See part 1. Also, I've borrowed several characters from 'The Facts of Life' for future story purposes. (Making this a multi-crosover story. oops.)Author's Note:
In the 2 years (ouch) since I last looked at this story, I've changed my mind on how it is will progress. (Sorry) This is now the last chapter in the introductory story in a series and covers several weeks in Seacover. There will be several short fics to follow covering a year in the life of Joyce and Dawn - one catching up with Xander; one dealing with Joyce's Heinrich problem. Others will cover general life in Seacover for the two women and the people around them. And then Oz & co will join our merry band for the final story in the series. When: TBD.
"How'd you meet him?" Dawn asked, wrapping her arms around Joyce as they stood in the gallery doorway and leaning her head against her shoulder as they watched Connor drive away the next morning.
"We were returning to London from Bath," Joyce murmured. "He rescued us when a flash flood washed away the road and our carriage became stuck."
"Carriage?" Dawn said, looking at her mother in confusion.
"It was a few years before there were trains," Joyce said. If she closed her eyes she could recall the exact words he'd used, in the Scottish burr he'd lost years ago, when he'd discovered them stranded, their driver having left them to fend for themselves. He hadn't been impressed with any of them.
"It sounds romantic," Dawn said.
"Patience thought so," Joyce said dryly. Although her ability to remember all of her past charges had often seemed to be a serious drawback over the years, she infinitely preferred those memories to the few she'd absorbed through the quickenings of the immortals she'd been unable to avoid fighting.
"I was her companion that summer," Joyce said. "Something like a tutor and chaperone," she explained in response to Dawn's puzzled expression. "She was too old for a governess and needed a little more polish to attract the husband her mother wanted her to catch. I believe she eloped to Gretna Green the next summer with the younger son of a baronet."
"Definitely romantic," Dawn said with a giggle, following her mother inside.
"I suspect her family didn't think so," Joyce said, "but eloping does have some advantages."
"How old are you?" Dawn asked.
"Does it matter?" she asked in return, curious.
"So I know when to ask you for help in history," Dawn said, grinning at her mother.
"Ah..." Joyce shook her head. "History books are usually written by someone who has access to many different sources. Living through it gives one a very limited perspective of events."
"Like what?" Dawn asked, following her into her office at the back of the gallery.
"What do you know about the French Revolution?" she asked Dawn, pointing her towards the small leather loveseat in front of her desk.
"The French peasants revolted and stormed the Bastille. The king and Marie Antoinette were killed along with anyone else who didn't like the revolution. Then Napoleon took over and tried to conquer the rest of Europe," Dawn said quickly.
"More or less true," Joyce said, wincing at so much history being reduced to so few sentences. "But if you lived in Paris at that time all you might remember was the mob dragging your neighbors out of their homes."
"You were there?" Dawn asked, her eyes wide in amazement.
"No, but I knew people who were," Joyce said. "All they could remember afterward was being afraid of the mobs and not having anything to eat. They didn't know what was going on in the rest of France."
"So... if I want to know what it was like to live back then, you can help?" Dawn said. "But if I want to know more I have to read a book."
"Yes," Joyce said, smiling at her.
"Darn," Dawn grumbled. "It's like figuring out a prophecy from a Watcher's journal."
"Watcher's journals?" Joyce repeated.
"Yeah. They're full of day-to-day stuff like 'my slayer killed a purple Sleazoid yesterday' and 'the Blah-blah ritual was stopped when slayer X knocked over the bowl of sacred sand'. But nothing about how they figured out the prophecy of the week."
"When you write in your diary, what do you write?" Joyce asked, giving her a curious look.
"Stuff about my day," Dawn said. "Oh... right. Got it." She frowned for a minute. "You don't have a diary. I looked everywhere for it. Buffy had two."
"Two? What happened to them? Could I see them?" Joyce asked eagerly.
"I have Buffy's personal diary," Dawn said. "It's not full of happy stuff. Especially after you died."
"I'd still like to see it," Joyce said. Anything that would keep Buffy alive in her memories was worth the possible pain, she thought. "What is in the other one?"
"That's her slayer diary. Giles took it," Dawn told her, her annoyance clear. "It had all of her slayer dreams and things in it. He said it belonged to the Council."
"Secret societies are possessive like that," Joyce said, shaking her head. "There's one that follows immortals around, watching everything we do and writing it down."
"That's pervy," Dawn said. "Can we tell them to go away?"
"No, but you don't need to worry about that right now. I have plans to deal with them."
"How about something a little more cheerful?"
"We aren't living in a hotel," Joyce said.
"Because I don't want you to," Joyce told her. "It's not a good idea. Schools frown on that sort of thing."
