Let us all hold a moment of silence for the laptop that fought off the blue screen death long enough for me to retrieve my files. You will be missed old friend.
Chapter Nine: School Days
Buffy had fumed through the days after the attack.
She had searched every undead hot spot she knew of and came up empty. The vampire that tricked her, and his apparent girlfriend, hadn't shown themselves anywhere. And none of the demons that she had 'gently' questioned had any clue as to where they might be.
Despite that she was sure that she would get the bastard. She couldn't let him get away with what he'd done.
He had tricked her.
He had used her.
And then he hurt her mother and sent Xander to the hospital!
He was going to die. Him and his little bitch too.
God, she still couldn't believe she was that stupid!
Giles taught her better than that, Merrick taught her better than that. Or at least they tried to.
Maybe, maybe if she listened to them more this wouldn't have happened... and maybe Merrick wouldn't have died.
Maybe if she was a better Slayer...
No, she couldn't think like that. She had to focus, find that lying bastard.
Scarred, callused and blistered.
She never really noticed before but as she stared at Xander's unwrapped hand she could find no other way to describe it.
Skin peeled from his palms and ugly, thick yellow patches appeared along his fingers, from base to tips. And the new bright red scars surrounding his nails didn't seem to be out of place with trails of healing white tissue as company.
What was he doing to himself to cause this much damage to his hands? She knew he was training and working hard to help with the Slaying but to that extent?
And what were those strange bruises that stretched across his body? They had been puzzling her ever since she walked into his hospital room the day before. What could cause such an injury? She didn't think vampires actually used weapons and if they did what could they have used to leave such odd marks?
It was like the wound had spread from the inside out.
Her eyes traveled along the path of the oddly patterned marks and up his arm, her gaze fixing on the new tone and size of his muscles. She blushed as she wondered if the rest of him was developing just as well.
"Hey Will, you okay there? You kind've spaced out."
Her blush deepened as her voice raised a few octaves higher than it needed to be, "Fine! Just fine!"
"You sure? Cause you're looking a little red there…" He paused as he spared her hair a glance, "Well, more red than usual that is."
The bad joke forced enough indignation to reach the red head's system and allowed her a bit more control of herself, "I'm fine. Let's just watch the movie." Her cheeks puffed as she turned back to the screen.
"K'…" Xander said a bit skeptically as he turned back to the screen and took in another handful of popcorn.
He wanted to press more but currently Willow and her visits were his only escape from complete and total boredom and he didn't want to risk losing them, even for a day.
Ever since he returned from the hospital he had found himself under the constant watch of his surprisingly proud parents.
After hearing the "Official Report" from the police and hospital staff one could actually see his parents seem to swell with pride. It wasn't a state he was used to seeing them in but apparently "fighting off a couple of robbers" was grounds for praise.
And for the first time in years real parenting moments showed themselves from the elder members of his family. Not since his father's accident, not since the old man dragged his mother with him into the bottle, had he received such positive attention.
But it seemed a consequence of this was that he was under constant supervision by his parents and he was going mad from it. Not because of how his mother dotted on him or how his father would constantly check in on him, no that he kind of enjoyed. No, what he hated was that because of his parents' attention the doctor's orders were being enforced.
There were no more running routines, no shadow boxing, no pushups, no arrow practice, no physical activity what so ever. He was stuck inside, no school, no people outside of Willow and his parents and no magic because Giles decided that when he visited to take his books away.
No magic, no working out, no progress.
In his enforced recovery he had become stagnant. A thought and state that he simply could not stand. He had to get better, he had to become a hero, and sitting in his bedroom all day hopped up on pain killers and re-reading old comic books wasn't the way to do it.
… Even if he was taking notes with every volume and issue he re-read.
Still, it was annoying but the bed rest was a combination order from both the doctor and Giles. And as a Robin he was obligated to listen to the later.
God, it sucked being downgraded to a Robin.
