Welcome to the Hellmouth by Jonakhensu
Chapter 2, Welcome To The Hellmouth.
Sunnydale, even the most weirdness blind resident would realize, was not the best place to sit in a park in the middle of the night, having a cup of tea. Nodoka Saotome, currently Smith, knew this but was also confident in the precautions she'd put in place, as she looked across the street into the graveyard. "Hmm, Ranko is taking a rather long time," she mused, wondering if perhaps sending her 'daughter' into a graveyard during her first patrol had been too much for the girl's weakened abilities.
As she was about to get up, draw her katana and run in flailing for all that her six months of quick and dirty physical training was worth, the auburn haired woman noted two shadows emerging from the cemetery's gates, one much larger and bulkier than the other. Unfortunately, neither was her charge, and she began to become nervous as they approached her.
Quickly scoping out her fastest methods of escape, and desperately wishing that she'd waited to contact the Watcher who was already in the area rather than letting Ranko convince her that she would be fine, the woman started to move when the shadows resolved themselves into a tall, American looking man in a white shirt and black jacket, followed by Ranko, who appeared to have a mass of tweed slung over her shoulder.
The Watcher let out an explosively relieved breath, and just barely resisted running over to hug the redhead, as it would likely cause her to drop whatever she was carrying. Considering the thing groaned, that would probably not be good.
"Ranko dear, who are your friends?" She decided to ask instead, breaking the silence of the night with her lightly accented English.
"This is Angel," the redhead said, gesturing dismissively at the black haired man, "And the guy over my shoulder's named Giles."
"Oh," Nodoka said, nodding. "I thought we would have to track him down ourselves."
"You're looking for Giles?" Angel asked, his eyes narrowing slightly as he studied the two foreigners. He hadn't gotten much of a look at the redhead's fighting ability in the graveyard, but she'd managed to carry a rather heavy chunk of dead weight with as little effort as he could, and that could mean trouble.
"Yes, well, we needed to get information on the local threats from him," Nodoka explained, noting the tensing of the other, but trying not to show that she'd noticed.
"He's not gunna tell us much right now, Mom," Ranko said, shaking her head. "He kept babbling nonsense words like 'Buffy.'"
"Buffy was the name of the last Slayer, dear," Nodoka said, though she had to agree with the girl that the name was... odd... to say the least. Also, she smiled at her, as Ranko had apparently taken quite easily to the cover story they were now using, and called her 'Mom' with almost no hesitation.
Angel looked between the two, and then to Giles who was still slung across the redhead's shoulders, and gave his best undead attempt at a sigh. "He'll probably be unconscious for a while, but I'll tell him to contact you," he offered. "I should probably take him back to his place."
Ranko nodded, starting to lower the weight from her shoulders, when Giles suddenly started moving, apparently recovering his senses. She tried to recover her balance, but wasn't quite fast enough, and he fell forward, directly into Nodoka, and over the rest of the bench she was sitting on.
As his legs came down, one of them caught the thermos that the auburn haired woman had been using to store her tea, and sent it flying into the air. Ranko almost teleported backwards away from the area, but Angel was too busy gawking in stunned surprise as a majority of the stuff landed on him, soaking his shirt through.
He glowered for a second, thinking about what tea could do to his clothing, when the liquid seeped its way through to his skin. The smell of burning flesh and grunts of pain made it quite clear what was happening. If those two signs were not evidence enough, there were also the glowing yellow eyes and the brow ridges. A moment later, the man stripped off his jacket and the shirt, standing there in all his pasty glory.
"Mom, what the hell'd ya put in that tea?" Ranko demanded, as she saw Angel rip the shirt from his body, and caught a glimpse of the rather severe looking burns on the flesh beneath.
Nodoka just looked confused for a moment, before her eyes widened. "The only unusual thing in it was holy water," she said. "I had it prepared incase anything came out to attack me while you were busy."
"Wait, holy water, that means..." Ranko said, and the already quite pained Angel found a very powerful snap kick impacting his shoulder, sending him rolling several yards away from the non-combatants.
Rupert Giles lay in the blissful comfort of semi-consciousness, knowing that something important was probably happening, but not really sure what it was. He tried to become more comfortable in his bed, as at the moment there were two rather hard things digging into his body around the pelvic area.
