Faith the Vampire Slayer:
1. The Awkward Dinner Party
Giles had taken far longer to get ready that Faith had, fussing about wanting to look nice, but not stodgy; parental, but not overly strict. Finally, the Slayer snapped, "Three piece suits are not casual! I don't care what color it is."
Her Watcher paused in his muttering. "I'm sorry. I just…Is it weird that I'm nervous about meeting your friends' parents?"
"Nah. Not really. You're a single, first-time parent. That's fairly terrifying on its own. Now, you're gonna be scrutinized by 'normal' people." Faith made air quotes around the word normal. "Just relax and remember: none of us come from a Leave it to Beaver home. Red comes the closest, and she sees you more than she does her folks."
Giles nodded and bit his lip. "So is that navy or charcoal." He pointed at the pair of jackets he had draped over the sofa.
"Argh!" Faith shouted at the ceiling. "Brown, you want to project a warm but professional image; just jeans and a jacket over a button-up with no tie."
"No tie?" he repeated.
"Or a light colored button up with a vest." Faith looked him straight in the eyes. "But, no. No tie."
Giles looked at his watch. "I really don't have time to go through my vests," he said as he trotted into his bedroom. He came out in a chocolate dress shirt and muted brown, tweed jacket. "Is this alright?"
Faith chuckled. "Perfect."
"Don't laugh. It's easy for you. You throw on a pair of trousers and any old blouse and off you pop."
The Slayer snorted and then burst out into a fit of giggles. "Yeah, 'coz girl clothes aren't complicated at all."
"Yours aren't," he stated, shifting his glasses. "I've seen the entirety of your wardrobe. Of all of the things, your collection of attire could be considered, complicated is not one of them."
Faith stared at him narrowed eyed for a moment. "You know what?" she shot at him. "Yeah, okay. I'll give you that one. But most other girls aren't me. And they have wardrobes that you have to have a degree to figure out. Just look at Queen C."
Giles snorted with laughter. "Yes, well. Right. Is that what you're wearing?"
"Yeah. Problem?" She was wearing dark, boot cut jeans and a moss green, bell-sleeved peasant top.
"No, it's…. it's fine." He took his glasses off and cleaned then. "Your shoes though. They're work boots."
"They're comfy and the laces match my shirt."
"Very well," Giles conceded.
Giles had brought a bottle of wine. He was regretting that now, sitting across the table from Xander's father. Tony was on his fourth glass, while the rest of the adults were still on their first.
Jessica Harris tried to distract from her husband's drinking. "Xander's grades have been so much better this term. He might actually graduate on time if this keeps up."
Xander looked down with a tight smile but said nothing.
"Just goes to show that the boy's been lazy," his father said.
"Actually," Giles interjected, "Xander is a kinesthetic learner. He just needed some help is all."
"Are you calling my boy a retard?" the man growled.
"Far from it," Giles said sternly. "Kinesthetic learning isn't a disability. He merely retains information better when he's active. Xander benefits from a hands-on education, rather than traditional lectures."
"Kind of weird, isn't it? A grown man hanging out with kids?" Tony grumbled.
"Giles doesn't 'hang out' with us, Mr. Harris," Willow said. "He's adult supervision."
"And you call him Giles and not Mr. Giles because?" Sheila asked.
"It's a British thing," Faith jumped in. "Uncle Rupert went to a boarding school. The teachers call you Mr. Giles, your friends call you Giles. People you're really close to get to use your first name. Like Ms. Calendar," she teased.
Giles blushed and stammered, "I, yes, well. This is excellent lasagna, Ira. I, uh, I wonder if I might get the recipe?"
"Yes, of course. Not much too to it really," Mr. Rosenberg replied. "I sautéd fennel seed with finely diced mushrooms, zucchini, and eggplant to substitute for meat. The marinara sauce is from scratch, but the jar stuff is just as good. Loads of cheese: four ounces of mascarpone, ricotta and parmesan, a half pound of provolone, and eight ounces of mozzarella. I'll Xerox the recipe card before dessert."
