Just a note: This fic is over three years old, and it is complete, though it's 48 parts long and I'll be posting it bit by bit. Anyway, it was one of my earlier fics, so please be gentle in your reviews. My writing's probably improved a lot between the ages of 20 and 23.
Title: False Pretenses
Author: Karen U
Pairings: Willow/Graham, Xander/Cordelia, others implied
Disclaimer: All BtVS characters belong to Joss Whedon, the WB, UPN, and Fox
Distribution: Ask first
Spoilers: Post Becoming; after that, it's my own little world,
although random spoilers through Faith, Hope, and Trick may appear and knowledge of certain season four characters is needed
Summary: Riley gets an assignment involving the Scooby Gang
Notes: Willow & co. are seniors and Graham & co. go to UC-
Sunnydale and are in the Initiative; in my world, Oz graduated and heand Willow broke up, and Willow got Angel out of Hell (just because I couldn't leave him there indefinitely)
"What? You’ve got to be kidding!"
"No, Agent Finn, I am not kidding."
"Professor Walsh, this is ridiculous. I’m not qualified to teach high school English. I’m only a senior in college, and I’m a psychology major. Not to mention the fact that I don’t look old enough to be a teacher. And I don’t really understand why surveillance is needed at a high school, anyway."
"I’m well aware of any possible objections you might have, Riley. However, you are an excellent English student, as well as the best agent the Initiative has. Besides that, you are twenty-one, and could easily pass as twenty-two or -three. Many first year teachers are in their early twenties, so there shouldn’t be a problem. And as for the need for surveillance, I suggest you read over the files I give you carefully. I believe you will agree with the decision to investigate the students of this school."
"What about my classes?"
"That has all been taken care of, and I’m sure Agents Gates and Miller will be more than willing to help with any difficulties you run into," Professor Walsh stated as she handed Riley the thick file. The young man scanned opened it and scanned it quickly, then looked at the professor, a resigned expression on his face.
"When do I start?"
"Oh, this is too funny," Forrest Gates said as he lounged in Riley’s chair. "Mr. Riley Finn, high school teacher. That is just hilarious."
"What’s the assignment, anyway?" Graham Miller asked quietly. Unlike Forrest, he wasn’t about to laugh at his friend’s expense. He knew only too well that it could have been him instead.
"Apparently, some strange things have been happening at Sunnydale High School, especially over the past couple of years. The school always has some lame excuse for the occurrences, but Walsh thinks it’s a cover up."
"What kind of occurrences?" Forrest asked, intrigued.
"Gangs on PCP that sound suspiciously like vampires attacking on
Parent/Teacher Night, the sewer system supposedly backing up and releasing hoards of snakes, that kind of stuff. The problem with the snake thing is that students in the cafeteria were heard to say their food turned into snakes, as in it was a transformation of some sort. Plus, two teachers were murdered in the past year. And several incidents seem to be focused on one girl."
"And she would be?" Forrest prompted.
"Buffy Summers," Riley replied, pulling the picture of the blonde from the file and laying it on the bed.
"Now that’s a name to inspire fear," Forrest cracked.
"Tell me about it," Riley said. "The thing is, the girl isn’t even at the school right now. She was expelled and ran away."
"Why was she expelled?" Graham asked as he studied the picture of the blonde. She looked fairly normal, and it was difficult to believe that she had anything to do with the supernatural.
"She was accused of murder. The charges have been dropped. It turned out that Summers didn’t even arrive at the scene until after the attack, which happened in the school library."
"Okay. Can I just say that I’m glad I didn’t go to Sunnydale High?" Forrest stated.
"If Buffy ran away, what exactly is your assignment?" Graham asked, perplexed.
"Her friends. Or, at least, her friends that were present when the murder occurred. Even the murder could be considered an odd occurrence. The girl wasn’t a student at the school, and no one even knew her last name. All the police ever really found out was that her first name was Kendra and that her throat had been slashed." Riley pulled out the first photograph. "Anyway,
I’m after Buffy’s friends. This is Cordelia Chase. She was at the library that night, but she escaped unharmed."
"Woah, she’s hot. When will she be eighteen?" Forrest asked. Riley ignored him, pulling out the second picture.
"This is Alexander Harris. He ended up with a broken wrist. This man is Rupert Giles, the school librarian. He was in the library during the attack, and he was reported missing by Harris shortly after the attack. He showed up less than a day later, rather beaten up. No one knows where he was. Apparently, it wasn’t the first occasion that he has been known to spend time with these particular students. He has been seen with Summers and her friends on numerous occasions. Students at Sunnydale have said that Buffy Summers and her friends spend an inordinate amount of time at the library, and that they were the only people who ever went in."
"A middle-aged man hanging out with a bunch of teenagers?" Graham said, his distaste showing on his face. "That sounds a little creepy to me."
"Me, too," Riley admitted before pulling out the final photograph. "This is Willow Rosenberg. She suffered the worst of the injuries that night. A bookcase was pushed on top of her, and she hit her head rather severely. She was unconscious for several hours."
Graham looked down at the picture of the girl with the sweet smile and tried to keep from conjuring up a picture of her lying helpless in a hospital bed. "But she did recover, didn’t she?"
Riley nodded. "She’s fine now."
Graham nodded, then looked at his friend. "How are you going to be able to do this, Riley? I mean, what about your classes?"
