Disclaimer: y'all know who owns the Buffy crew, and it's definitely not me. Susan Cooper owns Will Stanton.
Category note: School and Learning challenge of September 2005
A/N: If you haven't read Susan Cooper's Dark is Rising series, you really should, especially if you're a Harry Potter fan. Great, great books. And I've always wondered how the main characters ended up living their lives after the series ends, so I thought I'd play with an older Will here.
Come Again to the Sea
In the beginning, Buffy hadn't been too interested in taking that History of 20th Century Europe class. Not only had she figured it would be too much boring World War stuff, but it was also a night class, and she hated night classes. Half the time she would end up having to go straight on patrol after class, and she hated having to mix schoolage and slayage like that. She and Willow had only signed up for the class because they needed a second history class to graduate, and all the good history stuff already had waiting lists. But the professor was awesome, one of those rare guys who seemed to like teaching instead of just pouting about how the classes took time away from his own precious research time, and he did a good job of making lectures on what should have been dull topics into something interesting. It also didn't hurt that Dr. Stanton was a total hottie. A little like Ewan McGregor, but with an English accent. Even if the man got a little bit tweedy once in a while when he lectured, you could still enjoy watching him, especially when he started to pace.
"...and that's it for tonight. On Thursday, we're going to start covering the Spanish Civil War. Now I don't expect to be the only one talking, so please have pages 127-166 read for that class, and be prepared to discuss General Franco's motivations for starting the war." Dr. Stanton concluded from his lectern, and began to put hit notes back in his messenger bag.
She caught herself sighing as she put her own notebook and pen back in her bag. There had been a lot of deaths and funerals lately; patrol was going to be long and hard tonight. She wondered if she had time to grab a quick something to eat before she had to head out to the cemetaries.
"Goldfishies?" Willow asked from next to her as she offered Buffy the bag of crackers she kept stashed in her backpack. "I know your schedule tonight. And if that's not enough, we can go assault the vending machine on the second floor. Maybe try to shake loose a Milky Way or two."
"You know that machine eats my money every single time. It's like pure evil or something." she said, taking a first handful of the crackers. "And am I really becoming that predictable?" she said, crunching the crackers.
"Only to the people that know and care about you. Because, while you shouldn't have a big giant meal before you head out for slaying, neither should you have a totally empty stomach. Gotta keep up those energy levels you know."
"Whatever you say, Mama Rosenberg."
"Now if I really was Mama Rosenberg, I'd be trying to feed you some sort of wheatgrass, carrot, and seaweed smoothie in the name of energy replacement. You are so lucky you didn't have to deal with my parents when they were on that health food kick when I was in fifth grade."
"Sounds pretty horrible." Buffy said, mock-shuddering as they left the classroom building.
"It was. I'm just lucky Xander and Jesse took pity on me and shared their potato chip and Twinkie stashes. A growing child needs to get in their RDA of junk food, you know. "
"Definitely.And speaking of junk food, maybe I should make a run over to the 7-11 for a candy bar. Less risky than throwing myself before the mercy of the second floor vending machines."
"Sounds like a plan."
The two women turned right at the economics building, and had just started to cut toward the convenience store just on the other side of faculty parking when Buffy felt it.
"Spidey sense is kicking up." she said, pulling a stake out of its hiding place as she scanned the lot. After a few seconds, she located the problem: three vampires approaching a man just to the side of the peace garden. She took off at a run, hoping to get to him in time.
To his credit, the man seemed to know something was wrong. Figuring out that the vampires were trying to surround him, he got his back to the wall and pulled up his messenger bag to use as a weapon. As she got closer, she recognized that the man was Dr. Stanton. Damn. She was not going to let the vampires take out her favorite history professor. She sprinted to close the gap even more. She was going to be close, she thought, as she bounced over the fence and into the garden.
The first vampire moved in to take aim at his prey. Dr. Stanton swung his bag at the vampire, but it easily deflected it.
"Hey, three against one isn't fair." she said, trying to draw their attention away from the professor.
"But we don't like fair, Slayer." two of them said as they peeled away from Dr. Stanton. As she moved to stake the first of them, she could see the third take a punch at him, connecting solidly to his face. She took a second to stake her vampire, then as the dust started to fall to the ground, she looked over at Dr. Stanton.