If he was still an aspiring Batman he could just ignore the doctor and keep on pushing himself but noooo, he had to have an Alfred looking over his shoulder.
Hmmm, he wondered if Giles could really be counted as an Alfred. Sure he had the whole British thing down and he was more behind the scenes but he still got out there every now and then. Plus he was working with and training Buffy and soon Xander himself.
So maybe he was more of a Wildcat. An old hero that was still fighting the good fight while mentoring the next generation.
Either way it was annoying.
At least Willow's after school and weekend visits made the time pass by quicker, even if having her over was like having another doctor look him over.
At this point he was actually looking forward to Monday so he could get back to school and stop this whole "Taking it Easy" crap.
His muscles were aching and it wasn't because of his bruises.
Shifting restlessly on the coach he took in another handful of popcorn and did his best to pay attention to the Romantic Comedy Willow picked out.
God, bed rest was torture.
When Giles wasn't looking into rumors of Angeleus' movements through his contacts he was going over the magical text that Xander obtained from the deceased Mrs. Madison's collection. And frankly he was beginning to worry.
Malignant curses? Blood oaths to demons? Allegiances to gods and forces that were frankly unknown?
The texts spread out over his home's coffee table just screamed of trouble in the form ill-fated magics and back-firing spells. He would have to go over with Xander exactly what spells he learned and just how he was powering them.
Though the question of how the spells were powered had already, if only partially, answered. Both from the Hyena possession and the damage done to his body by what appeared to be ill-used magic.
It would appear the boy learned how to open his internal pathways. How so was still a mystery to Giles, as he still hadn't gone through all the texts yet, but he could only hope he did not contract a demon to do so.
Though the fact Xander seemed to hate the demon population at large and refused to be a, as the teen put it, "Butt Monkey" was a small comfort to the English native.
Still, he found he had to respect the boy.
Giles had not realized how far the teen was willing to go to get into the fight. Pulling himself at all ends to improve everything about himself just so that he could stand a chance in the face of the monsters.
If the boy wasn't being so stupid about it Giles might have found the attitude commendable.
Wearily Giles started to rub his eyes in fatigue as he felt pulled at all sides himself. Between his Watcher duties, his cover job as a school librarian, and his ever growing responsibility to rein Xander in: he truly felt his age.
Lord only knows what will happen when Willow decides she should be doing more.
His duties, both official and self-appointed, were slowly tearing him apart. He wondered if this feeling was the reason why so many Watchers turned grey at such young ages.
But… Maybe the children are right. Maybe they should be doing more, maybe they all should be doing more.
He knew he had the power to do more. All he needed was his Code. One simple phone call and they could be there within a week and he could help his Slayer more than any other watcher before him had.
He chanced a glance at the telephone before years of reasoning and focus hammered in. He wasn't going to allow himself to fall like that.
He knew what would happen if he picked up his tools again.
Ripper would rise and there was little chance Rupert would ever come back.
No, he had to stay focused. He had to watch over charge and her companions.
He could not fall while it was him and them against the darkness of the world.
Nearly as soon as he entered the school grounds, with Willow hovering behind him the whole walk there, Xander had found just how quickly gossip could spread. He also learned just how quickly it can mutate.
Somehow the "Official" story had leaked out into the student body, courtesy of a rather proud sounding Principal Flutie, and they were having a field day with it. The most out there thing he heard so far was when a freshmen asked him if he really beat up ten bikers on his own after they crashed into Buffy's house.
Frankly he was starting to get why so many heroes had secret identities, the hero worship and awe got on your nerves quick.
No wonder Batman avoided the press like the plague.
As he complained openly about this to Willow, who wasn't so secretly enjoying his tipsy antics thanks to the pain meds, a familiar voice called out to them. "Hey guys, how's it going?"
Startled he turned around to see Buffy standing just behind him, damn her and her ninja skills. "Oh, hey Buff. What's up?"
Putting a mock pout on her face she instantly said, "I asked first buster."
"Did you?" He asked before realizing that she did.
