Pluses and Minuses by facingthesun
Summary: William has a daughter who is struggling in Ms. Buffy’s kindergarten class.
Categories: General Fics Characters: None
Genres: Romance
Warnings: None
Challenges:
Series: None
Chapters: 1 Completed: Yes Word count: 3301 Read: 2532 Published: 01/01/2006 Updated: 01/01/2006
Pluses and Minuses by facingthesun
I haven’t updated in awhile, but I haven’t stopped writing. In fact, I’ve been writing more than ever (and yes, it’s Spuffy, what else is there really?). I’ve been writing smaller stories for my friends on livejournal -- look it up, http://www.livejournal.com/users/facingthesun/ -- as Christmas presents. There aren’t all done, but I’m going to share them with you now as they are completed.

Thank you for reading. I hope to start working on my WIPs soon. (I don’t know about you, but I miss them).

Happy New Year!

--Jennifer (facingthesun)

(note: not all stories are R/NC17, to see all of them, go to my livejournal or the Spuffy Realm -- http://www.spikeluver.com/SpuffyRealm/index.php -- )


Title: Pluses and Minuses
Pairing: Human Spike and Buffy
Rating: PG13
Disclaimer: I own nothing. Thank you to Joss for letting me play without being sued.
Gift for: karbear57, who wanted 5 special things included in the story: Pecan Sandies cookies, Miracle Whip, Marmaduke, a recliner, and an advent candle.
Beta’d: yes
Finished: yes


"Hi, Mr. Giles, it is so nice to see you again."

"Likewise, but please, call me William."

"William," Buffy said, flashing him a warm smile. "Take a seat. I wish we were meeting under happier circumstances."

"Oh?"

"I'm concerned with Emma. Let me show you something." Clearing her throat, Buffy opened a bright purple folder on her desk and pulled out two different report cards. "This you'll probably recognize, it's from last quarter, and this is a list of your daughter's current grades."

"And the difference between pluses and minuses are...?"

"Well, pluses are above average and the minuses are below."

"What symbol is used for average?" William asked, squinting at the papers.

"A checkmark."

"Em doesn't have any checkmarks..."

"No, I'm afraid not. In the past few weeks, she's been slipping in every subject: math, reading, writing, even speaking."

"You grade on speaking?"

"Yes."

"Oh. So...would you suggest a tutor? Hell, do they even have tutors for kindergarteners?"

"Let's not mention tutors just yet, William. I was hoping you could fill me in on what has caused the major changes in her behavior. Did something happen at home?"

"Ah..."

"If you don't feel comfortable speaking with me, I can refer you and Emma to the school’s counselor..." Buffy forced away her frown and tried not to look disappointed at the possible notion that the handsome William Giles wouldn't want to confide in her. "I mean, Emma a very bright girl. A few months ago she talked non-stop and seemed like a perfectionist at every task I assigned, but recently, she’s been so unlike herself."

Taking a deep breath, William reclined back in his chair and rubbed his eyes with the ends of his palms. "Sod it all, she's even ruining Em's schoolwork."

"She? Y-your wife? Uh," pausing, Buffy glanced through her sheets," uh, Drusilla? I don't think I've met her..."

"Why would she burden herself with seeing Em's teacher? But actually, when I think it over, it's probably a good thing. If she came and saw you, Dru'd have one more thing to attack me over. Crazy, jealous, possessive bitch..."

"Excuse me?"

"Sorry, witch," he corrected, rolling his eyes.

"You think she'd be jealous of me?"

"It doesn't matter."

"Oh, yeah, of course it doesn't matter…"

“Drusilla left us a few months ago. She picked up her things and didn’t even leave a note.”

“I’m so sorry.”

“Don’t be, we’re better off—or at least I thought we were.”

“Mr. Giles, I--.”

“It’s William, love.” Restless, he looked at the clock above Buffy’s desk. “What do you suggest we do to fix her grades and whatnot? I know she’s been acting differently at home…she clings and follows me everywhere. She seems scared to death that I’ll leave her too.”

“The school’s counselor--.”

“No, I’d like to avoid that if possible.”

“Maybe…maybe you could prove to Emma that you’re not going to leave her… I’m sure you’re a busy man, but have you considered being a teacher’s aide?”

“Parents do that?”

“Some volunteer. They show up on special activities and help me with lesson plans.”

“Would that be a good idea, joining her at school?”

