Title: Things Aren't Always What They Seem
Summary: One of Buffy's teachers has the wrong idea of what goes on in the library.
Feedback: I love it, want it, and need it.
Disclaimer: These are not my characters. They belong to Joss, Twentieth Century Fox, UPN, WB & Mutant Enemy. This is purely for fun.
This is my entry for the Choose Your Author Ficathon. I wrote for jedi_penguin. The requirements are listed at the end.
Thank to beadtific for all your help.
* * * * * * * * * *
Miss Johnson walked by the library on the way to her classroom. The sounds coming from within grabbed her attention, tempting her to peek inside. She glanced at the sign that had been placed in front of the doors. ‘Closed for filing. Please come back tomorrow.’ She rolled her eyes. “Filing?” she asked herself.
She walked to the doors. The closer she got, the more it seemed like something wasn’t quite right. She thought she heard grunting, moaning and another sound she couldn’t identify. As she reached the doors, she closed her eyes and took a deep breath and, suddenly, realized the sounds had stopped. She opened her eyes and looked through the window in the door.
“Nothing,” she whispered, “but I was certain I heard something.”
She started to turn around, but a movement caught her eye and she stopped. The librarian, Mr. Giles, was walking out of his office followed by a petite blond girl.
For a moment, her thoughts became suspicious. ‘Don’t think the worst,’ she chided herself. ‘There could be legitimate reasons for the two of them to be in his office. . . I just can’t think of any at the moment.’ She slowly backed away from the doors, before turning and walking to her classroom.
Miss Johnson paced around her classroom as she continued to talk to herself. “Get a hold of yourself. Jumping to conclusions won’t help. Remember what happened last time. I need more proof. I can't go through that again.”
She spun around, startled by the voice, and saw the girl from the library.
“Are you okay?”
“You startled me,” Miss Johnson replied. “You’re. . .”
“Buffy. I’m in your geometry class. I don’t usually see you around after school. Is something wrong?” Buffy asked.
“I was halfway home when I realized I forgot the tests I need to grade tonight. I came back to get them.” At Buffy’s uncertain look, she added, “I’m fine. What are you doing here this late?”
“Me? Not much. Just doing some research in the library.”
“I have to write a paper for history, and the library has all those books in it. I thought I’d make use of it.” Buffy paused a moment. “I really gotta go. My mom’s expecting me.”
As Buffy left, Miss Johnson pulled the tests out of her desk drawer. ‘What are you hiding, Buffy?’ she asked herself.
* * * * * * * * * *
“I mean it, Giles. She was acting really strange. She was pacing around her classroom and talking to herself.”
“Do you remember anything she said?” Giles asked.
“She said something about needing more proof and something about jumping to conclusions.”
“Buffy, that’s hardly strange around here. Think of what you’ve seen.”
“She asked me what I was doing at school so late.”
Giles’ face took on a worried expression. “What did you tell her?”
“Just that I was working on a paper for history class and that I was researching in the library. That’s when she gave me the strange look. So, I said I had to go, that mom was expecting me.”
“I’m sure it’s nothing, but we can look into it, if it bothers you that much.” Giles placed a comforting hand on her shoulder.
“Thanks, Giles. I knew I could count on you.”
* * * * * * * * * *
The next morning, Giles met Willow and Buffy in the library before school to discuss Miss Johnson.
“Willow, what did you find?” Giles asked.
“Miss Johnson was fired from her job at her last school.”
“Do you know why?” Buffy asked.
“Something about making false accusations against a fellow teacher. I couldn’t find much. I got the feeling there was more to the story than I could find. I can try to find out more if you want.”
“I don’t think it’s necessary,” Buffy admitted. “At least not yet.”
“You could try talking to her,” Willow suggested.
“Yeah, ‘cause that worked so well last time.”
“Buffy,” Giles said in warning. “Willow may have a point. If there is more than meets the eye?”
“Oh. What if she a demon or an insect?” Willow asked.
“Oh, all right.” Buffy rolled her eyes. “I’ll see what I can find out.”
* * * * * * * * * *
Buffy nervously awaited the end of math class, her last class of the day. She knew she told Giles that she would talk to Miss Johnson, but the thought of another conversation with the teacher scared her. ‘What if Willow’s right? What if she’s evil? What if she’s trying to find proof that I’m the Slayer?’ She debated with herself as her classmates left the room and decided to just leave. ‘I don’t know what I’d say to her anyway.’
Miss Johnson stopped her as she walked to the door. “Buffy, could you stay for a few minutes? I’d like to talk with you.”
