Title: Night of the Drop
Synopsis: Joyce receives the wrong shipment to her gallery. Damn those shorts wearing UPS delivery people.Spoilers: Stargate Season 4 epi 'The Curse', BTVS 'til season 5 (no Dawn)
Disclaimer: I own nothing but the plot.
Buffy Summers smiled as her mother began an enthusiastic and detailed inventory of her gallery's newest shipment. After the fall of the Initiative and emergence of the first Slayer Buffy had found herself wanting to spend more time with Joyce. To understand the part of herself that wasn't drenched in darkness and death. In doing so she found out that her mother was actually fun to be around. When she wasn't—you know—being all motherly that is.
"Honey, little help?"
She pulled out of deeper thoughts and smiled as her mom motioned toward a crate with a crowbar. Slipping off the back counter that encircled the storage room of Joyce's gallery she strolled over. Without a glance at the metal instrument in her mother's grasp she gripped the wooden edge and flicked her wrist. The crate top flipped off and landed on the floor with a dull thud.
She rose on tiptoes to see into the box and began to shove aside the paper stripes and plastic peanuts. Her fingertips brushed against cool ceramic, frowning she pulled out a small jar with hieroglyphs decorating the top of the body. The lid was a sculpture of a woman with a large crown resembling horns that held a disc in the center. Buffy shifted the jar in her grasp and tilted it to the side causing a small shimmer across the writing. She noticed a thin band of gold molded to the front with deeper impressions carved into it, that didn't appear to match the figures depicted along the jar's surface.
"That's not right."
The Slayer turned to watch her mother walk towards her a frown pulling down her brow. "What's not?"
"These should be paintings." Joyce stepped forward and knelt beside the crate top. She pulled the shipping paperwork from envelope stapled to the wood. Her gaze quickly scanned the writing. "Well damn."
"What?" Buffy turned the jar over in her hand marveling at how cold it was.
"This is a shipping error. These crates should have gone to a museum in Chicago."She sent her daughter an exasperated look. "I'm gonna call them and hopefully they got my shipment instead." Buffy shrugged her shoulders and continued to fiddle with the canopic jar in her hands.
Joyce noticed and shook her head. "Try not to break anything," was her parting shot as she left the room.
Buffy rolled her eyes and continued to turn the ceramic object until her fingers brushed along a thin seam. Lifting it closer, she turned it in a circle tracing the faint line with interest. She walked to the counter and placed the elegant jar on the edge before grasping the statue and twisted the top. It released with a soft hiss of compressed air causing Buffy to wrinkle her nose at the musty smell that expelled from within.
Glancing behind her to check and see if Joyce was coming she shrugged and allowed curiosity to get the better. With barely a shift in her arm she raised the lid and frowned at the slithering noise she heard. She glanced over the edge and her jaw dropped at the sight of a snake like creature withering inside. It uncoiled and leapt into the open crevice. Buffy gagged, grabbing at her mouth as it pierced the back of her throat, forcing her to cough. She gripped the countertop as her shoulders stiffened and the jar rocked dangerously close to the edge.
Minutes passed, her breathing fading from erratic to steady and her hands fell away from the counters edge. The blonde straightened her spine as she calmly resealed the urn and walked back to the open crate. Shifting through more of the packing material she pulled out a metallic bracelet that had five, finger armors attached to a center crystal. The delicate carvings on the brass were the depictions of the falcon and her rise above death and focal crystal was red in color. The blonde's head inclined and she pushed the bracelet into the space between the fit of her jeans and the small of her back.
She blinked and watched the older woman make her way back into the room. Absently she ran her fingers across her lips to catch any blood that had escaped from the wound in her throat.
"Yeah, Mom?" The vibrations from her voice caused her to wince in discomfort and forced a cough from her chest.
Joyce stepped forward and laid a gentle hand across her brow. "Are you feeling okay? You look a little flushed."
Her daughter smiled up at her. "I'm good. Peachy even. Did you figure out the mix up?"
"Yes. They got our Eva Rye Johannissen. I'll ship theirs back to them tomorrow and they'll do the same." She placed a comforting arm around her daughter's shoulder and gave it an affectionate squeeze. "How 'bout we head home and grab some Italian on the way?"
"Great. I'll go lock up."
The blonde followed the other woman as she locked up her gallery and switched off the lights. The keys to the Jeep Liberty jingled as Joyce unlocked the passenger door for the other woman before walking around to her side. As she settled in and started the car her passenger turned to her and casually asked.
"Mom, have you ever been to Egypt?"