leonhart_17: ([btvs] willow/faith - orpheus)
[personal profile] leonhart_17
Title: Something to Talk About pt XIX
Rating: PG/PG-13
Disclaimer: Not mine, don't sue...
Summary: A werewolf attack surprisingly doesn't surprise Joy's friends...

Today's my birthday! See how nice I am to you guys?! (also, my football team won yesterday, so I'm feeling generous)

The full moon overhead made the flashlights they were carrying inconsequential, the night air brisk and the leaves crunching as they lifted and moved on the wind. "So your mom found your dad?" Sam asked as they walked along the sidewalk.

"It's weird when you say it like that," Joy groused, kicking the leaves around her feet on the walkway. "My mom found…him."

"But your - the birth mother is…she died?" Sam gave her friend a considering look.

Joy sighed. "I don't want to talk about this," she said, frustrated. "I have parents. I have a brother and a sister. I have aunts and uncles and a grandfather. Who the hell is Jenkins to say that's not my family?"

"Joy, I'm sorry." Sam rubbed her friend's shoulders supportively. "She's wrong. She's stupid, and she's wrong." Sam tugged on her arm, steering them onto an empty bus stop bench at the edge of the sidewalk and sitting down with her.

Joy leaned forward and raked both hands through her hair. "I know I was stolen from an orphanage and abandoned in a sewer before I turned three, but when the hell did my life get so complicated?"

Sam laughed, one hand still rubbing her friend's back. "I don't know, but I'm sorry." Her arm curled around Joy's back and leaned her head against her shoulder. "I'm sorry."

Joy exhaled heavily, grateful for the support. "Mark's dad got out of the hospital today, right?"

"Yeah, they're at home now."

"Good, that's good," Joy said, head still hanging. Her ears perked up as she heard leaves crunching and she lifted her head. "Sam…" It was a full moon on a Hellmouth, the sound could be anything, but her mothers would kill her if something happened to Sam because they were out on a wolf night. "We might need to move now…" Joy warned her, standing up.

"Freeze," Faith's voice countered out of nowhere, her tension obvious. "What the hell do you think you're doing out here, both of you?"

Joy's shoulders rose around her ears and she didn't turn to face her mother. "Honey, they're fine, calm down," Willow's voice had an edge as well, but she was clearly keeping her calm better than her partner. "Girls, we need to go home."

"Joy, you know how dangerous it is to be out tonight," Faith said, spinning in a circle and growling in her throat as she carefully surveyed their surroundings.

"Mama, it's okay," Joy cut in. "We're being careful. And we haven't seen any vamps."

"Any what?" Willow questioned with a pointed tone, eyes shooting toward Sam.

"Mom, she's seen me stake a vampire before," Joy said, rolling her eyes.

Willow groaned. "I didn't hear that!" she declared, her eyes closing. "You're both coming home with us, now."

Faith was growling and grumbling under her breath as Sam stood up at Joy's side, the Slayer keeping up her indistinguishable protesting as they set off. Willow let her lead, the teens in the middle while she brought up the rear. She knew Faith was distracted, frustrated, but the tension that straightened the brunette's spine was unmistakable.

Faith's arm shot out to stop their progress and she kept her voice low. "Will, get them out of here. Now." The hand that wasn't extended reached under the bottom edge of her leather jacket, fingers curling around the grip of her tranquilizer pistol at the small of her back. She didn't look behind her, hearing Willow dragging both teenagers back with her.

Faith moved forward in an effort to get the werewolf to pursue her and leave the others. Willow knew better than to run, keeping her pace slow and steady in the other direction. Faith could hear Joy call for her but forced it out of her mind, concentrating on the stealthy stalker in the darkness.

"Here poochy. Come here, doggy," Faith called quietly. "Were-doggy!" She raised her voice as she picked up her pace and started jogging. "Come on, you son of a bitch," she yelled, hearing the monster tracking her, letting her lead it away from Willow and Joy and Sam.

They were organized now, more than they'd been in Sunnydale, they had facilities for keeping werewolves once they were sedated, but she needed to get it to show itself before she could shoot it - the gun only had two shots before she'd have to reload. She just hoped Willow would think to call and warn them that she was coming.

She turned to run backwards, trying to keep from being attacked from behind, not eager to get bitten. She didn't want to be a werewolf any more than Willow wanted to partner with one again. The move was just in time and she threw herself backward to dodge the werewolf's lunge. Both feet shot up as her shoulders hit the rough asphalt, the kick throwing the werewolf over her head. The gun had bounced out of her hand when she dropped and she rolled over to grab it from the surface of the street, firing a quick shot that only grazed the monster's shoulder.

