Author’s Note: The following ways of notation may be found in this story. This is excluding whatever I need to represent chatting, texting and stuff like that. Speech:
“Who’s on first.” Thought:
*What’s on second.
#I-don’t-know’s on third.# Accountability
While she lived in LA, Joyce Summers could do a lot of her work at home. So she did. It saved a lot of time and money not to have an office, and most of her customers only needed her services on a limited basis. She needn’t work for the money, Hank had an income that was more than sufficient for their needs. Actually, he might have preferred not having her work. He’d noted that when she spent most of her time supporting him and his career, going with him to soirees and parties, his promotions speeded up. She was intelligent, very attractive and good company.
But Joyce wanted to work, to keep busy in other ways than just caring for their daughters and doing the housework. Insofar that wasn’t done by the Mexican maid.
Tax season was her busy time. Though plenty of small companies did hand over their entire administration to her, most of her business was with individuals, and they tended to cluster around the time Uncle Sam came knocking.
Joyce liked it that way. She wasn't a top-flight accountant, hired by big companies to check the books; she dealt with people, families, and small businesses. And that might not pay as much as the other kind, but she didn't have to juggle her Oath as often either.
Too many 'top flight' accountants only had the job because they were willing to put what was told them before what they were seeing.
Accountants believed in evidence. If their evidence tended to come in figures and receipts, so be it. But all accountants, all good, proper accountants, believed in evidence.
Lawyers believed in what they could make others believe, her husband had once told her. Hank was an investment broker at Bear Stearns, and thought that the lawyers had the right of it. That never sat quite right with his wife.
So Joyce Summers, kept notes, figured, and calculated. And started to believe. And feared. And when the day came, she was ready.
Sunnydale High, the day after the Harvest
“My mom is probably the most boring person ever,” Buffy complained as she started in on her sandwich.
“Oh? Why?” Willow wasn't quite sure of where she stood with Buffy. Her life had been saved. Jesse was dead. Xander was vibrating with anger. And everything had changed. And here Buffy was complaining that her mom
“She keeps lists of everything. She knows my schedule better than I do. She’s got the roster and schedules for every club and society in the school, and she even knows when the library is closed and the homework groups meet!” Buffy sighed mournfully. “It’s almost impossible to sneak one by her.”
Willow nodded. “Oh. I see.”
“So, how're your parents about you doing the naughty?” Buffy asked.
“N-naughty? I-I don't do anything naughty!” Willow seemed shocked at the very notion.
Buffy lifted an eyebrow. “Ah. So what do you call all that naughty computer stuff you did?”
Willow was about to reply that there was nothing naughty about what she did with computers when she realised that Buffy didn't mean watching internet porn. Rather her more illegal hacking and cracking activities.
She looked at her half eaten sandwich forlornly.
“Hey, don’t worry!” Buffy hurried to reassure the redhead. “Computer stuff is cool. I wish I was better at it. Mom can do stuff with spreadsheets and offered to teach me. I’d rather get a filling without anaesthesia!”
“It’s not cool like the things you like,” Willow replied.
“And that doesn’t matter. You like it and you’re good at it, right? And you don’t like going out very much?” Buffy asked.
Willow nodded “Yeah, I suppose. I-I'm not much for the Bronze and stuff. I dance like a spazz. I mostly went because of Xander and… and Jesse,” Willow took a deep breath and continued before she burst into tears. “And I look funny.”
Buffy sighed. “You don't look funny, you're cute. Real pretty. My mom said so, she saw you when she dropped me off the other day.”
“I thought she was boring?” Willow tried not to show her unexpected disappointment at the fact that only Buffy's mom thought she was pretty and cute.
“Yeah, but she does wear nice clothes and is good at comparing stuff. She says you're pretty, you're pretty,” Buffy shrugged. “She could show you a dozen pictures of pretty women and girls and tell you exactly why you are too.”
“Oh,” Willow nodded. “I see.”
“I don't need lists and references to do that. You're pretty. And that's why Mom's boring. She can't do anything without her lists,” Buffy picked up her complaint again.
Willow felt a small cold ball in her belly unfurl into warm butterflies, fluttering in her stomach. She wasn't quite sure what Buffy said next. The only thing that stood out was *She thinks I'm pretty!*
And she didn't think to wonder why that was so important.
Sunnydale High, a week after The Harvest
“So why did you move? D-did it have to do with Slaying?” Willow asked after the auditions, trying to distract her mind from Jesse's death, trying to think of a way to talk to Xander, to remove, if even for a second, the anguish from his eyes, the anguish there even as he’d looked at the gyrating girls in the cheer squad.
Buffy sighed. “Among other things, yeah. There was this group of vamps, led by a Master called Lothos. They attacked my old school. There was this dance thing in the school gym, and there was a lot of stuff going on, and the gym burned down.”
