Chapter Four: After the Harvest, Part Deux
Disclaimer: All Bufy/Angel characters belong to Joss Whedon and Mutant Enemy Productions. All Hellsing characters (or, at least, the ones I am using) are derived from the originals, which could possibly be owned by Kouta Hirano, Young King Ours, Shōnen Gahosha, Dark Horse Comics, or Gonzo. Used without permission, and with no intent to assume any kinds of rights over any of the characters.
Xander's last class of the day on Mondays wasn't. A class, that is. Xander had arranged it, when picking out his classes, so that he could get out early on Mondays, mostly because the day it sucked most to be in school *was* on Monday.
It didn't really change things, since he usually waited for Willow to get out of her classes before doing anything in particular. It just gave him a bit of extra free time to read comic books, sleep, or even occasionally do homework. Not so this Monday. Buffy had the same Monday schedule, at least as regarded this, so Xander went to the library with her. To read comic books, sleep, or even occasionally do homework.
Today, he wasn't doing any of those things. He was watching Buffy and Giles spar. At least part of it was because watching a pretty girl get sweaty was fun for him. But then, it would be for any red-blooded American male. Or even for most likely any male in general.
But he also had an ulterior motive today, spurred on by what had happened at lunch. He'd managed to get some snacks out of the vending machine, in order to make sure that his stomach noises didn't interrupt class too much, and he made it all the way through. But he wanted
Buffy and Giles tired so that they'd object less.
Too bad he didn't know two things. First, that it was highly unlikely that Buffy would be tired, though if he'd had a bit more experience with the Slayer, he'd have known that. Secondly, Buffy had been outside the door when Xander had been consoling Cordelia, so she knew more than he thought about what was going on. Too bad he didn't know. He wouldn't have worried so much. Or possibly would have worried a great deal more.
"I have something I need to talk to you guys about," Xander said, tossing Buffy and Giles each a towel. "Well, some things, really."
Giles groaned as he settled into a chair after his brief cooldown. "What is it, Xander?"
"I asked someone to come by after classes, for the whole 'world is older than you know' speech," Xander said. "Just to start with the bad news and all."
Giles stared at Xander for several long moments, looking somewhere between angry and disappointed. "This isn't gossip, you know."
Buffy, for her part, didn't say anything. She didn't even look surprised.
"I know it's not gossip," Xander said. "But she needs to know."
"Cordelia, right?" Buffy asked, her tone neutral.
Giles looked over, surprised, and Xander did a double-take. "Um, yeah. She... she was there when Jesse, when I killed him."
Buffy nodded, "Yeah, I'd gotten that."
Giles, for his part, was looking back and forth between the two teenagers like he was watching a tennis match.
"Huh?" Xander asked, succinctly.
"Willow and I came out after Cordelia dragged you out of the lunchroom. We were standing outside the door."
Xander blinked, confused. "And...?"
"Oh, that's right. You weren't there for that," Buffy said, mostly to herself. "The Slayer package comes with more than just speed and strength. I get excellent sight and hearing as well. I heard you through the door."
Giles couldn't help but break in here. "You're awfully calm about this, Buffy."
Xander was surprised as well. "Um... okay."
"I wasn't there for this part, though," Buffy clarified, then explained for Giles. "Cordelia dragged him out of there by his ear. We just wanted to make sure he was all right."
"Yeah. Um..." Xander said. "You have to understand that Jesse'd had a crush on Cordelia for years. And she knew about it." 'Because I told her.' "But she never really gave him the time of day, other than teasing him. Even seemed to enjoy doing it. So, when Jesse was turned into a vampire, well... when we found him at the Bronze, he was getting ready to carry her off, probably to turn her as well. Or just kill her. I really don't know."
Xander sighed. "I don't want her last memory of Jesse be him attacking her. I may not like her much, but she doesn't deserve that. And Jesse doesn't deserve to have that stain on his memory either. It smacks of speaking ill of the dead. Just the wrong thing to do."
Giles stared through his glasses for several moments. "And you believe Miss Chase can, as you Americans say, 'handle the truth'? And keep it appropriately secret? Having this information spread about would make protecting the Hellmouth exceedingly difficult."
