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The Iron Coin Chronicles: Season 1

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This story is No. 2 in the series "The Iron Coin Chronicles". You may wish to read the series introduction and the preceeding stories first.

Summary: A Sequel to "The Iron Coin of the Jester". Xander has the Iron Coin, and with it, he can stop Fate's plans for his friends. But is change always good? Set during BtVS Season 3. Xander-Centric with a Xander/Cordelia pairing.

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
BtVS/AtS Non-Crossover > GeneralAlkeniFR1524152,9801213139,39626 Sep 1216 Nov 14Yes

Episode 11: Helpless, not Hopeless

Disclaimer: Not mine, and never has been.

Author's Note: You'll notice the new cover art for this fic. It's been created by Ironbear, and it's totally cool. So all credit unto him for his work on it.

Thanks to Starway Man, my Beta

Author's Note #2: As might be evident by now, I tend not to include scenes in this fic where Xander isn't present. I do sometimes, if they are substantially different than a scene which happened on the show, or are a scene that doesn't appear at all in canon and is important to the story I'm advancing. This is because Xander is the main character of the story, and the primary window into this universe. However, there are times when it is unavoidable, and this chapter will contain many scenes not featuring Xander, due to its nature. As the Iron Coin Chronicles acquire more drift, as it were, from the original show, we'll see more and more such scenes; though where possible, I'll try to home in on events in scenes where Xander is the primary focus, to keep the main narrative frame in place.

Illustration

The Iron Coin Chronicles: Season One

By Alkeni

Episode 11: Helpless, not Hopeless


January 15th, 1999
Giles' Office, Sunnydale High Library


Once Giles closed the door to his private office, Buffy looked at him in curiosity and concern. “So, what's the dire?”

Giles started to reach for his glasses before he spoke. Halfway up to them, he seemed to think better of it and let his hand fall to his side, and then Giles put it inside his pocket moments later. 

“Before I go into details, Buffy, please bear in mind that I...well, by rights, I shouldn't be telling you this at all. If the Council becomes aware that I've confided toyou about this matter, I would be fired, at the very least. If I'm unlucky, that might well be the least of my concerns.”

What? Not listening to the Council? That doesn't sound all proper and British-y... Buffy resisted her urge to crack a joke. Giles sounded...serious. “Okay. I'll bear that in mind. So, what is it you gotta say to me, Watcher mine?” Really...he was making her feel a bit...just a little bit worried.

“Buffy. It's almost your eighteenth birthday...which means that the Council...in their 'infinite wisdom', has decided to go forward with...a...with a rather archaic exercise in barbaric cruelty. Please, let me finish.” He cut Buffy off before she could speak, the girl had already opened her mouth to demand answers. “You need to hear the background facts first.” 

“So, fact me.”

Giles sighed. “For the past twelve centuries, when...or rather, if...a Slayer survives to reach her eighteenth birthday, she is subjected to a, a so-called rite of passage known as the 'Tento di Cruciamentum'. It's a test designed to the Slayer's resourcefulness, skill, cleverness. Something that, these days, in entirely pointless. Something that, um, has been pointed out to me not only eliminates the, err, mediocre Slayers, but the ones that might get too independent for the Council's taste. Because it's – it's the sort of test wherein failing it means dying.”

Buffy gripped her hands into fists, biting her lip a moment against her immediate reaction. She took a breath. “The Watchers Council – the people that you work for – wants to put me to though some kind of stupid test...which if I fail it, means I die?”

“More, rather...that if you die, you've failed the test.” Giles corrected softly.

“This is a joke, right? You decided to practice that whole humor thing? Bit of a tip, talking about the other person dying doesn't usually work for making it funny!” Buffy yelled.

“Buffy, this is no laughing matter. The deputy head of the Council, Quentin Travers, is already in Sunnydale, preparing the testing ground. If – if you do not undertake the test, or they learn I have forewarned you in defiance of the rules, they'll start with replacing me as your Watcher. And after that, it's entirely possible the Council will resort to more...direct means to deal with the situation.”

“That's British for 'killing me?'” Buffy glared at her pseudo-father figure.

“As a last resort. More likely kidnapping you and forcing you into the testing ground, locking you up after injecting you with the requisite drugs. The Council has quite a number of wet-work teams, you see. Err, they're usually deployed for handling humans that work with or aid demons, but over the centuries they have been used to...well...terminate Slayers that are considered...unruly.”