“It wouldn’t be on a daily basis. You could pick a day of the week…”

“I have Wednesdays off.”

“We could use some help on Wednesdays,” Buffy smiled. “That’s Show-and-Tell Day.”

“Okay. Wednesdays it is then.”
***

“Daddy, I need to bring something for snack. Did you forget? You always forget!”

“I didn’t forget, bit.” Biting his lower lip, William looked through the pantry for an unopened package of food. “I got the perfect snack for you… Just forgot where I put it.”

“I hope you got something good. Nobody ate that gross stuff that you gave me last time.”

“What? Your class didn’t like my Wheetabix?”

Emma shook her head and waited impatiently for her father. “Daddy, hurry!”

“You know, for a kid who barely speaks a word at school…ah! Look, baby, here’s your snack.”

“What is it? Cookies?”

“Yes,” he laughed once Emma’s eyes sparkled. “Pecan Sandies.”

“I only like chocolate cookies.”

“Don’t pout.” Crouching, William smoothed Emma’s unruly dark hair. “Em, Daddy’s got a surprise for you.”

“A surprise?”

“Yes, do you want to guess what it could be?”

“Is it…a new Barbie?”

“No, guess again.”

“Is it…is it…a puppy?!”

“A puppy? No, no.”

“No puppy? But I really, really, really, want one!”

“She would want a blasted puppy,” William grumbled quietly. “It’s not a puppy, sweetness, but you should definitely put that on your Christmas list to Santa. Since you’re a downright, bloody awful, guesser…”

“Don’t say bad words, daddy! I’ll tell!”

“Oh? Who you gonna tell?” he asked, tickling her sides and causing Emma to squeal.

“Ms. Buffy! Ms. Buffy!”

“Ms. Buffy?”

“Yeah, she says that using bad words is rude.”

“Does she? Will you accept my sincerest apologies? I don’t want Ms. Buffy on my case at school today.”

“What?” Emma sang, putting her hands on each side of William’s face. “What are you saying?”

“I’m coming to school with you. That’s your surprise.”

“Really?”

“Yeah, how do you feel about that? Good?”

“Good!” she exclaimed, throwing her arms around her dad’s neck. “Are you going to come with me every day, from now on, forever and ever?”

“Uh, I’ll be there when I can, especially on the days you have show-and-tell. Speaking of that, have you picked yours out? What are you gonna bring?”

“I’m bringing mommy’s Miss Edith. Are going to bring something too, daddy?”

“I can’t think of why I should be excluded,” he chuckled. “You want to pick out mine as well as yours?”

“Sure, I’ll be right back!”
***

“Good morning, Ms. Buffy.”

“Good morning, Mr. Giles.”

“I’ve brought you a present, hope you like hot chocolate.”

“I do, thank you,” Buffy said, grinning from ear-to-ear. “You’re very sweet.”

“Always been a bit of a teacher’s pet. Old habits die hard you know.”

Buffy shook her head and blushed once he gave her a flirtatious wink. “Emma seems excited to have you with us.”

“Think I’ve been introduced to the entire class.”

“She’s really proud of you. She wants to show you off.”

“A living piece of show-and-tell, I am.”

“Why don’t you find a seat while I take the attendance and get the class started?” Buffy suggested with a laugh. “Since you’re our special guest, you can sit in our Special Chair.”

“The coveted Special Chair? You’ve got to be joking, pet.”

“Nope, it’s all yours, William.”
***

“I should come here more often. I’ve got my comfortable Special Chair, my coffee and my daily funny pages. You like Marmaduke, Buffy?”

“Ah, what’s that?”

“And here I was gonna ask you to explain the funny to me. I just don’t get it. The pooch is cute and all—Emma finds him adorable—but I can’t for the life of me bust one giggle over the cartoon.” Shaking his head, William put down his newspaper and took a moment to look his daughter’s teacher up and down. “I really do like it here.”

“Is that right? You might change you mind when all the glue and cotton balls come out.”

“Half of them eat paste, don’t they?”

“It’ll be your job to stop them. Come over here and I’ll tell you what we’re doing.”

William followed Buffy and reluctantly stared down at a tiny table with equally tiny chairs. Buffy slipped into one gracefully and he was doubtful that he could do the same.

“Come here, William, sit next to me,” Buffy said sweetly. “It’s not as bad as it looks.”

