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Xander Harris, This Is Not Your Life

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Summary: In a (crossover) encounter with the angel from the classic film 'It's A Wonderful Life', Xander Harris learns what his world might have been like if he had never been born.

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Movies > It's A Wonderful Life(Recent Donor)AnotherJDFR1342155,61247231,54911 Jan 1213 Nov 13No

'Auld Acquaintance'

Disclaimer: The character of Clarence Odbody is borrowed from the film It’s A Wonderful Life; all other characters are borrowed from Buffy The Vampire Slayer. Some dialogue from ‘The Dark Age’, by Dean Batali and Rob Des Hotel.

Xander Harris, This Is Not Your Life

33. ‘Auld Acquaintance’

Buffy was sure that something was wrong with Giles. If he didn’t want to talk to her about it, maybe she could find something out from Ms Calendar. That’s why she had turned up at school on Saturday morning. She knew Ms Calendar was in one of the computer labs, reviewing some basics for a few students who had fallen behind.

When Buffy walked into the room, all the faces were familiar. She knew she could talk freely—well, reasonably freely—in front of Marcie, Jesse, Cordelia, and Cordelia’s boyfriend Kevin Benedict. She didn’t think the same was true for Dave Kirby, who might have seen her in action, but didn’t know she was the Slayer. What was Dave doing there, anyway? How could he possibly need help with computer basics?

Maybe his experience as the beloved of Moloch the Corrupter had freaked him out so much that he’d been turned off computers. He had been freaked out, she knew that. All the more reason not to talk freely in front of him.

‘Hey, Buffy!’ said Jesse. ‘I didn’t know you were going to be here.’

Ms Calendar turned to Buffy. ‘Why are you here, Buffy? Did you want some extra help with computing too?’

As Buffy started to answer, she could see Marcie across the room moving her eyes in a signal that Buffy guessed meant that she wanted to know whether anything important was going on. Buffy tried to move her own face in a signal she hoped Marcie would understand as meaning that she’d let her know as soon as she could. It was difficult because at the same time she was speaking to Ms Calendar, saying, ‘Excuse me, Ms Calendar, I’m sorry to interrupt, but I need to speak to you quickly. In private’, she added, moving her head in the direction of the door to the hallway.

Ms Calendar’s face reacted as if she knew something serious was going on, and she shepherded Buffy out into the hallway. ‘What is it?’

‘It’s Giles’, Buffy said awkwardly.

Ms Calendar breathed in sharply. ‘Has something happened to him?’

Buffy took a step forward and reached a hand out towards Ms Calendar. ‘It may be nothing. It’s just that he was supposed to meet me last night’—she dropped her voice, still thinking about Dave—‘at the hospital, to stop vampires from stealing a blood delivery—’

‘I know, he told me. Did something go wrong? I thought that was why he broke our d—arrangement for the evening—’

‘No, he wasn’t hurt or anything, I mean, not as far as I know—he just didn’t turn up at the hospital, so afterwards I went to his place to check and he was acting—well, very anti-Giles. He wouldn’t let me in, and he looked really bad. I-I think he might’ve been … I think he was drinking.’

‘You mean, heavily?’

Buffy drew her eyebrows down. ‘I—I don’t know. Sorry, I never thought of Giles drinking.’

‘That aside, it’s not like him to fail to show up for his arrangement with you.’

‘Or his’—Buffy didn’t want to say ‘date’, and Ms Calendar also seemed to want to avoid the word—‘arrangement with you.’

Cordelia appeared at the classroom door. ‘Is this going to take long? Some of us have lives we want to get back to.’

‘Cordelia’, said Buffy. ‘Have you noticed anything different about Giles recently?’

‘He seemed perfectly normal yesterday when I saw him talking to the police.’

‘The police?’ said Ms Calendar. ‘What were they talking to him about?’

‘What were they talking to him about? Is that important?’

Buffy stared at her. ‘Is that important?’

‘Yes, Cordelia’, said Ms Calendar more gently, ‘it might be very important.’

‘Okay.’ Cordelia put on a look of concentration. ‘I remember! It was something about a homicide.’

Before either Buffy or Ms Calendar could respond to that, Dave appeared at the classroom door. ‘If you’re going to be busy for a few minutes’, he said, looking at Ms Calendar, ‘do you want me to get them started?’

‘Thank you, Dave. Oh, ah, Buffy, do you know Dave Kirby? Dave is helping me out today, for extra credit.’

‘We’ve met—once or twice. Hi, Dave.’

