Title: Violet Eyes Are Smiling
Characters: Joyce, OC, with brief appearances by Spike and Angel
Summary: Early in Season 3, Joyce and a new friend talk about what's coming up for our whole crew. Totally canon!
Maud checked the address on her view once more, then strode up the walk, bouncing along to the ancient punk tune throbbing through the earpiece of her specs. She liked vintage bands. This one, in particular. Her gran used to talk about her wild night backstage, the night Aunt Polly was born. Family legends. She couldn’t get away from ’em, but that was okay. At least the family knew how to create some worth remembering.
“The girls are frisky in ol’ Frisco,” she sang, giving a little shimmy while knocking synchopatedly on the door. She tapped the toe of her boot on the porch along with the bass track while she waited. A blonde 40ish woman opened the door.
“May I help you?” she asked. She had a warm, but guarded smile.
Maud shoved her specs onto the top of her head, which did little to tame the riot of violet curls. She tapped the earpiece to mute. “Hiya! You must be Ms. Joyce! Is Buffy or Dawn at home?”
The woman looked even more guarded. “Don? I don’t know any—,” she rallied. “Buffy’s not home, right now. Shall I give her a message?”
“I was hoping to talk to you, Ms. Joyce. Mind if I come in for a jot?”
Joyce hesitated. “I don’t usually ask new people in after dark,” she said.
“Oh, you don’t have to invite me,” said Maud, waving a careless hand through the doorway to demonstrate. “I don’t swing that way. I’m Maud, by the way. I just want to talk to you about some things that are coming up.”
Joyce’s brow wrinkled in confusion, but she stepped back and opened the door wider, still refraining from an outright invitation. Maud stepped into the foyer and looked around.
“Wow! It’s just like they said. Oh! I love that snap!” She rushed over to look at the portrait of Buffy and Joyce hanging near the stairs. “It’s always been one of my favorites,” she explained. “You guys look so glue, you know?”
“You’ve seen that photograph before?” asked Joyce. “Maud, did you say? I don’t remember Buffy mentioning you.”
“Oh, we’ve haven’t met yet. But look! She’s such a pup.”
“I’m sorry, but I’m starting to feel that there’s been a mistake here. Probably mine. Thanks for stopping by.” Joyce stood with her hand on the open door, pointedly.
“Sorry! I always do this! I get things all out of order. Comes with the territory, I guess.” She stuck out her hand, “Ms. Joyce, I’m Maud H., sent by the Council of Slayers with a message from your daughters.”
Joyce shook the proffered hand automatically.
“From Buffy? The Council? Don’t you mean Council of Watchers? Oh! Is it because Faith is a Slayer now? Did they change their name? Wait.” She considered for a moment. “Those men wouldn’t change so much as a school tie. Maybe you’d better come sit down.”
She led Maud into the living room, and after inquiring about drinks and snacks, settled down across the couch from her. She looked carefully at the girl. From the tip of her brilliantly-colored head, to the platforms on her fuchsia faux suede boots, everything about her screamed, “Not from around here.” She wore a shiny silver skort, topped with a floaty, pleated tunic, and sported a number of chunky arm adornments that couldn’t really be called bracelets. She fidgeted constantly, looking around the room with wonder, and tapping her wrists in a way that almost seemed to have purpose. Upon closer inspection, the girl was older than she first appeared. Joyce guessed she was in her mid-20s. She had the most striking, clear, violet eyes. Otherworldly.
“If you’ll excuse me saying so, you don’t seem much like the Council type, Miss.”
“Well, the Council is pretty different from how it used to be, I guess. I’m an average bear, but then we’re all pretty special. In our unique ways, of course.”
“Of course. Well then, maybe you had better give me Buffy’s message.”
“Sure. Your daughters want you to know that it all works out. And, that Spike is the key.”
Joyce searched her memory. “Spike. Spike? The vampire Spike?”
“Yah. Vampire Spike. He’s coming back to town soon, and it’s important that you listen to what he has to say.”
“He has a message for me, too?” asked Joyce, even more confused.
“Nah. He just really needs somebody to listen to him.” She shrugged. “Buffy and Dawn think you’re the best.”
“You’ve mentioned Don before. Who is he?” asked Joyce.
“Not he. She. Dawn. Buffy’s sister.”
She held out her arm, tapped the large cuff affixed to her forearm a few times, and soon a digital photograph appeared on the shiny surface. A young girl, with long brown hair and blue eyes, was posing next to her Buffy. They couldn’t be more than 5 years apart in age.
Joyce felt the blood drain from her face. “That bastard.”