‘There’s no getting out of this now,’ she thought. “Sure. What’s up? Is it my test?”
“This isn’t about your test or your grades,” Miss Johnson told her. “You seemed to be distracted during class today. Is everything all right?”
“I’m good. Just got a lot going on. That’s all.”
"Buffy, I'm worried about you being here alone so late at night." Miss Johnson admitted.
“Don’t worry about me. I can protect myself.”
“But things can happen that you’re not prepared to deal with.” Miss Johnson took a deep breath. “I’ve seen and heard things.”
Buffy began to wonder if she knew about vampires and demons. It was the only reason she could think of for this odd conversation. “I have protection; several kinds, actually. I can handle anything.”
Buffy glanced at the door. “Look, I gotta go. I’m gonna to be late for a study session.”
Before Miss Johnson could say anything else, Buffy turned and left the room.
* * * * * * * * * *
Miss Johnson thought about Buffy as she closed and locked her classroom. The girl was confident that she could handle any situation. ‘Is it possible she’s a willing participant? Girls her age often have crushes on older men.’
She was still lost in thought when she bumped into someone in the hall. “I’m sorry. I wasn’t watching where I was going,” she said, looking to see who she had bumped into, and found herself looking into the eyes of Mr. Giles.
“No harm done,” he told her.
“Mr. Giles, you’re here late, tonight; last night, too.”
“Yes, well, it’s necessary from time to time.”
“I saw Buffy here last night as well. She said she’s been doing research in the library after school.” She paused. “I thought the library was closed after school.”
"I occasionally make exceptions. I'm delighted when any student expresses an interest in actually learning something, more so when it's a student like Miss Summers. I'd gladly stay, for any of them."
“So, Buffy isn’t the only one?” she asked, suspicion creeping into her voice.
“Of course not. I wouldn’t dream of discriminating. I will open the library for any student who would like to use it.”
“Are you leaving for the day?”
“No, actually. I’m on my way to the library.” He glanced at his watch. “If you’ll excuse me, I have an appointment to keep.”
“I need to be going, too.”
He gave her a slight smile. “Watch your step. You don’t know who else you might bump into if you’re not careful.”
She stifled a laugh as the mental picture of running into Principal Snyder came to mind. “Thank you. I’ll keep that in mind.
She watched as he turned and walked towards the library. ‘I should just go home and forget all of this. After all, he could be telling the truth.’ she told herself. ‘But what if he isn’t?’
She couldn’t resist the urge to walk by the library an her way out of the building. As she approached, she heard voices. She couldn’t hear everything, but what she did hear made her blood run cold.
“You’re going . . . tonight?”
“You’ll stop by after?”
“Don’t be late, Buffy. We wouldn’t want your mother to wonder where you are. If you’re grounded again. . .”
Miss Johnson considered barging in and demanding answers, but she changed her mind. ‘I need a plan first. I’ll go home and come back later to see if I can learn anything.’ She thought as she quietly walked away from the library.
* * * * * * * * * *
Miss Johnson walked through the halls of the school, heading for the library. Something caught her attention. She turned and saw Buffy close her locker and head into the girl’s bathroom. Before she could decide what to do, Buffy left the bathroom and headed for the library.
She followed at a distance, still not sure what was happening. When Buffy entered the library, Miss Johnson found a place to hide in the hall and waited. She was close enough that she could hear parts of the conversation, but not all of it. She didn’t dare get any closer, though, and risk being seen or heard herself.
“Don’t touch me ” Buffy shouted. She heard Mr. Giles say something she couldn’t understand before Buffy said clearly, “I quit.” There was more indistinct conversation and then sounds of something being thrown. Buffy was yelling now, and she couldn’t understand anything that was being said. She thought about moving closer to the library when the noise and yelling stopped. She froze, fearing the worst. ‘Are they still talking, or did Buffy do something to him? It didn’t sound like a struggle. I didn’t hear anyone call for help. I hope he didn’t do something to her.’
She summoned the courage to walk to the library door to see what had happened, when the door opened and Buffy walked out. Buffy almost ran into her.
“Miss Johnson?” she whispered.
She looked at Buffy’s tear streaked face. “Buffy, are you all right? Did something happen?”
Buffy was silent a moment. “You’ll think I’m crazy. Most people do.”
“Buffy, you can tell me anything. I won’t think you’re crazy.”
“Okay, but not here.”
They walked in silence for a while before Buffy spoke again. “I’m going to die tomorrow, and there’s no way to avoid it.”
