Buffy looked on with interest as Xander flirted with Willow. They were getting along way too well. At the rate they were going, they would be sleeping together by the end of the week, maybe even the end of the night. What was funny was how not sudden it all was. Their relationship had been slowly evolving for some time. At first, Willow spent time with Xander trying to console him about Anya's death. The time spent with Xander had been one of the nails in Willow's relationship with Kennedy. She never wanted to be second best to anyone, even someone's best friend. Especially someone's best guy friend. Thankfully, Willow had made the right choice and dumped her when she got too bitchy in her comments. Friends before lovers. It was one of the biggest mistakes that Buffy had ever made in her own relationships. Too often she had chosen her lovers over her friends. It had taken most of the last eighteen months to repair the relationships with Xander and Willow. It was funny, she mused, that they got along a lot like when they were in high school. Minus the crushing on Xander's part. Which, if she was honest, Buffy did miss. It was nice to have one guy you could count on forever. She could still count on Xander, but now just as a friend. She wasn't sure why the other bothered her, but the loss of that spark of attraction did bother her. When she had sent him one of her abso-damn-lutely best, smouldering looks over pizza after a particularly long and boring patrol, he had responded like he did to Dawn. He'd teased her like he did Dawn. Buffy pouted just thinking about it.
“Nickel for your thoughts?” Dawn asked, interrupting her thoughts.
“They're not worth a nickel, maybe a peso. By the way, exactly how much is a peso, cause I'm betting it is pretty small,” Buffy responded. She definitely did not want to open that kettle and hoped changing the subject would work.
“Nice try. Don't change the subject. You are obviously thinking way too hard. And since you're looking at Willow and Xander dancing, I'm going way out on a limb here, and saying they're what you're thinking about. Am I right?” Dawn asked shrewdly.
Buffy wondered when her sister became so insightful. Sighing, she paused for a moment, deciding what to actually say. Finally, she came up with, “I was just thinking about how we've come full circle since high school. Back then, Willow liked Xander, Xander liked me, and I liked Angel. Now, Willow likes Xander again, Xander...”
“Likes her back, and you...?”
“Miss having Xander like me. Does that make me horrible?” Buffy asked this last part in a small voice. Why couldn't she just be happy for them?
“Yes, you're a complete bitch.” Dawn really enjoyed getting that one in. It was getting harder and harder to be bratty with the entire growing up thing going on.
“Hey!” Buffy exclaimed, not really offended. She thought she would make it through at least one day without her sister calling her that.
“Hey yourself. I was wondering if I was going to be able to get in my quota of calling you a bitch at least once a day. You've been way too nice lately, well, except when we order pizza. When we do that, you're still completely evil. But seriously? You don't still like Xander that way, do you?” Dawn asked, a curious look in her eyes.
“Absolutely not. Wait, still like him?” Buffy was wondering what Dawn meant by that remark.
“Please, like you weren't so into Xander at one point. You totally latched onto to him when Angel went all John Wayne Gacy on everyone. Cordelia was so pissed at the time. I had to listen to her rant so many times about how he would drop everything to help you out. I think the capper was when you had the flu junior year, and Xander manned the door to your room all night. I mean he even went head to head with Angelus over you that night.”
“Seriously, Cordelia was jealous? Ha! Wait a second, when Xander did what with Angel?” Buffy asked in a surprised tone. What was Dawn talking about?
“You didn't know? Xander was all 'Feel lucky punk? Well, do ya?' to Angel when he came to your hospital room that night. Angel told me all about it when he had to babysit me one night when mom had a gallery thing. He said Xander was the only Scooby he was ever wary of, because he just didn't care about his safety when his friends were in danger. That was one of the reasons I crushed so hard on him back then. It was so romantic.” Dawn had a dreamy expression on her face as she contemplated her first real crush. The fact that there had been others since then didn't matter. It was hard to forget your first.
Buffy's head spun. Xander had done that for her? She was truthful in what she had told her sister about her feelings for Xander. She didn't desire him romantically, yet still missed the feelings he had for her for so many years. Even when he was with Anya, he had definitely still thought of Buffy 'that way'. It was one reason Anya was so vocal about informing everyone, and especially her, to stay away from Xander. And about the orgasms he gave her. Buffy realized that she was shortchanging Xander by wanting that same old dynamic, when the truth was, Xander had become more of a brother, one she could always count on. She'd never even thanked him for saving her life all of those times, even going so far as to taunt him in one particularly memorable way. She resolved to do something about that. Before it was too late.
