Dusty Masters, Part 1
Dusty Masters, Part 1
A/N: Disclaimer's in the first chapter.
September 1, Sunnydale
Sadly, they didn't have much time to enjoy the spoils Jim had sent them, as the next day was school.
Giles went with Jon to help him get registered early that morning.
"I must warn you that Principal Snyder is a fairly unpleasant person." Giles said.
Jon snorted. "Yeah. I've heard tales from Xander and Willow. I'll restrain myself from shoving his teeth down his throat, I promise."
Giles cocked an eyebrow at him as if to say 'We'll see'. He had little doubt that Jon could control himself under normal circumstances, but he got very ... trigger-happy where Xander was concerned, and Giles wasn't too sure Jon would be able to keep his mouth shut if Snyder started in on Xander ... and Xander was one of Snyder's favorite targets, not too far behind Buffy.
Fortunately, the problem didn't come up, as Snyder wasn't there to harass them as they filled out the necessary forms. A short while later, Jon was heading to class. And rather quickly discovered a problem. The return to school marked the first time that Jon was exposed to large amounts of sensory data without Xander within easy reach. He was new enough to his senses that by lunchtime, he had a massive headache and was teetering on the edge of a zone-out or spike, despite having 'reached out' with his senses to concentrate on Xander's heartbeat. Actually, that had somewhat contributed to the problem, as while he could do that, doing it repeatedly just stressed him further.
Fortunately, Xander got one good look at him at lunchtime, grabbed their lunches, and hauled Jon outside, to a spot under the bleachers by the football field. Jon leaned against Xander for a few minutes, his eyes closed as he concentrated on Xander's scent and heartbeat, got his senses back on an even keel and started to relax. Finally, he opened his eyes and sat up.
"Well, that's going to make school a problem." He grumped.
"Not really." Xander pointed out. "Now we know you can't go that long ... at least not yet. So we arrange to cross paths between classes so you have a minute to re-center yourself. Should do you. Once you get used to the place, I don't think you'll need to touch base as often ... Jim's a year ahead of you, and according to Blair, he's fine working on his own on crime scenes for short periods, nevermind at the precinct itself."
Jon relaxed a little. "So it's just a question of getting used to it."
"And maybe getting it settled in your head that this is your territory." Xander said. "Either way, it'll happen."
Jon grabbed his lunch and the two of them ate before coming out from under the bleachers and heading back into the school ... only to run into Cordelia, who wrinkled her nose at Xander.
"What's this? The dork escorting another dork?" She asked.
Jon gave her a level, grumpy glare. The implications seemed to sail straight over her head.
"Cordelia, you really need to leash that mouth of yours. One of these days, it's going to bite you in the ass." Xander warned, well aware of the fact Jon was getting annoyed on his behalf. "And this is Jon O'Neill. He transferred in from Colorado Springs, Colorado."
Cordelia turned her attention to Jon, nose already in the air. "Word of advice. You want to be anything in this town ... stop hanging with the losers. I'll cut you some slack today because you're new and don't know better."
Jon cocked an eyebrow at her. "Popularity contests are for the weak-willed and the losers. I don't give a shit. Not about being popular and for damn sure not about your opinion of me. I'll hang out with whoever I damn well please." And with another glare at her, he urged Xander towards the school.
Xander went willingly enough. "I think you might have broken her brain just a little bit. She's all about popular opinion."
Jon snorted. "Yeah. That's going to work out real well for her. Especially here."
"Hey, no arguments from me." Xander said. "Just try not to eat her alive, all right?"
Jon snorted. "I'll try."
That evening they gathered in the library. First task was to complete their homework, which was done fairly swiftly as they'd all taken full advantage of study halls that day. Once that was done, they started piling Giles' occult books into boxes for transfer to the Summers home. Fortunately, while there were a number of books and old weapons, there wasn't so much that it would be impossible to get it all transferred in one evening.
