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2.

The trip over to Revelo Drive had been quite an eye opener; Buffy had been right, women’s fashions in this different world were much more ‘revealing’ than they were in her own. Typically, young women, such as herself, wore very short skirts and tops that left little (if anything) to the imagination. In fact Buffy started to feel slightly over dressed.

Walking up to her mother’s front door, Buffy realised that she no longer had any keys for the house. It was obvious when she thought about it, she didn’t live here any more (at least not in this reality) so why would she have any keys? Standing at the door, Buffy lifted her hand to knock only to have the door pulled open by a teenager dressed in a black skirt that was way too short and a white blouse that was translucent enough for Buffy to be able see the girl’s nipples. The girl had a pretty heart shaped face, blue eyes, long brown hair and couldn’t have been more than fifteen years old, she was also a complete stranger to her.

“Hi Buffy,” the girl smiled, she obviously knew Buffy and seemed pleased to see her.

“Hi!” Buffy smiled back unsure what else to say; the girl’s eyes appeared to drop towards Buffy’s middle.

“Still not pregnant I see?” the girl asked with a smirk, “Like, when are you and Rupert totally going to make me an Auntie?”

Buffy made some sort of incoherent sounds which the girl chose to ignore.

“Look,” she said as she stepped out of the doorway, “I’ve got to rush, mom’s in the kitchen, we’ll totally hang later, okay?”

“Yeah, totally,” Buffy nodded her head completely confused, “fine, great!”

“MOM!” The girl yelled over her shoulder as she held the door open for Buffy, “BUFFY’S HERE! I’M OFF TO WORK!”

Work? Thought Buffy, on a school day, what was going on here?

“Be careful on the road, Dawnie,” Buffy’s mother’s voice came clearly from the direction of the kitchen.

“Gotta fly!” ‘Dawnie’ said as she ran down the steps and over to a bicycle that leaned against a tree which Buffy couldn't remember being there in her own reality; the girl climbed aboard and peddled off down the street, apparently not caring that her microscopic skirt was riding up around her hips to expose the matching black panties she was wearing.

Walking slowly through the open door, Buffy looked around the hall. Things were pretty much as she remembered them except this ‘Dawnie’ girl was in all the pictures of her mother and herself that Buffy was sure had only previously shown herself and her mom; she had no memory of the girl who she was already beginning to think of as her sister.

“I'm in the kitchen, dear,” her mother’s voice called.

“Coming!” Buffy walked briskly through the house to the kitchen where she saw her mother doing the washing up (guiltily Buffy remembered she’d not tidied up the apartment before going out; she would have to do that later before Giles came home in the afternoon).

“Hi mom,” Buffy was relieved to see her mother was dressed in much the same way as she always dressed apart from her dress being a little shorter than the ones she usually wore, “how’s it going?”

“I’m fine, I’m afraid you’re father’s already out at work,” Joyce told her, “sit down while I finish this then we can talk.”

“DAD!?” Buffy cried out before she remember that things were different here and it was quite possible that her mom and dad had never broken up, “I mean,” Buffy tried to cover up her earlier outburst, “already?”

“Yes dear,” Joyce said as she turned around and dried her hands on a towel, “you know he’s working on the committee preparing for the President’s visit next month.”

“Oh my god!” If anyone had had a feather handy they could have knocked Buffy down with it, she pointed at her mother’s stomach, “Y-y-you’re p-p-pregnant!”

“Yes dear,” Joyce frowned, “seven months now, you know that,” Joyce walked over to her daughter and sat down, “are you feeling okay?”

Joyce felt Buffy’s forehead in case she had a fever.

“I-I-I’ve been feeling a little off today,” Buffy admitted truthfully, she stared at her mother who somehow looked younger than she remembered her, “I keep forgetting things…like my mother being pregnant.”

“Maybe you should see your doctor,” Joyce suggested, “have you hit your head or something?”

“Maybe I will,” Buffy nodded and smiled weakly, “so what’s been happening, apart from…” Buffy gestured at her mother’s stomach before losing the power of speech.

Over the next half an hour, Buffy discovered that her mom and dad hadn’t broken up, well at least not for long. They’d gone through a rough patch after Dawn had been born (Dawn, Buffy’s sister, the girl on the bicycle with the tiny skirt and almost see-through blouse). But they’d patched things up and moved to Sunnydale after deciding that LA had been cause of all their problems. By asking some carefully phrased questions, Buffy discovered that she’d got engaged to Giles when she was only fifteen and married him a year later. Apparently it’d been a lovely wedding.

“Are you sure you’re alright dear?” Her mother asked, “You’re looking a little pale and sweaty, are you sure you haven’t hit your head or maybe you’ve got a fever?”