Squatting down lower than usual, William sat and struggled to find the perfect place to keep his knees. “How do you do this everyday, love?”

“It’s gets easier with lots of practice. You’ll be able to get up on your own, won’t you?”

“I’m not certain, you may have to lend me a helping hand.”

“Okay.” Taking a deep breath, she showed him a sheet of paper with the face of Santa Claus drawn on it, a bag of cotton balls, red, green and white construction paper, a group of small, dull scissors and an assortment of colored glue. “This has been done for ages. I did it in my kindergarten class and so did my little sister. Have you?”

“I believe so. The kids are supposed to glue on Santa’s beard, yes?”

“That’s it.”

“Alright, so I’m on paste patrol?”

“Just help the kids and keep an eye on Emma.”

“She seems to be acting fine from what I can see.”

“Just make sure she finishes the assignment.”

“Then she might get a checkmark?”

“Maybe even a plus.”
***

After helping Buffy pass out the supplies, William sat next to Emma and gave her shoulders a light squeeze. “Why haven’t you started your project, baby?”

“I don’t want to do it.”

“But why? It’s fun. You get to play with…green glue. Green glue? I should have a chat with Ms. Buffy over her choice in glue. Maybe you kids wouldn’t eat it if it weren’t the color of Skittles. Taste the bloody rainbow…”

“Daddy, don’t swear.”

“This is what you do. See, you take the green snotty glue and you put it on the cotton. The cotton itself is full of fun because you can tear it and shred it. Santa’s beard is wispy, you know. Take a cotton ball. Show me how good you can pull it apart.”

“I don’t want to. Frankie told me they’re made of spider webs.”

“Spider—Frankie? Who the hell is--.”

“Daddy!”

"Sorry, heck," he corrected, rolling his eyes.

“He’s over there,” Emma pointed, her lower lip out in a pout. “He’s mean.”

“Oh, is he? What else has he told you, Em?”

“Um…” She curled in her chair and avoided his eyes. “Nothing, daddy.”

Looking across the room, William glared at the back of Frankie’s head and caught Buffy’s eye. She was leaning over his desk and they caught each other’s glance for a few passing seconds.

“Em, Ms. Buffy wouldn’t give you a ball of spider webs. She wouldn’t try to scare you. These cotton balls are made of cotton candy. You remember when mommy and I took you to the fair?”

“Yes.”

“You ate loads of cotton candy. Don’t these look like it?”

“I guess,” Emma mumbled, taking a soft ball into her hand.

“Think you could glue them on Santa? You wouldn’t want a naked-faced Santa bringing you presents, yeah?”

“No.”

“Do it, baby,” William pleaded, giving Emma’s temple a kiss. “I’m going to speak to Ms. Buffy for a bit.”
***

"That sodding rug-rat is tormenting my Emma. Did you ever think he's the reason why she isn't making good marks? Don't you discipline your unruly students?"

"William--."

"No, I will swear if I bloody-well wish to. Because of you, I can't express myself freely, I can't say one fucking dirty word at home or--."

"Mr. Giles, swearing is just a sign of an undersized and underdeveloped vocabulary!"

"What?"

"Stop pacing and lower your voice! You're going to scare the children."

"I think a few of them need a good scaring--."

"Mr. Giles--."

"I told you to call me William."

"Oh my God," Buffy whispered, grabbing him by wrist and bringing him towards the coat racks. "Frankie is harmless! He's a sweet little boy--."

"Who's telling Emma that cotton balls are made from spider webs. She's always been terrified of spiders--."

"Frankie is harmless, William. He likes Emma; he has a crush on her. Don't you remember kindergarten and elementary school? When little boys like little girls, they do whatever they can to get attention. They pull hair, call names, and make up stories—it's called teasing."

"He likes her? I thought boys weren't supposed to mature so quickly... They're in kindergarten for heaven's sake."

"Emma's cute, she's a dish, before a few months ago, she was our class clown. She's upset that her mom left, that's it. She scared that you're going to leave her too. That's easy to see. If you want a real clinical reason to why she's refusing to finish her work—I just think with your encouragement she'll get back on track. I've been watching you with her, you're amazing."

"I'm amazing?"

"Y-you are really making me rethink this parent-volunteer thing."

"So, if I'm so amazing..." With kinder, less fiery eyes, William turned his wrist and took a hold of Buffy's hand. "If we were, I don't know, five or so, would you be pulling my hair by now?"

