Year One: Sophomore at Sunnydale High (or The Sacrificial Lamb)Disclaimer:
I don't own: Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along-Blog; Buffy the Vampire SlayerWarnings:
Mild to graphic depictions of child abuse, physical, emotional and sexual, also, mention of spousal abuse, self-mutilation; non-canon compliant (for BtVS); in no way resembles the actual nineties, which I did live through.A/N:
Heheh. Almost forgot to add my notes. (I did.) Anyway. This is... disjointed. I'm not particularly happy with the chapter, but I know some of you folks have been waiting (very patiently) for it, so here you go. It's even a little longer than usual. :)
Willow was apparently, along with poor Principal Flutie, a prey animal, as far as the pack was concerned. Perhaps it was due to this that things went as they did. The rest of the day was rather chaotic, and since Billy had done his damnedest to kick the shit out of Tor, it seemed like the rest of them had decided that he
, at least, wasn't a prey animal.
By the end of the day, they had lost the principal, four classmates (not that Billy was in any way fond of those assholes, and they weren't exactly dead, though they might be brain-dead, in a no human intelligence left sort of way), a zookeeper, and Xander's sanity. "I'm going to be sick for the rest of my life," Xander moaned into his folded arms. He was slumped over the table, several musty books stacked beside him. He rolled his head back and forth miserably.
"Apparently exorcisms suck," Billy commented unsympathetically, from his place on Xander's right. The girls still weren't comfortable enough to sit right next to the other teen, so instead sat across the table from the two boys. "I think you should be glad that there was a backup plan."
"I'm not so sure that was a particularly good backup plan, Billy," Mr. Giles pointed out wearily, as Xander continued to bemoan his current condition. "We have yet to find if there's any... lasting damage."
"Not worried," he shrugged. "At least he shouldn't have the psychological scarring of having eaten a man."
"Shouldn't?" Buffy asked dubiously.
"I'm gonna throw up if you don't stop talking about it," the other boy groaned, waving a hand vaguely in Billy's direction.
Billy just arched an eyebrow at him. It wasn't that he didn't feel for Xander. He just felt that Xander shouldn't have much to worry about. After all, "The worst thing you
did was eat Herbert," he stated flatly, and Xander suddenly pushed up from his seat and shot out the door. "Uhm..." Buffy punched him in the shoulder. "Ow! What was that for?"
Mr. Giles coughed pointedly, and Willow started with the finger wagging. "He said he was going to get sick, Billy!"
When he came back, Xander was already in forgiving mode, though still a little green around the gills. He begged Billy to "Please, never mention Herbert again, please..." Then he flopped back into his seat, in almost the same position as before. "Tell me my stomach is going to stop rolling soon... Billy? Why am I friends with you?"
"Something about testosterone," Billy shrugged. "You had a theory about estrogen saturation."
Blame and discussion petered out, the girls eventually giving up on their discomfort with Xander, and for some reason, Billy was the last left in the library. He couldn't be less bothered if he tried. The longer he was in the library, the longer he wasn't home.
He didn't mean to fall asleep there, though. Maybe it was the stiff wooden chair, or maybe it was the cold surface his face was pressed down on, but it was like being there made his dreams even weirder. Alien images bombarded his mind throughout the night: images of dragon-like snakes and jaguars that walked like men and birds of paradise and demons dying under his hands and teeth until all that remained of the world was dead and dry bones.
The greatest curse of being a lucid dreamer, he sometimes thought, was that he always wondered where the images came from, even as he dreamed them. In his dream, Billy gathered bones.'The knife is sharp, razor sharp. The bones are on the ground now, beneath my feet, and I stare at the knife, raising it to my neck. My hand is steady as I cut my earlobes (What am I doing?) then my tongue. The blood is already welling in my mouth when I press the blade to my legs... (the dream is starting to seem familiar, as I feel the blood dripping down my chin)
'It doesn't stop with the blood dripping from my mouth.
'It continues to flow, and where the blood from my legs touches the bones, plants sprout. Curious, I lean forward to watch the verdance grow beneath my feet. A drop of crimson falls onto a newly budded leaf and turns into a large beetle. Its wings spread and it flies away. (Weird. I'm used to weird dreams, but this is going weirder than usual.)