“Nah, nah, nah. It’s not like that. It’s a mystical sorority, but it’s real. She’s your kid.”
Oh god. “Oh god. Is this a Slayer thing?” Joyce put her hand to her chest, willing her heart to start beating again.
“Well, yah. It’s always a Slayer thing. Anyway, the point is that Spike needs a shoulder to cry on, and the Summers girls say you give the best shoulder around.” She perked up suddenly. “But they don’t want you to worry. He could be pretty scary, I understand. They said I should show you some snaps.”
Joyce slowly nodded. She looked again at the forearm cuff, and as she did, a series of photos slid across the surface. Buffy and Dawn. Buffy with Willow and Xander. Giles and Buffy. (Joyce felt herself blush. It had only been a couple of weeks since her adventure with Giles and the kahlua and the chocolate.) Another of all of them, and Faith too, standing in front of a yellow bus; Xander wearing an eye patch; Buffy looking like a statue on a tomb. More photos slid by of Buffy with the same stony expression. Then short, silent video clips started to appear. Buffy was with groups of girls, demonstrating kicks, or blowing out candles. Sometimes she was with her friends, and with the girl that was supposed to be her sister.
Then, Spike started to appear in the photos, and Buffy’s face lost that terrible frozen aspect. She smiled, she frowned, she made goofy faces. Spike was recognizable, but somehow different. His expression, Joyce realized, lacked the cocksure aggression that she remembered from their few meetings. In the early photos, he seemed tentative, he and Buffy standing slightly apart from each other and the others. As the photos marched on, they moved closer together, and were gradually enveloped by the group. A family group, she realized.
There were graduation photos, and then wedding photos. Babies started popping up, then toddlers, and eventually teenagers. There were too many of them to be just one family. She lost track of all the connections she was seeing. The final photo was of Buffy and Spike, surrounded by friends and family, with a large banner reading “42!” behind them. It was impossible to tell their ages, though Xander, Willow, Faith, and Dawn all had gray hair and laugh lines.
“There’s me!” exclaimed Maud, pointing to a smiling girl with upswept neon hair.
Joyce closed her eyes. This was…her life now. “You’re from the future,” she said. It wasn’t a question.
“Yah. So, see, you don’t have to worry so much.”
Joyce stared at her. She thought about it. “You’re telling me that Buffy, in the future, is using the ability to travel through time to tell me not to worry? And to listen to Spike? That’s it?”
“Well, yah. It was Dawn’s idea, really. She said now that she’s had kids, it’s pretty easy to imagine what you were going through right now. Whoa! I’m having tense trouble.”
“I can imagine,” said Joyce, dryly. She did worry a lot. She had reason to. Now that she knew Buffy wasn’t a delinquent, she had even more to worry about. Those parenting books didn’t cover superhero children. She was on her own. When Buffy had run away, it was the worst, though since she had come back it seemed like the fun never stopped. Zombies, Jekyll/Hyde boys at school, baby-stealing vampires, rogue Watchers. It was something new practically every week. From the state of her homecoming dress, Joyce was pretty sure that there was plenty Buffy was leaving out, even though she had promised full disclosure. But this girl on her couch was telling her that it would all be fine. Buffy was going to live to be old and gray. Well, gray but for the wonders of modern chemistry.
“How old is Buffy now?” she asked.
“In my now, she’s 64. Oldest Slayer on record. Faith died last year. Cancer.”
Joyce felt the loss, even though it was decades off. “I’m so sorry. She was a good girl. She tried so hard. They must’ve been quite a team, to last all this time.” Now Joyce was having tense trouble.
“Yah. It’s a pretty big team, though. Mostly, Buffy partners with Spike. He’s kept her alive more than anybody. And not just with the fighting of evil, if you get me,” she said, one eyebrow raised wickedly.
“I don’t really,” said Joyce.
“Well, Gran says he teases her into staying connected. Gets her out of her head. Plus he saved her from the worst fate of all: self-imposed celibacy. He saves her from that a lot.” She snickered.
Joyce laughed, a little shocked. Obviously, Buffy was a grown-up. She was safe. Relatively. She must be capable of making her own choices, if she’d made it as far as Maud said.
“All right,” she said. “I’ll stop worrying so much. It never helps anything, anyway. I’ll listen to Spike.” She shook her head. “I can’t believe I’m saying this.”
“Um, would you mind saying it again? Or, you know, sending a message of your own back? I know everybody would be moony to hear from you.”
Joyce realized then that she was dead. She wouldn’t be there to celebrate Buffy’s 65th birthday. That must be why they’d sent someone across all this time to talk to her, to comfort her. They missed her.
