Title: The Arsonists Daughter
Author: Lint
Email: CrashDarby@aol.com
Part: 1/1
Pairing: B/X
Disclaimer: All Buffy folk belong to Joss, Mutant Enemy, and The WB.
Rating: PG-13
Summary: Buffy and Xander's daughter tells her tale.

***

Whenever someone sees, hears, or asks my name. "Aren't you the daughter of those people that burned down all those buildings a few years ago?" Always seems to follow.

I tell them yes. Yes it was my "crazy" parents who went on the pyromaniac's honeymoon all those years ago. Yes I go visit each of them in prison. No I'm not embarrassed by them. No I don't hate them. No I'm not ashamed of what they did. And yes, hard as it may be to believe, I still love them. They are my parents after all.

I usually get all of that out before the person or persons asking the question have a chance to respond to anything I've said. A chorus of blinking, blanks stares, and muttered apologies usually follows. Sometimes I can't help but smile at their fumbling after I've verbally sucker-punched them. But mostly I'm just sick of the question. I know my parents had their reason for burning down all those buildings. It's my personal opinion that they were doing the city a favor. They were all old an abandoned anyway. Well, semi-abandoned. To me vampires don't count as residents. They weren't pyro's looking for some big thrill. They were ridding the world of a few vampire nests.

Yes that's right. I said 'vampires.'

As in Dracula, (who is real I was told,) and Lestat, or any other famous work of fiction. My mother was a vampire slayer. A single girl in all the world chosen to fight the vampires and other creatures that went bump in the night. I've heard the legend countless times growing up. And all the adventures of her and the affectionately called "Scooby gang."

Dad always liked to tell me mom was Wonder Woman. In many ways he was right. They met in high school, and according to dad, it was love at first sight. At least it was for him. He tells me he was too goofy, or too friendly, or whatever reason mom had for not loving him back. Not in the way he wanted her to, not then anyway. Dad told me he loved my mother for years from afar. He took his place in the gang and helped her as much as he could. He and Aunt Willow were my mom's best friends. Sometimes dad would get this far off sad look in his eyes when he would tell me about the high school years (he told me quite often, mostly because I asked.) I guess that even though he did win my mother (I wouldn't be here otherwise,) he still has that small pain of unrequited love buried somewhere deep in his heart.

Sometimes mom would hear the sadness in his voice when he told me these things, and she would come sit in his lap, put her arms around his neck, and tell him she loved him and only him. Then she would kiss him and I'd sit there and smile at them. It was nice to see that dad got his dream girl, even if it was mom and the whole idea seemed corny to me. My smile usually turned to nausea when the kissing didn't stop and I'd have to quietly let myself out of the room.

According to dad, mom's feelings for him were realized when they were both twenty-two. Dad was single again after his then girlfriend had suddenly taken off on him. He doesn't talk about her much. Mom hadn't had a boyfriend in years, dad tells me. They hung out as they always had during their eight years of friendship. Nothing about them had changed until the day Mom was fighting a chaos demon.

"Nothing but slime and antlers," dad called them.

I knew what a chaos demon was. Being the slayer's daughter I was schooled in monster 101. Great Uncle Giles taught me almost everything he knew before he died. I don't think mom ever wanted me to know about of it, but we did live on the hell mouth. Dad and Uncle Giles thought it was for the best that I had this knowledge. I'm glad I do.

Look at me, I'm getting sidetracked.

Mom was fighting this demon and got distracted by something (don't ask me what,) the demon "slimed" her as dad says. Covering her mouth and nose so she couldn't breathe and knocking her to ground. My dad "acting stupidly but feigning bravery," as mom likes to say. Jumped into the fray with a battle-axe of some kind, slashing it across the midsection (details I never wanted to hear) and striking it dead, saving the day. Not exactly romance novel material I know. Dad then wiped all the slime he could off of mom till she could breathe again and helped her up. That was when something changed, they both tell me.

"She had this weird look on her face when I helped her up," dad said.

I once asked mom what the weird look was. She told me that sometimes you just realize things, no matter how disgusting the situation. Mom thanked dad for saving her life. Dad said anytime. Then she kissed him. I never pried into any of the details. Mostly because I didn't want to know the mushy beginnings to how my parents fell in love.

Six months later they were married. A year later they had me.

