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A New Problem

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This story is No. 7 in the series "Family Matters". You may wish to read the series introduction and the preceeding stories first.

Summary: Raising a teenager is always difficult. Raising Pinocchio on the other hand... Slice of life fic. Buffy/OC.

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Television > Once Upon a TimeTanydwrFR1311,141026811 Aug 141 Aug 14Yes
Disclaimer: I own neither Buffy the Vampire Slayer nor Once Upon a Time. I just like borrowing the toyboxes once in a while.


Notes: Apologies for not posting anything on this series earlier. I've been struggling with precisely the right way to introduce Henry and the repercussions of this 'verse compared to canon. Still, hope you enjoy this little offering, designed as one of (hopefully) a few that explore growing up in the Irons-Swan-Booth household.


A New Problem

31st October 1992

“I’m going to kill him,” Buffy growled as she slammed down the phone. “And then I’m going to ground him for so long that his children will have a later curfew than he does!”

“What happened?” Jack asked, looking up from his desk. His expression grew serious. “That bad?”

“That was the police,” Buffy informed him, fighting back furious tears, “calling to tell me that my sixteen-year-old son has been picked up for underage drinking and trespassing.”

“Trespassing?”

“The underage drinking was at a Hallowe’en party in a warehouse that no one at the party owned,” Buffy clarified. “The party he didn’t tell me he was going to. The one he went to instead of staying over at Aidan’s for the game tomorrow morning. So we can add lying to his sins. And now I need to go and bail him out.” She huffed, running her hand over her. “Though God knows I’m tempted to leave him there overnight to teach him a lesson.”

Getting up from his desk, Jack caught Buffy by the shoulders, catching her gaze with his.

“Sweetheart, you know as well as I that there was always a chance that struggling with temptation would come into Nick’s life. Just be glad it’s no Island of Pleasures.” He kissed her forehead gently. “We can ground him, no problem.”

“That’s just it though, Jack. This isn’t the first time Nick’s acted up. You know what his grades are doing, there was that fight at school –”

“In your honour, if I remember correctly,” Jack interrupted. “And I know you disapprove of the kids fighting, but I can’t really disagree with his standing up for his mother.”

“I can cope with stupid teenagers making stupid remarks,” Buffy told him. “I can’t cope with Nick getting hurt.”

“You taught him everything you know, Buffy. His opponents are in much greater danger, especially as he won’t stop growing.”

At that, Buffy chuckled. With anyone else, she might have made a quip about Nick having his father’s height – but Jack knew the truth, and neither of them knew how tall Nick’s true father, the one that called him to life, had been.

“Maybe I should let him stew for an hour,” Buffy mused. “Think that will do enough to help?”

“Perhaps.”

Two hours later, Nick was let off with a warning (the warehouse owners had no intention of pressing charges, especially as it turned out one of the ringleaders was related to them) and collected from the police station by his still-furious mother.

“Mama –”

“Don’t you ‘Mama’ me, Nicholas Booth,” Buffy snapped. “Or do you prefer Pinocchio? How could you do something so reckless?”

“Everyone was going, Mom, it didn’t seem like a big deal?”

“Parties are one thing. Drinking is another. And lying to me –”

“I was with Aidan!”

“But not where you told me you were going to be with Aidan,” Buffy scolded. “You’re grounded, Nick, and you’ll be lucky if you manage to do anything except school and track this side of Christmas!”

“That’s not fair!”

“No, Nick, what’s not fair is you lying to me about where you’re going. Not fair is getting a call from the police that I need to pick up my son because he’s been caught trespassing and drinking. You’ve got a warning, Nick. That goes on your permanent record.”

“Mom, it’s not that big a deal.”

It was all Buffy could do to stop herself slamming on the brakes and cuffing her son around the head, hoping it would knock some sense into him. Instead she took several deep breaths, unable to look at him, and when she spoke again, her voice was soft and cold.

“Yes, Nick, it is that big a deal.”

She knew she had to be the bad guy here. Knew she couldn’t leave the disciplining to Jack, just in case that fearful, horrible line should come out in a fit of teenage anger, and could never be unsaid.

“You’re not my father!”

They all knew it was true, but she could never risk Jack and Nick’s relationship that way. So after Jack delivered a mild reproof, warning him of the dangers, it was Buffy who laid down the law.

“You don’t go anywhere except school and the track field,” she informed him. “Home by four unless you have practice, you’ll watch the kids without complaint, no mall, no games, no TV or video.”

“But –”

“One more word, and it’s no stereo or typewriter either,” Buffy snapped, and Nick fell silent. “I am so disappointed in you, Nick. This isn’t like you. It’s never been like you. What’s going on?”

Nick shrugged.

“That’s not an answer, Pinocchio.”

He stilled at the use of his name, his other ‘real name,’ the one his father had given to him, instead of his mother. Buffy prayed that it would get through to him now.

“I don’t – it’s not –”

“Talk to me.” She reached out a hand, squeezed his arm. “Please.”

“I hate school.” Buffy wasn’t surprised to hear that, but perhaps she should have expected what followed. “I feel alone, isolated. It’s not just about what the jocks’ve been saying about you, Mom, like that’s anything these days, but I just don’t think and feel the way they do. Some part of me’s still caught up in a world that no longer exists, and it makes it harder.” He chuckled bitterly. “So I took the dare. I know you hated the fight, but it meant something, it did something. It might not be respect, but it’s something. Something that makes me more than the weird kid that’s good at woodshop and track and English.”

“Is there anything I can do to help, to make things easier on you?”

“I don’t know. I just…”

“Perhaps then, something new is in order,” Jack suggested with a smile, one hand warm on Buffy’s shoulder. “Perhaps you need something that will give you new direction, some responsibility.”

And so it was for the next two years that Nick worked at a local garage, learning to fix up cars and motorcycles.

And Buffy swore at her husband when Nick decided to go on a roadtrip on his newly-restored Harley, taking nothing but his wallet, a change of clothes, and his typewriter.

The kids all thought he was the epitome of cool.

“This is your fault,” Buffy told Jack, scowling. He merely grinned and kissed her.

“Well now, let’s hoped he’s learnt to let the temptations pass him by.”

When Nick came back the following year with a whole host of Asian gifts and pictures of lemurs, Buffy simply had to close her eyes and remind herself that her son was an adult.

So in the end, she did nothing but tweak his nose and welcome him back with a hug.

The End

You have reached the end of "A New Problem". This story is complete.

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