“And you actually work for these people?” Buffy looked around a moment, hands still gripped closed. She looked back to Giles. “Geez. So I have to take the test, unless I want to deal with the Council trying to kidnap and/or kill me. That's great! Alright, tell me the rest. What exactly is this test? What do I have to do to pass?”

“I...well – as your Watcher, there's a particular hypnotic spell that Slayers are...unusually susceptible to, which I must administer. It will put you into a deep trance...then I am to inject you with an organic compound... a combination of muscle relaxants and adrenal suppressors, and just a touch of magic, of course. It will temporarily – for a few days – suppress your strength, speed, coordination, and enhanced senses. Render you entirely...normal, for lack of a better word, in your abilities. After that, either immediately or within a day or so, the plan is for you to be trapped in the abandoned boarding house on Prescott Lane.” 

Buffy knew that place – she'd seen it on patrol often enough. Even checked it out once, in case a vampire nest had moved in. Now she wished she had burned the place down, while she'd had the chance...

Giles finished up, “Inside will be a vampire...and you must slay it...or die trying.”

“What kind of-” Buffy stopped, and started to raise her voice. “What kind of sick test is that? What's it supposed to prove? That the Watchers Council is run by a bunch of-”

“Buffy, please.” Giles cut in.

“Don't you 'Buffy, please' me! This is just – totally wrong. The Council – you can tell the Council to shove this whole 'test' thing-y up their asses, I'm not gonna go through something like that if I don't have to!” the Slayer shouted.

Giles released a hollow laugh. “Buffy, do you really think it's that simple? The test has been tradition for over a thousand years. I can't stop it – and they won't allow it to not happen, whatever you do or say in defiance of the plan. Do you honestly think there will be no consequences, with you simply refusing to take part in the Cruciamentum after learning what my superiors have in mind? That's why I'm betraying all the oaths I've sworn, by telling you all this...I can't put your life at risk like that. I - I can't betray your trust like they want me to. But...my colleagues will notice if your Slayer abilities have not been suppressed, you'll have been put under surveillance by now. And I cannot interfere in the test...but I believe there is a way that we can...minimize the risk, while still appearing to conform to the rules.”

“How?” Buffy bit out. “By having me drink so much holy water so that when the vampire drinks my blood, he'll dust from the inside out?”

“Actually, that was tried once, believe it or not, with a number of condemned criminals. Those men were given various doses of holy water blessed by the Pope himself, from a single sip to literally drowning in the stuff. It, uh, didn't work.” Giles looked faintly embarrassed by the admission. “But, ah, I had something a little more practical in mind. I can't interfere, and you can't go in without having been injected with the drugs...but neither of us exactly control Angel, do we?”

Buffy caught on immediately – staring the possibility of death in the eye tended to focus the mind wonderfully well. “Right. Gotcha. But this is still a sick, sick concept.” And then she looked at the door. “Wait up, what about Faith? Are you going to tell her about this?”

“Perhaps. The thing is, you see, the Cruciamentum is not universally supported on the Inner Council, despite how Travers is one of its chief proponents. If the test is...interrupted by Angel, I think it might cause him and his allies some...acute embarrassment. If the Council doesn't end up getting rid of the test by the time Faith is eighteen...well, given the Cruciamentum will be public knowledge before this is all over, I believe we can find some way around it when it's her 18th birthday as well. But what's important is that we get through this, now, alive and without the Council firing me and sending some twat like Wesley Wyndam-Pryce to be your Watcher instead.”

“Wesley Wyndam-Pryce?” Buffy echoed the name. 

“One of the latest crop of youngsters, not all that long out of the Academy. His father is highly connected, and his family is, uh, I believe the term you use over here is 'old money', with regards to the Council. I'll grant the man is brilliant when it comes to the theory, from what I've seen, and his facility with even the most obscure and arcane demonic languages is impressive. However, Pryce is even more married to the Slayer Handbook than most, and without any proper capacity for fieldwork. Unfortunately, he's either too stupid, arrogant or both to realize just how hopeless he is in practice. And he's one of Travers' protegees.”

“Ah.” Buffy cocked her head a moment. “Ya know, the Council still hasn't sent Faith her own Watcher yet, after her old one was killed and Mrs. Post-It ended up a one-armed bandit. You taking care of both of us was supposed to be just temporary, right? And knowing our luck here on the Hellmouth...”

“Oh dear Lord, you'd best be wrong.”

“Either way, should probably go tell Angel.” She looked at him, smiling a little. “It's eating you up having to go to Angel for help, isn't it?”