"She did." Willow added cheerily while stifling a giggle. A loopy Xander was a funny Xander. It was even funnier than back before he got all serious.
"I did," Buffy said in a mock grave tone as she played along with the joke, "Now, answer the question."
"Um, good, I think." Which was hard to do considering how fuzzy his head felt.
Both Girls shared an amused glance at their friend's antics, Buffy being more than a little glad it wasn't her this time.
Xander, cheeks glowing in embarrassment as his fuzzy mind started to catch up to the conversation, decided to change the subject.
"So, how's your mom?"
Any remote sign of cheerfulness fled from both the conversation and Buffy's face, twisting briefly into emotions Xander couldn't place, "She's… Doing better, I guess. Going to see the doctor again to see the result of her CT tomorrow. Hopefully it's nothing too bad."
Xander shifted his backpack uncomfortably, "Well… good luck to her."
Buffy flashed him a tiny smile in thanks before she remembered something, "Oh yeah, my mom wanted to invite you and your folks over for dinner sometime. You know," She looked aside as if she was ashamed of something, "To say thank you."
Xander blinked dumbly for a second, as he was honestly not expecting any sort of thanks besides passing comments. That's how it worked in the comic books right? … Museums and parades for the big leagues withstanding.
So it took him a moment to answer with, "I'll have to talk to my parents but that sounds nice."
Again Buffy beamed at him before the bell rang forcing the three friends to head to their homerooms with little more than a 'seeya later'.
As the day went by Xander would find himself increasingly frustrated, and it wasn't because of his ribs.
What was causing his frustration was that it wasn't just the student body that got sucked into the rumor mill but the teachers too. Without fail each teacher would pull him aside at some point during the period and tell him what a credit he was to the school and to the town.
It got annoying fast.
He briefly wondered if Buffy ever had to deal with anything like that. Then he realized that she probably didn't, partly she was better at the whole 'disappearing into the night' thing than he was and partly because she got the Spiderman blame.
Seriously, half the teachers at their school thought she was a half-step away from juvie and that just wasn't right. She was an honest-to-all hero and she deserved to be treated like one.
So caught up in his musing Xander never heard the clicking of heals coming up behind his computer station and took no notice of the woman standing behind him until she spoke up.
"How's the assignment coming Xander?"
Xander jolted around his chair in surprise, much to the protest of his ribs. With his body turned he saw who decided to call out to him and instantly felt like he was in trouble under his teacher's dark eyes.
She wasn't quite glaring but something about her body language told him that she was not happy with him.
"Um, fine Ms. Calendar." He said as soon as her question finally caught up his brain.
"Then why is your screen blank?"
Sure enough when he turned his attention back to his screen he found it void of any progress since he booted up the program at the beginning of class. So turning back all he could do was sheepishly respond, "Taking a short break?"
The pretty woman crossed her arms and sarcastically responded, "Uh-huh. How about me and you have a little talk after class about how that break was going?"
Head down now, already preparing for his coming scolding, Xander mumbled, "Yes, ma'am."
She gave him one last not quite glare before moving on to see what the rest of the class was doing. And as she walked away Xander couldn't help but think of the irony of what just happened. Here he was complaining to himself about how annoying the faculty was being by their continued praise and one of them steps up to scold him.
At least the blow was softened by her being the resident hot teacher. It would make the reprimand he was going to get a little more bearable.
Though it didn't really help with the jeers from some of his nearby classmates, or with the little pit of impatient anxiety in his stomach.
So by the time the bell rang Xander was practically praying that she would make their conversation as quick and as painless as possible.
But by the way she was staring at him with narrowed eyes and how she closed the door as the last of the students left he doubted it.
After a moment of silence and Ms. Calendar's searching gaze Xander decided to speak up to move things along, "Look, Ms. C., I'm sorry for spacing out in class I'm just-,"
She cut him off, "I don't care about that." She said, surprising her student, "What I want to know is what the hell you've done."
