Oz wasn’t sure how he’d been voted second in command but he wanted a recount of the votes. This was crazy and they all knew it. It was one thing to sit in Giles apartment and talk about how they didn’t need a slayer to patrol and about how they were a team, but being out here was something else entirely.
Giles was up on top of the mausoleum in the center of their little field of slaughter yelling out instructions and warnings. Xander and Willow were taking on anything that came at them from the left which had him and Cordelia taking on all the vamps from the right. Giles took care of anyone bold enough to climb up to him and tossed out weapons when needed, with surprisingly good aim. They had tried it with someone else up top yelling out commands but it never worked, whoever was up there always got distracted or in the case of Cordelia just started yelling out trash talk against the other side. Once a cheerleader, always a cheerleader.
So far they had dusted about a dozen vamps tonight and they were still coming, he was getting tired and he was pretty sure that inhaling all this vampire dust had to be playing hell with their lungs. When they would go out with Buffy there would only ever be a max of three vamps in any one cemetery and sometimes they would go the whole night and not see any action at all. It would seem that word was out that the slayer had skipped town, because every night they were besieged on all sides by vamps by the dozens. In each cemetery.
He and Cordy had worked out a system where he would grab whichever vamp they were fighting and she would stake them, she had wicked aim and hit the heart first try nine times out of ten. He had pulled nearly every muscle in his body keeping hold of the squirming undead, but it was the best they could do together. If Cordelia tried to grab one she would either freeze or get knocked down easily, it was like she was fighting with herself more than anyone else, so having her take the lead was dangerous.
Willow and Xander were a bit more chaotic and individual with their attacks. They couldn’t seem to gel together like they should have, they were lifelong friends but together in the cemetery they fought like they couldn’t trust each other to back them up. Xander was all hand to hand and crossbows while Willow used nearly nothing but her magic. Occasionally she would use it to throw a vamp in the path of one of Xanders bolts, but usually they fought like they were alone and not a team.
This was not a sustainable system and they all knew it. Buffy had better come back soon or they were going to be overrun just by the vampires. The demons were probably having a field day with no one around to stop them.
Giles had barely gotten through his door when the phone began to ring. While that wasn’t necessarily unusual, he did have a great many acquaintances in other timezones, but unless it was an emergency such calls were scheduled in advance to be sure he would be home to answer them.
“Hello?” He didn’t want to have to deal with this whatever it was, but he knew from experience that just ignoring the things that were out of the ordinary never boded well for anyone who lived and thrived on a hellmouth. The universe had a way of laughing at the fools who did so here.
“Rupert, good of you to finally answer.” He tried to keep his temper in check but even hearing the voice of Quentin Travers had a way of snapping his control. The pompous ass.
“Why are you calling?” He wasn’t technically a watcher any longer so he didn’t have to be polite to him anymore.
“That’s no way to speak to me Rupert. I was calling to give you a heads up we’re sending a new watcher your way to take over the duties you failed at.”
“I didn’t-” He knew better than to try and defend his position but he still tried every time. Being told he failed was something that grated on him every time he heard it.
“We also got word that the new slayer is making her way towards your little town, the hellmouth must be calling to her. Please try to keep everything under control until they arrive won’t you.”
“Who are you sending?” He hoped it was someone with at least some experience, though he more than most knew that the Council was running a bit short of those at the moment. Academics they had in droves but people who could actually survive on the Hellmouth were in short supply.
“A young chap named Wesley Wyndam-Pryce he’s Rogers’ boy, a legacy, you know much like you were. Pity how that worked out for you, huh. He’s a by the book sort and he should be able to get your slayer into shape in no time at all.” Like you failed to do. The subtext was heard loud and clear, he simply chose to ignore it.
“That’s really not a good idea.”
“Oh do you think so? Why not?” The sarcasm and derision dripping from every word was thick enough to cut with a knife, but he had to try even though he knew the other man would never really listen to him. They were making a mistake.
“While I have yet to meet this new slayer it sounds to me like she’s coming here on her own without a watcher, and that tells me she might be as much of a wild card as Buffy. Buffy will not listen to someone straight out of the academy, she simply won’t.” Honestly it was a toss up most days if she would listen to him, and she actually respected him in her own way.