Cursing, she stabilized herself on both elbows and fired again, aiming for center mass. The shot connected and the wolf collapsed heavily to the road with a growling whimper. Faith let herself slump in relief, taking a deep breath. Then there was another growl and clawed feet planted in the middle of her back and another werewolf used her as a stepping stone, claws ripping through her leather jacket and shirt and into her flesh as the weight shoved her to the street breathlessly.

She rolled with a groan of pain, feeling her shirt grow wet and hot with her blood. The wolf was nuzzling its unconscious partner and Faith dug in the pocket of her jeans for the next cartridge of tranquilizers while she used her legs to push herself backwards along the roadway, gasping and dropping the darts as her fresh wounds hit the edge of the sidewalk. "Shit," she groaned, rolling into the gutter as the new wolf dove at her. A punch to the wolf's kidneys bought her a second when it hit, her neck barely clear of snapping jaws. Her left hand was searching blindly and she prayed that the darts hadn't fallen into the sewer drain. Fortunately, her grasping fingers landed on the cartridge and she fumbled it into her palm, gripping tight and stabbing it into the werewolf's flank.

The wolf fell forward onto her, unconscious, and her wounds scraped the sidewalk edge as the weight pinned her. "Damn, that hurts," she gasped, both hands working under the heavy creature's shoulders and shoving it to the side. "Shit," she cursed again, letting her eyes close as she leaned her head back against the concrete. Both wolves were unconscious and she squirmed her phone out of her pocket, holding a speed-dial button.

"I'm going to need a pickup," she groaned. "Two unconscious werewolves. Near the bus stop on 16th Street." She coughed weakly. "Okay, thanks. Have you heard from Willow? Did she get the girls home okay?" The answer made her relax and she groaned loudly as the contact between her slashed back and the ground sent pain lancing through her chest. "Shit, that hurts!" The concerned voice in her ear made her groan again from frustration rather than pain. "No, I do not need an ambulance. Call one and I'll kick your ass! Tell Willow and I'll kick your ass!"

She hung up with an impatient grumble, shoving her phone back in her pocket and forcing herself up with both hands, stumbling and stretching as she paced and waited for the retrieval team.

"That looks bad," the young Slayer who popped first out of the van announced, giving her teacher a grimace.

"It feels pretty bad," Faith agreed, still pacing and wincing. "Give me a new shirt," she directed, gesturing toward the van.

"You're not going to tell your wife?"

Faith glared. "Don't be an idiot," she denied. "Of course I'll tell her." She tore off her ruined jacket and shredded shirt, ignoring her own public nudity for the moment. "Don't worry about me. Don't you have a job to do here? Get these poor bastards back to the containment place and get me a new shirt so I can go home already."

The younger woman nodded, climbing back into the van and holding a tank top out the back of the door. Faith snatched it and tugged it over her head. The cuts and scratches would be visible, but Willow would find them one way or another. It would be easier for her if she didn't try and hide it.

Pain made running difficult and it was only two blocks before she felt lightheaded and had to stop, leaning over in the bushes while she tried to keep her stomach from revolting on her. Once it was settled, she started home again, limping slowly rather than try and run.

Willow had both teenagers at the kitchen table, pinning them in their seats with a steely glare and crossed arms, but her stern posture wilted when Faith limped in. "Oh my God!" the witch greeted her, both hands already tugging her wife's shirt up. "Off. Let me see," she ordered, not caring that their daughter and her friend were sitting at the kitchen table watching.

Joy's eyes widened as Faith let Willow strip off her shirt, the Slayer giving her an apologetic grimace as the teen clapped a hand over Sam's eyes. "Ma!"

"I'm not doing anything!" Faith protested, letting Willow turn her to get a look at her back.

"Oh my God, Faith! What happened? It looks like it nearly ripped you in half!" Willow yelped, both hands over her mouth.

"There were two," Faith groaned. "I had the first one down and the second one caught me off guard. I was its launch pad. Stupid big claws shredded my favorite leather jacket!" She tried to reach behind her and Willow slapped her hand away sharply.

"Don't touch!"

Faith sent her a petulant glare over her shoulder. "I wasn't gonna! Is it bleeding?"

Willow put a hand on her back, the Slayer hissing at the contact and then groaning as the witch's hand appeared in front of her face, her palm coated in red, sticky blood. "Faith…" she moaned. "It looks bad," she said, voice strained.

Faith turned, again heedless of the fact that she was in just a bra and jeans, and used her discarded loaner shirt to wipe the blood from Willow's hand. "Babe, I'm okay. It's bleeding, but that's okay. I'm going to heal up and it won't even scar, I promise."

