Sunnydale High School, 05:50p.m.
Willow took in a deep breath as she locked her bicycle's front tire at the bike rack before she removed the bag of donuts from the handlebars. She then started to walk on the pavement in a hurry when she suddenly stopped with her eyes wide open as she had a sense of just going out of her body. She felt her hand holding the bag open, she felt the bag slip out, and then she felt a tingle going up and down her spine as she closed her eyes and saw a vision of Angel in full vampire made growling, following by a flash and then an image of a large stone surrounded by tables, then there was another flash and she saw what could only be described as a blue horned demon standing next to Spike and Drusilla. Then there was another flash of a stone demon with its mouth wide open as a vortex of some kind began to appear.
Then there was another flash and Willow suddenly found herself sprawled on the pavement. Shaking her head as she slowly got up to her feet, the redhead looked around at her surroundings and made sure that there was no one who saw what happened. Willow bent down and then picked up the bag of donuts before she took a step forward cautiously; she suddenly had a dizzy spell and she just stood still, closed her eyes and started some quick breathing exercises.
She knew what just happened; because the same thing happened to Niko when she was training her abilities with Ariel. However, there was one big problem.
'I'm not supposed to be able to do clairvoyance without the badge,' thought Willow to herself as she opened her eyes and took a few more breaths in before she started to walk towards the school, 'I should be clairvoyance free. Hell, I haven't even tried any magic spell to help this along… I trust Giles on waiting for someone to come and show me the ropes. But clairvoyance? It was more like limited... bits and pieces when Niko could get more with the badge. I don't understand… umm, maybe it's something to do with the Hellmouth? But I don't get it; I saw Angel all vamped out, Spike, the crazy Drusilla, and some blue horned and armoured demon. I have to tell Giles.'
Willow entered the school through one of the doors and rushed through the hallways hoping it would be empty. The redhead sighed in relief when she passed through the various hallways which were currently empty thanks to the various seminars that were taking place for Career Week. Approaching the double doors to the library, Willow stopped and took a deep breath before she pushed the doors open and nonchalantly walked in with the bag of donuts while Giles seemed to be berating Buffy.
"Hey, guys," said Willow as she stopped at the counter and waved at Giles, Buffy, and Xander who turned and quickly gasped while covering his mouth and pointing at the redhead. Willow glanced at Giles whose mouth hung open before looking at Buffy who looked at the redhead with her hands on her hips and head tilted with a smile on her lips.
"Who are you and what have you done with Willow," said Xander as the redhead walked towards the group and Giles fixed his glasses before he put a book down on the table and then took off his glasses and rubbed the bridge of his nose.
"Willow," said Giles as he looked up, "please don't tell me that you left just so that you could cut your hair?"
"Donuts, too," said Willow as she noticed the frown on Giles' face as she nervously pointed towards the bag of donuts. In the meantime, Buffy rushed over to Willow and placed her hand on the redhead's shoulder and asked if she met a guy.
"No she didn't," said Xander as Buffy frowned at the young man while Willow turned back and looked at Xander in mock horror.
"Xander," said Willow while Giles was pacing around the table as his face started to, unknown by the others, get redder by the minute, "are you saying that guy's don't find me attractive."
"Ouch," said Buffy as she wrapped her arm around Willow's arm and raised her eyebrow at Xander, "so, Xander, you saying my best friend isn't attractive?"
"Umm…" said Xander as he wished the ground would just swallow him before he rubbed his hands together in apology and then turned to Giles who was glaring at them with his hand on his waist, "Giles, some help here?"
"While your new hairstyle is a change," said Giles as Willow grinned at him, "there are much more evil threats than changing your hairstyle for a boy."
"I did it just for me," squeaked Willow before she opened her eyes wide and made a few jumps on her feet before she turned to look at Buffy. She excitedly asked the Slayer how her date with Angel went, before asking why she was back so early from her date with Angel.
"You knew about that too?" asked Xander as he sat down and took out a donut, and then bit into it, "the date part, I mean."
"Yeah," said Willow looking at Xander before she turned to face Buffy, "so, Buff? How was the date?"
