Summary: The town elders of Sunnydale visit a certain well-known inhabitant of the town with a proposal. . .

Disclaimer: All of these characters remain the property of their owners/creators. . .I'm just borrowing them for a spell. . .

Rating: PG, for themes.

Time Frame: From about a month after "The Gift," to about two weeks after the events of "Bargaining." (spoiler warnings!)

Archiving: Be my guest, but e-mail me (eilandesq@aol.com) to let me know. . .I like to know where stuff I write ends up and I might want to see what else you've got.


SIMPLE WISDOM


The dark sedan pulled up to the curb, and after a moment two men and a woman wearing business suits stepped out of the car and onto the sidewalk, looking over at the ordinary-looking two-story house. One of the men, who appeared to be in his mid-fifties and who had made an extraordinarily bad choice in a toupee, turned to the others and grumbled, "I still say this is a bad idea."

The other man and the woman both rolled their eyes in annoyance, and the woman replied, "Yes, John. . .we heard you say it in the meeting. . .and walking to the car. . .and driving over here. We've pretty much figured out that you think this idea is deeply bad, but we're going ahead with it. So do you want to stay out here and bitch, or sit in on our conversation with Miss Summers?"

John Bender, city clerk of Sunnydale for the past twenty years, blinked in annoyance and retorted, "You know damned well I want to come in, Rachel. . .but I'm just saying: why her? You've seen her record. . .do you really want a loose cannon like Buffy Summers for the job we need to be done?"

Rachel Moore, head of Public Relations on the Sunnydale City Council, looked at Bender with exasperation and snapped back, "Because people know her and respect her, even if they won't say why in public. . .and with the Mayor and most of the City Council dead after that weird whatever-it-was last month, we need people who command that kind of respect to rebuild in this town, even if they may be a bit hard to deal with. It's just a City Council seat, and we'll steer her along: she'll just be a figurehead. She's a twenty year old girl, no matter how nasty she is fighting the forces of darkness. . .what harm could she do?"

Bender looked dubious, and it was left to Steve Nance, the town treasurer and senior member of the City Council, to break the deadlock: "Let's just see how she reacts. . .she may not be interested, and we can move on to the next idea."

Bender and Moore looked at each other, then at Nance before nodding and walking up to the front door of the Summers residence. It was early afternoon, and the late June sun was shining brightly as they walked to the door and knocked.

After a few moments, the door opened and revealed a lovely young woman with long blonde hair, wearing a simple dress with a floral pattern. She looked at the new arrivals with a blank expression on her face, then smiled radiantly: Bender would later swear that he could see Buffy's molars. She blinked, then called out in a cheery voice, "Hello, visitors who are standing outside in broad daylight and not carrying any weapons! You must want to come in!"

All three visitors blinked at the odd greeting, then remembered some of the hazards in the town that they lived in, and entered the house without waiting for explicit invitation. The young woman closed the door after them and led them into the living room, where they sat on the sofa. Their host smiled still wider and asked, "Would you like a cold beverage, or Cheesy Chips? I've been given strict orders to keep a large supply of Cheesy Chips on hand!"

The council members were taken aback by the enthusiastic offer, and it was a moment before Moore could shake her head slowly and reply, "No thank you, Miss Summers-"

"Buffy. You should call me Buffy, because that is my name, you know. Buffy!" The young woman smiled and asked, "Isn't it a pretty name?"

"Yes, Buffy. . .yes it is." Bender, who had read the descriptions of Buffy Summers in the reports left by the late, unlamented Mayor Wilkins, didn't know what to make of the preternaturally cheerful person in front of him, but he knew that this was not getting them anywhere. He coughed self-consciously and continued, "We've come here on an important business matter, Buffy."

Buffy's expression turned somber, and she whispered, "Business. . .that's important. Anya and Giles run a business and make lots of money. Xander builds things and makes money. . .he's a carpenter, you know. I help them where I can. . .it's what I was made for: to help."

