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Summery: AU after Band Candy. Joyce Summers and Giles begin dating and eventually marry. How does this effect Giles' relationship with Buffy? With the rest of the Scoobies? How will things be different? How will they be the same? Stepfather is a Buffy and Giles character study that features an ensemble (yes, everyone!) cast. It is betad by Amanda and Gryus.
Chapter 1: Band Candy
Setting: About one week after the events of "Band Candy"
"Mom! Mom!" Buffy called as she came into the house. She slammed the back door closed, dropped her backpack on the kitchen table, and headed towards the fridge for a snack.
"Buffy," Joyce said as she came into the kitchen. "I hope you aren't this noisy when you come home from school every day. I would hate to think that's how I raised you."
"No, Mom," Buffy replied. "On the days when you're at the gallery, I bring Willow and Xander home with me and we eat junk food and watch pay-per-view movies while sitting entirely too close to the TV."
"Ha ha. I know that you- Wait! What are you doing?" Joyce said as she watched Buffy exit the fridge with a couple containers of leftover Chinese food.
Joyce sighed. "Buffy, you know I'm making dinner."
"Yeah," Buffy replied, "but I can't stay for it. Second Tuesday of the month, remember? I have to book it to the hospital and guard the blood delivery."
"Oh, I forgot."
Buffy pulled a fork out of the drawer and started in on the almond chicken. Joyce winced and said, "Buffy! It's cold."
"It's better that way," Buffy said with a shrug.
"Teenagers! What about dinner?"
"Wrap it up. I'll have it when I get home. Oh! I almost forgot. Principal Snyder wants you to call him."
"You know, the usual. I'm an out-of-control, antisocial teen with no school spirit or respect for my elders."
Joyce got a sad look on her face and sat down on one of the kitchen chairs. "Buffy."
"Oh, Mom. It's not that bad. You know that Snyder is just a little man who gets his jollies from bullying high school students who can't stand up to him. Plus, my grades are really good right now. All Bs!"
"Still, I wish that you'd try a little harder to fit in."
"Mom, look at who I go to school with. Werewolves, hyena students, mad scientist types. I think you'd be glad that I don't succumb to the peer pressure."
Buffy looked at her watch. "Oh shoot," she exclaimed, "Look at the time. Since I'm not allowed to drive-"
"-I'd better leave now if I'm going to get to the hospital on time." Buffy tossed the half-finished container of almond chicken back into the fridge and the fork into the sink. She gave Joyce a hug and a kiss on the cheek. Then she rushed out the back door. "Bye," Buffy called over her shoulder on the way out.
"Be careful," Joyce said to no one.
Better get this over with,she thought. Joyce grabbed her address book and looked up the number. Then she sat down and called Principal Snyder.
~Sunnydale High School~
Rupert Giles was in the library stacks when her heard someone enter. "Buffy...?" he called. "Willow...?"
"None of the above."
Giles sighed and came out from behind one of the shelves. "Principal Snyder. What can I do for you?"
"It's about that reprobate."
"Her name is Buffy."
"Yes. Well, I've just spoken to her mother on the phone and she is on her way here."
"No, her mother. For a conference. And I want you to be there."
"At the meeting. In my office. In ten minutes."
Giles started stammering. "Well, I don't see.... I mean, there is no reason for me to participate as what will be discussed is confidential, and it's none of my-"
Principal Snyder cut him off. "You are the- for lack of a better word- teacher the delinquent associates with the most. You will be able to give us some insight into her odd behavior."
"It simply won't do. I have too much work to accomplish and a limited amount of time in which-"
"You will attend this meeting. The law says that I have to educate Buffy Summers. Nowhere does it say that I have to employ you." Principal Snyder said, then he strode out of the library.
"Bloody twit." Giles said under his breath. He gathered up the books he had been collecting and climbed down the stairs. He arranged his books and dictionary on the desk with all of his notes. That way he could get back to work the minute the meeting was over.
When Giles was finished arranging his books, he headed down the hall towards Principal Snyder's office. He couldn't put off this meeting any longer. He and Joyce hadn't been in the same room together since the incident with the band candy. This is stupid, he thought. We're both adults. We should be able to move beyond this.
Giles reached the school's main office and headed towards Principal Snyder's office. When he reached the door it was closed. Giles knocked gently on the wood door frame.
"Enter," Giles heard Snyder call from inside. Giles opened the door. There were two chairs set up in front of Snyder's desk. The one on the right held Joyce Summers. Joyce turned to see who was at the door, but when she saw that it was Giles, she jumped out of her seat in nervousness. "Mr. Giles. Um... how nice to see you."
"Yes," Giles replied, though he was looking more at his feet than at Joyce. "It's good to... um... see you, Joy- Mrs. Summers." Giles continued to try to correct himself until he slunk into his chair.
Snyder looked at them both suspiciously. "Now that we all know each other, let's get this meeting over with." He turned to Joyce. "Your daughter persists in cutting class. I've done everything I can in a discipline sense. I believe the problem resides at home."