Especially with Joyce's unexpected help at the house. She had, evidently, gone out during the day and bought a number of bookcases and assembled them in the basement. Which the Scoobies discovered when they got to the house with the first load. She met them outside and directed them to the side of the house and the basement's separate entrance.
"Rupert, do any of the books require special handling? Aside from gloves to keep skin oils off them, I mean." Joyce asked.
"Actually, none of the books I brought with me require even that much." Giles admitted. "Rather impractical to have such delicate tomes in the field, since maintaining the conditions required by such books isn't always possible."
"All right then. You lot keep bringing the boxes, and I'll unpack them. I won't be able to keep up, but it will reduce the amount of work you'll have to do once you've got all the boxes here." Joyce told him.
"That will be much appreciated, Mrs. Summers." Giles told her.
"Call me Joyce, please. We're going to be working together for a long time to come. Being formal is sort of silly."
"Quite so, ... Joyce. Hopefully, between us, we can keep these hooligans alive indefinitely." Giles said. "Though, if you are going to insist on helping, I am going to insist on you learning to defend yourself effectively. Actually, I was going to insist on it regardless. As Buffy's mother, you are a prime target for the unsavory elements trying to contend with the Slayer."
Joyce grimaced. "You do have a point. All right."
Outside, Jon grinned. "Good. Joyce agreed to learning to defend herself."
Xander stared at him. "Giles brought that up to her?" He asked. "What the heck do you and Jim say to him? Seriously? Because he's gone from 'go away little children, this isn't your affair' to 'all right. More help is good, and trained help is better.' It's both awesome and alarming."
Jon shrugged. "Mostly, we just hammered at the Council's ideas that he got brainwashed into believing with reality." He admitted. "And logic. Until he caved, and realized that what they'd been teaching him was mostly bullshit, and really fucking bad ideas to boot. He was part way there on his own anyway, so it really wasn't all that hard."
A few more trips, and then all the books and weapons had been transferred, and they all settled in to help unpack it again. The library was set up on the far side of the basement from the access to the yard, with the stairs up to the first floor between the library and the exit. The main section of the basement, slated to become their indoor training facility, was also set up. Well, sort of. They put down the mats and put the dummies into place, but they needed to get shelves and mounting brackets for the weapons, so it wasn't quite complete. Plus, they wanted to get a few cabinets to hold things like the grenades, some super-soakers, and their supply of holy water as well as first aid items. Joyce started considering installing heavy-duty, high-pressure showers in the corner by the washer, dryer, and water heater after hearing some of Giles' tales of the mess some demons left behind.
"With shelves that hold clean clothes for everyone, so you don't have to worry about tracking the mess into the house, if you run into some of those." Joyce said. "You'd be able to hose yourselves down and throw everything straight into the washer." She frowned slightly, considering. "Though I should probably invest in a bigger, better washer and dryer. And hot water tank." She gave her head a shake. "I'll never understand how you deal with this normally, when it's just you and the Slayer." She admitted.
"It is nowhere near so pleasant. Or well equipped." Giles admitted. "Granted, in some places, it's simply impossible to be well-equipped, due to being in a third world country or far from civilization and its accoutrements." Then he took a deep breath, and glanced briefly over at the Scoobies, who'd already had the upcoming discussion in Cascade.
"You should know ... I think the Council is hoping that Buffy will be killed, swiftly." He flinched from her glare. "Firstly, they sent me in. I am ... was, anyway, a research Watcher, not a field agent. Though Jim and Jon have been assisting in correcting that lack." He sighed. "And they have not asked us to relocate. They know what Sunnydale sits on top of, and they know it is far beyond the abilities of any one Slayer to police this town effectively and survive. And it is not normal procedure for a Slayer to be stationed in any one place. They go from town to town, city to city, dealing with problems as they arise."
"Yet Buffy remains here, with you, and no sign of them trying to get her out of here." Joyce almost growled. "Right ... any of them show up here, they're getting a fist in the face." Then she looked at Giles. "Should we move?" She glanced over at Buffy. "You're being awfully calm about this."