“It is somewhat...unexpected, yes. But I've been considering this problem for a while...and I've had time to get used to the idea that Angel might be the best solution.” Now Giles took off his glasses and started to clean them. Good Lord, I can only hope that Buffy doesn't ever find out how the real reason I told her all this today, was because Xander forced me into it – and it was his idea to use your undead lover to foil this blasted test...

January 15th, 1999
Crawford Street Mansion, Sunnydale


Angel looked at Giles, as the Watcher finished explaining the Cruciamentum. Despite the situation, Angel actually laughed for a moment, an ironic smile finding its way onto his face as Giles tensed up. 

“When I was Angelus, I heard rumors about all that, oddly enough. Nineteenth century, people loved to gossip; even members of the Council. Never really believed the stories were true – I didn't think you people were that stupid.” He glared pointedly at Giles, eyes darkening for a moment. “If you hadn't told Buffy about this – and she'd died while undertaking this 'test'? I'd have killed you afterwards. And anyone else involved.” There was no menace in his tone, no bluster. Cold, deadly even, seriousness. But really, there wasn't even that. It was just...flat. There was no need for emotion or tone in such a declarative statement.

“Angel!”

Giles shook his head. “No, Buffy, it's a fair statement. Though Angel, if Buffy had died, I don't believe you'd have had a chance to kill me before I went and got myself killed by going after Travers and his ilk.”

Buffy looked from her not-longer-boyfriend to her Watcher, then back again. “Well, whatever. Point is, Giles did tell me. So let's just focus on the issue at hand, alright? Not dying is a pretty good thing to focus on. Pretty much the first rule of Slaying.”

Angel nodded, and then looked to Giles. “This vampire Buffy will have to fight. Is it just some fledgling, or –”

Giles shook his head. “If only we were so lucky that it was a specimen like that, abducted off the streets. It's Zachary Kralik.” 

“Kralik the butcher?” Angel demanded, as Giles nodded. 

“Who?” Buffy wanted to know.

Giles sighed. “Over a century ago, the man tortured and killed more than a dozen women before being caught and put into an asylum for the criminally insane. Unfortunately, a vampire was running the asylum as a front for his, uh, nefarious activities. He turned Kralik into one of the undead, and the monster has, by all reports, continued exactly as he did before his death. The Council captured him three years ago.”

“For the next Slayer to reach eighteen, and use in the Cruciamentum?” Angel demanded.

“Perhaps, depending on the Slayer. More likely for a number of 'experiments'.” Giles replied. 

“This man you mentioned before, that Travers guy...he chose a psychotic like Kralik on purpose, didn't he?” Angel asked knowingly. “Thanks to what happened a year ago, on Buffy's 17th birthday. Because this is payback as far as the Council's concerned, isn't it? I mean, if it had been Kendra...they'd have given her some stupid fledgling who still had dirt behind his ears, someone she could kill with one arm tied behind her back. Your bosses don't want Buffy to survive this so-called test, do they?”

“Angel!” Buffy yelped, unable to help herself.

“No, again, it's a fair enough question.” Giles sighed. “One for which I honestly don't know the answer. Unfortunately, there are many on the Council who think that Buffy is indirectly responsible for all the murders that Angelus committed last year...and there are those who understand she did the best she could, under the circumstances. But that's neither here nor there at the moment. The important thing is that Kralik is here in Sunnydale right now, and once it's time, he'll be released. And you'll both be trapped inside the Sunnydale Arms with him.”

“And if he kills me? What's the Council's plan for this 'Kralik' guy then?” Buffy snapped, still upset by the thought that some of those hoity-toity jerks in England considered her to be an accessory to murder.

“I, ah, believe the standard procedure is to simply burn the building down, during daylight hours. Given the technology of the day, they might even go so far as to blow it up to ensure that that demented creature does not survive or escape.” Giles shrugged.

“Alright. Can I just ask again: You work for these people?” the Slayer simply couldn't seem to get past that topic.

“Buffy, while the Council – and particularly some of its less pleasant members – has its...blemishes, as an institution, it does do good work and serves to prevent the world from being destroyed.”

“Blemish? Is that what you call...what did you call it? A, an 'archaic exercise in barbaric cruelty'?” Buffy said incredulously.

Giles cleared his throat and removed his glasses once more. “Well...yes, I suppose 'blemish' was rather a, a poor choice of words. Understatement. But my point still stands. The Council is not as completely villainous as the Cruciamentum would make it appear.”

