Spoilers: pre-series to season one
Word Count: 1,593
Summary: Five times Giles notices Jenny before "I Robot You Jane."
Author's Note: For sunshine_queen! :) As of 8/6/2011 this has been revised a bit, just in case anybody cares!
As the two newest faculty members at Sunnydale High, Rupert Giles and Jenny Calendar are thrown a potluck by the rest of the staff two days before the school year starts. (Teamwork, teamwork, teamwork! Principal Flutie keeps chanting with such manic enthusiasm that the whole staff becomes united in a secret desire to kill him. Wishful thinking, and all.) After forcing them to stand up in front of everyone and say a few words about themselves, the new additions are finally set free to mingle. For about twenty minutes, the two of them have been bound by a solidarity crafted from mutual embarrassment and discomfort.
The meaningful bond is officially shattered ten seconds into their first conversation. She introduces herself as Jenny and he insists upon calling her Ms. Calendar and she decides that he’s a snob and he mentally dubs her insufferable and that’s that, thank you very much.
When October comes to a close, they’re both forced into chaperoning the Halloween dance. The music is loud and artless and the decorations similarly so. Strobe lights and dry ice and hormonal adolescents pressing up against one another – the whole affair is more than enough to convince Giles the school is located atop a hellmouth. Within five minutes, he is nursing an especially merciless headache.
“Fun, huh?” Ms. Calendar asks, beaming as she approaches him. She’s dressed in a seasonally appropriate orange top and a black skirt that has no qualms about putting her legs on display. Her fingernails are painted black.
“Truth be told, I can’t decide which is more tasteless,” he responds, and resists the acute urge to massage his temples. “The music or the decorations.”
She surveys him thoughtfully for a moment. “Mr. Giles?”
“Yes, Ms. Calendar?”
“You’re gay, aren’t you?”
The surrounding cacophony seems to fade immediately at her words.
“I – I refuse to dignify that inquiry with a response, thank you.” He begins polishing his glasses furiously, by default.
“It’s always the cute ones,” she says wistfully, and sighs.
She’s whisked away, laughing, onto the dance floor by one of her students before he’s given the opportunity to explain that there is a distinct difference between being gay and being British. The cute part doesn’t register until a good thirty seconds later.
The week before the Christmas holidays, Principal Flutie insists upon a faculty Secret Santa exchange. Giles finds himself to be the lucky recipient of a lurid yellow coffee mug bearing the words ‘KISS THE LIBRARIAN.’
“Ah,” he says faintly. “How . . .” An adjective refuses to present itself. “. . . ah.”
Ms. Calendar winks at him from across the room. He pretends very determinedly not to notice.
When the staff email system is installed, it falls to Ms. Calendar to conduct a short seminar on how to use it. Giles is not thrilled, to say the least – Buffy has finally arrived and is already throwing herself into a great deal of mischief, and in comparison learning how to send electronic post seems profoundly unimportant.
Sitting in the computer science classroom, he deliberately pays no mind to Ms. Calendar’s voice – low and warm and charming – and eyes the clock instead. The concept of email doesn’t sit well with him; the idea of abandoned pages, the notion of being so easily stripped of one’s individuality and rendered nothing more than lines of identical text, soulless black-on-white. His eyes wander to the chalkboard. She really does have lovely handwriting – loopy, whimsical cursive that suits her. He supposes this pales in comparison to her ability to type Lord knows however many hundred words per minute.
When she finally finishes speaking, he’s the first out of his seat.
“You didn’t seem too enthralled,” Ms. Calendar observes at the doorway, and unfortunately, he isn’t distracted enough to miss the mocking lilt in her tone.
“Forgive me,” he responds brusquely. “I’m afraid I don’t share your passion for these . . .” He casts a disapproving glance at the computer on her desk. “—these newfangled dread machines.”
She surveys him for a moment, a smirk playing at her lips.
“Never woulda guessed,” she concludes, and moves on to speak to Miss Frank.
Giles finds himself watching her walk away – she really does walk quite nicely – and then realizes that he is already nearly a quarter of an hour late meeting Buffy in the library.
Which just gives him all the more reason to resent Jenny Calendar. Damnable distracting woman – he really can’t stand her in the slightest.
The new band instructor is a succubus. Three students and a faculty member have already perished throughout the course of the past few days. Buffy’s just called with word that she’s followed her back to her lair, and is sorely in need of a bit of back-up. Needless to say, time is of the essence.
Giles is striding across the parking lot, forcing himself not to break into an all-out run (which is the sort of thing that inspires suspicion and panic) as he draws nearer to his Citroen. His fingers have just met the door handle when he hears her.