"I asked, what have you done?"
Xander shook his head, "I'm really not getting what you're saying."
The dark haired woman rolled her eyes as she practically stomped towards him and grabbed his wrist, "This!" She hissed, pointing clearly to the roadway of strange bruises that ran along his arm, "I'm talking about this. What did you do?"
Xander gave a confused blink at her demand, feeling completely unsettled by the turn of events. "I-I got into a fight." He said, trying to take a step away from her but she seem insistent on invading his personal space.
"And I want to know what you fought them with." She demanded once again in a harsh tone, "A fireball? A burst? Please don't tell me you're dumb enough to summon a demon. And what type of idiot taught you to cast spells? Did they want you to burn from the inside out?"
She knew about magic?
That out of everything was what shocked him the most. He honestly thought that most of Sunnydale was willingly blind to what was going on in the world around them.
To have someone with their eyes opened to it all in front of him was a shock. And at the moment he couldn't decide if it was a good thing or a bad thing. After all, the last teacher that knew about the real world turned out to be a giant man eating praying mantis.
"You know about magic?" He finally managed to get out after his shock started to fade.
The teacher almost rolled her eyes, "Yes, I know about the crafts. Now answer my questions."
"Uh, questions?" He asked, his mind becoming fuzzier with every beat of his rapidly accelerating heart.
Her response to his question was to narrow her eyes further and tighten her hold on his wrist, "I want to know who taught you magic and what spells you used."
"I, um," Xander was uncomfortably aware of the fact that he was pinned to the wall, and even more so of her hand on his wrist. But unlike most other guys in this position he didn't find himself aroused or excited. Well maybe a little, she was the hottest teacher in the school after all, but it was buried underneath layers of panic.
She freely admitted she was a witch and she had control of his wrist. As both a growing magic user and a growing fighter he found both to be very worrying things.
Add to the fact that he was injured he didn't know what to do.
Should he attack? Break her hold and then run for it? Get Buffy?
He'd been in these situations before, he could handle it.
He could handle her. Or so he told himself.
And maybe she noticed all these signs and took the hint; maybe she needed her own space to cool off, or needed it to prepare some kind of attack. Xander really didn't know but he was so relieved that she let go of his wrist and backed away a step that his knees nearly gave out.
As he leaned against the nearest table to steady himself he kept a wary eye on her and the way she was taking in calming breaths. Didn't he do the same thing right before he prepared a spell? Was she going to attack?
He tried to do the same thing himself but the pain in his ribs caused him to make a painful hiss as he tried to take in a deep breath. Didn't stop him from grabbing a pen somebody left on the table though.
"Sorry," She said after a final breath, sounding a lot calmer than she did just a moment ago. "Look Xander, I just want to know where you learned your magic. Because whoever taught obviously didn't care about your safety."
Xander's body didn't loosen in the slightest at her apology but he did feel off balanced enough by the sudden mood change to not attack and to actually think things through as best as he could. Taking in the situation as quickly as his medicated mind could manage.
He was trapped alone in a room with a witch who stood between him and the door. Definitely not the best of situations, and honestly he had no clue on how to get out of it.
At least she wanted to talk, and since the Zoo Keeper was proof Bond Villains actually existed he might be able to escape during the monologue.
"No one taught me, well I taught myself so not nobody, but you get the point, self-learned." He finished the mesh sentence lamely, wishing to all that the pain killers didn't make him so loopy.
The computer teacher, still tense herself, stared at him stupefied. After a brief moment of tense silence, the computer teacher's expression seemed more exasperated than anything, "Look, Xander…"She paused as if in thought, "I don't know how you got into magic but you have to understand how dangerous it is. What it can do to your body, to your mind."
As she started to explain the dangers of magic to him Xander couldn't help but blink in shock.
She wasn't going to attack him?
She was actually trying to help him?
Well, that's not how he saw things happening. And while getting a stern warning was better than being set on fire he still didn't like getting one, especially when Giles kept on giving him one in various lengths every time they saw each other.
