leonhart_17: ([btvs] faith - homecoming)
[personal profile] leonhart_17
Title: Something to Talk About pt XVIII
Rating: PG/PG-13
Disclaimer: Not mine, don't sue...
Summary: Willow and Faith's daughter has some issues at school...



The only light in the room was the glow from the television, Willow's eyes closed against even that much light. Her head was pillowed against Faith's leg, the Slayer's fingers absently combing through red hair while her other hand held a beer and her eyes were trained on the overtime basketball game on the screen. "Come on!" she muttered to herself. "What was that stupid call? Idiot refs!"

"Is your team winning?" Willow questioned sleepily, her head turned away from the television.

"Not right now," Faith answered testily. "Thirty more seconds, then we can go to bed, I swear."

Willow shrugged slowly, squirming into the cushions. "Want me to move so you can stand up and cheer?" she asked considerately.

Faith laughed, rubbing lightly at the redhead's hair. "No, you're good, babe." It was after midnight, their children already in bed upstairs, and Willow had been relaxing comfortably while Faith watched her game. She'd been drifting closer to sleep as the game dragged on, though.

Their backdoor opening in the kitchen succeeded in getting their attention, however. It was too late for visitors. "Will! Faith!" Buffy's voice, short and sharp, drew them up, Willow turning as she sat up.

"Buffy?" Willow questioned, rubbing tired eyes. "What's wrong?" It was clear that there was something wrong simply from the tone in her friend's voice.

"Is Joy here?"

Faith frowned. "Of course she is. It's after midnight. The kids have all been in bed for a while, B. What's up?"

"I was cutting through the yard on the way home and Joy's window is open. Are you sure she's here?" Buffy said, her arms crossed.

Faith took the stairs two at a time, leaving Willow and Buffy looking up the stairwell behind her. Faith was muttering curses under her breath as she jogged back down a minute later, shaking her head. "She's gone," she confirmed. "Where the hell would she have gone?"

"Buffy, you didn't see her outside, did you?" Willow asked, frown on her face.

The blonde shook her head. "No, of course not. Does she have her phone?"

Faith matched her fellow Slayer's posture, arms crossing her chest and shaking her head. "I found it upstairs on her dresser. I'm going to go look for her. Will, can you call the hospital?" The witch was already on the phone. "B, will you check the school? I'll get the park, anywhere else she might be."

"She's at the hospital," Willow interjected, grabbing Faith's arm before she could rush out of the house. "She's okay," she continued quickly. "She's there with Mark and Sam. They're all okay. The nurse said they're waiting on someone."

Faith let out a deep breath of relief. "We're going," she declared.

"I'll stay here with Jack and Hope," Buffy assured them before they could ask. "Go make sure they're okay."

"Thanks Buffy," Willow said, sliding into her shoes and catching her jacket as Faith tossed it to her.

The hospital waiting room was crowded when they entered, though that wasn't unexpected in a town that sat on a Hellmouth. Joy was against the wall, sitting down with an arm around Mark's shoulders. Sam spotted her friend's parents coming and nudged her, all three teens standing up. "Mama, I…"

"You snuck out," Faith finished flatly.

"But you're all okay, right?" Willow cut her off quickly, shooting her wife a pointed look. "What's wrong?"

"We're okay, Mrs. Lehane," Sam spoke up, smiling weakly. "Mark's dad was in a car accident earlier tonight. We just came down to wait with Mark."

Willow sighed sympathetically, nodding. "Mark, I'm sorry. Have you heard from the doctors yet?"

The tall young man shook his head, sandy blonde hair falling into his face. "No ma'am. Not yet. Dad's in surgery still."

"Okay, well, Sam, do you need us to call your mom?" The teen shook her head. "You're both welcome to stay at our house tonight. For now, you two sit back down while we have a word with Joy," Willow requested, Faith backing her up silently.

Joy exchanged looks with her friends but followed her mothers obediently. Faith appeared to be fuming but she kept her mouth shut, wisely letting Willow take the lead until her temper cooled down. "Mom, I know I shouldn't have snuck out, but…"

"No, you shouldn't have," Willow agreed pointedly, taking a deep breath. "You left your phone at home, sweetheart. We didn't know where you were. Anything could have happened."