“Yeah, well, I suppose I'll have to take your word for that, since I've never met anybody belonging to it apart from you and Merrick. And Mrs. Post, sorta, I guess. Which, you know, I'd be able to do if they bothered to help once in a while. Y'know, like with the annual apocalypse around here?”

“Yes, well. Do bear in mind that the Council has to oversee the entire world, Buffy. Our manpower and resources are not unlimited, and Sunnydale is not even the only Hellmouth in the continental United States, let alone on the planet. It's the most active one, granted, but your continued presence here makes it a lower priority for resources.” He shrugged again. “If your friends hadn't been helping you right from the start, I suspect you might have gotten more support in some form or another. But I imagine the Council decided early on you could manage without it, since you let Angel and other civilians work for you. Err, with you.”

“How will I know exactly when Buffy will be subjected to this test? I get there too early, and the Council will know something's up.” Angel interjected, changing the subject before Buffy and Giles could continue down this tack. This really wasn't the time for it, in his opinion.

Giles looked around at Angel. “Well, I suppose I could always call you; but then, it doesn't exactly appear as if you have phone service here.”

“The downside of living in an abandoned mansion, I suppose.” the vampire replied. “None of the amenities, like electricity or running water. On the other hand, I don't have to pay rent.”

“Plus all the demons and vampires you can slay?” Buffy offered.

“No, actually, I don't have to worry much about them coming after me here. Because, well...Angelus has a certain reputation. Which tends to scare off other vampires and demons.” He paused. “Not all of them, granted, but almost.”

“I can imagine how Angelus' resume could intimidate the lesser, ambitious types.” Giles said after an awkward minute. “Speaking from personal experience, I know that that reputation is well-deserved.”

“Giles!” Buffy yelped in protest.

“Buffy, don't. Because I can remember gleefully torturing the man for hours.” Angel said tiredly. “One of the downsides of you having Willow curse me with my soul again. In fact, it's lucky Xander yanked Giles out of the mansion that day when he did, otherwise I was going to-”

“Don't talk to me about what Xander has or hasn't done, Angel.” Buffy cut him off forcefully. “Because I dunno what's really going on with him nowadays, but as far as I'm concerned, he's...what's the word they used in those stupid spy movies we used to watch together? Oh yeah, compromised. Those secrets he's still refusing to talk to me about-”

“Good Lord, Buffy, not this again.” Giles interrupted wearily. “You know that the boy can't talk about his information source to you, or any of us. Not won't; can't. You think I haven't tried anything and everything I can think of to get around that geas he's been placed under? Not even that blasted truth spell which Willow researched for me worked! Whoever it is who's feeding us information through Xander, he or she has taken extreme measures not to be identified...”

“He's right.” Angel nodded, much to the surprise of both the Watcher and the Slayer. “I've seen it for myself.”

“Huh? What?” Buffy said in surprise. “When?”

“A few nights ago.” Angel started to pace and added, “I was curious, I suppose. And somewhat concerned; around here, you do have to assume that the unknown is dangerous until proven otherwise. So every once in a while, if I was in the neighborhood, I maintained watch at the Harris residence. Climbed up a tree to see if anyone or anything showed up to give Xander the goods.”

“You've been spying on him?” Buffy yelped in shock. 

“Buffy, not now!” Giles admonished her. Then he turned back to Angel. “What have you learned?”

The vampire shrugged. “Nothing useful. That night, I was looking through Xander's bedroom window – and I noticed he was staring at an empty spot in the room, and his lips were moving as if he was talking to someone. I should have been able to hear everything at that distance, but I couldn't. Not one word. So then I got closer and tried to do the whole lip-reading thing, but straightaway I was struck blind; I couldn't see anything, literally, until I understood that my attempt at eavesdropping wasn't welcome. So I left, and I haven't been back to that house since; didn't want to press my luck any further.”

“Damn it Giles, we've got to do something about this!!” Buffy exploded. “We can't just let Xander-”

“No.” Giles said harshly. “Buffy, this is no time to focus on, on...trivialities! Our priority is and must be ensuring that you survive the upcoming Cruciamentum. And that's my final word on the matter.”

A seasoned judge of human behavior, a careful reader of expressions in peoples' voices and faces, Angel could already tell that Buffy wasn't going to accept Giles' order in any way, shape or form.

