Counselling File #2463A (The Reality Bites Remix)
by Selena Ulrich

Remix of Counselling File #2483A by backfromspace.

Into each generation a Slayer is born, one girl in all the world, a Chosen One, one born with the strength and skill to hunt the vampires, to stop the spread of their evil...

We've all heard this tale so often we can sing it in our sleep.

But for every Slayer chosen, there are thousands of others who aren't. Not strong, or skilled, or special in any way beyond the 'We're all as individual as snowflakes' school of thought that has kept Hallmark in business for so many years. And for the most part they're OK with that, and the world's OK with that, and so we all continue on so merrily that the Hallmark reference from earlier springs to mind again.

Occasionally, however, something happens to one of them to mark them out. Often it's nothing big. But then, neither is a patch of oil on the edge of a sharp bend in the road, near to where the fence really needs repairing if you don't want to lose cars to the ravine on the other side. So something changes, and suddenly a formerly innocent individual finds themselves caught between extremes; judged by so many as being awful or wonderful or perfect or depraved, when all they really want to be is left the hell alone! And there's nothing really that extraordinary about them either. Just another face in the crowd, singled out but still the same as everyone else, only not, and never allowed to forget it.

Under those circumstances, even a Slayer would find things difficult.


The first interview didn't go well.

"Hello," she smiled. "Jacoby, right?"

He scowled; large forehead and full lips pulled down so much that he looked like the Pillsbury Doughboy's angry twin. "I don't want to be here."

"I know." She at least had that part down pat. "I'm here to offer my help, but I can't force you to take it."

They didn't say anything else


The second time wasn't much better.

"Hello again." Another smile from Buffy.

Another scowl from Jacoby, this time with arms folded.

"Why am I here?"

"Your teachers think you need counselling. I'm the counsellor." Now the smile said irony. "Funny how that works, isn't it?"

"Funny. Sure."

A moment passed. Jacoby stretched his legs out in front of him and sank lower into his chair, eyes shifting resolutely to the tips of his trainers.

"You want to talk about it?"

(Well, it was worth a shot)

"Talk about what?"

"About it. Whatever it is."

His eyes never left the floor. "Stop fucking with me."

"Stop wasting my time."

"Fair enough." He started to rise.

"No." Her tone was firm, honed by fake-monk-implanted-memories-of-years of dealing with a little sister. "You don't get to leave." She looked straight at him. "I can't force you to talk to me, but I can force you to stay in here."

Slowly Jacoby sat down, brown eyes glaring at her venomously.

"I don't like you."

"Get over it."

(And that was pure Cordelia Chase)

"I'm here to help, and I'm damn well going to, even if it means sitting still and being totally silent for twenty minutes."

Which they did. Maybe not for twenty minutes but certainly long enough for Buffy to memorise how many pens were on her desk, critique Jacoby's choice of slogan-bearing t-shirt, realise that with a haircut and some exercise he would actually be quite cute, get wigged that she was thinking about a student in that way, and then begin the cycle all over again.

But no actual progress was made.


Third time was the charm.

"Hello again." This time she was prepared; her smile more wry than perky, and a brand new secret weapon sitting on her desk. "Chocolate?"

"No thanks. I'm allergic."


"Very well." Resigned she put the chocolate in a draw.

Jacoby just looked at her.

"How many times are you gonna call me in here?" he asked.

"That's easy," she replied. "As many times as it takes."

He looked puzzled. "As what takes?"

"As your Problem takes."


The customary Buffy-Jacoby silence followed, but this time Buffy suspected it was because he was digesting what she had said.

"What problem?" he finally said, proving her almost right.

"The Problem," she explained. "We've all got some, but sometimes they're worth the capital P."

Jacoby scowled.

"This is a waste of time."

"I agree," said Buffy. "Nevertheless, I intend to stay until it becomes worth both our time."

His eyes narrowed.

"You want to know what my Problem is?"

