Work Header

an olive tree

Work Text:

Buffy hadn’t ever really considered what went on in Ms. Calendar’s head. On the rare occasion that she found herself alone in a room with the lady, she would either make some excuse up to get out of said room or make sure one of them was too busy to talk, because stuff between the two of them—even a year on—was still weird and tense and not of the good. There was guilt in there, sure, but there was also a pervasive dislike of the lady, because Buffy was of the mind that someone who so clearly only cared about Giles really shouldn’t be dating a guy who looked out for all the Scoobies. And Buffy’s dislike only ever seemed to lead to more guilt: even if Ms. Calendar wasn’t that great, she’d still almost gotten killed thanks to Buffy and her stupid grudge.

In short, it was kind of a mess when Buffy stopped to think about it, and she was always and forever grateful that she didn’t need to think about it anymore. Ms. Calendar’s presence in Giles’s life was something she’d reluctantly made her peace with. Ms. Calendar gave Buffy a wide berth, and Buffy gave Ms. Calendar a whole lot of space, and both of them tacitly pretended not to notice the fact that Giles always looked between the two of them with anxious-puppy eyes. For Giles’s sake, Buffy could tolerate Ms. Calendar, and that was all that needed to be said on the matter.

So it was jarring as all hell to realize the one drawback to her super-new, super-cool superpower: Buffy could hear everyone’s thoughts. Absolutely everyone’s. Including the lady she’d been trying her hardest to ignore.

“Oh, Rupert, thank god,” said Ms. Calendar, sticking her head into the library and making a little face. The kids look okay today, but Buffy seems a little troubled. I hope it’s not anything serious. “I need your help in the lab, stat.”

Buffy frowned, taking a second suspicious look at Ms. Calendar. What was up with that? Of all the things to be on Ms. Calendar’s mind when she stuck her head into the library—she was asking for Giles, but she was thinking about all of the Scoobies? That didn’t seem at all like Ms. Calendar.

Jenny! thought Giles, a wave of warm delight accompanying her name. Aloud, he said with a small frown, “What sort of help do you need?”

“Um, one of the spells I tried to run on my computer left the thing totally trashed, and I…” Ms. Calendar turned a little pink. I’m not tall enough to reach the cabinet you helped me put my backup drive in. “Need some help getting my backup files.”

“I fail to see how you aren’t able to handle such a simple problem yourself,” said Giles with a small frown.

So help me God, I am not gonna admit to being short in front of anyone, ever, thought Ms. Calendar, which kind of—unfairly—made Buffy almost want to laugh. “We’re in a serious adult relationship,” Ms. Calendar said aloud, fixing Giles with an open-mouthed smile. God, he’s adorable. I love him so much. “What’s mine is yours. I have a problem to solve, and therefore you need to help me get on with fixing it.”

“Hard sell, Ms. Calendar,” said Xander. “You might wanna give up on that one.”

“Jenny, do stop being ridiculous,” said Giles, a touch of warmth to his voice. She clearly wants to get me alone—though why she chose this as an excuse is beyond me. I think I’ll make this a bit more difficult for her. “It’s one computer, isn’t it? Snyder won’t be too upset if you report it as damaged rather than immediately attempt to fix it.”

“Anything that risks cutting into the athletics budget is gonna piss Snyder off,” Jenny countered. Seriously, Rupert, this is the one time I am not coming up with an excuse to make out with you in my classroom—

“WHAT?” said Buffy, going flaming red.

All eyes turned to Buffy. “What’s the what, Buffy?” said Ms. Calendar, looking genuinely confused.

“Yes, Buffy,” Giles agreed, frowning slightly. “Of all the people in this room, I wouldn’t expect you to be surprised at the levels that man will stoop to.”

Buffy was still very stuck on the fact that Ms. Calendar tugged Giles out of the library at least once a week, and now Buffy knew why, and you know what, this whole mind-reading thing was not as cool or as fun as she’d initially thought it might be, particularly if it meant she had to think about Ms. Calendar and Giles making out. “Uh, yeah!” she said. “I just—wow, that guy’s awful. You know what, Ms. Calendar? I can totally help out.”

“…really?” said Ms. Calendar, sounding somewhat wary. Buffy Summers offering to help me out? Something’s really off-kilter today.

Now that was a thought that Buffy would have expected from Ms. Calendar. The return to normalcy buoyed her, making it the easiest thing in the world to say, “Yes. Totally. If Giles isn’t gonna help, I one hundred percent can.”