'When the blood from my mouth falls through the greenery (I'm not sure why I haven't cleared my mouth of it yet), the ground heaves and I fall to my knees. Something beneath my roars and all of a sudden, the world is full of sound (I hadn't even realized that if was quiet); the chattering of birds, the buzzing of insects, the hoots and howls of monkeys... the eerie cry of a wildcat...
'Where the hell am I?
'The creature beneath my knees roars again, and the ground shakes. It heaves beneath me and suddenly shoots up and...
Awake. Not only was he now awake; he suspected, quite grimly, that it was before six in the morning, and he was on the floor. He sniffed irritably. Why did he have to have such weird dreams, anyway? He forced himself to sit up, and tried to figure out what day of the week it was. According to the nearby clock (not his; it was the school clock) it was ten minutes after six (the sun wouldn't be up for another twenty minutes, but it would be light out), but that didn't help him with the day.
Why the heck was he on the floor?
"Ugh," he grunted, rolling to his feet. His mouth felt yucky, his body was stiff, he was in day old clothes that went through quite a bit of running the day before... Wait! What was yesterday? He frowned at the wall clock, like it could give him answers. Was it Thursday? No, the field trip had been Thursday. That meant... "It's Saturday." He scowled at the clock.
That meant that he was walking home.
It shouldn't have been a surprise when he got home and was immediately grounded.
His father's reaction to his all night absence was almost amusing, especially in contrast with his mother's. Staying out all night was a step toward manliness, or something, but, his father confided, he had to be grounded in spite of that, if only for worrying his mother. "I had weird dreams all night," Billy grumbled, in an obvious attempt to guide his father away from his mother's worries, "possibly in relation to my atypical sleeping location."
The newspaper that his father had been reading over a cup of coffee was flicked expertly back into its original folds. "Dreams?" he murmured, interested. "What kind of dreams?"
"I don't know how to make it sound not creepy," Billy mumbled, shrugging and helping himself to a bowl of cereal. "Everything was dead, then it was alive again, turning into jungle, and there was a monster or something making a lot of noise under my feet... I think I bled a lot, and there were bones all over the place. Creepy, yeah?"
"I used to have dreams like that." His father's eyes weren't trained on him any more. Their dark blue depths were completely blank, distracted, perhaps, by an old memory. "They stopped before you were born. Your grandmother had dreams like that too. She used to tell me about them. She said that it was the story of an Aztec god, who watched the world die then gathered the bones and cut himself to bleed on them, and the fourth age was born from his blood and the old bones."
"That's... creepy and oddly specific," Billy grunted, trying to manhandle the milk (a full gallon, and a bit heavier than he could easily manage) to pour it in his cereal. "That's... I don't know about this fourth age, but other than that, weirdly accurate. Was there a monster?" He ignored the implication that in his dream, he was a god. He had never managed to have quite that level of narcissism.
"Not in my dreams," his father shrugged. "Mine weren't the same as Mother's, either. I saw a giant feathered snake-man and watched him bleed. Mother saw him gathering the bones. You say you bled? That means, maybe, that you were
the giant feathered snake-man." The man grinned at him when Billy frowned. "That just means you're really feeling your ancestry."
"So I gathered," he finally replied, sarcastically. "His name is Quetzalcoatl, by the way. I looked it up."
Oddly enough, his father seemed proud of that action. "I knew his name, son. I just didn't know that you did." His eyes focused on Billy's, a thoughtful furrow creasing his brow. "You've changed a lot recently; since you were in the hospital, actually."
"It was a life-changing experience," Billy stated sardonically. He flicked his hand dramatically at his father. "Much like finding out that you're a lesbian, or so I've been told."
"I'll have to take your word for that." His father managed to school his face into a milder expression than he'd had a moment previous. "I have books that you should have a look at," the man said, regaining his equilibrium. "I know you're smart enough to understand them; I wasn't sure until recently that you had the mental fortitude to actually read them."
