The Introductory Refectory Visit
A/N: Disclaimer, crossover, spoilers, etc. are all given in chapter 1.
Buffy was as close to relaxed as she was likely to get while she was in Los Angeles and having to deal with Wolfram and Hart. Or ‘the Wolf, the Ram, and the Hart’ as Andrew kept insisting on in meetings. Brian, the Watcher who had been designated to come help out while Lorraine had so much on her plate, had put up fresh wards on her apartment and the ‘special’ bookcase. And all up and down the top flight of the stairs too, which ought to be a fun surprise for the first vamp or demon who tried to sneak up and visit. The place looked and smelled clean and warm, which was no small feat when you had Slayer senses. Her bedroom was pretty and cozy. Dawn had shipped Mr. Gordo II over to her, so he was tucked between the pillows on her bed and looking cute. The living room was comfy, the kitchen was clean, and the Willow-based computer security was looking great.
The weapons were all cleaned and put away. The ‘gymbag’ ruse was working extremely well. Everyone in the entire city expected a hottie in exercise togs would be lugging a gymbag that might be bigger than a suitcase, particularly if the hottie might need to do her hair and makeup professionally before changing into a ‘Hollywood starlet’ outfit. So they had no trouble carrying around swords, maces, battleaxes, and even the new collapsible crossbows Andrew had gotten a Swiss expert to design. Andrew’s design for the gymbags included padding for each weapon and more padding on the inside of the bags, so they didn’t clank suspiciously, and the bags didn’t have suspicious bulges.
Miri and Tia were off with Jodie running a long patrol around the L.A. area, which apparently required a fast convertible. She smiled to herself at the memory of Miri and Tia pleading and whining for the used car Buffy let them buy. It wasn’t as fast as they wanted, but it met all the other important criteria, including a great sound system and extra cup holders.
Buffy really did think a convertible was a good idea, because being able to hunt by sight and smell was easier with an open car. And being able to jump out to attack a threat was easier with a convertible. And being able to dive in as everyone drove away from an overwhelming threat? Convertibles rocked. And they looked cool.
And she was sure that Sheldon Cooper would never ask for a ride now that he knew they had a convertible. Penny had warned her about Sheldon mooching rides everywhere and feeling like he was entitled, no matter how cranky he had just been to you. Miri had gone over to Cal Tech to check on summer course availability and had asked a few professors about Dr. Cooper. The stories she came back with had Buffy and Tia laughing so hard there were almost Slayer bladder control issues.
With the place to herself, she had put on her yummy sushi pajamas, version 3.0. Her first pair got lost when Sunnydale collapsed. Her second pair were still in Europe. She had needed to look online for an hour to find another pair. She had her hair in twintails, her feet in super-comfy bunny slippers – oh God, Anya would have had a coronary – and her spoon in a pint of Ben & Jerry’s Cherry Garcia. Okay, a third of the freezer was pints of Ben & Jerry’s. It was a critical Slayer need. She had a huge pan of extra-deep lasagna staying warm in the oven for when the girls got back, so the place smelled wonderful.
She had to admit that she still sucked as a cook. Mostly. Slayer impatience and strength and quickness usually meant that anything like bread came out wrong. Same for whisking gravy or boiling eggs or… Or lots of stuff. So she restricted herself to things she knew she could make pretty well. Her lasagna was one of an admittedly short list.
She was lying on the couch, reading reports. As one of the Chosen Two, she had to play Boss Slayer a lot. Faith held up her end of things most of the time, but plenty of the mini-Slays just looked up to Buffy more. Which was totally not fair to Faith, but even Faith got why. And, as part of the board of directors for the NSAWC, they both had to read everything that got sent out before the weekly teleconferences. Okay, Faith often didn’t do the reading, so the other Slayers on the board needed to pick up the slack.
She was reading on her Willow-secured tablet computer and working her way through an analysis of world trends in vamp behavior. It really would have been better if Faith had been tasked with this one instead of one of the Brits, because Robson’s guys were unbelievably long-winded. Even an executive summary of this thing would need an executive summary. Faith didn’t put up with that kind of crap. When Faith had been stuck with being the document czar on the last quarterly international NSAWC budget report, she had made every single sub-division summarize their malarkey with about a dozen graphs. Then she made one of the computer guys put all the main graphs together in what Willow called a ‘dashboard’ so you could look and see what was going on, and drill down on pieces you cared about. It was the best report ever, in Buffy’s opinion, and she was trying to make it be a model for all the big reports. The only problem was it took a scary Slayer to make it happen, and it wouldn’t be Faith’s turn to ramrod the budget report again for something like ten more quarters.