“Ah, Buffy—” said Giles, looking worried. What is she doing? I hope she isn’t angry at Jenny. Every time those two are in a room together, something always seems to go wrong.

“No, it’s okay!” said Ms. Calendar, giving Giles a reassuring smile. God, I really hate that Buffy’s animosity towards me makes Rupert so uncomfortable.

And what the hell did that mean? Sure, Buffy didn’t like Ms. Calendar, but Ms. Calendar didn’t like Buffy. How dare Ms. Calendar make it sound so one-sided? “Yeah, it’s okay, Giles,” she echoed as cheerfully as she could, trying to make it sound like she didn’t have any ulterior motives. Initially, she honestly hadn’t—but now she was kind of interested in exactly how two-faced Ms. Calendar really was. She didn’t trust Ms. Calendar, and her Slayer instincts had never led her wrong before; now might be the time to work on unearthing a few of Ms. Calendar’s best-kept secrets. “Ms. Calendar and I really should try to get better at getting along.”

Both Giles and Ms. Calendar looked at her after she said that—as did literally everyone else at the table.

Why does Buffy want to get along better with Ms. Calendar? thought a strangely injured Willow. I’m the one who likes Ms. Calendar the most!

That’s kinda weird, thought Xander. Then: Ms. Calendar looks hot today. So does Buffy. So does—

Buffy’s never liked Ms. Calendar all that much, Oz thought. Clearly, something’s changed between now and yesterday, but what?

Has my Slayer been replaced by a pod person? Giles was thinking. Is this some sort of after-effect of that demon she ran into on patrol? I clearly should have researched it much more than I did. I barely cracked open a few books. I should have—

Oh my god, is she okay?

The genuine concern to Ms. Calendar’s simple thought took Buffy entirely aback. As her eyes widened, Ms. Calendar’s voice continued, quieter in cadence but somehow managing to overtake all the rest: She’s clearly not okay. She looks like a scared bunny rabbit, and she’s trying to bury the hatchet with me. Whatever this is, I think I should talk to Rupert about it. Later, though, not now; maybe I can try and figure out what’s going on with her in the classroom. Obviously I can’t do anything about it, but if I can get Rupert to talk to her—yeah. That’ll work.

“Buffy’s right,” agreed Ms. Calendar, giving Buffy her usual politely unreadable smile. That threw Buffy off entirely, because she had seen Ms. Calendar make that face a thousand times before. Had Ms. Calendar thought about Buffy like this the whole time? “And it’s very kind of her to offer up her assistance. Chivalry isn’t dead, apparently.”

“Oh, ha ha,” said Giles, but even though his worried eyes were still darting between Buffy and Ms. Calendar, he did crack a small smile.

It wasn’t a very long walk between the library and the computer lab, which was definitely a good thing; the awkward silence between them was filled only by Ms. Calendar’s thoughts. I hope she’s okay. She has enough to deal with as it is. I don’t know why she’s seeking me out, but I’ll do my best not to let her down again. God, that’s so arrogant—assuming that she’s even seeking me out in the first place. I am so deeply horrible at interacting with this girl.

By the time they reached the computer lab, Buffy felt awful. She didn’t exactly know why, but the awfulness felt a hell of a lot more real than the frustrated resentment she’d previously felt around Ms. Calendar, and that realization didn’t make her feel any better about things.

“Hey,” said Ms. Calendar suddenly, almost softly, as she shut the door behind them. “Is everything okay? I know you don’t like me very much, and if you really do want to just detach from this conversation and help me out as speedily as possible, I’m fine with that. I won’t ask any more questions after this, but I just wanted to make sure—”

The truth very nearly came to Buffy’s lips. What came out instead startled them both. “I’m sorry,” she said.

Ms. Calendar blinked, eyes widening. “What?”

“What?” said Buffy, just as surprised as Ms. Calendar.

There was another moment of strained quiet. Did she just say she was sorry? What does she have to be sorry for? She’s a kid. I’d never hold her accountable for wanting to be angry at someone, and I’m old enough to take the stonewalling if it makes her feel just a little bit better. She’s carrying the world on her shoulders. God, I hope she’s okay.

“I’m okay,” Buffy blurted out. “I am. I just—” Ms. Calendar now looked deeply confused. “Um, can we go back to the computer thing?”