"But I like not having to clean my own room," Dawn said, pouting.
Shaking her head, Joyce reached behind her and grabbed a pile of pictures from her desk. "Here are your choices," she said, handing the pictures to Dawn. "They are all basically the same. Same number of rooms, slightly different room arrangement. They are also within walking distance from St. Trinians, the school you'll be going to."
"Mom! No way!" Dawn said, pausing halfway through the pile. "You can't send me to a school run by nuns!" she whined.
"It's the best private school in Seacover," Joyce said, handing her a brochure for her new school. "And what's wrong with nuns?"
"They wear uniforms," Dawn protested. "And it's all girls."
"It won't kill you," Joyce said, deciding that telling Dawn her own history as a nun wouldn't help matters. "And it's probably the safest place for you to go to school in Seacover."
"Safe? Every perv in town probably hangs out across the street," Dawn said with a look of distaste.
"And you won't have to worry about vampires," Joyce said smugly, ignoring Dawn's comment.
"Ugh! Can we negotiate?"
"A co-ed private school?"
"Not a chance."
"How about no uniforms?"
"All of the good private schools in Seacover require uniforms."
"Not fair! Why do't you just send me to a convent?" Dawn said slumping back.
"The local convent has a residency requirement," Joyce said, trying to keep a straight face. "though maybe they'd let you come home on weekends..."
"Dawn..." Joyce smiled at her youngest daughter. "Pick the house you'd like to look at this afternoon."
"Why not now?"
"You have an appointment at St. Trinians in an hour for the entrance exam."
"So if I fail I can go somewhere else?" Dawn asked.
"No, you've already been accepted," Joyce said, stepping behind her desk and sitting down. "This is to determine how much tutoring you'll need this summer to catch up with your class."
"Summer school?" Dawn gave her a horrified look.
"I saw your grades for this spring," Joyce told her.
"There was an apolypse going on," Dawn protested. "I even got kindnapped. How was I supposed to study?"
"It doesn't matter now, Dawn." Joyce said. "You aren't being punished. You just need to catch up."
"This one," Dawn said several minutes later. She handed a picture to Joyce.
"Why this one?" she asked curiously.
"It has a fenced in backyard," Dawn said, giving her a challenging look. "So I can get a puppy."
"Ah.." Joyce nodded. "We'll see." She held up a hand. "After I see your grades
for the Fall."
"That's months and months away," Dawn grumbled.
"Who's the mom here?" Joyce asked, standing up and grabbing her coat and keys.
"You are." Dawn muttered.
"These three," Joyce said, pushing the three folders she'd selected across the table to Joe. "They are at least marginally qualified."
"I'll let them know," Joe said. Her choices wouldn't be too popular but it had taken two weeks to narrow the candidates down to a manageable number. He didn't think she would give him more time.
"Thank you," Joyce said, nodding to him before gesturing to her daughter, who'd been watching them from behind a glass of milk and cookies. "Come along Dawn."
Sighing, Joe watched them leave his bar.
"So who'd she pick?" Adam asked, slipping into the closest chair and reaching for the folders before Joe could stop him. "Hmm..." He looked at the first folder. "Not a chance." He looked at the second one, "Maybe." Looking at the last folder he whistled in surprise. "How'd she make the list?"
"What list?" Amanda asked, entering the bar from the back and joining them.
"For de Poitiers' watcher," Adam said.
"There were ten candidates that met her conditions," Joe told them. "These are the three she is willing to consider."
"You mean there were ten the Society considered trustworthy enough to work with her and not give away any secrets," Adam corrected him. "And I bet she didn't pick any of the ones they really want to watch her."
"No," Joe said, shaking his head. "It was hard enough to get them to agree on these ten."
"Ah, politics," Adam said, smugly handing the folders back to Joe. "Everyone wants to watch one of the old or famous immortals. Or they think they can go from her to watching MacLeod."
"It is how to get ahead in this business," Joe said. "The more high profile an immortal is the more status given their watcher."
"And the more status the more chance they have of a nice, safe desk job." Adam said dryly.
Joe nodded. "She might not be famous but she has connections to other, more famous immortals."
"And it doesn't hurt that Mac lives here, does it," Amanda put in. "All his watcher groupies must be desperate for an immortal assignment here."
"No, it doesn't," Joe agreed. "Though a few dropped out when they found out the MacLeod she knows is the other one." He looked through the selected folders. "They all come from good, solid Watcher families."
"You might want to think about that again." Adam said. "You have two who come from generations of field watchers and one from a family of professional Society bureaucrats who probably have never even seen an immortal."
"Who?" Amanda asked, quickly grabbing the folder Adam pointed at. "Bureaucrats? Is that where their money really comes from?"
