Willow and the Wall
Dawn felt as if her two worlds suddenly collided. Sent off to her aunt in Smallville, Kansas, land of corn and rustic simplicity, she thought she had been forced to leave the world of her vampire-slaying sister, demons, and witches far behind. But the school's new computer teacher in school suddenly turned out to be...
"Willow?" Dawn said in amazement.
The red-headed teacher smiled at her. "Dawn, Dawn Summers?" with an air of confusion. But there was a voice in Dawn's head saying, "I'll explain everything later. Just pretend you know me a little, but not well, as Buffy's former college roommate."
"You two know each other?" wheels churned in Chloe's head. Something weird was going on. The odds against the only two newbies at Smallville High coincidentally knowing each other were incredible. And something about Sunnydale sounded familiar in her reporter's mind.
"She was my sister's college roommate," Dawn followed Willow's lead. "But I didn't know she was going to be a teacher."
"And you both wound up in Smallville. What a *small* world." Chloe shot an accusing look at Dawn but softened as she realized that her new friend's surprise was genuine.
Willow gulped. She hadn't expected someone to be this suspicious. "Too many out of work computer programmers near Silicon Valley," she said, maybe too quickly. "And there was an opening here when Mrs. Havisham left for a bigger school." She flushed red. She hoped the girl would not investigate and find out that Mrs. Havisham did not remember applying to Smithfield High School.
Taking a deep breath to calm herself, she looked around the class and then raised her voice. "Everyone, I'm Miss Rosenberg." She wrote her name on the whiteboard in front of the classroom. "That's with an e at the end, not a u. Now who are all of you?" Everyone gave their names, half the male population stammering them out. "Okay, now I know it's not fair to give a test the first day, so think of this more as a positioning exercise to find out what you already know. Press ENTER and then type in your name and press ENTER again. Then follow the instructions."
Dawn stared at Willow to catch her attention and thought hard, "What's going on? What are you doing here?"
"You're still the key, Dawn," Willow's voice was soft in her head. "Spike's contacts told him that something is looking for your energy. So Spike and I came down to protect you." Spike had stumbled out of the wreckage of Sunnydale a week or so after the final destruction of the school and town. When asked how he had survived, he had just muttered something about vampire healing.
Dawn's head shot up. "Spike's here too. Real old home week."
"'Dawn's in trouble. Must be Tuesday,'" Dawn quoted her sister the slayer. "I shouldn't need people to rearrange their lives like this to jump to my rescue. I'm the key in human form. If I have so much power that everyone is after me all the time, shouldn't I be able to use it to protect myself?"
"I'm sorry, Dawnie, but that's the way things are, at least right now. Remember, I wasn't exactly a major power back in high school either."
"You mean this will change?"
"No promises, I just mean that it might. We'll talk later. See me after school."
That apparently was it for telepathic communications. Willow moved around the classroom looking at students' work and asking questions. Dawn was impressed. Willow was acting like a real teacher.
As she went around the class, Willow noticed that few of the Smallville students had taken typing class. Only Dawn, that overly-curious blond, and the tall friend of theirs named Clark were touch typing. Although... Willow looked again. The Kent kid actually was not touch typing; he was doing hunt-and-peck incredibly fast. She maneuvered her position to check his reflection in the monitor screen. "Nerves," she thought to herself. "It's daytime, stupid."
Soon the period was over. "What do you have next?" Chloe asked Dawn as they walked out.
"A Mr. Stuart for English? Isn't Stuart a first name?"
"Ouch," Pete answered. "Don't tell him that or he'll have you diagramming sentences until the cows come home."
"And in this town," Chloe added. "That's literal."
"There you go again," Clark complained. "We aren't hicks. Smallville is a nice modern town. You saw, we even have computers in school."
In the middle of talking Cark stopped so suddenly that Dawn ran into him. He was oddly solid, like he was made of steel.
"Hi Lana," he said to a pretty, slightly-exotic looking dark-haired girl.
"Hi Clark," this Lana replied. "New member of your gang?"
"Oh," Chloe said. "Lana Lang, this is Dawn Summers. She just moved here."
"Welcome to Smallville," Lana said before turning back to Clark.
"We might as well get moving," Pete said.
"Yeah, once Clark gets in Lana's orbit, everything and everyone else disappears," Chloe said sadly with a note of bitterness. "You could be dancing at the prom when suddenly he gets the notion that Lana's in trouble and then, woosh, everyone else disappears or he disappears or something like that."
"Man, you still mad about the prom!" Pete said with astonishment, "That was months ago."
"He hasn't changed," Chloe said.
Dawn laughed. She promised herself that she'd invite Chloe to a girl's night out soon. She had to know all the cool places in town, if there were any.
The day soon passed with Dawn introducing herself to six different teachers, all of whom were surprised to see a stranger in Smallville High, defending her right to take the advanced English course, and contending with the popular kids, who seemed determined to drive her out. After school Dawn went back to the computer lab for a talk with Willow, but found the room full of senior boys, most of whom seemed more interested in Willow than in the computers. 'I wonder if I should tell them she's a lesbian?' Dawn laughed to herself and set off to find her new friend Chloe.
It took some doing as a large number of students had no idea where the Torch office was and a couple did not even know that there was a school paper. Finally, Dawn entered the right door.
The office was small and cramped, with three desks, a printer, a scanner, and, wonders of wonders, a telephone. But Dawn's eyes were immediately drawn to the back, with what looked like an enormous collage.
"I call it the 'Wall of Weird'" Chloe said proudly. Dawn could hear the capital letters in her voice.
"Everybody else calls it Chloe's Obsession." Pete snickered from his desk.
"You laugh, but you know I'm right. There's lots of weird stuff that happens in Smallville. A shape-changing girl, a pyromaniac football coach, a telekinetic, a superboy, robbers who walk through walls, iceman, ... super-persuasive salesmen."
Dawn had to laugh at the last, "super-persuasive salesmen?"
Chloe spat out, "One made me kiss Clark."
"Like that would take much doing," Pete whispered to Dawn.
"You're new, so you haven't seen it yet," Chloe said. "But there's something weird going on in Smallville. It's these rocks from the meteor shower."
"Meteor shower?" Dawn asked.
"About 14 years ago, Smallville was hit by a whole bunch of meteors," Pete explained. They killed a bunch of people, including Lana's parents." He ignored Chloe who muttered "As she'll tell you at every opportunity" under her breath. "Chloe's theory is that this incident created a bunch of meteor mutants. They're what make us the weirdest town you've ever seen."
"You'd be surprised at what I've seen," Dawn said. She took another look at the Wall of Weird. An invisible girl, predictive dreams, official cover-ups. Suddenly, she was starting to feel right at home. Dawn was not sure she believed the tale of meteor mutants from outer space but some of the incidents described in these articles could be the work of demons. One thing was for sure. Willow had to see this. Their Midwestern haven from the magics still after Dawn might not be so safe even apart from whatever her key energy might attract.