Joyce swung through the library doors into the hallway and jerked to a stop, getting popped on the backside by the doors for her troubles.
. You’re supposed to be in class,” she said just below a shout.
Cordelia rolled her eyes and said, “It’s my study hall. Miss Calendar ‘released me into Mr. Giles’s care’.”
“Don’t you usually go to the gym to work with your squad?” she asked.
She shrugged. “I had a question.” She hesitated and Joyce got a sinking feeling. She wasn’t going to like this. “Amy and Jonathon weren’t on the board.”
No, she certainly didn’t like this but she’d set it into motion. “No, they weren’t.”
“Then why did Willow ask Amy over for the weekend and why have I actually talked
to Jonathon today?” she demanded.
Joyce fiddled with Cordelia’s hair for a moment before looking her in the eye and saying, “He tries to kill himself next year and she’s dabbling in dark magic. She’ll turn herself into a rat and not be able to turn back.” Cordelia’s dark eyes widened. Joyce cupped her face and kissed her cheek, then whispered, “We’re going to change things.” Cordelia nodded, burrowing into her. She added wryly, “We’re also going to assist Larry Blaisdale out of the closet so he’ll leave Xander alone.”
Cordelia stiffened, then pulled back, eyes narrowed. She stomped her foot as she hissed, “I knew
he was still picking on him. I’m going to-”
“Let me handle it,” Joyce cut in, eyebrow rising. “Yes, you are.”
“Today?” Cordelia demanded and Joyce possibly shouldn’t be this amused that her daughter was such a pushy little miss.
She always had been, though, even at the tender age of two when Joyce had talked Hank into adopting her after two of his associates had died in a plane crash. She hadn’t known that her best friend from college would die and Oz would join them a few months after, but she didn’t regret anything.
“Today,” she nodded, resigned to the fact that the Gallery was likely to remain ignored today. She patted Cordy’s cheek and said, “Now, go see if you can help Mr. Giles with anything while I handle this.”
Cordelia huffed quietly but hugged her, then shoved into the library. Joyce remembered to step far enough away so the door wouldn’t bump her again, then headed towards the principal’s office.
Her teeth were already aching at the thought of what she was about to do. Principal Snyder was a hateful, vindictive, troll of a little man and Joyce frankly couldn’t stand him. She also couldn’t see any way around him. Larry was a student and she couldn’t just accost him in the parking lot and she certainly wasn’t stalking him to find out where he lived. Which meant asking the principal to speak to a student that wasn’t her child.
Joyce took a deep breath, braced herself for unpleasantness, and pushed into the reception area. The poor lady at the desk looked up and practically wilted when she saw who it was.
“Mrs. O’Neill, is there something I can help you with today?” Patsy asked wearily.
Joyce’s smiled looked a bit like a grimace. Her children were so notorious for causing trouble, she was on a first name basis with most of the teachers and several cops.
“I need to speak to Principal Snyder,” she said.
Patsy said, relieved, “Principal Snyder isn’t in today. He’s off on personal business.”
Joyce pursed her lips and said, “Is the Vice Principal in?”
“No,” Patsy said, shaking her head. “The school counselor is sitting in for the Principal today.” She coughed, leaned in, and whispered, “The Vice Principal died. Wild dog attack.”
Joyce coughed, fighting the urge to roll her eyes. “Really?”
Of all the ridiculous things to blame a supernatural attack on.
“Last night,” Patsy whispered, looking around, probably for Snyder. The little troll was a stickler about no gossip in the office. “It’s so sad. Especially after Principal Flutie…”
“Yes, it is,” Joyce nodded, actually agreeing instead of paying lip service. The Vice Principal had been a very nice man, reasonably forgiving of her children’s…colorful
past. “Can you please see if the counselor will see me?”
“Let me just call,” Patsy said, picking up the phone. “He prefers to stay in his own office where the children can find him.”
Joyce’s estimation of the man went up at his consideration of the children in his care and she wasn’t sure why she was so surprised. Not all of the staff at Mountain Springs High had Snyder’s attitude.
Patsy hung up and said, “He’ll see you now. His office is down the hall and to the left.”
“Thank you,” Joyce said, nodding and straightening her purse as she left.
“Don’t forget that Parent-Teacher night is next week!” Patsy called after her and Joyce winced. Those were always fun.
Mr. Platt’s office door was standing open and he seemed like an inviting and caring if not exactly cheerful gentleman. Then again, a colleague of his had just passed away and he was being asked to meet with the parent of some of his most trouble-prone students. That would signal a bad day for just about anyone.
“Mrs. O’Neill, how can I help you today?” he asked, standing to shake her hand.
“I need to speak to Larry Blaisdale,” she said, cutting straight to the chase. As she’d been shaking his hand, she felt his sudden tension. “About the underlying reason for his persistent bullying of my son Xander.”
“I hadn’t heard of any bullying,” Mr. Platt said, frowning as he sat back behind his desk.
“Oh, no, you wouldn’t,” Joyce said, a small smile playing along her lips. “Because then he’d have to admit it to his siblings and one of them, probably one of the girls, honestly, would have to take up his cause. And that, apparently, is the ultimate humiliation for teenage boys.”
“Ah,” he said, nodding in understanding. “And you think you know why Mr. Blaisdale is acting out.”
“Yes,” she said resolutely. “And I don’t want to ambush him, accuse him of anything, or upset him. I just want to help him understand that everyone should be allowed to be comfortable in their own skin.”
He studied her for a moment, then said, “We should call his parents.”
Joyce nodded. “Make sure to tell them who it is that wishes to speak to her son.”
He raised an eyebrow and said, “You know his parents?”
“Of course,” she said, shrugging. “His father works with my husband and our children attend the same school. We’ve met.”
“Right,” he said, picking up the phone. “I’ll just…call, then.”
Joyce nodded, then got up and prowled his office, hands folded in front of her as she studied the odds and ends scattered around the bookcases. She wasn’t really interested, but she thought he might appreciate the privacy.
“Mrs. O’Neill?” he said, interrupting her study of his plant collection. He had some lovely ferns. “Mrs. Blaisdale has given you permission to speak to her son without her presence.”
“Alone?” Joyce asked, just for clarification.
He hesitated, then said, “If you’d like, yes.”
“Please,” she said, nodding. His lips pinched and he obviously thought it was a bad idea, but rose to fetch Larry. “If you want to observe through the window, you can.” She pointed to the large window beside the door that was facing the hallway. At his relieved nod, she said gently, “I honestly don’t mean him any harm. I’m trying to help. Just…it’s up to Larry who he discusses these things with.”
His eyebrows rose but he nodded and left. Joyce took a deep breath and tried to relax. Talking common sense into a teenager was never fun. If she remained calm, though, it might move along more smoothly.