Willow hiccupped back tears and shook her head as she let Faith draw her into a hug. "You haven't seen it." Faith's mouth opened to protest and the witch shook her head. "No, don't you lie to me, Faith Lehane."

"I'm not lying, Will," Faith insisted. "I'm the one wearing these scratches. I can feel them, babe, and they're going to be okay. So they might scar, but scars are hot, right? You know I've had worse than this before. Trust me, honey."

Willow groaned, leaning into her. "You better be right or I'm going to kick your butt," she promised. "You didn't, the wolf didn't…"

"No bites, I swear," Faith cut her off earnestly. "I would never let that happen to you again." Her voice was lower and she buried her face in red hair. "I'm going to be okay, Willow. I promise you." She could feel the deep gouges on her back starting to knit, the deep muscle tissue in her back, near the bones, and it made her gasp. "I'm okay," she repeated when Willow stiffened in her arms. "Sweetheart, I'm okay. I need to take a shower and get cleaned up but everything is fine," she stated.

Willow nodded, trying to calm herself. Faith was strong, Faith was steady, and Faith was pale from blood loss, and she could feel her heart rate rising despite her best effort to keep calm. "Okay, I'm okay, you're okay, the girls are okay…"

Joy spoke up at that, clearing her throat. "Mom, I'm…"

"No! Just, not right now, Joy," Willow interjected anxiously, feeling herself stressing out. She knew she was being short with her daughter, but she couldn't help herself.

"Will, calm down," Faith coaxed softly, giving the teens an apologetic smile. "You're scaring the kids," she whispered. "And I'm naked, so I need to take a shower. Can you keep it together or do you need to come with me? We can talk to Joy in the morning…"

"Mama…" Joy tried again.

Faith shook her head, lifting one hand to stop her. "Baby girl, it's going to be okay. You don't have to apologize to me. I'm your mother, I'm going to protect you, no matter what," she stated. "Don't apologize to me for that. And I'm going to be fine. Mom's just a little worked up." She took a deep breath, considering. "Sam, you can stay here tonight and you two just go on up to bed, okay? Jack and Hope are sleeping over at Buffy's, so you can take one of their beds if you'd like. Don't worry, they both have big kid beds. We need to talk to you both, but it'll wait until the morning. Let's give Mom some time to calm down, alright?"

"Faith…" Willow started, the Slayer's hand covering her mouth immediately.

"Girls, go, please," Faith requested, jerking her head toward the stairs.

Sam fled immediately, but Joy hesitated at the stairwell. "Mama, Mom, I'm really sorry," she said, voice low. "I never would…"

"Joy, you weren't doing anything wrong. It was before curfew and, yeah, it was a wolf night, but you didn't do anything wrong," Faith stated, winking reassuringly. "Sorry I was naked in front of your friend." She heard Sam laugh on the stairs and she raised her voice. "Sorry, Samantha," she called.

"No problem, Mrs. L.," Sam called back.

"You've seen me topless, you need to start calling me Faith," the brunette responded.

Joy coughed, shaking her head at her mother. "I think I'd rather you didn't," she said, shooting a look at her friend. Sam just giggled and Joy sighed. "I never would have gotten you hurt, Mama."

"I know that, Joy," Faith promised. "It was not your fault. It was nobody's fault." She winked reassuringly. "Werewolves happen. Why do you think we were out there? It wasn't to look for you." A cocky grin appeared. "It was practically Slayer date night, okay?"

Joy nodded, breathing deeply. "I'm glad you're okay, Ma." She opened her eyes without realizing that she'd closed them. "I love you."

Faith smiled, arm curling around Willow's shoulder and pulling the silent witch to rest her head against her shoulder. "I love you," she echoed. "I'm glad you're okay, too." She cleared her throat. "Get some sleep, okay? We'll talk in the morning." She grinned and glanced down at herself. "I'll even wear a shirt." That earned her a smile and a laugh, the teen nodding before she went up the stairs after her friend.

Faith led Willow to the table, coaxing the redhead into a chair and sitting down beside her. "Willow…"

"Faith, I'm sorry. I didn't mean to panic like that. I freaked out on Joy!" Willow said, realization settling in. "Poor Joy," she breathed.

Faith laughed, shaking her head. "Babe, Joy's tough. She's a good, strong, tough kid, okay? She can handle a little freak out." The brunette was leaned forward to avoid bleeding on the back of the chair and she cupped the witch's face, fingers combing through her hair. "Are you okay?"

Willow sighed, nodding. "I'm okay," she said. "I just…you know I don't handle you almost dying well."