This seemed not to work as he expected, as he found himself falling head first for a weightless moment, before hitting something mostly soft. Granted, his legs smacked into what felt like hard wood, but his head was shielded from impact quite nicely. He was about to go back to enjoying his nice, relaxing rest, when he heard the distinctive, and quite recognizable, sound of Buffy kicking something.
This meant that he should probably wake up in order to help his Slayer, and he cracked his eyes open to see a face he didn't recognize looking down at him with a bemused expression. Moving his head slightly, he noted that he was laying on a bench, with his head in the lap of a reddish haired oriental woman. "Yes, well this is... awkward, isn't it?" He asked, nervously, reaching up to adjust the glasses on his nose only to find them missing.
"It isn't exactly proper," the woman replied, just as a body flew past Giles' field of view which he recognized as Angel's. "Ranko, dear, what have I told you about playing with your enemies?" The woman rebuked, and Giles turned at another voice.
"Sorry, Mom," a short, red haired girl wearing what looked like a black silk shirt and pants responded, pulling a short, wickedly pointed spear from her back and readying it for a strike. When she threw it, and Angel just barely managed to roll out of the way, the still mildly concussed Brit's brain suddenly snapped into gear.
"Wait, stop!" He yelled, though it didn't seem to effect the girl much at all, as she ran towards the vampire she was fighting, grabbing up her spear. "I've got to stop her," he said, trying to haul himself to his feet, and was surprised when an arm grabbed his shoulder.
"Ranko, stop!" The voice of the woman whose lap he'd been laying in barked out, and the girl immediately did so, returning her spear to her back, though she kept a wary eye on her opponent.
"What's goin on?" the young martial artist asked, throwing a confused glance to her mother, who turned to Giles with a similar look.
"Well, yes, um," the seasoned Watcher started. "I would like to know precisely who you two are, first."
"My name is Nodoka, a Watcher sent from Japan," the older woman explained. "This is my charge, Ranko. We were sent to protect the Hellmouth."
"You were sent to..." Giles said, shaking his head. "Why would they send a potential here?"
"She's not a potential, she's the new Slayer," Nodoka said, looking at the man who was still laying in her lap oddly, "And could you please get up?"
"What? Oh! Oh yes, of course," Giles said quickly, scrambling away from the other. "Terribly sorry." Despite the embarrassment, he was actually somewhat grateful for the chance to sort out his thoughts. At the moment, he was about as confused as Buffy reading ancient Sumerian.
"Buffy's the Slayer," Angel responded, now looking at Ranko with more suspicion than confusion.
"I know Miss Summers was the Slayer," Nodoka started, not wanting to bring up what had happened to the girl with her Watcher so near, "but after her death, a new one had to be selected."
"Oh," Giles said, and the look of realization and relief on his face confused Nodoka quite a bit. "Buffy isn't dead," he explained. "her heart stopped while she was fighting the Master, but she was revived..." He looked at the woman, seeming fascinated. "Are you saying that that was enough to call a new Slayer?"
"Apparently it was," Nodoka mumbled, wondering precisely what other surprises would be dumped on her tonight.
"That's..." The British man said, thinking for a moment and then nodding. "That's wonderful." He meant it, too. Though he wasn't entirely sure how Nodoka and her Slayer operated, the summer had been a very hectic time for him, even though it was the 'off season' for vampires, as he hadn't wanted to call upon Xander and Willow when he knew that they wouldn't get themselves involved. "Buffy is currently unavailable, and any help you could give us would be appreciated."
"Currently Unavailable?" Ranko asked, allowing her vision to drift once more from its constant watch on the Vampire across from her to give the man who had been with him an odd look. "Last time I heard that, it was 'cuz one 'o the teachers at Furinkan had finally gone nuts, and they'd found him tryin to commit suicide with a coconut."
All three of the others gave the girl an odd look, and she just shrugged, before Giles hastened to respond, "Buffy did not try to commit suicide." His voice trailed off as he admitted the next part, knowing that his attitude towards managing his Slayer was unconventional for a Watcher, at best. "She's... on vacation with her father."