January 17th, 1999
Sunnydale Mall


“Okay, I'm just going to head into the comic store-” Xander drew up short, as Cordelia refused to let go of his hand. “Look, honey, I love you too, but-”

“Oh no, dweeb, you're not getting out of this that easy. You lost the bet fair and square.” Cordelia maintained her iron grip on her boyfriend. “That means you're coming with me. Three more outfits.”

“But, Cordy!” Xander protested as she half-dragged him towards yet another clothing store. Xander was refusing to look at the name, by this point they had all started to blur to his eyes. “You've already bought me like ten outfits by now. That's enough, already.”

“No way, not until you have enough clothes to fill your closet that I consider acceptable. And once that's done, I'm gonna take all those Hawaiian shirts and flannel and polyester and whatever other crap you've got in there, and burn it all.”

“Cordy!” He protested again. “You are not burning my clothes!”

“I will if you keep protesting about this. Because damn it, doofus, high school is almost over; there's only another four months to go, and no boyfriend of mine is gonna graduate looking like a complete dork! Besides, you made the bet, and you lost fair and square. End of story.” 

Hey, only reason I lost is because you cheated, sweetheart. No fair distracting a guy with a blow job, when he's trying to concentrate! Xander thought grumpily. Still, he couldn't really complain about that too much; one, because Cordelia really was that talented with her tongue, and two, he knew that shopping made her happy. And since they had been sleeping together for nearly two months now, what made her happy made him happy too. Well, sorta.

As if Cordelia could sense his thoughts, she shot him a look. “Xander, are you going to come along quietly, or am I going to have to find some matches?” After a few moments, the cheerleader couldn't help but crack a smile, as Xander seemed to be actually seriously pondering his options. “Really? You need time to think about which one you would rather pick?”

“Well, yeah. Since they both suck. My man card's been eroded enough, as it is. More shopping only screws it up more.” He smiled a little. “Alright, lead on. And just for the record – this is going to turn into me being your pack mule later on, once you start shopping for yourself, right?”

“You know me so well, ya big goof. It's like we've been dating for over a year!” The young woman then unleashed a megawatt toothpaste commercial smile as she let go of her boyfriend's hand, though she checked to make sure he was following her as she headed into the store. Quietly, so only Xander could hear, she added, “If you're good, we'll stop by Victoria's Secret first off, and I'll model some lingerie for you.” Smirking, she turned back away. “Come on.” She beckoned for him to follow.

Xander, a new spring in his step, did just that. He may have become completely pussy-whipped after weeks of constantly getting laid, granted; but oh, the fringe benefits...

January 19th, 1999
Abandoned Sunnydale Arms Boarding House, Sunnydale


“You're taking this far better than I expected.” Travers noted casually, lifting his teacup and having a sip.

“What are my choices, Quentin?” Giles replied. “Oh, don't get me wrong, my view on the Cruciamentum is as it's ever been: It's an archaic exercise in cruelty. To lock her in this...tomb... weakened, defenseless. And to unleash Kralik on her. If you or any of your friends on the Council still had actual contact with a Slayer, you'd see that; but I'm the one in the thick of it.”

“Which is why you're not qualified to make this decision.” Travers replied cooly. “We've discussed this repeatedly. You're too close.”

“That's not true, but then again, the real truth is that this discussion can serve no useful purpose. Nothing I say will convince you, and nothing you say is going to change my mind.”

“But you will do what is required of you.”

“Of course.” Giles set his half-drunk tea down on the table between them and got up. “If Buffy dies because of you insisting on this pointless travesty of a tradition, though, I promise you – you will not become the head of the Council. I may not have been able to stop this confounded test from happening, but I've enough friends, and you've enough enemies, for me to see to that much.”

“There's no need for threats, or political games, Rupert. If the girl is everything you say she is, you have nothing to worry about.”

Reminded of Angel's accusation that Travers and his followers wanted Buffy to fail the test, Giles didn't believe that for a second. So he just left without a word. There was nothing left to say, anyway.

January 20th, 1999
Library, Sunnydale High


After Kralik and Blair, the insane vampire's newest childe, had kidnapped Buffy's mother outside of the Summers house, it was pretty clear that now was the time to start the test. And so Buffy had geared up and was off, on her way. Unfortunately, the plan was completely shot. Which was why Giles was in his office calling Travers. It had been agreed that Angel would follow Buffy fairly closely, so he'd be able to know when she entered the bricked-up boarding house. Give it five or ten minutes, and in he would go. But there were bigger issues at hand as well.

