Author notes: Sequel/Companion piece to Appearances are Deceiving. Just a humorous/fluff piece.
Faith has learned, living with a child like Liza, to expect the unexpected when she walks into any room that Liza is inhabiting alone. So as she leaves her bedroom in the morning, she barely blinks at the sight that greets her down the length of the hall. Seemingly every stuffed animal that Liza owns, as well as several dump trucks, plastic dinosaurs, My Little Ponies, and strangely enough, a toy wheelbarrow and rocking horse are strewn all over the floor, making it a nearly impossible task to maneuver down the hall without stepping on several of them.
But Faith did her best to try. Lurking vividly in her mind was the memory of Liza once going absolutely ballistic when she had accidentally happened to blow up just ONE of her teddy bears. The incident had been exhausting enough for Faith to since then practically handle Liza's toys with kid gloves, since the kid had pretty much sworn up and down that the stupid thing had PTSD afterward.
Her eyebrows rose, and her lips began to twitch with her amusement as she saw the huge, uneven scrawled words written up and down the length of one wall. They were hard for Faith to read, but it was obvious from the empty ice cream cones haphazardly placed on several animal's heads that Liza thought this was some kind of party. There was a sombrero lying on the floor, empty wrappers of all the candy they had had in the kitchen strewn out of it, and as Faith took this in, she knew one thing was for sure. If Liza had had anything to do with eating all that candy, she was going to be hyper enough to be practically walking on springs around the place. And just as obviously, her husband, Macal, who generally woke up earlier than she did on the weekends, had either lost control of this situation and given up on trying to keep her contained, or else had abandoned the caregiving task entirely, figuring Faith would deal with it when she got up.
Or, mostly likely, he had fallen asleep in front of the television as Liza paraded past him with every sugary concoction she could carry. Demigod or not, the man was annoyingly like a regular human man in his ability to fall asleep in the midst of child chaos. And his demigoddess child didn't need to use any of her powers to succeed in making an astonishing magnitude of mess in very little time.
"Liza?" she called as she unlocked the door and stepped inside, looking around. Surprisingly enough, the kitchen and living room looked fairly neat to her, in comparison to the hallway. "Liza, you here?"
A few moments later Liza's bedroom door eased open, just enough for Liza to stick her head outside of it, though not the rest of her body. Her eyes were open wide and shining brightly enough that Faith narrowed hers, suspicious. Liza was trying not to smile, but her dimples were showing plainly in her cheeks, her efforts not working out for her too well as she blinked in "innocence" several times. Her pigtails were mussed and coming loose from their ponytail holders as she stuck out one hand and waved just from the wrist up. Faith noted brown streaks of what looked like chocolate on her fingers and across her lips and chin.
"Hi," Faith's eyebrows remained raised as she shifted her weight to one side, her hand resting on her stuck-out hip as she regarded her, shaking her hair back over her shoulder. "Soooo where's your dad?"
"Taking a nap, I think," was Liza's indifferent suggestion, provoking Faith's snort. She'd called that one, all right.
She didn't bother to wake him up, though many tempting and increasingly nasty-natured manners of doing so came to mind. She'd deal with him later; but Liza's explanation of this, she had to hear now.
"So, you wanna explain what's going on out in the hall? Your…uh, friends… look like they're having a wild time of it out there."
With sudden suspicious dread, she asked, "Liza, tell me you haven't been getting into the brown bottles with the labels you thought were pretty in the fridge…."
"Nooooo, Mama, I did not, even though I don't even understand how come you're so mean about letting me have some," Liza grumbled, huffing and rolling her eyes before going on with her matter-of-fact explanation. "It's Greeny Big Horn's birthday, is all. So we gotta have a party for him and all our friends are invited. And we got chocolate cake and we got pink cake with speckles only the pink cake is prettier. And Zeus and Tyrant and me played and I winned. I winned a lot 'cause it was Greeny Big Horn's party so he had to win, is why."
It took Faith several moments to decipher this information. She had no idea who "Greeny Big Horn" was among Liza's stuffed animals, but then, all of them had interchangeable and equally ridiculous names, other than "my bear," Liza's favorite, who oddly had no name at all. What tripped her up about this was the mention of Zeus and Tyrant, since those were Macal's dogs.
"Uh…you gave Zeus and Tyrant candy and cake?" she attempted to clarify. "Zeus and Tyrant, Macal's dogs?"
"Uh huh," Liza nodded, seeming to see nothing wrong with this declaration as she tapped her fingers against the door, still not opening it wide enough for Faith to see inside. "Only they're little boys now and we play. They're fun but they hit each other a lot and cry a lot. I didn't even know boys cried like that."