“…okay,” said Ms. Calendar, sneaking another look at her. “Well, I—uh, there’s a cabinet—”

Belatedly, it occurred to Buffy that Ms. Calendar was actually a few inches taller than her. Lost in the subtext of Ms. Calendar’s thoughts, Buffy had entirely forgotten about the on-paper text that was real lifeand it read, in big, bold letters, how the hell can a tiny Vampire Slayer reach a cupboard that Ms. Calendar can’t?

“A, uh, cabinet?” echoed Buffy, well aware that she’d dug herself into a pretty serious hole.

Ms. Calendar glanced up at the offending cabinet with a furrowed brow. How the hell can a tiny Vampire Slayer reach a cupboard that I can’t?

I thought it first, thought Buffy, realized Ms. Calendar couldn’t hear her, and found herself feeling kind of childish. “I can get it,” she announced. “It’s in that cabinet, right? The disk drive thingy?” Without waiting for an answer, she clambered up onto a nearby chair, standing on tiptoe to reach for the handle of the cabinet door.


It took Buffy a moment to realize that Ms. Calendar had said it exactly as she’d thought it. “I’m not gonna break anything—” she said a little resentfully, turning back to look at Ms. Calendar, and very nearly lost her balance.

Ms. Calendar reached up immediately, steadying Buffy just enough that she could catch her bearings again. You don’t know that, she thought.

Buffy had to physically bite back an indignant response. “I know these computers are expensive,” she began derisively.

Is that seriously what she thinks of me? The cadence to Ms. Calendar’s thoughts were more hurt than Buffy had ever heard her. God, I’m being ridiculous. She’s the Vampire Slayer—she’s not some fragile little kid. She won’t get hurt if she falls. I’ll sound ridiculous if I say that I was worried about her, I’ll just— “Don’t worry about it,” said Ms. Calendar awkwardly, and if Buffy hadn’t gotten the cheat codes, she might have thought that Ms. Calendar felt justly embarrassed about Buffy calling her out. “Just—the drive is in the small cardboard box up front, okay?”

“Okay,” said Buffy uncertainly, opening the cabinet door.

I wish I could help her like Rupert does. She’s such an incredible girl, and all I seem to do is make things worse between us. I guess it was pretty optimistic of me to assume that—but she said she wanted to make things better—god, I don’t know. I don’t know. She’s dealing with so much and all I do is add to the pile.

“Ms. Calendar, are you okay?” said Buffy suddenly, turning on the chair without really thinking.

Ms. Calendar blinked, looking genuinely bemused. “I mean, you being up on that chair really isn’t doing anything good for my nerves,” she said with an anxious laugh. But now that Buffy was looking a little more closely, she saw how sad Ms. Calendar looked—and she heard how sad Ms. Calendar was. I really don’t know what she’s thinking, Ms. Calendar thought. I wish I did. Maybe if I knew what she was thinking, I could make things better. I could help.

None of this made any sense. This wasn’t the Ms. Calendar that Buffy had been so certain she knew: the Ms. Calendar who had only ever been around for Giles, who had started helping out with the demon-fighting because it was what her boyfriend was doing, who didn’t care about Buffy at all except for probably (definitely) being jealous of Buffy for taking up so much of Giles’s life. If this was what Ms. Calendar was thinking…

If this was what Ms. Calendar was thinking, then had Buffy ever really known Ms. Calendar at all?

“Buffy?” prompted Ms. Calendar.

“Huh? Oh!” Buffy spun on the chair (nearly losing her balance again) and quickly removed the box, jumping down with Slayer agility and turning again to press it into Ms. Calendar’s hands. “This is what you needed, right?”

“I mean, yeah,” said Ms. Calendar awkwardly. “I guess I didn’t really think of standing on a chair myself.” My heels are a little high to manage that without falling—though Buffy did a pretty incredible job herself.

“Well, I’m the Vampire Slayer,” said Buffy, feeling just as uncertain as Ms. Calendar looked. “I can manage to keep my balance in high heels a little better than you, probably.”

She read my mind, thought Ms. Calendar. Then, suddenly, a strange expression crossed her face. Wait. What if—no, that’s ridiculous. But what if—

“I should go,” Buffy blurted out.

Rupert and I had sex in a broom closet last Wednesday.