So that combined with the diminishing stress that had built up inside him, in his opinion, he couldn't really be blamed for the way he snapped at the woman who was apparently only trying to help, "Look I get enough lectures from Giles, I know I did wrong, so can we skip it?"
She blinked, "Mr. Giles knows about this?"
"Yeah, he took away all my books." He really couldn't control the pout that sprouted on his face, he didn't like being as stunted in progress as he was. "Can I leave now?"
As he didn't see her as a threat anymore the question was rather rhetorical on his part. So he just side stepped her and went out the door heading for the class he was already late for.
As much as she wanted to, Jenny Calendar realized she couldn't chase after the errant boy. Not only because her next class was waiting out in the hallway but because he obviously needed a little space to calm down.
Why she decided it was a good idea to confront a budding magic user mid-day in the middle of a crowded school. She'd probably never know but she would eventually chalk it up to the sway of the moment.
Still, something had to be done before he hurt himself further or someone else. He obviously had no real control over what he was doing and that worried her greatly.
Someone had to make sure he didn't do anything foolhardy and dangerous since he obviously couldn't be trusted enough to look after himself in that regard. And if she interpreted her conversation with him right then someone did know he was practicing and hadn't done anything till there was damage done.
That thought gave her an idea for what she was going to be doing over her lunch break.
After his confrontation with Ms. Calendar, Xander's day didn't improve at all. It seemed that being late to one class was enough to get rid of the whole hero-worship some teachers seemed to be exuding off themselves. Or maybe it never extended that far, he didn't know and honestly didn't care.
He was just irked that he got extra homework because of it.
And then the school psychiatric Dr. Patterson, or just as likely Mr. Flutie, decided it would do Xander some good to talk about his problems. It went about as well as the last time they had a talk, Patterson bringing up topics and Xander half assing the answers with dead ends.
At least it got him out of history. As studious as he may have become he still hated that class.
Needless to say he was grateful for the break from school that lunch gave him.
Well, for that very brief moment before the girls swooped down and asked question after question. After the pleasantry of asking how he was doing and how was his body was holding up they asked about his confrontation with Ms. Calendar.
Apparently the rumor mill spread quick and wide that he got a dressing down from said teacher. But apparently only the why was speculated on as everyone universally seemed to agree that he had his ass verbally kicked.
So of course his friends wanted to know what he did wrong.
Xander stabbed at his lunch partly out of distaste in the food and partly because he didn't know how to say what he wanted in public. The ignorant people and those who refused to be in the know tended to take talks of the supernatural as a sign that you're crazy.
"Ms. C is like Amy's mom." Xander said, comparing their teacher to one of their old adventures hoping to get the point across to them discreetly.
In response to answer Willow reeled back in shock and Buffy went rigid as she asked "You sure?"
He nodded his head, "Yeah, she basically told me straight out." Xander said as raised his arm, "She recognized the marks on me and demanded answers."
"Why didn't you get me?" Buffy hissed out, obviously irritated.
Xander almost shrugged, "It was over with and honestly… she seemed pretty Glinda."
Willow blinked and gave a hesitant smile, "So she's good then?"
Buffy still didn't seem appeased, like she found it too convenient or suspicious, "We should still tell Giles, see what he thinks we should do."
While the suggestion was a bit out of character for the usually independent Slayer the other two found it to be a sound idea and went with it.
Xander honestly didn't mind leaving the excuse of a lunch behind and tossed the food out as he followed the girls to the library.
Giles gratefully took another sip of his tea, letting the caffeinated beverage wake up whatever sleeping brain cells it could. He had been drinking a cup for what seemed like every ten minutes and honestly it wasn't so much keeping him awake as making him need to go to the bathroom more often.
God, he was so tired.
He just wanted to lay down for a quick nap but he had responsibilities and duties. And even if they worked him to death, he sure as all was going to do them to the best of his abilities.
