Disclaimer: Buffy and all related characters are property of Fox, not me. I'm just playing in the sandbox.

Author's Notes: Because I need another unfinished story, right? This one takes place after "Helpless", and deviates accordingly. I'll keep pairings secret for now, even though the episode that airs directly after "Helpless" tips my cards quite a bit.

For the fifth day in a row after her Cruciamentum, Buffy woke up sore, weak, and tired. And when she plodded into the bathroom to get ready for school, Buffy noticed with a frightened sigh that her bruises her also largely unhealed. The rest of her preparation for school was a blur, as the Slayer brushed off her now-worried mother and just about everything else (including Willow and Xander, who instantly knew that something was wrong with their friend) until she reached the library. "Giles?"

"Yes, Buffy?" answered the ex-Watcher as he rushed from his office to greet her. Upon seeing her still-bruised face and sullen expression, "Are you alright?"

"Why am I still normal?" was the Slayer's response in a small, frightened voice.

Giles hugged Buffy as a father would his daughter, and felt his heart break as she started crying. "I-I don't know. I'll try and contact the Council, and see if I can find out what's wrong."

Wiping the tears from her eyes, Buffy smiled wanly. "Thank you."

After Buffy had left, the recently fired Watcher swore violently (yet silently) before retreating back to his office. There were many calls to be made this morning, and Giles feared the worst.