Disclaimer: This is a transformative work. Buffy is not mine. Tyler and all the OCs are.
AN: So the real story of Tyler's first summer at Slayer Camp is a 30K story that's not all puppies and vampires. Which I haven't written yet. This is a bright spots five things excerpt. I have tried to educate myself on transgender issues, but I am writing from outside the experience so please let me know if anything I write hurts you or shows my pantslessness. I will do everything I can to make it better.
1. Tyler didn't expect for Xander to make a big announcement to everyone about him. When he and his mom arrived on the first day for newbies, Xander asked if it would be okay. "It’s all girls, and they are going to be questions. I'd rather have it out there so they know I'm paying attention and that Andrew will turn them into toads if they give Tyler a hard time."
"Toads?" Mom had asked, faintly.
Dude, toads! Tyler couldn't think of a better punishment. "You can do that?"
"Well, probably not toads," Xander tilted his head back and forth. "But we can give them a tail or take their voice away for a day. That's what we usually do when there's big problems."
"Can you teach me how to do that?"
"Tyler!" Mom tried to shush him, but Xander gave him a half-smile.
"No," he said. "Slayers don't get to practice magic till they're eighteen. Hopefully by then we'll have beaten a sense of responsibility into you."
2. Tyler didn't expect to be sharing a room with other slayers. Courtney took him to the Slayer Barracks (which meant sleeping quarters for soldiers) in the basement when he got there. The huge room was split off into smaller rooms by cubicle walls with colorful printouts of names stapled to the sides to show who stayed where.
"You can stay in one of the rooms upstairs if you want," said Courtney over her shoulder. "But since technically, you're sort of a girl, Xander said you could try it out down here first. It's totally better. Like a slumber party."
Courtney stopped at one of the cubicles and turned and grinned at him. "Seriously. If you stay upstairs you'll miss out on the Annual Bust a Rhyme Dance Off."
"The what?" Tyler asked, and Courtney explained how at the end of the summer, each patrol team had to come up with a rap and dance for their best adventure of the summer, didn't matter what it was.
That first night, Tyler and two other baby slayers stood around awkwardly in their cubicle while around them everyone else was talking and whispering. Pat and Margot had been nice-ish so far. The seven brand new slayers had done getting-to-know-you games with Xander that afternoon, like something out of summer camp, and the only thing Tyler had gotten out of that was the feeling that Steph didn't like him.
They shuffled through changing — Tyler kept his back turned for them and they for him — and taking their turn one of the bathrooms when the older girls next to them banged on their wall. When lights out rolled around, they all pretended to go to sleep, except the older girls next store were still talking, catching up and giggling and telling each other about the stuff they accidentally broke at home. Tyler couldn't not eavesdrop, and sometimes smile at their stories.
Pat giggled, too. "I did that," she whispered in the dark. "I pulled the shower curtain so hard the whole bar fell down. My mom had a fit."
"I accidentally on purpose broke my bike lock when I forgot my key for it," said Margot. "I wanted to see if I could."
Tyler wasn't sure if he should say anything, but he wanted to because he wanted desperately for them to like him. He wanted to be just a normal kid this summer. In the dark of their little cubie, it was like the rest of the world didn’t exist. He licked his lips and said, "I threw a pepper shaker through a window. I didn't know that I could do that."
"Did it freak you out?" asked Pat. "The first time I did something with my super-strength, it freaked me out."
"Totally," said Tyler, warmth bubbling up inside him.
3. Tyler didn't expect people to stand up for him. Steph hated him. She called him a freak where the adults couldn't hear, she made up taunts, and jokes, and pushed and shoved when she could get away with it. The seven baby slayers had training and activities together for the first few weeks so there was no getting away from her. It was just like school that first week, and Tyler took it because it wasn't anything he hadn't heard before. Steph was the only one who was really bad, and while some of the older girls made jokes, they mostly kept to themselves and left him alone. There were so many places to be cornered around the house, Tyler really didn’t want to attract any attention if he could help it.
In their group, Lizzy and Bonita were Steph's followers, laughing at her jokes and keeping a lookout. Rebecca, who also roomed with them, tried to get them to shut up sometimes, but then they turned on her and she was the one shutting up and looking away. She gave Tyler sympathetic looks like Pat and Margot who also stayed silent but at least tried to put themselves between Tyler and Steph everywhere they went as a group.
"You're okay, Tyler. She shouldn't pick on you like that," Pat told him on their third night. They didn’t really talk about it again. Camp had only just begun and already it was the same old crap. Tyler just grunted, sitting on his bed in cargo shorts and a baggy t-shirt, feeling out of place.