Dave quietly returned Buffy’s greeting, and then Jesse appeared in the doorway behind him. ‘Buffy, is something going on? Can I help?’

‘Okay’, said Ms Calendar, ‘everybody back into the classroom. Dave, perhaps you could get them started, like you said? I’ll be back in just a few minutes.’

‘So why is Willow not there?’

Clarence didn’t answer, and Xander realised he was supposed to try to figure out the answer for himself.

‘Ms Calendar would have asked Dave to help her if he hadn’t been dead. That’s why I’m seeing Dave there, and that’s why Willow isn’t there, because Ms Calendar didn’t need two assistants. If Fritz hadn’t been dead, he might have been the one she asked. I just wasn’t thinking about it from her point of view.’

Jenny suggested that as the library was just across the hall they could call Rupert from his own office, but when they walked in Buffy suddenly stopped dead and held up one hand to check Jenny as well. Her other hand she cupped to her ear, signalling to Jenny that she could hear something. Then she pointed at a bookcase and Jenny saw a shadow moving across it and nodded. With one hand Buffy pointed at Jenny and then jabbed that finger downwards to indicate that Jenny should stay where they were, while with the other she pointed at herself and then indicated that she’d go upstairs into the stacks to find whatever—or whoever—was making the noise.

It was only a minute or two that Jenny waited and after that she heard sounds that might have been a scuffle followed by voices. Then Buffy reappeared, marching a prisoner in front of her with his arm pulled up behind his back. He had a long rectangular face and a mocking expression, and Jenny recognised him.

‘You run that new costume shop, don’t you? I can’t think what it’s called.’

‘Ethan’s?’ said Buffy. ‘You’re Ethan? You the one who sold everybody all those cursed costumes for Halloween? Giles recognised your name.’

‘Oh, Rupert and I go way back. Really a long way back.’ The man spoke with an English accent, similar to Rupert’s. ‘You don’t happen to know where he is, do you?’

‘Sounds like we’ve got a clue’ said Buffy. ‘Maybe you should get back to your class, Ms Calendar? or they’ll be coming in here looking for you. I’ll find out what I can from our breaker-and-enterer-er here’—Jenny could see that she was using a little leverage on her prisoner’s arm—‘and then I’ll call Giles.’

‘So I mention Ms Calendar’s point of view and next thing I know I have it. And now that she’s gone back to the computer lab I seem to be switching back to Buffy’s point of view.’

This Ethan character—he said his name was Ethan Rayne—had told Buffy to ask Giles, or Rupert (as Ethan called him), about something called the Mark of Eyghon, so when Giles tried to put her off she did just that. When he didn’t answer, she asked him whether he knew anybody called Ethan Rayne. This time he responded.

— ‘Ethan?’

‘He’s here with me now.’

— ‘Buffy, where are you? Is there anybody else there?’

‘We’re at the school library’, said Buffy. ‘Ms Calendar and some students are in a classroom across the hallway.’

— ‘Buffy, anybody who’s near Ethan could be in grave danger. You have to get everybody to safety, now.’

‘Danger? Safety? From what?’

Before Giles could answer Buffy heard a crash, and breaking glass, from Giles’s office. She put the receiver down and turned to look. Somebody, or something, came lumbering out of the door of the office into the area behind the counter where she and Ethan Rayne were standing. It, or he, looked mostly like a man, but a lot like a man who had been dead, reminding her of Chris Epps’s brother, although Daryl had been greener than this one.

Alive or dead, he came straight at her. She kicked him hard in the chest and he staggered back into the office while she rolled over the counter. As she straightened he came out of the office through the other door and attacked her again, although it was Ethan’s name he shouted. From a corner of her eye Buffy saw that Ethan was scrambling over the counter too, and that Jesse and the others had arrived at the library door—they must have heard the noise. She shouted at them to stop Ethan getting away and then turned her attention back to her own attacker, fending him off again. As she did so, she noticed that the door of the library cage stood open, and backed towards it, feinting as if she were going to run through it.

Jesse grabbed at Ethan Rayne, shouting, ‘Hey, you!’ Ethan kicked him hard in the shin, pushed him against the counter, and broke free, but Kevin tackled him and brought him to a stop. Jesse moved in to grab Ethan again and they held him pinned between them.

Buffy succeeded in provoking her opponent into a rush at her, which she sidestepped. He stumbled into the library cage, and she slammed the door and locked it.