"I'm sorry, Mom," Joy offered, glancing over her shoulder at her friends. "But Mark called and he was here all by himself. His mom's out of town until next week, so he's been staying with his dad. Some drunk driver smashed into him and Mark called me and Sam and we came down to sit with him."

"We're not upset that you're here for your friend," Willow said, elbowing Faith gently when the brunette cleared her throat pointedly. "You could have told us you needed to go. You didn't have to sneak out." She cut her eyes sideways at Faith. "Mama might have even let you take the Jeep."

Joy took a deep breath as she met Faith's eyes. "I'm sorry. I know I shouldn't have snuck out. I won't do it again."

Faith nodded without a change in expression and Willow smiled. "Thank you, Joy." She squeezed her daughter's shoulder. "Would it help if we stayed, or do you want us to get lost?" she questioned.

Joy considered, chewing on her bottom lip. "Maybe you could stay for a little while? Ma, you weren't going out tonight, were you? If you need to sleep…"

"No, I was watching a game," Faith answered.

"Oh, did we win?"

Willow slid an arm around Faith's back, leaning into her side. "I'm afraid not," she answered, pointing to the television overhead. Faith grumbled under her breath and Willow patted her stomach soothingly. "Sorry, guys." Faith's arm curled over her shoulder and Willow guided them toward a pair of chairs across from Mark and Sam.

There was quiet as Joy retook her seat on Mark's other side, one hand on his back supportively. It only took a few minutes before Mark was speaking up, needing a distraction, "Someone talk or something. I can't just sit here. Anything," he pleaded, both hands tousling his hair. "Even school. Joy, did you figure out what you were going to do for that project for Jenkins?"

Joy frowned, shaking her head. "Stupid Jenkins," she muttered. "I told her what I wanted to do but she says I can't."

"What's the project?" Willow questioned, not having heard of any issues at school from Joy.

The teen hesitated, her eyes shooting between her parents. "Genealogy research project," she said quietly, looking almost guilty about it.

Faith straightened in the stiff vinyl chair, exchanging glances with Willow. They'd actually been trying to find out information about Joy's parents for the eventuality that she'd ask, but they hadn't shared what they'd found with her yet, choosing to keep the information until she'd asked. The redhead raised an eyebrow at her wife, questioning, and Faith nodded imperceptibly.

"Mama, Mom, I…" Joy started.

"We can help with that," Willow interjected. "We don't know a lot yet, but I'll show you everything I've got, okay?"

Joy blinked in genuine surprise. "What? You know who…" She glanced sideways at Mark and Sam and closed her mouth with a snap. "Could we talk about this at home, maybe?"

"Of course," Willow answered, spotting a doctor coming toward their group. "Mark." They stood up as he approached, the professional giving them each a tired smile.

"You're Mr. Jones' son?" he checked. "Your father suffered a broken pelvis and a fractured tibia that required surgery to repair but he's out of the OR now and he's going to be alright. We will need to keep him in recovery for a day or two, but the procedure went well and he should make a full recovery."

Mark swallowed, throat thick, and nodded. Seeing his distress, Willow stepped forward at his side, shaking hands with the doctor. "Thank you. We appreciate the update, doctor. When can Mark see his father?"

"I'll have a nurse come find you after he gets moved down to recovery," the doctor assured them, nodding as he turned to go. "If you'll excuse me…"

Mark slumped back into a chair and Joy and Sam sat down with him, Willow and Faith watching over them. They lapsed back into silence while they waited, Mark standing up again when the nurse summoned him to his father's room. The others followed him, though they didn't go into the room with him, Willow and Faith leaning against the wall of the hallway, Joy and Sam on the other side.

There were a few minutes of awkward silence and Sam cleared her throat. "I'm going to go…get some coffee. For Mark. Want anything?"

Willow shook her head, smiling tiredly. "No, thank you, Sam." The teen dashed off with an apologetic shrug for her best friend, Joy shooting a glare at her as she retreated.

"Joy-rider," Faith started slowly. "About your project…"

"I wanted to do it on you," the younger brunette cut her off. "You're my parents. But that bitch Jenkins…"

"Hey!" Willow interjected. "You know better than talking about someone like that," she chided shortly, shaking her head.

"I tried to argue, explain, you know, but she's insisting that I've got to, she says that since it's for genetics, not just family history…"

Faith frowned, able to see how upset the issue had Joy. But she hadn't said anything to them about it. "I'll go talk to her," she promised.

