The Old Smith House

By Weasy

Rating: PG-13

Summary: A little glimpse of Buffy and Angel's not quite peaceful suburban future.

Author's Notes: Set in a future where the world knows about vampires (but not much beyond that) and isn't keen on Slayers.

This light hearted story goes out in dedication to everybody in the team who worked so hard to make sure there was a ficathon this year, and all those who've organised or helped in years before. Thanks so much!


Mrs Beauchamp loved Tuesdays. On Tuesdays she polished her silver, standing by the sink in her large street facing kitchen and watched the world and his dog shuffle past her window. It was a very ordinary suburban street for the south of England, red brick and spacious enough for families with three or four bedrooms upstairs and small neat gardens at the front and back. Shiny cars were parked outside automatic garage doors, wet with melting frost in the crisp November sun.

Until a few years before Mrs Beauchamp had preferred Saturdays for the long arduous chore. There were more people around. Families streamed past the window to the park arguing about coats, lunch, parties later. The birthday parties had been getting more impressive for years. When she'd first moved here newly married forty years ago, parties were twenty kids in the living room with some balloons and pass-the-parcel. Now every Saturday the street was transformed for some child's special day. Clowns were popular to start with, now there were superheroes, bouncy castles and streams of exotic animals to be petted (and sometimes escape) as her neighbourhood moved up the social ranks.

There was a lot to look at on a Saturday. But still, Tuesdays topped the bill every time since the old Smith place had finally been bought. Her friend Frank Smith had died leaving his place just across the street in a legal loophole until after five years later a SOLD sign had appeared over night. The speculation was pretty intense amongst the neighbours. Ella who lived next door to the empty house with her three year old twins was first at Mrs Beauchamp's door with some toddler made biscuits for a cup of tea and some speculation.

Ella's twins had been woken at two am the night before by a bleached blonde man over revving his motorbike. When her husband, Mikos, had stuck his head out the window to see what was going on, the man had lit a fag and swore at him before letting himself in to the Smith place. It didn't take long for that story to make it's way round the close and by the time a removals van turned up a week later nobody was feeling good about the new residents.

Mrs Beauchamp had rushed her silver out when she saw the van arriving and settled in for a good nosey – only to be surprised when the man that clambered down from the drivers seat of the plain white van was a sharply dressed middle aged dark haired man. He wore a suit, closely fit over a pale shirt and tie. A slightly younger woman jumped down from the other side, long blonde hair swishing round her shoulders as she scrutinised the street.

The man called her over, and Mrs Beauchamp cracked open the window as the woman laughed and joined her partner stretching on tip toes for a kiss before demanding the keys. Their voices floated over the air and Mrs Beauchamp could hear the blonde's American accent as she called the man "stuffy" teasingly. Feeling much more relaxed about any potential problems Mrs Beauchamp switched most of her attention to the fiddly details on a silver serving tray that never got used. A flash of light caught her eye as another car and trailer drew up. The man driving bounded out of his car to throw a hug around the blonde and their cat-calls filled the street. As they straightened up the man intoned "Welcome to the 'burbs!" In his own thick accent and turned around to survey the street. One eye was covered in a black eye patch, and his shaggy brown-black hair fell around his scarred face. There was a crash as the tray clattered to the floor and Mrs Beauchamp dropped down below the counter on her sixty-three year old knees as the group peered over her house. Heart beating she steeled herself and raised herself up. Ready to wave at curious faces. The trio of Americans had already lost interest though and were opening up the vehicles and pulling furniture out.

The man with the eye patch was heaving boxes out the trunk and passing them to the blonde girl who stacked up the huge cardboard crates and more or less skipped inside. They could only have been full of pillows for how many the tiny woman was taking at a time, though on closer inspection the man seemed oddly sweaty for such light work. The other man was hidden in the back of the van so that when she came back the blonde disappeared into the van as well, until they emerged hefting huge items of furniture between them as though they were made of feathers. It was an odd mix of stuff. Well made but all very solid. Lots of heavy dark woods. For a youngish couple there was a distinct lack of IKEA flat packs and an abundance of art and sculptures.

