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This Isn't A Kingdom

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Sunnydale was a place of contradictions, Giles decided: a nexus of unspeakable evil; and a small, dull, unbearably American town. On the morning of the first Sunnydale High staff meeting of the new semester, it was the latter.

The staff room was pleasant and boring, awash in shades of beige, with a tired-looking couch, and an even more exhausted microwave sulking in a corner. The gathered faculty hovered around the long meeting table where platters of stale sandwiches were arranged, waiting for Principal Flutie to call them to order. They sipped bitter coffee from Styrofoam cups and made small talk about the weather. Apparently it was an unusually cold January, a fact that Giles noted with some alarm. At the current temperature, a tweed three-piece suit was a reasonable wardrobe choice, but he was dreading the summer.

Giles was contemplating a congealing tuna salad sandwich and regretting having skipped breakfast, when Flutie bustled towards him.

“Ah! Mr. Giles, before we get started, I'd like you to meet someone,” he said, and gestured for Giles to follow him.

Bemused, Giles did. Admittedly, he hadn't met many staff members yet, but he couldn't imagine any of them being particularly important.

Flutie led him to a pair of young teachers chatting by the coffee thermos. A fresh-faced man in shirtsleeves, and a woman in clunky shoes and a leather jacket.

“Craig, could you give us a second?” Flutie asked as he approached.

“Sure,” the young man said, with a glance at his companion.

“Talk to you later,” she said.

Craig smiled, and blushing, ducked away.

“Rupert Giles, Jenny Calendar; Jenny Calendar, Rupert Giles,” Flutie said, nodding to each of them in turn. “Mr. Giles is our new librarian.”

“Nice to meet you,” Ms. Calendar said, offering her hand.

“Indeed,” Giles replied.

Ms. Calendar shook his hand firmly. She was slight, even with the added height of her shoes, but she held herself with a confidence that exceeded her size. He could see why Craig was reluctant to leave her company.

“And what do you teach?” Giles asked, still unsure of why Flutie wanted them to meet.

“Computer science.”

Giles chuckled ruefully. “Ah.”

“What?”

“Technology and I are not on the friendliest terms,” he explained.

It seemed as though Ms. Calender's eyes narrowed a fraction, but she continued smiling genially.

“Well, it's nice to see you two hit it off,” Flutie said, clasping his hands and bouncing on the balls of his feet. “You're going to be seeing a lot of each other.”

“Really?” Ms. Calendar asked.

Flutie's bouncing intensified. “I'm going to make the announcement at the staff meeting, but...” His voice lowered in volume but rose in pitch, “we finally got funding to digitize our library collection!”

Although Giles recognized the words, he had no idea what they meant. “To what?”

“Every book in the Sunnydale High library will be made available online!”

As far as Giles was concerned, this raised more questions than it answered. “Why?”

Ms. Calendar cut in, “Better preservation of texts, easier searching, accessibility-”

“Or we could simply teach students how use a book,” Giles said, only half-jokingly.

“Maybe,” Ms. Calendar granted. Then she continued, “If you think only pompous antiques should have access to knowledge. But in case you haven't noticed, this is a high school.”

It took Giles a second to register the insult. Once he did, he replied with all the false sincerity he could manage, “Forgive me, I didn't realize that our goal was to instruct students on how to be ignorant philistines.”

“Okay!” Flutie interjected. “Isn't it great that we can all have different opinions, and still work together on the same team? Right?” He looked from one to the other, but neither responded, intent as they were on staring each other down. “How about we get this meeting started?”

Ms. Calendar sat down abruptly, apparently not noticing where Craig was signaling for her to sit next to him.

Giles took a seat as far away from her as possible. He pulled off his glasses and began cleaning them, while doing his best to focus his thoughts on what preparations he had to make for the arrival of the Slayer, or even on whatever Flutie was saying. But he kept returning to how unfortunate he was to have a colleague like Ms. Calendar.

For her part, Ms. Calendar was thinking that she'd never met anyone so pretentiously obsolescent as Mr. Giles, and if they were forced to work together, she'd make sure he knew it.

Principal Flutie, though perturbed by the disagreement between his two newest staff members, thought the meeting went well in general, and was a positive start to the new semester.

None of them could have guessed how much would change with the Harvest.