"Money?" Joe asked, puzzled. Watchers were not highly paid but none of them were poor.
"These Warners might be Society bureaucrats," she waved the folder at Adam, "but there is an extremely rich branch in that family tree."
"And you know this how?" Adam asked.
"I might have liberated something from one of their homes," Amanda admitted. "Possibly..."
"Is she going to recognize you?" Joe asked. This wasn't a headache he really needed, a new watcher in his territory with rich connections who might have Amanda issues. With his luck this Warner would be the one selected by Alix de Poitiers.
"She doesn't look familiar," Amanda shrugged, dropping the folder back on the table. "She probably wasn't even born then. Even if she is from that branch of that family, why would someone that rich want to watch us?"
Joe just shook his head. Picking up the folders, he rose from his chair intent on putting them away in his safe where a nosy immortal couldn't keep looking at them.
Amanda looked around curiously as she entered the gallery. It wasn't quite what she'd been expecting. To her right, on one side of the door, taking up an entire corner, was a comfortable looking leather couch with a low table in front of it. Separating the couch from the rest of the gallery was a low wall consisting of assorted plants and small statues, giving the area a relaxed, private, almost boudoir like feeling.
Sitting on one corner of the couch, a small notebook computer perched on her lap, with a spiral bound notebook, several textbooks, and loose papers scattered around her, was a girl, almost certainly a teenager, who looked curiously up at her briefly, one end of a long brunette braid in her mouth, before returning to whatever she was occupied with.
To the left of the door, in an area her practiced eye determined was as large as the couch nook, was a display of old stone figures. They weren't anything she recognized but then she hadn't really noticed art as art until an encounter with a slightly drunk Michelangelo had shown her there was more to it than paintings on church ceilings. Several of them seemed to be staring straight through her, causing a faint shiver to run down her back.
Underlying everything else was the very faint buzz of another immortal. Amanda was surprised that it wasn't stronger, if this Alix was as old as Joe had claimed. Glancing around, she headed towards a small display of objects in a glass case that just called out to her. Catching her breath, Amanda found herself looking down at a small collection of objects that wouldn't have looked out of place in a museum. Centered around a golden torque were several finely detailed gold, emerald, and ruby rings. Sharing space in the same display were several old daggers with exquisitely decorated handles that didn't seem to fit with the other objects.
Peering down at the rings, Amanda could almost imagine them on her fingers. The torque, on the other hand, wasn't something she could see herself ever wearing, no matter how fascinating the miniature scenes decorating it were. Feeling the buzz suddenly increase dramatically, Amanda looked up to see the woman she'd come to find, purely out of curiosity, heading in her direction. As soon as their eyes met the almost electric feeling subsided.
"What can I do for you?" the woman asked.
"I was just curious," Amanda said. "This is different." She waved a hand at the display.
"How?" she asked, raising an elegant eyebrow.
"Not what I was expecting from a gallery that belongs to Connor Macleod, Alix," Amanda said.
"Joyce." She was corrected firmly. "Alix hasn't existed in almost a thousand years."
"Sorry... Joyce." Amanda found herself apologizing, something she wasn't in the habit of doing. Joyce merely nodded.
"Connor and I have very different tastes," Joyce said with a very faint smile. "If you have any questions, just ask." She nodded again and retreated to the back of the gallery, leaving Amanda alone.
Amanda continued to wander, occasionally stopping to examine something more closely. It wasn't long before she noticed she'd gained a shadow. Turning her head slightly, she noticed the girl from the entrance trailing after her. She wondered why she was following her, she seemed a bit young to be the watcher Joyce had requested and didn't resemble the picture of the one watcher she'd seen.
She stopped in front of another display, this time on the wall, that contained objects that seemed out of place in the gallery, much like the daggers. Amanda stood there, just looking, waiting for the girl to approach.
"If you're going to follow me around, it would be nice to at least know your name," she said without turning, as the girl came to stand to her right.
"Dawn," the girl told her softly.
"Can you explain these?" Amanda asked. "They don't seem to fit. They aren't really art." She waved at the crossbow, several short, pointed pieces of wood, and a well-worn short sword mounted on the wall, looking ready to be used at any moment.
"They were Buffy's," Dawn told her. "They're where we can always remember her. Mom didn't want them in the house, people ask too many questions but she said it was a tradition when she was little, to honor warriors who died defending their family by displaying their favorite weapons like this."
"Are the daggers on display for the same reason?" Amanda asked curiously, wondering who this Buffy was and why she was being honored like this. She wasn't familiar with the customs of the noble European houses of her era and wondered if this kind of display was done very often. She would have to ask Adam later. He'd probably spent more time than she had with those kinds of people or would have read about the custom somewhere.
