Chapter 4: An Enigmatic Explanation
As always, Dear Reader, while the words and the situations are mine, the worlds and the characters are not. The only profit I see is the exercise of my creative muscles.
Chapter 4: An Enigmatic Explanation
Difficult as it is to talk to someone older, with more authority, about something anyone could believe in, like an evil Count who is trying to steal your family's fortune, it is many times more difficult to talk to someone like that about unbelievable things like vampires and demons. Despite the fact that Faith had been casual, nearly dismissive, of the fight they had been in, and despite Willow's equally casual mention of supernatural research, Violet was nervous about talking about demons with this cheerful girl.
Klaus, on the other hand, was captivated by the books. This does not mean that he was physically restrained, rather that all of his attention was focused on a wealth of brand-new information. He walked directly to the shelves, pulled down a volume at random, and began to look through it.
Violet had to laugh. “Well, that should keep him busy for a day or two.”
Willow grinned back at her. “Don't worry, someone comes in here before every meal, to make sure the researchers aren't wasting away. We can leave him to it for now, though. I want to hear about tonight. You were Slaying alone?” She sat back in the armchair she'd chosen, her eyes on Violet.
Violet tried to settle into an armchair, but she was nervous, and she could feel the presence of the other girls, and so she ended up perched on the front edge of the seat, leaning forward. “Well, I wasn't exactly alone. I- Slaying? So I am a Slayer? Klaus' book said there was only ever one, but Faith and those other girls are Slayers too, aren't they?”
Willow was impressed. “You made the connection fast. Yeah, there's a lot more of you guys these days. You seem pretty ok with the idea of the supernatural. Faith said you just jumped in to the fight.” She could tell already that she was going to be friends with these young people, who reminded her so strongly of herself and her friends, when they first started defending the world.
Violet frowned, her mind busy thinking about these people and their social structure. “You keep saying Faith told you things. Do you have some sort of code? Maybe involving hand signals?” She thought about what sort of signals would be useful in conditions of darkness and fighting monsters.
Willow was actually speechless with surprise for a moment. “I- No- Though... that's a really good idea...” She shook her head sharply. “And good for you for thinking like that. We need more like you around here. No, actually, we were using telepathy.”
That caught Klaus' attention. “True telepathy? I thought that had been debunked years ago.” He set the book down on the nearest shelf and took a couple of steps towards the girls, his curiosity piqued, a phrase which here means, “he was more curious about this than nearly anything else he had ever heard of”.
Willow grinned, much like a cat that has broken into the aviary and eaten all of its master's prized Chartreuse Canaries. “That's what we want people to think.” The smile fell from her face with a suddenness that signaled to both Baudelaires that she was in deadly earnest. “Telepathy is only the smallest part of the magic I can do. There's a lot more out there than most people are ready to deal with. Part of what we do around here is keep the citizenry safe from the nasty monsters and magic users and meddlers that are out there. Do you think you can handle that?”
Violet echoed Willow's grin. “We have encountered... a myriad of bizarre situations, and we've come to expect that people won't believe us. I'm sure we can handle whatever you've got.” Her emotions, reflected on her face, grew complex as she thought about many of the encounters they and their sisters had been through over the years.
Klaus nodded. “But we believe in the scientific method. If we can see it, touch it, even smell it, then most logically, it's real.” He lifted a different book and paged through it, almost unable to keep his hands from these books, the whole new world of knowledge in them calling to him. “Can anyone learn to do magic?”
Willow hopped up and walked over to look over his shoulder at the book. “That stuff? Sure, a normal person could probably learn to do at least the first half of that book. There are more specialized magics that only certain people can actually do, and tribal magics that aren't supposed to be taught to outsiders, and things like that, but you could almost definitely learn to do- Hey, wait!” Her face lit up again. “You like to do research, and you want to learn magic, and you were helping Violet train and patrol! Thank You Goddess, we have another Watcher around here!”
Klaus was rather nervous after that little outburst, and showed it by edging slowly away from her but watching her closely. “Faith mentioned them. I haven't noticed an increase in any of my abilities lately...” He thought back, had he felt himself growing smarter or more observant? He rather thought that one would notice something like that.
Willow blushed when she realized she had made Klaus nervous, then laughed a little at his statement. Somehow he could tell that she wasn't mocking him, merely finding amusement at the thought. “A Watcher isn't like a Slayer. They chose to do it... Well, these days they do. A lot of the old ones were in it because it was the family business, but we lost most of those, and nowadays the Watcher ranks are mostly Wiccans and scholars we've recruited, and the family of Slayers, folks who want to help. That doesn't add up to a lot of people yet, though, and since we're working all over the world these days...”
Violet cleared her throat, and gave Willow a small, tight smile when she turned, her nerves suddenly acting up. “You keep saying 'lately', 'these days'... Something major changed back in May, didn't it?”
