Buffy dropped the shopping bags into the car and ran to face the vampire that was advancing on her mother. Joyce had turned at Buffys shout, she saw the demonic creature coming at her. Before Buffy could reach them she stopped shocked as Joyce launched a perfect side kick which shattered the vampires right knee. She followed up with a two handed punch as the vampire stumbled then pulled a stake from her purse and ended its cursed existence.
"Wh..." Buffy stood, stake still in hand, not quite sure if what she thought she just saw was what she actually just saw, "Buh...".
Joyce, herself, seemed somewhat shocked but recovered enough to guide Buffy to the tail gate of the car and sit them both down. They sat in silence and the gathering dark for some minutes.
"Did you just do what I saw you just do?" Buffy eventually regained the power of speech.
"I think so."
"But how?" Buffy turned to her mother.
"Well, " Joyce suddenly turned and reached into the bags that Buffy had dropped into the car and produced two apples. She offered one to Buffy who waved it away. Joyce took a bite of her apple and chewed for a moment. "When you went away to college I had some free time on my hands so I started taking self defence classes at the Y. It seems I've got a bit of a knack for it so the instructor suggested I might want to join his Aikido class. I thought better safe than sorry so I've been doing it for about 6 months now, 2 or 3 times a week."
Joyce finished her apple and placed the core into a litter bag. "You sure you don't want this apple?" Buffy shook her head. Joyce shrugged and started on the second apple, "Don't know why but I've just come over all hungry."
"How did you know how to..." Buffy asked, not really sure how to continue.
"Whilst I was at Mr Giles' reading the watchers diaries I found a couple of other books 'The Slayers Handbook' and a training manual. They covered the basics then I asked Mr Giles and he talked me through it."
"I am so going to have words with Giles! He did tell me you were training with him." Buffy seemed a little upset, but pride in her mother crept into her voice.
"I asked him not to, I didn't want you to worry and it's not like I'm going on patrol or anything. Just in case I ever needed to, I'd be ready." Joyce put her arm around Buffys shoulders and hugged her and said with a little pride "Seemed to work quite well, really."
"Don't want to rain on your parade, mom, but from the look of him he probably only rose this evening so he'd probably still be very weak. Wakefield cemetery is just around the corner, he's probably from there." Buffy looked at her mother, "First rate slay tho'. How do you feel? It was your first wasn't it?".
"Yes it was my first. I'm feeling good. I think we should head home. Your friends will be worried." Joyce looked down at herself "And I need to change."
"Yep, vamp dust. Gets everywhere but a 40 degree wash with biological powder gets it right out."
"I have been doing your laundry you know!" Joyce replied with a laugh.
Buffy laughed as they closed the tail gate and each went to their door and got in. Joyce started the engine and pulled away.
"The stakes on I found in your room whilst I was tidying up. I hope you don't mind."
"No problems," Buffy replied, "I've got plenty of spares. I'll talk you through the rest of the slayers weapon catalogue sometime if you like."
"Sure!" her mother replied as she turned onto their driveway, "Will you put the shopping in the kitchen whilst I get changed?"
Buffy nodded then retrieved the bags from the back of the car and carried them into the house. After putting them on the kitchen table she walked into the living room. Willow and Tara were both sitting on the settee, or to be more precise Willow was stretched out flicking through a magazine with her feet resting on Taras lap. Tara was reading a book in between caressing Willows feet and calfs. Across the room Giles was studiously reading another magazine feigning obviousness to Willow and Taras minor intimacy.
Willow looked up "Hi! Do something happen? Your mother came in, said 'Hi' then practically ran up stairs."
"We had a little trouble of the vampy kind, she has to change her clothes."
Willow sat up and swung her feet to the floor. Giles and Tara both looked up.
"What happened? Are you both OK? Did you slay it?" Giles asked.
"It came out of the bushes whilst we were loading some groceries into the car. We're both fine, if a bit shaken. And I didn't slay it, mom did. It seems you have something to tell me." Buffy fixed her watcher in a glare.
"Ah, well. Yes." Giles removed his glasses and began to clean them with a handkerchief, "Your mother asked me not to mention anything, we didn't want you to worry."
"What's going on Giles?" Willow asked feeling that she was missing something.
"Joyce has been taking self defence lessons and asked me for some advice on what to do if she was attacked by a vampire. I suggested run but showed her how to use a stake just in case." Giles replied turning to her. He turned back to Buffy, "She also convinced me to let her see some of the watcher diaries."
"She mentioned. But, Giles, you should have seen her. No hesitation. Kick, bam, poof. Ok, so it was only a newbie, but still. That vamp never knew what hit him." Buffys pride in her mother was unmistakable.
"I'm sure I was just lucky." Joyce supplied as she walked down the last few stairs "Who would like something to drink?"
"Juice please mom."
"Juice for me please Mrs Summers."
"W-water please Mrs Summers. I'll give you a hand carrying."
"Tea, if it wouldn't be too much trouble, please Joyce."
"OK, I think I got that." Joyce said as she walked to the kitchen, Tara got up and followed her.
In the kitchen Joyce filled the kettle and put in on to boil. Behind her Tara began to unpack the shopping and put it away. As Joyce laid out the cups and glasses for everyone's drinks she considered the scene that had greeted her when she first walked in and put it together with some comments that Buffy had made.
"M-Mrs Summers?" Taras voice came from behind her. Joyce turned to see Tara holding up a packet of whole wheat pasta.
"Oh. Top shelf on the right" Joyce indicated the appropriate place. She continued "So you and Willow are... Together?"
Tara stiffened as she brought her arm down from placing the pasta on the shelf. She waited for the next comment.