And a huge cage.

The tray dropped to the floor again. Ducking down Mrs Beauchamp dived for her handbag, pulled out the mobile inside and was halfway through dialing her husband at the golf course when she stilled. Maybe it was a dog crate? Modern art? Very adventurous sex life? Carefully she slipped the phone back inside the leather bag and stood up. Setting the bag back on the kitchen table within easy reach she smoothed down her clothes. She'd ask Ella about it tomorrow. If they did have dogs it would be obvious by then, surely?

The rest of the day didn't yield any more excitement. Although in truth it was the start of something very strange. About a week later the guy with the eye patch had come by and mowed the lawns. He'd got a tape measure out and measured all sorts of things and got chatting with Ella when her boys kicked their ball over the fence. Ella had reported back that he was a carpenter and there was the lift of a smile that told Mrs Beauchamp that he had been funny and charming in that self-depreciating way that her younger friend liked so much. Xander Harris, the man's name had been – was only occasionally back after that. Usually a Tuesday to oversee builders who popped in and out making changes. The house wasn't being made any bigger on the outside and Mrs Beauchamp was very surprised to hear that most of the work was being done giving the house a basement though why this was necessary hadn't been explained. It was then that Mrs Beauchamp had started dedicating her Tuesdays to the silver and keeping an eye on Ella as she chatted easily with the American over her fence.

The other Americans hadn't been seen again until a few months later. It was five o'clock and the first of the cars were returning to the street after work. Mrs Beauchamp had put the silver away and started chopping vegetables for dinner. It was still summer then and a group of neighbourhood children were on the front lawn of one of the houses kicking a football around and laughing as their school uniforms were streaked with grass and dirt.

When someone pulled up to the old Smith place Mrs Beauchamp assumed it was another contractor. The car, a non-descript Volvo estate, sat in the drive for a long time before the drivers door opened and a girl stumbled out. Jaw dropped in undisguised interest Mrs Beauchamp peered through her nets as she tried to make out what was wrong as the girl limped towards the front door. Blonde hair lay darkly matted against the girls head and she held her arm tightly against her chest as she leaned against the door frame and stared at the lock on the door. Her good arm eventually rose to fit the keys into the hole and Mrs Beauchamp could clearly see that all the fabric of her sleeve on her good arm was shredded too, so much that she fancied she could see blood dripping from the point of her elbow.

Forgetting her cooking Mrs Beauchamp shot out the door as fast as her slightly arthritic knees would allow. The kids up the road had stopped yelling and out of the corner of her eye she could see as Jamie ran into his house yelling for his mother. The other children stood huddled in a half circle watching doe eyed as the blonde gave up and collapsed on her steps.

"Do you need some help?" Mrs Beauchamp yelled as she reached the edge of the drive. The girl waved at her and she wasn't sure if it was a denial or permission to come up. The question was merely politeness anyway, nobody could be that battered and not need help! "Who did this?" She found herself demanding as the bruised mess of the girl's face came into view.

"'m fine." She mumbled through her fat purple lip. She had an American accent, or Mrs Beauchamp would never have noticed it was the girl from moving in day.

"Well let me help you in at least." Mrs Beauchamp insisted. She'd had four sons born and raised on this street. Worked as a nurse part time as well. She was good at insisting.

The blonde girl nodded eventually and Mrs Beauchamp leaned down to wrap an arm round her shoulders and help her stand. She picked up the dropped keys as she went, and noted the large elaborate cross key chain popular since vampires had been outed a year or so back. Mrs Beauchamp ignored the pain from her protesting knees and twisted the key in the lock to let them in.

Inside the work had all been finished, though the furniture was draped with white dust cloths. Against the white walls it made it look like a ghost house and all the more obvious that no one had been living here. Spotting a sofa-shaped tent Mrs Beauchamp guided the girl over and helped her lie down on it. She didn't bother taking the sheet off, the girl was covered in blood and it would save the stains.

"I'm a nurse." Mrs Beauchamp explained. "I'm going to call an ambulance. Can you tell me what's happened?"

