Prologue: Deceptive Decisions
by Sam James
SERIES: Prologue for "Willow, Watcher In Training & Computer Hacker (W.I.T.C.H.)
SPOILERS: Prologue takes place between Consequences and Dopplegangland in S3. Main story takes place in an Alternate S4
DISCLAIMER: Buffy, Willow, Giles, Xander, Oz, Wesley and the gang belong to Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, and 20th Century Fox. WB and UPN just rents them. I own the plot and any characters not from the show
The sounds of the library door opening and soft footsteps brought Giles to lift his face out of his library's latest acquisition. He looked up, gave a half smile, and returned to his book. It was just Willow, not Buffy or even worse Faith, heading toward another confrontation. Willow spread her papers on the desk and shuffled them, randomly.
"Willow, ah, you shouldn't treat magical spells so callously," Giles started.
"I know, but don't worry. These are just my acceptance letters. Just." Willow said with a trace of bitterness.
"My word, how many schools do you have here?" Giles recognized the seals of several colleges.
"All the Ivies, from Brown to Yale, Stamford, Berkley, and MIT," she paused. "And the University of California: Sunnydale Campus." Her tone as she said the last mixed resentment and resignation in near-equal proportions.
"That seems to be a plethora of opportunities. I would have thought you'd be more excited."
"Oh, but I am," Willow tried to smile. "I've been feeling stuck in Sunnydale for a while now." She backpedaled. "I mean it's fine for you. You have the slayer and the Hellmouth, and your Watchery duties. Oops, sorry for mentioning that last. But lately school has been too easy for me. I mean Xander and Buffy hold up one end of the curve and I've holding up the other." She quickly added, "Of course, I've been studying magic and that's really interesting and I'm helpful for research on adventures with Buffy and I have a real boyfriend for the first time..." Willow looked ready to babble on but Giles cut her off.
"I see." Giles wiped his glasses. "Part of you wants to stay with your friends..."
"Slay with my friends," Willow corrected, quot;And help save the world."
"But your intellectual side is feeling malnourished here and doubtless would find the offerings of UC Sunnydale less to your taste than those of say Harvard or Yale."
"I'll have my witchcraft." Tears were audible in Willow's words. "I still have a lot to learn there. And they do need me. I can find out stuff on the Net and help Buffy."
"Willow, you cannot sacrifice your future to stay with
them," the librarian pointed out. "You are already of two minds on this issue. How long would be before you began to resent Oz and Buffy for keeping you here?"
"Besides, you could still do your research over the computer for us and just phone the results in. And some of these schools have libraries with occult volumes I lack. You could research those for me too."
The two were silent. Then Willow sighed.
Giles looked around. Wesley Wyndam-Price was making notes in a book, seemingly not paying attention to the conversation since neither of "his" slayers was present. "You do have another option," Giles continued. "I've been thinking on this for some time and I think you could make a go of it. Would you like to become a Watcher yourself?"
"You've practically filled in for me in a number of spots already. There's a Watcher at Harvard I could convince to take you on," Giles' voice was low so not to be heard by Wesley.
Willow sat and thought. It would be a solution. She could still help out and learn how to help more. But... "If you had told me this just a few weeks ago I might have jumped on it," Willow said calmly. "But the thing with the Council and Mr. Price... I just don't know."
Giles looked at her sadly. Then he walked over to where Wesley had given up all pretense of reading. "If you would be so kind as to wait in the hall for Buffy." He whispered something in the other watcher's ear. Wesley left, for some reason without even protesting.
Giles turned to Willow. "Do you remember when Buffy returned from her summer, er, absence and was a bit reticent about what happened with Angel and the statue." Willow nodded. "And you remember how talking about it was necessary for the 'spell' I had to perform." Willow could hear the quotation marks in that sentence and nodded again, remembering how Buffy had refused to tell them that she had been forced to kill Angel after his soul had been restored. Only Giles' insistence that Buffy give him the details to ensure that the gateway to hell remained closed allowed the slayer to speak out and begin the healing process.
"Er, you probably remember what Buffy was thinking about me after the test on her birthday."