"Well, nobody's dying," Faith promised. "I know it hits closer to home because it was a werewolf, same as if I'd been shot…" Willow whimpered and Faith brushed her cheek with a thumb. "You've lost people that you love, I know that…"

"Stop," Willow interjected hoarsely. "Don't put yourself on that list…"

"I'm not," Faith stated emphatically. "I'm not - I won't do that to you, but you know why I did that tonight… it was you and it was Joy…"

Willow nodded, a blink sending tears over her cheeks. "I know, and I'm glad, sweetie. Thank you…"

"Will, don't thank me for saving our daughter," Faith cut her off. "You'd have done the same thing if I hadn't been there. You got them out of there. You did good, baby."

Willow gave her a tearful smile and the Slayer grinned. "Faith…"

"Come on," Faith prompted, standing up with a grimace. "We're going upstairs and you can wash my back for me, see for yourself that it's not that bad." She offered a hand and Willow stood up, hissing in sympathy as she followed Faith up the stairs. "I know it looks bad, babe. It's not hurting so much anymore, just kind of throbbing. The water will feel good."

"The water will burn like a bitch," Willow corrected. "I'll use a sponge. A cool sponge," she said, one hand up to feel the heat radiating off of Faith's back. "Faith…"

Faith turned at the top of the stairs, grabbing Willow's hands and pulling her along. "It's okay, Will." Grin in place, she kicked off her boots as she stepped backward toward their bedroom. "I'm going to be fine. What else can I say to make you feel better, babe?"

Willow shook her head, sighing. "You can't say anything, Faith. Just let me flinch and worry about you, okay? I'm your wife, Faith. It's my job to be anxious because you got attacked by a werewolf. Let me do my job."

Faith nodded, offering a reassuring smile. "Alright. I'm going to do my best to do that, okay? I swear." She laughed. "Just remember that I'm a bit…"

"Stubborn, hardheaded, infuriating…" Willow supplied adjectives without prompting.

Faith sent her a smirking glare. "I was going to say independent, but I guess those work, babe. Just be patient with me and I'll be patient with you too, okay?"

"Okay," Willow agreed, taking a deep breath and swatting the Slayer's hands away from the hem of her shirt. "Nope," she denied a moment later. "My clothes are staying on. You strip and sit on the edge of the tub so I can wash your back. It can still get infected, Slayer healing or not."

"Fine," Faith agreed with a sigh. "This is not the sexy shower I was hoping for, but fine." She undid her own belt and the button of her jeans, pushing the pants down her hips and shaking them off her legs. "See how good I'm being?"

"You're doing great," Willow agreed sarcastically. "Speaking of Slayer healing…"

"We need to figure out how much Joy's told Sam," Faith finished. "I know. But it's obvious she's known for a while, about vampires, at least, but it'll keep until tomorrow."

"What if she knows about you?" Willow questioned, tone mild.

Faith reached behind her and Willow swatted her hands away from the catch of her bra. "Come on, Will! Okay, no, I meant thank you," she corrected herself. "If Sam knows, then we'll talk to her. Joy's no idiot, though. She gets that from her mom," Faith stated confidently. "She wouldn't have told Sam if she didn't think Sam could handle it. It's good that she doesn't have to lie to someone in her life." She turned her head as Willow's hands helped her sit down on the edge of the bathtub. "It's good, Will."

Willow nodded, blinking. "You're right. It's good. You're right. I want that for her. I don't want her to have to lie." She reached around Faith to turn on the water, adjusting the temperature carefully. "Maybe we should invite Mark over. Have the talk with him too."

Faith yawned helplessly, her adrenaline bleeding away and her pain intensifying. "Yeah, sure, we can do that," she agreed. "In the morning, though, right? Because I want to sleep really bad right now, and this does hurt like a bitch."

Willow cleared her throat but refrained from saying 'told you so,' gently beginning to clean the deep gouges on Faith's shoulders and back. She worked carefully, fingers light and ginger. Years of tending after Faith and Buffy had given her a light touch, but she still felt every twinge from her partner as thought she was being torn herself.

Faith let out a deep breath as she finished, the Slayer laughing gently. "You've gotten good at that over the years."

"Unfortunately, I've had to practice a lot," Willow answered her. "Sit still and I'll put some bandages on these. I don't want you bleeding on our sheets."

"Yes, ma'am," Faith answered dutifully, not moving. Willow taped gauze squares in place and helped her to bed, Faith biting her tongue the entire time to keep from snapping at the redhead she knew was only trying to be loving and considerate. It wasn't Willow's fault that it was driving her crazy.

Willow fussed with her blankets, Faith catching her hands. "Just get used to it," Willow advised, exasperated herself. "Your ass is mine to do with what I will for the next week, at least."

