: I hold no right over copyrighted characters. The Torchwood and Buffy characters are all the property of their respective owners.
The man walked around the basement of the school, his eyes bent in frustration.
"So close!" he muttered. "So close. But not good enough."
The woman at the other end of the room looked up. "Have patience. We knew this wouldn't be easy."
"But we nearly have it!" said the man, spinning on her. "Have nearly worked it all out! Just this one factor keeps escaping us. This one tiny variable…"
"We'll figure it out," the woman assured him, looking down at her computations, again. "Don't worry. We'll end the world soon enough."
"End the world?" scoffed the man. He hit his fist down against the desk. "I don't just want to end the world. I won't rest until every last one of them is dead. Has died in the most horrible, miserable agony!"
"Oh, they will," the woman assured him. "The world will end. Everyone will die. And — by the time we're ready — nobody will be able to stop us."
Okay, so Buffy was new at the parent-thing.
Which was probably the reason that, when Seo had raced up to her, all excited and bubbly, and said, in a rushed voice, that she wanted to go to school, Buffy's first comment had been, "Why?!"
High school, in Buffy's opinion, sucked.
She'd spent basically her entire high school experience in schools that honestly tried to do their best to murder her. Or… getting kicked out of schools that honestly tried to do their best to murder her.
Seo was 98. And was very careful to make sure she didn't exist on any records, anywhere. Which meant she didn't, technically, have to go to school.
Seo's face fell.
That was when Buffy realized that, as a responsible parent-like person, she should be encouraging her daughter to go to school instead of encouraging her away from it.
"I mean… right, yeah, school!" said Buffy. "Let's do the school thing!"
Thus had begun the official nightmare of… figuring out the British Educational System.
"I mean… what the hell is this stuff, anyways?" Buffy demanded of her Torchwood pals. "'Tripartite System'? Wasn't that outlawed in South Africa or something?"
"That's… apartheid," Ianto pointed out. "And very different."
Giles was helpful. To a point.
"No, 'public school' doesn't necessarily mean public school," he explained to her, flipping through books. He thunked a large book on the history of the British Educational System open in front of her. "See? These are all called 'public schools', yet they are actually what you'd consider to be private schools."
"Huh?" said Buffy.
But when Buffy eventually, with a huge amount of help from friends, came back with a nice list of schools that Seo might like, Seo dismissed them all with the wave of her hand.
"I want to go to this one," she said, handing over a brochure.
Buffy flipped through the school brochure, a little curiously. 'Chelsea Downs', an independent school in the Chelsea area of London, which seemed to offer a very high level of education for all students, along with special treatment for the brighter students, who could have their own personalized course instruction.
Actually, it didn't look bad.
Until Buffy saw the price.
Her jaw dropped. "Oh, my God!" she shouted. She looked up at Seo. "We can't afford this!"
"Yes, we can," said Seo. "I can just hack into the computers monitoring your bank account, and trick the system into thinking—"
"No!" said Buffy, grabbing Seo by the arm to make sure that she didn't zip off and do it, anyways. "On no account is there going to be any… bank-account-hacking. It's like stealing." She paused. "No, wait, scratch that. It is
Seo gave her a long, hurt look. Those big brown eyes turning into pleading, puppy-dog like eyes.
"Couldn't you go somewhere that's a little less expensive?" Buffy asked.
"But… that's the school Alison's going to," Seo said, pointing to the brochure.
That explained a lot about why Seo wanted to go to school in the first place. And meant that Buffy was officially screwed.
"Why don't you apply for a bursary?" Tosh proposed, next time that Buffy was at Torchwood. "She's bright, after all."
"Apply for a nursery?" asked Buffy.
"Bursary," said Owen, chucking a piece of alien tech at Buffy, who caught it, and put it down beside her. "A grant given by the school to help pay for the educational fees."
"Oh, like a scholarship!" said Buffy.
That seemed like a great idea. Seo was super smart, and fated to completely Willow-her-way through any test handed to her. For sure.
Seo didn't like the idea.
"But… doesn't that mean more people will find out I exist?" she asked. "I don't want people to find out I exist."
"If you go to school, people are going to find out, anyways," Buffy pointed out to her.
"No, Alison and I have worked that out!" said Seo, very proudly. "We're creating a smoke-screen filter. If you're not looking for me, specifically, you won't see me. And after I'm done at school, I'll just wipe the records. Like I've been doing with everything else!"
"Look, why don't I just go to school," said Seo, "and we can sort out money later?"
"Because that's not how the world works," said Buffy.
She eventually wound up ranting about this to Giles. Trying to figure out what the hell she was supposed to do, with Seo ready to march into school and pretend she'd paid, or screw with some bank computers and cause a serious financial meltdown by mid-2008, or…
Giles handed her a check.
Buffy stopped. Froze. Stared at the check. "I… can't accept this."
"Your daughter wants to go to school," said Giles. "So I'll send her to school." He gave Buffy a smile. "Really. It's the least I can do for you two."
"…full scale demon," Buffy explained, as she drove her daughter to her first day of school, "then you blow up the building. But only
for a full scale demon! If it's a little one, then you'll want a concentrated group of smaller explosives."