“Of course she will, she’s a slayer, it’s her duty to listen to her watcher and perform her tasks to the best of her ability.” He made it sound so matter of fact like he was talking about stories instead of people. Like it never occurred to him that someone would refuse to play the part they were given, even though they both knew it happened on occasion.
“That may well be, but between myself and Merrick she has grown used to older men leading her. She trusts that we know what we’re doing because of our age if nothing else. If I remember right this Wesley is barely out of his twenties. They won’t respect him.”
“Then it will be his job to earn their respect won’t it. We all have to start somewhere.”
“Yes, but-” The dial tone sounded in his ear ending what he had to say. This was terrible.
He honestly felt bad for this young fool, he remembered what it was like to be just out of the academy full of that surety that they were on the side of good and peace. Life in the field had a way of beating that out of them all. Once you see the lifeless body of your first slayer that certainty starts to crack and decay. Some manage to find a new way of looking at things, but he never did. He couldn’t. These were human lives they were playing with and no amount of academic study and professional distance made it any easier to stand over the body of a teenage girl knowing that you helped to put her there.
“I’m sixteen years old Giles. I don’t want to die.”
Those words had ripped his heart out and left him breathless for days. How many others had thought those same thoughts before her only to be guilted and forced into the situation anyway. They were grown men and women standing on the sidelines waiting for someone else to save them and he was sick of it.
A legacy Travers had called this new fellow. He knew what that meant, all books and no smarts. He wouldn’t truly be able to fight or make the tough calls, he would be worse than useless he would be in the way. He would do his best to help guide him but if the decision needed to be made he would make it and he would always favor the young and the innocent above all others.
Wesley Wyndam-Pryce was well aware of his reputation around the Council. They thought he was a bit of a ninny and that he would fold under pressure, but he was going to prove them wrong. He would live up to the Wyndam-Pryce name and show them all that he was worthy of being a member of this prestigious body.
The idea of going to an active hellmouth for his first assignment was a bit daunting, especially one with a slayer with a track record like Ms. Summers, but he was more than up to the task he was sure. He had his books packed and his credentials at the ready, while he couldn’t work in the school as Mr. Giles had done he was sure he would be able to attain ready access to both slayers soon enough. No one was overly sure of the identity of the newest girl, though there were signs that she was moving steadily towards Sunnydale. That was a bit of a mess, but he would overcome it all.
“Are you ready?” His mother was standing in the doorway, while she wasn’t an overly affectionate woman she would be the one person he would miss while he was away.
“Yes.” There was no need for a showing of emotion, it would just embarrass them both.
“Good, now remember your training and you’ll do just fine. Rupert Giles is a good man, no matter what the others have to say about his recent behavior, you can rely on him. He was a bit of a wild card in his youth but he became a strong and stalwart defender of good, if you run into any trouble or come across a situation you weren’t prepared for ask his advice. You don’t have to take it but it never hurts to hear it.”
“I understand mother.” He had spent the last year hearing all about Mr. Giles from every direction. His so-called fall from grace was the talk of the Council for months after his sacking, his mother had been the only voice of reason he ever heard truly defend the man to any degree.
If he was being honest the idea of meeting the man he’d heard so many stories about was a bit intimidating. He supposed he could just try his best to make a good first impression and go from there, while the man was his senior he would not allow himself to be walked all over. He was in charge now and he needed to be sure that was never in question.
Grabbing his carryon luggage he took one last look around his room to make sure he hadn’t forgotten anything and headed out towards the airport. There was really no need to stop to say goodbye to anyone, least of all his father, it would simply be a waste of valuable time. He was on his way to fulfilling his destiny.
Faith had finally made it to California, though Sunnydale was still at least three days of travel off. Her watcher had talked all about this place before… well before. She had made a whole big deal about how if she was called they would both be going there to fulfill her destiny. She would just talk and talk and talk all about Buffy and how she’d done the impossible and made it where two slayers could be called at the same time. How she defied death and prophecy. How she was going to be one of the greats. Well one of the greats was exactly what she needed right now, if Kakistos came looking for her, she wanted to be somewhere where the backup wasn’t a bunch of screaming sissies.