"I think she can handle it," Xander said. "And way to go, Mister Giles, on the culture reference." Giles only stared back at Xander, confused. "But she was there when I destroyed Jesse, and I'm pretty sure she saw him go to dust. I don't think she'll have much choice in the matter. And I already told her that she can't talk about it with anyone. I even told her that once she knew this, there was no going back. She told me that, even if that was the case, she still needed to know."
He hesitated for a few moments, "Plus, I think there are some things that she might be able to do for us. Things that pretty much only she can do. Or, at least, that she can do most easily."
"Oh?" Giles asked. "And what are those?"
"I think I'd like to discuss it with everyone at the same time," Xander said. "I don't think it will be difficult for her to do either one and might be a very good thing overall. For everyone. Even those who don't know about vampires and all that."
Xander sighed, and sat back, "There were some other things I wanted to talk to you about too. Could you sit, Buff?"
Buffy shrugged and, hanging the towel across her shoulders, she settled to a seat beside Giles, who looked rather curious himself.
Xander, for his part, got up out of his chair and began to pace. Finally, he started to talk. "I spent a lot of time this past weekend thinking. Y'know how we said that nothing's ever going to be the same? Well, I've decided that, even if the way everyone else acts negates that theory, it is going to be true for me."
"I think I need to start growing up a little," Xander said, after another introspective moment. "It's all well-and-good, hanging with Jesse, Wills, and Jono, and now with you guys. Hell, it's usually even fun arguing with Cordelia. But now I know there's more to life out there. Or unlife. And I can't ignore it."
Buffy frowned slightly, not recognizing one of those names, but didn't say anything about it. She could always ask later.
He returned to his seat and sat down, but his leg continued to bounce, showing his nervousness about this. "Buff, I want you to make me a promise. Promise that you'll never pull that 'Me Slayer, You Jane' stuff on me again."
Buffy opened her mouth, "But..."
Xander held up a finger and shook it. "Let me finish. See, I know why you did it. It's your duty and you don't want anyone else to have to be in danger. I know that, and it makes me love you all the more for it. You care. You can't help it."
Though Xander didn't really notice exactly what he was saying, Buffy did. And she blushed. It wasn't like she had that many guys (that weren't in her family) tell her they loved her, after all, at least not and apparently mean it. Even if how they meant it was in the way of loving your friends. It was... nice.
"First of all, there's the whole 'making me feel like less than a man thing.' That's not so important, though, to me, it does obviously have an effect. Except, you know, teenager thing. The thing is, now that I know about this side of the world, I can't just let it go. I won't
. I have to find a way to help, and I know me. I'm no good on the research side." He clarified. "Oh, I can do it, sure, but Wills is always gonna be much better at it than I am. She's a lot more with the books and all than I am. It's just not as much in my nature, and I think you can understand that." To which Buffy nodded.
"Which brings me to the next part," Xander continued. "Giles, I want you to train me."
Giles responded, immediately flustered, "My duty is to train Buffy, as the Slayer..."
"Who, as the Slayer, is faster than you, stronger than you, and picks up weapon skills insanely quickly," Xander said, as Buffy blushed again, this time in embarrassment. "I was watching while you were sparring, and you haven't known each other very long. Soon enough, she will know pretty much everything you can teach her regarding weapons and unarmed fighting."
"I want you to teach me in addition to her. I'm not anywhere near as likely to pick up on things so fast. So training me grants you several benefits. You potentially gain another fighter-type who can watch Buffy's back when you can't. You better your own skills as well, because even I
have heard that old adage about how teaching something helps you learn it. And it keeps you in fighting trim. Buffy beating on you, Buffy picking up on weapons so fast that you have to keep switching to new ones for her, those will all, eventually cause your own skills to get worse. Like if you were getting spoiled. Or doing a half-assed job at your own workout."
Xander grinned at the flummoxed looks on the other two people in the room, "I did
say that I did a lot of thinking, and one of those things I thought about was trying to figure out what arguments you'd make against this. I even had to decide which one of you I was going to ask to train me. I decided to ask you, Giles, because asking Buffy has a whole bunch of disadvantages and only one real advantage. Though it is a major one."
"Oh? What is that?" Buffy asked, and then groaned as Xander's grin turned absolutely wicked. "I just stepped into something, didn't I?" she asked, nose wrinkling cutely (at least as far as Xander was concerned).
He nodded, and said, "I could, maybe, convince you to put your hands all over me to 'correct my stance,' as it were," Xander said, mock-leering at the Slayer. She couldn't help it. She laughed.