‘Okay, Clarence, I do totally get that this experience involves seeing things from different perspectives. That’s been going on a lot. But now it seems to be getting more intense. We switched from Buffy to Ms Calendar and then back to Buffy, and now where are we?’

— ‘Can’t you tell me, Xander?’

Xander thought for a moment. ‘I think I get it. If ever it’s important for me to know, then I should be able to figure it out.’

‘I guess there are proper tests you’d have to run to be sure, but he looks dead to me’, said Dave Kirby, staring at the thing in the cage. ‘How is that even possible?’ He looked round at the others. ‘Buffy? Marcie?’ When nobody answered, he said, ‘Doesn’t anybody think this is even a little bit strange?’

‘Compared to what happened to half the town on Halloween’, said Cordelia, ‘it’s only a little bit strange.’ She looked at Kevin, who didn’t know the story about Daryl Epps, and put a hand on his side. ‘This isn’t even the first walking dead guy I’ve seen in Sunnydale.’ She looked at Buffy. ‘Buffy, you wanna tell him?’

‘Buffy?’ Dave looked from her to Marcie Ross again and then back. ‘Does this having something to with why you showed up at CRD that time?’

Buffy gave a little sigh and then started on the same speech she’d given when she’d explained to Cordelia about being the Slayer. Halfway through Dave started to nod along. ‘Now things are starting to make sense’, he said when Buffy had finished. ‘So that robot you saved me from—’

‘It was a demon’, said Buffy. ‘It got into the Internet, never mind how, and used that as a base to influence people and get them to build that robot body for it. But then Ms Calendar here organised some people on the Web with Willow Rosenberg and Amy Madison and Mr Giles the librarian, and they exorcised it from the Net, so that all we had to do was find a way to blow up the robot to get rid of the demon.’

‘So the dead man here is something supernatural? Like a zombie or something?’

‘We don’t know exactly.’

Marcie spoke up. ‘I think there’s one person here who knows more than the rest of us.’ She walked over to where Buffy and Jesse McNally were standing next to the man in the chair. ‘Maybe it’s time he started talking.’

‘What about it, Ethan?’ said Buffy. ‘What have you got for us?’

Before the man could answer, Mr Giles came through the library entrance, saying, ‘Is anybody hurt?’

Ms Calendar crossed the room to him. ‘We’re all okay, Rupert.’

Marcie said, ‘The situation seems to be under control for the moment. We’ve got one intruder, dead, still violent, but locked in a cage’—she pointed—‘and one intruder, in good condition, not violent, scared’—she pointed again—‘and ready to answer some questions if he knows what’s good for him.’

The man in the chair—the one Buffy had called Ethan—looked up at Mr Giles and said coolly, ‘Hello, Ripper.’

‘Ripper?’ said Marcie.

‘Why is he calling Mr Giles “Ripper”?’ said Dave.

Cordelia thought that was a good question. ‘Yeah, Mr Giles, why is he calling you “Ripper”? Is that short for Rupert or something?’

Mr Giles ignored the questions. He just walked up to Ethan, or whatever his name was, reached around him to grab the hair at the back of his neck, and pulled him up out of his chair so that he could bring his own face right up against Ethan’s and say, ‘You should have left town when I told you to.’

Mr Giles sounded a lot different from the way he normally did, and Cordelia got why Ethan had called him ‘Ripper’.

Ethan said, ‘The shop’s lease was paid up until the end of the month.’

‘That isn’t exactly the point’, said Marcie, looking at Buffy.

‘Yeah, Giles, we’re looking for some answers.’

‘So, Ripper’, said Ethan mockingly, ‘are you going to give them the answers they’re looking for?’

The conversation was interrupted when the dead guy in the cage busted the door loose. It flew open, banging hard against Dave, who fell to the floor knocked cold. Kevin grabbed Cordelia and pulled her out of the way. The dead guy tried to get at Ethan, but Buffy got in the way and kicked him—it—so that it staggered back against the door of the cage and slid to the floor. Ms Calendar moved to crouch down next to Dave as the thing got up and moved forward again, and Ethan tried to make a run for it, but Mr Giles and Jesse grabbed him. Buffy was in position for another kick, but suddenly the thing’s expression, if you could call it that, changed. Its eyes went wide, it started thrashing around in spasms, and then it collapsed on the floor. For a moment it was still and then it suddenly started melting, like the Wicked Witch of the West. In less than a minute there was nothing but a puddle of slime spreading across the floor.

Cordelia jerked away from the slime. ‘I’m gonna be in therapy until I’m thirty!’