"Ma, no. It's not a big deal. I'm going to do the project on you and Mom and she can just bite me," Joy said fervently.

"Joy," Willow said, shaking her head slowly in warning. "I don't want you getting in trouble. And I can give you answers." She looked at Faith. "Your Mama and I have been looking into your parents, baby…"

Joy shook her head, gritting her teeth and squaring her jaw. "No, Mom, don't - you're my parents. Whoever gave birth to me, they gave me away. You saved me. You are my moms."

Willow nodded, feeling Faith cross her arms across her chest next to her, the Slayer remaining silent. "We are, baby. Of course we are. No one can ever say that you're not our daughter. You do the project on us if you want to, okay? But if you're ever interested, I've got some answers for you." She swallowed hard, seeing the frustration in her daughter's eyes. "Only if you want to know," she promised. "Tell Ms. Jenkins to call us if she's got a problem, alright?"

"I'll give her a problem," Faith promised under her breath, arms still crossed across her chest.

"Be respectful," Willow warned her daughter, shooting her partner a look. "Don't pick a fight, but if she gives you a hard time, you just walk away, got it?"

"Yes, ma'am," Joy answered obediently, nodding. "My parents raised me to be polite."

Willow could feel Faith's smirk without seeing it and she rolled her eyes. "Genetics or not, you're too much like your mother, my dear, beloved Joy-rider." Faith laughed and Willow stepped on her foot. "Don't encourage her."

Sam's return with a cardboard tray of coffees delayed further conversation, the teen shrugging as she offered the drinks around to the Lehane family. "I don't like hospitals. I panicked."

Joy took one willingly, her hand followed quickly by Willow's. "Coffee is always good," the redhead said reassuringly. "Thank you, Sam." She gestured toward the door. "Maybe you guys should take one to Mark," she suggested.

"You're welcome, Mrs. L," Sam said, smiling shyly.

Willow shook her head. "How many times do I need to tell you to call me Willow?" she requested. "Joy, your Mama and I will head home if you guys are okay, but we'll leave the car. Will you drive everyone home, please?"

"Yes, ma'am," Joy assured her, nodding dutifully. "Sorry again about sneaking out and all."

"Oh yeah," Faith spoke up, pushing herself up and off of the wall she was leaning against. "Thanks for reminding us. We'll deal with that when you get home."

Willow rolled her eyes and laced her fingers through Faith's, tugging her away. "You're walking me home now," she directed her wife. "Good night, kids." It was after two, but she'd never been able to say good morning until after she'd slept. "Remember, anyone that needs to can sleep at our place."

"Yes, ma'am," Joy and Sam chorused. "Thanks for coming down, Mama, Mom," Joy added, giving her parents a grateful smile as she caught the keys that Willow dug out of the pocket of Faith's jeans and tossed to her.

"Drive safely," Willow directed, pulling Faith down the hall with her. They were on the sidewalk before she spoke again, squeezing Faith's hand. "Ms. Jenkins is a bitch."

Faith laughed, bumping Willow's arm with her elbow. "I thought we told her not to say that about her teacher. Even if it is true." She hopped on her toes, free hand clenched in a fist that she bounced anxiously against her thigh. "I know you're the brainy one, but I'll go to that school and talk to Jenkins."

"Let's let Joy handle it," Willow countered. "We raised a good girl. She can take care of herself, Faith. A high-school history teacher is nothing she can't handle." She took a deep breath. "Do you really think she doesn't want to know what we've found out?"

Faith shrugged. "I don't know, babe. Even doing the genealogy project on us, she's not going to have much for my side of the tree. I barely even remember what my dad, my real dad, looked like."

Surprised, Willow blinked at the brunette. "Faith…"

"Will, I'm fine," Faith interjected. "He wasn't around. You can't miss what you never had."

"I could find him," the hacker offered.

"Don't worry about it," Faith shrugged it off. "My mom said he died or ran off. Maybe she just wished he was dead. I was nine or something, so I don't remember how it happened. Whatever it was, he wasn't there. Not a big deal."

Willow sighed sympathetically. Faith never talked about her life in Boston, just a few mentions of her mother occasionally. Thinking about it, she wasn't sure she'd ever heard Faith say anything about her father. "Okay," she agreed mildly. "Then it's not a big deal."