Faith sighed, but nodded. "Why do I think that is going to be less sexy than it sounds?" she complained.

"You promised you would lay there and take it," Willow said, unable to stop a smirk as she teased.

Faith's jaw dropped. "Oh, you are a mean woman! Mean!"

Willow shrugged. "You're the one who's going to sleep practically naked."

"You're the one who won't touch," Faith countered. "I have super-healing, remember? You couldn't, wouldn't hurt me, Willow."

Willow frowned, shaking her head. "Turn over. I was serious about you not bleeding on my sheets." She traced a thumb over Faith's eyebrows and down the top of her nose. "You wake me up if you need a-ny-thing," she ordered, dragging the word out to three syllables.

"O-kay," Faith agreed, mimicking Willow's slow stretching of the word and obligingly moving onto her side and holding her arm open for Willow. "This is what you're getting," she said stubbornly, sure that Willow would rather she sleep on her front to avoid putting pressure on her injured back. "I'm going to hold you, just like I always do. I'm not giving it up and I think you need it." She cut her eyes toward Willow's empty spot. "You need to know that I'm here, all night, and not going anywhere," she insisted. "Now, will you please get in here? I'm beat, Will."

Willow hesitated for a moment, but obeyed, sliding back into the space and letting Faith's arm curl around her. "Anything hurts, you wake me up," she ordered a final time, stretching one arm out to click the lamp off.

"Got it," Faith responded, voice heavy as she was dragged toward unconsciousness. "I love you, Willow," she murmured as she faded.

The rarely spoken sentiment was the last straw for Willow's already fragile self-control and she had to bite her lip to keep the hiccupping tears low enough that they wouldn't disturb Faith. She knew that the Slayer would be upset to know that she was crying, but she couldn't help herself, didn't think she'd ever be able to help herself when it came to potentially losing another person she loved. These tears were a relief and a release, though, and she didn't stop herself from snuggling back into Faith's embrace.

Dragging herself out of it the next morning was a more difficult endeavor, the Slayer continually wrapping her back up and dragging her back in every time she managed to get a limb free. "Faith, wake up!" she whispered pleadingly. "You've got to let go!"

"Don't wanna," Faith countered, her eyes still closed and her voice thick with sleep.

Willow slapped lightly at the arms around her waist, but they didn't budge. "At least let me check your back, babe. Please?"

Faith just stubbornly nuzzled her face into the back of Willow's neck. "As hot as you playing nurse is, I like you right where you are."

"What if I have to go to the bathroom?" the witch reasoned, giggling when her wife groaned and finally released her. "Just kidding, I'm fine," she announced, rising up onto her knees to keep Faith from getting a grip on her again. "Turn over, please."

Faith grumbled petulantly but obeyed, rolling onto her stomach and crossing her arms under her head while she let Willow peel her bandages off one at a time. "How's it looking back there?" she questioned, voice still heavy and tired.

"Better," Willow admitted gratefully. "But not great. Doesn't look like any of them got infected, but there are a few deep ones that still could…" Her fingers trailed lightly between the scratches, the contact making Faith twitch. "Oh! I'm sorry! Did I hurt you?"

Faith laughed without lifting her head. "No, of course not," she said. "It's healing, so it's itchy. It felt good, Will."

The witch sighed in relief, trailing her fingers across the top of Faith's shoulders. "Okay, good. I'd scratch your back for you, but I don't want to hurt you."

"Maybe tomorrow, then," Faith said, her head settling more comfortably into her crossed arms. "You can make it up to me."

Willow laughed at that, patting the brunette lightly on the butt as she climbed off the bed. "You stay there, I'm going to get some fresh bandages for your back. A few of them are still bleeding."

"Fine," Faith complacently agreed. She lifted her head as Willow sat down at her side. "You're not thinking anything crazy like me being on bed rest or anything, are you?"

"No," Willow admitted. "But only because I know you wouldn't let me do it."

"Good." Faith's head lowered again and she sighed as Willow carefully replaced her bandages. She got a kiss to the shoulder when Willow finished her chore, the redhead carrying the trash to the bathroom. Faith was sitting up when she returned and she watched as Faith gingerly stretched, rotating both arms with no twinges, and cracking her neck to either side. "What?" she questioned when she noticed Willow watching silently from the doorway of their bathroom.

"Nothing. Just watching you."

Faith smirked and cocked an eyebrow. "Like what you see, don't you?"

Willow couldn't help smiling and she nodded. "I do, but stop thinking what I know you're thinking. You're still hurt, so that's not happening."

Brown eyes narrowed and she huffed. "No gratitude sex?"