Buffy said, ‘Is Dave okay?’

Ms Calendar looked up. ‘I hope so. He’s been knocked unconscious, but there doesn’t seem to be anything else wrong with him.’

Kevin said, ‘Maybe I should take a look. I’ve seen a few sports injuries before.’

As Kevin and Ms Calendar looked at Dave, Buffy turned back to Mr Giles. ‘Ready to turn on the explaining?’

Mr Giles hesitated and Cordelia gave him her own stare. So did Marcie, and Ethan. Then Marcie said, ‘Or do you want us to get the story from your friend Ethan instead—Ripper?’

Mr Giles shook his head. ‘All right. Give me a moment to get things straight.’ He took off his glasses to polish them on his shirt.’

‘This should be good’, Ethan said.

Mr Giles gripped his arm harder, then pushed him back into his chair. ‘Shut up’, he said, then faced Buffy again. ‘Twenty years ago, Ethan and I and some others experimented with some dangerous magic. Small things to begin with, and then Ethan and I discovered—Eyghon.’

Ms Calendar interrupted. ‘Eyghon? The demon, the one they call “the Sleepwalker”?’

Mr Giles looked at her in surprise. ‘You’ve heard of Eyghon?’

‘A little. You should give me more credit for occult knowledge, Rupert. You should tell your story, though.’

Mr Giles nodded and continued. ‘The reason they call him “the Sleepwalker” is that to enter this dimension he has to possess an unconscious host. So one of us would, uh—go into a deep sleep—’

Marcie interrupted. ‘A deep sleep?’ From the tone she said it in, Cordelia could tell she thought Mr Giles was covering something up. Cordelia didn’t have much trouble guessing what that might be, the thing that made somebody go into a deep sleep, like being unconscious. It just didn’t sound much like Mr Giles the librarian.

‘Yes’, he said, and gave a small cough before going on. ‘The rest of us would summon Eyghon, and he would possess the, uh, sleeper. It was an extraordinary high, a euphoric sensation of power!’

Marcie interrupted again. ‘But this was a temporary possession, right? It must have been.’

‘It was, uh—’

Ethan filled in. ‘It was supposed to be.’ He looked at Mr Giles and Mr Giles looked back at him before going on.

‘If the rituals were followed properly, Eyghon could be kept under control. But one of us, Randall, he—well, he lost control. We couldn’t stop Eyghon from taking permanent possession of him. We tried to exorcise the demon from him but, but …’

Ethan butted in again. ‘It didn’t work. We had to stop the demon—Randall was killed.’ This time Mr Giles didn’t look at him.

‘After that’, said Mr Giles, ‘we thought we were rid of Eyghon for good. Of course we didn’t summon him again. But now, he’s back.’

‘So, how?’

‘That hardly matters. The point is, he’s going to hunt us down one by one and kill us all.’

‘Well’, said Ethan, ‘in fact there’s only the two of us left now.’

Buffy was still looking at Mr Giles. ‘So melt-into-slime guy was one of your little demon-summoning club? and Eyghon did that to him? How does that work, exactly?’

Mr Giles didn’t look at anybody. ‘Once Eyghon has been summoned into this dimension, he has the power to take possession of the dead, but his demonic energy soon disintegrates the dead body, and he has to jump to another body nearby.’

‘Each time he killed one of us’, Ethan said, ‘he must have possessed the body and used it to hunt down his next target, always keeping one jump ahead of disintegration. So to speak.’

Cordelia spoke up. ‘Okay, but that last body here melted before it could kill anybody else. There wasn’t any dead person here for this Eyghon demon to jump to, so we’ve got rid of it, right?’

Buffy said, ‘Giles?’ Then, when he didn’t answer, she said it again, at a higher pitch. ‘Giles? Could the demon have jumped to another body, one that wasn’t dead, but only unconscious?’

‘If Giles knew all about Eyghon, why didn’t he realise straight away what had happened? I mean, when Ms Calendar was the one who was knocked unconscious, and Eyghon jumped into her body when that other guy’s disintegrated?’

— ‘The possibility escaped his attention because he was distracted. The situation was charged with high emotion. He had strong feelings for Jenny Calendar and he was determined to discourage Buffy from getting involved. In the absence of Ethan Rayne he thought he could keep the truth from her.’

‘I suppose that makes sense. Kinda.’

‘Dave’s coming round okay’, Kevin said. ‘We need to watch him for signs of concussion, though.’