"No. Ambulance." The girl moaned opening her eyes fearfully. "Don't like hospital."

Sitting on the floor next to her Mrs Beauchamp sighed. "You don't have to pay in England." She told the American. "You don't need to worry about money."

The girl shook her head again, and it was so obviously painful that Mrs Beauchamp laid her hands on her shoulders and tried to feel for broken bones. "No." The girl repeated.

"Tell me what happened and then we'll talk about the ambulance." Mrs Beauchamp compromised.

"Fell in a chalk mine."

Mrs Beauchamp could well believe that. Apart from dirt on closer inspection the girl was streaked with white and small chips of chalk. "And before that?"

"Got punched."

That explained the face. "Do you know who did it? Do you want to call the police?"

"No. Was just random." It wasn't very convincing, but as a nurse she'd heard a lot of unconvincing lies in her time. A stranger did it wasn't as irritating as ran into a door, but still seldom true.

"Is there anyone I can call?" She spotted a silver ring on the left hand. "Your husband maybe?"

She waited for the domestic violence flinch. But the girl just closed her eyes and nodded. "Angel. Number by phone."

"What's your name, sweetie?" She tried to raise a smile. "Just so he doesn't think I'm some random mad woman?"

"Buffy."

Mrs Beauchamp couldn't help it. "Seriously?" Buffy glared at her. "I'll be two minutes. Phone in the kitchen?" Mrs Beauchamp covered as she darted away.

The kitchen, when she found it, was at the back of the house. It was very modern with the big double door fridge freezers she'd always thought of as American. Marble counters spread around the room and a chunky breakfast counter in the middle of the room had a phone sitting in the middle of it. Somebody had done some clever wiring to get in there and Mrs Beauchamp picked up the hands free set and glared at it for a minute as she tried to work out if it was on and find Angel's number in a little stack of post-it's next to the port.

She found a mobile number eventually and Mrs Beauchamp pondered just calling an ambulance while she was there, but perhaps this Angel would be able to convince Buffy.

The phone at the other end rang twice before someone snapped "Angel" at her.

"Erm, Mr Angel?" Mrs Beauchamp was rethinking the domestic violence possibility. "I'm here with your wife. I don't want you to worry – but she's been badly hurt."

"Where are you?"

Mrs Beauchamp gave the address and the man hang up without a further word. At least somebody was coming. Taking the phone with her Mrs Beauchamp returned to the front room to find the blonde girl sitting up. "Oh!" She moaned, "You need to lie down Buffy."

"I'm fine, honestly." Buffy replied, it must have been pure adrenalin but she did seem a little better. She had stuck the bad leg out into the room, and the better arm was feeling her bad shoulder experimentally the way Mrs Beauchamp had seen medical staff do a hundred times. "Mostly bruises I think." She took a rattling breath. "Maybe a cracked rib. No need for hospital."

"What about your shoulder?" Mrs Beauchamp wasn't fooled.

"I popped it." Buffy looked her up and down. "Do you want to do it? Or Angel can when he gets back."

Mrs Beauchamp perched at the end of the sheet covered sofa. "Buffy, you are covered in blood and dirt. I have to tell the police or a doctor about this. I'm not doing nothing. I can't understand why you're being so blasé."

Buffy sighed. "I get hit a lot. I work in private security."

"Since you're not forty, previously muscled and now a bit fat - excuse my doubts."

"I'm a ninja." Buffy replied flippantly and Mrs Beauchamp gave her a censorious look. "Well not ninja precisely. I don't think they take girls. And I'm so over black. But the martial arts expert of the west? That would be me. I do a lot of contract work. Special cases. They get violent more than I'd like. But that's the job. That made it sound like I'm a regular Don didn't it? I don't work for the Mafia, I promise."

Mrs Beauchamp leaned back in the sheet then remembered the dust and stopped herself. "I don't think any of the neighbours bet on that."

Buffy laughed and the sound shocked Mrs Beauchamp. "Thanks for getting me in the house… I didn't catch your name?"

"Amelia Beauchamp."