They got another block before Faith spoke again, "Really? That's all you're going to say?"

"You've never pushed me, Faith," Willow reasoned, hugging her partner's arm and resting her chin on her shoulder. "Remember my multitudes of issues when we first started?" she reminded Faith. "You never pushed me to talk. The least I can do is give you the same consideration. You don't want to talk about your family, we're not talking about your family," she finished resolutely, shoulders bobbing.

They made it to their house and Faith cleared her throat uncomfortably, stopping them before they could enter the house, aware that Buffy was in their living room. "Listen, Will. I don't care about my parents, but you're my family. I care about you. You and the kids. That's the family I care about."

Willow stopped her with two fingers over her lips. "I know that, sweetheart," she whispered, leaning in for a soft kiss. "We're Joy's parents. Maybe she just doesn't have grandparents, huh?"

"She's got Giles," Faith reminded her. "He's her grandpa. She can put him on there."

Willow nodded, smiling. "You're right. Maybe she could list Joyce as her grandmother," she suggested.

"That's a good idea," the Slayer agreed. "You should ask B."

The redhead rolled her eyes at the familiar boundaries between the two elder Slayers, even after so many years. "I can do that." Faith opened the back door and held it for Willow. Buffy sat up on the couch, dropping the remote on the cushion beside her. "Buffy, would you or Dawn mind if Joy-rider listed Joyce as her grandmother? She's got a genealogy project for school."

Her best friend frowned at the strange topic, but nodded. "Yeah, of course she can. Mom would have been honored, Will." She moved into the kitchen. "How'd it go at the hospital? Is everyone okay?"

Willow sighed, nodding. "Mark's dad needed surgery for broken bones from a car accident, but he's going to be okay. The girls are there waiting with him."

"Oh, okay. Good," Buffy said, her arms crossing her chest. "And what's the deal with the genealogy project?" Her eyes shot to Faith, trying to gauge her counterpart's reaction to whatever had happened.

"Joy's butting heads with her teacher about listing us as her parents since she's adopted," Willow said, following Buffy's eyes and looking at Faith herself.

"That bitch," Buffy muttered, mouth dropping open. "Who does she think she is? You guys are her parents."

Faith cleared her throat. "Will's been finding Joy's birth parents, or whatever. For the last couple months now."

The blonde blinked in surprise. "Whoa, what, really? What did you find? Where are they?"

"Joy says she doesn't want to know," Willow said, shaking her head as she tried to hide a yawn. "It's her decision, Buffy."

"Oh, yeah, of course. Duh," Buffy agreed, nodding her head quickly. "Well, Jack and Hope are both sleeping like little rocks, and it's late, so I guess I'll go home now. Night, you guys."

"Night, Buffy. Thanks for looking out for the kids for us," Willow said, giving her friend a quick hug. The Slayer nodded and left, Willow walking backward and letting Faith's arm curl around her shoulder. "I know we're normally up this late, but I'm exhausted," she confessed, feeling wiped out by everything. "Can we go to bed now, please?"

Faith smirked, laughing quietly. "You go on, babe. I think I'll take a patrol."

Willow rolled her eyes and dragged Faith toward the stairs. "Not funny. You're coming with me. Buffy's already killed all the vampires for tonight. Come on."

The morning was early as always, Jack bursting in with a knees-first dive into the bed that Faith failed to dodge, the brunette groaning and pulling him over so he was couched between them. "Morning, bub," she greeted him, voice gruff from lack of sleep.

"Morning Mama," he answered, brown curls falling in his face relentlessly. Willow just groaned from his other side and buried her face in the pillow. "Mommy?" Jack poked her shoulder with a little hand and Faith laughed, catching his arm.

"Mommy's a little sleepy this morning, Jack. Joy kept us up late."

"Joy's asleep," Jack informed her. "And Mark and Sam are here." At eight years old, Jack found his older sister's friends to be only as interesting as grownups, which is to say, not very. Sam, however, would watch cartoons with him and was exempted from his boredom with the rest of them.

Faith grinned, familiar with her son's attachment to Samantha. "Well, maybe we can turn the cartoons on once the grownups are awake. What do you want for breakfast, bub?"

"Pancakes please," he answered readily.

Faith nodded, yawning and curling her arm around Jack. "Just give me five more minutes," she requested drowsily. "It's early and I'm sleepy."