Willow's eyes widened. “Wow. Really? Did you do it?”
Buffy shook her head. “No. Well, not on purpose. There were a lot of candles, which weren't allowed, and the vamps fought me and we knocked over a lot of candles and the whole place went 'whoosh!'” she threw her arms up and out to show the sudden inferno.
“Oh!” Willow gave Buffy an anxious look. “Was anybody hurt?”
“Only vamps,” Buffy reassured her. “But after that they didn't want me at Hemery. Mom and Dad managed to convince the police that I could hardly be blamed for starting a fight with a dozen large biker types. So the school was blamed for part of it, for not making sure they were kept out. And for not stopping the organizers from putting candles in there. And the organizers were expelled too.”
“Why not another school in LA?” Willow asked. “Did they all refuse?”
Buffy shook her head. “Nah, but some accountant here died and Mom could take over from him cheaply because he didn't have any heirs except some people in New York or something, or maybe Florida.”
“New York or maybe Florida?” Willow giggled. “Sheesh, Buffy! As if there's no difference.”
Buffy scowled good naturedly. “Oh hush miss good-at-Geography! But anyway, they didn't want the practice and Mom bought it. It’s close enough to LA that she can still take care of her clients there. And she got a load of people here. So that's why we're here.”
“Oh. That sounds like a much better reason than because you couldn't find a school to go to,” Willow sounded relieved.
“Yeah, anything that would've caused that would’ve meant a juvenile record for sure,” Buffy sighed. “Mom was really insistent on asking me all sorts of questions before she would let the police talk to me. I think there were a couple of cops watching or listening, ‘cause they knew a lot of what I told her.”
“Sounds like she kept you out even more trouble,” Willow smirked. “That might be why she’s so strict.”
Buffy groaned. “I feel like I’m watched 24/7! Like she knows everything! I mean, this morning she told me to have fun with the Cheerleader thing, and to make sure I stretched properly before and after!”
Willow giggled. “Oooh, the horror! She takes an interest!”
“Oh, shush, you!” Buffy glared.
“Well, at least she doesn’t know about the Slaying right?” Willow asked, sobering.
“Mom? Mom would’ve had me with a shrink in seconds if she thought I believed in vampires,” Buffy sighed and looked at her watch. “Well, back to class. Yay, French.”
“I like French,” Willow smiled.
“And English, and History, and Math, and Home Economics,” Buffy sighed. “I think you like school better than you like boys!”
“Hey!” Willow squeaked indignantly “I like boys fine! And girls! And kittens and puppies... What's so funny? Buffy? What?”
************************** Summers House, that evening
Buffy sighed and leaned back on the couch in the living room. “Well, so much for that.”
“I'm sorry, Honey. I know you really wanted to get into cheerleading again,” Joyce sat by her.
“Yeah. Well. I should've expected it. Half of the reason why you get into the squad is how popular you are,” Buffy sighed. “And nobody knows me here, or likes me much.”
Joyce frowned. “I thought you liked that girl who was helping you catch up? Willow?”
“Yeah, Willow's real nice. But she isn't popular herself and well, by becoming her friend, no chance with the in crowd,” Buffy explained. “As a matter of fact, I kinda told the in crowd to get lost.”
“Ah, High School politics,” Joyce smiled. “I remember them well. Regrettably.”
Buffy gave her mother a look. “Mom? I so don't want to hear tonight how horrible your life in school was, please?”
“I was in the Year Book staff. That was fun!” Joyce defended herself.
Buffy smiled indulgently. “Willow's President of the Yearbook committee.”
Joyce gave her daughter a sharp look. “I see. I'd like to meet this Willow. I think she’s the redhead I saw when I dropped you off, at least from your description, but I’d like to meet my daughter’s study buddy.”
Buffy glared. “Mom, she's a perfectly nice girl! She's not a bad influence, and there's no need to check up on her or anything! And I really, really like her!”
“Yes. That is why I'd like to meet her,” Joyce smiled enigmatically. “So, what are you gonna do if cheerleader is out and you don't want to follow in my footsteps?”
Buffy sighed. “I don't want to do anything but mope for a bit, Mom, Okay? Can I just feel sorry for myself for a while?”
Joyce laughed. “Yes dear. Want some chocolate with that?”
“Uhuh, please,” Buffy grabbed a pillow and hugged it to her. “And Mom? Can you lock Dawn in her room, too?”
“HEY!” came from behind the couch, “That's child abuse!”
Joyce sighed and looked over the back. “Dawn? What did I tell you about eavesdropping?”
“That it isn't nice?” Dawn replied sheepishly, as she rose from behind the couch. “But I wanted to hear more about Willow! Buffy gets that look on her face she got when she talked about Ford and-”
“Dawn, go to your room, we'll talk later!” Joyce told her youngest sharply. Seeing the stony expression on her mother’s face Dawn hurried up the stairs to her room.