“I’ll be fine,” Buffy smiled as she touched her mother’s hand across the table, “I promise I’ll go see the doctor tomorrow.”

“Maybe you’re pregnant!” Joyce smiled hopefully, “I mean you and Rupert have been trying hard enough!” Buffy made an incoherent squeaking sound that could have been mistaken for agreement. “I do hope so,” Joyce didn’t seem to notice her daughter’s distress as she got up to pour them both a cup of tea, “Both your father and I have been hoping for grandchildren.”

“You have?” Buffy squeaked as she accepted a cup and saucer from her mother and fought to keep her hands from trembling.

“It was beginning to look as if Dawn might beat you to it!” Joyce laughed lightly.

Buffy coughed and spat out tea as she nearly choked on her drink in surprise.

“I’d see the doctor today if I were you, dear,” her mother advised with a concerned frown.

“I think you’re right,” Buffy gasped and struggled to regain control of herself.

“Yes,” sighed her mother, “I do hope that young man of hers asks her to marry him soon…”

Buffy lifted the tea cup to her lips so she wouldn’t have to say anything.

“…I mean,” Joyce continue, “Spike’s such a nice young man and English just like your Rupert.”

There was the sound of breaking china as the tea cup fell from Buffy’s numbed fingers and smashed on the floor.

0=0=0=0

Pulling his car into the faculty parking lot, Giles glanced at his watch and breathed a sigh of relief; he wasn’t going to be late for work after all. Getting out of his vehicle he stopped to admire it once again; in his own reality he’d driven a rather down at heel Citroen. In this reality it appeared he owned a rather smart, red compact; just the right size for a man and his wife and a couple of young children. The picture of himself sitting behind the wheel while Buffy sat next to him and two fair-haired children sat in the back seats came unbidden to his mind. Blinking his eyes to rid himself of this idyllic picture of family bliss he locked the door and made his way towards the school building. Crossing the little plaza, around which the older part of the school had been built he saw two students approach him across the courtyard.

“Good morning Mr Giles,” the sound of the two early students greeting him broke Giles out of his thoughts of children and Buffy as Mrs Giles.

“Good morning, boys,” Giles replied hesitantly as he watched the two young men make their way towards the gym.

Things had certainly changed at the Sunnydale High; normally he was lucky to get an incoherent grunt out of a student; even if he was ‘lucky’ enough to see one, let alone two, so early in the morning. Of course the most obvious difference between the schools was the lack of girls and those boys had looked surprisingly smart in, what Giles assumed was a school uniform of black shoes, blue-jeans, white shirts and school tie.

0=0=0=0

Making his way to the library to start work he found the school astonishingly similar to the Sunnydale High he remembered. Of course there were no female students or members of staff but if he ignored those two omissions (which he found himself increasingly able to do) the school looked very much as he remembered it. When he got to the library he walked through the door and found his route to his office blocked by a pile of half a dozen stout cardboard boxes. As he walked over to the boxes Giles searched for any other obvious differences, none immediately met his eye.

Opening one of the boxes he found it to be full of text books, he removed one and looked at the cover; ‘A Popular Guide to the History of the Twentieth Century’ proclaimed the title. Thinking how providence had smiled on him for the first time this morning, he put the book to one side hoping to find the time to read it later in the day. Foregoing his usual early morning cup of tea, he started to prowl the stacks.

Where once the shelves had held volumes of poetry there were now books on ‘Practical Woodworking’ or ‘Plumbing for Beginners’. Novels had almost completely disappeared from the shelves too; of course there were still some novels lining a few shelves. But these all appeared to be by authors he’d never heard of and all seemed to feature stories of daring-do on the battlefield or of square-jawed heroes thwarting the agents of something called the Pan Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere.

But what worried Giles the most was when he searched the book cage, here he’d kept his rarest and most ‘dangerous’ books of magic and of course Buffy’s spare weapons. Instead of finding this eclectic mix of knowledge and weaponry he found only pens and spare note pads. His book cage was now nothing more than a stationary cupboard.

“Good morning, Mr Giles,” Principal Snyder walked briskly into the library, the door swinging shut behind him.

“Erm! G-good morning, Principle Snyder,” Giles jumped with fright like a schoolboy caught doing something he shouldn’t; recovering quickly he turned to face the Principal, he raised an eyebrow and asked, “Can I help you in some way?”

Principal Snyder was still a short, balding, little man in his late forties; Giles supposed he was still the strict disciplinarian who didn’t actually like the students. He looked on them as ‘hormone fuelled bombs’ about to explode at any moment. Giles couldn’t say he liked the man, he wasn’t the sort of man who you could like, in fact he’d once referred to him as a ‘nasty little troll’. Snyder stood and fidgeted as he lingered next to the library counter, he picked up one of the new history books and glanced at the title before replacing it.