Though Buffy managed to bite back her disgusted exclamation, she didn’t at all manage to hide her revolted expression. At Ms. Calendar’s narrowed eyes, she felt a wave of that familiar anger roll over her, and she snapped, “What are you looking at me like that for?”

“Buffy,” said Ms. Calendar. I’m probably wrong. I hope I’m wrong. But I have to make sure— “Something’s been a little off about you ever since I showed up.”

“And is that any of your business?”

“It is if it’s an invasion of privacy.”

“I’m sorry, are you accusing me of invading someone’s privacy?” Buffy shot back. “Kind of hypocritical, don’t you think?”

Ms. Calendar flinched back, and the look of genuine hurt in her eyes cut Buffy to the bone. God, Buffy’s completely right. I’m being ridiculous. I’m feeling insecure and I’m taking it out on her. How is everything I do with Buffy a misstep? I should step back instead of forward. I should have let Rupert talk to her instead—

And in that moment, Buffy hated Ms. Calendar more than she had ever thought possible. How dare Ms. Calendar be insecure and sad and caring, instead of the two-faced liar that Buffy had gotten used to putting up with for Giles’s sake? How dare Ms. Calendar try and help Buffy like there was any reason she should want to? How dare Ms. Calendar care about her, even after everything Buffy had put her through, even after Buffy was being totally unreasonable right now

Ms. Calendar was already stepping back, giving Buffy a wide berth. Buffy wanted to step forward and explain herself, but that would mean admitting to an unjustifiably low blow, and she couldn’t. She couldn’t face Ms. Calendar, Ms. Calendar who didn’t have a single ounce of vengeance or anger in her heart. “I have to go,” Buffy forced out. “I have to—I have to go.”

Ms. Calendar didn’t say anything, just looked down at the box in her hands. I wish I could stop trying, she thought. Every time I try, things between her and me get worse. But— And then she stopped, looking up at Buffy again. Can she read my mind? Is that what this is? She hasn’t left yet, and she’s looking at me like she knows what I’m thinking. It’s a ridiculous hypothesis, I know, but if that’s the case—

“Why do you keep trying?” said Buffy suddenly.

“What?” said Ms. Calendar. Her thoughts went blank.

“Why—” God, this was a difficult question to ask. “I’ve been terrible to you for an entire year,” said Buffy unsteadily. “It didn’t just stop when you and Giles got back together after—that stuff with Angel, and we both know it. But you’ve just let me be terrible, and you’ve been nice about it.” And as she said it, she realized that it was the truth: though things with Ms. Calendar had always been awkward, Ms. Calendar had never once tried to start a conversation when Buffy didn’t want to have one. “Why are you still trying?”

Because I care about you, and because I know what it’s like to be forced into something you would never have chosen yourself. You’re too young to carry that with you. I want to help.

But despite what Buffy had just heard Ms. Calendar think, Ms. Calendar didn’t answer immediately. Finally, carefully, she said, “I don’t know, Buffy. Do you want me to stop?”

“That’s not the answer!” said Buffy hotly, her resolve finally giving way.

Ms. Calendar cocked an eyebrow. “You’re not a mind-reader, Buffy,” she said pointedly.

A wave of shame swept over Buffy. Biting her lip, she ducked her head, unable to think of anything to say.

I might be right, thought Ms. Calendar. How can I help her if I’m right?

All of a sudden, Buffy found herself with way too much to say. “All you’re thinking about is how to help me,” she burst out. “Nothing else. Not what you can get from me, not how to win me over, just—all you want to do is help.”

Ms. Calendar looked a little startled. Awkwardly, she set down the box on a nearby desk—but she still seemed unable to meet Buffy’s eyes. “That’s not—”

“But it is,” Buffy persisted. “I thought—” She let out a frustrated breath. “God, this is gonna make me look terrible, but…I thought, you know, when you were talking last year about how sorry you were and how much you wanted to make this up to me? I thought that that was a lie. I’ve just been waiting this whole year for you to slip up and show that you don’t care about all of us half as much as you pretend you do, ‘cause you spent so much time going out of your way after Angelus to win back our trust. And I thought—I don’t know. I thought no one could possibly care that much about all of us.” She looked directly up at Ms. Calendar. “But you do.”