She heard giggling and footsteps on the stairs outside. Then the giggles moved to just the other side of her door.Knock-knock-knock.
She could tell it was Penny doing a really lame imitation of Sheldon. But she was up for an interruption. She really didn’t think you needed forty thousand words to say vamp siring rates were up, especially around active Hellmouths where it was easier and faster and more reliable. And she didn’t think it required a small novel to complain about the crap Wolfram and Hart was getting up to, now that the Senior Partners were all freaked about their big make-your-own-apocalypse plans getting smooshed. The Hyperion Hotel dealie was all she needed to know on that subject. If Molly hadn’t heard the whine of the electronics on the timers in the basement, she and Jacqui and Helen would have been extremely dead. A very skilled demolition team from Wolfram and Hart had dropped the hotel so cleanly that there was hardly any rubble in the street. Buffy was just waiting until the teleconference to get the okey-dokey on her plan for a counterstrike before she turned the new Wolfram and Hart building into a rock quarry and then punched a couple Senior Partners in the mouth. Assuming they even had mouths. And if they had lots of mouths, she was going to punch them in every mouth. All she needed was Andrew’s spells, the spellcasters for the spells, and three Slayer teams. Unless her plans got modified.
She didn’t bother to move. She just called out, “The door’s open, Penny. And friends.”
The doors were pretty solid, with good locks. But she didn’t bother to lock the door when she was around, unless it was bedtime or showertime. It wasn’t like she had to worry about a burglar or a serial killer threatening her
. The kinds of things she had to worry about weren’t bothered by a steel door with a high-quality Yale lock.
Penny walked in with two women who had to be Amy and Bernadette, from the pictures on Penny’s bookcase. Buffy hadn’t commented on it, but she thought it was really interesting that Penny had stopped hanging out with the flighty actress crowd and had started hanging out with really intelligent women. Even though Penny didn’t see herself as intelligent.
Bernadette was wearing what Xander called the BCGs, and could do with a different hairstyle, and better fitting clothes, and a trip to the Estee Lauder cosmetics counter for a consultation. Amy was wearing an eclectic mix of things that didn’t work for her, and looked probably forty pounds heavier than she really was. Plus Amy needed help with makeup and her hairstyle. And Bernadette was really short, even by Buffy’s standards.
Buffy figured that since she was wearing baggy pajamas, she didn’t have any room to talk. So she was keeping her mouth shut on the subject. Especially after Penny had explained that physical beauty meant pretty much zero to Sheldon, so sprucing up Amy was more than a waste of time: it might even be bad for Amy’s relationship with Sheldon.
Penny smiled, “Buffy, these are my friends Bernadette and Amy.”
“Nice to meet you,” Buffy said.
“Doctor Amy Farrah Fowler,” explained Amy briskly. “Penny’s BFF. Her compadre. Her homegirl.”
Bernadette spoke in a voice that could etch the windows. “And I’m Bernadette Rostenkowski-Wolowitz.”
Buffy got up and shook hands. “I’m Penny’s co-worker Buffy.”
Penny said, “Not really. She’s my boss. Although she’s really my boss’s boss’s boss. Lorraine’s really my boss.”
Buffy shrugged, “I’m on the board of directors, but I like getting out in the field and making a difference.”
Bernadette asked, “What sort of fieldwork do you do?”
Buffy fibbed a little bit, “We were in the process of buying the Hyperion Hotel to use as a youth hostel and training center and home base for a bunch of our girls, and the thing just collapsed a couple days ago. So now I’m directly involved in dealing with the city engineers who said it was fine, and the lawyers who were arranging for the transfer, and the staff who have to cope with finding places for everyone to stay and places for our administrators to work and places to teach. And then there’s everything else that goes with the job.” She added, “But the lawyers are the worst.” Since she was facing Wolfram and Hart, that part wasn’t a fib.
Amy said, “Penny wasn’t particularly specific about the company. She just said she is a secretary and she has been helping someone named Lorraine organize basic needs for a dozen girls locally, with more on the way.”
Buffy went with their standard Cover #1. “The NSAWC looks to help a host of under-served classes of young women who need help in getting through the educational system. Many of these women come from other countries and other cultures, so we have to teach them English, along with teaching them years of fundamental education they may have been denied, simply because they’re female, or were born in the wrong part of the world. So when we bring a girl like N’Peli to America, we try to teach her English through an immersive program that simultaneously teaches her everything she needs to get a GED and go to college. But that works best if we can surround her with other girls, many of whom already speak English fluently, so she can learn more efficiently.”