Still it was rather difficult to organize the library's bookshelves with a tired mind and sagging eyes.
He was actually grateful for the rather sudden and surprising sound of the library's doors swinging open, sending a large enough jolt of adrenaline to keep him awake for just a bit longer. Honestly, he was sure that this was his first visitor in hours which didn't say much for the minds of Sunnydale's youth.
"Ah, Ms. Calendar, how can I help you?" He greeted pleasantly as he saw the attractive woman practically march into the room. Normally he may have taken such a posture as a bad sign but with his addled mind he couldn't tell. Either that or he was too tired to care.
His co-worker didn't answer immediately, instead she took a quick look around the library and pinned him with a glare as soon as she realized they were alone. "Well, I would like to know why one of my students came to class looking like his magic up and tried to strangle him… If you wouldn't mind too much."
Giles was too stunned by her statement to even find the sarcastic way she said it rude. But before he could voice the latest revelation in question form Jenny stopped him, "Yes I know about magic, you do too apparently, I went over this with Xander earlier. Now I want to know how you could let him get like that."
"I-I didn't!" Giles sputtered out feeling his lack of sleep going very unwell with the turn of events, "I only found out last week after he was possessed!"
It was only after the words left his mouth did he realize he may have said too much.
"Possessed?" Jenny questioned while her mind reeled with possibilities, none of the particularly nice. "Are you telling me he allowed himself to be invaded by a demon?"
Did Xander already fall that low? Willing to give up his body and mind for a small nudge in power? For a brief bout of pleasure?
"No, no." Giles waved off, "Completely accidental. He and a few other students stumbled upon a half-finished ritual. We managed to remove the spirits with little ill effect that we know of." Giles once again made a mental note to check on the other teens soon. "Xander had showed some signs of magical fatigue and when I confronted him on it he refused to listen."
That made sense she supposed, if she thought about it in that all knowing teenager type of way. He probably figured he knew better than Giles and did whatever he felt like.
So letting out a sigh she decided to give the man a break, "Do you know what spells he used to get like that?"
Giles shook his head, "Honestly, no. I just took it as a miracle that he decided to listen to me afterwards." He paused for a hardly noticeable second as he mulled over how much he should share with this apparent witch. He had no idea where her allegiance laid, who's conven she belonged to, did she worship a deity? There were too many variables to truly trust her, especially with the fate of one of the children under his protection.
Still though, she was a teacher and a colleague. The first of which usually implied at least some fondness for children and a wanting what's best for her students. Or so he could hope.
And with that little tiny flicker of hope still intact he told her about the books he confiscated from Xander, where he had obtained them and what the librarian found inside them.
Jenny grimaced at the description of the woman and the magics she used, both from what Giles had experienced and the spells found in her books. From what she could guess the former Mrs. Madison was a fallen Eclectic Witch. Grabbing what she could from a dozen different sources and making it work for her in a pitch patched sort of way.
Not that Jenny could say she was any different, blending what magics she still allowed herself from her family with her new ways as a Techno Pagan. But she could say that she hadn't fallen far enough to try and literally take over a young girl's life.
And most of the magics she heard Giles describing seemed to be fine line magics at best. Spells you needed to be balanced with yourself and energies to attempt.
If Xander misstepped with even one of such spells…. And that's not even thinking if he stumbled upon magics bound by the Three-Fold Law.
After shaking her head to clear her thoughts she asked, "So what do you plan to do?"
"I-," He paused again and this time it wasn't out of doubt, well for her at least. "I'm not sure to be honest. After he's recovered enough I was going to see how much damage had been done and then learn what spells he used."
"Smart, I guess. But not really a long term plan."
Giles shook his head, "No, I'm afraid it's not."
"We should fix that." She said with just a hint of demand.
As much as he wanted to hesitate, to possibly deny her, he knew he needed help. He was barely getting through his days as it was and a helping hand would be taken gratefully. Even if he was going to watch that hand like a hawk. "What do you purpose?"
