Ch11 in Which a Wolf Takes a Walk
Oz wandered one of the cemeteries on the far side of town. All the Scoobies knew he was back, but he wasn’t part of them any more. He didn’t want the discomfort of sitting with Buffy and Willow, while Buffy shot him angry looks and Willow gave off the confusing scents of sadness and arousal. She made her choice, and he respected it and accepted it, but she was still confused about how to act around him and that in turn confused his senses. Giles was great, letting him stay with him until he got some kind of income for his own place, but the watcher’s place wasn’t home.
The sound of a scuffle caught his attention and he hurried toward it. When he arrived, he confusedly watched two humans dispatching vamps with style and grace…and swords. He watched them until there were no more vamps. The one with better moves was a woman with short black hair, thick eyebrows that would have Cordy holding her down with a set of tweezers, and golden skin. The man, who only looked a little younger than the woman, was in his early twenties, with light brown hair with blond streaks and delicate features. Oz sniffed the air deliberately. These two gave off the same scent that Xander did, the one that made his wolf sit up and beg. Immortals.
He shrugged and put away his miniature crossbows and sat on a headstone to wait for them to finish. It didn’t take long. The woman finished hers and watched the man with a critical eye.
“You’re still not watching your lower right. Any one of those fledges could have gotten in a well placed kick had they been more skilled,” she told him when he finished. She walked up to him and adjusted his stance as though fighting off a bunch of vampires was a standard part of his training. Student and teacher. Xander had said something about that sort of thing with Immortals. “See?”
They went through a sort routine. The man dropped his sword with a sigh.
“I can do it easily when we’re sparing, but as soon as it’s a real fight, I forget.”
The woman watched him through narrowed eyes for a moment and then lunged without warning. The man yelped and brought up his sword to parry. Even Oz could see where he was leaving himself open this time. They fought fiercely for a while before the woman brought her foot up to kick the man’s leg. Oz winced at the CRACK that split the air. He went down hard and froze with the presence of a sword tip at his throat.
“You will learn it, Greg, or I will break your leg every time we spar until you do,” she warned frostily. Then she softened and put her sword away. She bent over the man and firmly set the leg. He grunted but didn’t complain.
Oz felt he’d watched long enough. He softly coughed into his hand, and like magic the woman’s sword was in her hand and she was crouched protectively over the man. Oz held out his hands to show they were empty, lounging on the headstone casually, hoping that if he didn’t show nervousness, they’d relax.
“Friends of Xander?” he asked.
“Yes,” Diane answered shortly, wondering how long the boy had been there.
“Me, too. Oz.”
“Huh?” Greg asked.
“My name. Oz. Xan told me about Immortals. Was patrolling. Saw you.” He shrugged, hoping more explanation wasn’t needed.
“Oh.” Greg stood up carefully even though his leg was already healed. It was habit. “I’m Greg, and the warrior princess is Diane.”
“Hi.” Oz thought about it for a sec. “Good to meet you. See ya round.” He hopped off the headstone, and with a final wave, walked off in the direction he’d been going before he stopped.
Diane watched him go, confused. She looked at Greg who was smiling. “What was that?” she wondered.
“That,” Greg explained, “was a laconic youth. Very rare and rather unflappable. We’ll have to ask Alexander about him.” He looked poutingly at the spot where he’d landed earlier. “One more time?” he asked, already dreading the snap of his leg. He wondered if younger teachers were less vicious.
Diane grinned ferally and advanced on her student. Maybe if he did better this time, she’d let him handcuff her to the bed later.
Xander left Giles with a grateful sigh. A Presence had him gripping the handle of his ax when he was less than two blocks away.
“It’s me,” Delvin called, stepping into the light. “How’d it go?”
“About like I expected it to,” Xander said with a disgusted look on his face. “Willow want to find a spell to cure me, and Buffy insists on meeting you to argue some more about the role that she’s to play in the prophecy. Giles cleaned his glasses a lot but backed me up so that was helpful.”
Delvin chuckled. “I’d like to meet Giles. The Slayer on the other hand…” He trailed off and they walked in silence for a while. Finally he said, “I suppose it’s been about six hundred years since the Slayers actively hunted Immortals as well as Demons, but that sort of thing left me weary of cosmic soldiers. It doesn’t help that what I’ve encountered of the girl left me with the impression of a spoiled child that never really accepted her lot in life. Am I wrong?”
“No.” Xander wished it were otherwise. “Buffy will be the first to say that she is the Slayer and she must fight, but she honestly would do anything to be normal. She tries to date normal guys and hide her Slayer nights from them. She blows off important things for “normal” things.” He made the air quotes. “Yet the time she had a chance to share the burden, she pretty much treated the other slayers like the dirt under her nails.” He told Delvin about Kendra and Faith.
Delvin shook his head. “Alexander, if another person possessing an alpha primal spirit came to town, how would you react?”
Xander thought about it. Even if he might like the opportunity to share notes, the hyena would hate it. She’d be pissed. He didn’t have much trouble with her anymore, but if she didn’t like someone, it was hard to ignore it. “So the Slayer…”
“Is a territorial spirit,” Delvin finished. “They should have never tried to share a territory. One should have stayed here, and one should have found another center of demon activity. It’s not like this is the only Hellmouth.”
“You won’t find any Immortal’s in Cleveland or La Huacachina in Peru,” Delvin said wryly. “There are at least two more in Africa. And one every other continent except Antarctica. There aren’t many Demons that enjoy the cold.”
“Weird.” Xander shoot his head. “And only one slayer.”
“Well, when the Slayer was first created there was a much smaller population. Humans didn’t go near the Hellmouths. One Slayer was all they needed for their people. When man spread over the world, the rules changed, or they should have. Gods all forbid that sense interfere with tradition. Anyway. It sounds like this Faith is the one that is the rightful slayer here. After all, she was Called after the death of the other one. It makes sense that Buffy might contest Kendra’s place as she was Called by Buffy’s temporary death, but not Faith. However, the moment Faith accidentally killed a human, she should have been put out of her misery. Slayer are not meant to kill humans, it makes them insane. It’s possible that she can be brought out of it, but with the alienation you described she would have just been pushed further into her own madness.”
“Well, she’s in a coma right now,” Xander said. “Who knows what she’ll be like when she wakes up.” It wasn’t a question of if. Slayers were tough. Faith WOULD be waking up.
AN: How's that for blunt foreshadowing? I did warn long ago that this would be a long fic right? I hope so. So, what do you think? I promise to give suggestions at least two seconds of thought before doing it my way anyway.