When Nancy had first started coming around and told her all about this slayer gig she thought the woman was out of her mind. She didn’t have the look of a crazy type, but she had learned at an early age that crazy was good at hiding. Then she’d launched into this whole song and dance about how powerful she was going to be someday and about how she was meant for greater things. She still wasn’t buying it, but it was a way out of the hell she lived in with her mom so she played along. She always thought she would just stick it out until she got a little older, play the long game of pretend, then bounce when it wasn’t working for her anymore.
Seeing her first vampire but a bit of a hitch in that plan. Suddenly there was this whole new world full of threats and she was all about learning how to defend herself. She still didn’t think she would ever be this chosen warrior chick, but she would take the lessons to heart either way. Then it all went to shit when this big bad vamp came along and decided to make a meal out of both of them, only he wanted a show first. Watching Nancy die was a new level of fucked up she didn’t even know existed until that moment, and it sent her hard into panic mode. She was just starting to think that her end was coming when she felt this rush build up inside of her.
She was chosen.
Suddenly she knew exactly what to do. She got free and started wailing on the minions the big guy left behind while he popped out for a minute and turned them all to dust. Out of some last dregs of respect she took Nancy’s body when she ran and left it somewhere it would be found and reported. The two of them hadn’t exactly been bosom buddies or anything but the lady had looked out for her in her own way, so she figured she owed her or something.
Good deed done. Debt paid. Time to move on.
Look out Sunnydale, she was coming to town.
Buffy didn’t want to go back to Sunnydale but Angel was insisting, he said that they needed to go back and face things. She didn’t want to. Sunnydale was full of too much drama and what was sure to be epic frowns of parental disappointment.
Sunnydale had responsibilities.
Sunnydale had hard choices.
Sunnydale had Cordelia.
She didn’t want to tempt fate, not when Angel had been acting all wiggy lately, he was acting like he was feeling guilty about everything under the sun, even after weeks of basking in the glory of being together without any troubles he still wouldn’t touch her. They still weren’t back to being them again. No matter how hard she tried or what she said she just wasn’t getting through to him and the two of them going back didn’t seem like the best idea to her. Not yet anyway.
“Can’t we just stay a little longer?” It wasn’t that where they were was even that great, it wasn’t, but it at least wasn’t Sunnydale. God, sometimes she thought the town itself was just a giant blackhole of despair that sucked all the happiness out of the lives of the people there. The second you crossed that town line all hope stayed on the other side.
“Angel-” She wanted to make her argument again, maybe she just wasn’t being persuasive enough. If she could find the right words maybe he would understand why going back now was such a bad idea.
“I understand Buffy, trust me I do, but it’s time to face the world again. So I’m going back. The only thing left up in the air is if you’re coming with me.”
Huffing out a sigh of frustration she went back to packing, of course she was going with him she would never leave him to go back there alone. To her. She just couldn’t shake this feeling that this was the end of something more than just their little mini-vacation together.
She could feel it in her soul, there was something waiting for them back in Sunnydale and whatever it was it would change everything and she didn’t want things to change. Not again. She wanted the two of them to go back to the way things were when they would make-out at her bedroom window because she was grounded and they couldn’t stand to not see each other. Like when they would spend their patrol nights holding hands and talking about everything that came to mind, sure she did most of the talking but he was always just there for her in a way no one else ever had been before.
She wanted that sweet rush of love back and all she could feel now was this ache of knowing that no matter what they did or how much they wanted it they could never really be what they were. Not anymore.
“Are you sure-” She didn’t get to finish her thought before he was snapping at her. His temper had shortened significantly since his soul had been temporarily misplaced.
“Yes.” His hissed response made her jump a little. Not just because it was so abrupt but because there was a slight growl in his tone. She had been noticing that more and more lately, it was like his vampire side was closer to the surface than ever before. Like Angelus was closer to them all.
She didn’t want to think about what that meant about things back home. The Angel from before had done everything he could to seem more human, but now it was like he was barely holding on to his humanity and it scared her.
Look out Sunnydale it was time to go home.