"Walsh had my schedule altered. I only need twenty-four hours to get my bachelor’s, so she had my load cut down to twelve hours this semester. Plus, she arranged it so that all my professors are involved in the Initiative. In fact, she’s actually the professor for both of my psychology classes. I’ll get copies of all the lecture notes, and tests will be scheduled at my convenience until this assignment is over. Plus, I’ll be getting help from you guys."
"What do you mean?"
"You’ll be following Buffy’s friends, and you’ll be helping me grade
Forrest groaned. "What subject are you teaching?"
"English. Which means you better go buy a grammar book."
"A computer class," Riley repeated dumbly. He was so beyond screwed. He could fake English classes, but computers? That wasn’t something that could be faked.
"Yes, Mr. Finn, a computer class," the small, obnoxious principal of Sunnydale High School confirmed.
"I wasn’t aware that I would be teaching anything besides English."
"Yes, well, now you are. The teacher we hired for the computer classes won’t be here for the next six weeks, so several teachers are taking on an extra class. I’m sure you understand," Principal Snyder continued pompously. "If you need any help, ask Miss Rosenberg."
"Miss Rosenberg?" Riley questioned, trying to prevent the flash of
recognition from crossing his face at the sound of the name. He wasn’t sure of his success, but Snyder didn’t seem to notice anything amiss.
"Willow Rosenberg," the little troll clarified. "She’s a senior here. She took over the classes last year. If you have any problems, you can ask her."
"Thank you, Principal Snyder," Riley replied, then waited to see if the man had anything else to say.
"You may go now."
"Need any help?"
Riley jumped at the tentative question, then whirled around to face the speaker.
Her hair was shorter than it had been in the picture he had seen, but her identity was unquestionable. It was none other than Willow Rosenberg.
"Excuse me?" Riley replied.
Willow stepped into the computer classroom, offering the new teacher a shy smile. "I asked if you needed any help."
"Why would you think that I need help?"
Willow stared at the new teacher, not quite sure what to make of him. He was young, probably not more than five years older than she was. He was also extremely attractive, and he looked extremely lost. She couldn’t help but feel sorry for the man. "Because I know that the new computer teacher hasn’t arrived yet and that Principal Snyder has given the computer classes to other teachers. Mr. Giles, the librarian, was assigned a class, and he already asked me for help. I thought I’d stop by and see if anyone else was going to need help, but if you don’t..." Willow shrugged, then turned to go.
The young redhead turned around to face him again, but this time remained in the doorway. "You know my name," she stated calmly. Too calmly.
Riley returned her assessing gaze, mentally kicking himself for calling her by her name. He should have known better.
"Well, Principal Snyder told me that I should ask a Willow Rosenberg if I needed any help. I assumed it was you," he explained, hoping she would believe him.
She relaxed slightly and nodded. "Oh," she said. "Does that, um... does that mean you need help?"
"Actually, it does. I’m an English teacher, not a computer teacher."
"Well," Willow replied as she entered the room and came to stand beside the handsome new teacher, "you can’t be any worse than Mr. Giles. He’s practically afraid of computers. He nearly threw a fit a couple years ago when the library’s resources were scanned into the computer system. And don’t tell him I told you that," she added as she glanced at the lesson plans Riley had on the desk in front of him. They were completely blank. Willow smiled, then quickly brought up Jenny’s old files. The techno pagan had kept her lesson plans saved on her hard drive as well as to disk, and Willow had never deleted them. Within seconds, she had the first two weeks of class activities printing out - one copy for Giles, one for the new teacher. She handed them to Riley, and the young man looked down at them in awe.
"These are fantastic. They should be a big help," he told the young woman.
"Miss Calendar, the old computer teacher, made them. They’re what I used last year when I took over her class."
"Why did you take over her class?" Riley asked. He knew the answer, but he also knew that anyone else in his position would probably ask the same question.
"She, um, she died," Willow answered quietly, unable to keep the wave of pain from crossing her face.
Riley stared at the girl for a moment, feeling like an ass for bringing up what was obviously a terrible memory for the girl. "I’m sorry," he told her sincerely.
Willow smiled weakly. "Thank you," she replied softly, then turned to go. She stopped in the doorway. "If you need any more help, just let me know."
"I will. Thank you, Miss Rosenberg."
"You’re welcome, Mr...." her voice trailed off as she realized she didn’t know him name. "Finn," Riley supplied. "Riley Finn."
Willow smiled gently. "You’re welcome, Mr. Finn."
Riley sank slowly into the chair that sat behind the teacher’s desk of the computer classroom as he studied the lesson plans Willow had printed out for him. They were good. Very good, and obviously written simply enough so that any substitute teacher could handle them. He silently thanked Miss Calendar, wherever the poor woman was. He was almost certain he could follow them.
One less thing to worry about.
Sighing, Riley set the lesson plans down and took out his roll sheets. He hadn’t looked at them before, and he decided now would be a good time to go over them. He checked over the one for his computer class first, happy to discover that Cordelia Chase was in the class. Hopefully, he would be able to keep an eye on the girl. Of course, he still wasn’t sure how he was
supposed to get information out of the people he was assigned to watch. He’d have to figure something out, and soon. Riley quickly scanned the rest of his roll sheets, looking for the names of Buffy's friends. By the time he got to fourth period, he was running out of hope. Then he saw the class list for his fifth period class.
All three in one class.
Riley smiled. His day was looking up.