He was glowing. Well not quite glowing, more like holding a large glowy ball of light in one hand.
"Stop." he said, calmly and quietly even as the blood poured from his nose. Both the vampires focused on him. Buffy could have dusted the second one then because all of its attention was now on the professor, but she wanted to see what the deal was with the glowy ball.
"Who the fuck are you?" vampire three said.
"I am Will Stanton, the seventh son of the seventh son, and the last of the Old Ones. My quarrel is not with your kind, but I will defend myself if need be."
"What, with a little ball of light?" vampire two said. "Get him."
As the two vampires stepped toward him, beams of light shot out from the orb, striking each of the vampires in the chest. With looks of surprise on their faces, they both crumbled to dust.
"Dang, I need one of those things, whatever it is." Buffy said.
"Pure sunlight." Dr. Stanton said. "Drawn from day to night when I need it to be with me. And now that it's no longer needed." He cupped his hands, and the glowy orb shrunk itself to a pin point, then vanished entirely.
"Wow. That was cool." Willow said as she made her way into the small garden. "New and exciting way to make the vampires go poof. And you're bleeding."
"Yes, I do need to take care of that." Dr. Stanton said, pulling a handkerchief out of one pocket and pressing it against his nose. "I assume you want to talk to me, so is there some place we can go that would have fewer vampires and other ears nearby?"
"We could go back to our room, but that's all the way across campus."
"And Giles' apartment would actually be closer."
"Not to mention, I would probably get myself fired if I went wandering through the women's dorms here. I don't have tenure, so the old 'live boy or dead girl' rule does not apply for me yet."
They were quiet as they made their way to Giles' apartment. Buffy actually hoped that another vampire would try to jump them so Dr. Stanton could do the glowy thing, but they had no such luck.
"Giles, we've brought you some company. He's English too, so you can go chat about tea and biscuits when we're all done." she said as Giles met them at the door.
"Hello, Buffy, Willow. What's going on?" Giles said, leading them into the living room.
"Well a group of vampires tried to chomp on Dr. Stanton here, but then he made this big ball of light and it was like this big magic bug zapper. Bzzzt. Dust." Willow said.
"Dr. Stanton. Will Stanton? That Will Stanton of the Signs?" Giles said.
"I'm afraid so." he said.
"I had no idea any of those Old Ones still walked the Earth." Giles said, nervous energy leading him to pull off and polish his glasses.
"I am the last of them, and I was by far the youngest. I stayed because one of us had to, and because there was so much of this world I wanted to see yet."
"Getting the feeling there's a story I need to hear here." Buffy said.
"This may take a while, so please have a seat. And can I put the kettle on?" Giles said.
"That would be wonderful. There are five hundred different ways to get coffee in this town, but I can't find decent tea anywhere." Dr. Stanton said.
They took seats as Giles briefly ducked into the kitchen.
"Now where to begin, Dr. Stanton?" Giles said.
"Please, you can all call me Will. I think destroying vampires together puts people on a first name basis. I think the place to begin is somewhere close to the ending of it all. I was the last of the Old Ones to be born. I know there are many different peoples and crestures who have called themselves Old Ones. We were a group of people who were called to serve the Light and fight against the rising of the Dark."
"So what happened?" Willow said.
"We won. And with our victory, the Dark, the evil that wanted to enslave mankind was vanquished, and humanity was guaranteed free will until the end of time." Will went on to talk more about role in the fight between Light and Dark.
"So why am I still fighting vampires seven nights a week if the good guys won?" Buffy said.
"Because the fight between Dark and Light was one of the Great Battles between good and evil, but it was not the final battle. The fight between the Slayers and the demons you call vampires is another war altogether, and one day that war may lead to another Great Battle. But even then the ultimate question of whether good or evil will win will probably not be decided until the final battle of the universe, which will come in a time far, far in the future." he said, checking the handkerchief to see if his nose had stopped bleeding yet.
"So if it's not going to settle things, why do I have to keep fighting?"
