Principal Snyder leaned back in his executive chair, a broad smile on his face. Tomorrow was Graduation Day. Tomorrow those students who had been a continual annoyance would leave his school, never to return. Oh, yes. He'd see to that.
He thought back over his relationship with the Summers girl, the worst offender, her and those strange friends of hers. A frown replaced the gleeful grin. She was trouble and destined to come to a bad end, he had no doubts about that. The happiest moments of his career had been those few weeks when she was expelled and he was free to gloat. Still, a bad end for her meant the satisfaction of vindication for him. There really was no down side here, was there?
Smiling once more, he headed out to the Mayor's office to check on some last minute changes to the seating plan.
Snyder hesitated at the Mayor's door. He vaguely knew that the Mayor was not quite as other men but he tended to push that knowledge deep down with all the other unpleasant memories; the taunting at school that had begun in kindergarten and continued till he graduated, the lack of any romance, any outlet for his dreams. He felt uneasy around the man who was responsible for his position at school even as he grovelled and attempted to win his approval.
Leaning closer to the door to see if the Mayor was busy, he heard his own name mentioned. Curiosity and caution warred and the natural need to know what people were saying behind his back, won. Leaning still closer he began to listen.
Buffy and the Scoobies were in the school library, finalising the plans to defeat the Mayor as he Ascended and became a demon. Nerves were frayed, tempers were on short fuses and the sudden arrival of Principal Snyder was the last straw.
Buffy stalked over to the little man who had done his best to ruin her school life and glared at him. "We’re in the library. Even you can't complain about that."
"Yes, you spend a lot of time here but I don't notice it reflected in your grades, Missy," Snyder sneered automatically.
Mr Giles stepped in. "Can I help you, Principal?" he asked in repressive but polite tones.
Snyder dropped into a chair and looked defeated. "If you can get me away from here, maybe - but you can't. He'll expect me to be here when it happens. If I try and escape, oh, he'll be watching for that."
Puzzled glances were exchanged. "You'll have to tell us a little more," prompted Giles.
Snyder looked up at them all, studying their faces as if seeing them for the first time. "You're in here preparing to do something at the ceremony tomorrow aren't you?" he asked abruptly.
"It's not what you think," said Buffy. "We're not planning to be disruptive, well, yes, maybe we are, but we have to. I'm going to tell you something that might come as a shock. The Mayor is going to give his speech and then he's going to - "
"Turn into a demon, feed off us all to give him the energy he needs, then lay waste to the town," Snyder said, finishing her sentence and leaving her with an open mouth. "I overheard him when I went to his office just now."
A sticky quiet fell over the library. Even Xander was stunned into silence.
Giles stepped forward and gave Snyder a stern look. "You've always known about the Mayor, haven't you? Yet you did nothing to help Buffy fulfill her duties as the Slayer. You hindered her in every way possible. Why are you coming to us now? How do we know we can trust you?"
"Yes!" Willow said, stalking over to Snyder and confronting him, hands on hips. "Because he's like, well, look at him, he's the enemy. H-how many times has he gotten us into trouble and picked on us? This is the Mayor trying to find out what our plans are. Lock him in the cage, Giles!"
"Calm down, Tiger," said Xander in surprise, looking at this new, feisty Willow, who had retreated to her seat, trembling with shock at her own boldness. "It's like he said; people expect him to be there tomorrow. Though we could lock him up until the last minute, I guess."
Snyder stood up. "There will be no locking up of the Principal, while I'm the Principal," he declared. "And there'll be no eating of my students on my school property, while I'm in charge. I'm here to help."
Baffled amazement replaced distrust on the faces of his audience, and then Buffy stepped forward. "This is a flame thrower," she said. "It works like this -"
Students lay dead, vampires had been reduced to dust and the body of the Demon Mayor lay scattered around the burning building in steaming, revolting chunks.
Buffy and her friends sat staring at the carnage and the destruction, trying to feel happy that they had survived. It wasn't easy. Too many friends had died, too many lives had been lost to the arrogance and evil of one man.
But lives had been saved, too. Jonathan wandered past the group, dazed and staggering, bleeding from a gash across his head and clutching what seemed to be a broken arm.
"Hey!" called Buffy. "Are you O.K., Jonathan? The medics are back that way."
He turned to look at her, a stubborn look on his face. "I won't go until I find him," he replied. "He saved me and I didn't see what happened to him. I have to know." As he spoke, his legs buckled beneath him and Xander caught him, supporting him.
"Who saved you, Big Guy?" he asked gently.
Jonathan turned to look at him with wondering eyes. "Principal Snyder," he said simply. "A few of us were trapped in a corner by these vamps. They were about to kill us when he came round the corner and got them with the flame thrower. Some of them escaped and he shouted at them, got their attention and gave us a chance to escape. They went for him and I- I guess he ran out of fuel..." His voice trailed off and Buffy took charge.
"We'll find him," she said. "You go and get yourself looked after."
It didn't take long to find him. He lay sprawled on the ground, still holding the flame-thrower, his neck torn apart by fangs. His students stared down at him, sadly. They hadn't liked him, they hadn't trusted him - but they mourned him now.
Buffy stood watch over the grave. These had been hectic nights for the Slayer. Every victim of the Graduation Day battle was a potential vampire and killing the ones who had been turned was torture for her as she remembered them as they were.
This was the last of them.
Principal Snyder thrust his way out of the grave, earth cascading from his ill fitting suit, a bestial growl coming from his throat. Buffy staked him with a sigh and turned to go. After a few steps she stopped, bent down to pick up a flower that had fallen from a wreath and turned back to lay it gently on Snyder's grave. She glanced at the headstone and read, ‘He died doing his duty,’ sighed again and left the cemetery.
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