As the two talked back and forth about options, slowly finding their way to a mutually agreeable solution, a certain trio of students walked into the room.
"Giles?" Buffy questioned, feeling her body tighten like a coil as she saw her potential enemy standing next to someone she cared about. In the corner of her eye she could make out Xander moving in front of Willow looking more wary than ready for a fight.
That was good, she supposed though she wished he just took the red head out of the room with him, even if she was the good witch of the north like Xander thought.
"Hmm, oh, hello Buffy." Giles greeted with as much composure as anyone else when they are torn form an important conversation.
Buffy brushed off the greeting as her gaze lay fixed on her computer teacher, "Giles, are you okay?"
"Hmmm," He hummed in question wondering what she meant before the obvious reached his mind. Buffy had heard about Ms. Calendar from Xander. And her previous experience with witches added to the fact she was standing next to him must have looked worrying.
He was actually surprised she hadn't leapt into action already. Her restraint was improving apparently.
"Oh, yes. Ms. Calendar was just talking to me about Xander's condition." Giles stepped away from the woman to show he was free to move and placed a hand on the Slayer's shoulder to reassure her. "Everything's alright."
Jenny watched on in mild surprise and curiosity as she watched the librarian interact with his students. From what she could guess is that all three of them were in the proverbial know. Maybe he was drawing in practitioners and guiding them.
Admirable, if she knew what he was teaching them.
Her best guess as to what he was teaching them was Demon Hunting. At least she could guess from the bits he told her about the witch Madison and the Possession Ritual. A nice idea but it was dangerous on so many levels and reasons.
Still, she was a teacher. She liked being a teacher, she worked hard to become one. And part of that job was looking after the kids of her school, going above and beyond as the cases demanded.
And these cases seemed to demand it.
Flashing the three of them a smile she asked, "Are you two Magi too?". The question was directed at Buffy and Willow since she knew Xander's answer already.
Buffy's eyes narrowed, unfamiliar with the term but she was fairly sure she wasn't a mag-whatever. "No, Slayer. So behave or get Slayed."
Giles groaned. He had been trying to avoid that certain secret and there Buffy goes just spouting it to the world. Did she even understand the idea of keeping her identity hidden?
Jenny for her part felt her eyes widen in shock.
Was the girl joking? Because everyone knew that Slayers were just rumors and myths… Right?
Her eyes flicked across the small group, taking in each of their expressions as her mind made the connections between rumors and reality. Giles, an obviously occult educated English man, looking exasperated and Buffy, a pretty young girl, looking like she could take on a small army just from the pouting glare on her face.
They fit. They fit the rumors.
But still… she couldn't really believe it.
So when Jenny finally found herself able to blink all she could say was, "Really?"
After shock and exasperation wore off the adults of the group explained what happened to the best of their ability. Most of the conversation was Giles trying to assure Buffy that Ms. Calendar seemed to be a good person but when they stumbled onto a part of their conversation that the girls seemed to focus on.
"You're doing magic?" Willow asked in wonder and disbelief while the expression on Buffy's face seemed a bit perturbed.
"Just a bit." He admitted easily. It wasn't like he was hiding it, he just didn't find it necessary to bring up. He wasn't good enough at it yet to be any help, and he still wouldn't be anytime soon if Giles didn't hurry up and let him practice.
"Why?" Buffy asked, her voice straining against itself.
Xander shrugged, "Figured I needed a utility belt to help out and since I wasn't rich or super smart, so magic would have to do."
Now while everyone found how Xander said that line odd Buffy just couldn't let what it meant go.
Why? Why did he always want to fight?
Didn't understand that he could have a normal life? To be free of the nightmare that she was forced to live in? Why would anyone throw that chance away?
She was destined for it, Giles said he was born in it, they didn't have a choice. They had to fight.
So why couldn't he just stand aside and just be her friend?
Why did he want to fight so badly?