Tyler thought about toads but he didn't tell because he wasn't a whiner, and no one else did either. Tyler was glad they didn't; he didn't want to know that Xander wouldn't follow through, not yet. He didn’t know why he’d expected things to be different. You couldn’t really turn someone into a toad anyway.
But then Courtney asked what was wrong at lunch on Friday, grabbing his arm and making him stay seated beside her on the grass outside where they were eating.
"Don't bullshit me," she said, her grip too tight, hurting him and grounding him at the same time. Tyler twisted away, but didn't get up. He gripped the grass, ripping up pieces till he got to the dirt. She would probably just tell him to ignore Steph, but at least he could tell her. She was two years older and Tyler wanted a cool jacket just like hers. "Swear you won't tell Xander," he said. Courtney pinky swore.
"That bitch," said Courtney when he finished, then before he could stop her, Courtney was running across the yard toward Steph, bowling her over in a flying tackle. Tyler could only stare at the scene, stuck, like watching a car wreck.
Courtney pinned Steph to the ground and yelled in her face, "You make another joke or say another mean word to Tyler and I will break you in two! You hear me?"
"Courtney!" Xander stood on the porch.
Some of the other slayers pulled Courtney and Steph apart, and Xander hauled them all upstairs to his office. Tyler wanted to fall into a hole in the ground. He wanted Courtney to fall into a hole in the ground because she promised and now whatever Xander did would only make it ten times worse. Steph would get around it, Lizzy and Bonita would take over. Tyler would be looking over his shoulder for the rest of the summer.
"You promised you wouldn't tell!" He hissed on the stairs.
Courtney spun on him. “I didn’t tell
Xander. I told her
that if she fucks with you she fucks with me. Xander just overheard.” Then she turned and stomped up the steps.
Tyler stood there, stunned, until Xander called for him.
By the end of the meeting, Steph had all her weekend privileges revoked and a warming about truth spells and silencing spells, Courtney had double shifts, whatever that meant, and Xander told Tyler to let him know immediately if Steph stepped out of line again. Then he asked out of the blue, “Who are your friends?” after he sent the girls away.
Pat and Margot came out of their meeting with Xander looking solemn. “What did he want?” asked Tyler. He wondered if the tentative camaraderie they had was still there.
“He said friends stick up for each other. No matter what,” said Pat. “We should have stuck up for you better.”
“Sorry,” said Margot. “Next time Steph’s a jerk, we’ll tell her to her face.”
Tyler didn’t know what to say. They were serious. They were really serious, and Tyler didn’t know what he was supposed to do with that. He was the freak, the weirdo wrong on the outside and maybe wrong on the inside, and Margot and Pat were looking at him like they were seeing
4. Tyler didn’t expect Boys Night Out. Andrew came up to him when he was on kitchen duty one night and invited him to come with him, Tim, Xander, Nick, and Don for pizza on Thursday night.
“Me?” said Tyler. Andrew’s head jerked in a nod. He was a little weird, but he’d made a point to talk to Tyler every day, smile when he helped in the kitchen, ask how things were going. And the week after the thing with Steph, Andrew only let her eat oatmeal and boiled eggs.
“Yeah. You’re going to come, right?” Andrew looked like he was afraid that Tyler would say no. “Yummy pizza. And a break from all the girls. It’s our manly ritual. But only every other week.”
They went to Pizza Hut because, “Manly men eat greasy pizza,” said Xander after they ordered two larges loaded with toppings.
It was weird but still fun. Don, the Watcher in Training, was a little weird around him, like one of the better teachers at school who wasn’t his teacher, like he didn’t want to be uncomfortable but he was anyway. But he just smiled awkwardly and didn’t talk directly to him which was just fine with Tyler.
Tyler actually stayed pretty quiet the whole evening while Xander and Andrew told stories of past year’s camps which had the rest of them laughing so hard, Tyler feared sipping his drink for fear he’s spew it everywhere like Nick did. Every once in a while, Xander would point at Tyler and say, “Don’t do that,” or “Don’t tell them I said that. I still need them to fear me.”
It was fun. When they got back, Pat, Margot, and Rebecca asked what they talked about, and Tyler just shrugged. “Guy stuff.”
5. Tyler didn’t expect it not to matter that he was a boy in the wrong body by the end of the summer. He had four good friends, and a patrol team called the Missing Links that wasn’t afraid to show him dirty fighting tricks or manhandle his body into the right movement during training. They made room for him on the couch to watch tv and saved him a spot for lunch. Even Steph, barely seemed to notice anymore, though they still disliked and avoided each other.
He was still different, and the elephant in the room still came up, but for the first time since everything started, Tyler felt like he was really okay being himself.