Title: Joyce Takes Charge

Author: Queen Boadicea

Email: queenboadiceaoftheiceni@yahoo.com

Spoiler Warning: BtVS season two, episode "School Hard"

Disclaimer: This belongs to Joss Whedon and the usual gang of idi…uh, geniuses.

Feedback: Do your worst—it can't compare to my worst ;)

[thoughts]

Joyce was annoyed. All right, she was terrified and annoyed. She'd thought this would be a typical Parent/Teacher night. Well, where Buffy was concerned things would hardly be typical. But her daughter had been trying to fit in and make things work, hadn't she?

But Buffy had been giving her cause for worry lately. Joyce tried to set rules and boundaries without pushing too hard; she really did. Still, she was fairly certain Buffy was sneaking out at nights. She swore she could hear faint movements in her daughter's room in the early hours of morning that sounded like the window being opened and shut. There were the odd hours she kept with her friends at school.

There was also the matter of that strange, handsome English librarian. She was grateful for his concern for Buffy. But Joyce couldn't recall any of her teachers being so attentive as to show up at the hospital when the students' parents got sick or injured. If she didn't know her daughter thought sex involving older people was gross, she'd have suspected the man of harboring improper intentions towards Buffy.

Buffy had been a little jittery all week concerning Parent/Teacher night and Joyce suspected the news from her teachers might not be entirely favorable. But she'd calmed down and even got a little enthusiastic as Thursday night approached. Joyce thought things might finally be turning out all right.

True, some of her teachers had trouble recalling who she was. Others seemed to think she was some kind of delinquent. When Joyce pressed them for details, however, there were only vague mumblings about Buffy always seeming to be around when trouble reared its ugly head.

The worst criticism came from that nasty, spiteful principal, Mr. Snyder. Joyce had met his kind before: people who interpreted the least bit of individuality in teenagers as rebellion, wildness and criminal tendencies. She suspected people like him didn't really like kids which made his choice of job rather foolish, in her opinion. What a jerk. Joyce resolved to ignore his opinion. Other than his ill-directed meanness and the indifference of the teachers, they all had to concede that Buffy was doing well in school. So it looked as if things might finally be turning around after the disaster at Hemery.

Then it all fell apart. Those hooligans attacked the school and pandemonium broke out. Joyce couldn't figure out what they wanted except they seemed bent on killing everyone. What happened to the good old days when kids seized the schools to make political statements?

Buffy seemed to know what was going on, however, and she'd ordered her mother to stay put—a command that was hard to follow when she heard screaming inside and outside the building. Joyce was torn. The idiot principal wanted to leave but quickly changed his mind when somebody was yanked, screaming, through an open window.

But Buffy was out there in heavens knew what kind of trouble and Joyce simply couldn't stay put. Having heard nothing but silence for awhile, she cautiously edged open the door. Seeing a discarded axe lying in the hallway, she picked it up and marched determinedly to look for her daughter.

Buffy traded swift vicious jabs with the peroxide blonde vamp. He slammed her into the wall and swung at her but she ducked at the last second so his fist punched through the plaster instead of her skull. Buffy took the opportunity to deal him a solid blow to the back.

The vampire was mildly impressed. "Now that hurt." Then he wrenched his arm out of the wall—along with a hefty wooden beam he'd gripped behind the plaster. He swatted Buffy in the head with it so that she landed, stunned, on the school linoleum. "But not so much as this will." He grinned and raised the plank to finish her off.

Joyce couldn't see the man's face since his back was to her. But she heard the sneering tone in his voice, witnessed the threatening posture as he stood over her prone daughter and she saw red.

Charging forward, she swung the blade of the axe with all her strength. Bracing herself for the solid thud when the head bounced from his shoulders, she sliced the axe cleanly through his neck—only to see the entire body disintegrate into dust. Caught off balance from the unexpected lack of resistance, Joyce staggered and nearly fell.

Buffy stared at her in shock as she scrambled to her feet. "Mom? What are you doing here? I thought I told you to stay put!"

"Well, excuse me for worrying about my daughter!" Joyce retorted. Then she did a double take. "Buffy, that man—"

"What man? Oh, the one that was here a moment ago. H-he ran away. You must have scared him real good when you whacked him with that axe. Great going, Mom."

"Don't take that tone with me, missy. I saw what just happened here!" She paused. "Exactly what just happened here?"

"I'd love to explain; I really would. But there are more people in danger and I have to go."

"You don't have to do anything, Buffy. We should just wait for the proper authorities."

"The proper authorities aren't coming! The phone lines have been cut."

"Oh. Right. Then—what are you going to do?"

"My job," Buffy muttered under her breath. She marched off only to realize Joyce was still with her. "Where do you think you're going?"

"Following you, of course. You think I'm going to let my only child go into danger alone?"

"Mom, I can handle things from here."

"Yes, you were doing so well a moment ago," the older woman replied, irony dripping from her voice.

"That was—I was regrouping!"

"From the floor?"

Buffy fumed for a moment. She briefly considered knocking her out and stowing her in a closet somewhere. But even if that didn't leave the woman helpless for whatever vampire came along, her mother would be incredibly pissed when she woke up. The blonde girl sighed and came to a decision.

"Okay, you can come. But stay behind me and don't help me unless you think you can get a clean shot."

"Fine. You're the boss," Joyce replied. She marched behind her daughter as Buffy carefully rounded a corner. "So, Buffy. What was that thing I just killed…?"

After the rest of the vampires had been dusted or run off, Angel had excused himself and silently drifted into the night. Snyder was left to make his previously rehearsed speech about gangs on PCP attacking the school to the police. Buffy did a head count and was relieved to find all her friends had made it through the night alive and intact. They all sat around giving their various statements to the cops and Joyce noted with bemusement that everyone backed up Snyder's story.

However, she noted the furtive glances Buffy's friends and the librarian traded with each other. When the last of the squad cars had driven away and the ambulances had carted off the two dead bodies, she folded her arms and quirked her eyebrows as she probed her daughter for the true story.

"Buffy, do you want to explain to me what's really going on here?"

"Mrs. Summers, you heard our statements to the police…" Giles began.

"Save it, Mr. Giles. I'm a little old to be fed fairy tales. I know what those creatures were."

Giles shot Buffy an inquiring look. She shrugged her shoulders, smiling feebly. "She kinda dusted a vamp earlier tonight, Giles."

"You mom got a bloodsucker? You rule, Mrs. S!" Xander crowed.

"That's so cool, Mrs. Summers!" Willow added, a smile lighting up her features.

Manfully getting a grasp on his poise, Giles blinked and looked over the impatient woman standing before him. "That's—I trust you were uninjured in the encounter, Mrs. Summers?"

She waved her hand, dismissing his concern. "I'm perfectly all right, thank you for asking. I take it by your reactions that you're all in on this conspiracy?"

Giles protested. "I-I wouldn't call it a conspiracy as such."

"We're more of an elite, select group—like the Shriners." That came from Willow. She met the incredulous looks from the others. "Well, we are."

"Which brings me to the real question. Why are you mixed up in this, Buffy?"

There was no getting around this. Her mother would have to be told. Buffy patted the school stairs beside her. "Mom, you might want to sit down for this." When her mother complied, she took a deep breath.

"Mom. I'm a vampire Slayer…"

TBC