Seo didn't look like she was paying any attention. Her eyes fixed on the building before her, her fingers fidgeting nervously with her backpack.
"Sontarans — back of the neck," said Buffy, pulling up to the curb. "Daleks — aim for the eyestalk. Vampires, stake through the heart — left side, no right-hearted vampires."
"I'll remember," said Seo, racing out of the car.
"And if you see a—!" Buffy began shouting after her.
But Seo had already wandered off.
Buffy watched, her hands clutching the steering wheel a little too tightly, her breath coming a little too fast. "She'll be fine," Buffy told herself, backing up. "Totally fine." She put the car back into drive, and pulled back into traffic. "It's not like every
high school out there is full of evil things trying to end the world."
She waited a few minutes, letting this statement sink in.
"Oh, who am I kidding?!" Buffy shouted. "They're all like that!"
Two months later…
"…nothing!" Buffy was saying, as they stayed in the Torchwood van, watching from a distance as the alien monster that looked a little like a pig with caterpillar legs loitered outside the coffee shop. "Nothing at all! I mean, that's got to be suspicious, right?"
Everyone in the Torchwood van exchanged looks.
"So… you're suspicious," Owen confirmed, "because no one at Seo's school has tried to kill her, yet?"
"Exactly!" said Buffy. "I mean, in LA, it was vampires this and hell demons that. And then Sunnydale was all with the hyena people and apocalypses. And then, when Dawn went to school, there was Hellmouth-opening and First-taunting and skin-peeling flesh-monsters, and… and…" Buffy shook her head. "With Seo! Nothing!"
"Actually," said Gwen, "I'm pretty sure a monster-free school experience is the norm in most of the world."
Buffy stared at the Torchwood team. "Uh… have you been hanging out around the same trouble-magnet Seo that I have?"
A look of slight unease passed across the team's faces. But they quickly shrugged it off.
"Well, think of it like this," Gwen offered. "At least you don't have to worry about whether or not she's safe at—"
"Jack," Tosh cut in. "Rift spike, nearby."
The alien in front of the coffee shop checked his watch, then began to stroll over towards where the rift spike had happened.
"That'll be our rendezvous," said Jack, grabbing up his gun and jumping out of the car.
Everyone else followed suit, leaping from the car with guns drawn. Or everyone except Buffy, who took one look at her gun, rolled her eyes, and left it in the van. Screw guns. Hand-to-hand combat was way more reliable.
The alien noticed them. And began to run.
"I guess… if she's having fun," Buffy said, as they chased the alien through the streets, "it can't hurt for her to get some formal school credential type things." She flipped out of the way of the alien's gunfire, as it began shooting laser blasts back at them. "And it's good for her to meet other people her own… maturity level."
"Buffy, we're all very happy to hear that Seo's doing well," Jack said. "Now could you please catch up to that alien and tackle him for us?"
Buffy cringed. "Oh. Yeah. Sorry. Forgot."
Then, in one leap, jumped over the alien's head, and landed just in front of him. Kicked the gun out of his hand, blocking a punch and then expertly twisting him onto the ground.
"Thank you," said Jack, as he cuffed the alien drug-smuggler. Then handed him over to the other members of his team. "Get him back to the cells."
The heavy thump of drums from Buffy's pocket, and she took out her cell. Answered the call. "Buffy, here."
She froze. Listening to the voice on the other end. Her expression sliding from cheerful into concern, as she continued to listen. She raised up a hand to Jack and the others, as she stepped aside, began to speak in a hushed voice with whoever was on the other end.
"That sounds like trouble," Ianto muttered, looking on at her, as they all piled the alien into the back of the Torchwood van.
"What?" said Gwen. She glanced back at Buffy, herself. Frowning, a little. "You don't think the school's actually been overrun with aliens, do you?"
"More likely," Owen chimed in, as he closed up the van, "it's a case of hysterical teenager crying into the phone, because she doesn't have the right makeup and shoes and fit in with the popular crowd."
Tosh cringed. She knew what it was like to be picked on, at school, just because you were a little too clever.
"Or one of the teachers has worked out that Seo's an alien," Ianto added. "That's always a possibility."
Buffy ended the call. Stood there, a moment, just staring into the distance, a completely stunned look on her face. As if she couldn't quite come to terms with what she'd just heard.
Gwen, with only a hesitant glance at the others, raced up to her. Leaned down, so she was at Buffy's eye-level.
"Hey, whatever it is, it's going to be all right," Gwen told Buffy. "She'll get through it. Okay?"
Buffy stared at Gwen, for a moment not even registering that she was there. Then, her eyes fixed on Gwen, and she tried to speak. But just… couldn't.
"It's… not invading aliens, is it?" Gwen asked.
Buffy shook her head. "No. No, it's… it was the Headmaster. He wants to talk to me."
Was Ianto right? Had they discovered that Seo wasn't human?
Buffy stared right into Gwen's eyes. "It's Seo," she said. "He wants to kick her out. Because she's failing out of school."