"Mr. Giles," Nodoka began primly. "I find your attitude as a Watcher quite shocking." She paused a few moments before concluding, "You seem better than most I have read about or met. Still, vacation?"
"Well, she did die," the tweed clad man said, shrugging uncomfortably. "She told me rather plainly that it was 'Hazard Pay.'"
"Wish I got that," Ranko grumbled quietly. Only Angel heard her, and was somewhat bemused.
Nodoka yawned, and though she tried to hide it behind her hand, as was proper, the fact that it was three in the morning and she'd been trying to recover from jet lag for several days made it nearly impossible. "I would like to discuss this further, but unfortunately I would much rather do it with a clearer head," She said. "Could we meet tomorrow?"
Giles nodded. "That would probably be best," he confirmed, and passed the woman a card from his pocket that appeared to have been through the wars. She, of course, didn't have to know that it looked that way since he'd been debating for a good part of the last three weeks whether to give it to Jenny Calendar or not.
Nodoka nodded, and stood from the bench, picking up the thermos that had held her tea.
"Um, that's great and all," Ranko interrupted, "But what do I do about this thing?" She gestured over to Angel, who gave her a dirty look for the comment.
"Oh, Angel? Don't worry, he's mostly harmless," Giles said, walking past said vampire.
"Mostly harmless?" The black haired man muttered, feeling rather deeply offended as he did his best to fade dramatically into the night, complaining about Douglas Adams and overly-read librarians.
Giles stood in front of the house, and a small feeling of jealousy couldn't help but grow inside of him, as he compared it to his flat, which was crammed up to the ceiling with books too dangerous for even Sunnydale's libraries. Still, he understood that both the Watcher and her Slayer had to live here, so he shrugged this feeling off, walking up to the door and knocking on it three times.
As he waited, the man heard the sound of a loud battle cry, and the splintering of wood. He was about to investigate the sound, when the door swung open to reveal Nodoka, wearing a red and white flowered kimono. "Hello, Mr. Giles," she said, nodding her head slightly before stepping backwards into the building.
"Um, hello," Giles returned, shooting a glance to the side where he'd heard the noise before. "Is everything all right?"
"Oh, that's just Ranko-chan practicing," Nodoka said, and the Brit nodded, starting to walk past her into the building. As he got half way down the hall, he felt a prickling down the back of his neck and turned to see the auburn haired woman looking at him in a very similar way to how he looked at Buffy when she suggested 'blowing off' practice to go to a party. As she shot a look down at his brown loafers, he became vaguely uncomfortable for a moment before noting a mat next to the door with several sets of slippers in various sizes, next to a single pair of dress shoes.
"Oh," he muttered to himself, quickly exchanging his footwear for that provided and suddenly knowing how Xander felt the one time he'd looked at him like he was an idiot after he'd asked why tea was so great.
Walking the rest of the way into the house with Nodoka behind him, the man smiled as he saw that there was a tea pot and three cups on the coffee table.
As he made his way over to sit on the couch, he noted that the woman was headed for a side door next to the entrance to the kitchen, and he decided to divert his course to follow her there. The door looked out on a yard that appeared to be full of broken boards, and in the middle of it the new Slayer was dancing, for lack of a better word.
He'd seen martial arts forms before, after all, he'd had to go through the laborious and often annoying practice of teaching them to a fantastically uninterested Buffy, but this looked a lot different, as if the girl was randomly making up the next move before she threw it, yet she hadn't screwed things up or lost balance.
"Ranko dear!" Nodoka called through the doorway, with apparently no effect. "Ranko!" She tried again, but the girl continued on, and Giles noted that her eyes were closed, an intense look of concentration covering her face.
Nodoka grimaced. "I hate having to do this," she muttered, picking one of the shards of broken wood up from where it lay next to the door and hefting it in her hand before throwing it as hard as she could at the dancing girl. Ranko's eyes flashed open, and she turned to catch the tiny fragment with a quick leg sweep, powdering it.
"Huh?" the redhead asked, blinking rapidly.
"We have a guest," Nodoka said, not looking as though she were at all surprised.
"Oh," Ranko said, blushing and scratching the back of her head. "Sorry, guess I got too into it again, huh?"
"Just a little," the older woman said, and smiled at her charge. "Go to your room and get changed."