Amy said, “Are you sure this is an optimal approach? Have you read Anderson, Krathwohl, and Airasian’s paper ‘A taxonomy for learning, teaching, and assessing: A revision of Bloom's taxonomy of educational objectives’?”
Buffy lied, “Yes. And I found it short-sighted and without adequate real-world support.” She’d told that lie about hundreds of educational research papers, because there was no way she could discuss why their methods really
worked, or how they chose their students, or why their students might have trouble learning in a normal classroom setting, or why their students tried so much harder for them than for anyone else, or why their students bonded together so tightly.
“Hmm, so you support experimental sociological research over theoretical,” Amy considered. “I take it you have no qualms about experimentation on humans. Good.”
If Buffy already hadn’t heard the kinds of experiments Amy considered worth doing, she would have been really cheesed off. She just said, “I was one of the last students of Maggie Walsh, so I have some serious reservations about many types of experiments on people.”
Bernadette offered, “The most advanced thing I get to experiment on is yeast.”
“M.K. Walsh let you call her by her nickname?” Amy checked. “That is really unusual. She was less than outgoing with many of her colleagues and students. There are a great many stories still circulating about her.”
Buffy asked, “Do any of them include the phrase ‘the evil bitch-monster from hell’? Because that was my first introduction to her.”
Amy looked up at the ceiling. “I do believe Harrison and Prethwaite both used that phrase. I take it that was self-descriptive?”
Buffy said, “I think she only told me her name was Maggie because she wanted something from me, and she was trying to make nice.”
Amy nodded. “Ahh, ingratiation. A classic technique in the old psychology bag of tricks.” She leaned forward and pressed, “What did she want out of you? Was it something really juicy? A lurid professor-student lesbian tryst? With bath gel? Or massage lotions?”
Buffy blinked a couple times. Wow, Amy had a lot in common with Anya. Apparently, it didn’t take a thousand years as a demon to miss out on some basic human behaviors. She finally said, “No, she was trying to get me not to report her to the police, the NIH, the DoD officers who were administering her grant, and the FBI. And I can’t say anything else on the subject because I had to sign a two-foot stack of government non-disclosure agreements.” That was close enough to the real truth. And she really had needed to sign like a zillion non-disclosure agreements, and all of them had to go through Giles and Willow first for review, so it took forever.
“Wow!” Amy gasped. “That is even better than Prethwaite’s story about the time Walsh hosted a faculty tea and dosed everyone’s drinks!”
Buffy didn’t say anything, but she was utterly unsurprised to hear that. Especially if some of the drugs turned faculty members into slavering monsters.
Bernadette said, “Wow! Those neuroscientists just get kerrr-razy!”
Buffy frowned, “Walsh was more like a 1950’s movie mad scientist, if you ask me.”
Penny said, “Not to change the subject or anything, but something smells REALLY good.”
Amy bluntly said, “You did change the subject, but it does smell extremely tasty.”
Buffy said, “It’s my deep-dish carnivore lasagna with extra meat. Anybody want some?”
Penny said, “We wouldn’t want to eat up all your food-”
Amy cut her off. “Definitely. I’m sure we all would. Penny, do you have a wine that goes with a meaty lasagna?”
Bernadette asked, “If you’re making it for your roommates, do you have enough?”
Buffy hopped up, slipped on some oven mitts, and pulled the pan out of the oven. It was a re-purposed pan for roasting a large turkey. It was twenty inches long, fourteen inches wide, and eight inches deep. The hot, bubbling lasagna came up to an inch from the top. After she easily set it on the stove, she hoped Amy didn’t notice that the lasagna and pan together had to weigh at least forty pounds.
Amy said, “I think that’s enough to feed the entire city of Pasadena.” She looked around at the other women and said, “That was an exaggeration for the purposes of expository humor.”
Buffy said, “Miri and Tia can eat a lot when they’ve been out for hours, and if they bring back a few friends, there’s no telling how much could get eaten.” She just wasn’t going to mention that the friends would be Slayers and not college football players. “Plus, leftover lasagna reheats really well.”
She cut up some small rectangles across the rich, cheesy top and then used two rectangular spatulas to scoop out the vertical slices. Most of the slices even came out looking gorgeous, which was a cool bonus. She served up the good slices to the three women and took the somewhat wrecked one for herself. And she just didn’t mention that she had already eaten an entire small casserole of the lasagna for dinner. After all, she had to keep her strength up.
“This is good,” Penny said around a mouthful of food.
“Yeah,” agreed Bernadette. “And we used to work at The Cheesecake Factory, so we know.”
Amy said, “Bernadette worked her way through microbiology grad school as a waitress, which is how she met Howard.”
