This interlude takes place as Will nears his nineteenth birthday. Mom and Dad come to a meeting of the minds as to what steps to take to help Will get his act together.
Please, as always, read and comment! Buffy!Muse is on track to move this story forward at a nice, brisk pace! Please place chocolates in the bowl by the door to encourage her to continue.
Feedback is always welcomed.
Just a hopeful request here – anyone willing to make a banner for this story as Will nears his maturity and Buffy nears her freedom would make me love you forever.
Goddess bless Willa, my first and foremost mentor, gillo, for making the time to fit her beta work into her hectic schedule, celesteavonne for eagerness to see this story through to its conclusion, and just_sue because she’s always on my mind, even when she’s not on her computer.
To read Beloved from the beginning, go to my Live Journal Here or to simply_beloved: chapter 1.
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Beloved – Interlude 37-38B – An Aha Moment
Will’s mind wasn’t exactly set on the Tai Chi moves his father was displaying to his left. He was, however, watching closely the same moves exhibited by Buffy, to his right. Gods, but she was gorgeous. So gorgeous, in fact, that during one complicated maneuver, Will’s center of balance was off, and he lost his footing. He landed on his ass, his father’s hiss of disapproval sounding loudly in his ears.
“What’s the matter with you, Will? You wanted me to teach you, and I’m trying my best to be patient, but your mind seems to wander. You need discipline if you ever hope to gain control of your own body, moreso your enemies.”
“Dad, this is just boring!” Will rolled his eyes, as he let his father help him up off the floor. “I’d rather spar. I need to move,” he said, as he bounced on the balls of his feet, circling Angel. His smile matched Buffy’s amusement.
Angel sighed. “You don’t want to do this, son. We need to work on the basics before getting into the contact part of fighting. Just because you’re stronger than human doesn’t mean you’ll automatically win a fight.”
Will practically growled. “Damn it! We’ve been working on ”the basics” for more than six months. Who are you to tell me what I want? I’m not a little boy anymore.” He threw a couple of test jabs, not really intended to make contact.
“It’s not like you’ve been doing anything else with your time. You’ve turned into a sloth – you do nothing all day but bury your nose in that damned computer.”
“Who else’s life do you want me to put in danger? It’s bad enough I’m here with all of you. Now come on, old man… time to move your creaky bones.”
With a roll of his eyes, Angel fell into a fighting stance. “Fine, boyo. You wanna do this? Bring it on.”
Will whooped with delight, and began jabbing in earnest. Right, left, left, and then a small flurry, only one in a dozen making contact with his father.
Angel, on the other hand, laid tap after tap on Will; no power behind his fists. Will became increasingly annoyed. His father’s crooked half-smile tipped Will over from frustration to anger.
“This isn’t fair, Dad,” he groused, pissed off at himself for sounding so infantile. “You outweigh me by half a ton, and King Kong would envy your reach.”
“Don’t forget, you asked for this, kiddo,” Angel said, laying another tap on the back of Will’s head. “I tried to talk you out of it.”
“Will,” Buffy called out. “While he’s talking, he’s leaving himself open. Take advantage of it. And don’t drop your right shoulder.”
Because Will was focused on Buffy, Angel managed to take his feet out from under him and once again his ass made contact with the hard wooden floor. Annoyed with himself, Will focused inwardly, determined not to make a fool of himself yet again, and unloaded a right cross with all the strength he could muster.
This time it was Angel who hit the ground in stunned surprise.
Angel glared his son with mixed feelings. Pride, because he managed to knock him off his feet, and irritation, because… well, because! He couldn’t put his finger on exactly what it was that got under his skin, but it was like an itch he couldn’t scratch, or a pebble in his shoe.
From his vantage point, he sat and watched as Will danced around as if performing for someone.
“Buffy,” he muttered. “It has to be.”
“What did you say?” Will asked, walking over to offer his father a hand up.
“Buffy,” Angel repeated. “She’s here, isn’t she?”
“Well, yeah,” said Will, the duh! obvious to anyone who had eyes. “She’s pretty much with me twenty-four-seven.”
For a moment, Angel’s eyes flared amber, an unreasonable flash of jealousy left him feeling unsettled. Worse, as he didn’t know who he was more jealous of, Will… or Buffy.
“What’s with the vamp eyes?” Will asked. “You can’t be pissed off ‘cause I finally managed to land one on you.”
With a shake of his head, Angel’s eyes reverted to their usual chocolate brown. He must be slipping… he hadn’t even known he was that close to vamping out. He took a long, hard look at his son. Will was built lean, but his shoulders had recently broadened, accentuating his slim waist and hips. His face was losing the last of his baby fat, and those infamous cheekbones set off a pair of sparkling blue eyes. Will’s hair – so beautifully tousled at the moment – light brown curls with natural blond highlights. Truly an angel, yet the spitting image of the devil, himself. Spike… or rather, William when he was first turned.