"Because you can still make a difference in determining how many of those years humanity spends living as free people in a world where one can find laughter, free will, and joy, and how many of those years are spent living with darkness, despair, and shadows."
"So I'm still stuck with being the Slayer then?" Buffy said as Giles briefly went back into the kitchen to fiddle with the electric teapot.
"I'm afriad you always will be stuck with it, as you say. But you're fortunate that you have others who stand with you against the evil, after so many have stood alone against it" Will said.
"Don't suppose you're interested in helping out? I mean you've got that big glowy thing you can use as a weapon." Willow said.
"I wish I could, but I dare not. Both my and my peoples' role in the fight of good and evil has ended. If I took up the fight for the cause of Light again, it would be seen as interfering by the Powers That Be, and if I am allowed to be running around and interfering with a struggle that has ended, they might be forced to allow the Dark to regain a foothold on this Earth again in order to balance against my actions. I may defend myself if directly attacked, and offer blessings on behalf of who I serve, but I dare not do more than that."
"You say that you cannot interfere, but you ended up working in Sunnydale of all places?" Giles said, emerging from the kitchen with tea and sugar for his guest and extended a cup towards Will. "It's a lovely darjeeling."
"Thank you." Will said, adding sugar to his cup. "It was rather accidental on my part. After my Great Battle was fought, I ended up studying history at university, and kept going in the field until I got my doctorate. Then I decided I never wanted to settle down in one place for too long, but that I would rather travel the world as I worked, a year or two here and there. I've spent time as a guest lecturer in Germany, England, Scotland, and Australia already. I spent last year at the University of Manitoba, and while Canada is a wonderful place in the summer, the winters there were just too long and terrible. One day, I read an advertisement in the Chronicle for a guest faculty position at UC Sunnydale, and all I could think of was getting to live in a place where there were palm trees on campus, and I could be close to the sea again. So I came to Sunnydale, arrogantly not researching just why the school seemed to have such a hard time keeping faculty when the campus and area seemed so beautiful." he said, sipping his tea.
"And then you learned about the Hellmouth."
"And then I learned about the Hellmouth. Which lead me to talking to old contacts, who told me of the Slayers and vampires, and all kinds of other things that go bump in the night, as they say. It's hard. The more I know, the more I want to help the side of good in your fight, but then the more I dare not, because that might bring a whole other kind of evil on top of you. So all I do is watch and wait to see if I need to call my kind back for the final battle one day in the far ahead."
"Sounds rough." Buffy said. The conversation went quiet, and Will looked deep in thought.
"I do wish to thank you for your aid tonight, and for the tea." he said after a long pause. "I have a book or two the Watchers might be interested in. Not one of the great artifacts of my kind's power but volumes designed to be of use and usefulness for mortal man. Not intended to aid in your fight, but as a gift freely given in gratitude for trying to save my life tonight. That much, I think I can do without being seen as bending or breaking the rules that keep the Dark from returning to this place."
"Those books would be gifts gladly received." Giles said.
"I must go now. After all, I do have thirty five midterms from my survey class to grade tonight, and the hour starts to grow late." Will said as he stood up. He pulled the handkerchief away from his face, and cupped it gently in his hands. Like the orb of light, it vanished and then shrunk, probably going to the same place the orb had gone to. "Best to get rid of that now instead of having someone fish it out of a rubbish bin. There are still spells out there that are keyed by the blood of an Old One, and since they're usually nasty spells, I can't allow that to happen. I thank you again."
"You said something about a blessing?" Willow said.
"May the Light we all serve guide you and comfort you, and may it give you strength when despair comes to you in the darkest night. And keep faith, for you are champions of good, and I believe with all my heart that good will and must triumph over evil" Will said as he briefly bowed his head. The words were simple, but there was a power behind them that was reassuring and comforting.
"Thank you." Giles said.
"And Buffy and Willow, I just want to remind you that serving the Light does not give you an excuse to slack off on your other studies. I still expect you to turn your school papers in on time on Monday." Will said.
"Hey, no fair. You aren't the one who has to go break up a demon rave this weekend." Buffy grumbled.
"Remember I can't show favoritism to a champion of the Light." he said, a gentle smile on his face. Then he picked up his satchel, and headed out the front door into the night.