She nodded. "That's right."

"I'm boring." He began ticking points off on his fingers. "I'm tired and boring and lazy, my poetry stinks, my writing's horrific, my razor wit constantly gets me in trouble."

"Sounds like you've..."

"I'm not done yet," he interrupted, before resuming his count. "I'm too short, my taste in clothing is nonexistent, I read bad books and watch horrible movies, I never know what the date is, I hate chocolate, I'm intolerant, rude, arrogant, and tedious."

"Well, I..."

"My drawings are tasteless," he went on, "my jokes are weak, my math skills are nonexistent, I'm addicted to the Internet, I laugh in cemeteries and swear in churches." He took a breath. "I've got all sorts of bad qualities."

There was a pause that almost became an uncomfortable silence before Buffy realised that she could/should now say something.


(was all she managed to come up with.)

"And I'm sick of having my sexuality considered a quality."

Now Buffy was really thrown. She struggled for a moment to link that last statement with the previous tirade, but quickly gave up.

"I don't follow."

Jacoby looked scathingly at her.

"I don't like girls," he explained in a deliberate, talking-to-morons voice. Then he clarified himself. "That way."

"Ooo-kaaay..." Buffy nodded slowly.

"And I'm fucking tired of having everyone who knows that act like it's some huge, fundamental difference."

"I think I understand," said Buffy, as a glimmer of sense began emerging from the chaos. "Being gay is what your friends think of as your bad side, and you don't think it's bad?"

She smiled over brightly at Jacoby, hoping she'd gotten it right. Jacoby's expression was as scathing as ever.

"Don't be intractable!" he snapped. "I'm sick of them seeing it as a side at all!"

"Um..." said Buffy, playing for time as she tried to work out what 'intractable' meant and whether she'd just been insulted.

"Look." Jacoby sighed. "I just told you all of my bad qualities. You know what I find grating, most of all? Ever since I came out, all of my good sides are ignored by the people who disapprove, and all of my bad sides are ignored by the people who approve!" He sat back. "I'm fucking tired of being the hallmark of mediocrity because no one wants to look queer-friendly, and I'm fucking tired of being the hallmark of perfection because no one wants to look homophobic."

Buffy didn't respond there wasn't much she could think to say to that. This Jacoby noticed.

"I'm gay, all right?" he said, clearly summarising. "But I'm not just gay."

"I think I understand, now," said Buffy again, but this time she sounded like she really did. A thoughtful silence followed before she spoke again. "It's not an easy problem. I can't say I know what you're going through..." She smiled at Jacoby; a weak but supportive smile, "...but I do think I see where you're coming from."

Jacoby just shook his head.

"I'm all talked out today, Ms. Summers. May I go back to class?"

"Yes," said Buffy. "I'll see you tomorrow, Jacoby."

"All right."

It was later that day, as she was writing up the transcript of the meeting, that the idea struck her. Grinning to herself she hastily scribbled a note on the file (as formally as she could) then reached for the phone.

"Hello, Willow?..."


The next day Jacoby walked in to find himself facing a stranger.

"Who're you?" he asked the unknown woman suspiciously. "Where's Ms. Summers?"

The slim young red-head smiled at him from the other side of the desk.

"I'm Willow," she said, gesturing for Jacoby to take a seat. "Buffy asked me to sit in today. She's feeling under the weather."

Jacoby didn't believe this for a minute.

"I don't think I want to talk to you," he said, a scowl beginning to furrow his brow. Willow smiled brightly in return.

"I don't know what you talked to her about," she said, "but I have a pretty good guess. I don't think it's likely to be about Wicca, so there's really only one other thing I think she remembers about me."

Something in Willow's tone rang a faint bell in Jacoby's head and he looked at her thoughtfully.

"You're a lesbian, aren't you."

Willow's brow wrinkled briefly in what might have been a wince but she managed to keep smiling. "Yes, that's right."

