Chp 6 Instincts
Future Imperfect by Lilachigh
Chp. 6 Instinct
Buffy stared out of the window at her grandson. Billy and Joyce were still sitting on the swing, which was moving quite fast without them seeming to do a thing to help it along.
“Why do you think he’s so dangerous?” she asked, bewildered. “Shanny says he’s the only one who can keep Joyce under control most of the time. That’s why she sent him up here to us with his sister. She said on the phone that Billy calms his twin down when she gets worked up. That’s a good thing, surely?”
Spike was absentmindedly eating chilli straight out of the saucepan. He cast a glance at his wife. Even after all these years, she still looked beautiful to him. She was forty-seven but the short jagged hair that curved round her face was still blonde with just a touch of gilt in it. The amazing miracle that was his share of the Shanshu prophecy could still catch him unawares sometimes. They would grow old together – and if she died first, then he would just walk outside and let the sun take him, minutes later.
“That’s weird in itself, pet. Think about it – Shanny has always wanted to be a normal girl, living a normal life. She’s been quite determined that we had nothing to do with the twins – in case we contaminated them in some way, I suppose – No listen!” He held up a hand as Buffy went to speak – “Being normal has always been Shanny’s overwhelming desire in life. I know that. You know that. So, we give her normal, then she discovers that she’s given birth to a daughter who at eight years old is a more powerful witch even than Willow. She freaks out and sends her to us – the enemy. But why send Billy, the boy who apparently is completely normal. Who has no powers whatsoever?”
Buffy automatically removed the saucepan from his grasp. “So they’d be company for each other?”
Spike shook his head. “I think it was instinct, luv. OK, Shanny might not have any actual powers – or if she has, she’s buried them so deep they’ll never emerge. But don’t forget she’s lived with vampires and demons, slayers and witches all her life. She has instincts and I reckon it’s her instincts that made her send us Billy as well as Joyce. Deep down, she knows there’s something different about him as well.”
Buffy shut her eyes for a long second. The last twenty-four years of her life had give her some of the happiest and most of the tragic times of her whole existence. She could still remember the blinding joy when the Shanshu prophecy had made her life with Spike perfect. Not a morning had passed in all those years when the first thought in her head on waking hadn’t been, “Spike’s mine until we both die!”
And on the other side of the coin, she had lost her daughter, lost Shanny, the miracle baby she’d never thought they’d have. And it had all been her fault! She should never have sent her away, sent her to live in California without her parents…
Outside in the yard, Joyce made the swing lurch higher. She was hungry and wondered when Granny would serve up some supper. She knew she was making chilli and it was ages since lunch.
“They’re talking about us again,” Billy said suddenly.
Joyce answered inside her head, because it was so much easier than speaking actual words. “You shouldn’t listen! That’s rude!”
Billy shrugged. “You’re the only person who knows I can do it! You’re just jealous because you can’t hear them.”
Joyce jerked the swing with her mind and giggled as her twin nearly fell off into the grass. “Why don’t you tell everyone you can do things, too?” she asked suddenly out loud. “You always pretend to be ordinary. But you’re not any more, are you? You’re more like me. But no one knows. That’s not fair. Mom and Granny and Grandad all yell at me, but not you.”
Billy glanced sideways at his twin. He often wandered around inside her mind – it was like his in some ways, but she was a girl and everything was sort of messy and untidy in there. She could do incredible things, but didn’t know how or why.
He could recall the exact moment, six months ago, when something inside his own head – he called it a door, but it wasn’t really – had clicked open and he’d walked through and become a different Billy. On the outside he knew he was still the Billy his Mom and Dad knew – who played baseball and made model aeroplanes and wanted to be a space pilot when he grew up.
But inside – the different Billy now knew what to tell Joyce, knew where to look for answers to her questions. Taught her to speak inside her head, not out loud. Kept her from doing really stupid things with her powers, like making her favourite football team win just because she liked the colour of their helmets better. Went with her to the weird worlds she could move between without any trouble.
