Doubling the Tweed
Xander snuck into the library just like he had a couple of nights before. It wasn’t that he liked taking weapons from Giles but he was on a bit of a budget at the moment. Besides he returned them so it wasn’t really stealing.
“What are you doing?” asked a voice from the darkness.
Spinning around Xander leveled the short sword he had just grabbed towards where he thought the voice was coming from. Two seconds later the only thought that went through his head was that the paint on the ceiling looked really nice in the moonlight and he should ask Giles just what color it was.
Thirty seconds after that he registered the glowing red eyes looking at him. It was vaguely disturbing that his life had reached the point where glowing red eyes weren’t always a bad thing, but it was still his life.
“Hey Polaris, thanks for the mild concussion, I just healed from the last one so I needed a new one,” said Xander as soon as he could think again.
“A new what?” asked the confused gargoyle as the red glow faded from her eyes.
“Never mind,” said Xander as he got up from the floor. “So is hanging out in the library with all the lights turned off a normal thing for you or is this a special occasion.”
The gargoyle looked a bit confused, much like the one Giles got every time Buffy used valley girl speak, but understood enough to say, “I have been here for the last two nights trying to learn how to read.”
“I thought the spell took care of that?”
“No, it only allowed me to understand your language. I must learn to read on my own, but Mr. Giles tells me I am making remarkable progress.”
“Yeah, I can see that,” said Xander as he spotted a moderately sized book on the table that he had used for a book report last year. It was a light read for anyone who had been learning to read for year, for someone that had only been at it for a few days it was a big accomplishment. “Doesn’t explain the whole lack of lights though.”
“I don’t need them,” said Polaris as she folded her wings into a kind of cloak. “My entire life I have seen with only the light of the moon, stars and the occasional fire to guide me. I’m most comfortable not using your lights so I avoid it unless it’s necessary.”
Suddenly the light turned on as Giles entered the room. The Englishman took one look at the occupants of the room, sighed, and sat down for what would be a long conversation.
“So Xander, were you just in the process of taking my weapons or returning them?”
Xander held up his hands and started to say the first things that came into his mind. “Now don’t be mad Giles, hey wait, that wasn’t a mad tone of voice. There was a lot of annoyance there but not so much with the outrage.”
“I quite got over that a few days ago when I recognized the short sword you were using the day you found Polaris as one from my armory,” said Giles as he nodded towards the short sword lying on the ground close to where Xander stood. “Now if you would be kind enough to answer my question.”
“Um… I was going,” said Xander, feeling uncomfortable being the center of attention for both Polaris and Giles.
“Any particular reason you’re choosing this time to begin a patrol?” asked Giles in a carefully neutral voice.
“Well other than making sure it’s a short one because dawn is coming, it’s February. The days are shorter, but school starts at the same time so this time of year there are a lot of kids walking to school in the dark. I figure it would be a good thing to have somebody out there to make sure no one turns into an early morning snack.”
Giles simply sat for a long time with his eyes closed, making Xander even more uncomfortable before saying, “I’ve never easily admitted when I was wrong, but I think I have done you a great disservice, and for that I’m sorry. Starting today I will talk to Buffy to make sure you are fully included once again. This means that you will patrol with either Buffy, Faith, Polaris, or Angel, but not alone. It’s too close to dawn for you to patrol with Polaris, and the others are probably still asleep so the children of Sunnydale will have to fend for themselves for one more night, agreed?”
“Okay,” responded Xander. He didn’t really like the idea of letting people walk to school unprotected, but Giles was making a good point. Though he had to admit, even if it was just to himself, that his decision had more to do with Giles getting him back into the slaying club. Giles was still concerned with Xander’s safety and didn’t want him to take any risks, but he was willing to help Xander be more than just the doughnut boy. Xander didn’t know what kind of man backing down like this made him, but hopefully it was someone he could live with.
“Well now that we have that settled how about you use the energy you were going to use fighting to help me organize for the day,” said Giles.
Xander was about to decline, but realized that he should probably do something to thank Giles for what the older man was about to do so he simply said, “Sure thing Giles, what do you need me to do.”