The entire Cruciamentum was tainted, for all that that wouldn't stop Travers. Still, with Blair and Hobson dead...

Giles saw Travers enter his office and dropped the phone back onto the receiver. “I've been trying to reach you.”

“I was on watch at the boarding house.” Travers walked out of the office and into the library.

“Then you know what's happened.” Giles contained the smirk that wanted to appear on his face.

“Yes.” Travers was unfazed. Unfazed by the death of two of his men, two Watchers of noted loyalty and ability. Unfazed that the Cruciamentum had gone awry and put Buffy as well as her mother into deadly peril.

Giles had bothered to contain his smirk. He didn't even bother to contain his anger. He moved towards Travers, barely half a foot from him. “Kralik's killed Hobson and made Blair one of his own. Your perfectly controlled test seems to have spun rather impressively out of control, don't you think?”

Travers walked past Giles towards the teapot on the hot plate next to his desk. “It changes nothing.” He lifted the lid of the pot, then put it back down. “Besides, what do you propose to do, go in there and help her? Violate the rules of the Cruciamentum? You've done your job well so far...” 

Suddenly, Giles let the smirk appear on his face. He crossed his arms in front of him. Travers narrowed his eyes. “Why are you smiling?”

“Because no matter what happens here in Sunnydale tonight, you've lost. I've already made the phone calls to England. Congratulations, Quentin, you've just presided over the last Cruciamentum. Ever. The Council votes on whether to abolish the test in a little under eight hours, given the almighty cock-up that's transpired here. And the earliest plane back to England doesn't even leave for ten hours. Thus, I can't imagine how you could arrange to get there before the vote goes through, no matter what you do.”

“You can't do this. You don't have the pull.” Travers' calm, superior mask was starting to crack as he glared at Giles. 

“No, I don't. But my father does. Besides, you've failed rather miserably, wouldn't you say? You're responsible for the deaths of two of our men, never mind acting like their murders are completely irrelevant. You were the one who selected Kralik. You selected the method of restraining him. You selected the location of the Cruciamentum. Perhaps you don't realize just how badly you've miscalculated and mishandled your responsibilities, after lobbying so hard for this test in the first place? In case that's so – it's my duty to inform you of these facts, Quentin. And by your actions, you're done for.”

“The ways of the Council are there for a reason. They cannot be undone for such petty-”

“Enough. Watch them be undone, Quentin. You put my Slayer at risk for no reason.” Giles drew close and took off his glasses. “Try my patience any further, old man, and I won't be responsible for the consequences.”

“You have a father's love for the child. That is useless to the cause.”

“And under different circumstances, no doubt I'd be worried after you made such a judgment. But given all the ammunition your political rivals now have against you, you're not going to be able to move against me. Not under these circumstances.”

“This is not over.” Travers replied cooly.

“No, I imagine it isn't.” Giles stepped back. “I suggest you run along back to England. Salvage your position, if you can. I have a Slayer to guide, and a Hellmouth to watch.”

“My work here isn't done yet. Under the rules of the Cruciamentum, I won't be leaving until we have a result.”

January 21st, 1999
Library, Sunnydale High


“Congratulations. You passed...tricking Kralik into drinking the holy water is proof of the cleverness and initiative required of a Slayer. Despite the...irregularities...involved.”

“You mean, the part where Kralik went after my mother? The part where one of your guys got turned into a vamp by that crazy-ass nutcase? Or the part where Angel helped save my life?” Buffy asked way too calmly.

“I understand that you're upset...” Travers said calmly, and a little disdainfully.

“Oh, you understand nothing. And I think you should get out of town, before I get my strength back.”

Travers was about to make a comment regarding whether Buffy thought the Cruciamentum was unfair, but then decided against it. His mood wasn't the best, given the current uproar back in England within Watcher HQ. “You don't give orders to me, Miss Summers.”

“No. But the test is done. And by the rules of the Council, your business in Sunnydale is finished. As Buffy's Watcher, I have primacy here. Therefore I have the authority to tell you to go.” Giles said in no uncertain terms.

“Don't push, Rupert. You may have won this particular battle, but that is all.” Travers said pointedly.

“Is that so.” Giles said, unmoved. “I was rather under the impression that the Council had voted overwhelmingly to end the Cruciamentum once and for all, thanks to the results of your actions here. And that the head of the Council has given orders for you to see him in his office, as soon as you arrive home. Or does that count for nothing in your mind?”

Travers didn't respond. Keeping his composure well in place, he simply left the library.
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