Now Ms. Calendar looked almost uncomfortable. “You make me sound like some kind of a saint, Buffy,” she said, and she didn’t sound all that happy about it. “Look, I do want to prove to you that I’m a good person, but I don’t want you looping around and idolizing me—”

“How could I not?” said Buffy, her voice breaking. “I’ve been terrible to you! I complain weekly to Willow about how you’re probably still a lying spy hanging around to make sure Angel’s never ever happy again! I go out of my way to avoid talking to you, and when we do talk, I act like I’m doing you a favor! And you’ve taken all of it for a year and you still—”

“Buffy,” Ms. Calendar began.

“I don’t want to hear it!” said Buffy tearfully. “I don’t! So stop talking about it and stop thinking about it and stop acting like you’re not—like I haven’t been terrible to you!”

“You are seventeen and you have a ridiculous amount of shit to deal with,” said Ms. Calendar simply. “And I hate to be this blunt with you, but whether or not I have your good opinion isn’t gonna end my life. I understand that you’re angry, and I understand why it’s me that you’ve been angry at.”

“But it’s not fair!” Buffy burst out. “Why are you acting like this is in any way fair to you?”

Ms. Calendar gave her a small, lopsided smile. “I never said it was fair to me,” she said. “Only that I understand it.”

She’s such a kind girl. She has such a good heart.

“Why won’t you think anything bad about me?” Buffy sobbed. “I’ve thought so many bad things about you!”

Because you are seventeen, Buffy, Ms. Calendar thought. You’re seventeen, and the Powers that Be decided that it’s your job to save the world, and quite frankly, that is more than enough reason for you to be angry and bitter and sad. If it makes your life easier to be angry at me, I’d never begrudge you that.

And she sounded almost like Giles, in that moment, soft and warm and understanding. But—no, Giles was still her Watcher, still looking at her even in the softer moments like a savior and a savant and a Slayer. Ms. Calendar was looking at her like she was a kid, and god, even Buffy’s mom didn’t look at her like that anymore—not before she’d found out Buffy was a Slayer, and certainly not after. Everyone expected Buffy to know what she was doing, to be good and strong and brave and smart, and sometimes Buffy didn’t feel like any of those things, sometimes she just wanted—

Buffy hadn’t realized that she had moved towards Ms. Calendar until she felt Ms. Calendar’s surprised intake of breath, and then she realized that she’d buried her face in Ms. Calendar’s shoulder. She didn’t hug Ms. Calendar too tightly—Slayer strength coupled with Ms. Calendar being super tiny would probably snap the lady like a twig—but Ms. Calendar, after a startled moment, hugged her back, and that alone made Buffy feel enveloped in something ridiculous and lovely.

Ms. Calendar’s thoughts were coming in fragmented, strangely tearful bursts of emotion—not painful or intrusive in the way some other minds had been, just there in the back of Buffy’s head. poor baby poor girl so strong so tiny too fucking young for this shit god I can’t believe Rupert buys into this fucking nonsense look what it does to the children—

Buffy cried like that for a little while, Ms. Calendar’s only-ever-concerned thoughts cuddling around her and holding her tighter than any hug could. “I didn’t know,” she wailed, “I didn’t know anyone was worried about me—”

“Maybe I’m the one thinking about it right now,” said Ms. Calendar, an unsteady laugh in her voice, “but I don’t think you should ever doubt that Rupert worries too.”

“But he’s still my Watcher, it’s his job—”

“Not your Watcher anymore, if I remember correctly,” Ms. Calendar gently reminded her. “And yet he’s still here, isn’t he?”

Buffy raised her head, still sniffling. “Yeah,” she said, letting Ms. Calendar’s thumb brush a tear off her cheek. “Yeah. Um—”

Ms. Calendar let her go and stepped back, awkwardly straightening out her slightly rumpled cardigan. “So does Rupert know that you can read minds?” she asked. “I think you should probably tell him.”

“I should probably tell him,” Buffy agreed. She didn’t move.

“So are you going to—”

Impulsively, Buffy moved forward again, tightly hugging Ms. Calendar. (Obviously not too tightly, though.) “Thank you,” she mumbled into Ms. Calendar’s shoulder, feeling too many feelings to properly catalogue them all. Clumsily, she pulled away, giving Ms. Calendar her first ever genuine smile. “You’re a pretty great Scooby, you know that?”

“Wh—oh!” Ms. Calendar’s face went very soft. Her thoughts weren’t any kind of words at that moment—more a rush of warm, wordless delight that perfectly matched her blossoming grin. “Yeah, I—yeah! Thank you for helping me out today, Buffy; I hope you’ll do it again.”