That was almost offensive, but then again, Billy supposed that the boy that had lived in his body had probably given off such an impression. He couldn't imagine the scars on his wrists as having been caused by a strong person. Billy only thought of himself as a strong person now because he had lived through... a lot, in that other world, timeline, whatever. "Are they bloody?" he asked, only half interested. "What language are they in?"
"Yes they're bloody." The man smiled and stood, dropping the newspaper to the table. "The newest ones are in English. Most of the older ones are in Spanish, although I believe some are in French. I couldn't read the French ones, but the Spanish ones I had an easy enough time with."
"I can manage French and Spanish," Billy muttered as his father stepped out of the room and hurried down the hall.
The man was back only a moment later, three dusty brown books in his hands. One looked significantly newer than the others. "I didn't bring the French back, but this one was your grandmother's." The newer looking one was waggled at him. "It's in English. The other two... Well, some of our ancestors were a bit strange, so... It's best you read them yourself. If you have any questions, ask me later. I've got errands to do this morning... And don't let your mother catch you sneaking out of the house." His father gave him a wry grin before walking back out of the kitchen.
Billy pursed his lips in an exaggerated pout, not watching his father's exit. "Family lore, huh? Why am I only now hearing about it?"
Grandmother's handwriting was illegible. The other two books, both in Spanish, were much easier to read in spite of being around a century old. Those two ancestors had excellent penmanship, but because of the smearing of ink in the first page of one, and the strangely unisex name written into the cover of the second, he had no idea if they were his great (some odd great) grandmothers or grandfathers. Either way, they had excellent
It was clear enough to him that his ancestors had actually worshiped the plumed serpent (a notion that Billy found inherently ridiculous, but had to admit others wouldn't). The imagery in smear-name's journal was quite vivid, evocative of his own dreams, whereas the other journal spoke of communing with spirits; another notion that he found absurd. It wasn't that he had no belief in spirits and the like; communing with them was what he thought was illogical. Who would even want to do that (besides Dead Bowie, who didn't count)?
Spirits were annoying. They were more annoying than Moist, drunk, and Moist just happened to be a clingy drunk, which never boded well for Billy in the past. It was extremely
irritating to get soaked in someone else's sweat. Digressing in your own head is never a good sign.
Billy sighed quietly, trying not to fidget in his seat. Dr. Gregory was droning on about something in front of the class, and he just couldn't bring himself to care in the least.
Instead, he glanced out the window hopefully. There was nothing of note going on outside, but there was a plant in the window that looked odd, and Billy thought that that might be worthy of his attention, at least for a couple of minutes. He reached up and stroked one of its healthy, broad leaves. There were other plants, in other windows, but this one looked healthier than the others. His fingers dipped into the edge of the pot, briefly skidding across the dry soil that the plant was growing in. Too dry,
he thought, for such a delicate plant.
Dr. Gregory hadn't been watering his plants.
"Weird," he mumbled, as the bell rang and class let out. He stood near the window, examining the plant carefully, noting its delicately scalloped leaves and the pale pink buds that were blossoming at the wrong time of year. Botany wasn't anywhere near Billy's field of expertise, but he figured he should be able to tell the difference between spring flowers and autumn flowers. He'd bet fifteen bucks (if anyone would take it) that this little plant was the former.
"Hey Billy!" A hand clasped his shoulder, drawing his attention away from the oddity. "What are you doing?"
"Uhm... Nothing really." Billy sidled out of the accidental corner Buffy had backed him into. She really should know better than to do that to him by now. It drove him nuts at the best of times, being cornered like that. "Oooh, look at the time. I gotta go get my lunch." He got away from the wall almost too quickly to see Buffy's eyes fall on the plant he had been staring at.
Just before he got out of the room, he could hear her say "Willow, do you know anything about plants?"
Billy didn't get ten feet down the hall before he ran into his drama teacher. It wouldn't have been a problem if the man hadn't been carrying a large styrofoam container full to the brim with coffee. Predictably, the man overreacted to the situation, apologizing profusely as he ushered his much smaller student into the teacher's lounge so that he could wring his shirt out in private. Billy didn't bother; he just pulled the shirt up high enough to dip the wet part into the sink to rinse out.