‘That’s not all we need to watch him for’, Marcie said. She put a hand on Buffy’s arm. ‘I know you’re not going to like this, but the first thing we have to do is lock Dave in the cage. As a precaution, while we’re trying to figure out what else we can do.’

Jesse crossed the room. ‘Okay, Kevin, I’ll give you a hand with that.’ Before Dave had finished recovering, they moved him into the cage and locked it.

‘The demon broke through that before’, Cordelia said.

‘Good point’, said Buffy. ‘Kevin, Jesse, get some furniture or something and build some kind of barricade to hold the cage door closed.’

Dave stared at them. His eyes flashed yellow. ‘You figured it out, then?’ He laughed.

Marcie looked at Kevin and Jesse. ‘Can you two stay in here and keep an eye on him? We can’t talk here in front of him. We’ll go into the office.’

The two boys nodded, and then the others filed into Giles’s office. As they did so, the demon in Dave’s body shouted after them, ‘Ethan! Rupert! don’t think you’ve escaped me!’

Buffy closed the door behind them, as Marcie said, ‘Mr Giles, didn’t you say something about rituals with the power to control Eyghon?’

‘To work properly, they had to begin before Eyghon was first invoked, and the person hosting the demon had to participate in them from the beginning. Now that Eyghon has entered into Dave, those rituals will not be effective in preventing him from progressing to full possession.’

‘The demon only got into Dave’s body because he was unconscious when that dead body …’—Cordelia paused and shuddered before going on—‘If we could get him out of Dave’s body and into another dead one, couldn’t we just wait for the demonicness to—you know, finish it off?’

‘Okay’, said Marcie, ‘that’s a thought, but I see three questions we’d need answers to, beginning with how we get the demon to jump out of Dave’s body in the first place.’

Ms Calendar said, ‘I know there are only two of us here who have any first-hand knowledge of “the Sleepwalker”, but if the information I’ve picked up is correct, it’s likely that Eyghon would abandon one body for another if it was convinced that it was facing a severe enough threat. If Dave’s body were in serious danger, or if it seemed that way, Eyghon could jump to another one. At least, I think so.’ She looked at Giles. ‘What do you think, Rupert?’

‘I suppose it might work.’ Giles looked serious and turned on Ethan. ‘Ethan? We might as well hear what you have to say about this.’

‘If you don’t have any qualms about what you do to the boy to threaten Eyghon—’

‘Okay, that’s enough from you, thanks.’

‘There’s still two more questions, anyway’, said Marcie. ‘Are we really any better off if we get Eyghon into another dead body? It was in a dead body before. Apparently it can just keep jumping from one to another.’

Buffy knew the answer to that one. ‘At least Dave will be better off. Plus, if the body Eyghon is in is one that’s already dead, we don’t have to worry about what else we do to deal with it.’

Marcie nodded. ‘Fair enough. I just thought it was worth asking.’

‘Also’, said Giles, ‘the longer Eyghon possesses the body of a living person, the greater the risk he can complete his manifestation. He can’t do that in a dead body.’

‘Then there’s one more question, which is just this: where do we find the dead body? Are we just going to take a stroll down to the cemetery and turn grave-robbers? It’s not as if we know anybody who just walks around with a dead body all the time.’

Ms Calendar cleared her throat. ‘Actually, we do know somebody who does exactly that. In a manner of speaking. We can get a walking dead body here if we need one.’

‘Really?’ said Ethan. ‘How interesting. Maybe I’ve underestimated you, Ripper.’

‘Ethan, it’s time for you to shut up again.’

‘Ms Calendar’s right, though’, said Marcie. ‘I should have—well, at least, I could have thought of him.’

Cordelia looked round the room. ‘Am I the only one here who doesn’t understand?’

‘It doesn’t matter’, said Buffy. ‘I get it. I’ll call him right away. Meanwhile the rest of you hit the books, see if Ms Calendar’s idea about threatening Dave’s body to get Eyghon out of it could work.’

‘And if it does’, Marcie added, ‘then how.’

When Angel walked into the library, it wasn’t hard for him to pick out who was possessed by the demon. The boy was shut in the cage, which had a barricade of furniture piled against it, and he was shouting, roaring, and doing his best to try to break the door loose. Angel didn’t waste time on talking to anybody once Buffy had nodded at him as the signal to go ahead with the plan. Giles handed him the key to the cage and he climbed over the barricade.