Bernadette grinned, “It’s how I met Penny, and she introduced me to Howard and all his friends.”
Buffy asked, “And how did Amy meet Sheldon?”
Amy briskly said, “I have a long-standing agreement with my mother that I have to have one date a year. So I used an online matchmaking service to simplify the process. Raj and Howard thought it would be humorous to enter Sheldon’s criteria in what turned out to be the same service, and the computer matched the two of us.”
Buffy refrained from saying anything like ‘how could it not?’ or ‘you’re like a female Sheldon’.
Amy continued, “Then they blackmailed Sheldon into going to the restaurant to meet me for the date, using the archetype-driven technique of a theoretical dirty sock hidden somewhere in his apartment. Upon our first meeting, as soon as I explained that all manner of physical interaction, up to and including coitus, was off the table, Sheldon immediately offered to buy me a drink. We both had tepid water. Did you know that Sheldon has an agreement with his mother that he has to attend church once a year?”
Bernadette smirked, “Did you know his mother calls him Shelly?”
Amy said, “His mother is a fundamentalist Christian in the style of the churchgoers studied in the papers of Rosewitz, Quenya, and Merrian.” She leaned forward. “I think you get my drift.”
Buffy had no idea what ‘drift’ Amy had in mind, but she just let it slide. She had years of experience in ignoring Watcher-like people.
Penny said, “His mother doesn’t have Sheldon’s book learning-”
“Buk larnin’,” Amy mimicked, in an obvious but weak attempt at an east Texas accent.
“-but she’s really good at getting people – especially Sheldon – to do what she thinks they ought to do.”
Bernadette said, “Her social intelligence is much higher than her logical intelligence.”
Amy said, “I assume you are familiar with Gardner’s nine types of intelligence?”
Buffy was actually able to say yes. Without lying. She remembered most of it really well, because Willow had made a huge deal about how Maggie Walsh had lectured about it while being completely unaware that she was failing desperately on the intra-personal intelligence category. And that was before they found out Maggie thought building a monster cyborg out of human and demon parts was just fine and dandy. Also, Willow had made a big deal about how Buffy probably had the highest kinesthetic intelligence in the world because of her Slayer powers, and that had really made Buffy feel good about herself for a little while.
Amy didn’t look like she would have handled Buffy’s response any differently if Buffy had said ‘no’ or ‘huh’ or ‘whutchoo talkin’ ‘bout Willis?’ “Sheldon’s mother clearly has a high score on the interpersonal intelligence scale. Sheldon and I did not realize that she had manipulated us into getting back together, until Penny pointed it out the next day. However, she does not appear to have high scores on any other scale. She certainly has a lack of introspection that permits her to accept blindly whatever tenets her pastor puts forth, no matter how illogical.”
Bernadette said, “Most of us, like Leonard and Sheldon and Amy, have unusually high scores on the logical-mathematical intelligence scale, at least as it gets measured on IQ tests.”
Amy said, “We know that Penny’s strengths are in interpersonal intelligence and kinesthetic intelligence, rather than logical intelligence. Also, she has a surprising spatial intelligence, as indicated by her ability to beat Leonard in chess and her skill in video games. What about you?”
Buffy said, “My strongest scales are in the non-traditional areas. Spatial, kinesthetic, naturalist, and interpersonal.”
“Really?” asked Amy in a clearly doubting tone. “Can you demonstrate in any quantitative way?”
Buffy smiled to herself as she reached over toward the knife block. Every one of the kitchen knives had been re-designed by one of Xander’s people so it was effective as a fighting knife or a throwing knife, in case of emergency. Every Slayer house on the planet had knives like this, and the girls didn’t get to use the knives unless they did kitchen chores. It was probably the only way to get them to do the kitchen chores without sicking Faith on them.
She took the medium carving knife. She knew exactly how many feet she needed to get it to do a full rotation or a half rotation, so she knew she could do this trick again. She’d already won two weeks of housecleaning duties off Miri, and two weeks of laundry duties off Tia. She said, “Notice that thin wood strip between the windows?”
“Yes. It looks quite ordinary,” volunteered Amy.
Buffy moved a few inches to her left, so she was in the perfect spot. Then she threw the knife at the front door. It hit handle-first with a loud bang, and rebounded perfectly. It rotated just enough that the tip of the blade sank precisely into the wood between the handles of the windows. The knife shivered in place with a threatening twang.
“Wow,” gasped Penny.
“Impressive,” acknowledged Amy.
“This is great!” squealed Bernadette. “We have to get her on our Wii bowling team! We’ll clobber the guys this time!”
Amy carefully asked, “Are you certain? The guys have their own shirts, you know.”