“Hopefully with less mind-reading,” Buffy quipped.

“Eh,” said Ms. Calendar, waving a hand. “It’s the Hellmouth. Who knows what to expect?”

As soon as her telepathic powers had entirely faded, Buffy took the opportunity to head to school a little earlier than usual, refusing to admit what she wanted to do until she was directly outside Ms. Calendar’s classroom. She’d shown up early enough to beat Ms. Calendar there, and waited nervously by the door until she saw the lady in question rounding the corner with a hot cup of coffee.

“Um, hi,” said Buffy hesitantly.

Ms. Calendar nearly spilled her cup. “Oh!” she said, about five emotions crossing her face at the same time. Embarrassed was the one that seemed to stick. “Buffy, hi! Why—I mean, what—god.” She let out a nervous laugh. “This is awkward.”

“You’re telling me,” said Buffy, and they shared a smile. God, that was weird. Even before the Angel drama, sharing smiles with Ms. Calendar wasn’t exactly Buffy’s thing. “So I don’t know if Giles briefed you on the sitch—”

“Not much,” said Ms. Calendar with a shrug. “Only the important stuff.”

“That I’m back to fighting?”

“That you’re okay,” said Ms. Calendar, with a weird blend of affection and annoyance—kind of like the way she told Giles off when he got concussed, or the way she would push Xander’s feet off the table in the library.

“Well,” said Buffy awkwardly, not sure how to handle the sudden shift in their dynamic. “That’s—cool. Yeah. Good to see you, really awesome talk, I’ll just—”

“Buffy,” said Ms. Calendar, and gave her a surprisingly soft look that Buffy rarely saw directed at anyone but Giles, or Willow, or Xander when he didn’t have his feet on the table. “Do you want to help me set up the lab?”

“What?” Buffy blinked, then took another look at Ms. Calendar—and now that she was paying attention, she could see the shy hope in Ms. Calendar’s eyes. “Is this some kind of olive branch from you?”

“Well, if I’ve been the one giving out olive branches, you’d have a whole olive tree by now,” said Ms. Calendar, but there was a teasing note to her voice. “I think I’m just taking the one you’re handing me.”

As it turned out, Ms. Calendar was a dork in the same weird Giles-y way—lots of sarcasm and eye rolls and references Buffy didn’t understand, only it was about magic instead of demonology. Her rare smiles weren’t exactly soft, but if you paid attention to her eyes and her hands and the cadence of her voice, you could tell what she was really thinking. She liked black coffee more than any kind of tea, she laughed loudly at Buffy’s bad puns, and for the first time, Buffy could kind of get why this was the lady Giles liked so much. She wasn’t just some random, dispassionate computer teacher that had lured Giles in with a pretty face—she was weird, and nerdy, and caring.

“Are you gonna chaperone prom?” Buffy asked, taking a sip of Ms. Calendar’s coffee and wrinkling her nose. “Ew.”

“Serves you right. That is not yours.” Ms. Calendar took the coffee from Buffy to take a longer sip herself. “I bet your ideal cup of coffee has way too much milk and sugar in, huh?”

“Better than no milk and sugar!”

“If you want milk and sugar, drink milk and sugar. I want coffee.” Ms. Calendar took another sip. “I’m not sure if I’m chaperoning prom. Why do you ask?”

“Giles is,” said Buffy. “I bet he’d like the company.”

Ms. Calendar gave Buffy a strange look. “I suppose he would,” she said slowly.

“And—I mean, all the other Scoobies are gonna be there,” said Buffy shyly, fiddling with a loose thread on her cardigan. “So—I don’t know. It’d be weird if you weren’t, you know?”

“Well,” said Ms. Calendar, and there was a smile to her voice. “When you put it that way, I don’t know how I could possibly refuse.”

(“Hey, Giles, Ms. Calendar says you have teabags at your apartment instead of tea leaves,” Buffy called in Giles’s direction; she had to shout to be heard over the blaring music. “That sounds totally un-British of you. Have you gone native?”

“This is not a conversation I wish to have during prom,” Giles shouted back. “Or at all.” Barely a second later, “Jenny, why would you give Buffy that level of ammunition?”

“She asked!” Ms. Calendar loudly informed him, and beamed in Buffy’s direction. Buffy grinned back. Looking between the both of them, an unabashedly delighted smile spread across Giles’s face.)