“Buffy, has someone threatened you?”
“It’s not like that. There’s this prophecy.”
“A prophecy? I don’t understand.”
“It’s a long story.”
“I’ve got time.”
“Give me a ride home, and I’ll tell you all about it.”
By the time she pulled the car over in front of Buffy’s house, she knew all about Slayers, Watchers, vampires, and the Master. It wasn’t what she’d thought at all.
“Buffy, I need to apologize to you. I thought something entirely different was happening between the two of you.” Miss Johnson took a deep breath. “I guess that explains the missing students and the high number of animal attacks.”
“Yeah. Most of Sunnydale isn’t ready to know the truth.”
“You really care about Mr. Giles, don’t you?”
“He’s always there when I need him; always ready to help me. I’m afraid of what will happen to him if he tries to help this time. What if he tries to go in my place? As much as I don’t want to die, I don’t want him dying either.” Buffy wiped the tears from her eyes. “I’m surprised that you believe any of this.”
“Well, it’s a lot better than what I thought was happening.”
“Which was?” Buffy asked.
“I though that you and Mr. Giles were having an affair. I thought he was taking advantage of you.”
Buffy burst out laughing. “That’s what you thought?”
“I’ve seen it happen.”
“At my previous school, I discovered that one of the teachers was taking advantage of one of his students. I reported him, but I didn’t have enough evidence. I’d rather not get into all the details, but I’ll say that there were more people involved than I originally thought. Later, the girl was reported as missing. I don’t think it was coincidence. I think I should be thankful I only lost my job.”
“So, you thought that Giles and I were doing things we shouldn’t.” Buffy looked out the window at her house. Her mother was walking towards them. “That’s my mom,” she whispered. “She doesn’t know about the Slayer thing.” She opened the car door. “Thanks for the ride.”
“Buffy, who’s this?” Joyce asked.
“This is my math teacher, Miss Johnson.”
“Mrs. Summers, it’s nice to meet you. I saw Buffy walking home and worried about her doing so alone after dark. So, I offered to give her a ride home. I hope that’s all right.”
“That’s very thoughtful of you. I hope you didn’t have to go out of your way.”
“Not at all. I live just a few blocks from here.”
“Thank you,” Buffy said as she climbed out of the car. “For everything,” she added in a whisper.
Miss Johnson watched Buffy and her mother walk to the house and go inside. ‘I can’t believe I ever thought those two were doing anything illegal. How can I face Mr. Giles again? I hope he can forgive me as easily as Buffy has.’
* * * * * * * * * *
Miss Johnson entered the library early Monday morning. Buffy and Giles were cleaning up the mess that had resulted from Buffy’s encounter with the Master.
Giles saw her first and approached her. “May I help you?”
“I know this may not be the best time, but could we talk for a moment?”
Giles gestured to his office and followed her inside.
“I’m sorry for our conversation the other day. I had the wrong idea about your relationship with Buffy. I was worried about her.”
“It’s quite all right, Miss Johnson. Buffy informed me of your discussion the other night. Though, I have to admit that I’m shocked that you accept all this so easily.”
“Buffy said something similar. I guess it’s just easier to believe in vampires and demons than the alternative. You should be careful, though. Others could overhear bits of conversations and think inappropriate things are happening in here.”
“I’ll keep that in mind,” he said as he removed his glasses and began to clean them.
Buffy poked her head into the office. “Everything okay?”
“I think so,” Miss Johnson answered. “So, do you need any help cleaning?”
“Sure. We’ll take all the help we can get,” Buffy answered before leaving them alone once more.
“She’s an amazing girl,” she said.
“That she is,” Giles agreed.
* * * * *
* * * * *
This was my assignment:
Characters/Pairings you want the story to focus in. No pairing, just a Giles gen fic
Characters/Pairings you want in the story too. An original character
Things you want: I would love a story in which somebody who knows nothing about the Hellmouth tries to figure out what the hell Giles is doing with all those teenagers all the time. It can be the teacher at the highschool with the closest classroom to the library, a neighbor sharing the same courtyard as Giles' condo, or the owner of the store next to the Magic Box. Set it after the place in question gets trashed (eg, "Prophecy Girl" for the library, "Pangs" for the condo, or the troll episode for the Magic Box), and have the neighbor thinking very dire thoughts about Giles indeed.
Things you don't want: The nosy neighbor guessing anything correctly.
Extras: I'm thinking this format lends itself to a G or PG fic, but the author is free to use his/her discretion.
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