In the upper level of the library Polaris has watched the entire exchange with confusion. Xander possessed the potential to become a decent warrior, but for some reason his friends had attempted to make him stop fighting.
Shaking her head the gargoyle decided that the issue had apparently been resolved and that was all that mattered. If she was going to help bring her people into this brave new world then she would simply have to accept that humans were strange creatures and not try too hard to understand their motives if she wanted to avoid an unreasonable amount of headaches.
“Fascinating,” said the young Englishman as he inspected the stone form of Polaris. “I must admit that despite reading about gargoyles during my training I didn’t have any hope of meeting one unless the slayer I was assigned was stationed close to one of the known remaining groups.
“I’ve heard that they are rather disruptive when they first awaken, is that true?”
“Oh no, she’s as quiet as a cat,” responded Giles, intentionally omitting that fact that Polaris sounded like a very large and angry cat when she first awakened. Just because he wasn’t going to let the twit get himself killed didn’t mean he still couldn’t have some fun.
“Good,” said the younger man as he finished his inspection. “Not that it would bother me if it were true, training procedures have been updated quite a bit since your day. Much greater emphasis on field work.”
“Really?” asked Giles in a tone that he had hoped would convey just how bored he was. The young man was truly stupid if he expected people to listen when he droned on like this.
“Oh yes. Not all books and theories nowadays. I have, in fact, faced two vampires myself. Under controlled circumstances, of course.”
“Well, no danger of finding those here,” said Giles as he seriously began to revise his earlier opinion of making sure the person in front of him survived his time in Sunnydale. According to Darwin if young Mr. Wyndam-Pryce were to get himself killed and remove his genetics from the gene pool the human race would be stronger for it.
“Controlled circumstances,” responded Giles as Buffy walked into the room. “Hello Buffy.”
“Yes, hello,” said the young man with a smug smile on his lips as he looked down at Buffy.
Buffy looked at the bookish young man who thought he had some power over her and came to a conclusion. Turning toward Giles she simply asked, “New Watcher?”
“New Watcher,” confirmed Giles with a nod.
“Wesley Wyndam-Pryce,” said the new Watcher as he extended his hand in greeting.
“Is he evil?” asked Buffy as she completely ignored the outstretched hand.
“Evil?” asked a confused Wesley as he slowly put his hand down.
“The last one was evil,” stated Buffy.
“Oh, yes. Gwendolyn Post, we all heard about that. No, Mr. Giles has checked my credentials rather thoroughly and phoned the Council, but I’m glad to see you’re on the ball as well. A good Slayer is cautious Slayer.”
“Is he evil?” Buffy once again asked Giles, a hint of pleading in her voice.
“Not in the strictest sense,” said Giles, wondering if someone could be classified evil if they became too annoying. No, if that were possible he would have had Xander killed long ago.
“Well, I’m glad that’s cleared up,” said Wesley as he walked over to the library table and picked up his watcher diary. “Now as I’m sure none of us are anxious to waste any time on pleasantries, why don’t you tell me everything about last night’s patrol.”
“A good idea, but if I may have a moment alone with Buffy first?” said Giles before the blond slayer could say anything.
“A yes,” said Wesley thinking that the overly emotional ex Watcher was going to simply say a goodbye of some sorts. “Just keep it short if you would, we have pressing business to attend to.”
“Yes, quite,” said Giles as he led Buffy out of the library.
“Okay Giles, what’s the deal?” asked Buffy as soon as they were out of the library.
“I wished to speak to you about some matters I though it better that speak to you about them away from Wesley. The most important favor I’ll ask you is to cooperate with your new Watcher,” said Giles.
“Wait, the guy is sent here to replace you and you want me to be nice to him?” asked Buffy.
“Good Lord no,” said Giles with a smile. “I personally detest the man and think you should only be nice to him if by some miracle or other he earns your respect. What I am asking you to do is not hold anything back when you report the nights slaying activity to him. Like it or not he is an official Watcher and I am not. This means he has access to information that I don’t, information that could mean the difference between life and death.”