Nance was absolutely enchanted by the young woman, and interjected, "Buffy. . .we've come here because we need your help with something: would you like to hear what it is?"

The smile re-appeared on Buffy's face, and she piped up, "You should talk and I should listen. . .that's the best way to tell me something."

All three council members were smiling now, and Bender nodded and replied, "Very well put, Buffy." He cleared his throat again, then began, "You may have heard that most of our City Council perished during the strange disturbances last month."

Buffy's face turned somber again, and she replied, "People died, and their friends put them in the ground. It was very sad. Things like that shouldn't happen to people."

Moore blinked away a tear, remembering the friends she had lost, then recovered and continued where Bender had left off: "You're right, Buffy. . .they shouldn't, but they do, and we have a problem." She looked directly into the calm green eyes of her host and continued, "Buffy. . .this town has had a rough last five years, in spite of the efforts of you and your friends. How would you feel about doing a public service of a different kind for your town?"

Buffy brightened, and replied, "Service. . .helping people, making things better. It's what Buffy Summers did best." She looked down and whispered sadly, "But she can't do that any more."

"But you can, Buffy!" Nance was puzzled by Buffy suddenly drifting into the third person, but decided that it was discomfort on her part and ignored it as he continued, "Buffy. . .most of the nastiest things that lived here have been driven off, but this town needs a new kind of help: a help only you can provide." He smiled at her in a paternal manner, then concluded, "Will you listen to what we want you to do?"

Buffy looked at him gravely, then replied, "I was made to help, so I should listen to find out how." She sat down in an armchair and rested her head in her hands as she looked at her visitors and concluded, "What do you want to tell me?"

Moore and Nance turned and looked at Bender with smug expressions on their faces: Bender shrugged and inclined his head toward their host as if to say "you win." Moore turned back to the waiting young woman and began, "It's like this, Buffy-"


* * * * *


"WILLOW!!"

Willow flinched, then looked downstairs with a vague feeling of dread. Buffy had been back about two weeks now, but it had only been a few days since she had really seemed to be more like her old self. . .for better or for worse. During that time, she had been discovering various little annoyances that had cropped up in her absence, and it had taken all of Willow's patience and determination to keep Buffy more or less level in spite of the problems. Most of the minor difficulties had been resolved, though Willow had a nagging feeling that she was forgetting something, and the tone of Buffy's shout caused that feeling to return, redoubled. She forced down the feeling of uneasiness and walked downstairs, calling out, "What's wrong, Buffy?"

Buffy glared at Willow, and the redhead had a brief glimmer of nostalgia for the BuffyBot, which now rested in pieces in the Summers' basement. The Bot had its flaws, but it never glared at anyone. Willow shook off the thought as Buffy gestured at a large pile of mail on the couch next to her and replied, "I was going through the mail. . .bills, junk mail, the usual. . .and the most interesting collection of official mail."

Only biocontrol gained from frequent spell use kept Willow from turning ghost white. * Oh, crap * She smiled weakly, then replied, "Official mail, Buffy?"

Buffy smiled, and Willow felt serious ambivalence about the old glint of ferocious intelligence in her best friend's eyes as it combined with the expression of "don't kid a kidder" that she was wearing as she responded, "Yes, Willow. . .official mail: official mail addressed to 'Buffy Summers. . .Mayor of Sunnydale.'" She cocked an eyebrow and invited, "Care to explain?"

Willow swallowed hard, and a bead of sweat trickled down her cheek as she frantically wondered how she would deal with this. She knew that she would have to come up with something good; after all, the stakes were enormous:

Free parking at UC Sunnydale was just too good to give up.


Author's Closing Note: This story was inspired by the scene of the BuffyBot at Parent/Teacher Day, which in turn obviously owed a lot to "Being There." For all of her flaws, the Bot was a sweet, gentle creature that deserved a better end. . .may she rest easy. : - )


As always, comments are welcomed and desired