"No gratitude sex," Willow confirmed, head shaking from side to side slowly as she moved forward, restraining a sigh when she stepped over one of Faith's shirts on the floor. "Not yet, anyway," she leaned over to whisper against Faith's lips, not resisting when a strong hand found the back of her neck and pulled her into a kiss. An arm caught Faith's lower back as the Slayer tried to lean back and lead Willow back into bed, but the witch wouldn't do it. Instead, she pulled back from the kiss and took a deep breath. "Not yet," she breathed the reminder, giving her a soft kiss as an apology.

Faith growled in frustration and fell backwards only to arch up again as soon as her back hit the bed. "God damn it!" she cursed, leaning over her crossed legs to take a deep breath.

Willow sighed her name, soothing fingers trailing over the back of her neck. "Let's get up. You can take something for the pain and I'll make breakfast, okay? Bacon and eggs. Your favorite."

"We're out of bacon," Faith groaned without lifting her head. "The girls had BLTs for lunch yesterday."

"I'll go get some more."

Faith leaned up to give her a pained smirk, shaking her head. "Don't worry about it, babe. I'm good with whatever." She winked teasingly. "And if you go to the store, you can't keep me in constant eye range." Her smirk relaxed. "Don't think I haven't noticed what you're doing."

Willow gave her a light swat to the back of her head for the teasing. "Come on," she said, grinning over her shoulder as she turned and left the room deliberately. "Don't forget a shirt!" she called from the hall.

Faith grinned, elbows on her knees as she swung her legs out of bed, feeling the twinge and pull of healing muscle in her back as she moved. It was sore and constant, but only edged toward unbearable when there was contact with one of the wicked tears. She threw on one of her standard tank tops and a pair of loose basketball shorts and padded barefoot down to the kitchen.

Sam was on the couch in front of the television and she waved in greeting. "Good morning, Faith."

"Hey, so almost seeing me topless will work to get you to stop calling me Mrs. L," Faith rejoiced, grinning.

"Don't remind me," Joy groaned as she joined them, jogging down the stairs right behind her mother. "Mama, how are you feeling?" She could see the tops of the slashes over the top edge of her mother's shirt.

Faith shrugged, rolling her shoulders gingerly. "Doing better. Just sore until I get contact on the back. Mom's better," she said, glancing toward the kitchen and lowering her voice. "You know she didn't mean to snap last night…"

"I know," Joy agreed, nodding when Faith squeezed her shoulder. "Should we…do we need to do something to keep her calmed down?"

"I'm not crazy, you know," Willow called from the kitchen. "At least, not currently. And you two don't whisper as quietly as you think you do."

Faith took a deep breath and narrowed her eyes at her daughter. "Now you're getting me in trouble!" She raised her voice. "And no one thought you were crazy, babe! It was just stress and you're feeling better now."

"Five-by-five!" Willow called back.

Faith grinned proudly, winking at Joy. "We do need to talk," she said, giving both of the teens a more serious look. "You know that, right?"

Joy grimaced, glancing between her friend and her mother. "Yeah, okay. How mad are you?"

Faith pursed her lips, giving her an amused glare. "It'll keep until after breakfast," she said, pushing Joy lightly toward the couch. "What we watching?"

Willow called them in for breakfast shortly, a bottle of painkillers already sitting next to Faith's plate. Sam and Joy were quiet as they started picking at their food, looking at each other and not speaking. Willow and Faith exchanged amused looks, chuckling. The girls looked up when the door opened, Mark letting himself in. He drew up in surprise at the silent breakfast party. "I was invited, wasn't I?"

"Of course you were," Willow said, smiling and waving him in. "Come on in."

He glanced at his friends, both girls silent and tense. "Is something going on?" Mark asked cautiously.

"You called Mark?" Joy questioned instead.

"We need to talk to the three of you," Willow told her. "If you told them the family secret, we need to talk about it, about what it means for the three of you." She gave them each a look. "It's a dangerous secret, Joy. You know that."

Faith cleared her throat, shaking her head at Willow. "It'll wait until after we eat," she reminded her gently. "You guys eat your breakfast, okay?"

She dug into her food deliberately, getting an appreciative smile from Joy, her daughter following her lead. Sam and Mark followed suit tentatively, not sure what was going on with the adults. They'd known Joy's family secret for months now, thinking it some kind of strange joke at first. Joy insisted, but didn't try to prove anything, letting them notice things and realize the truth for themselves. Faith's inordinate strength, Willow's way of making things happen, it all fit with what Joy had told them. And then they'd encountered their first vampire.

