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Chapter Data

Posted August 20, 2005

Fan Fiction: Uncle John

2: First Meeting

Buffy fidgeted restlessly in the wire-frame chair, wishing she'd chosen somewhere else to meet. A mall? How cliché was that? And with the crowds, there was no way she'd spot him coming before he was almost on top of her.

She glanced across the food court at Willow and Kennedy, who'd insisted on coming along in case she needed backup, and Dawn, who looked nearly as nervous as she did. Buffy had deliberately left all mention of her sister out of her letter, just in case this whole long-lost relative thing turned out to be an elaborate set-up, but if he passed inspection she intended to introduce him to Dawn, too.

If she had her dates right from the letters she'd found in her mom's strongbox in L.A., and provided he was for real, John Sheppard had been in high school when she was born. Her mother had been several years older and already estranged from their parents; they'd hated Hank and thought Joyce was going to ruin her life and waste her artistic talent being chained to a home and hearth. Buffy could just imagine what they'd have said if they'd been told of her existence; she'd never met them, but the amount of vitriol they'd poured onto stationery and sent through the mail had more than convinced her that she hadn't missed out on anything. Even if they hadn't been far wrong about Hank in the end.

All of which explained why Uncle John hadn't known he was an uncle to begin with. And with her parents still writing to tell Joyce about all the rebellious, criminal behavior her little brother displayed, combined with his immediate escape to a military college after graduation in defiance of the family's traditionally pacifistic and liberal leanings, it made sense that Buffy's mom hadn't ever found a reason to correct the oversight until the approach of death had made her rethink a few more of the assumptions she'd held onto over the years.

It was a pity that Glory had kept Buffy away from L.A. between her mom's death and her own. She and Dawn really could have used a helpful family member to lean on after their dad had turned out to be a complete no-show the one time they really needed him.

Buffy sighed and shook off her introspection, determined not to be caught off guard when her uncle arrived, and reached for the Orange Julius she'd left sitting on the table. She froze mid-movement, however, when she realized she wasn't alone anymore. At some point during the last few minutes, a tall man in military clothes with short, spiky hair the color of Dawn's had appeared, standing behind the chair across from her and apparently waiting for her to notice.

"Buffy Summers?" he asked quietly, a crooked, hopeful grin on his face.

She nodded. "Guilty as charged," she said, summoning up a bright, cheerful smile to cover up her nervousness.

"John Sheppard," he replied, and stuck a hand out to be shaken. "Uncle John to you, I hope." He gave her another quick, impersonal scan with his eyes as he clasped her hand briefly, then smiled again, more widely than before. "I have to say, I didn't expect you to be quite so pretty. I'd be tempted to go find a shovel and start threatening boys with it, except that you're probably already past that stage."

Buffy felt her smile turning quickly genuine at the open warmth of his greeting. Maybe it was premature to be making judgments, but she had a good feeling about him already.


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