Although his back was to Mr. Kuryakin, he clearly heard the man's sharp gasp of surprise. "Why, Mr. Cale, those are some rather extensive tattoos!" Billy stilled. His back
was to Mr. Kuryakin. Billy hadn't even pulled his shirt up
until he was facing away from the man. That meant...
"Damned camera phones," he snapped, and rushed out of the lounge, leaving his teacher spinning confusedly behind him. So what if camera phones weren't available to even the rich for another decade? That wasn't Billy's problem. The fact that those green marks had reached his back was
Shoving aside the few students who dared to impede him, he darted into the bathroom across the hall, spun on his heel and pulled his shirt up around his armpits. He had to crane his head around to see, but his back was covered almost as extensively as his chest had been the last time he had looked. Billy bit his lip, staring into the mirror and finally just sighed.
The elder Cale's books were quite helpful, Billy supposed. He learned a lot more about Aztec culture than he could ever have a use for, and he got to practice his French. Spanish got regular practice from listening to the custodian cursing late at night while waxing the floors at the school. What he really wanted to do was ask his father's opinion on his markings, which seemed to still be growing. As far as he could tell, there was nothing similar in any of the journals.
He twitched, grasping the ancient pages too tightly for a moment, when the door slammed, open then shut. That was probably his father, so Billy got up from the couch and headed for the kitchen, which was usually the man's first stop upon getting home. He had just reached the hallway when he stopped. His mother's voice was rising into piercing tones before Billy had the first clue what she was yelling about (a trip, planned for the weekend, whereas his father usually had projects from work that he took home on the weekends, and this was the first Billy had heard of this), and his father's voice matched hers stridently (it seemed that it was the first that he
had heard of this as well).
"You can't keep doing this, woman!"
"I just want some time alone with you, for once! I don't think we've spent a weekend together since Billy's last class trip, his eighth grade class trip
"I need a fucking warning for this shit! I can't just drop the project like that and hop off to some fancy ass spa or whatever you tried to arrange for this time!" Something slammed in the kitchen and Billy flinched involuntarily, even knowing that it wasn't flesh. It sounded like metal against wood.
"Why do you always have to yell?! I'm just trying to do something nice, for us!" His father didn't say anything in response to that. For a long moment, it was so quiet that Billy could almost hear his heart beat in his ears... then he could hear a soft whimper that dissolved into strangled sobs.
He had no idea what his father saw in his face when he stomped out of the kitchen, face brilliantly red. Billy was too surprised to duck away from the hand that cuffed the side of his face hard enough to nearly knock him off his feet. His head was still spinning and his ears ringing when he realized that he was outside, and that sound he had just heard was the sound of the door locking behind him.
The sun had already been down for an hour. "Great, just... great."
Good intentions dictated that Billy head for the school. It was close, and one of the safer places he could think of. Needless to say, he never quite made it that far.
It was with red rimmed eyes, a deep purple bruise high on his cheek, reeking of cheap alcohol and wearing yesterday's coffee stained clothes that he finally dragged himself into school the following morning. Somewhere along the way he had found coffee, and by the time he reached the library, Billy was feeling somewhat close to human again. There was something resembling blue fur stuck to his shirt, and he was trying to pick it off when Mr. Giles spotted him. Whatever the librarian had been intending to say died on his lips as he took in Billy's... less than fresh appearance. "Do you have any psychology books?" he asked, a complete non sequitur from Mr. Giles' standpoint, but a valid question nonetheless.
He gazed boldly at the other man as Mr. Giles' eyes swept over his form again. "Reading up on alcoholism?"
Billy blinked innocently. "Why ever would you think such a thing?"
"The fact that you reek like a seedy bar, and show all outward signs of having had a good night's rest," Mr. Giles said, frowning.
The latter part had to have been a lie. Billy was pretty sure he looked horrible, so he grimaced at Mr. Giles' fanciful description. "The fact that I spent the night in a seedy bar might have had something to do with that."
"And the bruise?" he was prompted.