Angel found himself longing for the once-bane of his existence with a need he didn’t believe himself capable of. And the intense sorrow that he was gone for good.
Angel blinked. Will stood in front of him, snapping his fingers by his ears.
“Where’d you go? I’ve been trying to get your attention for the past five minutes.” The concern in his boy’s eyes was palpable. “Did I hit you too hard? Are you brain damaged?”
“Sorry, son. I was thinking about some… thing.” Angel accepted Will’s hand up, though he really didn’t need it. “I’m fine, really. I barely felt a thing. A little love tap, that’s all.”
Wrong words. Angel saw Will’s expression cloud over as he backed away. Why couldn’t he do anything right anymore where his son was concerned?
At that moment, the door opened and Nina peeked her head in. “How’re my two favorite men in the world doing?”
She was greeted with a sullen grunt from her son and a bemused look from her husband.
“Things not go so well with the Tai Chi?” she asked.
Will threw the towel he’d used to wipe the sweat from his neck into the hamper. “I’ve had it, Mom. No more of this posturing for me. I’ll be in my room,” he said, stomping out of the gym.
“Was it something I said?” Nina looked to her husband for an answer.
Angel sadly shook his head. “It wasn’t you, love. I honestly don’t know what to do with Will. Ever since… well, ever since he came back, he’s become reclusive and argumentative. He hardly talks to the family. Bethany is at a loss, Charlotte can’t draw him into a discussion… even Dawn and Connor can barely make eye contact with him for more than a couple of minutes at a time.”
“Do you think he’d be willing to talk to Lorne again?”
Angel ran his hand through his hair, a sure sign he was unsettled. “I’ve asked him about it, and all he says is that he doesn’t need to see Lorne; that he’s fine on his own.”
“It hurts a mother’s heart to see her child so closed off.” Nina wrapped her arms around Angel’s waist and sighed. “There has to be something we can do to help snap him out of this.”
“Maybe we should talk to Lorne,” Angel’s answering sigh shuddered through both bodies. “Obviously we’re in over our heads. It’s not like we can bribe Will with an ice cream cone anymore. He’s a young man with some devastating issues. Even youthful resilience can only be stretched so far.”
Disengaging from Angel’s embrace, Nina began to pace back and forth across the room. Her brow furrowed, she mumbled, “There has to be something… anything… we have to help him.” She stopped suddenly, slowly turning to her husband. “We can’t help him,” she said slowly drawing out the syllables. “We can’t – but he can help himself!”
Angel looked at his wife as if she’d lost her mind. “Are you nuts? Don’t you see the way he drags himself around the house? What more can he do that he hasn’t done in these past months on his own?”
“It’s here, don’t you see? Staying here, with us, is what’s keeping him from doing the one thing he needs to do – grow up. Become an adult!”
“But we’re not stopping him.” Angel rolled his eyes, frustrated almost beyond his tolerance. “Anything he wants to do, we’ll support him.”
“I don’t know what your parents did during your teenaged years, sweetheart, but in my day,” Nina said, cupping Angel’s chin and turning his face towards hers. “In my day, parents used to send their kids off to Europe for a year between high school and college. Not everyone was ready to settle in for another four years of education. Not everyone had a clue as to what they wanted out of life, because they’d hardly lived life at all.”
Angel nodded slowly before answering. “I remember my parents had often discussed sending me to England, to polish my manners and make me more well-rounded. Of course, the real nobs, the aristocracy and the like, sent their boys off on the Grand Tour, with tutors and servants in tow. The tales they had to tell… Ah well, it all became moot when I failed to live up to their ideals… and then became a monster in a dark alley.”
“But Will is everything we could wish for in a son… and more,” said Nina, brushing Angel’s regrets away with the wave of her hand. “And while we don’t have tutors or servants, I’m sure we can get someone to accompany Will… someone who could introduce him around, and make sure he was safe.”
“I can hear it now. “Damn it, I don’t need a babysitter!" How are we gonna swing something like this without upsetting Will?”
Nina smiled at her husband. “Lorne. We could ask Lorne if he’d be willing to ‘chaperone’ Will. After all, we know he wants what we all want – Will happy and healthy, mentally and physically. And it's not like a clinical setting that Will would object to. We can talk to him. Feel him out and see what he can do. He must have contacts all over the world. It’s a better idea than leaving Will to waste away, right?”
Angel answered her question with a kiss. Looking deep into her eyes, he knew he was a lucky vampire to have such a wise wife.
“Anywhere but Rome,” were his last words on the subject.