"Ma-ma!" Jack whined, squirming under his mother's shoulder. He used both hands to shove at her arm, Faith deliberately making her arm heavier to mess with him.

"Stop fighting," Willow grumbled. "I'm trying to sleep over here."

"Mommy!" Jack rejoiced. "Pancakes!" Never let it be said that Jack Lehane didn't have his priorities in order.

"Sorry, Will," Faith offered, both of them groaning as Jack swatted to either side to try and get his parents' attention. "Oof, Jack, stop, please," she pleaded. "Five minutes, buddy, then I swear I'll make all the pancakes you can eat, okay?"

It only took a minute before he was whining again. "Mama, sleeping with Mommy is boring."

Faith laughed at that, not able to help herself. "You're wrong about that, buddy boy."

"I'm not going to get to sleep anymore, am I?" Willow questioned, rolling over and crossing her arms over her eyes. "Bub, you want pancakes? Let's go make them, then."

Faith sat up. "I got it, babe," she said. "You go back to sleep. Jack, come on. Jump up." He obliged, climbing onto the Slayer's back and wrapping his arms around her shoulders. "How about we put some chocolate chips in them?" she suggested, yawning.

"Yeah! Can I pour?" he requested eagerly.

The brunette nodded, hopping to shift him against her back. "You got it. You remember the rule, right?"

"No puttin' my hand close to the griddle," he recited dutifully. "Can I mix too?"

Faith tiredly laughed, jogging down the stairs. "You can do whatever you want, Jackie-boy. I'll just supervise, okay?"

Sam was stretched out on the couch and Mark was sleeping slouched in the overstuffed chair, long legs straight out in front of him. Faith stepped over him gingerly and could hear Jack hushing her softly, his breath tickling her ear.

The smell roused their guests, Mark shuffling in first and greeting the pair at the stove with a tired smile. "Thanks for letting me crash here," he said, rubbing at his hair.

"No problem," Faith stated. "There's coffee on the table and pancakes will be up in just a minute."

"You're the best, Mrs. L," Mark sighed, gratefully pouring himself a cup of coffee.

"Oh, hey, is that coffee?" Sam chimed in. "Mrs. L, you rock! Pour me one." Mark handed off the first cup to her and poured himself a new one.

"Please just call me Faith," the Slayer requested, putting a plate of pancakes down on the table. "And start on these before they get cold."

Willow shuffled in and Mark handed over the second coffee without her asking. "Thank you, Mark. You're good people." She smiled at Faith, grabbing the shoulder of her tank top to keep her at the table. "Thanks for cooking, Faith."

"Jack did most of it, actually," Faith told her, taking the kiss on her cheek. "Any sign of the girls?"

"Hope was stirring, but Joy's out." Willow took a sip of her coffee, sighing gratefully at the rush of caffeine. "What time did you guys come in last night?"

"Late," Mark answered.

"He means early," Sam corrected, covering her mouth as she yawned. "Almost four?"

Willow sighed sympathetically. "Aww, sweetie, you two should still be asleep."

"I made pancakes!" Jack called loudly as a reminder. "With chocolate!"

Faith chuckled as she scooped him up off of his step stool in front of the stove and deposited him in his seat. "And thank you, bub. You're a good cook." She tousled his hair as he leaned forward and grabbed a pancake for himself and flopped back into his chair. "You can cook dinner."

"Nuggets!" Jack rejoiced.

Willow laughed, shaking her head. "Or I think I can handle cooking tonight. Mark, Sam, you're welcome to stay for dinner. I know you'll probably want to go check on your dad today, but you're welcome to borrow the car, come back for dinner, stay again tonight, whatever you need."

"Thank you," Mark said hoarsely, nodding gratefully.

They were on their second round of pancakes by the time Joy and Hope appeared, Faith back in front of the stove. "Hey, guys," Joy greeted her friends as she slumped into the seat Willow vacated for her at the crowded table. "I didn't think you'd still be here."

"Your little brother's a good cook," Sam said, winking at the little boy and sending him into a blushing fit.

Faith and Willow exchanged grins, the redhead taking a stack of fresh pancakes from her wife and delivering them to the table. The elders leaned back against the countertop together, leaving the table to the kids. "Mama let you cook, Jack?" Willow questioned over the lip of her mug.