Joyce noticed Tara tense up and deduced the reason, she stepped up behind Tara, place a hand on her shoulder and turned Tara to face her. "Hey, there's no need to worry. Willow has been such a help to Buffy over the years that I just want to make sure she's happy. From what I've seen today she's happy with you."
Tara smiled shyly, Joyce smiled back.
"I just wish that Buffy could find someone to make her that happy." Joyce continued, "Her first boyfriend was a quarter back who couldn't string two words let alone a coherent sentence together, we move here and she goes on one date with someone called Owen who appears quiet and nice at first but then gets arrested for starting bar fights. Next she starts dating Angel which is fine until he goes all soulless on us as soon as she sleeps with him, oh by the way she doesn't know I know the details of that so I'd appreciate if you didn't tell her."
Tara nodded, a little shocked at Joyces candour.
"So she gets all mopey over that situation until we have a big fight and she runs off for a few months. Even when he's back and has his soul she's still all depressed. In the end I have a talk with him and we come to the conclusion that they're just hurting each other and he heads of to LA. Now she's with some all American super commando who has psycho written all over him and she's carrying his child!"
The kettle began to boil. Joyce turned to the work surface and warmed the teapot before turning back to Tara. "Sorry to unload like that. It's just a relief to have someone who's one the inside, so to speak, to talk to."
"So y-your OK with me and Willow?"
"Oh that would never be an issue. My college roommate for my Sophomore through Senior years was a, well she used to call herself a Dyke. I still keep contact with her actually. She's living in New York. She's a doctor and her lover's an artist, quite a successful one actually. I managed to get some of her work for our gallery and it sold within a couple of days."
Joyce finished making the drinks and loaded up two trays. Handing one to Tara she said "Well we'd better get back in there."
When Joyce and Tara had left the living room Buffy turned to Giles, "So Giles what's it like having Tara in your spare room?"
"Delightful. I hadn't realised that one of your generation could be so polite and quiet." he replied with a grin, "She keeps herself to herself. It can be a bit difficult to get her to say what she actually wants, it's a good thing Willow had told me her dietary preferences first. She does have a wonderful sense of humour tho'."
Buffy raised her eyebrows "Go on?".
"Well when I came home the other night she had the television on and was watching 'Monty Python' on PBS. I could hear her reciting every line word perfect in time with the sketches. We got to talking and she told me about the talent show she was involved in in her junior year at high school."
Willow nodded "Yeah, she told me about that as well. Had me in tears."
Buffy looked confused "Tara was on stage? I thought she was like super shy."
Giles replied "She wrote a sketch for some of her friends to perform. She showed me it then did a read through."
"Same for me" put in Willow then affected a deep voice "'Why are you wearing that?'" and collapsed in giggles.
"What's so funny?" asked Joyce as she stepped back into the living room with a tray laden with drinks and a plate of cookies. Tara followed close behind her.
"Giles and Willow were just talking about a sketch Tara wrote." Buffy replied.
Tara blushed then sat next to Willow. Willow hugged her closely. Buffy looked at her mother with a raised eyebrow. Joyce returned the look with a clear message of 'Yes, and?'.
"So in case Buffy hasn't mentioned it the clinic confirmed that she is pregnant and they've set up some appointments and given us a stack of leaflets to run through." Joyce said to the room at large.
"Well anything we can do, we're there." Willow placed her hand on Buffys arm. Tara nodded and placed her hand next to Willows.
"Of course." Giles affirmed his support for his slayer.
"I suppose we'd better start sorting stuff out. Like where I'm going to live next year." Buffy said "Can I even stay in college?"
"I'm this isn't the first time it's happened that a college girl has become pregnant. We'll phone them first thing Monday." Joyce comforted her daughter.
Tara looked up "There was a girl in my English class this year who found out she was pregnant half way through second semester. She's staying on. Apparently they have this programme where so long as you get your assignments in on time and keep at least a C average they'll help you work your schedule around the pregnancy. I think you can have 6 weeks off totally for the birth and catch up later. There's a creche as well, I volunteer there sometimes. They're really keen on women not losing out."
"Great well that's that sorted. Thanks for the info Tara. I thought I was going to have to drop out for a year or so."
"Oh you can do that as well if you'd prefer."
"No. I want to stay in college. But... Can we afford it?" Buffy turned to her mother.
"I'm sure we will. The gallery's doing really well, we've got really well established. Anyhow, let's not decide anything till we hear what Riley's plans are." Joyce glanced at the TV guide that was open on the table, "Oh look. 'Meaning of Life' is just starting on the comedy channel."
Later Buffy waved goodbye to her friends as they got into Giles' car, Giles was going to drop Willow at her parents house then he and Tara were going to his town house. Buffy could hear Tara correcting Willow on the words to 'The Galaxy Song'.
"No. Itís 'Are moving at a million miles a day, in an outer spiral arm, at forty thousand miles an hour, of the galaxy we call the Milky Way'."
Buffy closed the door as the car pulled off. She claimed the stairs and looked into her mothers bedroom where Joyce was getting ready for bed.
"Big day" Joyce said turning to her.
"Sure was. So you know about Willow and Tara?"
"Yes. They seem quite happy together."
"They are. You're not freaked or anything?"
"No. They're happy. Tara and I had a little chat in the kitchen, I think Willows very lucky. Tara obviously cares about her very much."
"Yes, Willow cares about Tara a lot too. I think they're well matched. " Buffy yawned "Well I'd better hit the sack. Night.".
Buffy went into her own bedroom and climbed between the sheets. She turned out the lamp and prepared for sleep. Briefly the events of the day ran through her mind before tiredness over took her and the last thing she thought before slipping into the arms of morpheous was "And pray that there's intelligent life somewhere up in space, 'cos there's bugger all down here on earth.".