Dawn watched as Buffy got up from her chair and moved out onto the dance floor. “Don't mind me. I'll just stay here and watch everyone's drinks.” Well this sucked, she thought. I do the whole Freud thing with Buffy and now I'm left here, the only one not out on the floor. Screw that, I'm dancing too. Stealing Buffy's keys from her purse, she took one final perusal of its contents, silently whistling, before moving on after Buffy.
Buffy walked up to where Xander danced with Willow, if you could call what he did dancing. Even being charitable, it more resembled a giant chicken doing a mating dance, she thought fondly. She caught Xander's eye, and before he could react, grabbed him in a hug, squeezing hard.
Xander was really enjoying his dance with Willow when he caught sight of Buffy with a particularly determined look on her face. The kind that caused demons to run. That was all he had time to think before she grabbed him and proceeded to squeeze the life out of him. Thank God he was bullet-wound-free, he thought absently. Otherwise, he would be even more in pain. She hugged him long enough for breath to start becoming an issue before finally releasing him, kissing him on the cheek.
“Thank you for all of the times you saved my life, Xander. I love you so much.”
Xander watched as Buffy repeated her action with a wide-eyed Willow, who looked at him questioning over Buffy's shoulder. He just shrugged. He had long ago decided to not try to figure out all of the vagaries of his female friends. That way lay insanity. Or maybe pedicures. Just thinking about it made him shudder.
Buffy finished her Willow-hug and repeated her kiss on the cheek. “Thank you so much for being my friend, Willow. I love you so much.”
“Buffy, what's the sitch? You're not under a spell are you? Cause I don't remember doing any spells, and you're not wearing a raincoat. And you told us both you loved us. Holy Mother Earth! Not a threesome! Idon'tdothreesomes...” Willow came to an abrupt halt as Xander covered her mouth with his. He kissed her for a couple of minutes, while Buffy looked on in amusement, before breaking it off. He turned back to Buffy with a satisfied smirk on his face.
“Seriously though, Buff? What's up? You okay?” Xander asked, concerned.
“I'm fine. I just realized that I love you both so much and I haven't told you so in a long time. Hey, you kissed! I didn't know you had gotten to the point of kissage. When did that happen?”
“Just now. Well, and yesterday. And err.. earlier today. It's my new favorite way to end Willow-babble. Effective, no?” Xander grinned.
Waving her hand in front of Willow's face, Buffy said, “I think you broke her. Dawn told me about you saving me from Angelus when I had the flu that time back in high school. I realized I hadn't thanked you for any of the times you'd saved my life. So that was me, thanking you.”
“You don't have to thank me, Buffy. You've saved my life ten times for every time I've saved yours. It kind of balances out, ya know?” Xander very much liked the new Buffy Summers. Even two years ago, she never would have done this. But in the last several months, she had become much more sensitive to the feelings of others. Well, maybe not Kennedy. Perhaps it was the lack of slaying, or maybe she was just growing up.
“Sacred duty here. You stayed around and helped even without it. So there.”
“Sacred, schmacred. You do what you have to. Anyway, I have to get this young lady home before she turns into a pumpkin. Come on Willow, time to go home.” Xander led the still stunned looking redhead away.
“Bye bye, Buffy,” Wilow said dazedly as she left.
“So, feel any better?” Dawn said from behind Buffy, where she had been unabashedly eavesdropping on the whole conversation.
“Yes, I do. Want to go home? It's probably close to your curfew.”
“Definitely not. And what eighteen-year-old girl who is not in high school has a curfew anyway? I work my ass off to graduate high school early, and what's that get me? A midnight curfew and my dates still being threatened.”
“You're the one who wanted to take a year off before going to college to 'find yourself'. As long as you're living at home, you live by my rules. And, oh my God, when did I start channeling Mom?” Buffy exclaimed.
“At least you don't have the hair. Except that one time...”
“Brat,” Buffy said affectionately. “My hair is always good. Well, almost. Let's go home anyway. I know you still have that project to finish for Giles. If it weren't for working with him on languages, I never would given the green light on the whole Jack Kerosene thingy.”
“Umm, that's Jack Kerouac. Okay, fine, but I'm driving.”
“It's my car. No one drives Buffy's car, but Buffy.”