It had been interesting listening to Granny and Grandad and cool that Grandad was a vampire. He wondered if that was why he couldn’t get inside his head yet. Granny’s was easy – he listened now, yes, she was thinking she hadn’t made enough chilli but she would have had enough if Spike hadn’t ate so much already, and it was her fault that Shanny hated them, they should never have sent her away, but at the time it had seemed the right thing to do, and oh – no, Spike, there’s no time, the children will be in soon – ” And then it all went blurry red and purple and he shook his head crossly. Granny and Grandad were always blanking out like that.
“If I tell people, they’re going to be all funny about it. I think – ” he cast a sideways look at his sister – “I think they’d split us up and make me live somewhere else.”
Joyce shrugged and pulled a face. “That’s silly! I’d just make myself to where you were. They couldn’t stop me.”
“They don’t know that. And anyway, there might be spell or a charm or something we don’t know about. Old Uncle Giles might know one.”
Joyce pushed her scuffed trainers against the ground and spun the swing round in a circle. Sometimes actually doing things made her feel better than making them happen by her thoughts. Like swinging out here in the yard, or eating popcorn or shaking the Coke bottles up so the brown fizz splattered everywhere.
“What Granny said – you know about Grandad being a vampire and Uncle Giles being her Watcher person? That’s weird. He‘s so old.”
Billy struggled to find the words he needed. He had to admit it was odd to think of Granny being young and Uncle Giles fighting and helping defeat evil. When he came to visit from England, he bought them boring books and never talked about anything interesting. He spent most of his time with Mom and Dad, giving them advice about their boring plants.
Suddenly he felt bored. All the talk about magic was so dull. Magic was just – there! He didn’t know why everyone made such a fuss about it. Being able to hear what people were thinking was much more interesting. Except – he pulled a face – usually it wasn’t! His sister was the only person he’d met so far who had fun things happening in her head.
“Bet I could climb that tree higher than you!”
“Bet you couldn’t.”
“You mustn’t cheat! No flying!”
“Ssshhh!” Joyce said crossly. “They don’t know about that yet!”
In the kitchen, Buffy broke from Spike’s burning embrace that still had the power to make her legs go weak. She wondered briefly what right she had to have such a love in her life.
The rest of the Scoobies – Willow, drifting from relationship to relationship after Kennedy’s death in the first week of the European Demon Wars, still seeing Oz occasionally but refusing to accept that they had any future together. Was she happy? Buffy doubted it.
Xander – married to Regan, Kennedy’s younger sister. They seemed content. He phoned occasionally, they exchanged e-mails and Christmas cards and she was godmother to his oldest daughter, Anna. Xander had grown fat. He and Regan rubbed along together, but sometimes when she was in their company, Buffy felt she was listening to a Xander who was acting the role of happily married husband and father. The real Xander was still wandering around the remains of the Sunnydale Hellmouth, searching….
Buffy had been desperately hurt when Shanny had allowed both Willow and Xander to visit the twins, but not her own parents. She knew they’d had to promise not to talk about anything weird or magical in front of the children.
Well, that had really helped, hadn’t it?!
She returned to the kitchen window at the two children she loved so dearly. They were scrambling up a big tree at the edge of the back yard, laughing and fighting like any other brother and sister.
Shanny had sent them to her, asking for help. Spike’s revelations about Billy had made her feel scared. He was seldom wrong where the demon world was concerned.
“So you think Billy is some sort of demon?” she whispered.
Spike’s arm wrapped tightly round her waist. “I never said he was any sort of demon, pet,” he said swiftly. “I just said he was dangerous. I think – although I can’t prove it – I think he’s mind reading us. Well, you and Joyce, definitely. I can feel him trying to get inside my head, but vampires have more protection against that sort of thing than humans.”