Mrs Beauchamp stayed until Angel arrived and smoothly took over. Buffy had seemed relieved to see him and given her odd lack of pain and not so bad injuries Mrs Beauchamp had been happy enough to leave with a new nickname of Mrs B.

The weeks and months after that were always slightly odd though never so much to cause more than a few hushed conversations. One month the whole street had been kept up by some huge dog baying and growling all night long. Though it was oddly silent during the day and after three days it had stopped. When Mrs Beauchamp met Buffy on the street unloading her shopping she said they had been dog-sitting for a friend, but would never again. They laughed over terrible pets, and the happy but none the less two wheeled two legged poodle down the road.

The pair of them were in and out a lot, frequently in the middle of the night. You could never guarantee they would be in at any one time even on holidays. Sometimes it was just one or the other and all sorts of people came to stay or to 'house sit' including Xander and for one very loud weekend the bleached blonde man.

Everyone got used to Buffy arriving home smeared in blood and other more stinky things and she just smiled when people asked her who she worked for and why she was stuck with so many night shifts. Her big surly husband Angel had been known to come home looking similar, but mostly in crisp suits and carrying shopping bags.

It was months since the first time Buffy and Mrs Beauchamp had met when Buffy was having a day off and Mrs Beauchamp had popped round with Ella and her now nearly four year old twins for their semi-weekly chat and biscuits. Buffy didn't cook, but there were often cookies or flat breads and other treats left by her husband, and eagerly enjoyed by whoever was working at home that day.

The twins, Felix and Jake had been turfed out into the garden and could be seen through the back window chucking around leaves and riding on their little bikes. The three women were snuggled into the oversized sofa that circled the fireplace and dominated the room as they drunk tea and chatted about neighbours. Buffy was asking about a man who had just moved in at the end of the street. It had been another odd neighbour arrival, apparently moving in over night and only ever seen past dark. Though it being winter dark started at half four these days. Since Buffy, Ella and Mrs Beauchamp were the three neighbours most likely to be around in the day everyone was surprised when the doorbell rang.

Buffy shot her neighbours a puzzled expression as she went to answer the door. The front door was hidden from the main room behind a door so it was "Dawn!" being yelled excitedly that drew Mrs B's attention to the visitor, and she resisted the urge to lean back and peer around the door frame.

"Xander, what are you guys doing here? I though you were in India for this rotation?"

Ella perked up and abandoning all pretence of not being interested stood up to sneek a peek round the door. "Can't I visit my fav- ow! Second favourite Summers?"

"Of course, Xand, come in."

"About that…"

"Here's the part where we need a favour." Another American voice cut in, Dawn, Mrs B guessed since it was definitely female.

Buffy sighed loudly. "Tuesdays are my days Xander. Can't somebody else…"

"I think you're going to want to take this one, Buff." There was a little giggle. "Meet Giles."

Mrs Beauchamp found herself inching towards the door as well and standing beside Ella she could see Xander and a brown haired young lady with more than a passing resemblance to their friend and neighbour Buffy. Hugging her knee was a small boy. Maybe three years old. He was dressed oddly, in smart dark trousers and a button up shirt under his duffel coat, but with an apron folded up around his waist like he had been in the middle of cooking something.

"What now?" Buffy echoed.

"Buffy." Xander had noticed them and waved distractedly before trying to catch Buffy's eye. "Buffy this is Giles." He emphasised the name very loudly as though there was something significant about it.

"Giles!" Buffy yelped. "Why is he…"

"Hi, Ella!" Xander said loudly and Buffy spun round to see them there.

"Um… oh, sorry. These are my neighbours. Ella and Mrs B. This is my sister Dawn, and you're met Xander, and, uh." Her face blanched. "Giles."

"Have you spoken to Willow?" Buffy asked her friends urgently.

"We're on it." Xander reassured her. "This is really a research situation though." He shot a look at the interlopers. "Um. Schools. Need research. And we were going to go do that if you could, gua… guide Giles for the day that would be great."

"Guide?" Ella echoed.

"Oh, you know." Dawn flustered. "Teach him good manners. Spiritual rightness. The way of the llama. That kind of thing. Shouldn't be too long." She reassured Buffy.

