DISCLAIMER: This is a derivative work. All BtVS characters and concepts belong to Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, Fox Television, and others. Additional characters and ideas are the property of Davis/Panzer, Marvel, DC Comics, MGM-UA Worldwide Television, Gekko Film Corp and many, many others. (Apologies to Garrison Keillor also. I just couldn't resist.)
SUMMARY: See Part IA.
WARNING: See Part IA if you need to be reminded.
SPOILERS: Seasons 1-3 of BtVS.
DISTRIBUTION: Ask first please.
Author Notes: Feedback always welcome. This concludes this part of the story. See the end additional info.


The New Girl - Part I-C.

Bursting into the library, Dawn at his heels, Xander skidded to a stop in front of the counter. Willow and Giles looked up in surprise at their noisy entrance.

"Giles! We have problems! Big problems!" He told them loudly, breathing heavily.

"Xander? I didn't know you liked them that young?" Willow asked with a smirk, eyeing the small girl who was gazing at them and the library curiously.

"Geeze, Willow!" Xander grumbled, noticing the big grin that appeared on Dawn's face when she heard Willow's comment. "Don't give her any ideas. Buffy's going to be angry enough about this without your help."

"Buffy?" Willow looked at the small girl, obviously puzzled.

"Xander?" Giles asked, frowning at him. "What is Buffy's sister doing here?"

"Her sister?" Willow looked at the girl again, only seeing a slight resemblance to the missing blonde. "I won't ask how you know that. Now." She said to Giles, eyeing him suspiciously.

"She was following us." Xander told them. "Buffy doesn't know. I thought it would be safer for her here than wandering around out there until we can get her home." He waved vaguely at the windows.

"What's the problem?" Giles asked. "And where is Buffy?"

"Vampires. Lots of them. Headed to the Bronze!" He leaned against the checkout counter, still trying to catch his breath. Looking around he pointed at a chair at a book free corner of the large table Willow and Giles were using. "Sit!" He gruffly told Dawn. "Buffy is checking it out," He told them, "but she thinks she might need some help."

"Xander!" Willow squeaked, trying to point at Dawn without being obvious. "Ixnay on the ampirevay alktay!"

"Huh?" Xander looked at her in confusion.

"She means the vampires." Dawn told him, giggling. "There were at least ten." she told them. At their disbelieving looks, "Hey! I'm not blind. I saw them too," she added. She looked eagerly at the books in front of her on the table. "Do you guys help her with the monster hunting? That's so cool! Can I help too?"

Giles groaned in frustration. "No!"

"She's my sister!" Dawn protested.

"It isn't allowed." Giles told her gently. Willow looked at him in surprise at his sudden change in tone.

"Dawn, it's too dangerous." Xander added.

"Guys!" Willow interrupted before they could say more. "Speaking of danger... what about Buffy? Shouldn't we be helping her?"

"And Buffy's sister?" Giles asked, frowning over at Dawn.

"We can drop her off at home on the way to the Bronze." Xander told them.

"Giles?" Willow asked. "You said your books say this Harvest thing is 'the night of the crescent moon, the first past the solstice' ?"

"Yes?" Giles looked at her.

"Isn't that tonight?" She waved a small book. "According to this almanac anyway."

"Damn." He muttered. "You said there were vampires headed towards the Bronze?" He looked at Xander.

"Yes..."

"We need to get there now." Giles muttered, going into his office. "She's going to need our help."

"What about Dawn?" Xander asked, watching him grab several things out of a drawer. "Are we still taking her home?"

"We don't have time." Giles announced after looking at his watch. "She'll have to stay in the library."

"I want to come!" Dawn protested.

"Is it any safer for her here by herself?" Willow asked. "Do vampires have to be invited to come in here?"

"No..." Giles answered reluctantly. "It's a public place."

"I'll stay in the car." Dawn promised, staring wide-eyed at the things Giles was putting on the table.

Willow nodded at the small girl before turning back to the sputtering Giles and a pale Xander. "Looks like she's coming with us. Unless you have a better idea?"

Giles shook his head resignedly.

"I didn't think so." Willow said, getting out of her chair as he stuffed the items into a large pouch and headed to the door.

"Who gets to deal with Buffy if she gets hurt?" Xander asked, eyeing Willow nervously.