Joy had staked it, of course, reacting on a well trained instinct. Willow hadn't wanted her to patrol, not eager to put her daughter in the danger she'd faced with Buffy at the same age, but Faith had insisted that all of their kids know the basics of self-defense, of fighting vampires.

Then the dust had cleared and Sam and Mark been left staring in fascination at their best friend.

After they'd each pushed their plates back, they were staring around the table in silence, Willow finally breaking the quiet. "Why don't we start with what you each know…"

Mark and Sam exchanged looks and Joy cleared her throat. "Well, as we all know, I know everything," she declared with a smirk. "Mom's a badass witch, Mama's a vampire Slayer."

"Hey!" Faith protested.

"Who is also a badass," Joy added obligingly. "She totally took down two werewolves last night!"

Faith smirked, rolling her eyes. "Not exactly what I was getting at, but thank you, I'm glad you're proud, Joy." She glanced at Sam and Mark. "You guys know everything?"

Sam glanced at Mark and he nodded. "Yes, ma'am. I mean, I guess so," Sam spoke up. "I mean, Joy told us about the witch thing, and the Slayer whatever, and we've seen…vampires."

The Slayer sighed. "Okay, so we're out, so to speak. Okay… You both understand what it means, don't you? It's not some kind of joke. It's real and it's dangerous." She gestured to Willow. "She is the most powerful woman in the world. I'm strong, really strong, but she could mop the floor with me. She can literally do anything you can think of."

"Awesome," Sam whispered.

"But she's really careful," Joy said. "It's not a game. Mom's got to be really cautious."

Willow swallowed hard. "The magic - it's like leashing a bolt of lightning. It's very dangerous."

The teens nodded dutifully. "Yes, ma'am."

"And Mama's got super-strength, speed, reflexes, heightened senses, fast healing," Joy continued.

"Like a superhero?" Mark questioned.

Faith shrugged. "I can't fly or anything, but I could take you in arm wrestling anytime," she offered, smirking. "So, you know. That doesn't mean that you can do what we do. We've been doing this since we were your age, and we're only alive now because we're good at what we do. Knowing the secret doesn't mean that you have any way to use the information, got it?"

"You don't…patrol - or, or do anything like that, do you?" Willow asked suddenly, voice stressed.

"Will…" Faith hissed, able to see her witch starting to panic. "It's okay. They're all fine, babe." Willow gave her a strained, weak smile, and Faith winked reassuringly. "Come on, Will. You're never like this. Remember? We're badass." She grinned across the table at Joy. "Our daughter's badass."

Joy reached over the table and squeezed Willow's hand, letting her mother lace their fingers. "Mom, of course we don't patrol. It's always just been an accident. The first time we were coming out of the movie theater."

"They're good kids, Will," Faith said supportively. "And Joy's a strong fighter. You know that. You're just letting yourself get worked up about this."

"I have a right to, Faith!" Willow reminded her sharply. "She's our daughter! They're children! I know we were the same age when we started this, and it's a horrible double standard, but it's Joy! And her friends! That's how we started out, remember?"

"Hey!" Faith rebuked her. "Don't snap at me, here! Joy is okay. Sam is okay. Mark is okay. I'm okay. You're the one who's not okay." Her voice grew gentler and she leaned forward to catch Willow's eyes. "What can we do to make you okay here, babe?"

Willow groaned, rolling her eyes. "Don't treat me like I'm crazy again, Faith. I'm not being crazy. You never saw me being really crazy…"

"I know that!" Faith interjected earnestly. "But I've seen you protective like this. You remember? I've gotten one or two minor injuries - concussions, broken bones, stuff like that," Willow snorted in disbelief at the qualification and Faith smirked, "along the way here, and I seem to recall some major freaking out from you, babe." She directed her gaze to the others at the table. "Joy, did I ever tell you that that's how I got Mom to admit that she loves me?"

"No," Joy answered, smiling fondly at her parents. "Aunt Buffy only ever told me about you two hooking up. I never heard that story. What did you do?"

"She almost got herself killed going in without me, and then checked out of the hospital with broken bones all over." Willow smiled as she remembered, the expression genuine.

Faith laughed as she picked up the story, "And I get home and Mom had busted into my apartment…"

"I didn't break in! I had a key," Willow explained defensively.

"Let me tell it!" Faith grinned, pleased when she got a laugh. "So your mom completely broke into my apartment and I'm on these crutches, limping up the stairs to the, what was it, babe, the third floor of a walkup? Doesn't matter, anyway, I open the door and she's packing up clothes, my clothes…"

"You said I was leaving you, said I was going to have to break up with you to your face if I wanted to leave," Willow interjected, giving her a pointed look.