"Right." Buffy nodded uncertainly. "I think I'm going to call Angel."

Dawn nodded. "It's a two person job."

"Spiritual guidance." Xander added. "Don't they say that the Dalai Lama always has a wingman."

"We've gotta get started on that school research." Dawn motioned to the car and dragged Xander off as they yelled goodbye's at each other. Giles stood in the doorstep and stared at them with big brown eyes.

Taking pity on Buffy Mrs B stepped forward and hustled the little boy into the house with the promise of a biscuit.

"So this is your nephew?" Ella asked Buffy.

"Yup." Buffy replied fishing her phone out of her pocket as she spoke. "Sure." She seemed oddly resigned as she motioned to the kitchen. "I'm just going to ring Angel – could you watch him for a minute?"

"No trouble." Mrs Beauchamp insisted and she found a box of second hand toys that Buffy kept under the TV for the twins. "I'm Amelia." She told the boy, and he nodded mutely as he stood in the centre of the room, wide eyes taking everything in. "This is Ella, we're friends with your Auntie Buffy."

No response. "Shall we get that coat off?"

Giles seemed to remember what he was doing and slipped the coat off his shoulders and abandoned it on the floor as he sat next to the toy box, in the way of toddlers everywhere.

"What toys do you like?" Ella asked kindly, apparently having gotten over her surprise at Xander's son.

"Books." He said carefully.

"Books are great aren't they? Do you want to be a writer when you grow up? Or work in a library? Watch things maybe?"

"No!" He yelled. "I'm going to be a greengrocer." Giles seemed to think about it as he trawled through the box for toys and dug out a plane. "Or a fighter pilot."

"My husband Mikos flies planes." Ella told him and Giles scrambled to her side clutching the RAF plane toy.

"Really?" He breathed all excitement and interest.

"I have two boys as well, they're playing in the garden. Do you want to go outside?"

Giles nodded and Ella helped him back into his coat as Buffy came back into the room. "Thanks." She murmured to Ella as she led the boy out to the corridor and back door.

"Are you feeling okay, Buffy? You look like you've had a shock." Mrs B asked when they were alone.

"Oh, uh, Giles has just changed a lot, since I last saw him."

"They grow up so fast."

"Kinda." Buffy looked around. "Where is he?"

"Didn't you see? Ella just took him outside to meet the boys." Mrs Beauchamp headed over to the window that overlooked the garden. Crisp brown leaves swirled around in clumpy knots. "Although I can't see…" She heard the door click open before she noticed Buffy had gone, and squinting through the glass Mrs Beauchamp could see Buffy charging outside and hear her yelling "Giles!" Through the open door.

Something flew past the window at break neck speed. At first Mrs B thought a great dane had jumped the fence. Buffy spun to face the animal and slipped into a defensive pose Mrs B recognised from the self-defence course Buffy had taught to the neighbourhood women that summer. The beast was huge, with long black flanks and a short stubby tail. Far bigger than any dog she'd ever seen before, and… was it a bull? Horns curled from the front of it's skull, and Buffy was forced to grab it by the neck and twist the head away as it tried to maul Buffy with a slobbering teeth filled mouth.

Coming to her senses Mrs B ran trough to the kitchen and grabbed the telephone before dialing 999. The window here had a better view, and she leaned over the counter just in time to see Buffy flip the beast over and pin it to the ground. It had nicked her face at some point and blood dripped down through her blonde hair and streaked it red.

"State your emergency?"

"I need the police! And animal control! There's a dog attacking my friend."

"Can you tell me where you are please?" The man, was swift and calm and reminded Mrs Beauchamp how she should be behaving.

Mrs B gave the address quickly and fielded the next few questions as quickly as possible. "Do you need an ambulance?"

"Not at the moment. Give it five minutes and who knows." She growled into the receiver and the man repeated his assertion that the police would be there as soon as possible, but it might be twenty minutes.

Cracking the window open Mrs Beauchamp yelled out to Buffy as she tumbled on the floor with the massive creature. Her hands were stuck keeping it's claws and face away from her, so she was doubled up kicking and kneeing anywhere she could get purchase. "Buffy! The police are coming!"