"Xander, she'll be safer in the car than we'll be helping Buffy." Willow told him. "If she gets angry you can blame me."

"Great!" He agreed, a little too enthusiastically for her taste, before following them out to Giles car.

She stayed as far back as possible as she followed the vampires towards the Bronze, wondering, somewhat illogically, what a group of vampires was called. A flock? A herd? A pack? Merrick had occasionally referred to vampire nests but nests didn't move. She shook her head at the thought. Merrick hadn't had time to teach her how to deal with more than one vampire at a time. He'd constantly stressed the solitary nature of her destiny. The slayer wasn't meant to face armies of walking evil. She knew that the night before she'd been very lucky. The only other time she'd had to fight a large number of vampires she'd trapped them in the school gym and set fire to it. And even that had been a very close call.

Stopping in the shadows a block from the Bronze, she watched the vampires roughly drag the bouncer and the teens hanging out near the door into the building. Frowning, she noticed that they'd left someone guarding the entrance. That wasn't a good sign. They obviously didn't want to be disturbed before they finished whatever they had planned. And there were probably a couple at the back entrance she'd seen earlier. Shaking slightly as she felt the rush of adrenaline she experienced just before a fight, Buffy wondered if they knew there was a slayer in town. And if they even cared.

She knew enough about vampires to know that only an experienced one, possibly a master, would have thought of something like guarding the doors. She'd been extremely lucky when she'd faced that master in LA. If he hadn't been over-confident in his ability to kill slayers she would have certainly died. She winced at the thought. It was looking more and more like now was a bad time to have moved to Sunnydale.

According to Xander, the Bronze was the only dance club for teens in town. And if it was anything like it had been the last time she was there, it was packed almost to the roof with people her age. She couldn't burn the place down, like she had at Hemery, without killing half the teenagers in Sunnydale. She really needed a plan of some sort. Which wasn't her strong point. And she didn't have time to waste waiting for someone used to planning these things, like Giles. Whatever she did, it had to happen really soon. Probably before he showed up.

Making her way carefully around the old warehouse containing the Bronze, Buffy was relieved to see only one vampire guarding the back door. She also noticed there were several fire-escapes that didn't seem to be guarded. She wasn't really sure which was the best way in. If she were lucky she could take care of the two on the outside without anyone inside noticing.

But if she snuck inside, and didn't take care of them it could end badly. If Xander was able to get to Giles and they came to help, they could get hurt. And once inside, she couldn't just open the doors to let people escape while she fought the vampires in there. They would run right into one of the vampires.

A number of other options went quickly through her head, each discarded as quickly as she thought of it. She kept coming back to her original idea. She had to get inside. The vampires outside had to go. It was that simple. Maybe she could surprise them? The smarter vampires would probably be inside doing whatever. She headed back around to the front of the Bronze, carefully keeping to the shadows.

She hadn't been expecting an Einstein but Buffy was very surprised at how easily she had fooled the vampire at the main entrance with her valley girl act. It had been distracted long enough for her to stake it without a fight. Unfortunately, the door it had been guarding had been locked from the inside and had looked too thick and heavy for her to break down with her bare hands. Which left either the back door or the fire escapes she'd seen earlier as her best bets for getting inside.

Watching the vampire at the back door from the shadows cast by a pile of wooden crates, Buffy briefly wondered why a vampire would bother smoking. She'd seen how flammable they could be. One little bit of hot ash in the wrong spot and poof, just a pile of dust. She was sure there was a reason but that was another thing, beyond the basics of vampire killing that Merrick hadn't had a chance to teach her.

She shrugged, dismissing the thought from her head. She would have plenty of time, if she survived, to think about all of the things she didn't know about the destiny that had been forced on her that would be useful in a fight. And from the appalled looks he'd been giving her earlier, she was sure Giles was just dying to tell her all sorts of other things she didn't really want to know about being a vampire slayer.

She watched the glowing cigarette for a few more seconds. It wasn't helping her get inside. But it did provide her with a good idea of where the vampire was standing. She changed her grip on her stake. It had been a while since she'd spent any time throwing them from this kind of distance. She'd have only the one chance.