"Never drink two fingers of whiskey then climb a slimey pinball machine. All I can say was that it seemed like a good idea at the time." It was misdirection, of course. While he had had the two fingers of whiskey, when he fell off the pinball machine, a friendly if hideous demon named Clem saved him from a nasty fall. "On that note, I've discovered that not all demons are alike. There was this nice one that rescued me from a very bad splat. And all he wanted was a kitten. I think he ate it, though." This was true. Billy was pretty sure that Clem had eaten the nice little kitty. Billy wasn't giving away kittens ever again. He tried to remember why he'd had it to begin with and couldn't quite recall. It seemed that his metabolism wasn't up to handling much more than a couple fingers of whiskey yet.
"You found a demon bar," Mr. Giles began, taking his glasses off to polish, "and you convinced the bartender to let you drink?"
"You've been holding out on us," Xander announced cheerfully from the doorway. "How'd you do it?"
"I lied through my adolescent teeth to him. I told him that I was a forty year old possessing the body of a thirteen year old. He took it." Billy thought for a moment. "At least, that’s what I think I said. It was a long time ago. A lot's happened since then. There was this blue furry thing that wanted to adopt me. I'm still covered in fur." To prove his point, he picked some of it off of his shirt and held it up for inspection. "Also, I can't seem to hold my alcohol." It wasn't that he lied about how much he'd had. He just didn't tell the whole truth. Two fingers of whiskey was only a small part of the previous night.
"You aren't going to class like this," Mr. Giles said, coughing. "Why were you even out all night, anyway?"
"Got locked out," he shrugged, hobbling over to the table. His legs felt weirdly stiff, even for seven in the morning. The chair would have been a blessing, if Billy could have convinced his left knee to unlock so he could sit. Eventually he gave up and just flopped into it, an action that he wouldn't have even attempted at thirty-five, but at thirteen seemed inevitable. "They had good chicken wings," he said, ignoring the four sets of eyes (not including the lenses of Mr. Giles' glasses) locked onto him and letting his back compress into a truly heinous looking position. It was moments like this that made him glad to be thirteen again.
"You had whiskey and chicken wings in a demon bar?" asked Buffy, scowling at him. She was suddenly standing awfully close to Billy's chair. "Who hit you?"
"Apparently a pinball machine," Mr. Giles stated, with a look like a man expecting a migraine.Ah, saved by my own obfuscation,
Billy mused, not catching Buffy's skeptic look. "If I'm not going to class, does that mean I can sleep? Demon bars aren't exactly conducive to feeling safe and sleeping - temporary blue mama bear notwithstanding. Also," he added, "I think it was male, but I wasn't sure, because of all the fur." He slipped further down into the wooden chair. At this rate, he would end up sleeping under the table.
Giles' ducklings were mostly off on their own for the day. One remained in the library, trying to sleep off the night while Giles worried about him. There's something wrong with every child,
he supposed. Billy was a bit further off than most, but as a high school sophomore at age thirteen, it should be expected that he wasn't the same as other children. He seemed older, at times, than the other students, excepting his occasional fits of temper.
It was also apparent that the boy had nightmares. Giles listened for signs that he should wake Billy, but Billy seemed disinclined to wait for divine intervention. There was a soft groan and then the peculiar sound of stillness (a sound Giles had long been able to identify). "I hate my life," mumbled Billy in his soft, child's voice. He was out of sight, and it was possible that he didn't realize that anyone could hear him. An odd shuffling indicated that Billy was getting up.
Giles glanced at the clock. It wasn't eleven yet; he had expected Billy to sleep at least an hour or two longer. However, when the boy shuffled into sight, he looked almost as well as he did any other morning, previous day's clothing aside. He yawned, eyes narrowing but not shutting as he kept them trained on the librarian. "You should probably go home," Giles offered. In spite of several hours of sleep, the boy still looked less than reputable.
Billy nodded agreeably, his face running through a gamut of expressions that managed to tell Giles very little of what was going through the boy's head. "Yeah, I'll do that. Somehow, I don't think I'll be in trouble at home for skipping, today."
