Title: The Babysitter
Author: Azure K Mello
Thanks to Katherine for the beta
Summery: Angel is a young art student at SU. He really shouldn't want his tutor's angry teenage son but something's can't be avoided.
Thank you to Snowpuppies for the plot bunny inspired by the amazing story On the Other Side.
Disclaimer: I own shoes and very little else.
He was scared. He had grown up on the Hellmouth; had slain a vampire when he was thirteen. The fear of Darkness had never been a problem for Angel. Even as a child he had owned the night. As his friend Willow said, he was a pedestrian in the know and knowledge was power. Both his parents had been killed by vampires. He had become a vigilante, seeking vengeance and restitution for his parents. The idea of people being eaten turned his stomach.
But now he was frightened in broad daylight. The task in front of him was the most daunting yet. Three times already he had faced this same challenge, yet it never got easier. Stepping up to the threshold, he girded up his loins and rang the doorbell. Joyce opened the door looking haggard. Xander was, as always, glued to her hip, sucking his thumb. The three year old instantly reached out to his babysitter, "Ngel!"
"Hi, Xander," said Angel with a long suffering sigh as he took the child from his mother, "How was preschool today?"
"We sang the alf-bet song and I cried at naptime!"
Smiling at the unfounded enthusiasm Angel replied, "Wow, that's exciting!"
"I di'n't wanna sleep!"
"No," Angel ruffled the boy's hair, "I bet you didn't."
"Thank you for this, Angel," Joyce's voice was always a mix of quite laugher and tinkling glass.
With a slight shrug the boy said, "Hey, I owe you. We're gonna have fun tonight. Aren't we, Xan?"
It was true. He did owe her. Joyce owned and art gallery/store. As an art student at SU Angel had sought her out as a tutor for his art history class. Having very few "liquid funds," he had tried to sort out a payment plan with her. He explained that he got the cheque from his parents' estate on the fourth of every month and wanted to know if he could pay her on the seventh once it had cleared into his account. The woman had laughed and told him that he could pay by babysitting her three kids once a week. Quickly he had agreed. He had no idea what he was signing on for.
She told him that her oldest, Will, was never home. At age 17 he was in a rock band. And while he was rarely home he somehow managed to make the whole place gloomy when he was there. He was in that awkward stage of adolescence wherein he hated everyone yet was angry when people didn't like him. Easily bored, his favourite thing to do seemed to be winding his brother up. He would whisper into Xander's ears and suddenly the little boy would have a litany of questions for the college student while the blond would slink off with a smirk.
And then there was Liz. The 11 year old was the stereotypical "preteen" girl. She spent hours on the phone discussing. . . nothing really. Will could make her cry in ten seconds flat and took great pleasure in doing so. She would go into moods and not talk to anyone for hours. And, most annoyingly of all, she had a crush on Angel that was roughly the size of Texas.
But Xander was an angel. An annoying, often sticky, angel. And the babysitter loved him. With a smile ha ran his fingers through thick brown curls. The boy's mother spoke again, "Rupert will be home in a few minutes. I'm going to shower. We're going to an Italian place in town. I know it's a hassle-"
"Honestly," Angel said blithely with an indulgent smile towards the woman, "What else would I be doing on a Friday night?" He knew how stupid it sounded the second it was out of his mouth.
"Partying, on a date, studying for your test on Impressionism?" offered Joyce.Laughing Angel said, "That reminds me-"
"Sunday brunch good for you?" He nodded, "Espresso Pump, we'll make use of your employ's discount?"
"Thank you so much, Joyce. . . so where are the others?"
"Liz is doing her nails and Will. . . might be doing his," she hazarded a guess as to the actions of her eldest son. "He has practice tonight."
"Ok. Xan, ya wanna go to Chucky-Cheese's?"
"Cool," he looked back to Joyce, instantly slipping into adult mode. "Bedtime?"
Pointing at the toddler Joyce said, "Seven thirty." Pointing in the general direction of Liz's room she said, "Ten. And as for Will? Well your guess is as good as mine. He has to be home by one but you'll be long gone by then. It's," she looked at her watch, " four thirty now. We're going to the mall to do some Christmas present shopping and then going on to dinner so we'll be back by eleven at the very latest."
"Hey," Angel shrugged, "take your time and enjoy your night off." Angel's demeanor was always so quite and laidback, but there was an underlying intensity that confused and scared Joyce. She trusted him with her children. He turned away as she started up the stairs. With one ear she listened to the pair.
"Wanna go build something with blocks and then kick it over?"
"First we have to talk to Liz. Until she comes down what'll we do?"