She crept closer, hoping it wouldn't smell or hear her. She was able to get close enough to make out the face of the vampire. She grimaced when she recognized it. It was probably a good thing she'd sent Xander back to get Giles. Staking the thing that looked like his friend where he could see it happen wouldn't have gone over well. She wasn't sure if she would be able to tell him about it later. But it did give her an idea.

"Jesse!" She shouted, as she strolled out into the light. As the vampire stared at her in obvious confusion, wondering who she was, she was able to get close enough that she couldn't possibly miss. Not waiting for it to recognize her, she threw the stake as hard as possible, following it with her fist as quickly as she could, just in case it missed.

The heavy thud, as it embedded itself in the vampire's chest, was followed by an almost gentle whisper as the vampire turned into a cloud of dust just as she reached it. Quickly retreating, Buffy just barely managed to avoid breathing in any of the dust. "Nasty." she muttered to herself, trying not to think about how toxic vampire dust probably was. Or what it was doing to her hair.

Turning back to the door, she found it was also locked from the inside. "Damn!" she whined under her breath. It looked like she was definitely going to have to go in by one of the fire escapes.

Darla watched from the shadows, just barely controlling her anger, for now. He'd been her new toy. To replace the one the Gypsies had stolen from her. The one thing she could call her own. Something to take with her from the Hellmouth when the Master's plan failed. Drusilla had warned her, in her own way, the last time she'd seen her, of her vision that the Master would not be allowed to open the Hellmouth. All she had to do was survive long enough and she would be free to take her new boy away with her. And survival? That was something she was good at. She'd survived for centuries away from the Master and she could do it again.

But the slayer had ruined it. She could feel the anger boiling through her blood. And a slayer she must be. Darla had seen her kill several of the Master's minions the night before and had been suspicious, though she hadn't told the Master. The way she'd almost casually killed her new one tonight proved it. She would get her revenge later, if the slayer survived the night. And if she survived telling the Master that a slayer had interfered with his plans a suitable revenge would take time to put in motion.

She waited to see what the slayer would do next, stepping back further from the slayer, deeper into the shadows when it seemed like the slayer had noticed her. Darla knew she wasn't strong enough to challenge a slayer by herself. Even if she looked almost toy like in the glare of the street lights. But she had to be careful. Luke was already suspicious of her participation in the Harvest.

As Buffy stepped back from the door the faint whisper of a familiar sensation across her senses drew her attention to the deep shadows nearby. It was almost like a vampire was somewhere behind her. An old one. But that didn't make much sense. Vampires were killing machines. They existed for the blood and violence. One wouldn't be just watching her. Especially after she dusted the door guards. She turned slowly, trying to look into the shadows but she couldn't see anything. Before she could get a clear direction it was gone.

Listening carefully, she started to hear faint screams coming from inside the Bronze. It had been less than five minutes since she'd dusted the guard at the front. Time was obviously running out for the people inside. If there was another vampire somewhere nearby it could wait, she decided. The people trapped inside were more important than a stray that she could chase later.

She hurried around to the closest fire escape. Jumping up, she grabbed the lower rung of the rusty ladder several feet above her head. She smiled smugly to herself at the easy with which she was able to pull herself up onto the bottom landing. There was no glass in the window next to it, leading into the Bronze. Buffy pulled out her spare stake before cautiously crawling through the opening. She found herself in a dark and musty smelling room with the dimly lit outline of a doorway at its far end.

The screams of terrified teenagers grew louder as she reached the door. Rising above it was a deep gravely voice. She couldn't make out what it was saying but something about it sent unpleasant shivers down her spine. It was like listening to liquid evil.

The door opened out onto a walkway at the back of the Bronze. The front seemed very far away. Buffy wasn't sure how she was going to get there from where she was. Except for several large beams that spanned the entire building, there didn't seem to be any connection between the walkway she was standing on and the front. She hadn't realized it was so big when she'd been there the night before. Looking down, she saw why. The open upper floor took up almost the entire length of the warehouse. From the walkway she could see down into a number of rooms, including the restrooms. She winced as she realized that they weren't as private as they appeared and vowed to only use them in an emergency.

She climbed over the railing and gingerly walked down the largest beam towards the front of the Bronze, only stopping briefly in the middle to try and find the vampires below her. She stopped after she'd counted ten of them, mostly near the doors and the stage. There wasn't any way she could think of that this would end well. A very large vampire with a strange symbol on his face was pacing back and forth on the stage and ranting away like a mad priest. He seemed to be the one in charge. She grimaced at the bodies on the stage, hoping she hadn't known them. It had been bad at Hemery. She'd known most of the students who'd died.

