"You know, I'm not so sure this was a good idea," Joyce says, adjusting the cushions on the couch and frowning.
"It'll be fine," Buffy says cheerily. "You like Willow's mom, right?"
"We've barely met! Well, aside from being possessed by a demon together once, and I don't really count that as a social mixer."
"It'll be fine," Buffy repeats, straightening out a throw rug. "She'll come over, you'll drink coffee, you'll talk about how it's perfectly normal for your teenage daughter to go out fighting the forces of darkness on a school night, and boom, Willow is un-grounded."
"Please?" Buffy puts on her best puppy eyes.
"Buffy Summers. One day, that butter-wouldn't-melt expression is not going to be able to get you everything you want."
Buffy grins. "But it's still good for today, right?"
Joyce rolls her eyes. "Right." She kisses Buffy's cheek. "Now, off you go, go do your homework or sharpen your stakes or something. I will attempt to appease Dr Rosenberg."
"You're the best mom ever," Buffy says.
"You've got that right."
The doorbell rings, and Buffy vanishes. Joyce checks her hair, puts on her best hostess face, and opens the door.
"Sheila, hi! Please come in."
Sheila Rosenberg steps into the house, visibly uncomfortable. Joyce makes coffee and leads them into the living room, where Sheila sits right on the edge of the couch, her hands stiffly resting on her knees.
Joyce feels sorry for her, really. And she does remember what it was like, having all of this dropped in your lap. Shock is to be expected.
"So what happened, exactly? Buffy told me, but you know what kids are like."
"I, um." Sheila swallows and tries again, looking irritated with herself. "I was driving home from work and I saw Willow out in the cemetery of all places, and she was being attacked! So I rushed over there to rescue her. But when I got there your daughter stabbed a man, right in the heart, like it was nothing, and then Willow starts talking about vampires and witches like she's in some kind of cult, and frankly I would like an explanation of what on earth your daughter has been putting into my Willow's head."
"Ah, I see," says Joyce, setting down her mug. "One question, though -- what happened to the body?"
"The body, the man Buffy staked -- stabbed, I mean. Where did it go?'
"Well," said Sheila, looking annoyed. "It fell to the ground I suppose -- it was dark, I didn't exactly get a good look."
"But you didn't call the police. And why wouldn't you, if there was a body on the ground? You'd hardly be sitting here drinking coffee."
"It vanished, didn't it? Poof, cloud of dust, then gone. It's okay, I was taken aback the first time too. But Buffy's a vampire slayer -- the vampire slayer, actually -- which means that this is what she does when she's not in school. She protects Sunnydale from monsters, and Willow and some of her other friends help. They're quite a team, Buffy tells me. You should be very proud of her."
"... Oh," says Sheila, looking dismayed. "Well. I mean, I've always heard about some of the strange things that happen here, but I thought it was probably a case of collective delusions or at least some very overactive imaginations. It isn't, is it?"
"Sadly not." Joyce reaches out to pat Sheila's hand.
"You seem remarkably calm about it all."
"After a few run-ins with vampires, killer robots, demons, and zombies, you learn to keep a fairly level head about these things. And I've yet to meet a monster that our daughters can't beat."
Sheila hasn't touched her coffee. Her knuckles seem a little on the pale side.
Joyce smiles sympathetically. "You should talk to Willow about this -- she knows a lot more than I do, that's for sure. And listen, if you have any questions, you can stop by any time. I can't promise to have all the answers, but I know it's a lot to take in, and maybe I can help."
Sheila nods tightly and gets to her feet. "Yes, well. Thank you for your hospitality, Joyce. I think I should be going."
Joyce laughs -- she's not really surprised. She gets up and fetches Sheila's coat, handing it over while Sheila doesn't quite make eye contact.
Buffy runs into Willow by the lockers the next morning. "Hey, what's up?"
Willow looks pleased but confused. "So the good news I'm not grounded any more! Your mom is my hero -- I don't know what she said to my mom but it totally worked. Only, Mom's acting all weird. She won't say anything about what happened or what your mom told her, but she keeps hugging me for no reason and says it's fine if I want to stay out after school with you so long as I'm careful."
"Well, I'd say that was a huge success! Wanna come help me revise for tomorrow's Spanish test while I patrol tonight? Giles says it'll be a quiet one."
"Absolutely." Willow grins. "Moms, huh? They can be pretty cool sometimes."
"Yeah, yeah they can," Buffy agrees.