After much angst, pulling of hair and rending of garments thanks to certain AWOL muses, liliaeth and I finally have the latest interlude of our little epic. We're hoping it still has an audience. Please follow the Warning Alert System.
Early May - 2018
Will is nearly 14 years old
Only a day or so has passed in the lives of Will, Nina and Angel since our last chapter, though for the latter it might as well have been an eternity. Angel reluctantly agrees to do his fatherly duty. Connor listens and learns (hopefully). That's about it. Really!
Please, as always, read and comment! Buffy!Muse is back to being shackled to her little cot. Give a muse her freedom, and she vanishes for months at a time.
Feedback is always welcomed.
Goddess bless Willa, my first and foremost mentor, gillo, who, after passing out from shock, managed to deliver her usual beta magic, and just_sue, whose loving nags are just what the doctor ordered, and excellent suggestions are always welcomed.
To read Beloved from the beginning, go to my Live Journal Here or to simply_beloved: chapter 1.
Full sized banner by zugma beneath the cut.
Beloved - Interlude 31-32 - Fathers and Sons
Early May – 2018
Angel glanced balefully at his wife's retreating back, to no avail. Nina wasn't coming back; the sound of the door slamming rang loud in his sensitive ears as she took the easy way out and escaped for parts unknown.
Deep breathing didn't help. Neither did counting backwards from one hundred. Maybe he could turn this whole matter over to Connor, or Hugh? That would go down well, he thought with a snort. Nina would lock him out of their bedroom for a month if he shirked this task.
He paced around his son's room, hoping to calm his rapidly-fraying nerves. Angel looked down at the rug, noting the raveled edges and calculated what it would cost to replace. A mound of dirty laundry spilling out of the hamper picked at his somewhat anal sense of order, not to mention the olfactory discomfort. It was the shelves that lined the wall opposite Will's bed that caused Angel to stop his pacing. Like a film in stop-motion, the small array of framed photographs told a visual story of Will's life: A tow-headed infant in a smiling Nina's arms. A smiling toddler surrounded by friends and family, blowing out the candles on his birthday cake. First day of school, first bicycle, first disastrous cherry Jello hair dye job… Angel couldn't help but smile at that one. Will had expected his parents to flip, and all Nina wanted to do was capture the image in a portrait for posterity.
And now… the most current image - a photo of Will holding his first place medal over his head for swimming the anchor lap on his school's freestyle team. Several first place trophies stood proudly gleaming on the top shelf, thanks to Nina's relentless dusting. Seems their boy was well on his way to becoming a jock. Angel felt his chest swell with pride.
A far cry from William Pratt the first.
From what Angel had learned of the nineteenth century version, he'd been a lost man; closed off. Painfully shy, introspective, alone in his little world of beauty and fanciful words… that little mouse of a man would never have been caught dead wearing the skin-tight swim suits worn today. Even if they did cover the body from neck to ankles.
There were also pictures of Will's friends. Not just family and extended family, like the Gunns… but school chums. Sure, the current version Will had been shy, but he'd gotten over it, and was working on whatever issues remained from…
Angel gave silent thanks to Dr. Brzz'c for introducing Will to that demon therapist. While it still chafed that he refused to meet with Nina and himself, considering all the good he'd accomplished, Angel was willing to let it go.
He sat down on his son's bed - grateful for the fact vampires didn't usually sweat - and waited. A small smile graced his lips. Perhaps he'd done a good job after all. He and Nina. And despite all that had been thrown at Will, they raised the boy right.
Angel was so deep in thought, he'd startled at the surprisingly deep voice that cut through his reverie:
"Hey, Dad. What's up?"
With a goofy look on his face, Angel stared at the boy looming over him.
"Hey, Dad!" Will repeated, tossing his jacket and book bag onto the floor as he dropped onto the bed beside his father. "What's up?"
Now wasn't that a fine choice of words? Just as quickly as it had appeared, the smile vanished, leaving Angel once more at a total loss for words.
When he was a lad, nobody had to explain what went where. After all, there were a limited number of places to put things. He found out about sex the old-fashioned, tried-and-true way. By trying. And it all worked out all right… mostly. None of the lasses ever complained about his prowess… about the only thing they never complained about.
Anyone with half a brain could figure this out, and his Will was smart. Connor had figured it all out without help, so why shouldn't his younger brother?
But Nina was insistent, wanting Will to know more than the mechanics. Wanting him to know about emotions and feelings - and of course about condoms and responsibilities and safety.
Stupid, modern, touchy-feely world.
Will turned, giving Angel his full attention, his bright blue eyes sparkling with mirth.
"Okay, yeah. Well… I… I had a talk with Mom this morning, and… um, a-and…"
Will laughed, seeming to revel in his father's discomfort. "You're doing great so far, Dad."
"Don't be such a smart ass, kiddo." Angel gently cuffed his son's ear. "There's something we need to talk about." Yeah, and couldn't we just put this off for say… another thirty years?
"Sorry." Will rolled his eyes, an action that had become commonplace recently; twisting his boyish features. "But you're so easy."
"I guess that's an improvement," Angel huffed, fingers beginning to twitch out of long-forgotten habit at being baited. "Last week you said I was impossible."