"And, the final thing is...," Xander said, turning serious again. "... if you won't train me, I'll just find someone else to do it." He looked from Giles to Buffy. "If you do try to push me out and keep me away from this, I'll go after the vamps on my own." He stopped her once again before her protests could begin; he could see them coming. "Let me explain how I see it. You see, in my life up until last week, I basically had two bright shining things in my life. School is just a waste of my time. My family life isn't anything to write home about. So all I had are Wills and Jesse. The vamps, they took one of them away. Took and perverted it. I don't want that to happen to anyone else ever again."
He sighed quietly. "Don't get me wrong. I don't think I can kill all of them, but it doesn't stop me from wanting to try. Even if I only end up getting one, and the second kills me in the process, that is that many people saved. Heck, even if all I manage to do is slow down the one that kills me long enough for someone else to take it out, it helps."
He added, "Besides, the thing is, I don't think that I'm the only one out there. Normal humans going after the vamps, I mean."
Both Buffy and Giles blinked at that. "Huh? What do you mean?" Buffy asked.
"Well, with the information I have so far, it just doesn't make sense. If there's only ever been the Slayer as the one who can fight the vampires and demons of the world, and the vampires have to feed with the frequency that they seem to here, why hasn't the world been overrun? Even if vampires only turned one person out of every hundred they killed, there would be so many of them that there's no way the world would not know about them. The Slayer can only be in one place, after all, and I'm sure that not every evil demon, vampire or not, is here in Sunnydale. If it was, I'd strongly recommend just evacuating all of the non-demons and nuking the place from orbit."
"And then there's this..." Xander said, as he reached back for his bag and pulled a set of papers out. "I used one of those grid programs on the computer." Willow would call it a spreadsheet. "To figure out what the 'random death' rate has been here in Sunnydale for the last ten years or so, going month by month. By 'random death,' I mean things reported as animal maulings, fork-related accidents, extreme blood loss, basically anything that more than likely meant vampire attacks."
Xander waited for recognition of what the information was, and then went on, "See the two areas I highlighted? Two years ago and eight years ago? How the monthly numbers drop for a month or two, then slowly increase back to 'normal' levels?" Both Buffy and Giles nodded, and Xander continued. "The only thing I can think of that could be responsible for that is someone killing vampires. Since the Slayer is the only one in the world with the speed and strength specifically to kill them, I have to imagine that these guys are normal, like me. Unless those were Slayers passing through, which I doubt."
"You are quite correct. The Slayer has not been assigned here for some time," Giles said, then smiled slyly, "And did you not say not long ago that you were no good at research?"
Xander had the good graces to blush. "Well, yeah, but this stuff was dead easy to find. It's in the newspaper, in the obituary section. I just had to go to the library and look up the old newspapers. That's a lot different than searching through a bunch of books that may not be in English in the first place for something, anything
that might be useful."
He went on, "So, to me, at least, this points to there being people other than the Slayer who are hunting the creatures of the night out there. There would almost have to be. No. No 'almost' about it. There would have to be. And I want to be one of them. I know it sounds weird, but if someone died because I wasn't able to stop it, I'd feel guilty. And if I wasn't able to stop it because I hadn't made every effort to learn how, I definitely would be guilty, even if only in my own mind. That's what I mean when I say that I can't NOT do anything. I have to try. So I'm coming to you for help."
Giles stood up, using the towel from his spar to dab at his forehead, and paced over to the book/weapon cage. "I'll have to think about this, Xander," he said, after a moment of thought. "And what about Willow?"
"She'd have to make her own decision," Xander replied, with no hesitation. "I hope she'd learn some basic self-defense, at the very least. She would actually probably be easier for you to teach than I would be."
Giles looked around, "Oh? Why do you say that?"
Xander grinned, "'cause Willow and Buff are both girls, with girl parts." He winked at the Slayer, who laughed again. "If nothing else, you'd probably need a different set of protective gear for me to train in. And you were probably taught how to teach the Slayer, who is always a girl. So teaching a guy might not be as easy."
Giles considered Xander for a long moment, turning to look directly at him. "Xander, why don't you use this kind of deductive reasoning in your classes?"
