Disclaimer: I do not own Highlander or BTVS.
It had not been a good afternoon for Joyce. Buffy had walked into the gallery, at her side, madly chattering. After having given the new blueprint organizational layout a quick glance she’d quickly committed the document to memory and started moving gallery pieces into place. After a few minutes of ‘hard work’ she’d taken a lemonade break while Joyce had begun to ponder the planned layout. Should the bronze statues face inward towards the paintings or outward as an almost guard to the door? Joyce was really trying to decide if she needed to rethink any decorating decisions but her thoughts were constantly interrupted by Buffy’s comments, made between sips of lemonade.
First, Buffy had grilled her a bit more about her alleged, ‘feelings’ for Mr. MacLeod. Joyce had quickly gotten back into the habit of calling him by title and last name. It made slips far less likely. Joyce had internally observed that after she had learned to control her blushes Buffy had stopped smelling blood and her verbal attack had become half of a notch more subtle—barely a noticeable difference.
Then Buffy had downed more of the lemonade and had launched into more interesting conversation.
“Hmm?” Joyce half didn’t want to hear the question. Buffy sounded as if she were still working something out.
“You know, ‘cause this is a public place… anyone can come in here uninvited.” Buffy’s brow furrowed a bit in worry. She wasn’t sure why she hadn’t considered this fact earlier. She should have thought about this after Darla had shown up in her house or even after Angelus had accosted her mom in the driveway.
“You know I will be alright. The gallery closes well before dark and, well...” Her words trailed off. Joyce’s first instinct was to calm and comfort her daughter. The problem was simple—how could she offer comfort when she was seriously disquieted?
“Okay, first we need to take away that ‘Welcome’ sign.” Buffy moved quickly through the cluttered room and walked towards the front of the gallery. She had a quick mission. As she reentered the main room, she held the sign.
“So… how are people going to know they are welcome?” Joyce was sure she was making some blundering comment but really removing the sign made little sense. Didn’t the front door at the house have a doormat? It did—or rather it used to have one that said welcome but it had been replaced by one with flowers. It was one of those things that she had noticed but immediately forgotten. She realized Buffy must have done it ages ago. Joyce looked over towards Buffy and caught her half rolling her eyes.
“Hey! Watch it, young lady!” Despite Buffy’s place in the world as chosen one and slayer—she still had to show some respect.
“Sorry, mom.” Buffy looked downward. “I guess you gotta decide between hospitality and life—ooh life wins!”
Joyce rolled her eyes and went back to perusing the blueprint with a pin. This was Buffy’s territory. She hadn’t much to offer except after midnight hot chocolate and oodles of Icy Hot. Perhaps she would keep a few of the brass statues where they were and… Buffy’s loud ‘OOOH’ interrupted her thoughts.
“Okay, I got it. You gotta invite vamps into where you live, right?” She paused until her mom had solemnly nodded. “So simple fix—we need to fix up your office with a cot—maybe blanket and a few homey things—as if you lived here! I bet rich folks don’t have vamps able to enter their summer homes!” Joyce watched as a wide grin covered Buffy’s face.
“Gotta go and check with Giles and make sure this is legit…” Buffy stood up on her tiptoes for half a second and gave her mom a quick peck on the cheek.
“Hey! You still aren’t finished in here!” Joyce’s protest was half hearted at best. In truth she didn’t really think she needed much more help and the odds were pretty good that once Buffy had solved the ‘evil-invite’ problem she would be back on the ‘MacLeod’ problem. Joyce wasn’t so sure she would like the results if Buffy refocused her uh, focus.
The trouble with Buffy was simple, if she applied herself she shone. Her problem was she didn’t really need to apply herself 24/7 to shine. What did it take, a fifteen second wrinkle inducing frown and voila—a solution. Joyce shook her head and went back to studying the layout. At least Buffy had left something for Duncan—oops! Mr. MacLeod. Joyce felt the blush spreading up the back of her neck and to her cheeks again. At least Buffy couldn’t…
“Mom! Stop thinking about MickyD!”
Joyce closed her eyes to the sound of her daughter’s taunts and tried to control the blush.
“Okay, I am going! I just forgot to take extra stakes!”
Joyce opened her eyes and gave her daughter a half smile. She watched as Buffy slipped an extra stake into each boot.
“You’ll be home later?” She couldn’t help but worry a little. Even with the extra speed and strength and the healing power—Buffy was still her little girl.
“Yep! That’s where I live.”
Buffy gave her mom her best cocky smirk and left for Giles’ place with a purposeful stride. Yeah she was going to get the scoopy particulars on setting up the gallery as a second home for her mom—but she was also checking on getting some sort of protection spell. No way that MickyD was normal. Either someone had been slipping her some Cruciamentum type roofie or he was a stoic warrior from the past—nah. He was likely some tough demon in disguise.