"Vegetarian? S'not real Italian, then," Tony snorted and reached for the wine bottle again.
Faith snatched it away. "You've had more than enough."
"Mind your business, y'little slut." He stood and tried to grab the bottle from her. She held it out of his reach.
"Tony, don't, please," his wife begged. "You're making a scene."
"We don't use that kind of language in this house," Ira stood as well. "You can either sit back down and conduct yourself like an adult or leave."
"Fine, I know what you all think of me," Tony spat. He stomped towards the door, his wife scurrying after. Tony turned at the archway connecting the dining room to the front hall. He looked at Xander and snapped, "Come on boy."
"No," the teen said. "I'm not getting in the car with you drunk. I've got too much to live for."
Tony growled and stormed back to the table. Xander stood to meet him. "Get your ass to the car, boy."
"Give mom the keys," Xander said, doing his level best to keep his voice from shaking. Tony was still a fairly large man. Xander stood at eye level, but the elder Harris still had a few pounds on him.
"You get to the car right now, or don't bother coming home."
"Fine. That's settled. I'd rather be homeless than live with a man that cares more about beer that his family," Xander shot back.
Tony cocked his fist back and struck at his son.
Xander had seen his father drunk so often that he have few memories of him otherwise. Thus when the blow came, he had years of knowledge and – thanks to Giles' tutelage – months of training to fall back on. His body remembered it all and reacted accordingly. Tony's meaty fist flew toward his head. Xander leaned to the side, letting the punch sail past his face.
Tony staggered and fell against the jamb, breathing heavily. He glared at Xander, rage in his bloodshot eyes. Xander, however, had had enough. Too long both he and his mother had been victim to his father's drunken tantrums. The episodes used to terrify him. No longer. Xander had seen the elephant as his friend Jesse would say. He'd been to war. He'd slain monsters. Clowns and alcoholics just didn't hold the same gut wrenching fear they used to.
Xander balled up his fists and struck back using precise shots Giles had taught him.
All the adults were yelling. Melissa and Sheila herded the other two girls into the kitchen. Giles had grabbed Faith to restrain her after she picked up a butter knife. He was cursing as the enraged slayer dragged him across the floor but couldn't seem to get close as Ira and Chris moved into separate Xander and his father.
There was no need to, as after Xander's return salvo the teen had stepped back. His arms were up and he bounced on the balls of his feet. Tony fell backward onto the carpet, dazed but not unconscious. Giles gave a small proud smile while the other men helped Jessica carry her husband to their car.
Faith tossed the butter knife back on the table. "I'll get you an ice pack."
"Don't bother. He missed," Xander said, patting her shoulder. He then turned to Giles. "I should have just gone with him. Not caused a fuss. I'm going to head home and hope this blows over."
Giles stepped over to the boy and placed both hands on his shoulders. "Nonsense. You did the right thing. You had valid safety concerns. You are worth more than his ego."
"What am I going to do, now?" Xander asked.
"Will he actual throw you out, once he's sobered up?" Giles questioned, checking the boy for injury.
"Yes. Maybe. I don't know. I don't know if I even want to go back. I…" Xander sighed. "It would just cause a lot of fighting because I'm not afraid of him anymore. I won't let him push me around."
"We'll think of something," Giles said confidently.
"We've got two spare rooms," Faith pointed out.
"I don't like the idea of you sleeping on the same floor as your boyfriend, call me old fashioned."
"You two sleep upstairs, I'll take over the master bedroom," Faith replied.
"I'm not giving up the master," Giles stated. Xander looked at the old man with wide pleading eyes. The librarian smiled mischievously and said, "But, it is summer, so he could sleep on the sun porch."
"Giles," Faith admonished.
"The point is, Xander, yes you can stay with us; if we can't find an acceptable alternative arrangement," Giles clarified.
Chris and Ira returned. "Is everyone okay in here?" Ira inquired.
"Yes," Giles informed him. "Nothing injured but one drunkard's pride. Provided he remembers this episode come morning."
"Willow, honey, I don't want you going over to the Harris's anymore. I know you and Xander are good friends, but I don't want you in that kind of environment," Ira told his daughter. "If you and Xander have to watch your holiday movies here, well, I'll just have to live with that."
