Disclaimer: Not mine, blah blah blah.
“Do I have to?”
Giles sighed wearily and turned to face a pouting Jenny. “Of course you do, dear,” he told her as sternly as he could. “You know that Mr. Snyder will be simply furious if you don’t go.”
“It’s going to be boring!” she protested. “Look, if it was Snyder’s idea, you know that it’s not going to be fun in any sense of the word. In fact, it is going to be, as you so charmingly put it, ‘dreadful.’”
“I hardly think that a holiday staff party is something to get so worked up about,” Giles put in mildly, prompting Jenny to give him an incredulous “you-know-nothing-of-this-unspeakable-ho
“You weren’t at the Year’s End Faculty Banquet, were you?” she demanded. “Giles shook his head embarrassedly – he and Buffy had naturally been saving the town from a very nasty Jualici Demon. “If you’d have been there,” Jenny continued darkly, “you’d know why I don’t want to go to this one.”
Giles simply shook his head, evidently still a bit bewildered by her attitude towards the festivities. “Well, we don’t have much of a choice. Attendance is mandatory, as you know.”
“Yeah, but we could play hooky,” Jenny suggested coyly, leaning over the library counter where Giles was sorting through some files to accidentally brush against his arm.
Giles, for the first time in their conversation, now seemed quite regretful. “I’m sorry, Jenny, but I really think that we must go.” When Jenny drew back huffily, he continued (with a note of desperation in his voice), “We only have to stay for a short while! It won’t be so bad.”
“I guess not,” Jenny agreed reluctantly, and then flashed him a grin. “And I guess I’ll have you there this time to keep me entertained!”
Later that evening, standing in the uncomfortably crowded staff lounge and feeling quite out of place, Giles strongly wished that he had followed Jenny’s advice and avoided the whole mess. The Holiday Staff Party, as Snyder called it, was really more of a miserable gathering of bored and irritable Sunnydale High staff members all crammed into the same small cheerless room and forced to pretend to be having a good time. There weren’t even any good refreshments – the only edible thing in the room was what looked to be a large bowl of some kind of yellowish liquid that everyone seemed quite cautious to try.
That is, they were cautious to try it until Mr. Miller surreptitiously dumped something into it from a flask he carried in his pocket. Then the stuff became very popular indeed.
Soon there was actual talk and laughter in the room, and Jenny arrived just as a few people began to show signs of true inebriation. Dodging around Ms. Beakman, who was talking to George in an exuberant manner that involved all kinds of hand motions (one of which nearly smacked Jenny right in the face), Jenny swept over to Giles’ side.
“Hey, I guess somebody decided to spice it up a bit this time,” she remarked approvingly, smirking as Snyder, looking quite harried by the sudden turn of events, spotted Ms. Beakman’s wild gesticulations and began to pick his way over to her through the crowd.
“Ah, hello,” Giles said warmly. Suddenly, the whole affair didn’t seem half as dreary.
“Hello yourself,” she replied playfully. “So, what happened here to make it so… interesting?”
“I really haven’t the faintest idea,” Giles said truthfully. “One moment, everything was dull, and the next…” He indicated Ms. Beakman – who, upon spotting Snyder’s approach, threw herself upon him in such an enthusiastic but unbalanced hug that she flattened him to the ground.
Jenny laughed at this for a moment, and then quickly became serious. “You don’t think that it’s anything Hellmouth-y, do you?” she asked worriedly. “I mean, this is kind of weird.”
Giles looked around doubtfully. “It is rather strange, yes, but nothing seems dangerously amiss –and I don’t see any evidence of an enchantment.”
“Well, as long as people’s heads aren’t going to start exploding anytime soon, then I hope it stays this way! This is way better than the last faculty party.” Giles began to reply, but was forced to duck as a stray exam booklet was flung over his head. Jenny laughed at his scandalized expression, and then tugged on his arm. “C’mon, let’s go get some eggnog,” she said cheerfully, and hauled him over to the refreshments table.
Once there, Giles stared dubiously into the large punchbowl (left over from last year’s prom) while Jenny took two paper cups, filled them both with a generous measure of eggnog, and handed one to him. Catching sight of his grimacing, she nudged him good naturedly with her elbow. “Hey, come on. Try some!”
He gave her a dirty look but did as she asked, taking a hesitant sip of the stuff. He was surprised that it had quite a kick to it, but attributed it to the school’s choice of brand. The kick wasn’t bad, actually. He tried a bit more, and Jenny smiled encouragingly. “Not so bad after all,” she told him smugly, and drank some of her own.
Three rounds of eggnog later, Giles found that everything had developed a pleasantly warm and blurry feeling and that he was laughing far too much and far too loudly at things that were much funnier than they really should have been. Not that he minded, of course. Everything was turning out very nicely, and Jenny was slowly sidling closer and closer until she was practically standing on top of him, and, oh, he didn’t mind that at all.
And just in the middle of giggling with Mrs. Taggart and Mrs. Moran over their friend’s earlier near-assault of Snyder (which should have struck him as odd – Mrs. Moran was hardly the giggling sort), Jenny shot him a gleeful, wild look that signaled something that he thought he should understand but was too giddy to process. “I’m…” she paused to grab onto his arm, and then continued, “…We’re going to the bathroom.” The other two teachers gave her solemnly knowing looks, and burst into peals of laughter as soon as they were out of sight.
But Giles and Jenny did not care in the slightest, because soon they were in the hallway, around the corner, and out of sight from the party. And then they were kissing, her hands grasping his arms while he pulled her closer – and, though something niggled in the back of his head that maybe this was not the right time or place, everything else in him agreed that this was certainly what he was meant to be doing, perhaps for the rest of his life.