"Fuck." She distinctly heard as Buffy slipped and rolled away from the black thing as it tried to pounce on her. Turning half back to Mrs B, Buffy called back "Chest in living room – need weapons now!" and bounded up her six foot fence until she was balancing on the skinny beam of wood that topped the wooden barrier and running along it towards a tree in the corner of the plot. "Now!"

Scrambling back Mrs Beauchamp made her way back to the front room and found the chest behind the sofa. Shoving blankets off it's surface she heaved the heavy engraved lid off and stilled for a moment, taking in the antique arsenal in front of her. It was a good job the twins had never been too adventurous or they'd've had far more than joked about lost eyes.

Weapons weren't exactly Mrs Beauchamp's raison d'etre but she'd had four sons and read every castle storming book for bedtime there was. A short sword seemed a good choice, and a heavy club with one spikey end. There was a crossbow and a few arrows too.

A gun wouldn't be amiss, but there wasn't one here. And wherever it was would legally be locked and separate to the ammo… "Hurry up woman." Mrs Beauchamp chided herself and hurried up from her knees as fast as her sometimes worrisome joints allowed.

The back door was still open when she got there with her arms ladened with weapons. But it wasn't Buffy there to great her. Face on the beast was obviously not a dog. The huge black bulk of it was ribbed with muscle and scales she hadn't noticed parted for a quilled spine, whose sharp edges shone like a razor in the afternoon light. It's breath stank like rotting flesh and gangrene and it's short stubby jaw was matched with a trio of razor sharp tusks that jutted below - a reflection of the two horns just above it's meagre eyes. It was pant wettingly terrifying. And this from a woman who'd dealt with addicts clawing down into withdrawl on a weekly basis.

A hand touched her shoulder.

"Aaah!" She screamed spinning and punching with all her might at the weight beside her. Her fist ooffed into Angel's side and bounced off so that the shock waves reverberated down her arm. Somehow she was on the floor again.

"Hello Mrs B." He smiled a bit too calmly, trying to be reassuring. "Is Buffy out back?"

She nodded mutely, and noticed the huge broadsword hanging from his other hand as long as her arm and nearly dragging on the ground in Angel's loose grip.

"I didn't realise you were coming for tea today."

Somehow Mrs Beauchamp found her voice. "Yes, with Ella and the boys." A slobbering growl wafted toward them and Mrs Beauchamp was transfixed by the beast just in time to see it shoved away from the door by an impressively still standing Buffy.

"Hi, honey." She called. "Saved some for you."

Angel laughed and shouldered the broadsword as he gathered up the crossbow and arrows and chucked them to his wife. "You shouldn't have."

By the time the pair had headed out into the garden and Mrs Beauchamp had recovered her composure enough to stumble to the back door and lock it behind them, the world was seeming like a very different place.

Through the glass in the back door Mrs Beauchamp could clearly see Buffy and Angel tag-teaming the beast. It ran from one to the other only to be dealt horrific blows that spewed blood and black guts across the neatly cut lawn and strewn leaves. When Buffy ran out of arrows she grabbed a rake leaning by a tree and snapped it in half before planting the wooden handle squarely through the neck of the beast.

Blood tumbled from it's open maw as it twisted toward the back door and Mrs Beauchamp before it's shuddering and laboured movements finally stopped. She could hear them calling to each other as the beastie died arguing about Giles, and as soon as Buffy seemed sure the creature was pushing up hellish daisies Buffy turned to run off and look for him. Angel caught her arm and checked the wound on her head before sending her on her way and heading back to the house streaked from head to foot in black and blood.

Mrs Beauchamp unlocked the door and opened it to let the tall man in before he'd got there. There was no doubt that the duo where her heroes of the day. The only question was, what kind of heroes were they?

"Are you okay, Mrs B?" He asked as he shucked off his shoes and jacket at the door and left them hanging over the garden chair by the back door. He bought his massive sword in with him, and Mrs Beauchamp was very aware of it's presence as he steered her into the kitchen and guided her into the comfy chair in the corner. "Pot's still warm – do you want some tea?"