Giles interrupted, "Now see here..."
Principal Snyder held up a hand to silence him. "I would like to hear Mrs. Summers' explanation."
"Mr. Snyder, no matter what you say, you will not convince me that my daughter is a bad person. If all you planned to do in this meeting is badmouth Buffy, then you have wasted my time. Do you have anything constructive to say?"
"I'm warning you. If you do not rein in your daughter, she will end up in prison. I've seen it before."
Joyce stood and picked up her purse. "I think I've heard all I need to. I'm leaving." Joyce turned and walked out the door.
Giles stood to follow her, but, just as he was leaving, he turned to Snyder and said, "I doubt very much that you have ever seen anyone like Buffy."
Giles raced down the hall to catch up with Joyce. Joyce had been moving fast. He found her as she was headed down the front steps of the school. He yelled out her name to get her attention.
Joyce was headed to her car when she heard someone calling her name. She turned to see who it was and saw Rupert Giles hurrying towards her.
"Joyce," he said when he caught his breath.
"No, please call me Rupert."
"Okay, Rupert. Did you want to talk to me about Buffy also? Something about her Slayer duties?"
"No. I wanted to talk to you about us. It seems foolish for us to avoid each other at every turn. We both care for Buffy and it is imperative that we are able to communicate about her well being. I think that we should stop acting like adolescents about this."
Joyce smiled. "You're absolutely right, Rupert. We've been idiots."
"Well I wouldn't go that far." Joyce laughed. Giles took a deep breath and continued. "I'm not sorry about what happened between us, Joyce. I- I'm probably totally out of line, um, what I mean to say... That is..."
"Rupert, what are you trying to say?"
"Well, I, um, have come to... care for you a great deal. I feel that you might... reciprocate, and I... I was thinking, if you're not indifferent, you might, perhaps-"
Joyce cut him off. "Rupert, I would love to go on a date with you." She thought for a moment. "Say, I have a perfectly adequate dinner sitting at home in the fridge. Buffy isn't going to eat it. How do you feel about meatloaf and scalloped potatoes?"
Giles smiled. "I think it sounds lovely. Wait a moment. Buffy isn't eating? Where is she?"
"Second Tuesday of the month."
"Oh yes, right. How silly of me. The hospital. She won't want something when she gets home?"
"No, she'll probably stop somewhere on the way home. After slaying her tastes run more towards cheese burgers and chili fries. I don't know how she can eat so much of that junk."
"Slayers have a heightened metabolism. We should all be so lucky."
"So how about it?"
Giles took her arm. "Lead the way."
When Buffy returned home she was surprised to see that her Mom was still up. She usually went to bed at about 11. It was 11:30 and the kitchen light was still on. Buffy came in through the kitchen door and saw her mom and Giles sitting at the kitchen table with a half-finished bottle of Chardonnay between them.
"Um, hey guys," Buffy said. "What's going on?"
Joyce looked up. "Oh, Buffy! Rupert just came over for dinner," Joyce said, gesturing at Giles. "Are you hungry? There's plenty left."
"No. I'm okay. I'm just going to go up to bed now."
Joyce smiled. "Okay, sweetheart. I'll see you in the morning."
"Oh, Buffy," Giles called. "Before you retire, how did everything go this evening?"
"Fine. Dusted two vamps. Third got away. Hospital got the blood."
"Well, that's excellent. Good work."
Buffy turned and headed up stairs. When she got to her room she could still hear her mom and Giles laughing in the kitchen. Buffy hopped on her bed and kicked off her shoes. Then she picked up her phone to call Willow.
Willow Rosenberg was in her room doing her homework. The biology workbook wasn't difficult, just tedious. She really wished teachers would stop assigning repetitive busywork.
Willow's thoughts were interrupted by her phone ringing. It's probably Xander, she thought, wanting me to explain photosynthesis for the fourth time.
"Hey, Will. It's Buffy."
"Oh. Hi, Buffy. How's it going?"
"Fine. You sound a little surprised that it's me."
"Not really. It's just Xander's working on his biology homework and he's been calling me a lot. I'm like tutor-girl tonight. So, what do you need?"
"It's nothing. It's just that something gave me the wig tonight and I need you to tell me it's nothing."
"I came home from patrol and Giles was here and he and my mom looked like they were really friendly. Like 'date-friendly.'"
"Wow. Your mom and Giles? As a couple? Doing coupley, smoochie things?"
"I'm sorry. It's probably nothing. Maybe they ran into each other at the grocery store or something and decided to hang out."
"Maybe. It's just that with that whole thing last week with Ethan Rayne and the candy and the second teenagehood... I just have a big case of the ewwws."
"Would it really be so bad if they were together like that?"
"Willow, don't even go there. Listen, I've got to get some sleep. I'll see you tomorrow."
"Bye," Willow said as she hung up the phone.
Hmm,she thought. Mrs. Summers and Giles. Interesting.