The brunette winked. "But then you shoved me down on the couch and told me that you loved me." She smirked sideways at Joy. "I had broken ribs and a broken leg and she shoved me! You believe that?"

"But she loves you," Joy reminded her, squeezing Willow's hand. "And you knew it after that. I bet it was worth it."

Faith nodded. "Of course it was." She gave her daughter a considering look and nodded her head toward Willow. "How about we make more of an effort to make sure Mom doesn't have to freak out over us anymore, okay? Maybe on wolf nights you all stay in somewhere?" Joy nodded determinately and Faith gave her a smile.

"You guys know the secret, that's fine, don't tell anybody, not that they'd believe you about any of it, but now you know, so you have to be careful because you know what's out there in the dark." She pinned them each with a serious look. "Everyone else gets to go through life and they don't know. They get to walk around at night and they don't have a reason to be scared. You guys don't get to have that anymore. So, remember that it is serious and it is dangerous."

The three friends exchanged looks and Sam and Mark nodded resolutely. "We get it, Mrs. L," Sam promised. "We're careful. We know and we're careful."

"Hey, now, what's with the Mrs. L. stuff again?" Faith asked, shaking her head. "I thought we finally got past that last night."

"Sam calls my mother by her name now because my other mother stripped her shirt off here in the kitchen in front of us," Joy explained, rolling her eyes at Mark.

He grinned appreciatively. "Nice! That's hot." He extended a fist bump to Sam as Joy dropped her head to the table with a groan and a thump. Sam was blushing brightly, but answered the gesture, knocking her fist against his.

"I know she's hot and you all think I'm a crazy person, but I'm going to need you both to stop checking out my wife," Willow requested.

"It was medical," Joy agreed, voice muffled by the table. "It wasn't like they were making out - not that I haven't seen that here in the kitchen…where I eat…" Mark and Sam exchanged glances and shrugged simultaneously with matching grins on their faces. "I need new friends," Joy moaned. "Friends that haven't seen my mother topless!"

Willow laughed, starting to relax. "They're in on the family secret, sweetheart. If you get new ones now, Mama has to recite her little speech all over again."

"But if we did it again, maybe you wouldn't be quite such a spaz next time," Faith teased, one arm crossing her chest to scratch absently at the opposite shoulder, her healing back itching like crazy.

"Okay, I spazzed. I'm sorry," Willow said, taking a deep breath. "That's not how I normally act. I apologize, Faith, Joy, Sam, Mark." She mustered a smile for the teens. "I always freak out on Faith when something like this happens, and it's new having it happen with you three, it's new and it's scary, and I don't like it at all."

Faith smirked, amused, and leaned over to press a kiss to side of Willow's head. "Who'd have thought that I'd be the one calming you down, huh?"

Willow's eyes narrowed, and she mussed her partner's hair petulantly. "Shut up. You're always the one calming me down, remember?"

"No, not that, I mean, it's kind of great, right? I'm the reasonable parent! I think it's kind of great," Faith declared, pressing another kiss to her cheek and laughing as Willow shoved her shoulder.

"Fine, you're reasonable, whatever!" Willow countered, her eyes rolling. Faith bent her arm and curled it up behind her, straining herself trying to scratch her back. "Stop that and turn your chair around." Faith used both legs to kick her chair back onto the back legs and then one leg, balancing without apparent effort as she shifted her weight and turning it to let it drop onto four legs in a position where Willow could reach her back.

Faith hadn't even noticed her display, but Mark and Sam had the same stunned looks on their faces while Joy was grinning proudly. "So - hot," Mark breathed unconsciously.

Joy groaned loudly. "She's got super-hearing, you…" She grabbed her friends' wrists on either side, and pulled them both up. "We're leaving now."

[part 20 here]

Date: 2011-09-18 10:36 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ladycallie.livejournal.com
Pfffffffff....... adorable chapter! I was all smiles at the banter and the cute domestic worrying. It's nice that Faith stresses Willow's powers (I've missed seeing her use magick) and Joy's friends amusement at Willow and Faith is really fun.

Have a fantastic birthday hun!!!!

Date: 2011-09-19 02:54 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] leonhart-17.livejournal.com
Yay! I love writing their little family! It's so much fun! I'll have to see about getting Willow's magic in there sometime in the future... I'm glad you're enjoying it!

Thank you! I had a really fun day!

Date: 2011-10-10 06:29 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] shebooya.livejournal.com
happy belated birthday! I still absolutely adore this fic, thank you for writing it so well and thank you for the smiles :)

Date: 2011-10-10 01:27 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] leonhart-17.livejournal.com
Thank you! I'm glad you're still enjoying the fic! Hopefully I should have some more chapters ready soon!


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