“Third person much? Besides, you had a beer. You're probably too incapacitated to drive. Or too One Million Years B.C.
Not to mention, you scare the hell outta me. Three words: super slayer reflexes.”
“It's not my fault the world moves in slow motion.”
“What part of 'you scare the hell outta me', do you not understand?”
“All right, you win.” Buffy opened her purse to find her keys.
“Don't bother, I already took them out of your purse. And what are
you doing with birth control pills...”Cheyenne Mountain...
Jack's brain felt like it was going to explode. And he used to laugh at those newbies who let the whole 'Stargate thing' get to them. But being shocked by the existence of aliens was one thing. Being shocked at the how many times the world had nearly ended was another entirely. Apocalypses. As in more than one. He scratched his head as Daniel asked excited questions of Major Davis. Daniel didn't seem to understand the severity of situation. Or he understood, but too involved in a nerdgasm to care. Finally, Jack organized his brain enough to speak.
“So this 'slayer'; how does one become it? And how did Captain Finn meet her?” Jack felt that he actually came up with relevant questions. At least he did better than Carter, who was still sitting there, mouth slightly open, about to start drooling.
Major Davis looked at Riley. “I believe I will defer this question to Captain Finn, since he knows more about the origins of the Slayer than I do. Captain Finn?”
Riley took a moment, then proceeded. “Buffy told me the speech once. I will paraphrase it as closely as I can. 'One girl in all the world. A Chosen One. Gifted with the strength and speed to hunt the vampires, demons, and forces of darkness, to stop the spread of their evil and the swell of their numbers. She is the Slayer.' Buffy was 'chosen' when she was fifteen years old, when the latest slayer died. I met her...”
Jack interrupted, “Wait. When she died? Fifteen years old? Exactly how old is a typical slayer when they die?”
Riley met Jack's furious gaze, deciding how to phrase this next part. No matter what he said or he said it, the colonel was going to be pissed. Mentally, he shrugged, before continuing, “The slayer is chosen when the previous slayer dies. It has been that way since the beginning, for thousands of years. Usually when they're chosen, the girls are between fourteen and sixteen years old. Some are younger and some are older, but the majority fall in that range. They last a year or so. An endless series of fights-to-the-death every night tends to wear them down, despite their abilities.”
“Who chooses them? Who chooses fifteen-year-old girls for a short life and an ugly death?”
“Fate? The Powers That Be? I heard Giles once say that every spell cast has a cost associated with it. Maybe that is the cost? I'm sorry, Colonel, but I just don't know.” Riley's earnestness made it difficult to be angry at him, but Jack was still upset. He was angry at everyone. Children dying to save the world.
Daniel, who had looked lost in thought, injected a comment, “It makes sense, Jack. If magic has a cost, what better way to pay it than with the most valuable member of a tribe? Thousands of years ago, the most valuable member of any tribe was a young woman of child-bearing age. She could secure the survival of the tribe. And at that time, when the average life expectancy was only thirty, a fourteen-year-old girl would be nearly halfway through her life. It may seem barbaric to us, but to those who set up this system, it must of made sense. I know it's upsetting, but we've all seen difficult things in the ancient cultures that were transplanted to the various planets we've visited.”
“That was there, Danny. But this is right here in the United States. In modern times. We're not supposed to let things like that happen”
Davis spoke, “If it helps, Colonel, things have changed substantially for the slayers. Where there was once one slayer, now there are hundreds. Also, they are able to live relatively normal lives: kids, college, the whole nine yards.”
“How did they get to be hundreds of slayers? I thought it was just one.” Daniel was puzzled at the inconsistencies.
Riley glanced at Davis, before answering, “Last year, Buffy and her group were facing something worse than the normal run of demons trying to end the world. A thing called the First, as in First Evil. I do not know all of the details, but I do know this: It was bad, very, very bad. Bad enough that they had to figure out some other way to fight. The Watchers' Council Headquarters, the home of the group that helps the slayer, had just been destroyed, so they had lost their support structure. Potential slayers all over the world were being killed by the priests of the First, so they brought as many potentials as they could to Sunnydale to protect them. But potential slayers weren't strong enough to fight this thing; they needed real slayers. A lot of real slayers. Somehow, Buffy and Willow cast a spell that activated every slayer around the world. They defeated the First, and then set to work gathering all of the other slayers who were still out there.”
