It comes in threes
It was an unusually quiet night.
For this small town of around a hundred thousand people, the adage, 'Early to bed, early to rise' was something they wished the youngsters lived by. In fact, there had been a quiet campaign going on for the past hundred years to instil this attitude, but young people tended to think that they were immortal. It was only after they either survived something, or became 'old people' of around twenty two that Sunnydale, California Residents told you that being out at night may be fun, but it was extremely dangerous, at least without a cross, silver dagger, wooden stake, and holy water.
Given the University of California, Sunnydale did not have on it's list of courses, 'Basics of the supernatural' (It had been removed under protest when the Republican governor in 1967 decided that no one should be teaching something other than Christianity as a course in mysticism. That, and to prevent Timothy Leary from being hired.), a strong 'word of mouth' program was begun by the teaching staff of the time. Unfortunately, most of the students wouldn't listen to this 'unofficial course' and new transfers of stuffy, officious, by the political book, scientist and teachers eroded the effort to ensure students safety.
This was one of the reasons that U of C, Sunnydale had the largest 'drop out' rate in North America, if not the planet.
For Xander Harris, who was on his 'short patrol' of some of the normally overlooked areas, such as some of the places on Fraternity Row, this reminded him to make sure that he always voted for a Democrat. At least they had the good sense not to dismiss something because of politics. At least usually.
So far, he had dusted eight vampires, scared around a dozen random demons, and caused a couple of students to drunkenly hurry home. A very slow night for this section of town. This caused a little bit of worry. Things going outside of normal patterns was usually a herald of the Apocalypse. “Wonder what's going on?”
He continued on towards a graveyard until he saw them. “Oh god! Not them! Why Now?”
Covering his eyes with his right hand, he pondered how he had ended up in the presence of these three stooges. Again. Without any sort of protection against insanity.
He couldn't even risk going invisible because the three of them, here, would just cause more problems.
He called out, “Hey guys!”
The three looked at him, one of them enthusiastically waving a strange crossbow with – was that a bolt of cloth? - connected to his back. That meant one thing. They were testing new inventions. Xander muttered under his breath, “I thought they were at the Island, or Jamaica, or somewhere else. Why do I have to be saddled with them.”
He groaned as Jonathan smiled at him. He and his two friends, Andrew and Warren were the heads of the Zenith project. The stated purpose of the project was to carefully tend and encourage super heroic trends in meta humans of varying ability while preventing the appearance of super villains or governmental control or creation of super beings. Personally, Xander was thinking they read too many comic books and other fantasy material.
“So, what are you guys working on now?” Xander began the conversation.
Warrens enthusiasm was bursting out. “We created the ultimate Crossbow!”
Andrew couldn't stay quiet at that. “Yeah! Like a machine gun, it has a belt feed for the bolts, spelled to automatically re-pull, and has mechanical backups in case something happens to cancel the spell.”
Jonathan smiled as his two friends prattled on, remembering how they had found out about the real world, and how they had become part of an organization of heroes.
Andrew slipped into the room the war gamers were using during lunch, thinking about how to tell the others what he'd learned. Not that it really surprised him, given this was the only high school left in North America with an obituary page in the school paper. Still, it had taken him a couple of weeks to confirm his findings.
Jonathan looked up from the his MERP rulebook. “Hey Andrew, do you know how late you are? Warren and I were wondering if you would ever get here so that we can complete designing the maze.”
“There's something I had to check.” Andrew said as he sat down, or rather fell down into his chair. “I think we need to, no, make that we have to discuss this, and what we're going to do about it.”
Warren blinked and looked at his friend. “You haven't been taking any drugs, have you?”
Andrew laughed, slightly hysterically, and grimly. “I wish! Drugs seem like such a little thing now. It's about the library.”
As soon as Jonathan heard that, he hissed, “Shit! Not here. You don't talk about these things openly, idiot.”
Warren was looking at the two of them as if they were crazy while Andrew had this weird grin on his face as if his whole reason for living just got thrown out the window. “You know about-”
“I said not here!” Jonathan hissed harder. “Look, I know a place where we can talk about this, but if we go there, you need to promise to keep this to yourself, or at least not openly talk about it. Implying that you know is all right, but not talking about it outright.”
Andrew nodded his consent and got up to follow his friend in the know. Warren quickly followed suit, wondering what was happening now. They looked at him as he got up.
Jonathan frowned, “Do you really want to come with us?”
“Your life will never be the same, once you know.” Jon warned.
“You're acting like if the Hulk was real or something.” Warren laughed.
Jonathan growled, “One last chance. Do you really want to know at the risk of your life, your sanity, and your relative peace?”
“Whoa, what is this, a Cthulhu cult or something?” Warren asked, “I'm in.”