"Ah...girls don't pull hair, they blush a-and beg the boy to play house with them."

"Play house, huh? What if we went to dinner instead?"

"I don't know... Emma..."

"Em loves you. Ms. Buffy's her hero."

"How's tomorrow night for you?" Buffy asked, a smile tugging at her lips.

"I can get a sitter."

"No, bring her. We'll go somewhere fun."

"It's a date, pet."
***

“This is my mommy’s doll and her name is Miss Edith. I think she’s really pretty. I like her hair because it’s dark like mine. I like her dress too. My daddy says she looks like me.” With arms stretched out, Emma showed the doll to her class and they all clapped.

“My-my daddy brought something too! It’s your turn, daddy!”

“Guess that’s my intro. Wish me luck. I get nervy when it comes to presentations.”

“I don’t believe you,” Buffy chuckled, patting his shoulder. “Don’t be nervous. Just be your charming self.”

“Charming and amazing?”

“Will you just go up there already? The more you stall, the more snack time is pushed back.”

“Oh and that’d be the end of the world.”

“William…”

“Hey, kids. If you haven’t figured it out, I’m Emma’s dad. She picked out something for me to show and tell you about, but like you all, I haven’t the foggiest idea of what it could be.”

“Here,” Emma whispered, giving him her backpack. “It’s in there.”

“Now, isn’t this exciting.” Looking off into the distance, William felt around in the bag. “Where did you find this, bit?”

Instead of answering, Emma giggled into her hands.

“This, this was my mother’s,” he explained, holding up a white candle with designs cut out along its body. “Growing up, it was just me and her, and she really got into celebrating the holidays. Every year for Christmas, we set up this thing called an advent wreath. Anybody know what that is?”

William chuckled when only a few kids raised their hands. “Looks like we have some children here who have missed their fair share of Sunday school—anyway, this is what my mother considered our Christmas Eve candle and it’s actually the only one that’s left from the original wreath…the others melted in one way or another. Now, my family usually lights just this candle after sunset on Christmas Eve every year, don’t we Em?”

“Yup!”

When the class started to clap, William gave Emma a kiss on the top of her head. “Good choice, sweetheart.”

“Will we still light it this year? Will we do it without mommy?”

“Uh…” Catching Buffy’s eye, William led Emma to a corner of the classroom. “Of course we will. This year’s holiday will be exactly like the last.”

“So, mommy’s coming back?”

“Well, kitten, that’s a difficult question to answer. I don’t know if she’s gonna come back, but what I do know is, I’m going to be there. In fact, I’m never going to leave you. I’m going to be with you every day at home and if you’d like I’ll continue to be with you at school every Wednesday.”

“I like it when you’re at school with me.”

“I like it too.” From his crouching position, William opened his arms and took Emma against his chest. “But, if you don’t complete your assignments, I might stay home on my days off. You wouldn’t want that to happen, would you?”

“No, no.”

“Then you’ll try to do better in class? You know, if you ever need my help…or you can always go to your teacher. Ms. Buffy—she wants to help you too, baby.”

“I like Ms. Buffy.”

“Me too, Em. Me too.”
***

“Mr. Giles, I’m glad to see you.”

“Likewise,” he said, giving her a brief kiss on the mouth. “How’s our girl doing this quarter?”

“Take a look for yourself,” Buffy said, sliding Emma’s report card across the desk.

“My, will you look at all those pluses and checkmarks.”

“She has improved tremendously. You should be proud of her.”

“I always am,” William grinned. “So, is there anything else that we need to discuss?”

“Well…”

“I mean, if you want to gush about my brilliant Em, I’d rather do it over dinner.”

“Where at?” Buffy asked, taking the elastic band from her hair and allowing blonde curls to fall beneath her shoulders.

“My place. I’ll cook. I already made this unbelievable dessert.”

“You’re a loving father, a sexy flirt, and a cook? Have I struck gold?”

“I believe so, Ms. Buffy.” When she got up from behind her desk, he patted his knee.

Taking his invitation, Buffy sat in his lap and sighed when their lips met. “What kind of dessert did you make me? Is it chocolate?”

“Of course, that’s something my girls have in common, an unhealthy love for chocolate. I found this recipe for devil’s food cake and believe it or not, the main ingredient required was Miracle Whip…”
***

The End.
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