"Oh you know…" said Buffy when Giles interrupted the both of them by slamming his hand onto a book that was resting on the table; an action which made Willow jump slightly while Buffy closed her eyes, and Xander looked away.
"What's going on?" asked Willow as she looked at Giles to closed his eyes and straightened up, taking a deep breath along the way, "is it Angel?"
"You mean is he his oh so great undead self?" asked Xander sarcastically while Willow and Buffy took their seats, "no change.. deadboy's still dead, but alive... so confusing being a vampire."
"But there was a slight hitch," said Buffy shaking her head at Xander.
"This is more than a slight hitch," said Giles who was trying to calm himself down, "Buffy was attacked by an assassin who was most likely sent by Spike. An assassin from a group known as the order of Teraka."
"O…k," said Willow as she looked at Giles, and then at the blonde Slayer, "they should be easy to take care of, right? Buffy?"
"The Order consists of several assassins," said Giles as he looked at Willow, and then at Buffy, followed by Xander, "both human and non-human. The fact that one of them attacked Buffy means that… that the Order will continue going after her. They won't stop, not until she's dead. Buffy can kill one of them.. but another one will take his, or hers, or it's place."
"You're just like Angel, Giles," said Buffy as she looked worried at Giles, "you really think that I should hide?"
"Yes," said Giles nodding his head while the Scoobies looked at each other surprised.
"Well," said Buffy as she crossed her arms over her chest, "I'm not hiding. I'm the Slayer, Giles. What's it gonna look like if I run? No, I'll stay and.. and we'll get Spike. Any idea on that book that was stolen?"
"Not yet," said Giles as she looked at Willow who sheepishly said that she'll stay overnight at the library and help Giles research.
"Now that we've got that settled?" asked Buffy as she looked at Willow, and then leaned forward with a grin on her face, "so, Will, who did you cut your hair for?"
"Yea," said Xander while Giles rolled his eyes before heading for his office.
"I.. I just wanted a change, you know?" said Willow, "I just had this thought and.. I mean I'd usually go 'no-way' to a big change like this but I figured it would be nice to have a little change. I mean it's a little change and nothing big, you know."
"You look adorable," said Buffy smiling at Willow as she leaned back into her seat, "alright then, let's figure out what we can about this Order of Karata."
"Taraka," said Willow.
"Same difference," replied the blonde as Willow chuckled, while Xander just looked at Willow's shorter hair, and then back at the book he was reading. The young man had known the redhead since they were in kindergarten, and he was aware that the Willow he knew would never do something so spontaneous. The only things he could think was that Willow's was possessed, but he immediately pushed that thought out of his head since he couldn't imagine Willow being possessed.
'Or she's into a guy?' thought Xander to himself as he read a book on the table, but unable to concentrate on the contents, 'that's not the Willow I know either. Maybe she did it to attract me? Ummm… maybe?'
Xander shook his head again before reaching for another bear claw as Giles walked out of his office with a pile of books and sat down across from the kids. As the hours passed by, Buffy and Xander had gone home while Willow was reading from another book and then looking at some translations she had found online. It was nearly twelve midnight when she sat back on her chair and rubbed her eyes with the back of her hand before she stretched her arms over her head and yawned.
"Have you found something, Willow?" asked Giles as he walked into the library from his office while reading a book. The redhead saw that the older man's tie was loosened and his shirt disheveled as he sat down across from her and put the book he was reading down on the table while reaching for another one.
"Nothing, yet," said Willow, "I mean nothing too big, just something about the cross being super important… I mean I added the 'super' part; it's not in the translation."
"Yes," said Giles as he looked up and leaned back on his seat and looked at Willow, who had leaned forward again and was looking at the screen while using the mouse to scroll through a page, "Willow, is there something you'd like to tell me?"
"Umm…" said Willow as she leaned to her left and looked at Giles, "I.. I don't know what you mean, Giles."
"Your hair," said Giles as he leaned forward and put his hands on the table in front of him, "you suddenly have this epiphany about cutting your hair when we're supposed to do research, and.."
'I said I was sorry, Giles," replied Willow.
