that?” Joyce asked in a very subdued tone of voice.

Athena sighed. “I wish I didn't have to. That was my father.”

“I might sort have gathered that was the case,” Joyce replied with elaborate irony. “I thought he was a bigoted if quite wealthy Norwegian business man. But they don't tend to disappear in flashes of lightning, or call lightning storms. So. You're Athena?”

Athena nodded. “Yes.”

“Do you do this often? Consort with mortals?” Joyce probed.

Athena felt a blush rise again. “Not like this. I-I swore an oath that I wouldn't... That I-”

“That you would forswear sex. Yes, I remember,” Joyce smiled. “So I really was your first?”

Athena nodded. “Yes.”

“And you will die if you remain with me?”

“Eventually. In seventy or eighty years. Maybe fifty. This body will become truly mortal,” Athena smiled. “A small price to pay.”

“I see,” Joyce frowned. “You really want to stay? With me? There will be problems, you know. Oh, people are lot less nasty to lesbians now than they used to be, but they're hardly that tolerant.”

“I'm not strictly speaking a lesbian. I'm a Brotosphiliad, a Lover of mortals. Well, one mortal,” Athena smirked.

Joyce poked her. “Silly. So what do we do now? What will happen?”

“There will be one less Olympian god. Father can promote another of his sons,” Athena shrugged. “Mankind will use its own brilliance to bring forth artists, unguided by me.”

Joyce licked he lips. “You won't come to hate me? In ten years time? Or in twenty? Resent me for what you've lost?”

Athena shook her head. “No. I'm sure I won't.”

Joyce gave her a brilliant smile. “Let's go home then. I have plans for you, my goddess.”

Athena felt the heat rising and dragged her love away, into the still raging storm.

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Hermes had many children. Some of them were more successful than others. One of them had received a quest. It seemed a simple thing, to place five drachms of water from Lethe in an opened bottle of wine in an apartment in Chicago. But he was warned that it might be the most dangerous thing he ever did.

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Afterwards they lay in the soft afterglow of lovemaking and giggled. Joyce poured them some wine. They drank together and the wine, the love, and the influence of Lethe sent them to sleep.

When she woke up, Joyce knew there was something missing. The room she was in seemed different. She had grades for works of art that were now where to be found. Her parents remarked they were happy to see she had come to her senses, but they did it only once. She found out she was pregnant, but could not remember having sex with anyone. She reported it to the police, who dismissed her as another promiscuous student who’d gotten knocked up and wanted to shift the blame.

Her parents were furious and pregnancy was difficult to juggle with familiar tension, little money and her course load. She became haggard and thin and on the few occasions she could afford to visit a doctor they worried about her and the baby's health. Her parents disowned her when she would not go to a monastery to give birth, would not repent something she felt was not evil. Her sisters were silently sympathetic but unhelpful.

When Hank Summers, an aspiring young banker approached her, she was near desperate. The bank he worked for needed a number of works of art for public spaces. And Hank needed a representative and interesting wife. And he was willing to accept the fact that she a child on the way already. A contract was drawn up about how he would adopt the unborn babe, and a marriage arranged. Her parents exulted that she was marrying a good catholic boy.

And time went by, and a child was born.

Hank Summers spent a lot of time away from home. Joyce spent hers in her studio, first with Buffy, for that was what Hank insisted they call her, in a corner, playing with clay, marble and bronze cubes  and being taught how to sculpt, carving her first letters in slabs of sticky clay.  But then Hank insisted that the little girl spend time with others her age, that she be a 'real girl' and not a brickmaker. Joyce's parents heartily agreed.

Buffy had trouble. She couldn't concentrate in school, got frustrated when the letters seemed to move in front of her eyes, when she couldn't remember, couldn’t study.

Joyce did her best. Hank merely smiled and told her that a pretty girl didn't need to study, just to marry the right man. Joyce's parents agreed again. Dust gathered in the studio as depression took hold of the despairing artist.

When Buffy was six years old, Dawn was born. Hank seemed very pleased with his daughter, though he was seldom home. He spoiled his daughters, but not with his presence. They were daddy's little princesses, but the king was on the grand tour.