"I was watching him," Faith said defensively. "He knows the rules. We're careful."

Willow sent her an amused smirk. "I wasn't accusing you of anything." She winked at Jack as he sent her a grin. "Jackie's good at cooking. Aren't you, bub?"

"Yeah!" he yelped in agreement. "Can I go play?"

"Sure, buddy, just stay where we can hear you, okay?" Faith directed.

He jumped down out of his chair and ran for the door. Hope stared longingly after her brother, but stayed in her seat to eat her breakfast, cutting big bites in an attempt to get her food bolted down all the faster and let her go play. "Hope, don't eat so fast," Willow reminded her gently. "We don't want you to choke, baby girl."

Sam and Joy exchanged grins and Mark cleared his throat. "I think I should get back to the hospital soon. Thanks for breakfast, and the chair, and everything," he said. Simultaneously, the two girls drained their drinks and stood up with him. "You guys don't have to come."

Hope slapped a hand to her sister's wrist. "Joy, stay and play," she requested. "Please?"

Sam smirked at her friend and winked at Hope. "Looks like you're occupied."

"It's cool, Joy," Mark assured her. "Just going to be a bunch of sitting around and waiting, watching bad daytime TV."

"You guys are coming back for dinner, though, right?" Joy checked, raising her eyebrows as she glanced between her parents and her friends.

Willow gave a nod of approval and Sam grinned. "We'll be here," she answered for them. "Thank you." She curled an arm through Mark's and dragged him toward the door. "Can we swing by your house and take showers?"

Joy laughed as they left, reaching across the table to tousle her little sister's red curls. "What are we playing today?"

"Fighting," Hope answered eagerly. She was her mother's daughter and trained just as hard as either of her older siblings. Of course, she was young enough that technique was second to just wrestling, but she still enjoyed it.

"Okay," Joy agreed with another laugh, catching her mothers' exchanged looks. "We'll take it outside with bubba. You could get a nap."

"If you're saying we're old, I'm going to kick your butt," Faith warned her even as her head tilted to allow Joy to press a kiss to her cheek.

"I would never say that, Mama," she answered sweetly. "At least not to your face. You're still young enough to do it."

Faith's eyes narrowed and Willow shook her head with a longsuffering sigh. "Joy, don't antagonize your mother. The two of you play nice." She patted Faith's shoulder affectionately. "Your Mama can say whatever she wants about being young enough to go without sleep, but I'm going to take a nap and be happy about it." She finished her coffee with a pleased sigh. "It doesn't mean I'm old, though," she warned, pointing firmly at Joy.

"Of course not," Joy agreed mildly, smirking. Her expression sobered slowly and she swallowed. "Can we talk…later?"

Willow and Faith looked at each other, both nodding. "Of course," Willow stated, brow furrowing.

"Great," Joy said, shuffling her feet momentarily before she jogged into the yard and the sounds of punches against the heavy bag Faith kept suspended from the tree intermingled with Jack's laughter.

Faith sighed heavily and both hands pushed her hair back from her face. "Great," she echoed quietly.

It was after dinner, Sam and Mark had gone back to the hospital to take some dinner to Mark's father, and the younger kids were in bed, before Joy was alone with her parents, the teen dropping into the chair across from her mothers on the couch. "Can we do the talking thing now?" she requested quietly.

Willow sat up from where she was leaning against Faith, nodding as the Slayer turned the TV off. "Of course," she answered. Faith stayed silent, her arm stretched across the back of the sofa behind Willow.

"I don't want to know details - names, places, whatever like that - but I just want to ask you if they're out there. I don't want to find them, don't want to know them, but I'm curious."

Willow took a deep breath, feeling Faith's body tense beside her. "Only what you're sure you want to know," she promised.

"That's all I want to know," Joy said resolutely. "Just that. No names, no places, nothing like that."

"Okay," Willow agreed. "Your mother, she was seventeen…"

Joy shook her head. "Don't try and explain for her, Mom. Just if she's out there."

Faith leaned forward and put her elbows on her knees, her chin resting on balled fists. "She's not, Joy. She's - she died." Willow's hand rested on her shoulder supportively and Faith cleared her throat roughly. "I'm sorry, baby."

Joy blinked quickly to clear her eyes, coughing as she glanced around the room, not letting her gaze settle on any one thing. "How - I mean, was it h-having me?"