"Yes, Mom," the girl replied, walking past Nodoka and through the living room.
"Is she..." Giles asked, looking at the other Watcher strangely.
She shook her head. "No, that's just part of the story the Council prepared for us," she admitted. "Ranko does seem to really enjoy it, though. I haven't seen her real parents."
"Are you sure?" Giles asked, before he could stop himself. "The two of you do look remarkably similar."
Nodoka allowed her already rather crack filled mask of proper Japanese manners to slide for a moment as she gave the other a deadpan look. "I believe I would remember if I had a daughter, Mr. Giles."
"Um, yes, quite so," Giles said, shaking his head and trying to think of a good way to change the subject. "The girl seems very well trained, has she fought any demons yet?"
"I'm not sure," Nodoka admitted, walking to the couch and pouring herself a cup from the teapot.
"Not sure?" Giles asked, confused. "Were you not her watcher before she awakened?"
"Oh my, no," Nodoka said, shaking her head. "She wasn't trained by the council."
"Then how..." Giles started, before he heard footsteps coming into the room, and looked around to see Ranko wearing a red silk shirt and a set of black pants.
Nodoka looked at her disapprovingly, but she shrugged. "They're the best clothes I got," she defended herself.
"I'm sure your formal dresses being on the bottom of the pile of suitcases you dropped a week ago was a complete accident," Nodoka returned, with a dubious look.
The redhead looked sheepish, before quickly taking a seat on a chair set up across from the couch. Giles noted distantly that she seemed to want to stay away from the teapot, but didn't really think about it.
Nodoka gave her charge another disapproving look before turning back to Giles and saying, "I'm sorry for being so blunt about this, but last night you told me that your Slayer was alive, and it appears that the information I was given was faulty... could you tell me what's been going on over the past year?"
Ranko sat forward, also rather interested in the answer to that question, and the British librarian sighed. Normally, he was comfortable with monologuing on any topic you would care to name, other than sexual education, but he really didn't want to have to predict these people's reactions to some of the things that had happened, most especially The Master and Angel.
"Well, when Buffy transferred here..." He started, slowly, as the other two listened intently.
Ranma ran through the night at something close to his top speed, reveling in the sensation as his body moved without any irritating bouncing around. He'd been stuck in girl form for over a month and a half, almost straight through, while he'd been traveling to Sunnydale, and the ability to be himself again hadn't felt so good since Herb.
Knowing that it wasn't a good idea given his currently weak chi reserve, but not really caring, the young martial artist coiled his legs beneath himself, leaping to the top of a wrought iron fence and then to a nearby building's roof. He frowned as he felt the bite that it took out of his reserves, but knew that they were growing, and he would eventually be back to his old level.
Leaping to the next roof over, the pigtailed boy looked down and began scanning the sidewalks and street with his eyes, looking for anything out of the ordinary. He was, after all, supposed to be on 'patrol,' and though nothing had risen from the myriad graveyards in the town that night, there were still apparently many vampires wandering around loose.
That, of course, included the guy that had been with the Watcher, Giles, in the graveyard a week earlier, and just thinking about the idea that there could be 'ensouled' vampires was rather uncomfortable, but... As his thoughts drifted off in a direction he'd been going over in his or her mind for the better part of the last week and a half, he saw what looked like a mugging taking place on the sidewalk nearby.
There were two figures, both shadowed on a part of the street where there weren't any street lights, and one was struggling against the other. The martial artist sighed, jumping down from the roof and running across the front yard of a small home before getting to the sidewalk, where the two came into more complete view.
"Hey, let the girl go!" He ordered, as he caught sight of a large, bulky looking guy holding a dark skinned girl about his age by the shoulders. The man didn't seem to hear him, as he lowered his head towards the rapidly thrashing girl, and Ranma realized that he was going for her neck. Cursing, he reached the two, and brought a knife-hand down on the arm the man was using to hold the girl by the shoulders, grabbing him and shoving him away from her as he reached for the wooden spear he'd taken to carrying ever since he'd learned the weaknesses of the undead.
He always preferred his bare fists to any weapon, but in some cases the latter was necessary, and until he figured out how to coat a fist in wood without hampering its mobility, this was one of them.