"She kept saying she didn't know who you were, who you were loyal to." Willow looked at him, thinking. "But that was only until you were fired and Wesley came. And you stayed. That showed you thought Buffy was more important obeying than the Council."
"She is the chosen one," Giles said, meaning every word. "Only the slayer can stand against the vampires, the demons, and the forces of darkness."
"So then the whole thing with the Council. And with Wesley..." Willow came to a realization.
"The Council does what it has to, Willow."
"It's all a lie?" Willow's voice was raised at the last word. "You're faking being fired so that Buffy will like you again?!?"
"Not a bit of it." Giles said firmly. "I was dismissed, but I too do what I have to. Keeping the world safe from evil is more important than um Watcher politics or even the people who do the job. If that means sacrificing my position to retain the Slayer's confidence then ah that's what I'll do. And the Council knows it."
"He's green." Giles was blunt. "More of a coward than I'd have like. He has the book learning but not the character. At least not yet. You, however, already have that."
"I do?" Willow was hesitant.
"You do. I'll admit you need some work on the physical side. You would need to know how to train the slayer. And some courses in child psychology would do you good. If this is what you want, the watchers would arrange for a fellowship to Oxford after college for you to complete your training."
A future was in her grasp, beckoning like a castle in the sky. "But Oz... What about Oz?"
As if the name were a summons, Willow's boyfriend walked in.
"Hey, baby. I'm right here."
"I can't leave you Oz," Willow stammered.
The guitarist looked at his girlfriend and smiled tenderly. "You can only leave me if I don't follow." He looked at the girl's letters of acceptance. "I'm going to college too." Willow's face brightened.
"I might not make it into the Harvard/Yale category but I sort of assumed you would. So I applied to a number of schools with one thing in common. They're all located near the big name schools that probably have all accepted you."
Willow blushed. "You'd do that for me?" Love showed in her eyes.
Oz took her in her arms. "I told you before. As Willow goes, so goes my nation. I just want to be with you. I don't really care where."
"Boston," Willow said. "I've decided on Harvard." Willow and Giles exchanged a glance and the watcher smiled at the senior.
"What a coincidence," Oz laughed. "I just decided on Boston University."
"I'll do a double major in computer science and their folklore and mythology program," Willow started to babble with relief. "We'll tell everyone I'm learning what I need to program computer games and they have the largest library so they're bound to have books on magic." Oz looked at her fondly as she continued to babble. "And what will you major in?"
"Willow," he answered simply. "With a bit of guitar playing on the side. I'm sure they'll be a band in Boston that needs a guitarist with a few chords."
The two looked deeply into each other's eyes, lost in a universe that contained just the two of them. At least it only had the two of them until they were suddenly interrupted.
"And just who do you think you are hanging around my school without authorization." It was Principal Snyder. And his target for once was not a helpless student, but the even less helpful Wesley Wyndam-Price. "This is a school for students, faculty, and parents. If you're hunting for teenage girls forget it. I'm calling the police."
Price had backed into the library, the rodent-like principal not far behind. "But... Well... Mr. Rupert Giles..."
"So you're a friend of Mr. Giles? On school time? Interrupting his doubtlessly vital work although I never see more than a few students here..." the voice of the principal was threatening.
"He's ah not exactly a friend," Giles pointed out.
Giles and Wesley exchanged a look. In their discussions about the slayers and the problems with Faith, they had neglected to come up with a suitable cover story.
"He's a student librarian." Willow suddenly interrupted. "Like a student teacher except for libraries instead of classrooms. Mr. Giles was just telling me how useful he'll be to have around."
"That's um right." Giles hoped his voice didn't sound confused and relieved. "He needs to practice er how to sort books and manage things so that um someday he can run a library of his own." Wesley tried not to squirm as Giles patted him on his head.
"I wasn't informed of this," Snyder protested.
"Purely internal. Not on the payroll. No need to waste your time." Giles carefully talked the principal to the exit.
"That was disagreeable," said Price. "We were, um, fortunate, you were around, Ms. Rosenberg." He shot a quick smile at the young girl that seemed to say, 'Welcome to club.' Willow smiled back. She was. She now was Willow, Watcher In Training.