"I know," said Giles nodding his head, "why did you cut your hair? Was it really because of a boy, or was it because of Niko's influence? If it's the latter, then I have to urge you to control yourself unless you're willing to tell Buffy and Xander the truth; that you remember everything that happened during Halloween."
"I still want to keep it a secret," said Willow sighing.
"Then you have to be careful about the changes you make," said Giles, "I know it's a small detail, but leaving us when there is research to do is very unlike you. And for all his childishness, I wouldn't be surprised if Xander suspects something. As for Buffy? Well, she's excited you made a change and I doubt she'll look past the short hair until maybe after this whole Taraka nonsense is cleared up."
"I'll be careful," said Willow as she leaned back on her seat again and played with her fingers.
"Then there's the issue with Spike," said Giles as Willow looked at him, "his focus is back on Buffy since he believes you're powerless. But if he were to find out that he was tricked… then he would have been defeated twice by you. And if that happened, then you and Buffy would become targets for the Order of Taraka… so that's why you have to be very careful."
Willow knew that Giles was right; that with the Order of Taraka in Sunnydale, it would be suicide for her to trying anything stupid like going out on her own against vampires. Willow made the decision not to tell Giles about her plan, at least not yet… not while he was stressed out by this current situation with the Order of Taraka. However, there was something else that she needed to talk to Giles about.. something that she neglected to tell him due to her focusing on finding anything they could about the book that was stolen, and why Spike would need it.
"Umm… Giles," said Willow as Giles looked up from the book he was reading, "something I need to tell you... I mean I couldn't tell you earlier because Buffy and Xander were here, and then we had this whole Taraka thing and…"
"Willow, go on," said Giles, worried that the redhead would go on one of her babbles.
"Right," said the redhead shaking her head before she leaned forward and crossed her arms over one another on the table, "I think my clairvoyance worked… it that the way you say it? I mean…"
"Your clairvoyance?" asked Giles whose eyes widened, and then he took off his glasses while listening to Willow tell him about the vague flashes she had earlier that day. She told the stunned man that her visions were just flashes of images; that she saw Angel, Spike, a large stone among other things. Once Willow was done talking, Giles just continued to stare at her in surprise.. and it was up to the redhead to break the silence.
"Ummm… Giles?" asked Willow as she waved her hand.
"That's amazing," said Giles as he leaned back on his chair, "but I thought you said that the clairvoyance works only when you activate your implant using the badge?"
"That's what I thought too," said Willow, "I'm guessing that the Hellmouth did something? I mean I'm guessing that if I use the badge, then I'd get more details… but with it so low on its Alpha radiation charge, I don't wanna risk it until I can get a power source to recharge it. But even with the badge, it's a strain. Today, when the clairvoyance activated? I fainted from those images. I found myself on the ground when I woke up."
"You should have told me," said Giles with concern on his face.
"Buffy and Xander were here," said Willow.
"I still believe they should know, Willow," said Giles shaking his head at the redhead, "especially if this is a possible side-effect."
"I'll tell them if it happens again," said Willow nodding their heads, "maybe."
"Willow," said Giles frowning.
"I know how you feel about this," replied the redhead as she leaned forward, "but it's my secret… I mean it's something for me... you know? I don't want Buffy and Xander to be jealous."
"They won't be jealous, Willow," said Giles.
"They will be, you know they will be, Giles," said Willow with a frown on her face, "and that'll mean things are going to change and… and I don't want things to change too much, too quickly. I want this secret to stay... well, secret."
"Then how do you plan on helping Buffy?" asked Giles with an eyebrow raised as he leaned back on his chair.
"Well," smirked Willow, "I have an idea on that… but let's get this done first. But first, before I tell you my idea… you have to promise to keep an open mind."
"An open mind, Giles," said Willow as Giles sighed, and then nodded his head.
"But we clear this mess with the Order before anything else," said Giles as Willow nodded, and then the both of them got back to their research with Willow mentally jumping up and down in excitement at the possibility of Giles accepting her crazy idea to go up against vampires on her own in disguise; with the watcher supervising, of course.