Mutant Enemy Television, Inc. owns pretty much everything within the Angel/Buffy universe. My use is in no way meant to challenge any established copyrights. This piece is not intended for any profit on the part of the writer, nor is it meant to detract from the commercial viability of the aforementioned or any other copyright. Any similarity to any events or persons, either real or fictional, is unintended.
Author's Note: This is a spin-off idea I had awhile back, maybe early on during the final BtVS season. I was hoping that this is the direction in which ME would go, but thus far it seems they're letting these characters ride off into the sunset. Far be it from me to emulate the possible wisdom of Whedon et al.
Janna pulled her pillow closer over her ears, attempting to drown out the sounds of her parents arguing in the kitchen. Unfortunately, the kitchen was located directly beneath her room, so she was meeting with little success. She wished she could turn on her stereo, just crank the volume until there was no way to hear herself, much less her parents. But she knew enough to realize that blasting Limp Bizkit would only make her situation worse – her parents had reached the end of their respective ropes trying to deal with her sudden "rebellious phase." What was worse, they'd taken the unprecedented step of calling for outside assistance.
Almost as if fate was toying with her, Janna heard the doorbell ring. The heavy chime resounded through the old Victorian home, each clang of the bells turning her stomach over the slightest bit. The doctor, she cursed silently. Like I need a doctor. There's nothing wrong with me. Why am I the only one who realizes that there's nothing different?
Despite her desire to ignore everything that was going on downstairs, Janna found herself straining to hear every sound, every word. The doctor. This was the last thing she needed right now.
"Hello, doctor," she heard her mother say as she pulled the front door open. It was her "Mrs. van der Haas, Upstanding Pillar of Society" voice. It was the voice Janna hated, perhaps the only thing about her mother that she truly hated. She remembered having asked her mother about it when she'd been a child. They were at a restaurant for something – she was reasonably certain it was her father's birthday, but maybe it had been Father's Day – and Mr. And Mrs. Royce from down the block had stopped by their table to say hello and coo over Janna's sister, Melanie, who was still a newborn at the time. Janna had noticed her mother's voice switch from the caring, motherly voice she'd always used around the house. She was suddenly louder, more energetic, and she seemed to settle a constant smile on her face. As Janna grew up she came to realize that this was the façade her mother always wore in public, but that day she'd been left completely confused as her mother appeared to instantly become a different person.
As soon as Mr. And Mrs. Royce had walked away (even at the age of three Janna had understood that there was a time and place to ask questions, and neither of them was while her parents were speaking to other grownups… she momentarily abandoned her reverie to wonder when she'd decided to disregard that lesson), Janna had asked her mother why she sounded different speaking to other grownups. Her mother had simply answered that grownups spoke to each other differently than they spoke to children.
Janna suddenly realized that perhaps learning that different mode of speaking would have helped her avoid her recent troubles. Ever since the morning of the accident she'd been accused of being willful, disobedient, disruptive, and even (her own mother somehow gasped as she accused Janna) of being a juvenile delinquent.
And none of it was ever my fault, Janna seethed. Why can't anyone ever see that? At what point did they all stop giving me the benefit of the doubt?
"My, you are young," her mother said ever so politely to the doctor. "You're a doctor?"
"Not exactly," an unfamiliar voice replied. "I've spent years studying, but I have yet to perform my internship, as it were." Janna could hear a significant degree of self-doubt in the man's voice. Insecure and also not really a doctor, she noted. Maybe this won't be so bad after all.
"And you're not English," her father commented bluntly, almost accusatorily. Janna almost laughed at her father's words. He'd been telling – assuring, actually – everyone he knew that he and his wife had a handle on Janna's recent problems. He explained that they'd contacted a European foundation that specialized in young women with Janna's problem. Whatever problem that is… Her father had used the uncomfortable embarrassment of her behavior to somehow further their own image by going to the expense of retaining the services of a European foundation. Janna almost giggled as she listened to her father try to figure out he'd ended up with a young American who wasn't even a doctor yet.
"Well, our foundation has recently lost many of its members," the young man explained. "There was a… fire… at our headquarters, and unfortunately many of our most distinguished people were killed."
"Oh, that's awful," Janna's mom responded, predictably inserting the absolutely perfect combination of pity and horror at the thought.
"And then recent events have led us to identify several recent cases of girls with…" his voice trailed off as he seemed to search for the proper diplomatic word. Janna almost felt sorry for the non-doctor. No on really deserved the fate of unexpectedly being grilled by her parents. "With this problem," he finally forced out.
"Yes, of course," Janna's father muttered. "So you're not a doctor."
"But you've studied in Europe?"
"Not exactly," the young man answered. Janna literally bit her lip to suppress a whoop of joy. She hadn't expected this to be fun.
"Not exactly?" Her father was definitely starting to get irritated. He could imagine what he'd be saying later. "They shouldn't be suggesting that they provide European doctors, not when they have inexperienced Americans working for them. If I wanted inexperienced Americans, all I'd have to do is step outside. There're lots of them about. I want the best for my daughter, and they aren't delivering what they promised."
"I studied in California," the young man said.
"You see, most of my education came in the field, not in a classroom," the young man explained.
"I don't understand," her father muttered. "Are you saying you haven't gone to college?"
"Not as such."
"Then how in god's name are you a doctoral candidate?" he father roared. "Just what kind of operation are you people running, anyway?"
"If you would allow me to explain…"
"Oh, I can't wait to hear this," her father seethed.
"You see, our foundation doesn't simply recruit academics, people with no real-world experience," he said. "While I wasn't in college, I was studying under one of our most distinguished teachers, and he was working with a particularly noteworthy case. I learned more in the real world than I ever would have learned in a classroom, and I am considered one of the top people in the field."
"Is that so?" her father challenged.
"It is." Guy seemed to have grown a backbone all of a sudden, Janna noticed. She wished she'd been downstairs – she would have loved to see the look on her father's face. She could imagine the creased look on his brow, the stare he would have settled on their guest. She could almost feel the waves of anger rolling off her father, she could almost--
"Janna, come down here!" she heard her mother yell impatiently. She recognized another of her mother's many voices – the disciplinarian. She instinctively knew that her mother must have called her several times already, and that she was somehow so lost in thought that she hadn't heard her.
"Coming!" she yelled as she stood up and checked herself in the mirror. Just in case he's cute, she told herself. After all, he's apparently pretty young.
She bounded down the stairs two at a time, then tore around the banister post and through the parlor, arriving at the front door and setting her gaze on the doctor. Or not, she corrected herself. I guess he's actually just the professional, or something. But not a doctor.
"This is Janna," he mother said with a wave in her direction. Janna looked at the man, skimming over his well-developed frame and sleek dark hair, settling immediately on the eye patch that reminded her of any number of pirates she'd seen in late-night B-movies. "And Janna, this is Doctor… ahhhhh… Mr. Harris."
"Hi," Janna muttered, still unable to tear her gaze away from the eye patch. "I mean, umm… hi, Mr. Harris."
"Call me Xander," he corrected her. "Just Xander is okay for now."To be continued…………………………………………