I had a pretty normal childhood. Well, as normal as I could have with an evil fighting family. Aunt Willow was a witch. This I never knew until one day I saw her making things float. She didn't want to tell me because the thought I'd be scared of her, I was eight at the time. I thought it was so cool. It was like she was Mary Poppins.

Great Uncle Giles was professor guy. An ex-watcher too. He owned the magic shop in town until he died. I remember how sad mom was when he went. She called him her real father. I've only met grandpa once, and it felt really strange. I never met my grandma Joyce. She died before I was born, so of course I was named after her.

The secret of my name is revealed. My name is Joyce.

Mom stopped being the slayer when I was nine. Under some really odd circumstances, she was able to retire. Dad never told me how mom died once when she was sixteen, but after Giles taught me all there was to know about slayers I had to ask how there were two. Mom told me then what had happened. Dad had saved her then too.

I met Faith once when she got out of prison. I was five or six I think. She came into town to tell my parents she was sorry for some things she had done. To this day I still don't know what they were, despite all my questions. Mom and dad only said Faith had done some bad things. I remember sitting in mom's lap and watching this pretty dark haired woman say she was sorry. Honestly sorry.

Mom's hands tightened around me. I remember making a squeaking noise of some sort. Faith went a little more in-depth with her apology. I don't remember exactly what she said; I was only six after all. Eventually mom gave her forgiveness. I remember being set down so they could hug. Afterward we were properly introduced.

"This is Faith," mom said. "She's a slayer like mommy."

They talked for hours. Faith told me I looked just like my mother, though I've been told I have dad's eyes. I said thank you and called her Aunt Faith. I think she liked that because she picked me up a hugged me and told me I was a good kid. Told me to stay that way. I promised I would. At the end of the day Faith was gone. She never came back. She died when I was nine. Word came through to Giles that a new slayer would be called. We never knew exactly how Faith died, but mom and dad knew she had gone down fighting.

"It's the only way she would have gone," they told me.

It was then that my mom seriously thought about letting the new girl take over being the slayer fully. I remember listening in on the conversation she had with dad, Uncle Giles, and Aunt Willow. Mom said that she wanted to see me grow up. She wanted to be around for all the birthdays and holidays and other special times of my life. She didn't want her little girl to lose her mother like she had lost hers.

Everyone agreed.

And at thirty-two my mom retired from being the slayer as a legend. The most successful, oldest living slayer in history. She has this gold-plated plaque the Watcher's Council gave her hanging on the wall. It says something like "for services far beyond the call of duty." I haven't looked at it in years. When people would see it on the wall they'd ask if mom was in the military. Dad would tell them she was. It was easier to explain it that way.

It did take some getting used to have mom around a lot more during the night. I kept asking why she wasn't going out to be a super-hero anymore. She told me that someone else could be the hero now. She wanted to stay home with daddy and me.

I remember being happy about it. I didn't know everything about what my mother did as the slayer. But daily lessons with Giles had given me a general idea. The new slayer came by a few times to talk to mom and get advice and pointers. Her name was Alice. She was very nice. I liked her because she had wanted a drawing of mine. It was a picture of my mother fighting the chaos demon when my parents fell in love. Alice said it was very good and asked if she could have it. I beamed with pride and said yes. Alice is still alive, but it's been awhile since I've seen her.

Uncle Giles died when I was twelve. I remember my mom saying she was glad he died the natural way. She didn't want Giles getting killed by the things they used to fight. He went in his sleep, a big smelly old book in his lap. It was fitting. Mom and I cried for days and dad never let us go while we did. Other than that, life was peachy. It was filled with happy birthdays and Merry Christmases. Even Aunt Dawn came down from San Francisco a few times. I had a mom and a dad that both loved me. I got good grades in school and played guitar for fun. Dad always teased me about having stars in my eyes. I never told him I wanted to be a rock star but he could always just tell. It was a storybook life.

Until things got bad when I turned fifteen.

Aunt Willow had taken over the Magic shop after Giles, which was still prone to the psychotic spellcaster or demon hell-bent on sending the world into the abyss. Mom only fought again when things like that happened. She only started again when a pack of vampires smashed through the shop and killed Aunt Willow.