Dawn was difficult as well. Hank and her parents blamed Joyce and her influence. Her wild, un-studious, lazy nature had been inherited by her daughters.

Joyce first found out that he was cheating on her when Buffy was twelve. She gathered evidence slowly, surely. When she had everything she wanted, her world was shattered. Buffy went insane. Once she was out of the institution, Hank managed to spin the matter in such a way that the court barely allowed Joyce custody. Only because of his long absences did the judge finally find in Joyce’s favour, but he disregarded Hank’s infidelities as it was obvious that Joyce was the cause due to her erratic behaviour. Child support was granted, but no alimony, also thanks to the testimony of her parents.

Joyce thought she was probably lucky to get custody instead of her parents.

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She the Huntress, she the Chosen, made not by Olympian Hand, by Prometheus gift emboldened, by man's own cunning wrought.

Born of love by one unloving, daughter of Knowledge who does not know, twice she’ll live, a line be broken, death be both her gift and given    

Sunnydale was good for Joyce and the girls. Hank was gone, but after a little while they adapted. It wasn’t as if he’d been around all that often. Joyce’s sculptures drew attention again.

Athena was wondering why the sculptures seemed so familiar, why the artist was. And then Buffy died at the hands of the Master. And was revived. And a prophecy started to be fulfilled.

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Pool of Mnemosyne, the Underworld

“I need to drink from your pool,” Athena informed the titan who sat beside it on a throne of ivory.

Mnemosyne shook her head. “It’s not allowed.”

“I see. It’s true then. They took my memories. The Prophecy of the Unloving is about me,” Athena nodded thoughtfully.

“I didn’t say that,” Mnemosyne replied irritably.

“You didn’t have to. I am the goddess of Wisdom, you know,” Athena smiled sadly. “They really should know by now that prophecies can’t be thwarted.”

She walked away from the pool again.

Once she was out of earshot, Mnemosyne sighed. “You know my dear, you’re quite right.”

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Buffy wasn’t entirely sure who the woman was her mother kept sketching, but she was beautiful. Wondrous, even. When her mom drew the woman, or tried to sculpt her, there was a serene joy to her that brought peace to Buffy and Dawn as well. Buffy certainly had never seen that look on her mother’s face when she was with her father.

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The Throne Room, MountOlympus (600th floor of the EmpireStateBuilding)

“You cannot interfere,” Zeus spoke from his throne to Athena, sitting on her own. “Their destiny is woven by themselves. If you interfere, you will only make it worse,” their voices were implacable.

“Worse? Worse than being the Slayer? With only that so-called Council and a few children for support? While her mother does not know and worries?” Athena's voice was filled with scorn. “I'm not interested in listening to you, father. You betrayed me once. That is enough.”

Athena rose, but as she stood in front of her throne a net of gloden steel and silvered bronze fell down from the ceiling and on top of her. She screamed as the other gods closed in, raged as they chained her and dragged her to her own temple, hammered stakes of celestial bronze itno the marble floor and bound her.

Olympus became an unpopular place to live, as the screams of Athena rang out day and night in unending anguish.

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She felt it when Joyce died. She screamed and raged, unlike anything that even the gods had heard in thousands of years. Then she tried to curl up, to huddle like a child and weep, but the chains prevented her.

The door opened. She froze as she recognized the being who entered, dragging his leg, his back hunched. His eyes ranged over her body, divine, indestructible, even now beautiful as only a goddess could be.

She whimpered. She was helpless now, and once before, and age ago, he had tried to force himself on her. Now he was here. He knelt by her, put a hand on her knee.

“She is dead. I thought you were angry that you were thwarted in a plan, that you were fooled. Not... not that you truly loved her,” he swallowed. “I am sorry.”

The bond on her knee fell loose and Athena gaped at Hephaestus. Then realization came over her. “Aphrodite. You loved her. You truly loved her.”

“Maybe I still do. If I thought for a second she did love me? I would crack Ares' skull with my hammer in a trice,” the smith smiled crookedly. “That gave me no right to attack you.”