Faith blinked, this scenario forming in her mind a little too bizarre to quite understand, and so she decided just to not question further. She was fairly sure that the last time she'd checked, the dogs had been dogs and not little boys, which probably meant that Liza was just imagining this rather than actually experiencing it as reality. But then again, she wouldn't be surprised if she'd managed somehow to find a way to turn them into children.
"Okayyyy, well, can you come out of your room and talk to me a second?" she asked, but Liza vigorously shook her head, her eyes widening.
"No no no Mama, wait, wait, let me do something first! I gotta show you something, okay?"
Before Faith could answer, she slammed the door shut. From the inside of her room as Faith stared at her shut door, increasingly leery of what she was about to see when she opened it once more, she could hear Liza scuffling about and several banging noises. At last Liza announced herself from the other side of the door with as much grandeur as she could conjure.
With a loud hollering whoop that sounded absolutely nothing like anything Faith had ever heard emerging from the lips of any character ever conceived in the Batman universe, Liza's door swung open, and Liza herself made her exit out of it. She was dressed in a pair of white panties that looked like she had hastily scribbled black marker over them in an attempt to make them black, a white t-shirt that she had done the same with, Mini Batman's mask, and a black towel for a cape. As Faith stared, she saw that Liza had somehow tied together every hair ribbon she owned and taped them above her doorway. Taking a running leap, Liza seized the ribbon rope and attempted to swing out of the room.
"LOOK AT ME I GOTTA ROPE THING LIKE BATMAN!"
This didn't work out so well. Her mask turned around backwards, her hair slipped entirely out of its pigtails, and the towel fell off her shoulders to the floor. Moreover, the ribbons promptly pulled out of the tape holding the moment she put her weight against them, sending Liza falling to the floor on her butt. As Faith blinked a few more times, then began to snicker at the ridiculousness of the situation, Liza got up with a scowl, rubbing her bottom.
"Oww! That didn't' never happen to Batman!"
"Liza…what are you doing, Pip?" Faith chuckled, shaking her head as she came forward to look her over more closely. Liza was unhurt, but still glowering in the ribbons' direction as she replied.
"I'm deciding what I wanna be when I grow up, I think."
"Pip, you're not gonna grow up, remember?" Faith pointed out.
This was true enough. The story of Liza's "birth" or more accurately, origin, was confusing enough for Faith to understand, let alone to explain to anyone else, and so she often didn't try, instead choosing to at least attempt to pass off the child she called her daughter as "normal." But when Liza shot lightning bolts out of her hands, lifted a two hundred pound person, healed other children's scraped knees, or teleported out of the classroom and out to the playground, that made it just a little bit more difficult to manage.
The short version of what Faith told people, if they could be trusted with the knowledge, that Liza, born of a demigod and a Slayer, was a demigoddess herself with several supernatural abilities. The longer, rarely shared version was that Liza was in fact a tiny fraction of Faith herself, split off as a separate, individual, and indiscernible shadow self within her mind from early childhood- a piece of her that nevertheless morphed into a being of its own. It had taken Faith two decades to become aware of her, and once Liza's presence was known to her, the decision had been made for Macal to extract her, forming a body for her with pieces of his own DNA, and to then raise her as a real child, albeit one with impressive powers. The catch of this was that Liza, due to her highly unique genetic code, was likely to never age past her current estimated age of five, either physically, mentally, or emotionally.
Liza knew all this, of course, and comprehended it as well as a five-year-old could. But this hardly seemed to deter her as she shrugged, replying easily to Faith's statement about her likelihood of not maturing.
"I know it. Only I'm gonna decide anyway 'cause you never know."
Throwing the ribbons down, she announced, "I think this one didn't work, maybe, plus also I'm cold. I don't know how come Batman runs around in his underwear all day. I think he might be kinda a nut."
Faith couldn't help herself then. She burst out laughing, attempting to hide it behind her hand, since usually if Liza thought she was being laughed at, she got rather huffy and indignant about it. This time, though, Liza seemed oblivious, or perhaps simply found her own quest considerably more interesting than anything her mother was doing.
"You know what, Batman wouldn't even let me take his stuff, Mama, 'cause he said he'd be naked then and that was bad. I guess he was right 'cause boys aren't even supposed to be naked around me I think. Still he oughtta share. He coulda wored my clothes I think. Only they might not fit. Oh well. I got some more ideas of what I oughtta be I think. I'll be right back!"