After explaining the basics of the town to his two companions, Jon asked, “So, what is it about the library, before I explain further.”
Andrew's eyes had a slightly glazed look. “I was going through the stuff in there when I came across a book that I figured was perfect for a D&D session. It had spells, information on armour and weapons, as well as some good stories. Anyway, I was writing a module and seeing what I could use when I said one of the spells out loud.
“It worked. My pencil lit up with light. At first I thought it was a joke, so I tried it on a few other objects. They lit up with light as well. I looked in the front of the book and saw it was printed in 1815. I planted a bug in the library and heard the weirdest things.”
Jonathan continued for him, already having pieced together a lot of information. “Like the fact that our school librarian could get a job anywhere, was a former curator of one of the leading archaeology museums in Britain, knows about a dozen languages, has a personal collection of magic books and mythological histories which he has loaned to the library. Or do you mean the fact that we have at least one, possibly more super heroes in the school and the librarian is their trainer and teacher. Or could it be the fact that the heroes are the schools 'so-called' losers?”
Andrew blinked a few times. “Uh...Yeah...Though I didn't know about the museum thing.”
Warrens eyes lit up when he heard this, and had a silly grin on his face as he thought of the power he could wield. No one would put him down again, and with enough power, he could rule the country, hell, rule the world if he wanted to. All he needed was what was in the library.
Jonathan almost grimaced at the look on his friends face. “There's also another side to it guys.”
Warren looked at him, “What matters is that the library has everything we need to get revenge, to make sure no-one bothers us again.”
“What matters,” Jonathan hissed, “Is that vampires, demons, and other creatures of the night exist. The reason that there's a super hero at this school is to keep the Hellmouth closed.”
Andrew came out of his almost coma like state. “Hellmouth? You mean there's a passageway to hell close to here?”
“Try right under the library floor. I've been learning as much as I can about the situation here, and it's pretty nasty.” Jonathan said.
This wasn't good. If Warren wanted power, then he would have to know who the guardians of the place are. “So, who's the confirmed super hero?”
“That would be Buffy Summers.” Jonathan replied, “She's known as the slayer and is stronger, faster, and more agile than anyone has a right to be.”
Andrew thought for a moment, “Wait. You said at least one super hero. Who are the others, or the possible others.”
Jonathan sighed. This would take a while as he explained it. “Just don't interrupt me until I'm done. Okay?”
His two companions nodded.
Taking a sip of his soda, Jonathan began. “First there's the teachers. Mr. Giles and Ms. Calendar. As far as I can tell, they both know magic, have skills with all sorts of old fashioned weapons, and train the new ones. Think of them as retired heroes training a new generation. Like X-Men.
“The others are Willow, who I think does magic. I'm not sure about that. Xander, who just seems to get donuts, but also goes out alone to destroy vampires, Cordelia, who knows what she does, Oz, I don't know what he does, and a couple of others. They all have a part to play in protecting the town, and they rarely let people in.”
“We need more info,” Warren stated, wondering how to distract the mini X-school in order to get hold of the books. “Is there anyone we can ask?”
Jonathan grimaced. “Yeah, but we do asking during the day, and we have to be DAMN careful about it.”
The Alibi Room, the commonly used name for Willy Place, a bar that had an unusual clientele.
Inside, the proprietor, one Willy the Snitch, was going about his business taking inventory, getting ready for his normal orders, and placing a few special orders as well. Somehow he'd been lucky this month. No broken bones, black eyes, or other nasty injuries because of the Slayer. Truthfully, since Mr. Black came to town, it was easier to keep his nose clean. Xander did give a good compensation package for dealing with the girl. Being paid was nice benefit to keeping a seat open for the 'boy'.
The door opened and he looked up. While some people did come into drink some afternoons, most of his clientele were of the night variety, Then again, most in this town kept their heads down at night, if they wanted to see the next morning. This said, three obvious high school geeks coming by was not the usual. “What can I get you?”
Jonathan coughed and looked at the barman. “I would like some information, if at all possible.”
Willy looked at the kids and sighed. Graduating class. It was doubtful that they would survive if they stayed in town, so it was time to give them the whole 'you're better off doing something else than staying here' shtick. Besides, these kids obviously weren't that street smart. He grabbed a bottle of scotch and gestured over to a table, “I'll buy a round for you.”
Pouring the alcohol into the snifters, Willy asked, “What would you like to know?”
Warren blurted out, “We need to know about Buffy Summers and the others.”
Willy swallowed as he inhaled, causing him to cough slightly. Asking about a job for the summer, questions on business, those were the sort of things he expected. Perhaps even trying to buy some booze, which is why he offered to buy when he was 'officially' closed. These kids asking questions about the blond menace and her friends was NOT expected.
