A/N: Thank you all for your reviews and feedback. I know it's been a while. I had my finals-induced hiatus, my post-finals relaxing semi-hiatus, and now I just started a full time job, which would be totally awesome if I didn't have an hour commute both ways and almost no free time or energy for creative writing. I'll keep going my best, but updates on EF and FF are likely going to be pretty scarce. I won't give up, though. Eventually everything will be written.
Some dialogue taken from Smallville: Aqua and BtVS: The Freshman.
"I'm very excited to hear what you have to say that's worth interrupting my lecture for."
Compared to Professor Milton's class, Psych 101 with Professor Maggie Walsh was like having Principal Snyder as your dentist.
"Well, um…" Willow said a little skeptically as she, Buffy, and Oz left the classroom, "she seemed… assertive."
"Dubbing herself The Evil Bitch-Monster of Death on the first day of class?" said Buffy. "Intense is a massive understatement." She sighed, wistfully thinking of the handsome male teacher from earlier that day. "Guess they can't all be dreamy."
"Maybe she's just not as great about first impressions as Professor Milton," suggested Willow brightly, reading Buffy's direction of thought easily. "But they're both clearly experts in their fields. You can just tell when someone like that talks, that they've got so much knowledge just archived away, ready to burst out."
"Yeah… I just wish I hadn't been late," she pouted. "Now he must think I'm all delinquent-y."
"You'll just have to prove him wrong." Willow waved goodbye to Oz as he headed for the cafeteria while she accompanied Buffy out onto the quad. "Do you have any other classes today? I have…" She consulted her course schedule, "Calculus, over in Grant Hall."
"I'm all done," nodded Buffy, "except for patrolling, obviously. It'll feel weird… not sneaking out of my window with a bag-full of weapons every night. I just have to avoid Kathy."
She sighed again. With any luck, she'd be so exhausted from hunting monsters tonight that she'd drop off to sleep without being kept alert and annoyed by her roommate's snoring and smacking noises.
"Hey… Buffy, look!"
Willow pointed excitedly to a sheet of paper pinned to a bulletin board on the gazebo in the center of the quad. Buffy joined her, and her smile almost split her face.
"Join Dr. William Milton for new English elective, British Romantic Poetry. Space limited. Tuesday/Thursdays at four pm," Buffy read off the flier, exciting building with every word. "Oh my gosh… I'm free then! I could see him every day!"
Willow smirked at her, then frowned. "If there's any space left… and it's an elective, Buffy. Usually that means you have to have certain basic prerequisites in the major, like Comp 101, maybe even Lit 101 too. And you haven't had those courses."
"But… maybe my best friend and super hacker buddy could help me?" the Slayer asked, rounding on Willow with a pleading expression. "Er… after we check that it is the same Dr. William Milton and not some freaky old person."
"The computer should have that recorded, although what are the chances of there being two Dr. William Miltons at this bitty extension college, especially since he's actually British," said Willow conspiratorially.
"Please, please, please help me!" Buffy practically begged, wringing Willow's arm. "There's a computer lab, right? We can check that it's him and then enroll me? I'll buy your coffee for a month!"
Willow giggled. "Alright. Meet me at the library tonight at ten, and we'll see if their computers have access to enrollment."
Anticipation running high, Buffy scouted the campus for stray vamps and came up empty. A helpful student named Eddie – whom she remembered from Psych – pointed her in the direction of the library, and she scurried over there, arriving in time to see Willow enter. They sat down in front of one of the computers, and Willow's fingers clicked away, hunting through the college website until they found the course catalogue and enrollment information.
"Yep, it's him all right," Buffy said with a slightly plaintive sigh, reading through the biography of Professor William Milton attached to the course description. "Oxford… Doctorate in History, distinguished speaker on "Industrial Impacts to Rural England in the Nineteenth Century" … Willow, look at all these publications… He's got his own poetry books, plus all these articles and other stuff he's written… Gosh…" To Willow's surprise, the blonde's face turned downcast. "Maybe he's really older than he looks. He must be, to have written so much and have so many awards."
"I suppose so," Willow shrugged, unable to argue. "But hey," she said encouragingly, "at least he can't be as old as Angel."
"So I go from out-of-my-league much older man to just… out-of-my league older man," Buffy smiled sarcastically. "Maybe by the time I graduate I'll find a man within my decade that I like, hopefully one that it wouldn't be impossibly unprofessional to be involved with."
"That's it," Willow nodded with a grin. "Think positively."
"But this is all moot if there's no space left in the class, or if the prereqs won't let me sign up." Buffy bit her lip, her eyes scanning the screen anxiously for the enrollment details.
"You're in luck… One space left, no waitlist, and the prereqs are only recommended." A few clicks of the mouse later, and the name Buffy Summers appeared in the list of students enrolled.
"I adore you," sighed Buffy, her head clunking onto Willow's shoulder.
At four o'clock the next day, Buffy sat primly in the middle of the poetry classroom, her smile a tiny bit smug since this time she had managed to get to the class before Professor Milton. In he walked at that moment, still looking way too young and lickable to be a college instructor, this time in a crisp black button-down and slacks, his blood-red tie loose at his throat.
"Good afternoon, everyone," said Professor Milton, handing out sets of the syllabus to the students in the front row and then gesturing for them to pass them back throughout the room while he scrawled his name and the course title on the board like he had done the previous day. "I hope you all realize this is not intended to be a brush-off, easy A course. I expect your best, and I have nasty ways to coax it out of you if necessary. The point of this class is not merely to critique British romantic poetry. It is not to pick at it, or look down upon it. But neither is it to glorify it and set the works of Byron and Keats on a pedestal. The point of this course is to examine its structures, its schemata and… its recurrent themes…"
He slowed and then stopped altogether, his vibrant blue eyes zeroing on Buffy like the twin barrels of a shotgun. With only twenty-four other students in the class instead of eighty, the atmosphere didn't feel quite so hostile as it had when she'd been late to history, but she still felt like a bug under a microscope.
"Miss Summers," he said, his tone guarded. "How nice of you to join us. Did you register on the university website, or merely decide to grace us with your presence by surprise?"
Buffy quailed just a bit under the intensity of his stare, tinglies running up and down her spine. "Um… y-yes, I just sighed up last night."
Professor Milton licked his lips once… then again, and otherwise he was statue-still, not even breathing, as far as she could tell. Buffy had no idea why seeing her had provoked this kind of shock in him, but an instant later it was over.
He set his papers on his desk and inclined his head to her. "Indeed. Well… welcome to British Romantic Poetry, Miss Summers."
And with that he turned his back on her and continued scribbling on the chalkboard.
To be continued…