“Don’t hold anything back, but nice is not required, gotcha,” said the blond chosen one. “So what’s the other favor?”
“Let Xander participate in the patrols again,” the Englishman said as he prepared himself for the fight he was sure was coming.
“What?!” hissed Buffy, quickly remembering that it wouldn’t be the best idea to shout. “We talked about this and all agreed, it’s too dangerous for Xander to patrol with me.”
“If it’s dangerous for him to patrol with someone who has the strength and speed to fight demons then how much more dangerous is it for him to patrol by himself?” countered Giles.
“Are you saying that Xander has been patrolling by himself?” asked Buffy as her eyes narrowed into thin, angry, slits.
“Yes, but before you give into your impulse to go off and thrash him, please listen to the rest of my argument.”
“Talk, then hurt Xander, I can do that.”
“When I agreed to help you and Willow push Xander out of the group it wasn’t to keep him form harm. After the love spell he cast I’ve has serious doubts about his reasons for fighting the forces of darkness. I thought that perhaps he simply wanted to stay close with his childhood friend, or perhaps he thought that being physically close to you would let you see him in a romantic way. The fact that he is patrolling on his own, risking his life with no chance of recognized glory among his friends has dispelled those doubts though.”
“Yeah, good for Xander. Can I go and make sure he doesn’t patrol anymore?”
“Not yet. I’ve admitted my true reasons for no longer allowing Xander to patrol; I think you should do the same.”
“I already told you, I don’t want him to get hurt. Now if you’ll excuse me I need to find Xander so I can break his legs so he can’t patrol,” said Buffy as she turned so she could begin her search for her best male friend.
“Buffy!” snapped Giles in a tone that would do any parent proud. “Are you even listening to yourself, you’ll prevent him from being hurt by inflicting bodily damage on him?”
“Lets see here, wheelchair or dead,” said Buffy as she mimed weighing each option in her hand. “What do you know, wheelchair wins.”
“Buffy despite the way you seem to enjoy butchering the English language I know that you are an intelligent young woman. This means that you know just as well as I do that Xander has never been seriously injured while out on patrol with you. In fact the truth of the matter is that his unique perspective helped us defeat the Judge, a demon that was supposed to be undefeatable. Both are reasons to keep him close, not push him away.”
For a while Buffy simply looked at the floor, the internal battle she was facing obvious, before she said, “I just wanted him to get out before it was too late.”
“Too late for what precisely?”
“To be normal. It’s like I can’t have a normal life anymore, and neither can anyone I’m close to. My boyfriend is a cursed master vampire that’s celebrated his bicentennial, and Willow has gone from a normal hacker to witch dating a werewolf. Everyone that knows about my life seems to be changed until they’re just as stuck in the crummy supernatural world as I am, and there’s this little voice in the back of my head that says that if Xander keeps fighting he’ll come back with horns or something one day.
“I know it’s selfish and wrong, but I want to have one friend to have a long, normal, and boring life.”
“It’s not selfish to want to give someone else something you think you can not have Buffy,” said Giles. “However if ever the phrase the road to hell is paved with good intentions applies, it’s here.”
“Who knew that good intentions looked so much like cheep linoleum,” said Buffy as she scuffed her shoe on the school floor.
“Funny,” said Giles as he allowed himself a small smile. “The fact remains though that if you continue this course of action you will simply loose Xander as a friend, and not be there when he patrols on his own.”
“Okay, point taken, Xander is officially back in the slayage loop,” conceded Buffy. She could live with herself if Xander hated her and lived, but she couldn’t live with herself if Xander hated her and died fighting demons.
“Glad to hear it,” said Giles as he briefly placed his hand on Buffy’s shoulder in a comforting gesture. “Now I believe we’ve made Wesley wait long enough for your report, so it would probably be best for us to return to the library before he takes to listing at the door.”
“Oh, wouldn’t that be just too bad,” said Buffy with a mischievous smile as she quickly opened the library doors, and was only slightly disappointed when they missed hitting Wesley by a couple inches.