“Give me a minute, please,” she said to Maud, blinking furiously. “Why don’t you tell me how you got to be the Council’s messenger girl?”
Maud looked away, giving Joyce time to collect herself. “It’s because of my family. My Gran was able to open the doors between dimensions. It’s tricky stuff, and it took awhile for her to figure the ins and outs. Nobody else can do it like she does.” She took a deep breath. “What do you know about dimensions?” she asked.
“Not much,” sniffed Joyce.
“Well, there are a lot of them. Generally we all move through 3-dimensional space pretty freely. The 4th dimension, or temporal space, we usually all travel in the same direction. With Gran, there are whole universes beyond those basic dimensions.” She surreptitiously checked on Joyce. She was dabbing her eyes.
“When I was 14, I started to move against the grain of the 4th dimension, time. It was kind of helpful, because I’m a procrastinator of the first rank, and it was great to be able to go back and turn in a late paper on time, or to go to two parties at once, but I got all turned around before long. Gran had to step in, and she got the whole Council researching ways to keep it from going haywire.”
“Which they did,” said Joyce. She was back in control.
“Yah. They did. So here I am.”
“I’m still surprised that this is the most pressing thing Buffy could think of to do with your skills,” said Joyce.
“Oh, I’ve had a few other assignments, but this one might be my favorite. It’s all about love, you see. A girl’s gotta get behind that.”
“I suppose she must,” said Joyce. “I think I’m ready to give you my message, now.”
“Kill,” said Maud. She held her arms up, and Joyce realized that she was going to record her.
Joyce patted her hair. “Do I look alright?”
“Yah. Real pretty.”
“Okay. Buffy, it’s November 1998. I’ve received your message, and I think I understand. It’s a bit much to take all at once. Still, I want you to know how proud I am of you. I was proud of you yesterday, and I’m even more proud of you today. It will help me to know that you’re all going to be fine. It was sweet of you to try to calm my fears, all the way from when you are.”
“Willow, Xander, I cannot tell you how much it means to me that you have been such wonderful, loyal friends to Buffy. She’s a lucky girl to have you in her life. Dawn, you are obviously a thoughtful woman, and I’m very much looking forward to meeting you.”
“Oh, and Spike? Get the hell away from my daughter. I’m kidding! Mostly. I suppose, if you make her happy, then I’m happy, too.”
“Take care, all of you. I love you with all my heart.”
Now it was Maud’s turn to get misty.
“That was great, Ms. Joyce. They’re going to love it. It was an honor to meet you,” she sniffed.
Joyce tried not to think too hard about it. “Well I’m happy to have met you, too. I guess you can pretty much pick anybody from all of history. It’s really something that I was one of them. Thank you.”
She led Maud to the front door, and hugged her before she left. Maud turned at the end of the walk and they exchanged a little wave before Joyce closed the door. Maud clicked her boot heels together, and levitated into the air. She swooped around the house, and saw, as expected, Spike crawling into one of the upstairs bedroom windows. She hovered over to watch as he picked through a pile of books, selecting one, and then headed out the door. She hovered down to the back yard to watch through the kitchen windows.
Spike sauntered into the kitchen. “Hello, Joyce,” he announced heartily.
“Oh! Spike! I was just thinking about you. How are you?” asked Joyce sincerely, after a little start.
Clearly, that was not what he had expected. “Okay, I guess. I mean, had a bit of a rough patch, but…oh bloody hell, it’s been the worst 6 months of my unlife,” he complained, tearing up.
Joyce nodded with concern, “Why don’t you sit right down and get it off your chest? Hmmm?”
Maud smiled widely. That Joyce was good. She hovered up about 20 feet and took out a key that was dangling on a chain around her neck. She thought for a moment.
“CBGBs first, or straight home? Well, duh, dancing first. A candle is most beautiful when it burns brightly at both ends.” She inserted the key into the slot on her upper arm cuff, taking a moment to admire the filigree at the top, spelling out her gran’s name, another family legend:
She twisted the key and shimmered out of sight, just missing Angel storming across the yard to bounce off the open back door.
A/N: It’s all the fault of Rahirah! She’s the one bringing up the tantalizing idea of all-powerful Mary Sues with violet hair and eyes. I am powerless to resist her siren call! I'm not the only one to succumb to BarbC's nefarious non-prompt. gabrielleabelle answered with a perfectly perfect example, Cooler Than You. My own Mary Sue turned out to be a pacifist who likes cultural history and sitting around talking, which I suspect is awfully close to what Barb was trying to warn against. Still: fuchsia hover boots!