Perhaps it was stranger that Billy chose to go home; from what Giles could tell, the boy avoided his own house like it was plagued. Giles wasn't sure if it was that, or something else that bothered him for the rest of the day.
"It's not that I have anything against ice cream, Dad," Billy qualified, prodding the melting mess in front of him. "It's just that I don't think this is a healthy way to deal with this." That, and at this point, he would probably prefer frozen yogurt. The banana split probably had more calories than Billy went through on his worst of days. His father chose not to reply, and Billy tried not to read anything into that. He tried
. That didn't mean that he succeeded. "I uhm, had been meaning to ask you something," he finally continued when it became obvious that his father didn't intend to respond to the previous comment.
The man grunted a half-hearted query, taking a large bite of banana which he promptly choked on when Billy shoved his sleeve up his arm to show the green tendrils of foreign symbols that hadn't been all the way down to his wrist the last time he had looked. His father's face began to grow red, and he probably wasn't breathing... Billy calmly stared at him for a moment then chased a cherry across his dish with his spoon, ignoring his father's attempts to dislodge whatever was blocking his airway. After several heartbeats, the man managed a huge, hacking cough and his eyes watered piteously. "Looks like you've gotten the full disconnect," he said hoarsely. "I was wondering about that."
"The who and the what now?" Billy asked, frowning. "Before we get into discussing my
psychological issues, how about we discuss yours? Or worse, let's discuss Mom's."
His father grimaced. It was an oddly familiar expression that drove home the fact that they actually did look alike. "Let me see your arm." Without waiting for Billy to pull the sleeve back up, he grabbed his son's wrist and shoved the cloth up, giving the markings a surprisingly clinical examination. "Where did these come from?"
"When I was kidnapped," he responded dryly. "It started out as a discoloration; now it's this. I don't know what to make of it."
The cloth was shoved past his elbow, and his father was still making strange (and strangely familiar) faces. "Can you read it?"
"Some of it. I found a book that I've been using. Anyway, the bit I managed to translate," he said, tone growing even drier, "was something about the Plumed Serpent, or Precious Twin, or any sort of mix up between those words... I know, I know, but I didn't want to assume it was talking about Quetzalcoatl. That was before we talked, anyway. I have no idea what the new stuff says." All this was true; he hadn't had the time since discovering the newer runes to try and translate them.
"Perhaps you should," said his father. "I'm not a language specialist, obviously; it already sounds like you might be. French and
Spanish, and this, whatever this is? Two languages were always enough for me."
Billy wondered just how much he could tell his father about what he knew before the man started wigging out. There was one way to find out. "I know that the dream thing is a family thing," he began, steeling himself for his father's possible reaction, "but what about magic? I mean, it can't be natural, can it? I didn't even know we had Aztec blood."
"We don't do
magic," his father replied, very firmly, lips pressed together.
He noticed that it was "don't," not "can't". Without thinking about it, he actually muttered as much. "But why is that?" he asked himself, not actually looking at his father.
"You may have noticed that I'm not the most stable person you know," the man said, nearly as quietly a Billy had been, asking the question. "All of those journals I read? You might be surprised to find that I'm one of the most stable, sane people in our family. Magic... it makes things worse. I can't even explain how, but doing magic, in our family, is a bad
thing. There's one of the journals, I'll find it for you when we get back; you read it, and you'll understand what I'm saying."
"Are you saying we're cursed?" Billy asked wryly.
"If only," his father replied. "Curses you can break. For us, it's blood and you can't break blood." On that note, the uncomfortable silence that had pervaded from the beginning of the conversation came back. The man grumbled something about how Billy had better not miss school tomorrow, and left it at that.
Wednesday. Normally, he would have been tutoring the Cordettes on Monday, but due to something (that had to do with cheerleading, he thinks, but doesn't want to ask, because they might tell him, again, and he tuned it out pretty well on Monday, he thought) that he didn't care to think about, they had to reschedule. "I don't see why they have us reading Verne," complained the blonde girl, Harmony (awful name; her parents were either hippies or Californian, sadly enough). Why she felt the need to talk about their literature class, he had no idea, but he supposed that he didn't have to focus on algebra, even if she
"Verne is classic," Billy replied, idly turning the page. While he read Verne, the girls were trying to figure out their math homework, with occasional input from him when it grew to be too much. "He was ahead of his time."