“Wait, Sunnydale? Wasn't that the town built over the cavern system that it later collapsed into?” Sam had finally gotten herself together enough to ask at least a semi-intelligent question. And one which she very much wanted the answer to. She'd never bought the whole 'town collapsed into a cave during an earthquake', but had never had the time to investigate the situation. Maybe she'd get an answer now.
Again, it was Riley who answered, “There was no cavern. Sunnydale was built over a nexus of evil, a gateway of sorts, to other dimensions. Hell dimensions. It's called a Hellmouth. When Buffy and the others collapsed the Hellmouth, closing it permanently, the entire city dropped into the resulting crater.”
Or maybe not, Carter thought, trying to get her head around 'Hellmouth'.
“Who's Willow,” Daniel asked, trying to clarify details.
“Willow is Willow Rosenberg, a witch, and Buffy's best friend.”
“Oh, fer cryin' out loud! Willow the witch? With a last name like Rosenberg? Please.” Jack had just about enough of this crap. Witches, slayers, and the boogeyman. Each, more unbelievable. Each, doing more damage to his world view.
“Sir, I've seen magic first-hand. My group worked with several shamans who lent a hand whenever we ran into something that needed a 'special' touch. Magic is real.” Riley said this so seriously that Jack was nearly convinced. Nearly.
“And how did you meet this Buffy? And Willow the witch?” Jack asked sarcastically.
“We'd been operating out of a frat house on the University of California at Sunnydale campus for about a year. The research and containment facility was located beneath the frat house. We had never run into Buffy, mostly because she focused her patrols around the main part of town. But when she moved onto campus and started patrolling there as well, we ran into each other. I... started dating Buffy. Willow was her roommate. Things just went from there.”
her?” Jack snarked.
“Yes, because that is exactly what we should be worried about, Jack.” Daniel tried to keep the focus on the important things. “I think we should know why there was a black ops facility built beneath an American university. What else have you not told us, Captain Finn?”
Riley would rather have faced Jack at his snarkiest, than Daniel when he was on one of his crusades. He knew this was going to end badly. “Sir, the video that you saw? The one where Buffy defeated the two capture teams? Shortly after that video was taken, Professor Walsh, the Initiative director, tried to have Buffy killed. She viewed Buffy as a threat to Adam. Buffy had just asked about '314', which turned out to be the room in which Walsh was building him. She sent Buffy out with a faulty weapon after what was supposed to be a low-level demon contact, but in fact, were two powerful demons armed with battleaxes. Unarmed, Buffy still managed to kill them both. But the betrayal seriously damaged her opinion of the military. It ended her relationship with the Initiative. Even after Professor Walsh's death, she would never have worked with us again.”
“Great, so she was betrayed by the military. Why am I not surprised.” Daniel gripped his hands into fists. He was extremely angry. Yet another screw up by the NID and their stooges.
“Add to that, the NID attempting to capture slayers and killing her friends. It is going to be very difficult to get her to work with us.” Sam stated solemnly. She sympathized with Daniel's anger, but knew there was no point in getting upset over events that had been over with for three years or more. They needed to gather as much information as possible, if they were to create a workable approach to the slayers.
“So that was what this briefing was about? Show us super-powered girls who could be a huge help in combating the Goa'uld? Well, let me tell you this: She. Will. Never. Work. With. Us. Ever. And I don't blame her.” Jack was furious. Furious at fate for choosing young girls to die for him. Furious at the NID for yet another cluster-fuck. Furious at the loss of a resource that could potentially help them defeat the Goa'uld.
Davis at this point took back over the briefing. “Actually, we did not plan to approach Miss Summers about recruitment. Our plan is to approach Rupert Giles. After we brief him on the SGC, we will ask him to allow us to recruit volunteers from among the slayers who work there. Hopefully, we won't even run into Miss Summers.”
“Major Paul Davis?”
“Why do you believe that Buffy Summers will not aid us?” Teal'c's tone was calm and controlled, the embodiment of who he was.
“Well.. umm... the consensus among the psych boys is, that based on her experiences with the United States Government to date, we have almost zero chance of persuading her to come on board. She has mistrust of, and no respect for, the military. Tie that with the NID disasters where Xander Harris, and others, were shot, and you can see why she would feel that way.”