"Yes please." Mrs Beauchamp murmured and watched as Angel carefully placed his sword on the table and used kitchen roll and a special oil he pulled out of a drawer to clean the blade immaculately. When he was done he poured the tea and handed the mug over to Mrs Beauchamp who sipped at it gratefully.

Something about swallowing down the warm liquid shocked sense into Mrs Beauchamp and she sat up in the chair urgently. "Ella! And the boys! Are they alright? Did it…" She paused tried to take it in. "Eat them?"

Leaning against the counter Angel sipped at his own mug of tea for a moment before putting it down carefully and sighing as he caught her eye. "Mrs Beauchamp, that was Ella."

"What do you mean?" It didn't make sense.

"Ella wasn't human, just pretending. She's a Kran-dak demon. You don't usually see them this far from the Himalayas, but it got ambitious I guess."

"Ambitious?" She echoed. How could a monster be ambitious? Although Ella being a demon with that much bad breath would explain the polo addiction.

"They're quite intelligent, really. Amongst their abilities are mimicking human form and a special poison in the barbs on their spine which can reverse the aging process."

"Reverse?" She was starting to feel like a parrot, and Angel just nodded waited for her brain to catch up.

"Have you heard of Felix and Jakob Milas?"

"Of course, they've been missing for a year. Twins - both very famous in their own fields."

"Exactly. Felix is an Olympic kick-boxing champion, his brother an expert in Physics from CERN. Went missing the day before Felix and Jakob - Jake - moved here with Ella and Mikos."

"They wanted to raise them again, but under their influence. Human muscle and brains at their disposal."

Angel smiled. "Exactly." His tea must have been too cold, because he moved round the kitchen to throw it down the sink, and poured some water instead.

"Demons beyond vampires exist." Mrs Beauchamp mused. "And I called animal control. Although I'm really hoping it explains some of the stupider wounds I've seen in the ER. How many people really get attacked by puppies?"

Angel spluttered on his drink.

"So you and Buffy are what? Demon fighters?"

"Yes."

"Oh!" She jumped up brightly. "Is she a Slayer?"

Angel smiled wryly. "No comment."

Mrs Beauchamp held up her arms in mock resignation. "Your girl saved our lives today. Anyone that has a problem with Slayers officially has a problem with me. I was never keen on vampires anyway. Always stealing blood from the bank."

Mrs Beauchamp's guardian Angel – that's who he was now, no questions – nodded to the door. "Worlds to save."

"Oh of course," she hurried away. "Don't let me get in your way – I'll deal with the police when they get here. Say I made a mistake. You go find your nephew." Angel stared at her blankly. "Your nephew? Giles? Toddler Giles?"

"Giles?" Something clicked. "Oh… Giles." He hurriedly picked up the sword, and rushing to the bookshelf in the corner grabbed an aged Mrs Beeton and shucked off the cover to reveal something much more runic underneath. Then pick up a basket full of little jars of herbs and chuck the book in so he could heft the lot with one hand. "If I have to change a diaper before this is done, that man seriously owes me." He muttered as he sped out the back door, and Mrs Beauchamp could have sworn she saw him swoop over the fence without breaking a sweat through the kitchen window.

Tuesdays like that are hard to live up to – on any day of the week. But future Tuesdays did their best to try, and Mrs Beauchamp delighted in her new neighbours and the assortment of beasties that sauntered and slithered down the street to try and best them. Mostly Mrs Beauchamp polished her silver, but she did a fine line in repairing broken and shredded furniture for the pair too.

She liked to think of herself as the last reserve, and had a stockpile of small bottles of holy water that had come in extremely handy when a gang of vampires had attacked the house. Picking off the demons from the back with her daughters in law while her boys poured onto the streets with cross bows and stakes was going down in the family history books should anyone ever write them.

Buffy and Angel had come to her door with wine a week after the Kran-dak/Ella incident and apologised for putting her life at risk. Mrs Beauchamp couldn't help but laugh at them. Who needs safety when you've got the world's best bodyguards and excitement just across the road at the old Smith House?

The End