Buffy's face was invisible, buried in the couch pillow as it was. But what Joyce could see, her ears and neck, was as red as a beet. Buffy let out a tiny whimper.
Joyce sighed. Sometimes raising daughters was worse than trying to explain the excitement of accountancy at a Career Day.
Sunnydale High, Library
Willow Rosenberg wasn't quite sure who the lady was who was sitting in the library drinking tea with Giles. But Giles looked very uncomfortable, as if he was being questioned about something he really didn't want to talk about.
Willow was a bit worried about Buffy and the Cheerleaders. Actually, she was mostly worried about Buffy being a cheerleader, considering what was happening to the cheerleaders. Though that worry tended to fade into the background whenever she saw Buffy do a split or jump in that cute little short skirt. Willow tried not to think about what else it made her feel. *Those are feelings meant for Xander,*
she thought firmly to herself.
Then she returned her attention to the adults in front of her. The lady was blonde, very attractive, with greenish blue eyes and an elegant pants suit. She seemed familiar somehow and she was giving Willow a thoughtful look. “And your name wouldn't be Willow Rosenberg, by any chance?”
Willow gulped in confusion. Elegant, beautiful ladies didn't pay attention to her, other than to question her on her school grades, or what she wanted to become when she grew up, how many doctorates she would earn and in what. Her mother was an elegant lady, and her aunts, and her grandmother. The Davidson family was big on elegant ladies. A pity she wasn't one. They just made her nervous.
“Errrr... Ummmm... Yes?” she managed.
The lady smiled. “I'm Joyce Summers, Buffy's mother. Pleased to meet you, Willow,” she extended a hand.
Willow took the hand and shook it limply. “H-hello.”
Ms. Summers looked at Giles. “We shall continue our little discussion later, Mr. Giles.”
Willow frowned. There was a definite threat in that sentence.
Joyce smiled and left. Leaving Willow in confusion and Giles in dread.
**************************************** Later that morning, Sunnydale High courtyard
“Your Mom is nice, Buffy,” Willow smiled at her friend as they sat outside.
Buffy nearly coughed herself to death on her sandwich and Willow desperately beat on her back. “Y-you met my mom?” Buffy asked, aghast.
“Ummm, yeah? She-she was in the Library this morning. Ummm... Is that bad? That I met your Mom?” Willow was really confused now.
“No! No, it’s fine. Just, I was wondering why she was in the library and stuff,” Buffy clarified.
“Okay. That's okay then,” Willow smiled. *But you didn't know I met her in the Library until after you started to cough.*
Summers House, kitchen, a day later
“Okay, so how many girls had an accident before you got into the team?” Joyce asked unbelievingly.
“Lots! Yay! Juice! Hmmm, Real juice!”
Joyce looked in amazement as her daughter threw back not only her own juice, but hers and Dawn's.
“Buffy! Really. I thought I raised you better than that!” she scolded mildly. “If I didn’t know better I'd say you were drunk.”
“Not drunk, mom! Happy! I'm on the squad! I'm a Macho man!”
“Buffy, I think you should stay here, you look feverish,” Joyce tried.
Buffy almost giggled. “You know, Mom, the only thing that’s good about bein’ tha vampire slayer is that you don’t get the sniffles!” she glanced at the clock. “Whoops! Gotta run! Willow's gonna watch as we practice!” Buffy ran out of the door.
Joyce wasn't sure if she wanted to laugh or cry. “I'm sure she is, honey. I'm sure she is.”
Summers house, the evening after the incarceration of Catherine Madison
“Buffy? We need to talk,” Joyce told her eldest daughter as she firmly closed her bedroom door behind her. “Dawn is at a friend’s. She won’t be listening.”
Buffy, who was lying on her bed, winced and pulled her pillow over her face. “Mom! I can’t bring over Willow! Not like that! Not like a girlfriend! I-I mean, I’m not even sure if I really like her that way!”
Joyce smiled. “Well, I’m glad you’re at least willing to contemplate the possibility now. For a minute there when Dawn said you were mooning after Willow I was sure you’d have a stroke.”
Then her face grew serious again. “No. I need you to tell me everything about being a Slayer. Everything.”
Buffy took the pillow away, her eyes very wide. “What?”
“Mr. Giles, he’s your Watcher. I got into his office, he really should be more careful. Willow and that boy, Xander, are helping you. This time, Buffy Anne Summers, I want to know, and I want to be involved. If this is really something you cannot escape, I want to be there for you every step of the way,” Joyce sat on the bed. “And you can start by telling me what happened to your alarm clock.” End note: The only thing with accountants in it I could think of was Look who’s talking. Not touching that one with a hundred foot pole…