As his opponent recovered, ignoring the pain of a quite likely broken arm, Ranma caught a look at his face and noticed that he was definitely a vampire. Lashing out with the spear, he was just barely stopped from killing the thing as it caught a hold of the shaft, twisting it violently. The martial artist held on, but he felt the weapon splintering, and eventually came away with a jagged piece of wood. Grumbling, he entered a defensive stance, and his opponent snarled at him.
"You'll be as good a meal as she was, you know," The vampire spat, lunging forward. Ranma caught him by the arm, twisting around him and kicking one knee out from under him to send him twisting to the ground before bringing the broken spear down into his back, thanking his father's insistence that he learn every vital point in the body as the end found his opponent's heart, and he burst into dust.
"Oh... Oh my god," Ranma heard the quavering of the girl's voice, and stood slowly, turning to see her standing and shaking her head violently. "He just tried... and you... and he... and dust..." She stammered, pointing between the martial artist and where his opponent had once been.
Ranma sighed and shook his head. "Ya should probably get home," he offered. "It ain't exactly safe to be wandering 'round out here."
"Yeah, thanks," The girl said, as Ranma turned and started walking off. "I'm Aura, by... the... way," She trailed off as she saw that the guy who had saved her didn't seem to be paying attention. "Not really talkative, is he?" She muttered, and then shivered as the cool wind blew through.
'Too bad, he was kind of cute,' She thought, as she picked up the bag of stuff she'd been bringing back to her house from Cordelia's from where she'd dropped it when she'd been jumped and started down the street, still mostly in a state of shock and, as most residents of Sunnydale did, rapidly trying to come up with an explanation for what she'd seen that didn't involve people growing fangs or magically turning to dust.
"Hmm, horrible delinquent and 'meanie,'" an older looking balding man said as he paced in front of a desk where Ranko and Nodoka were sitting, reading a file that was scribbled on in several different colors of crayon. "This transcript is almost entirely unusable. About all it tells me is that your little sister has far too much time on her hands."
"Um, that's actually Hinako-Sensei," the redhead replied, scratching the back of her neck and mentally kicking herself for asking the teacher to make her file as a girl as close to that as a boy as she could. Thinking back to the incident, she wondered if she should have just claimed not to go to school, rather than endure a week of on-demand draining, and all that candy, for the thing.
The bald man quirked an eyebrow. "I'm apparently very lucky I don't live in Japan," he drawled, and then tossed the report on the desk, slumping down in a large, comfortable leather chair behind it. "No matter who wrote on this, it's unusable for several reasons, first among them being how low most of the grades are." He shook his head. "We'll be setting you up with placement tests to determine where you fit in our school, Miss Smith."
Nodoka frowned, casting a disapproving look towards her daughter. Back in Japan, she hadn't known much of Ranko's school life other than what she'd told her about the teachers, and had no idea that the girl was doing so badly.
Ranko herself just shrugged. Trying to avoid the placement tests, again, had been a nice idea, but given she'd had to take them at every school other than Furinkan, she wasn't surprised. "All right, when do I gotta take 'em?"
The principal of Sunnydale high grimaced at the girl's gruff mode of speech, but decided that he would only bother with fixing that problem when she was a student, and continued, "You should be able to take the tests later this afternoon." As the girl was nodding, he interrupted, "However, I have noticed one thing on this set of reports. You've been marked absent for weeks on end, you've been caught fighting on school grounds, you've destroyed school property AND you've refused instructions given to you directly by teachers."
"There were reasons for..." Ranko started, before she was interrupted by the older man slamming his hands down on the desk.
"I don't care what reasons you thought you had, it will not happen here, do you understand?" He said, levelly. "I pride myself on running a tight ship in this school."
"A tight ship?" Ranko asked, confused. "Didn't know the school had a boat."
"It..." Snyder sputtered, "It was a figure of speech." The man rubbed at his temples, reminding himself that the girl's English grade had been one of the worst on her transcript, even if her spoken English sounded all right. "I meant that I try to keep this school organized, and don't like troublemakers."
"Oh, all right," his prospective student said, nodding. "So long as ya don't throw pineapples at me or ask me ta cut my pigtail, we'll get along fine."