Andrew stuttered, “Y-you ok?”
Willy waved the question off, “Why do you think that I'd know anything about whoever you're talking about?”
Jonathan grimaced, “We know about the vampires and demons. We want to know about the heroes, perhaps give them a reward or something for protecting us all these years.”
That made more sense. “What do you want to know, kid.”
Warren was excited, he was going to find out about the mini X-school. “Who are they, and what do they do?”
The barman scowled for a moment and said, “They don't like to be publicly known. People know, but they don't know, so whatever reward should be understated, understand?”
“Fine!” Willy snorted, “Since you bring her up, Buffy Summers is the Slayer. A mystical warrior who is destined to battle against the forces of evil. She's the 'One girl in the whole world' and all that mystical crap. Scrapper, fighter, a girl that would willingly pull out your entrails if she finds out you're helping a vampire or some other evil.”
He took another sip of his drink, “Willow Rosenberg, computer hacker, witch in training, researcher. She is one of the brains of the group and is training to take her place on the front lines.”
“Daniel Osbourne, known as Oz. Rocker and werewolf. He keeps a cool head and is a person who will kill and not be bothered by it.” Willy stated remembering the guy. It was unearthly how unemotional the guy was.
“Angel is a reformed vampire, originally part of the 'Scourge of Europe.' He's Summers boyfriend and confidant. Not generally a nice guy.”
“Wait. He's a vampire that works with a vampire slayer?” Warren smiled. If they were that idiotic, there was a good chance of him getting the books and information he needed right from under their noses.
“Well,” Willy hesitated, “He's got a soul. None of the other vampires around here do, so try not to make friends with them. Anyway, Rupert Giles, of the Watchers Council. He's the one who trains them, tells them what to do, that sort of stuff. He knows his magic, his enemies, and his allies, and has contacts all over the world.”
Andrew sipped the drink in front of him. The man sounded like Professor Xavier, perfect for training super heroes. Maybe he could ask for lessons.
“Mystic Jenny Calendar. She is what is called a Technopagen, combining technology and magic. She's a trainer and advisor, although she does do some things with the kids.”
Willy poured himself another snifter. “Those are all you need to know about.”
Jonathan thanked the man and started to get up when Warren placed a hand on his arm.
“You forgot someone.”
Willy started to sweat, “I didn't forget anyone.”
Warren frowned, suspicious about the bartender as he obviously knew something. “Alexander Harris, old man. Who is he?”
“He's an ordinary guy”
Warren laughed, “Answered too quickly. Once again, who is he?”
Willy tossed back the drink and poured several more ounces into his glass. “Do you really want to know? You'd sleep better if you had no idea, and he doesn't like this information advertised.”
Andrew gulped, “Yeah. We better know.”
“Alexander is the name he's known by currently. He's also been known as Michael, so that will give you a clue right there.” came the softly vocalized reply.
Warren stared at the man, “Who. Is. He?”
Willy stared daggers at the punk kid. He then took his glass and tossed it back in one go. Looking at the punk, he shouted, “He's Mr. Black's God Damned Brother You Idiot! He's an Immortal, he has no qualms about killing, and he loves to fight. Who the hell do you think burned down Rome? You want to get involved with him, go ahead, but get out of my bar. Now!”
The three kids rushed out of the bar, and Willy kept tossing back alcohol, trying to steady his nerves.
“I told you we had to be nice!” Jonathan stated, steamed at Warren.
“Hey!” Warren replied, “We needed to know.”
“H-He's right.” Andrew said, “Come on. Lets get home.”
Warren grinned, not noticing the surreptitious look Jonathan was giving him. The class clown was an immortal, who knew what he was hiding. If he wanted to gain power, then it would be good to try to ingratiate himself with him, see what he could do or find out. An immortal had to have a large stash of cash or books or stuff, and usually they never paid attention to the modern stuff, so it shouldn't be a problem. When he discovered the secrets that Xander had, then he'd take over the world.
Jonathan frowned and he trailed behind the other two. He'd have to speak with Xander about this and soon. Something just wasn't right with Warren.
“So, doing anything tonight?” Xander asked.
“Unfortunately,” Jonathan replied, “Faith wants us to create some new weapons for her. If we're not back in a few hours, she'll go to the Professor.”
Xander shuddered, “Right. No time to waste.”
“Yeah. Oh, Henchgirl sent this for you” Jonathan said handing over a letter.
Xander waved the three off and then opened the missive. Once he read it, he made plans to pack quickly and gather Dawn. She would be a good excuse for him to get to the island and help Harry out of whatever mess his mad scientist got him into. Besides, she could take her OWLS early then.