So wrapped up in her spiraling thoughts she barely heard the bell ringing and the group talking about meeting after school. And even as they traveled down the halls to their classes, all Buffy could think about was what she could do to make her friend understand.
By the last period Willow was practically bouncing in her seat as the clock ticked closer to the end of the school day. Not a usual state for her but she couldn't help it, she was going to learn about MAGIC!
Well, hear people talk about and plan about magic but it was going to be interesting none the less. And though she knew the conversation and planning were going to be focused around Xander she was hopping that maybe they could squeeze her in on those lessons.
It was only fair right? If Xander got to learn something then she should too, right?
With that thought in mind she quickly bound out of her last class as the bell rang in a much better mood than either of her friends.
Buffy still fretting over what she should say to Xander and wondering if she should talk to Giles about it, maybe even get him on her side, while Xander was just annoyed at what he saw as another delay in his progress.
The three easily converged on their way to the library as they were used to. Bubbly, nervous and slightly tense small talk was made between the three that each one would brush off easily for various reasons. Chalking it up to nerves of seeing a witch they still weren't sure about or in Willow's case obvious excitement of talking about magic. Asking questions constantly about what Xander knew and was a little disappointed that it was only three spells.
"Hey, they're hard to get. Okay?" Xander said, defending himself even if he was disappointed in his own progress.
"Well, maybe Ms. Calendar can help?" Willow offered.
"Maybe." Xander agreed with a bit of a pout. He appreciated the help and even if he wasn't demoted to a Robin he would still appreciated the help, almost anything to get stronger, but he didn't like being delayed.
But if it paid off in the end he guess he couldn't really mind.
Buffy stayed quiet during her friends' little exchange. She could guess that those spells he named were the reason why he lasted as long as he did against the vampires that invaded her home and while she was grateful she still didn't like him knowing them.
He didn't need to fight and he shouldn't have had to at all. Her stupidity almost got him and her mom killed. It was her responsibility, not his.
She was the one that was supposed to fight.
With that thought in Buffy's mind they entered the library, making Giles jump a bit as he was nose deep in a book. A book Xander recognized.
"Hey, are you done with them yet?" He asked the librarian excitedly. The closer Giles got to finishing reading all his books the quicker he could get back to practicing.
"Ah, not quite." Giles admitted a bit sheepishly. His exhaustion and search for Angel slowed down his reading pace considerably. "I, ah, still have a few more volumes to go through."
"Aw, come on. Most of those books are filled with crap anyway. What's taking so long?!" He was trying to patient, he really was but he needed to get moving again. He needed to get stronger.
Giles was unmoved by Xander's outburst, he had his reasons and he didn't mind sharing them with the boy. "I need to know everything that is in these books so I can not only see what you may have learned but see what other useful information lays inside."
"Could have just asked me." Xander muttered.
Giles smothered a snort and replied dryly, "Yes, because teenagers are famous for giving such accurate information."
"It's still not a bad idea Mr. Giles." Jenny said in response, entering the room after hearing bits of the conversation from the near deserted Library hallway. "It'll be easier to see where he is at that way."
"True." Giles admitted, "But I would still be more comfortable knowing what else he may have stumbled on in his readings."
"I can understand that but still we need to get a handle on the situation immediately."
"We still need any and all information we can before we act. We don't know what the boy may have tripped and stumbled on with these books."
"Hmmm, I suppose but still…"
"Hey, can we stop talking about me like I'm not here?" Xander asked, inserting himself into the conversation much to Willow's chagrin as it sounded like something interesting might have been said if they'd kept on talking.
"Y-yes, sorry about that Xander." Giles apologized, feeling chastised enough that his damn stutter came back. While Ms. Calendar just shrugged as an apology, obviously feeling little regret.
"Yeah, well, let's just get going." Xander said, wanting nothing more than to get moving again.
AN: Sorry it took so long but after I got my new Laptop it took a while to get into the flow with it but I hope the chap was worth the wait. And sorry if you don't like the length but it was only supposed to be a short one.