Buffy took a long sip of the hot chocolate, and her eyes half-closed with pleasure. England was bitterly, horribly, awfully cold; but there were compensations. She took a long swallow, and hummed happily. Someone sat down in the chair across from her. Her nose told her the person was male, and fairly clean. Buffy opened her eyes, hoping for a cute young man...and got one. But not a prospective date.
"Hello," said Harry. "I've been, uh, thinking about your offer."
Buffy stared at him for a moment. She had only ever seen Harry at night, and his sudden appearance in a coffee shop was a little startling. She gave him a smile, and raised an eyebrow. "Just thinking, or actual deciding as well?"
He shifted in his chair. "Well, I thought a trial period or something might be a good idea. I probably...well, I haven't really worked with a group for a couple of years."
"And you didn't want to jump back in all at once? I understand that." Buffy ran a finger around the lip of her disposable cup. "And you'll need some training first."
"Not combat training, although that wouldn't hurt. But we need to know what you can do, and explain how the Council's set up. We've got a system that works pretty well."
Buffy scrunched up her face in thought. "Thursday? Faith and I usually get together to spar then; we could give you the briefing and a practice run. We need to work on our anti-witch stuff anyway."
"I'm not a witch," Harry said pointedly. "I'm a wizard."
"Reshaper of the universe, whatever," Buffy said, waving her free hand expansively. "Giles said you've been to the house?"
"So, Thursday at one?"
Harry hesitated. "In the afternoon?"
Buffy smiled. "Yeah. Late night patrols; we wake up around noon most days."
"Well. I'll see you then." Harry wandered out of the coffee shop, and Buffy smiled. She had been worried that Harry might just disappear, that his wounds were too fresh for him to accept her offer. Apparently not. She took a large gulp of hot chocolate, sinfully rich on her tongue. Things were going pretty well.
"You did not learn that
in Sunnydale," Buffy gasped, leaning against the side of the house to catch her breath.
"I've picked up a few tricks, B," Faith said between pants. Buffy felt a little surge of satisfaction, that Faith was just as exhausted. They'd spent the last twenty minutes sparring on the flat lawn behind the manor house, almost perfectly matched in speed, skill and experience. Most weeks it was the best workout either of them got.
"Hey, guys," chirped Isobel. The younger Slayer leaned out of the ground-floor window and tossed Faith and Buffy a water bottle each. "That Potter guy is here, I told him to come back here."
"You couldn't show him the way?" Buffy asked as she took the top off her bottle.
"Yeah, Is, the house is a maze."
The girl shrugged. "He seemed fine." Errand done, she wandered away from the window.
"Figure we'll see him this year?" Faith asked Buffy.
Buffy drank some water and splashed some on her face before replying. "Harry's smart. He might get here sometime next week."
"You know, you haven't really told me much about this guy. All I've heard is that he's not a normal witchy-guy, so Giles is all worked up about getting him on board."
"He's a wizard, not a witch," Buffy said archly.
"Which means what?"
Buffy opened her mouth, and deflated. "Search me. But his mojo quick and easy, and he can teleport without chanting and stinky incense." She wrinkled her nose.
"So can Wills," said Faith, shrugging.
Buffy imitated her. "Well, he's a nice guy. And, he can make demon bodies vanish in, like, a second."
"Cool," Faith said. "That's worth having."
"Definitely," Buffy agreed. Demon guts were one of the worst parts of the job. "But he's got more than that. Let's not act like he's some kind of, of, waking vacuum cleaner."
"Sure thing. Sensitivity on."
They were sparring again when Harry approached. They both heard him wandering towards the back door, and stopped as he opened it and stepped onto the lawn. Faith raised an eyebrow. "Looks like an accountant stuck in a time warp, B." Buffy agreed. Harry wasn't wearing his robes, but slacks and a waistcoat over a white shirt. He looked like someone too rich to be fashionable; not the robe-wearing wizard she'd seen last time. She shot Faith a glance to say behave
, and gave Harry a small smile.
"Hey, Harry. No offence, but those don't look like workout clothes." Faith and Buffy were both in cotton crop-tops and sweat pants.
Harry shrugged. "They resist dirt and sweat. Besides, Kreacher's thrown out everything else I own."
"And he likes the monochrome look?"