Nodoka winced, and the balding man's eyebrow twitched.
"Why in the world would I do that?" He asked, honestly too surprised to get angry.
Nodoka cleared her throat. "Furinkan's principal was a little..." She started, trying to search her mind for the right word.
"Nuttier than a box fulla coconuts?" Ranko contributed, getting an irritated look from her mother.
"I was trying to be polite, Ranko-chan," Nodoka rebuked gently.
"Yes, well," Snyder said, unsure of what to say, especially as the girl's mother seemed to agree with her rather.. unique... view on her old school's teaching staff. "I don't usually throw fresh fruit at people, and I expect that means you won't be breaking any of the rules here."
"Sounds okay ta me," Ranko said, in all seriousness.
"There may be hope for you yet," Snyder said, reaching over to a phone on his desk and picking it up. As he talked, Nodoka gave her daughter a sharp look, and Ranko shrugged as if to ask what she was supposed to say.
The two sat silently for a few moments, before the principal put down the phone. "Well, I was right, we can have the tests done today and you can be toiling away in obscurity by the beginning of the year." He explained, standing as his two guests did the same. "Let's hope you stay there, hmm?"
Ranko nodded and Nodoka bowed, before the two turned and left the office.
Ranko sighed as she slid a pile of books into her locker, slamming it rather firmly afterward and slipping the combination lock in with a soft click. "Stupid school," she muttered, sourly, recalling the events of her first day, especially when she'd gotten her schedule. "Three years of this, again. Pop was right, they're just trying to waste my time." She stopped for a moment and blinked. "Wait, did I just think Pop was right about something?"
As she was walking towards the school's entrance, the martial artist was surprised to see her mother entering the front doors, carrying a bag that looked like it was bulging with books. "Ranko-chan!" The older woman called, and the redhead walked over to her, immediately getting saddled with the bag. "Don't drop this one, dear."
"Ya ever gunna let me live that one down?" Ranko grumbled as she followed the older woman down the hall.
"No, dear," Nodoka responded with a smirk that her Slayer couldn't see.
"So, where are we going?" The girl tried, this time hoping for a more useful answer.
"Mr. Giles said that his Slayer and her friends were going to be there this afternoon," Nodoka explained, as the two approached a set of large wooden doors with round windows in them.
"Oh," Ranko replied, not really sure how to feel about that, but hoping that this first meeting didn't involve tables and her skull.
As Nodoka pushed the door to the library open, the two heard the trailing end of a sentence. "...if we could get off that subject, there is something important I..." Giles started, before an unfamiliar voice cut in.
"You're going to help us with our project on rabbits?" A young man spoke up, causing the rather confused Brit to look at him as though he were insane.
"You know, because rabbits are fluffy, and cute, and herbivorous, and really good for a science project, and I'm babbling, so I'll shut up now." Giles seemed to realize something as the other trailed off, and turned to see the two newcomers.
"Ah, it's all right Xander, they know about the, erm, rabbits." he said, rubbing the bridge of his nose.
"Tell me about the rabbits, George," A girl in a fluffy yellow sweater chipped in, grinning at the boy across from her.
Xander gave her a dirty look, before turning to the others and asking, "Why do they know about the rabbits?"
"That girl there, Ranko, she's, um," Giles began.
"I'm the new rabbit Slayer," she said, smirking at the others in the room.
After she said this, a new voice entered the conversation. "Did someone mention something about dinner?" A woman who looked about ten years older than Ranko asked, as she entered the room.
"Enough about the rabbits!" Xander burst out, sinking into his chair and wishing he'd come up with a better topic to switch conversation to on such short notice.
"Yes," Nodoka nodded. "I believe we're here to talk about vampires, and the slaying thereof."
"Oh, well those aren't very good eating at all," the new woman said, shrugging and walking over to the table where the two teenagers were sitting. "So, what's up, Doc?"
"Ah, yes," Giles replied. "Where is Buffy? She should probably be here for this."
"She said she would be here," the girl in the sweater replied, and as if on cue, a short blonde girl, only a few inches taller than Ranko herself, walked into the room.
"Hey Giles, are you ready for train..." she trailed off, as she saw the crowd. "Someone set up a house party without telling me?"