That decided it for him.

"Then I think you might understand." He sat down. "Ms. Summers is straight. I don't think she's having an easy time turning gayness into a minor attribute."

The smile Willow gave him told Jacoby he had hit the nail on the head. "I think you're right."

Jacoby smiled back, but there was still wariness there. Sure, this new Willow woman could say she was a lesbian, but how was he to know she fully knew what he was going through, or even if she was truly what she claimed to be? It was harsh, but such claims had to be tested, and unfortunately there was only one way to do that.

"I talked last time." Another wary smile; hopefully Willow would get the hint. "It's someone else's turn."

"Fair enough."

There was a pause while Willow was clearly gathering her thoughts.

"Well," she eventually began, "I dated a guy for a while in high school. I loved him, you know?" She looked at Jacoby. "It's not the same kind of love, but it was love all right. Well, that ended... " She frowned a little, clearly trying to find the right words before settling on "Badly. About a third of the way through my freshmen year at college. It was only after he was gone that I started to notice girls, you know? Once I had, there was no going back." A slightly catch entered her voice. "I fell in love..."

Willow's words trailed off and Jacoby found himself frowning and shifting uncomfortably in his chair.

"If this is a painful subject..." he began.

"No," replied Willow, shaking her head. "it's all right. It's just... well, that relationship ended violently. I wouldn't wish...that" She grimaced slightly. "on my worst enemy. But that's really not relevant so much."

Another pause and Jacoby found himself shifting even more uncomfortably in his seat. He knew he had wanted proof that Willow would understand, but this was not what he had expected to hear, and right now he was feeling such an asshole for making her dredge up painful memories he was almost ready to tell her to forget it; that he didn't need to know anything else. But it was clear from the thoughtful expression on Willow's face that she had more to say, and truth be told, he was kind of interested in what that might be. Finally she began to speak again.

"I..." Another groping-for-the-right-expression moment. "Well, as soon as I told Buffy about it, she started acting different around me. She's my best friend, and she tries, but there's something about it that just didn't click with her." Willow's lip curled wryly. "It wasn't good, seeing her and my other friends trying to accept it. They were very respectful about it, of course," she added hurriedly, "they didn't treat me badly, or try to 'cure' me, or anything. They just... acted differently. Like, instead of Willow the Red-Haired Wicca Computer Hacker Nerd, I'd just become Willow the Lesbian. Like it'd become the sum total of the definition of Willow."

Jacoby nodded, understanding completely.

"They act like you're someone completely different because you're different in one way," he said.

"Yeah." Willow agreed.

The two of them exchanged a knowing look before Willow continued.

"The thing about people, Jacoby, is that it's all or nothing. I've never met anyone who saw gay people as personalities before sexualities. Entirely too many think we're all abominations, that we're all deviants, that we're all... demons. The rest of them think we're all good people. One side avoids thinking about the good queers, the other side strives to ignore the bad. It's kind of painful, either way. I've met precious few people who see a person they know is gay and are totally unaffected by it."

She paused and gave him a quizzical look.

"Have you met Buffy's sister, Dawn? She's extremely unusual. She'll like or dislike you because of who you are, not what you are."

Jacoby was slightly thrown by this borderline non-sequiteur but he took it with the good intention behind it.

"I'll look her up," he said.

Another silence followed; clearly Willow had finished and it was time for Jacoby to make a contribution.

"You know," he began, unconsciously trying to emulate Willow's thoughtful tone. "I think that's the problem with people in general."

"What is?"

"Once they find out something about you they don't understand, they avoid it. Most of the time they try to pretend they're unaffected by it. " Jacoby shrugged slightly. "I've heard dozens of people making fun of drag queens, for example, because they're transvestites. And I've heard dozens of people tell them off for being 'phobes. I've never once heard any straight person of either gender point at a queen and say 'Whoa, that's a tasteless dress. Red would suit his complexion much better.'"