"He says this is how scions of the House of Black should dress." He shrugged again. "And he won't allow anything else unless I order him to, which I don't like doing."
"Sounds like the boy's whipped by his manservant, B," Faith drawled, and sauntered over to Harry. She stuck out a hand. "Faith." Harry shook hands, and Faith gave him a lazy smile and bedroom eyes. "You've got a nice grip, there."
Buffy had grown used to the way Faith used her...aggressive...sexuality to put people off balance. It wasn't about sex; it was a kind of character test, or at least a composure test. Buffy had seen people get flustered, or angry, or withdrawn. But Harry did something new - he didn't react at all, just finished the handshake and turned to Buffy without any indication that Faith had spoken. Faith raised an eyebrow, and gave Buffy a small nod.
"You said something about seeing what I can do?" Harry said calmly.
"Yep," Buffy replied, and waved a hand at Faith. "Faith is the combat instructor for our London branch; she also does the basic training for new Slayers."
"I get them all ready to pop their combat cherry," Faith said with a grin. Again, no reaction.
Harry folded his arms. "So, you want me to show you some magic?"
"Not straight off," Faith said, dropping into a businesslike tone and not taking Harry's straight line. "First thing, what's the difference between your magic and normal witchy stuff?"
"There's a few differences," said Harry. "But the fundamental one is the source of power. Earth magic is what witches do; they draw power from their surroundings and focus it through symbols and spells. Wizards, like me, draw power from within and focus it through a magical object. Usually a wand."
"But you do the same kind of things?" Buffy asked.
"Not really. I can do all kinds of things, faster and easier than a witch, but only to whatever I can see. Witches can project power over distance, which I can't do without a really complicated rune diagram, and even then it's pretty weak."
"Okay. Well, let's have a demonstration," Faith said. She moved away, putting about ten metres between herself and Buffy, who shot Faith a warning glare and went to lean against the outside of the house.
"What kind of demonstration?" Harry asked suspiciously.
"Tag," Faith said with a grin. "You think you can put me down without killing me?"
"All right then. On three. Three!"
Faith ran forward with Slayer speed, and was halfway to Harry by the time he had his wand out of his sleeve. He shot a jet of red light at her; she jinked to the side to avoid it, then cartwheeled to dodge a second stunner. Harry flicked his wand as though he was cracking a whip, and this time the stunner was a snaking line of red that flicked across at waist height. Faith ducked into a roll, bringing her close enough for hand-to-hand. Harry raised his wand and filled the air between him and Faith with a deep blue glow. The Slayer lashed out at the shield with a kick, sinking her foot in an inch before it slowed to a halt. Yanking it back out, she hit the barrier with a series of punches too fast to separate. The barrier rippled, then broke at Faith's spinning kick. The backlash threw Harry into the air; he flicked his wand through a complicated motion, then spoke an incantation for the first time.
," he said, rolling his wrist. A patch of pale mist appeared over Faith's mouth; she stopped to wipe it away as Harry hit the ground and stood up again immediately thanks to cushioning and rebounding charms. The mist wasn't moving; Faith held her breath and leapt forward. Harry waved his wand, and Faith was shoved backwards by some invisible force. She hit the ground rolling, and sprang to her feet in time to be hit by a long, silver cord that twined around her. Straining against the rope just made it curl around her more, and eventually she had to take a breath of the mist. Faith promptly passed out.
"What was the foggy stuff?" Buffy asked.
"Alcohol fumes," Harry said, massaging his chest where Faith's kick had bled through the shield. He flicked his wand, vanishing the cord and fumes. "Ennervate
." Faith's eyes snapped open, and she rolled to her feet without any hesitation.
"Nice work with your wand there. I guess if I'd been a bad guy, your first shot would've been lethal?"
"Yes. Probably a burst of fire, or a desiccation curse."
"How much can you control the fire?" Buffy asked from the wall.
For answer, Harry pointed into the air and murmured "Flamarus
." A gout of flame welled into the sky, red-hot but no more than a few inches thick.
"What do you think, Faith? Should we keep him?"
"He's got the moves, B. The problem's going to be working him in with the rest; he's not quite what they're used to."
"Call that a yes. Harry," Buffy turned to him; he'd put his wand away and folded his arms again. "You free for patrol tonight?"
He shrugged, then smiled. "Sure."
About time for this 'Buffy crossover' to actually have some Buffy in it.