Baby, what a big surprise
: All that is Buffy is Joss', all that is She-Hulk, etc, is Marvel's, none is mine, making no money.
Buffy, Willa, and Xan walked in the door just in time to hear Joyce call, "Girls, dinner's in ten minutes. Could you set the table?" Shrugging, they all set their books down and went into the kitchen, where they found Giles, Miss Calendar, and the girl that Xan and Willa had seen the day before sitting at the breakfast table.
Giles smiled at them, and said to Buffy, "Thank you for interceding with your mother for the one day delay."
"No problem, Giles," Buffy said, then turned to the girl. "Hi, I'm Buffy Summers, and these are my girlfriends, Willa and Xan." She held out her hand.
The cocoa-skinned girl hesitated, and Buffy barely heard her say, "Girlfriends?" but then she took her hand. "Ah am Kendra, the Vampire Slayer."
Now it was Buffy's turn to be confused. She turned her head. "Giles? Didn't both you and Merrick tell me that there could be only one Slayer at a time?"
Giles sighed. "Yes, we did...or, I did, and I have no reason to doubt that he did. In doing so, we were both guilty of sloppy thinking. We are told that the Slayer Gift passes on when the previous Slayer dies, and we have oversimplified that to say that there can be only one."
Buffy was still confused. "But when -" Comprehension dawned over her face, and she turned to Xan and kissed her. "You brought me back!"
, Rupert?" Joyce asked. "You Goddamned watchers..."
"Wait - you mean dat dese are not watchers, Mr. Giles?" Kendra broke in. "I thought we were not supposed to reveal the existence of the Slayer to outsiders for security reasons."
"Yeah, and have you ever thought about whose security they were talking about?" Xan had slid into a chair. "I mean, you're not going to spread it around much, anyway, just because you'd give yourself more trouble. But denying you the chance to have anyone to talk to about this who isn't giving you orders?" She shook her head. "They're not only trying to control you, but they're trying to make sure you die as soon as you can without doing it themselves."
"And what would you do about it?" Kendra put her hands on her hips.
Buffy smirked. "Now might be the time to point out that you're the fourth strongest person in the room." She patted her girlfriends' arms as they went green.
"What we'd do is what we have been doing since we found out. Be there for Buffy and help out." Willa wrung her hands. "I guess that's going to mean you, too, now."
"How - what - "
"The Hellmouth, Chaos Magic, an - interesting - costume choice, and a god with an odd sense of humor, I'm afraid," Giles informed her. "But Buffy is essentially correct. From what I've been able to tell, she is slightly stronger than you, and Xan and Willa are in an entirely different class." He turned to Buffy. "Making you die?"
"That's why Mom wanted you and Ms. Calendar over. And since it obviously involves Kendra, she's welcome as well."
"Rupert," Joyce spoke up, "I spent several days looking through Xan's comics to see just what powers and weaknesses the girls would have, and it's insane - they really have no weaknesses. They can be wounded, though even in a world of superheroes, it was extremely hard to do, but they then regenerate so fast, within minutes, that they're effectively almost immortal." She looked around and was about to continue when a timer dinged. "We'll discuss this after dinner. Girls?" She looked up at Xan and Willa, who turned back into their Jennifer bodies, and got out the plates and silverware.
Later, they all gathered in the living room, sipping tea, coffee, or sodas, according to personal preference, when Joyce continued. "As I was saying before dinner, Xan and Willa are, effectively, immortal. In one sense, we can definitively state that Buffy and Kendra aren't, and in another, we just don't know. When I finished reading the comics, I had Willa research the watcher notebooks in your library, Rupert." His eyes narrowed, but he remained quiet while Joyce turned and said, "Willa?"
"Giles, we're sorry that we got into things that you might consider private, but we had to know." Willa took Xan's hand and squeezed it. "And..." she looked down. "It was worse than we thought."
Xan spoke up. "There are at least three strings to their bow. The first is this insane insistence on absolute secrecy, when it's been proven, again and again, that unless it's personal to them, and impossible to explain otherwise, that people will rationalize the supernatural away. That means that Buffy could dust a vamp in the middle of the street, and almost, if not every person there would think that it was a publicity stunt. The Watchers know this. Heck, time and again they've commented on how useful it is. But - 'oh, no, if you tell anyone you're the Slayer, they'll be in danger.'" She clenched her fists.
"Only if the 'they' you're referring to is the Watchers, and the danger is letting a Slayer slip out of control. Because if you don't have friends, and have to lie to your family - if you even see them - you have to depend on your Watcher for information, and he's bending it to suit his uses, not yours. This besides the fact that if you have nothing to live for, other than your duty, you'll die faster, because it's a lot easier to be that bit slower, and let someone else take up the load. Well, that and you won't have your friends helping you in tight spots."
Buffy looked straight at Giles. "I'm only sixteen. I don't want to die," she quoted. He hung his head in shame.
In a soft voice, Willa continued. "String number two is a bit more internal. If a Slayer reaches the age of eighteen, then she is made, unknowingly, to go through a process known as the 'Cruciamentum.' If she reaches this age, she is likely at the point where she trusts her Watcher, and he has likely formed a bond with her, as well. This attempts, first, to straight-out kill her. If it fails in that, its secondary purpose is to separate the girl from her Watcher, in one of two ways. The Watcher is ordered to hypnotize the Slayer and inject a medical cocktail into her which counteracts almost all of her Slayer powers. Then, with her handicapped in this way, she is trapped in a building with a captured fully grown - not fledgling - vampire. There is literally no losing position for the Watchers on this. Either they lose the Slayer, and get a new one; or the field Watcher refuses to do the test, and is dismissed, taking him away from her; or the Slayer comes through, but on learning what her Watcher did, loses her trust in him." She shook her head. "Which brings you back to the first point. A Slayer, alone, with nobody to depend upon."
Giles rested his head in his hands. "I- I had not decided what I was going to do. To be honest, I was thinking of resigning - to salve my honor." He snorted. "And that would have left Buffy with someone else she couldn't trust. At least it'd be out in the open, I suppose I was thinking."
"What really got us where Buffy had to stop us from going green and taking off for the land of tweed was the third string," said Xan. "And it wasn't spelled out as much as the other two, probably because of the consequences for the field Watcher. You know, the one writing these journals?" She turned green, then Buffy and Willa hugged her, and she reverted. "We found it odd that no Slayer lasted much beyond ten years. Looking through all of these journals, only six made it to ten years. And in each case, the ending to the journal is the same. Within a month of the ten year anniversary, the Watcher writes, 'The Council has discovered a mixed nest of vampires and demons at such and such a place, and we are going there.' And in each case, it is the last entry in that journal, while the next journal bemoans the loss of 'Slayer X,' and 'Watcher Y.' It could
be a coincidence, but -"
"They were set up, and taken out," Jenny Calendar said quietly.
"So, to answer your question, Kendra, not really caring about what the Watchers think about security." Buffy hugged her girlfriends tightly.
"One thing that we weren't able to find out was whether Slayers were immortal in the way that they don't age. Their healing factor argues for it, but we weren't able to get any evidence with a long enough time line." Willa had briefly gone green herself, but reined it in.
"And what we have to do, very, very soon, is to decide how we are going to deal with the Watchers." Joyce smiled grimly. "Working with how the girls are going to deal with our mortality is something we can put on the back burner, thankfully."