I remember the cold steel look on her face when we found Willow's body. I was crying like a baby, but mom... she just stood there, her eyes dull. It was the first time I was ever scared of my mother. Dad came running home after we had called him, held me while I cried. He cried too. Aunt Willow was like his sister. Mom didn't cry. Mom didn't seem like mom for days afterward. Dad tried to reach her but to no avail. I knew the only way mom would be herself again would be to kill those vamps that had done it. Mom was usually a very nice woman, but revenge was a big thing with her.

After Willow's funeral and the reassurance that she wouldn't rise as a vampire, mom started to patrol again. She'd be out all night and dad couldn't do anything to keep her from going. She'd come home really early in the morning, sometimes banged up or dirty from a fight. My dad would be there every night in his chair in the front room waiting for her.

I always woke up when mom came home.

I'd go into the front room where dad would be tending to any cuts or bruises she might have. I'd run into her arms glad she made it home one more time. She would smooth my hair and tell me that she was fine, no she didn't get them.

After the first week my dad insisted on going with her. At first she refused. She told him that he had to be here with me, that if anything happened to her...well you know. He'd be here to take care of me. Dad can be real stubborn when he wants to and eventually mom let him go.

For no reason what so ever was I to leave this house, invite anyone in, or try any spells Aunt Willow had taught me. I was a good girl and listened to my parents. They'd come home at odd times early in the morning and I'd be in dad's chair waiting for them.

I hated it when they went out on patrol. I always thought that one night they wouldn't come back and I'd be left alone. They came back every night though.

Every night except one.

I watched all the news coverage about the fires. Seven buildings burned to the ground in as many days. It was a first for Sunnydale to have it's own serial arsonists on their hands. I knew it had to be mom and dad. I overheard them one time talking about dad pinching some dynamite and other flammable materials from his construction sites. A few nights they came home covered in ash and soot. I wasn't stupid.

They told me all the places they'd burned were vampire nests. I understood that. They couldn't find the exact group that had killed Aunt Willow so they went after them all. Usually the police left all matters of the undead alone. But with my parents torching places on a regular basis, a task force was assigned. Eventually there was only one nest left in Sunnydale. After watching the news about the task force I begged my parents not go.

"We have to," they told me. "They killed Aunt Willow sweetie; we have to make them pay."

I told them they'd be caught if they went. The police were out there looking for the people that had been torching all these buildings. They both hugged me then, like they knew they were going to get caught. Mom held on the longest, and dad kissed my forehead. Something he only did when he was truly sorry.

I cried when they left the house that night.

I cried when the police came to the door that morning saying that my parents were in custody.

I cried when the jury had decided on "Guilty." They were sentenced to five years each with ten years probation upon release.

I jumped up then, shouting to the court that they had to do it. You don't understand. You won't believe me if I tell you why. Please, I begged. Don't send my parents away. They were just old smelly buildings anyway. No one was inside.

The bailiff dragged me out of the courtroom then. I remember my mom and dad shouting at them to let me go. To let them say good-bye. It didn't happen.

That was five years ago.

After mom and dad went to prison I was sent to live with Aunt Dawn in San Francisco. It wasn't so bad. I had always liked Aunt Dawn. I finished high school with honors, despite my little discipline problem. I couldn't stand it when kids called my parent's jailbirds. I got into a lot of fights. I went and saw my parents as often as I could. Usually on their birthdays, and whenever I had enough time off of school. I hated seeing them behind that glass and having to talk through telephones. Sometimes we'd get to visit in an open room, but not very often.

I started college and am currently working toward a degree in Mass Communications.

Tomorrow is my twenty-first birthday.

My present will be my parent's release.

I can't wait to see them again. It's been a few months since my last visit to mom, and even longer since I've seen dad. Men and women get sent to different prisons. I always wished there was a special prison for married couples when I was younger. Sometimes I laugh at how naive it was to think that.

When the press show up at their release I'll stand up straight and look them right in the eye and say that I, Joyce Summers-Harris am proud to be the daughter of Buffy and Xander Harris. The famous downtown arsonists. Yes I visited each of them in prison. No I'm not embarrassed by them. No I don't hate them. No I'm not ashamed of what they did. And yes, hard as it may be to believe, I still love them. I love my parents. When they get out dad can tell me more stories of my mom the Wonder Woman, and she can sit in his lap and kiss him. I can smile and get nauseous from their affection. It'll be good. I'll be happy.

We can have the storybook life again.