"Do you really want to know?" Xander asked, only to receive a nod. "Truthfully? Classes are boring. Books that have been assigned are even moreso. They say the best way to make books boring is to assign them in class, and it's true. I have experience with that. And, you know, it's like a lot of the teachers just don't care all that much, and if they don't care, why should I? You should sit in on some classes to see what I mean, Giles."
Xander paused, thinking for a moment, "Maybe the only one that does seem to care at all is Doctor Gregory, but his class is still mind-numbingly boring. Gyah. He's been working up to talking about ants
lately. All I really need to know about ants is how to keep them away from my picnic baskets." The last two words were said Hanna-Barbera-style, drawing an amused smile from the Slayer, who then spoke up.
"Doctor Gregory is kinda great, actually. He's the only one who doesn't care about what happened at Hemery, and still seems to think I can do a good job."
Xander blinked, "What happened at Hemery?"
"I had to burn down the gym," Buffy responded, getting a slightly slack-jawed response from Xander. "It was full of vampires." For a moment, a sad look passed over her face, as it usually did at the memory of her first Watcher.
"Oh," Xander said. "What were they doing, crashing the prom?" He let out a snort.
"Actually? Yeah," Buffy said, a fit of giggles erupting from her at the pole-axed expression on Xander's face.
"Well, I suppose it's better than burning down the gym because you hate the jocks," Xander said with a shrug. "I'll tell you, I've actually thought about that once or twice. So, Buff, how do you feel about this whole thing with telling Cordelia?"
Slumped on the chair, Buffy looked at Xander. "Well, my preference would be not to drag anyone else into this, but Cordelia... well, she's a lot like I was before I was chosen to be the Slayer. I adapted. She can too. But I'm not sure what she might be able to do for us. I can't think of anything that I would have been able to do. But, like you said, it can wait. And now, I have a question for you too. Who's Jono? He's not that guy that leads that band, right?"
"That'd be Bono," Xander said, absent-mindedly. "Jono... that's right, you wouldn't have met him yet. Black hair, short - even shorter than you, if you can believe it." This last came out in a mock-gasp, as if to indicate that Xander never would have believed it was possible.
"Hey!" Buffy exclaimed, though her lips were twitching. Maybe that was because of how Xander's eyebrows were waggling at her.
"'cause, y'know, with a name like 'The Slayer,' aren't you supposed to be bigger?" For a moment, Xander contemplated an Amazon version of Buffy, a statuesque Nordic beauty. Then he shook his head to stop himself before he started drooling. "Anyway, he's got a different class schedule than any of us do this year. He's another old friend, though not as old me, Wills, and Jesse are. His family and Willow's family tried to hook them up 'cause they're both Jewish. Didn't work out like they hoped it would."
For his part, Giles was merely watching again, a faint smile gracing his face. 'Not quite the way I was taught the Slayer would be, but this one seems to break the mold in many ways, so to speak,' he thought to himself as he shifted his attention to her dark-haired conversational partner. 'I do wonder why he covers so much in these attempts at humor, successful and not, but it is not my place to ask.'
"Well, I can see why they'd try, but that's the chance they take," Buffy said. "'course, that could always still change." 'Not,' she added in her mind. 'She has it bad
for you, Xander, even if you don't see it at all.'
"Nah," Xander said, his tone skeptical, and shook his head. "They're too much like brother-and-sister. Or maybe close cousins. Never happen." He sighed. "I any case, are you okay with the whole Cordelia thing, then? 'cause, barring us having a convenient friendly vampire here to prove it..." And, with that, his voice took a deeply derisive snort. "... the only way to prove we're not insane is to prove that you're the Slayer. Which isn't that hard, really."
Buffy wrinkled her nose again (which, once again, Xander found incredibly cute). "I don't want
to, obviously, but one goes with the other. I can deal."
"'k," Xander replied with a nod, glancing at his watch. "Then I'll see the two of you a little later? Bell's about to ring." Which it then did. "If I don't get a chance to say it, or I forget... thanks. Not just for this, but for trusting me enough to tell me in the first place." With that, he quit the room, once again braving the terror that was Sunnydale High's hallways.
Author's Notes: Sorry for the delay on this. I've had most of it written for a while, but hadn't been completely happy about it. So I let it sit for a few days to ruminate, and then came back to it. Even on this last read-through, I've been making small changes here and there, but I think I'm just getting a little too finicky.