“You disregard an important point. While I agree that Buffy Summers has been treated shamefully by those who rule here, she is a warrior. A hero. She will not allow the foolishness and depravity of those in power to prevent her from doing her duty. She has been fighting true darkness since she was fifteen. She will see the Goa'uld as an extension of that darkness. Their evil is obvious. If others volunteer to come, she will choose to lead them. If no one else comes, she will come alone.” Content, Teal'c relaxed into his chair. He would need to prepare for the arrival of this 'Slayer'. She would make a formidable training partner. He looked forward to becoming a better warrior.
Davis just shook his head at the Jaffa's statements. Unfortunately the alien did not understand all the dynamics of the situation. They would be lucky to recruit one or two girls. Forget about a legend like Buffy Summers or Faith Lehane. Wistfully, he considered how much could be accomplished with their help. Cleveland, Ohio...
“Buffy!! Phone!! It's Giles!!” Eve's bellow rang throughout the house, one of the many scattered homes belonging to the new Council of Slayers and Watchers. Five slayers lived here, along with two adults, at least one of them a watcher. Similar homes were scattered throughout the city, as well as throughout the rest of the world. Buffy was here to check on the readiness of the slayers, as well as conduct a general inspection. Everything had gone as planned, well except for the chocolate ice cream Eve had dripped on her blouse. Which had exiled her to do homework and answer any incidental calls that came in.
Buffy winced at the volume as she walked up to the girl. Eve was one of the younger slayers at thirteen, but also one of the most exuberant. It was almost impossible to stay mad at her. Even over chocolate ice cream. It didn't hurt that they shared a special bond. Buffy smiled as she took the phone from her.
“I think you've done enough homework. Go speak with Robert and see if he's okay with you joining the others for drill.” Buffy gave the girl a quick caress of her cheek, earning a bright smile, before Eve hurried off. “This is Buffy.”
“Buffy.” With one word she was on guard. Giles's voice was laced with tension. Which was not of the good.
“Giles, what's wrong? Everyone okay?” Buffy asked, concern in her voice.
“I have some... news. I will let you decide if its good or bad. I just received a call from Riley. He's in the city and wants to meet with me about something that has come up regarding the slayers. He's bringing some other officers as well. While I do not know exactly why he is here or what he wants to talk about, it can only be one thing,” Giles's tone was one of mixed anger and anxiety.
“We knew it was just a matter of time until someone came to us to make someone answer for what happened. If anyone going to take the fall, it's going to be me.” Buffy's voice was calm. She'd felt like she was living on borrowed time for past few months. Ever since they had dealt with the kidnappers and their organization, Buffy and the others had waited for the other shoe to drop. Apparently it was dropping here and now. And she felt responsible. Buffy had been the one who'd led the team that dealt with the kidnappers of both slayers. The first group wouldn't surrender and were actively trying to kill them, so there had been no mercy when the final confrontation began. Especially after Robin and Xander. She had personally killed three of the men. Faith had killed another two. The other slayers, taking their cues from their leaders, going with killing blows, rather than merely disabling, had accounted for the others. Finding Eve chained up in a box they were about to load into a van had helped delay any guilt Buffy might have had over taking three lives. That she had been beaten badly before being locked into the box with nothing to eat or drink for three days, had delayed it even longer. Apparently, the men had decided on starting the 'training' process immediately, rather than waiting until they had Eve wherever they were taking her. Carrying out a traumatized twelve-year-old girl, one who wouldn't let go of her no matter what, had kept Buffy from dwelling on what had occurred. Buffy even had to hold Eve when she took her to be cleaned up and be examined by a doctor. That Eve had recovered as well as she had, Buffy felt was a testament to just how tough slayers were, in general, and how tough Eve was, specifically. Eve was actually the reason Buffy had conducted the inspection today, rather than one of the other watchers, whose job it was. No matter what happened, she wouldn't regret what had occurred.
“Buffy, are you still there?” That Giles was concerned, she took as a given, but he didn't need to sound so worried.
“I'm here, watcher-mine. Don't worry. I'm heading back shortly.”
“What do you want me to tell Riley? I'm afraid I have him on hold on the other line.”
“Tell him you'll meet with him tomorrow at 10:00 am. Have him bring whoever he likes. Don't tell him I'll be there, though. I want that to be a surprise. If he brings up the deaths, or Senator Kinsey, I'll step up and take responsibility. The fact that we used to date may make him hesitate to arrest me. After all, he never could get me into handcuffs before.” Buffy made light of the situation, despite its serious nature.
