Word Count 760 words
Character: Joyce Summers
A/N: They also serve, who stay and cook ... a "mother" themed fic, written for still_grrr prompt #65.
When the knock came at the door Joyce Summers glanced at the clock, and realized she was already running late. The short winter days always fooled her – her body told her the sun should be up by now.
The teenage boy who stood at her door wore a Sunnydale High letterman’s jacket and a big smile. “Mrs. Summers?”
Okay, too old for Dawn, but a bit too young for Buffy. Actually a lot too young, she admitted to herself with an inward sigh. “Yes, hello.” She tried to sound friendly, but faltered for a moment when she saw a stake carelessly left on the hallway table, almost within the boy’s view. The girls really needed to start picking up after themselves.
“I’m Robert. From Buffy’s economics class? Is she home?”
“No, I’m sorry, Robert – she had to run an errand for me.” His jeans were torn, and his shoes dirty. If he thought either the grunge look or the jacket would impress her daughter, he was in for a rude awakening.
He blinked. “Wow, it’s kind of early.”
“It sure is.” Actually, it’s way late. “And what are you doing out so early?”
Looking away, Robert took an embarrassed breath. “Well, the truth is I lost my notes from the class, and we have a quiz today. I was kind of hoping she’d give me a copy of her notes.”
“Ah, I see.” Kids today. “Well, she should be home any minute, now.” The aroma of coffee wafted in from the kitchen, reminding Joyce that she needed to get the toast going soon. When had she become so domesticated? Sometimes she thought of herself as being Robert’s age, but then she’d have to punish Dawn, or work on the bills, or wash blood from Buffy’s blouse, and she suddenly felt very, very old.
“Do you mind if I come in and wait?” Robert said, flashing that smile again. Oh, for the day when Joyce would have thought of that smile as sexy, instead of cute.
“Oh, Robert, the place is such a mess …” Suddenly Joyce realize she still had that dishtowel over her shoulder. With a sigh, knowing it didn’t matter to a teenage boy one way or another, she pulled it off and folded it, placing it carefully on the hallway table.
“Oh, don’t worry Mrs. Summers, my house is a mess, too – I won’t tell anyone.”
“No, of course you won’t.” She gave him an apologetic look.
“So … can I?”
“I don’t know – can you?”
Robert stared at her, looking confused.
If only she had more time. It seemed like there was never enough time, was there? She had to finish breakfast, and there was a new shipment coming in to the gallery, and she’d been feeling under the weather … there just wasn’t time to accomplish anything. “Well, I just can’t bear to leave a poor soul standing at my doorstep. Are you hungry, Robert?”
“You bet I am,” he said, grin widening.
“I thought so.” She stepped toward him, and for just a second Robert wore a look of triumph, as if he’d outsmarted the world.
Then he stepped back, staring down at the stake buried in his chest. And to think her father had criticized her for spending too much time learning those sleight of hand tricks as a child; if only he could see how easily she’d scooped the stake up without being seen.
“I’m so sorry.” She shut the door in his dissolving face, to keep the dust from coming inside. She’d have to sweep the front porch later, but for now she had to get the day started.
As the toast popped up a few minutes later Dawn came bounding down the stairs, being her usual exuberant self. A few minutes after that a bruised and bone weary Buffy came through the kitchen door. The two commenced bickering immediately, even as they teamed up to set the table, and they only stopped when Joyce placed a plate of scrambled eggs between them.
Between bites Buffy grumbled, “I had a chance at a newbie last night, but he got away from me. Mom, do you remember Robert Thrace? You met him and his mom at the school orientation.”
“Thrace! That was his last name.” Joyce covered a sudden heavy-hearted feeling with a sip of coffee. “Oh, his poor mother.”
She caught a look exchanged between her daughters. “Is there anything you want to tell me?” Buffy asked.
Joyce just shook her head. “Nothing important, dear – you’ve got enough to worry about.”