“Hey!” He looks up to see Ms. Calendar approaching him, impractical shoes clicking evenly against the pavement.
“Um,” he says, because it is more polite than ‘for God’s sake, not now, you blasted woman.’ “Hello.”
“Listen, would you mind giving me a ride home? My car’s in the shop, and Mr. Foster was supposed to do it, but I haven’t seen him all day.”
“Yes, well, you wouldn’t have,” Giles mumbles.
“Er, nothing. I expect he’s, erm, just fine. Fear not.”
“Okay,” Ms. Calendar says slowly.
He’s about to refuse, but thinking up a legitimate reason to refuse her (beyond the relatively true “I don’t like you”) requires a presence of mind that he lacks at the moment, and for some reason he cannot bring himself to do the logical thing – namely, to take off screeching out of the parking lot without the faintest explanation.
She looks particularly lovely today. He has an unpleasant suspicion that this might be the reason he’s still standing here.
“Oh, fine,” he obliges irritably, climbing into the car and reaching over to open the passenger’s seat door. “Get in. But I’m in quite a hurry, and—”
“No problem,” she says casually, as though this isn’t a matter of life and death. (Although to be fair, he supposes he can’t blame her for it when she doesn’t happen to know that.) “My apartment’s right down the street.”
“Excellent,” he grumbles, and starts the car. They go tearing across the parking lot with impressive speed.
“Other way,” she points out awkwardly.
He curses under his breath and switches the turn signal.
“Just keep going,” Ms. Calendar instructs. “And you’re going to take a right down here.”
“Phenomenal,” Giles mutters, and hopes that this little detour hasn’t resulted in any casualties yet. “I’ll have you know that this is very much out of my way.”
“Sorry,” Ms. Calendar says, sounding (understandably) taken aback.
“And I really do have some very important business to tend to,” he continues, more because talking distracts him from how bloody terrified he is than because he feels the need to berate her for daring ask for a ride home.
“And this would hardly be a difficult walk if you didn’t insist upon wearing those ridiculous shoes—”
“You noticed my shoes?” she asks with genuine surprise.
“That’s irrelevant,” Giles says. Perhaps a bit too sharply. She keeps on staring at him. He knows. He can feel her eyes. And, even though it ought not to be high on his current list of priorities, the thought occurs to him, and before he quite realizes it is happening, he’s added: “I’m not gay.”
“Gotcha,” she says. He chances a glance; the look on her face is far too amused to be allowed. Amused, and … pleased? The thundering of his pulse seems to shift, veering from Dear God, Succubus Reign Of Terror to – well. “So you were looking because … ?”
The abandoned sentence hangs in the air between them, mischievous and sultry and – and this is hardly, hardly, hardly the time. Succubus, mind! Succubus.
“Ms. Calendar,” he says, not bothering to check his frustration, “far be it from me to criticize, but I don’t know that I would call it good manners to – to subject people to ridiculous inquiries after they’ve been good enough to offer you a ride home, despite it causing them the greatest personal inconvenience imaginable.”
Gone is the sultriness. He feels a brief, regretful pang, and then a surplus of irritation.
“Oh yeah?” she snaps. “Where’d you get that one? Prigs 101 at Eton?”
“Introduction to Common Decency, actually,” he retorts.
“You know, if you were really so against the idea of driving two minutes out of your way, you should have just said so! I would have waited around for someone else.”
“Well, it’s too ruddy late for that, now, isn’t it?”
She lets out a short, indignant laugh. “You’re really charming, you know that?”
“Not nearly as much as you, I’m sure,” he says darkly.
“Oh, no,” she counters, nothing short of scathing. “Don’t even try. You’re waaay more charming than I am, Snobby.”
“This is a profoundly stupid conversation,” Giles announces, scowling.
“Agreed,” she snaps, crossing her arms in front of her chest.
He takes the right. The silence is very, very awkward, and he’s frustrated to realize that he now feels a considerable amount of guilt in addition to the stress and terror.
“You can, er, turn on the radio, if you’d like,” he ventures after a moment. It’s the closest thing to a peace offering he can come up with.
She’s silent for a long time before answering, “’kay.”
She leaves it on a station playing something not unlike the horrible mess of sounds at the Halloween dance; as far as acts of revenge go, it’s highly petty. And highly effective. He grips the steering wheel until his knuckles go white. All the while, she sits there, arms crossed, a hint of a triumphant smirk upturning her mouth.
By the time he drops her off, the succubus seems a most welcome change of company.