"Yeah, but the spelling and grammar is so weird. They should have us reading modern literature if they want us to be able to use modern spelling and grammar, right?" she asked with a pout that made Billy want to smack his head into the table (in spite of the fact that her words made perfect sense; actually, that may have been the problem).
"I vote we get rid of the pod person," he announced. The girls, even Cordelia, with the exception of Harmony, seemed to agree.
"What? I read." She sighed, "Well, I guess it's better than Ivanhoe. I had to read that last year, and I thought it was supposed to be about Robin Hood, and yeah, he was there, but it wasn't like it was about
him, you know?"
Dropping the book to his chest, Billy stared at her. Aura commented idly, "I think I just found god."
"I'd think you were a savant, but you're too close to normal," Billy stated, still staring. "Ivanhoe, really? I mean, it's not like I've got anything against Sir Walter Scott - there's a reason that book's a classic too - but... Ivanhoe?"
"You can't even follow the plot of Baywatch," said Cordelia. "How would you get the idea to read Ivanhoe?"
"Mom thought I would like it. I read it because I thought it was supposed to be about Robin Hood. I was having a Robin Hood phase last year. I read every book I could find about him. Ivanhoe wasn't, though." She scowled prettily at her algebra book. "What is cosine? I think I should know this!"
Billy sighed and pointed her to the right section of the book to answer her question. It seemed more like he was helping her understand the way her textbook worked most of the time. "Have you read Beowulf?" he asked, mildly curious.
"No. Should I?" She blinked up at him.
"Maybe. The full version is in Old English, translated from Norse, so it might be too difficult. It came into print before spelling in English became consistent. It's interesting, if you're into that kind of thing, though. Modern writing structure, you know, the whole 'parts one two and three' thing, came from Beowulf." He started to lift his book again.
"Why did you read it?" she asked, and he dropped the book again.
"It has Vikings; why wouldn't I read it?" He paused for a long moment. Honestly, he always had difficulty lying, though. "I lie. I actually read it because I was reading this sci-fi book called Beowulf's Children, and I found out it was a sequel, so I went looking for the first book. As you can see, I found the wrong book. It was still an interesting read, and I did eventually find the book I had been looking for, which had been titled Legacy of Heorot. I don't think you'd like those, though." When had he read those books, anyway? It had to have been when he was around this age, which meant something like twenty years ago, for him. "I should find them again..." He lifted Verne back up.
The girls had been eager to wrap up, not long later, and in a half-hearted attempt to find Buffy, Xander, Willow, and perhaps even Mr. Giles, Billy ended up in the auditorium. He had heard something about the yearly talent show; specifically, he had heard Buffy's posse complaining about the new principal forcing them to participate.
In a show of support, quite unusual for Billy, he'd decided to sign up as well (there might have been a coin toss involved, but he wasn't about to say so). Finding the others hadn't been too hard. He actually felt a little bad for Mr. Giles, though, especially when he heard Cordelia's rendition of something current and popular that tried to make his ears bleed. She had no sense of rhythm, and was tone deaf, or something; her voice was shrill and... Billy just didn't see a future in music for her. Maybe with lessons she could sound alright, but she obviously hadn't had any.
"What are you planning to do?" Xander asked, after exclaiming in horror over the fact that Billy had signed up voluntarily
Billy hadn't actually thought that far ahead (the show wasn't until next week, anyway). "Uhm, I'm thinking... classic jazz." He nodded decisively, and when even Mr. Giles raised an eyebrow, said, somewhat defensive, "I like
music. It's one of the few things humanity hasn't managed to screw up too much... Except for Justin Beiber... and Lady Gaga... and I've gotta reserve judgment on the Spice Girls and Hanson."
"Who's Justin Beiber?" asked Willow, eyebrows furrowed.