“Yes, well, I didn't need to know that.”
“I have six words for you Giles: hood of a police car, twice,” Buffy ragged her watcher. Teasing Giles was still one of her favorite things to do.
“When are you going to let that go, Buffy?” Giles was reassured that she still had her sense of humor.
“Sorry, but never. Some things just don't go away. See you tomorrow.”
“Yes, well, I will see you then, Buffy. Oh, and I almost forgot, please carry your cell. I had a devil of a time tracking you down.”
Buffy hung up, thinking about what he'd said. She wondered if Riley was there to help soften the blow of someone being arrested. Which probably wouldn't work. Her thoughts were interrupted by a whirlwind that of arms and legs that latched onto her, finally resolving itself into a thirteen-year-old girl. “Eve, what's wrong?”
“I heard! I heard it all! You can't go to jail! I won't let them take you! It was my fault for getting captured in the first place! If I hadn't been so slow, they never would have gotten those darts in me. Oh God, Buffy, what are we going to do?” Eve's frantic tones washed over Buffy. Maybe she wasn't over the whole 'kidnapping' thing after all, Buffy thought. Hugging the girl to her tightly, she slowly projected the power of the Slayer over her, until it seemed to surround them both, a golden glow filling the space around them. Another thing to thank Willow for, although at least this one was of the good. The power helped injured slayers heal things that should have killed them, far faster than normal. If 'normal' could be applied to slayer healing in the first place. The first time she'd ever used it was when Faith was shot. No one had believed she would survive the ghastly wounds made by the rounds fired by multiple assault rifles. Faith had been hit by at least twenty shots, with half her major organs shredded. Buffy, rushing to the scene, had come across her, bleeding out, minutes from death. Frantically trying to stem the bleeding, she'd kept up a steady stream curses at Faith for trying to die on her watch. Nothing helped. She was just too far gone to save. Buffy had pulled the dying slayer into her arms; that was when it happened. Literally as she was watching the light dim in Faith's eyes, Buffy had felt something deep within herself seem to reach out, a strange golden glow enveloping them both. Faith had started to heal before her very eyes, the wounds knitting at a visible pace. It had seemed to take minutes, but afterwards, she'd learned several hours had passed while she'd held Faith.
In that time, Willow and Giles had both arrived at the scene, as well as several other slayers. When Buffy had come out of it, Faith was healed, and she was exhausted beyond anything she'd ever felt before. After sleeping the sleep of the dead for the next twelve hours, Buffy had then gone after the other kidnapped slayer. Again she'd taken no prisoners, although one man had tried to surrender. At least she thought he was trying. Buffy had shattered his skull before any words could escape his lips. Turning from his dead, accusing stare, she'd found the other slayers standing over bodies, every one of them dead. Calm eyes had met hers. And for a moment she felt what they felt: sadness, anger, and satisfaction. Vengeance had been taken. Or perhaps justice served.
Another consequence of the entire experience had been how it had cemented in the eyes of the other slayers, the belief in Buffy as a larger-than-life figure. In had been bad before, but the hero worshiping had only been difficult to deal with. After saving Faith, it had been impossible. She snorted mentally at the image of her, standing in a circle of enemies, looking larger than life, gripping the scythe, a look of fierce determination on her face. One of the more artistically talented slayers had drawn the image and posted it in her room. As bad as that was, it was worse to find out that she had made copies. A lot of copies. And generously shared them. Ugh. It was then that she'd requested that Dawn do whatever was necessary to keep her head from swelling to the size of the Goodyear Blimp. Dawn had taken to it gleefully. Hence the various name calling; 'bitch' being one of the nicer terms. It hadn't stopped the awe-struck glances, whispered comments, or fawning attention, but it had kept her from taking it seriously. She was Buffy Summers, slayer. Nothing more.
Glancing down, she noted that Eve was calm now. They were both also surrounded by the remaining four slayers who lived there as well as Robert St. Jean and Sharon Watson, the resident adults. Crap, they must have felt it. Shaking her head at the frankly curious look from Robert, she silently handed Eve over after one final hug. She didn't want to talk any more. Ignoring the stares of the other girls, she left. Somehow she managed to tune out the whispered conversations of the others as she trudged to her car. She didn't want to hear another “Oh my God! Did you see what she just did? That was so amazing!” for as at least another week.