A quiet chuckle from Willow told Jacoby he had some support for this view and he smiled at her in return.

"Seriously!" he went on, warming to his theme. "It's really kind of annoying."

"Kind of?" Willow gave him a Look, although there was mirth in her eyes. "From what little Buffy told me, you've been getting into all sorts of trouble in class from being 'kind of' annoyed." She grinned suddenly. "I quake with fear to see you fully annoyed."

"Heh." Jacoby grinned backed. "I like you, Willow."

A moment passed as both clearly thought about what to say next. It was Jacoby who spoke first though.

"May I ask you a personal question?" he asked.

"Absolutely," Willow replied. "I won't promise to answer it, though."

"Does she still see you as Willow the Lesbian?"

Willow exhaled, softly and slowly.

"There's a loaded question," she said with a wry smile, and for a moment Jacoby thought she wasn't going to answer. But eventually she carried on. "I think she does. The mag- Wiccan and Nerd parts of my personality appear to be making a comeback, though." She shrugged a one-shoulder shrug. "I think she's only just beginning to digest it, to be honest. I have a friend who keeps forgetting about the gay thing though." Suddenly the wryness was gone from her face and her smile was genuine. "He's a great guy." She laughed slightly. "You know, I think that just might be the best reaction to it I've heard of from around here. It shows that it doesn't matter at all to him, and that he likes you exactly the same no matter what your preference is. I don't know." Another uni-shoulder-shrug. "It's the best reaction I've gotten so far, that's for sure."

"Do you mind if I point out something?" Jacoby asked. "It might be a little hard to swallow." He grinned slightly. "I'll struggle to chew it properly first."

Willow's lips twitched at this, but in a positive way, so Jacoby went on.

"I was just thinking that we've spent a great deal of time discussing the way other people treat homosexuality. It seems kind of ironic, because our big complaint centered around its being an issue at all."

"Yeah," agreed Willow. "And...?"

"Well, I think it says something about our own psychology that neither one of us mentioned anything totally unrelated to sexuality."


A thoughtful silence descended on the pair of them as they considered this.

"Thank you, Willow," Jacoby said finally. "You've given me a lot to chew on."

Willow smiled. "I could say the same for you, Jacoby."

"Call me Jake," Jacoby replied, mirroring the smile.

"All right. Jake."


When Buffy later read Willow's transcript of the meeting she was so pleased she added her own little note of commendation to the file. Fortunately no one else read it, which was a relief under the circumstances, for as Robin pointed out to her later, the school board didn't actually allow them to purchase real medals for external advisors.


The final meeting was pretty much an epilogue.

"Hello, Ms. Summers." This time it was a very different Jacoby that stepped into her office; a friendly, smiling Jacoby, who seemed almost willing to communicate. Buffy smiled back.

"Hi, Jacoby. It occurs to me that I haven't asked a question I should have."


"Do you know any other gay people?"

There was a pause while Jacoby considered this.

"Well, I know Willow," he said, before adding "Now."

He smiled at her; a slightly rueful smile that let on he realised this probably wasn't enough.

"All right." Buffy returned the smile with an equally complicit one. "I have a suggestion for you. There's an organization run out of the college for gay teens. I think it'll do you a world of good to have contact with other gay teens. Here," She handed him a photocopied piece of pink paper, "take a flyer. They meet on Tuesdays, I believe."

Jacoby took the piece of paper. "Thanks, Ms. Summers," he said, folding the flyer neatly as he spoke.

"My pleasure, Jacoby," Buffy replied, smiling as the young man put her gift away. Jacoby looked up.

"Should I come back on Monday?" he asked.

Still smiling, Buffy shook her head.

"Only if you think you need to," she said.

"All right," replied Jacoby. "Thanks again, Ms. Summers."

"Now, go on, get out. I've got to burn our meeting records and hide them in that massive filing cabinet."

Jacoby laughed.

And all was resolved.


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