Angel unlocked the door with one hand and with the other hand grabbed the boy’s body as the demon drove it out of the cage. The host body struck out at him, thrashing, but he grabbed it by the throat and slammed it back against the cage door, hard. The thing struggled with him, but using the boy as its host it was no match for Angel. He continued the chokehold while banging the body repeatedly against the furniture, trying to get the demon called Eyghon to leave it.

Suddenly he could feel that it had made the jump to inside his body, and was fighting there with the demon already in possession. The conflict threw his body backwards, convulsing. He dropped the boy and then crashed into the furniture.

The two demons struggled for control over his body, which was thrown back and forth, and he could feel his face changing too under Eyghon’s influence, reverting, changing again, reverting again …

Suddenly the fight was over. Eyghon was hurled from his body and dissipated.

He straightened up a little shakily and looked around. Buffy and Giles were bending over the boy, who seemed to be coming to himself, and asking him whether he was okay, calling him Dave.

Ms Calendar looked at Angel steadily and said, ‘So the plan worked.’

‘Yeah. Your demon tried to get into my body but couldn’t handle the competition.’

‘So your body is dead’, said a man Angel hadn’t noticed before and didn’t recognise—Ethan, Angel deduced.

‘Angel’s a vampire’, Jesse said.

‘A dead body with a demon inside it’, said Ethan, with respect in his voice. ‘One that fought off Eyghon.’

Giles looked up. ‘Ethan, I think it’s time you were going.’

Buffy looked up too. ‘That’s right. And don’t come back. I don’t want to see you or hear of you in Sunnydale again. Jesse, Kevin, can you make sure Ethan finds his way out?’

‘I’ll go with them too’, said Marcie, ‘just to keep an eye on things, now that you’ve got everything under control here.’

When they’d gone, Buffy and Giles helped the boy Dave to his feet, as he said, ‘That was … I don’t even have the words for it.’

‘How do you feel now?’

‘I think I can cope. But I also think I have had enough of demons for two lifetimes.’

‘I know how you feel’, Cordelia said. ‘I was nearly eaten by a giant snake-demon. It’s best just to put it out of your mind and get on with your life.’

Dave looked at Angel. ‘And you—you’re a vampire?’ He looked at Buffy with a confused expression. ‘I thought you were a vampire slayer.’

‘Oh, Angel got his human soul back because of a gypsy curse’, Cordelia said. ‘So he’s, like, a good vampire.’

‘And’, Dave said haltingly, ‘the rest of you? and, and Kevin and Jesse and Marcie?’

‘There is’, Giles said, ‘a small number of people’—he cleared his throat—‘or perhaps I should say, a smallish number of people here at Sunnydale High who are aware that Buffy is the Slayer. Sometimes they have been able to be of some assistance to her mission.’

‘You mean, fighting vampires?’

Buffy shook her head. ‘No, I handle the fighting and the slaying. Vampires are too strong for normal people to fight. It would be dangerous, for them, and for everybody else.’

Dave gave a sigh of relief. ‘Good. After what I went through before with Moloch, and now this, I do not want to get into fights with demons or monsters or anything.’

Buffy put a hand on Dave’s shoulder. ‘That’s exactly the right idea.’

‘So, then, what’s this assistance Mr Giles was talking about?’

‘Well, Giles is my Watcher. Every Slayer has a Watcher, to help out with research and training and things like that. He knows a lot about supernatural—stuff.’

Dave nodded. ‘And the others?’

‘Sometimes they help with research and stuff like that as well’, said Buffy. ‘Like today, you saw how Kevin and Jesse stopped that Ethan guy from running away when we didn’t want him to. But you don’t have to get involved in anything like that if you don’t want to, Dave. It’s not a duty for you.’

Giles cleared his throat again. ‘The one thing we do ask of you is that you do not spread around what you know. The Slayer must work in secret.’

‘It’s not exactly a secret if these other people know, though, is it? Is it just the people who were here today who know?’

Giles shook his head. ‘There are a—few more.’

‘Then it’s even less of a secret, isn’t it? Why is it supposed to be a secret?’

‘It is an ancient tradition that the Slayer must work in secret. Her efficiency would be impaired if her identity were generally known. Strictly speaking, even the number of people who know now about Buffy must be considered a breach of protocol. That makes it all the more important that the information not be disseminated more widely. I must ask you to respect this.’

‘Okay’, said Dave. ‘I’m sorry if I sounded ungrateful. I mean, this is the second time you people have saved me from a demon. I’m just trying to understand. I promise I’m not going to interfere with your tradition. It just sounds to me like it doesn’t make a lot of sense.’
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