“But Spike, how could they have such powers? Shanny was never – oh God, I wish we’d kept her with us! We should never have sent her away. We never really knew what she felt and did for those three years in Los Angeles - ”
* * * * * * * *
Shanny Summers gazed at her reflection in her bedroom mirror. OK, she was fifteen today, but she knew she looked a lot older. These clothes weren’t the sort she would normally wear, but it was her birthday – a day she always hated – a day when for some reason, she always felt rebellious.
The tight red top emphasised her breasts and her short skirt showed yards of smooth bronzed leg. She pulled a face at her reflection, knowing her Dad would have a major fit if he could see her now. As for her Mom – well, she probably wouldn’t care. Anyway, they were in London, not here in L.A. She’d seen them three times in two years. They didn’t know who she was.
She sat on the bed and surveyed the array of presents that had arrived for her. Jewellery – okay but a bit boring, nothing she could wear so her friends could see it – Cds, gift tokens, money, the sort of presents you’d send to a favourite niece, she thought coldly, not your only daughter.
But they hadn’t phoned to say Happy Birthday! Oh, there’d be excuses and reasons. There always were. They’d have been out chasing something or someone. Killing or staking, glorying in what they did.
And it wasn’t as if she missed their call. When they phoned it was awkward: they both asked endless questions and she answered, but she couldn’t really speak to them. Yes, she was fine. Yes, she was doing OK at school. Yes, she was in the softball team. No, she didn’t have any boyfriends, but knew lots of boys. No, she hadn’t had any contact with any vamps or demons and yes, she would always carry a stake with her at all times and wear her cross…yahdda, yahdda, yahdda….
Did they really think she was deliberately going to go anywhere to meet a demon? That world was the last one she wanted to have anything to do with. She liked her new life. Liked being a normal girl at a normal school. She told her friends that her parents were in the diplomatic service and had to live abroad.
When her periods had started, she’d had to ask a friend at school what to do. There was no way she was going to tell the elderly Mr and Mrs Rosenberg, her godmother‘s parents.
They were elderly, sweet and vague, slightly bewildered that their daughter Willow wanted them to look after Shanny while she was living in America, but delighted to have a young girl in the house again. A young girl who wasn’t the slightest bit interested in spells, or magic or weirdness.
Shanny stood up and hesitated as she picked up her jacket. The Rosenbergs thought she was going to see a movie with David, their nephew. She liked David, a lot. He had dark curly hair and a cute grin. He wanted to be a lawyer and had no time for all the weirdness that his cousin Willow was into. Yes, David was the sort of boy she wanted to go out with. He was the sort of boy she would like to marry and have children with.
Shanny looked again at her reflection. Yes, she had a very clear idea of what she wanted her life to be. But – today she was fifteen and her parents hadn’t phoned her. She’d told herself she didn’t care, but was almost frightened at how angry she felt.
So she was going to a club tonight with some friends. It was one of the most popular in L.A. You had to be eighteen to get in, but she knew she looked that old, especially at night. Tomorrow she’d go to watch David play basketball – but tonight – she’d show her parents she didn’t care…
She flounced out of the house, and didn’t hear the phone ringing insistently in her bedroom or get to speak to the bitterly disappointed parents who’d had such trouble getting through to her.
* * * * * * *
The twins were very quiet over dinner. They looked tired and made no fuss when Buffy insisted they went to bed early.
Joyce crawled into bed and smiled up at Buffy as she smoothed her blonde hair that lay across the pillow. She wondered if she should mention the woman with the strange painted face who was now standing behind her Granny – but thought it would probably cause a fuss.
She shut her eyes and promptly fell fast asleep.
Buffy checked on Billy who was sprawled, starfish like across his bed, then went downstairs.
Spike was pouring himself a Scotch. “I’ve been thinking, pet.”
“Watch it! No, seriously, I think we need to speak to Shanny.”
“And tell her what? That we think her son is dangerous?”
“No.” He studied the amber liquid in his glass and looked up at her, his blue eyes as brilliant as they had been all those years before. “I want to know who the twins real father is!”
To be continued
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