"Ah, there she is," the rather exasperated Brit said. "Buffy, Xander, Willow and Ms. Calendar, this is Ranko and Nodoka Smith."
"Ranko and Nodoka Smith?" The girl who Ranko guessed to be Willow asked, with a raised eyebrow, having recognized the first names as Japanese, while the last definitely wasn't.
"Don't ask," the younger of the two advised.
"They were sent from Japan to help guard the Hellmouth," Giles explained.
"Wait, people were sent here to help me?" Buffy asked, confused. "Who by, the Slayer Fairy?"
The older man looked uncomfortable. "Well," he started, taking his glasses off and rubbing them furiously against the front of his suit jacket, "She is the new Slayer." He admitted.
The room fell into a stony silence as everyone other than Nodoka and Giles looked at Ranko in a state of near shock, and she nervously began to fidget with her pigtail.
"What do you mean she's the new Slayer?" Buffy asked, quietly.
"Yeah, we've already got a Slayer," Xander interjected.
"It's because I died, isn't it?" Buffy asked, causing the others to turn to her. "The whole Slayer power thing gets passed on when the last one dies, and I stopped breathing." As she talked, suddenly an image came to her mind, of a mop of red hair and a face that was shadowed by the uneven light of flame lit torches.
"So, wait, does that mean... Buffy's not the Slayer anymore?" Willow asked, confused.
Giles floundered for something to say for a moment, before Nodoka stepped in. "We aren't sure," she admitted. "There's never been a case of a Slayer surviving," she groped for something to say for a moment, and then sheepishly continued, "getting killed."
"Well, I'm still as strong as ever," Buffy replied, flexing an arm. "so I guess you can go home."
"What?" Xander asked. "Don't we WANT someone else who can punch Vampires across a room?"
"WE don't need anything," Buffy replied instantly. "I can take care of Sunnydale alone."
"Um, hello, group of people who have been helping you for a year," Xander said, starting to get slightly irritated himself, as he whistled rapidly and gestured around the room.
"Xander, don't," Willow started, before Ranko surprised them both by interrupting.
"I get it," she said, shrugging. "Ya don't want anyone else gettin involved in yer fight."
"No, I don't," Buffy replied evenly.
"So, ya wanna let innocents die 'cuz you're too proud ta ask for help? Hell, I power myself through confidence 'n I don't think I'd do that."
"Power... what?" Willow muttered to herself, writing something down on a piece of paper in front of her, as Buffy glared at the Japanese girl across the room.
"Believe me, you don't want to deal with being the Slayer," The blonde said, looking away from the other girl and over to her friends for a moment. "Just do yourself a favor and go home."
"Not gunna do that," the martial artist replied, shaking her head.
"All right, your funeral," Buffy returned, before turning to leave.
"Buffy, where are you going?" Giles asked, but he was ignored.
"She's lotsa fun," the redhead muttered, as Buffy left the library, the door swinging heavily closed behind her.
"She's usually not like that," Willow responded, looking worriedly at the door that her friend had just passed through.
"Yeah, no kidding," Xander replied, standing and heading for the door.
"Xander, wait," Giles said, quickly. "I will go speak to Buffy. If you and Willow could help..." He searched for something to distract them, when Nodoka cut in.
"I've got some books I need filed," She offered, pointing at the bag that Ranko was still carrying, slung over her shoulder.
"Oh, I can do that," Willow piped up.
“I'd be hoppy to help, too,” Jenny added with a grin towards Xander.
“AARG!” Xander cried. “Can we forget about the bunnies, please?”
"I heard there's some training gear in here?" Ranko asked, noticing, for once in her life, what her mother and the other Watcher were doing.
Xander nodded. "I guess I'll show you," he conceded, "Just don't punch me in the gut while I'm holding the punching pads, all right?"
Giles watched two out of his three person team working for a moment, before frowning and starting for the door to talk with the last one.
Buffy's acting pretty odd, just recall what she was like in Episode 1 of Season 2. She'll get better.
Note: Sorry if Giles sounds odd. Writing him is... it's... hm, it's... Well, it's very difficult.
We appologize for the rabbits.
Low council involvement this chapter.
Council Screwup Count: 5.