"How did you know?" Willow asked.
"You weren't very good at subterfuge at six, sweetie. And you talk in your sleep." A sudden ding sent Mr. Rosenberg hurrying into the kitchen. "My cheesecake!"
"We can have dessert in the kitchen, once everyone is finished with dinner," Sheila decided. She grabbed the wine bottle off the table. "I'll just put on some coffee."
"Well, this is awkward," Mellissa said. "Maybe we should just go."
"But cheesecake," the four teens said in unison. They grinned at each other and burst into a fit of giggles.
The rest of the evening was rather pleasant. The teens congregated around the island in the kitchen and discussed summer plans. The adults leaned up against the counter and talked about their kids and Giles love life – much to his embarrassment.
As they were leaving Giles turned to their hosts and apologized, "I'm terribly sorry about what happened this evening. If I had had any idea …"
"It's not your fault, Rupert. Tony has always been a bit rough around the edges, losing his job didn't help any," Sheila said, patting his arm. "Bringing wine to a dinner party is just a thing people do." She shrugged.
"Let's not," Ira said. "We're all intelligent, mature people…"
"Speak for yourself," Faith piped up.
"Well, half of us are," he admitted. "My point is, we don't need to do what people do, just because it's what is done. We should do what's right for us."
"I don't care for wine," Melissa admitted.
"It all tastes the same to me," Sheila confided to her.
"I prefer a good stout myself, but that's hardly appropriate in front of the children," Giles said.
"So why is wine appropriate in front of them?" Sheila asked.
"Lower alcohol content, and in the past safer to drink than water," the librarian informed her.
"So, no more wine at the dinner parties," Chris said, turning to Giles. "Because in the twenty-first century, water if perfectly safe to drink," he added with a smile. Giles returned it. "It's Melissa's and my turn to bring something next time. What do we bring?" This gave the adults pause. Convention told them one thing but the experience was telling them another.
"How about a tub of French vanilla?" Faith asked. "Giles and I could make tarts or turnovers or something. That'd go great together."
"Perfect!" Chris grinned.
Giles drove Xander to his parents' house the next day. Tony was out on the lawn yelling and swearing. Jessica was in the doorway – with a black eye – throwing things at him. "It's a community property state, bitch, half of the house is mine."
"Alex's name is on the deed! My father never trusted you! And a good thing, too!" she shouted back. "I can't believe you hit my son!"
"Why not?" Xander spoke up, getting out of the Citroen. "He hits you often enough."
"This is all your fault!" Tony shouted, turning on Xander.
Giles hopped over the hood of his car in one swift and deft motion, stepping between the pair. "There will not be a repeat of last night." The Watcher reached out and grabbed the other man by the shirt. His grip was inverted so his large, square pinky ring rubbed against the underside of Tony's jaw. Giles pulled the other man close to him and lifted him until he was forced to stand on his toes. The surprise at the effortlessness at which the British gentleman was accomplishing the feat was absolute. Giles' voice was low and menacing as he explained, "If I find that you've struck Xander, or your wife again, I will not notify the authorities. I will find you and I will revisit the injuries upon you tenfold. Do I make myself clear?" Tony nodded and Giles shoved him away. "Good."
As Tony began gathering his belonging from the lawn, Jessica came out of the doorway and hugged her son. "I'm so sorry, Alex. I didn't realize he could be that much of a bastard."
Xander and his mom watched Tony throw his things into the back of the station wagon. He turned to the pair. "When you both realize what a huge mistake you've made, don't come crawling to me!" Tony slammed the driver's door.
"The only mistake we made was not throwing your ass out sooner," Xander shot back as his father reversed out of the driveway. As the teen watched the car disappear down the street his mother began to weep. He wrapped an arm around her shoulder. "Don't worry. I'll get a job and help pay the bills." Her only response was a simple nod as she continued to weep.
Giles ushered the pair into the house.
Author's Note: Faith the Vampire Slayer will be on hiatus while I finish writing season two. Thank you.