Willow beamed proudly at her. “You are quick, aren't you. Yes, it did. Faith and I and most of our friends were in California, in a little town called Sunnydale. Problem was, the town had been built on top of a mystical convergence known as a Hellmouth. We were at a point where we had to close the Hellmouth, and part of doing that was Activating all the Potential Slayers in the world. Unfortunately, we had no way to contact any of you beforehand, and there's still so few of us who know what's going on and can find you guys and explain. So we're finding you kind of haphazardly, and I thought I'd found all the girls in Boston, but here you are, and just in time, too, I was going to be leaving at the end of the week. They still need me in so many places...”
Klaus had sank into the nearest armchair, but hardly noticed, as he was still flipping idly through the book in his hands; though when Willow trailed off, he looked up at her. “So I saw vampires exploding, and those Fyarl were certainly never human. But actual magic still seems a little unbelievable.” He wanted badly to believe, but it ran so counter to logic that he found himself struggling with the idea.
Willow giggled a little. “Actually, you can turn a human into a Fyarl. There's a spell for it.” She sobered, and looked at Klaus seriously. “Magic is very real, and very powerful. I could strip the skin from your bones or turn you into a flock of doves if I wanted to. Not that I want to, but there are those out there who would, just because you are a Watcher, and help Slayers. We're not going to force either of you into anything; we don't have to anymore. It's a dangerous business, and most of the time people won't even know that you've saved the world from utter destruction once again, and even if they knew, they probably wouldn't be grateful, but we will be. And we'll stick by you, no matter what. Because that's Rule Three: Always Bring Backup.”
Violet blinked a little. “Goodness. You could give Beatrice a run for her money with that babbling.” She smiled, trying take the sting from her next words. “I have to admit, though, I'm going to find it a little hard to believe in magic either, until I see some for myself.”
Willow looked surprised, then embarrassed. “Right, of course. I can't believe I forgot, it's just that you guys seem to understand so much already, and it's nice to talk to people my own age who like to read and want to learn and-” She cut herself off, clearly realizing that she was babbling again, took a deep breath, and started over more calmly. “Right, so. What would you like to see me do? Set something on fire? Levitate someone?”
Klaus looked over at Violet, then back at Willow. “I wouldn't mind being levitated. Seems like it might be an interesting experience.” He was a little nervous, after all he was giving a virtual stranger permission to do who-knows-what to him, but he knew in his heart that these people were trustworthy, were potential friends, just as he had known from the first moment that he would be friends with the Quagmire triplets.
Willow leaned forward in her chair, said two words under her breath, then put out one hand at about waist level, palm up and fingers spread. “Depends who's lifting you.” She raised her hand slowly, and Klaus rose with it, until he hovered nearly two feet above his chair.
Klaus was quite impressed. “It's incredible! As if I were still sitting! Why, think of all of the times we could have used something like this. And you say anyone could learn this? It's marvelous!” He felt he could sense it just a little, the magic holding him aloft. He was suddenly thrilled with the idea of truly reaching out and touching that power.
Willow grinned at him. “I would be more than happy to teach you, at least for the next few days. We'll need to do some testing, see if you have an aptitude for anything...” She trailed off, her mind clearly on many other things, and Klaus drifted slowly downward until he was firmly in the chair again.
Klaus found himself happier and more excited than he had been in a long time, certainly since before his parents had been killed in a fire that had turned his life upside-down. He seemed to be making a new friend, and perhaps more in the days to come, if what Willow had said was true. He would be surrounded by other curious people (besides of course his sisters, who were wonderful company but the same company he had had for quite a long time now), and he would have all these books to read, and now it seemed that he would be learning to use magic, and using that magic to help his sister and his new friends. And, really, when one has been through as much trial and tribulation as a Baudelaire sibling, one knows that anything done to help a friend helps the world entire.
Violet, however, was frowning, her mind on her new duties and abilities. “Hold on a minute. A little while ago you mentioned Rule Three, and Faith said something about Rule Two when we came in, but what's Rule One?”
Willow shook herself out of her daze and looked at her seriously. “The most basic, most important Rule of Slaying is: Don't Die. Everything else follows from there.”
Violet exchanged a look with her brother. She knew very well how important that rule was, and how difficult it sometimes was to follow it, but now it seemed like they might have some help in that regard. She smiled and nodded, then opened her mouth like an Incredibly Deadly Viper swallowing a small sheep. Violet, however, was not hungry, but rather tired, and taking in extra oxygen in an attempt to wake herself up. As is the nature of such things, her yawn was transmitted to Klaus and Willow, and they all rubbed their eyes and faces.
Willow stood up. “Wow, it's late. I hear you live nearby, so why don't you just come back in the morning, we can introduce you to the other girls, maybe see about training you up.” She smiled at them and escorted them to the front door, where the Baudelaires said their goodbyes and headed home thoughtfully (though, of course, also alertly).