"Not significant," he hedged, shrugging. "Funny thing about the Spice Girls though, I'm kinda wavering, 'cause normally I hate that kind of music, but I've got that 'Tell me what you want what you really really want' thing stuck in my head right now, which is actually not good for their case, I suppose, but it's stuck, and doesn't seem to be going anywhere. I'm going to have to ban music from the tutoring sessions, because their taste is very teenaged chic."
"Oookay," Buffy drawled. "But why jazz?"
Mr. Giles managed to look curious as well. "Do you even sing, Billy?"
He nodded, "All the time, just not where people can hear me. As far as jazz goes... well, it's classic and I think... Have you ever heard the song 'Oh Death'? I could probably manage a good rendition of that. I mean, I'm still treble, so it'll sound a little odd, but not necessarily bad
. I could probably give everyone a wiggins if I got the right music for it."
"So, you want to do a particular song to creep people out?" asked Xander, snickering faintly. With a title like "Oh Death", Billy could see how Xander came to that conclusion.
"Yep. It's a good song though. Not popular; I'm not sure if it ever was popular, but it's good." He hummed a line, and then "Oh what is this I cannot see? With ice cold hands taken hold of me?
" He continued to hum softly for a moment longer. "Yeah, that's a good song."
"That was... familiar," Mr. Giles said, with a concentrated look as he tried to remember the song. "It is
an old song."
"Great," Buffy rolled her eyes then made a face at one of the other students milling around the auditorium. "It's the puppet again."
"You know, Mr. Giles," Billy said after watching the boy with the puppet (puppets didn't give him as much of a wiggins as they did for Buffy, but he had always thought there was something freakishly Freudian about them) for a moment, "I was wondering, why are you doing this, anyway? Shouldn't Mr. Kuryakin be doing it? I mean, he is the drama teacher; you'd think this would be right down his alley."
"I think Principal Snyder hates me," Mr. Giles observed. It was a good observation; Billy hadn't had an opportunity to run into the man yet, but it sounded as though he hated everyone. "Also, I've noticed Mr. Kuryakin makes Snyder rather uncomfortable. It may be that he doesn't want to do the man any favors. I've asked that Mr. Kuryakin join me, but he can't until tomorrow. He was... enthusiastic about the idea of... helping."
"Mr. Kuryakin is... odd," Billy murmured. "I mean, he's interesting and all, just flamboyantly... I would say gay, but he isn't. I think he's one of those people that if you cut him, he bleeds sunshine and rainbows."
The others were silent for a moment before Xander piped up, "I'll give that a seven out of ten for disturbing imagery."
"Only a seven?" he asked, frowning. "I guess I've got to try harder."
"Please don't," said Buffy, trying very hard for a normal face. "That was bad enough. It made me think of Care Bears."
"My Little Ponies," Billy corrected. After all, that's what he had been thinking when he said it. "Then again, maybe more like Rainbow Bright... But I'm not old enough to remember Rainbow Bright." That got him a funny look. "Aaaanyway. Do we have anything interesting going on today? If not, I have things to do."
"Like hitting another bar?" asked Buffy, arching an eyebrow.
Billy shrugged. "It wasn't as bad as it sounded. I mostly just hadn't slept. I mean, would you sleep in a place like that?" He stood and stretched. "I guess I'm out of here..."
"You aren't going to practice?" Mr. Giles had an odd look; slightly amused, and maybe even smug.
Billy just waved him off. "I don't need to. Worst part is remembering how to breathe right. If you don't, you lose air at the wrong moment, and bam, you're voiceless in the middle of a line, or squeaking or something." He still hadn't gotten around to that journal, the one his father had foisted off on him the day before. Almost hopefully, he said again, "Anything interesting? I mean, I'm not going to miss a monster hunt, am I?"
"Nope," Willow sighed. "You're just going to miss us attempting a drama piece and doing a really bad job of it." Xander made a quiet protesting sound, but didn't otherwise object to her assessment.
There went that idea. Billy could think of little more painful than watching bad acting. He didn't really want to go home, but if he had nothing to distract him... Well, a man's gotta do what a man's gotta do. "See ya."
Next day, he got to hear about the body.