Will jumped up from the bed, impatience oozing from every pore. C'mon, Dad," he whined. "Spill or chill… I've got to meet Alonna in a couple. We're gonna catch a flick."
Angel wondered how this 'little talk' had lost direction and focus before it'd even begun. He'd tried telling Nina he wouldn't be any good at this, but she hadn't listened.
"Damn it, William, I'm trying to have a man-to-man discussion here. Can't you be serious for once?"
Will shrugged his shoulders and sat back down on his bed.
This time it was Angel who stood; once more pacing around the room. "Listen, son… there comes a time in every boy's life…"
The loud groan should have been expected, and it pissed Angel off, probably just as intended.
"Do you think this is easy for me, boyo? Do you know how many years it's been since I've had to even think about such things?"
"When I was a lad…" Will sing-songed.
Angel's full-chested roar shook the picture frames on the shelves. "William!"
Will sighed, falling back into his pillows. "I know, I know. You had to walk uphill through the rain and the snow in your bare feet…"
Will didn't have to be told twice. In a flash, he'd grabbed his jacket and tore out of the room, clomping down the stairs and out the door for his rendezvous.
Angel prayed to all the saints he could remember that he'd never father another child in his unlifetime.
* * *
Connor sprawled out on his bed, little Liam snuggled securely in his arms, head tucked under his father's chin. The smell of clean baby wafted past his nostrils with each breath. Somewhere along the line a little talcum powder and baby shampoo had become his favorite fragrance.
Only six weeks old and Connor found it difficult to recall a time when Liam Bryant Summers Dowell wasn't in his life.
Dawn was down in the library, hoping to avoid listening in on 'The Talk", all the while trying to translate yet another scroll promising to release Buffy from her marble prison. Liam's birth hadn't slowed her down. Dawn insisted on nursing the baby, as much for his health as for their bonding time, but as soon as he was settled, she was back to being Research Woman. She said she'd been feeling 'Buffy-vibes' again, and she wanted her sister back. Liam deserved to know his Auntie Buffy.
Connor quickly checked the cloth under his son's head, but his fingers came away dry, and he sighed with relief. He must have changed his shirt at least three times today thanks to his little man, and he was much too comfy to move.
'…have a man-to-man discussion here. Can't you be serious for once?'
Oh man, they were at it again. Will had become quite the expert at winding up the old man. From some of the stories he'd heard from Dawn, Will was well on his way to following in the Doc Marten'd footsteps of his predecessor… ancestor… well, of Spike.
Vampire-like hearing sucked.
With a quiet chuckle at his own stupid pun, Connor managed to stand and transfer Liam from his arms to the bassinet, then crossed the room to keep out the escalating 'discussion'. Then again, who knew how much the baby could actually hear; being the child of a Key and a descendant of two vampires. Only time would tell, he guessed.
Ooohkay, now… that was loud enough to be heard in Quor'toth.
Connor quickly glanced over at the still-sleeping form of his son and shook his head. "Never," he promised softly, stroking the peach-fuzz of Liam's cheek. "I'll never let things get to that point between us, my little one."
He thought back over the past few years… on everything that had happened since Will had been rescued from the mad Watchers. The months of silent torment. The eternity it took for the boy to look at him and believe he was alive. The nightmares that kept the entire family on edge; unable to get the sound of Will's screams out of their minds.
How could Angel have forgotten so soon? He should be grateful for… well, he should just be grateful that Will was home and well.
Dawn's hackles would be up when she heard about this. Maybe she already knew if she'd spotted Will on his mad dash out the door. From the moment she'd become pregnant, she hovered over Will like a second mother. She'd always been fond of Will, especially once she found out he'd been her vampire, and not just his son; his kidnapping had sent her over the edge.
Not to mention Angel's betrayal, which had cost them all years of togetherness.
And yet, after it all… here they were, one big, happy family. Living in the same house… on the same floor, thanks to Hugh, Charlotte and Bethany moving to a larger suite on the next floor.
It wasn't that Connor expected life at the Hyperion to be all peaches and cream. How could it be, when he, himself, was the child of two vampires; when the heads of his family were a vampire and a werewolf; the love of his life was an eons-old ball of energy; his niece was a developing empath, and his younger brother was a demon/human hybrid who used to be a 120 year old vampire in a former life - not to mention a 14 year old hormone bomb in this one.
A loud chortle escaped before Connor could stifle it. A perfect Dr. Phil show. Hell, they'd send that poor old man off screaming within five minutes.
Liam stirred at the sharp bark of noise, but settled down quickly, leaving Connor to pace around the room once more.
"Not good, not good at all," he muttered, hearing Angel close the door to Will's room and shut himself in his own suite. This was gonna be a brood of epic proportions, probably followed by another shouting match when Nina came home.
Something had to be done. As Dawn would say: "Mad vibes in the house do not a happy baby make." Maybe he should talk to Angel… get him to cut Will a little more slack.
Maybe he should talk to Will… get him to cut Angel a break with the attitude.
Maybe he should just mind his own business and deal with his own little family.
And maybe, just maybe… he should go downstairs and propose to Dawn yet again.