Athena smiled as the fetters fell, one by one.

“You will retain bruises for a day and a night. I have Ambrosia for you, and wine. Your shield and weapons are here,” he tapped a satchel. “Along with a few gifts for my niece and her friends,” Hephaestus smiled at her. “Go and see your daughter.”

“What will you tell father?”

Hephaestus grinned. “That I intended to rape you, and you tricked me. If you hit me with my hammer, it should be believable. I'm also supposedly drunk.”

Athena frowned. She couldn't remember the last time she'd hugged Hephaestus. even before he tried to rape her. And being who she was, that meant she never had. As a family they were beyond dysfunctional. But she wondered if any of them ever touched him. She rose, rubbing her wrists, put her arms around her big brother and hugged him close.

“Thank you. And I know you understand what this means for me,”

Hephaestus ruffled her hair, like a big brother with a little sister. “There's something else in that bag. Now do what you must and go.”

Athena accepted the bag, picked up his hammer and struck, as hard as she could, wincing at the sound it made.

Hephaestus rolled his eyes. “Pathetic. But I suppose it will have to do. The net will hold me long enough for verisimilitude. I can give you more time by keeping silent in my shame.”

“You've got the wrong portfolio, brother,” Athena smiled. “You ought have lies and tricksters.”

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 “You're the goddess Athena, and you're Buffy's other mother?” Dawn looked skeptical. “Ri-ight.”

Athena smiled indulgently. “Is it really that much harder to believe than that your sister is the Slayer and you're the Daughter of Hermes?”

Dawn blinked. “What? i-I was created out of Buffy by monks!”

Athena shook her head. “Not entirely. You were conceived and your birth delayed until there was need. Hermes probably didn't realize what he was doing himself.”  

Dawn blinked at Buffy. “Buff?”

Buffy was glaring. “Okay, so you're the Goddess Athena. Big deal. Woohoo. It seems to me that everything mom got out of it was grief and all I got was ADHD.”

Athena nodded. “If I'd been here, I could've helped with that. And I would. And it wasn't by choice. I-I loved your mother, Joyce, deeply.”

Buffy was about to interrupt but Willow put a hand over her mouth. “Buffy? Athena never, ever, ever had any kind of physical relationship with anybody. She did so with your mom,” Willow's eyes glazed over. “Which is incredibly hot in all sorts of romantic and naughty ways...”

“WILLOW!” Dawn and Buffy screamed.

Athena's ears pinked. “Yes, well. True nonetheless.”

Willow was fire engine red. “Sorry. Ummm, she was going to grow old with your Mom, Buffy, give up her immortality, her divinity. I call that pretty convincing.”

Buffy sighed. “Okay. So now what?”

Athena reached into her satchel. “Well, I gathered up some books and scrolls from my library that contain information on Glorificus. And Hephaestus gave me some weapons for you.”

“And?” Buffy crossed her arms.

Athena sighed. “A tough choice,” she took out a miniature harp. “My big, irritating brother who seems to think I have no brain or memory gave me this.”

“A harp?” Buffy frowned, then her face cleared. “You're going to get Mom from the Underworld? Like Orpheus?”

“Yes, but succesfully. But that leads to the tough choice. As soon as I reunite with your mother, I will start to lose power. Which we may need to defeat Glory. If I stay, every day Joyce is...dead... will make it more difficult to re-integrate her back into life. The funeral is going to be difficult to hide, for one.”

BtVSBtVS BtVSBtVS BtVSBtVS BtVSBtVS BtVSBtVS BtVSBtVS BtVSBtVS 

Willie frowned. “Okay. Seems to me that this will have a fairly happy ending, unless you were dumb enough to turn around in the underworld...” he sighed. “I get it. The tough choice was made. You've gotta wait until Glory's been defeated, right?”

Athena smiled. “You may get the hang of this bartending thing eventually, Willie.”

“Yeah. Here. Have another drink. Then you should go home. Gotta daughter now, doncha?” 

End note:

I do not own Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Percy Jackson and the Olympians. Joss Whedon and Rick Riordan do.

 

 

 

 
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