Disclaimer: I own nothing, including songs I quote in this story.
Author notes: This takes place fourth season, about four months after Graduation Day. No Tara/Riley yet, Oz hasn't left. It will become a crossover with The Cell about the third chapter.
Never a good thing to be awakened from a deep, restful sleep by the annoying shrillness of a ringing telephone… but for this to happen at 8 am on a Saturday morning was enough for Buffy Summers to immediately want to break the receiver in half. Unfortunately the phone in her dorm was the college’s, and she’d then have to replace it- and she’d already had to replace enough furniture and appliances destroyed in demon-related incidents in the scant two weeks she’d been a college.
“This had better be an apocalypse,” Buffy mumbled with no shortage of venom in her groggy tone as she reached with squinting eyes for the phone on her night stand, taking the receiver up to her ear. Through her still-blurry, half-open eyes, she could see Willow, in the dorm bed across from her, groaning as though in pain at the phone’s ringing as she curled up into an even tighter ball, pulling her blanket over her head.
“Someone better be dead, dying, or killing,” Buffy growled into the phone, “cause there is no other reason that anyone would be awake and actually wanting to talk at this time of the day…”
“Buffy? You’re awake, then?” came the slightly taken aback voice of her former Watcher. Buffy could just picture him frowning slightly; Giles, being an older man, British, and both an ex-librarian and ex-Watcher, had no choice but to be one of those infuriating types who didn’t realize that mornings should be used for sleeping.
“I wasn’t,” Buffy replied pointedly and tersely. “Please tell me there’s a very good reason for calling me at an hour where vampires can still stroll about flame-free?”
“Actually, Buffy, it’s quite bright outside at this time, particularly today. The weather is-“ Giles began.
“Thanks, Giles, I’ll take your word for it,” Buffy interrupted quickly, rolling her eyes as she slowly moved herself into an upright seated position in bed. “Sarcasm, exaggeration, they’re generally used to emphasize a point. And here it is, the point: why are you calling me so early? What’s going on?”
There was a pause, and when Giles finally replied, his answer was carefully worded, neutral.
“I’d like for you to come by my home as soon as you are feasibly able to, Buffy.”
Buffy frowned at this; that wasn’t any kind of answer at all, especially not the kind she’d been expecting to hear.
“Uh, any particular reason, Giles? What’s going on?”
“This isn’t a matter we should discuss over the phone, Buffy. I should like to speak to you in person,” Giles told her in the same careful tone. “Please, just come as soon as you are able to.”
Buffy’s frown deepened, and concern twisted uncomfortably in the pit of her stomach. She wanted to ask Giles more questions, pry out of his unwilling mouth the exact details of what he needed to tell her, why it required such discretion and urgency. But somehow she restrained herself, sensing that asking him would cause him to repeat his previous statements.
“All right, I’ll be there as soon as I can,” she told him slowly. “Do you want me to take Willow and the others too?”
“No- no, Buffy, I believe that for now, I will only speak to you,” Giles said slowly. “Later we may change this; for now, I would prefer for you to come alone.”
“All right, see you soon,” Buffy replied, hanging up. Her grogginess and irritation had dissipated, replaced with a slightly buzzed, worried anticipation as to whatever it was that Giles needed to tell her. A nervous energy was already running through her, one that would surely serve to make her jog to Giles’s go faster.
She stood up, going quickly to her closet and pulling out some clothes and gathering her hair brush as well. She could hear Willow sitting up in bed behind her, pushing back the covers from her head.
“Buffy… who was that? Is something wrong?” she asked with some nervousness, brow wrinkling.
Buffy turned towards her, giving her a quick little smile. “I don’t know, Will. It was Giles… he wants me to come talk to him about something at his house. He wouldn’t say what.”
“Oh… that’s strange,” Willow said, her frown deepening. “Want me to go too?”
“No… he, he said he just wants me to go,” Buffy said slowly. “I don’t know why… this is pretty strange. I wonder what he wants.”
“Hmm,” Willow mumbled. “Well… if, if it’s okay to, you’ll tell me later, won’t you?”
She looked at Buffy in a manner that was almost hesitant, shy, reminding Buffy of the awkward girl she had been a few years ago. It made Buffy smile a bit nostalgically, yet also somewhat guiltily, even as she knew that the whole secretive business wasn’t her doing.
“You bet, Will. Whatever wicked villain needs some killin’, you’ll be first to know.”
Willow smiled slightly at Buffy’s quip, but her eyes were still concerned.
“All right… be careful though Buffy.”
Buffy just nodded, somehow unable to come up with a reply. As she exited through their dorm door, she could feel Willow’s eyes watching her, wondering, worrying about what Giles was about to tell her. Buffy couldn’t help but share the redhead’s concerns.
Buffy wasn’t a girl to beat around the bush too often; she had barely greeted Giles and accepted his invitation to sit on the couch beside his position in his armchair before she asked, “Okay, Giles, what’s up? What’s the new big bad, and what do we need to do to kill it?”
Giles looked down for a moment, shifting in awkward discomfort; taking off his glasses, he began to clean them with a slight frown.
“Ah, well, Buffy, to be quite honest, there IS no villain, no evil being or monster, per se. And hopefully no killing will be required either.”
“Well… then what’s this all about?” Buffy asked in confusion. “If there’s nothing out there to fight, no approaching end of the world, then what is it?”
Her mind raced with the possibilities, examining and disregarding ideas as soon as they came to her. No monster… it had to be about someone, someone they knew. Bad news, it had to be bad news. Someone must be hurt, or worse… who, who was it? Xander? Anya? Oz? Cordelia? No, then Giles would have wanted Willow to come too, he would have wanted them all to come.
Mom… it must be her mother, Joyce Summers. That was the only person where Giles would have just wanted to talk to Buffy. Buffy’s heartbeat quickened, and she felt the panic compressing in her chest, choking her throat. If something had happened to her mom…
“Giles…” she made herself ask, her throat dry. “Is it Mom?”
“No, no, Buffy, your mother is fine,” Giles assured her quickly. “This- this is something different, quite different.”
He paused, clearing his throat before going on.
“I have been contacted by the Council… they wanted to speak to me about Faith.”