Disclaimer: See previous chapters.
The small target range was once set up for archery. After Willow got over the whole we-are-teaching-the-slayers-to-use-guns-freak-out, she was surprisingly helpful in setting up the online permits for weapons and a teaching range. She even spelled the whole area so that sound would not travel past the immediate range area.
Jo had specific requirements regarding the range and weapon control. All guns were locked up tight at all times until a level of proficiency with the weapon was reached, then an access code and finger print scan with inventory check was set up. No one was going to use these guns for anything other than going after supernatural big bads. The only ammunition on hand for the slayers would be rock-salt rounds. Xander argued for more heavy duty artillery, and Giles approved his request, but with another layer of security for access.
She had gone for .45’s. She had started on a .22, but she had been only seven and a normal girl. She figured the slayers with their strength could handle the recoil on the gun. Ten girls shuffled into the classroom that Xander had set up for her in the old archery shed. “Take a seat behind a weapon, do not look, do not touch, do not move until I tell you to. This is firearms training. You will become as adept with this as you are with a sword and a stake, however, unlike a sword or stake, this can do damage to large areas at a great distance, so we will take extra care with our training.”
Xander slipped in the back of the classroom. He had been instrumental in setting up the range and classroom. He had cleared all her checks with flying colors the day before, something she was grateful for, because everyone else, even Giles, seemed pretty gun phobic. Even the slayers sitting in front of her now looked nervous at the idea of handling a gun. She would have to get them over that.
“The first thing you learn, like with any other lesson here, is care and maintenance of your weapon. A well maintained weapon will save your life. A poorly maintained weapon will be your death.”
An hour and a half later, all the slayers could disassemble, clean, name the parts of and reassemble their shotguns. Not with any speed, but it was a good start. She dismissed the class after having them stow the weapons in the safe and locking it.
“Very nice,” Xander said with a smile walking up to Jo as the slayers filed out of the classroom.
“Thanks,” Jo said, “This makes me feel useful.”
Xander smiled. “Yeah, the first month or so is a little hard on the watcher trainees. Especially ones that have been hunting before, they feel kind of useless going through the classes. They get itchy.”
Jo shrugged looking down at her feet, “Not so much,” she said a bit wistfully, “Momma never let me actually go out hunting.”
“Really?” Xander asked.
“I did some research, mostly looking for incidents, and then Ash would do the hard core stuff. I just helped Momma run the bar.”
Xander looked at his watch, “Hey, it’s almost lunch. I’ll walk with you back to the main house.”
They left the classroom, Jo carefully locking up behind her. “So no hunting?”
Jo shrugged and rolled her eyes, “I ran away once. There was this spirit taking girls from an apartment building. The building was next to this prison where one of the worst serial killers of this century had been executed. Sam and Dean, the Winchesters, they came out to drag me back, but not before I got kidnapped and had to be saved.”
Xander looked over at her disgruntled tone, “Hey, nothing to be ashamed of. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been caught by the bad guy. Me, Willow, Dawn, Giles, even, has been unscheduled bait for Buffy. Heck, Dawn still gets taken so often that there’s this raging debate on whether to implant a GPS in her.”
“Momma didn’t want me to come here,” Jo said a little bitterly, “she wanted to keep her baby girl home and safe.”
“No one in this business is safe for long,” Xander said softly.
“Yeah, but I guess little chick flying the coop. I think Momma kind of let me come here because she figured it’d be safer than if I was out on my own.”
“Safe is relative,” Xander said, “I mean, you’re on a bona fide Hellmouth. How safe can that be?”
Jo rolled her eyes, “The most ‘dangerous’ thing that has happened this past month is Andrew hitting the ceiling with rock salt and me almost getting caught by Connor in a towel.”
“What was Connor doing up in the dorms, anyway?” Xander mused. He would have to talk to the boy about that.
They walked into the main building of the school and headed towards the kitchens. With only twenty students at a time, Andrew was still in charge of the kitchens and although some strange things were on the menu, they generally tasted good and it kept Andrew feeling useful and mostly out of trouble. Most of the watchers and slayers in training shared in kitchen duty, which was good as they would be on their own eventually and Andrew was a patient teacher in the kitchen.
“Xander, Jo!” Willow waved at them when they entered the dining room. Xander waved back and Jo smiled a little stiffly. Although Willow had been extremely friendly, she still freaked Jo out a little. Maybe it was growing up in a place like the roadhouse, but all the power leaking out of Willow was like electricity skating over her skin and made Jo nervous.
They picked up some food from the lunch line and Xander led her over to sit with Willow, Kennedy and Chao An. “So, how goes the first firearms lesson?” Willow asked with a shudder.
Xander smiled at Willow in understanding. She still had a very strong aversion to guns, but she was really trying to accept the whole situation. “Jo was amazing. Let me tell you, no drill instructor could have put the fear of careful gun handling into the slayers as well as she did.”
“Security first,” Jo said taking a bite of salad.
Willow nodded. “So, a bunch of us are going out tonight, Xander, Jo. Watchers only. Well, watchers with Faith. Giles insisted after the last time we almost lost Dawn. Want to come?”
“Sure,” Xander said around a bite of sandwich, “where we going?”
“Hargate Cemetery. Gonna do some slaying.” Willow’s eyes sparkled.
Jo was not ready for the response and she was grateful that she had not taken a sip of her water or there would have been a spit take all over the slayer sitting across her. Not good for personal self preservation. “What? Watcher’s only? I don’t understand. I thought the slayers . . . slayed and the watchers . . . watched.”
“Nah,” Xander said with a smile and a wink, which Jo thought was a little odd with the eye patch over his other eye, “Can’t let them have all the fun.”
“Yeah,” Willow said almost bouncing, “We get to tie up Andrew as bait and let the bloodsuckers come and poof, stake through the heart.”
“It’s a bit of getting back to our roots,” Xander said sighing, “You know, the good old days.”
Willow snorted, “Sure, Nighthawk, weekly concussions were the good old days.”
“We don’t even let Willow use magic unless it’s an emergency.”
This time Kennedy rolled her eyes at Chao An, “Which is like almost every watcher’s outing. I swear, with Dawn and Xander and Andrew it’s like a supernatural disaster buffet.”
“Hey,” Willow protested.
“Yeah, Hey,” Xander said then he shot a look at Willow, “Why are you protesting, you weren’t on the list.” He turned to Kennedy, “Although she should have been. How many times did Spike almost kill you? So, you up for some slaying, Jo?”
Trying to act as if this was a normal conversation, although for Jo, it clearly wasn’t, she shrugged nonchalantly, “Sure, do I get to bring my gun?”