"We talked about it over the summer, mom." Buffy admitted. "I already got my mad on."
Giles shook his head. "Were these ordinary circumstances, I would have moved us, yes ... but they're not. You're here, supporting her. She also has Willow ... and Xander and Jon. Xander's father has promised to come down and visit ... and presumably help ... from time to time, and Jon's friends can likely be counted on to assist." Especially since one of the 'friends' was Jack. "With that much assistance on hand, there is going to be very little we can't deal with, and if something that bad comes up, I will not hesitate to evacuate us."
Joyce nodded, accepting that. "I'll hold you to that, Rupert. I'm not particularly fond of the thought of my daughter dying young."
September 5, Sunnydale
The week passed in a blur of activity. Xander's plan of meeting up during the breaks between classes seemed to solve Jon's issue with getting too stressed. They split their evenings between setting up the basement fully, with Joyce heading out during school hours to buy the things they needed to convert the basement to their needs, and patrols, dusting an increasing number of vampires as the demonic population gradually increased alongside the slow decease in daylight hours.
Friday night marked the completion of the adjustments to the basement, as they mounted and filled the shelves meant to hold their clean clothes near the shower that had been installed earlier in the week. They'd just finished that when Jon's head snapped up. "Angel's coming." He warned.
"What does he want?" Xander groused.
"How can you tell it's him, compared to any other vamp?" Buffy wanted to know, sounding curious.
"Well, in this particular instance, it's because he's muttering under his breath." Jon admitted. "But he does have a scent unique to him."
"What's he saying?" Xander wanted to know.
"Mostly whining about having to come here and deal with you and I." Jon admitted, grinning at Xander. "For some odd reason, he's not a fan of ours."
Xander laughed. "That may have something to do with the fact that Jim tried to beat his ass three seconds after clapping eyes on him ... which gave the big liar a bit of a complex about Sentinels." Or so Xander hoped, anyway.
"Guys." Buffy said, sounding irritated.
"Sorry, Buffy, but ... yeah. Actually? Not sorry. I don't like him. At all. Wouldn't even if he was human. Which he isn't." Xander said. "I don't trust him as far as I can throw him, which isn't all that far."
At that point, there was a knock on the door leading to the yard, and Joyce went to answer it. "Yes, Angel? What is it?"
"May I come in? I need to talk to Buffy." Angel asked.
Joyce glanced over her shoulder at the others, and, after getting nods, let him in.
"What's up, Angel?" Buffy asked.
"I'm afraid I have bad news. It seems that the remnants of the vampire population are rallying under a new leader, someone named the Anointed One." Angel told her.
"Ok, someone is clearly compensating for something." Xander said. "Because seriously? Anointed One? Yeah, that's not ego stroking at all, is it?"
"Nope. Not at all." Jon agreed with a smirk. "So what's the deal with this guy. Well, I'm assuming it's a guy, anyway. Is it?"
"As best I can tell, yes. He's referred to in the masculine. I haven't met him ... he's being careful, and meeting with a Master Vampire of my age and strength, even with the soul, is something to be cautious about. I could do a lot of damage in a very short amount of time without even resorting to fighting him."
"How do you figure that?" Jon wanted to know.
"Just by treating him like he's a wayward Childe." Angel said. "Vampires ... tend to jump on perceived weakenesses, and if I were to treat this Anointed One like he was nothing special, it would weaken his position with the others, and open him to attack from his own forces."
"Huh. Good to know. Might be useful in the future." Jon said. "I'll start keeping an ear out for any talk about the guy, see what's going on."
Angel nodded and then got out of there after giving Buffy a lingering look, clearly not comfortable with hanging out in the same room as Jon. Xander did his best to not smirk, and failed rather spectacularly.
"I've said it before, Jon, but I'm going to say it again. I really like you ... just for your ability to send Angel running."