“Mr Giles,” Snyder repeated.

“Principal Snyder?” Giles replied as he made for his office, the principal followed him like some sort of stray mongrel, “Can I offer you a cup of tea?” Giles asked hoping the question would encourage the man to say whatever it was he’d come to say.

“You’re a married man, aren’t you?” clearly agitated, Snyder was almost wringing his hands.

“Y-yes,” Giles replied non-committally, the fact that in this universe he was married to Buffy, a young woman more than twenty years his junior, was something that he still had trouble accepting.

“Are you happy?” Snyder looked up into Giles’ face, “As a couple I mean.”

“I suppose we are,” Giles replied with a shrug; he led the way into his little office behind the counter.

“Good…good,” Snyder nodded his head slowly, “Do you mind if I ask a personnel question; you know how I value your opinion?”

“You do?” Giles tried not to sound too surprised; could it be that in this reality he was Principal Snyder’s friend and confidante? “Erm, certainly,” Giles said quickly recovering himself, “why don’t you sit down and tell me what’s troubling you?”

Gesturing to a spare chair Giles sat down in his own as the Principle, who he’d cordially detested for the last couple of years, got himself comfortable in his visitor’s chair.

“Now what is it you want to ask me?” Giles asked trying not to sound too eager; it had occurred to him that whatever Snyder might say next could cast some light on how the reality in which he now found himself actually worked.

“I think I’ve just made the biggest mistake of my life,” Principal Snyder admitted to Giles.

“How so?” Giles looked earnestly at the man, “Tell you what,” Giles tried his best to sound sympathetic, “why don’t you explain everything from the beginning as if this was the first time you’ve ever said anything about this to me, leave nothing out.”

Taking a deep breath, Principal Snyder began a tale of woe that sent shivers down Giles spine.

“As you may recall,” Snyder began in a quiet voice sounding as if he was ashamed of what he was saying, “I recently invested about ten-thousand dollars in a business venture; something to do with the contract for the new Townhall. Unfortunately the company went bust before the work even started owing myself and other investors several hundreds of thousands of dollars.”

“I see,” Giles hoped that Snyder wasn’t going to ask him for a loan.

“To cut a long story short, I agreed to take the CEO’s daughter in part payment of the debt,” Snyder said this as if it was the most natural thing in the world to do.

“His daughter?” Giles coughed to cover his astonishment and tried hard not to sound too surprised.

“Yes,” Snyder nodded his head, “as you know I’ve been widowed for the last ten years after my Edna died and as all the kids have married and left home I was feeling very lonely in that big old house of mine,” Snyder sighed longingly for times past, “I thought, well Cordelia is an attractive young woman…”

“C-Cordelia?” Giles tried to keep his voice neutral.

“Yes,” Snyder nodded his head, “Cordelia Chase.”

“HA!” Giles clamped his hand over his mouth so as to not laugh, “I’m sorry…I don’t think I know the young woman.”

“Oh, I think she went to school with Mrs Giles,” Snyder added helpfully.

To be honest the thought of Cordelia Chase as Mrs Snyder was almost enough to make Giles believe in a just and loving god. Of course he never would, but things like this made him question even his most deeply held beliefs.

“Of course I’ll marry the girl all square and legal, she’ll want for nothing I can assure you of that but...” Snyder’s voice faded away to nothing.

“But?” Giles, tried not to snigger when he thought about the height difference; fighting to keep his face straight he urged the Principal to continue.

“She doesn’t seem very happy about getting married and starting a family,” Snyder looked so sad that Giles almost felt sorry for the man, “Perhaps Mrs Giles could have a word with her, you know, set her straight on marriage and…well, you know…?”

He wasn’t surprised that Cordelia wasn’t happy about marrying someone like Snyder, although this Snyder did appear to be more ‘human’ than the Snyder he was used to.

Just then several boys walked into the library.

“…yes, thank-you, Mr Giles!” Snyder quickly stood up and started to sound as if they’d been discussing school business, “You’ve put my mind to rest, if ever there’s anything I can do to help…”

“Of course,” Giles stood up and smiled down at the Principal impressed by his quick thinking, “I’ll tell you what I’ll do,” Giles explained, “I’ll give this problem some thought and get back to you.”

Nodding his head in agreement Snyder started towards the door, he looked at the students who’d just come in and were standing around waiting for someone to ask them what they wanted.

“Help Mr Giles with these boxes,” Snyder ordered before walking out the door.

To Be Continued.