Fred came running up to Willow and grabbed hold of her friend at the same time holding on to her own chest in an attempt to catch her breath.
"Let me guess Professor Stevenson has spontaneously combusted in Chem. lab and all science classes have been canceled for the next year."
"Nope, even better and I thought you liked Professor Stevenson, anyway no matter, I have a new job," said Fred.
"Fred, you know you didn't have to, it would have been okay. I don't want you to be unhappy with some screaming brats again," said Willow.
Fred grinned. "Well, that is the beauty of it, no brats, she is a grown up student and her mother owns an art gallery uptown. Nothing could work out better."
"Why does she need a tutor?" Asked Willow, her curiosity peaked.
"Her mom said she had been in some sort of coma for years," explained Fred.
"Oh, that's awful, the poor girl. Did her mom say what had happened?" Probed Willow, still worried about her friend's well being.
"Not really, but I was thinking it must be so hard for her, all her friends must have grown up and she is at home with her parents for the first time in years. She must be lonely." Fred's eyes closed for a second; trying to imagine the pain they all must have gone through.
"When do you start?"
"Tomorrow night. I'm not sure what she needs so I thought it would be best if we just talked and I got to know her before I design a program," said Fred.
"I wonder what she'll be like," said Buffy before hauling herself onto the counter of her Mother's gallery.
"Who Sweetie?" Asked Joyce, looking distracted as she opened another crate of artifacts that had just arrived. "I'm not sure this sculptor is really neo-primitive but just pushing her luck."
"The tutor," said Buffy.
"The tutor is what Dear?" Asked Joyce, now looking slightly dusty and quite a bit puzzled.
"Mom, are you listening to me at all? I was just wondering what she would be like."
"She seemed nice on the phone and by all accounts she is a genius at math and physics and I know that isn't the kind of person you used to hang with in high school but she did seem really nice," babbled Joyce.
Buffy thought for a moment remembering her friendship with Willow, even if it was imaginary it was still deeper in her own mind than any of her vacuous friendships before her illness. "I'm sure she's cool."
Xander pulled up outside the house in a nice suburban neighborhood. "You know this looks a bit Edward Scissorhand's are you sure you don't want me to wait for you?"
"Xan," said Fred as she elbowed him in the ribs. "You are Mr. Paranoid."
"Maybe, but I just want to make sure you're safe. What time do you finish?" Asked Xander.
"I don't know. I'll call you when I have some sort of idea, you don't have to do this Xander, I could take bus home," said Fred.
"You could but you are not going to. Now, go on and get going, don't you have a student to teach?" teased Xander.
Fred smiled back at him as she walked towards the house.
The first lesson between Fred and Buffy went well and they agreed on a schedule where Fred would tutor Buffy twice a week. Over the next few weeks Fred saw that Buffy was learning at a huge speed but was also finding that the young woman still wasn't opening up to her very much. Fred tried to draw her out but to no avail.
One evening Buffy wasn't her usual attentive self and seemed to be somewhere else. She sat at the desk staring blankly at her laptop, threading her pencil between her fingers.
"Is anything wrong Buffy?" Asked Fred having tried to get the blonde's attention for about the fourth time. "You seem... elsewhere?"
"It's nothing... actually it is something. I start school next week and I feel kinda nervous about it, meeting all those people," Buffy gave a little involuntary shiver. "I'm not used to... people I suppose, plus meeting new ones..."
"Well, you'll be fine with the work," said Fred trying to be reassuring. "But I can't help you with the whole people thing." She stopped and thought for a moment. "Or maybe I can."
"How? Are you going to give me a crash course on social graces and people skills?" Asked Buffy.
"Sort of," said Fred. "I'm going to the movies and then a local coffee shop with my roommates and a friend; why don't you come with us?"
Buffy seemed to shrink visibly in her chair and shook her head vigorously. "No, I couldn't, really, I couldn't."
Fred reached over and squeezed Buffy's hand. "No pressure, Sweetie. I thought that it might have been an easier way for you to get used to people without any added stuff going on."
"I don't think I... it's just..."
"Buffy, it's only the movies. But, ya know its no big deal, let's forget I even asked. I'm just sorry I upset you, I didn't mean to," said Fred, her tone soothing.
"Thank you," said Buffy.
They tried to continue the lesson but neither was really in the mood for it now.
"Buffy I think we should call it a day," said Fred, as they tried to battle their way through the first act of Macbeth with little success.
Buffy nodded in agreement.
"Okay, 7:30 next Tuesday," said Fred, with a slight question in her Texan drawl, she had a feeling that she might have blown it with Buffy.
"That'll be great," answered Buffy. "Fred if I come with you, can I... uhm bring a friend?"
"Sure," said Fred. "Someone you knew from school?"
"No, the woman next-door. She is really nice and she is her sister's guardian and she doesn't get out that much. My Mom probably wouldn't mind if Dawn, her sister, hung out here" said Buffy.
"So you'll come then?" Asked Fred with a wide smile.
"K," answered Buffy, nervously.
"Great we're meeting a Jen's Java's at 8. Do you know it?" Asked Fred
Yeah, see you Friday then," said Buffy, breathing heavily as she felt nerves start to set in already.
"Dawn can you answer the door?" shouted Tara, who was trying to catch up with some work around the house, dusting and vacuuming. When she heard no movement and no sound from upstairs, she threw her duster down and went to the door. "Will, if you have forgo... B-buffy hi," said Tara.
"Hi, a... and Will... you live with Will, ah someone called Will?" Asked Buffy, not quite sure what to think.
"Not really he's just a friend who treats this place like a hotel, but less about him. I'm being rude do you want to come in?" Asked Tara.
"It's okay, you look a little harassed. I only came by to ask you if you want to come out with me on Friday. My tutor asked me if I wanted to go out with her and her friends and I wasn't sure and you really don't have to come... but Mom said Dawn could hang out at our place and I would really like..."
Tara watched with an amused look on her face as the Buffy slowly started to wind down. "If you are sure your Mom doesn't mind, then I would love to get out. So where we going and what are we doing?"
"It's nothing special, the movies and coffee. They said to meet them at Jen's Java's at 8. Is that okay?" Asked Buffy.
"Sure, I'll pick you up if you want at about 7:30," said Tara.
"Cool," said Buffy.