But instead of disappearing again into her own room, Liza ran across the living area to Faith and Macal's bedroom, slamming the door behind her. Alarm bells raised, Faith hurriedly crossed the room to stand outside her door.
"Liza, you know you're not allowed in our room without me being in there with you," she said as she opened the door. "Come out, right now."
Liza, she saw, was standing inside her closet, struggling to get a black fur coat, one that Macal had given her but that Faith had worn only once or twice, out of the closet. As it fell in a heap at her feet, she attempted to struggle into it, despite the fact that it dragged majorly on the floor and she could barely move in it. Facing Faith, she growled and "pawed" at the ground as she announced, "Look Mama! I'm a werewolf!"
The fashion show, or what Liza had declared was her career try-outs, only got better from there. With Faith standing in the doorway, laughing into her wrist every time Liza's back turned, Liza then tried on her "daddy" career, complete with Macal's armor, which was heavy enough to almost knock her to the ground when she attempted to wear it, and dragging around one of his swords, nearly cutting their bed in half when she swung it around. Faith's "career" was next, with Liza trying on her mother's boots and staggering around in them, then falling down when it was impossible for her to take steps. Scowling again, she had then taken one of Faith's stakes and ran around the living room with it, pantomiming staking imaginary vampires and tossing her hair around in such a dramatic imitation of Faith that Faith had almost lost her breath laughing.
"FIVE BY FIVE, I DUSTED YOU I THINK! WICKED! YOU ARE DUST NOW I THINK!"
But Liza's next career choice wasn't quite so amusing to Faith. She emerged from her room in her towel cape, piles of costume jewelry, and a pink t-shirt, this time sticking her teeth out over her lip in an attempt to imitate fangs as she spoke in a garbled fashion.
"I'm Harmony now. I'm a vampire now. I'm gonna bite you!"
"Whoooa, time out. You go from killing vamps to BEING one? Not to mention…HARMONY?!" Faith's amusement died abruptly at this. The beaming blonde reality star vampire had the honor of being one of the singularly most irritating people she knew…she KNEW she shouldn't let Macal watch TV with Liza around in the mornings.
"Uh huh," Liza nodded, not yet releasing her lower lip from her teeth. Apparently she didn't see the irony of it.
"Liza, if you gotta be a vampire here, why can't you be Angel or something, why that bit- bimbo?" Faith caught herself just in time. For a kid who sometimes threw lightning bolts when tantrumming, Liza was surprisingly adamantly against swear words.
"Angel is a BOY, Mama," Liza pointed out, as though this were obvious, one hand on her hip, the other held in a limp, girlish fashion, ala Harmony, that made Faith want to immediately kick her foot through the television. "Harmony is a GIRL. I can't be a BOY….which one should I be? Which one do you like best?"
"Not Harmony, that's for damn sure," Faith muttered, even as Liza pointed, gasping.
"Mama, that's a bad word!"
Liza should be more than used to that from her by now, but she seemed to still delight in being able to point out every time Faith slipped in front of her. Ironic from the kid who seemed to, despite all efforts to convince her otherwise from people outside the family, see "ass" as a totally acceptable word for every day public use.
"Yep, sorry," Faith exhaled, as Liza circled around her, tugging on her arm.
"I forgive you. Which one do you like best, Mama? Which one should I be?"
With her mouth now held normally, the towel again slipped off her shoulders, Liza was standing in front of her with regular panties and a little t-shirt on, her hair loose down her back, chocolate still smeared over her cheeks. As Faith regarded her, smiling, she pointed at her, nodding.
"That one. That one's good."
Looking down at herself in her underwear, Liza frowned. "One of those ladies named Victoria who's got a secret?"
When Faith burst out laughing again, Liza pouted. "Mama, I don't wanna be a panties lady. You're not being nice to me."
"No…no, not that…god, no, not that," Faith snickered, before reaching out to tuck her hair back behind her ear, smiling down at her. "Just you. Just be you, Liza. I like you best."
She hugged her, continuing to smooth her hand over Liza's head. As Liza snuggled her face into Faith's hip, wrapping her arms around her stomach, she felt her nod into her side, agreeing.
"I'm pretty wicked too, huh Mama?"
"That's right," Faith told her, smiling again. "Lighting and teleporting and all the rest. Most wicked kid ever."
"I think I got one more idea though," Liza pulled away abruptly. " I didn't try it out yet, Mama."
"What's that?" Faith asked as Liza retreated back to her room, calling out her answer over her shoulder.
As she stared after her daughter's retreating back, Faith thought with more than a little horror that if she had to pick between her daughter setting off for a career as either a clown or Harmony Kendall…well, there really was no way to measure which was worse.