Willow shook her head immediately. "No, sweetheart. It was a car accident. You were only two. You were already with us."

"So how did - why did she - no, I don't want to know," Joy cut herself off, shaking her head and breathing deeply.

"Joy, baby…" Willow whispered, her heart pounding sympathetically.

Ever Faith's daughter, Joy shook her head against the emotions she was feeling, carefully masking her expression. "What about…him?"

"He's alive," Faith answered, glancing over her shoulder to catch Willow's eyes.

"Okay," Joy said, mirroring Faith's posture and leaning forward to put her elbows on her knees and scrubbing at her hair with both hands. "Thanks for telling me."

Willow whimpered sympathetically, her heart breaking for her daughter. "Joy…"

"I'm okay, Mom," Joy insisted stubbornly.

"Well, I'm not," Willow said, choking up. "Joy…"

"Mom…" Joy stood up from her seat and crossed to her parents on the couch. "Let me in," she whispered, gesturing for her mothers to give her space to join them. Willow shifted sideways and Joy sat down in between them, turning to deliver her head into Willow's lap and putting her legs over Faith's.

The redhead immediately combed her fingers through brown curls, leaning over to press a kiss to her daughter's forehead, grateful that the teen was letting her comfort herself at least, even if Joy would insist that she didn't need it. Faith's hand found the back of her head, strong fingers rubbing tension in her neck away gently. "Thank you," Willow mumbled, leaning back.

Joy nodded, smiling reassuringly up at her mother. "Thanks for letting Mark and Sam stay over and eat dinner and everything," she said, changing the subject for all of their sakes.

"Sure thing, Joy," Faith stated, one hand knocking Joy's knees against each other.

"Can we watch TV or something?" the teen requested, stretching and making herself comfortable, turning on her side but leaving herself stretched across her parents' laps.

Faith obligingly turned the television back on and Willow resumed tracing her fingers through her daughter's hair. She only sighed when they landed on a basketball game, familiar with her girls' hobby.

The backdoor opened after a quick knock, Sam and Mark letting themselves in. "Hey, it's okay if we crash here again, right?" she asked.

"Yeah, sure, come on in," Joy said, yawning and waving them in. "We just turned on the game, you guys. Come on. Get the lights. Ooh, and the chips," she requested. Sam was laughing as she joined them, dropping the bag of chips in the space in front of Joy's abdomen and taking a seat on the floor in front of the couch.

"I can sit on the floor," Mark offered, flipping the light switch and dropping the room into darkness.

Sam waved him off, eyes focused on the television. "There's a better line on the screen from here," she said. "You can have the chair." Mark shrugged and sat down, throwing his legs over one armrest so his long arm could reach the bag of chips.

"Can you reach them from down there?" Joy checked. "Or do I have to feed you?"

"I got it," Sam said, laughing. She reached backward and found the chips herself after a moment of searching. Joy's left hand adjusted the bag so that her friends could reach it more easily, her right hand moving unthinkingly to comb absently through Sam's hair while they watched the basketball game.

It took Willow a moment to notice the seemingly completely unconscious contact and she pinched Faith's arm on the back of the couch to get the Slayer's attention. Faith's head turned toward her but her eyes were still locked on the game, so Willow pinched the inside of her elbow, making her wife jump. "Will, what?" she asked in a hissing whisper.

The witch shot her eyes from Faith to Joy's hand, Faith's gaze following and spotting what Willow had noticed. She hummed in contemplation, not saying anything as she shrugged and met Willow's eyes in the dark. "Looks like we might not be done talking," Faith's voice in her head warned, drawing a heavy sigh from Willow.

*****

Before anyone says that there aren't teachers so insensitive and horrible as to do what the teacher did to Joy - there totally are because it happened to a girl in one of my classes in high school - we were doing a genealogy project and she was adopted and the teacher threw a bitch fit about her not doing the report on her birth parents (who she did not know and had no desire to find)

[part 19 here]

Date: 2011-09-08 10:04 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ladycallie.livejournal.com
Excellent chapter my dear! I've really enjoyed seeing Joy grow up.

Date: 2011-09-08 12:38 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] leonhart-17.livejournal.com
Thank you! I'm enjoying their family so much! It's been a lot of fun!

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leonhart_17

February 2012

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