"No." Amanda turned to her left, startled that Joyce had been able to sneak up on her so easily. "Those were meant to be a gift for her twenty-first birthday."
"They aren't for sale," Dawn added quickly.
"You know I haven't decided that yet, honey," Joyce said.
"You can teach me how to use them," Dawn mumbled, crossing her arms in a defiant pose that she'd obviously copied from someone else.
Amanda felt like she was intruding on a very private discussion, but she was too curious to just leave. There was a story here, she thought, listening to the two talk. Well, it wasn't her problem if they wanted to talk in her presence.
"Who was she?" she asked.
"Who was who?" Dawn asked her, clearly puzzled.
"My daughter," Joyce said.
"Daughter?" Amanda echoed. It wasn't a term immortals used very often. It implied so many things that immortals were denied by their nature.
"Yes," Joyce said in a firm voice.
"Willow and Xander went with her just to watch," Dawn said wistfully. "Tara said she was like magic no matter what she was fighting and that if there was a zen for slayers, she had it more than anyone."
"She was. She made fighting beautiful," Joyce said sadly, running a hand along the blade of the sword.
"When did you get to see her fight?" Dawn asked, clearly surprised. "She never let me go. She said it was too dangerous."
Amanda wondered if Adam would also be able to explain what a slayer was. She didn't want to reveal her ignorance. That was sure to stop them from talking.
"I was her mother. She couldn't really say no to mother-daughter bonding," Joyce said with a smirk.
"You didn't!" Dawn gasped. "I bet she was so embarrassed. I would have died."
"She needed to know that I knew what it was like. It meant a lot to her," Joyce said, stepping around Amanda to give Dawn a hug. "Just like it means a lot to you that I pay attention to what you do. We all need recognition for doing the things we think are important. Even Miss Deveroux."
"You know who I am?" Amanda said, surprised but not overly shocked.
"It would be foolish to move to a town and not be aware of certain elements." Joyce told her. "Though I don't believe the gallery's security is enough to keep you out, I would prefer that you purchase any items in the gallery that you are attracted to."
"Keep her out?" Looking over Joyce's shoulder, Dawn gave Amanda a strange look that she couldn't quite interpret.
"Miss Deveroux is well known in certain circles for her ability to painlessly extract objects from their owners when they aren't looking." Joyce told her, winking at Amanda.
"Oh. You steal stuff," Dawn said dismissively.
"There's more to it than that," Amanda protested. "It's a time honored profession that requires a lot of skill."
"Uh huh..." Dawn shook her head and hugged her mother before walking away.
"It does," Amanda muttered peevishly before turning back to look at the weapons.
"She's not impressed by such things," Joyce told her with a shrug.
"Does she know she isn't really your daughter?" Amanda asked.
"Not my daughter?" Joyce gave Amanda a look that reminded her of a lioness protecting its cubs. "She and her sister were my daughters in all the ways that count, even if I didn't give birth to them."
"And did they know that you are immortal?" Amanda asked.
"Dawn knows. I wasn't able to keep it from her. She saw me buried." Joyce grimaced. "We haven't discussed what it really means or the rules of the Game." Joyce said. "But she understands the concept and the basics."
"Aren't you worried that something will happen to her?" Amanda asked. "That some headhunter will try to use her against you?"
"It's a potential risk," Joyce admitted. "But I believe I can protect her, if necessary."
Amanda stared at her for a moment. "It isn't something I could do myself," she said. "I'm not sure I could raise someone and watch them grow old."
"I've been raising other people's children for centuries," Joyce told her. "Buffy and Dawn are the first to be my own. Some might think I'm being selfish by hanging onto Dawn but I don't believe there was any choice. She needs my protection and love."
"And when she dies?" Amanda asked.
"It'll hurt," Joyce reached out and touched the crossbow. "But it can't hurt any worse than losing Buffy."
Amanda watched her for several minutes before shaking her head and leaving. The grief on Joyce's face as she stared at the display had been so thick she could almost feel it. She'd seen how Adam and Duncan had reacted when a non-immortal they loved died and she couldn't see the value in such pain. She wasn't having any of it.
Dawn watched curiously as a motorcycle stopped in front of the gallery. The passenger, like the rider, was clearly female. Secure in her position in the gallery, Dawn watched her get off the bike and remove her helmet, revealing long blonde hair.
She wondered if this was another curious immortal or someone else, one of those Watcher people. Her mother had explained about them. In some ways she thought it was a silly idea. Why would there be a whole society, a group of professional voyeurs, just to keep an eye on immortals.
Giles, Buffy's Watcher had at least participated in her life. These immortal watchers seemed to prefer hiding.