Reaching the front walkway, the one she'd dragged Willow up to the night before, she stared in bemusement as the next victim was dragged up onto the stage. Her tentative plan, to sneak down and open the front door so people could escape before she dealt with the vampires, wasn't going to work. Not unless she wanted Cordelia's blood on her hands. She wondered briefly if Cordelia would remember being saved from vampires this time.

Looking for the quickest way down to the stage, before Cordelia stopped screaming, she turned around when she heard a low growl directly behind her. An emaciated vampire was running in her direction from the stairs. Looking quickly over her shoulder, Buffy braced herself against the railing. At the moment the vampire reached her, and before it could do more than breath on her, she threw out the hand holding her stake, hitting it with as much force as possible in its heart. Without pausing, in a continuous motion she grabbed one of its' arms with her free hand and used its momentum against it, pulling it up and over her shoulder. She just barely managed to pull her stake out as it tumbled over the railing behind her.

It turned to dust with a faint 'poof' just before it could hit the edge of dance floor below. The shocked sounds from the nearby teenagers drew the attention of the closest vampires, some instinct causing them to look up at her in surprise. She could feel the evil radiating from the large vampire on the stage that had been about to take a bite out of Cordelia as it looked in her direction.

Suppressing a shudder and taking a deep breath to calm her nerves, Buffy yelled down in her best perky, airhead voice. "I'm sorry! I hope I'm not interrupting anything."

Before it could say anything, Buffy jumped over the railing, landing loudly, her boots echoing in the sudden silence. Perched precariously on a table near the edge of the dance floor, she gave the master vampire her best intimidating frown.

"Are you sure you want that one?" She taunted it. "You don't know where she's been. All those antibiotics can't possibly be good for you."

The vampire threw Cordelia out into the crowd in response and walked to the edge of the stage. "You dare interfere?" It growled at her. "You shall be next." It motioned to several smaller vampires. "Bring her here."

Buffy barely had a chance to see that Cordelia was now standing in a frightened huddle with several other Sunnydale cheerleaders before the vampires reached her.

Jumping off of the table, she knocked down the closest vampire with a swift kick before colliding with the other one. As they both hit the ground she stabbed it with her stake. Feeling the other one coming up behind her, she turned as quickly as possible, and sweeping its feet out from underneath it, she pounced on it as it landed, once more making good use of her stake.

Getting back to her feet, she looked at the older vampire. "I guess they don't make them like they used to." She quipped, dodging to one side and staking a third vampire as it clumsily reached for her. "You might want to ask for a refund."

"Bring her here!" It ordered again. "Our Master shall be pleased."

The empty space in front of the stage quickly deteriorated into a mad scramble as four large vampires attempted to capture Buffy. Ducking and kicking and punching, she fought her way to the stage, stake in hand. She'd managed to stake two more of them, more by luck than skill, when her stake was knocked from her hand and exhausted by the sustained effort, she found herself quickly overwhelmed by the remaining vampires and dragged onto the stage.

"Yes, I can feel the power in your blood." It crowed.

"And I can smell your bad breath.", she retorted.

Looking for some way to escape, Buffy stomped down as hard as she could on the feet of the vampires holding her and wrenched herself free. Before they could grab her again she dove suicidally at the vampire in front of her, hoping she could drive it off of the stage and closer to something she could use to kill it.

She was able to get in what she thought were several good punches, though they didn't seem to affect the vampire, before it knocked her across the stage and into a pile of things covered with a tarp. Before she could get back to her feet under her own power a large hand reached down and lifted her up by her throat.

With her left hand, Buffy reached desperately behind her back for something, anything that would get her out of the clutches of the rather large vampire long enough to catch her breath. Oxygen was becoming a serious issue and she could feel herself starting to panic as her vision started to go fuzzy around the edges.

It held her at arms length several feet above the stage floor, too far away for her short legs to reach, no matter how hard she twisted her body and swung them. She could feel her back pressing against something hard and round in the pile as she tried to pry the large, cold hand away from her neck with her other hand.

Her lungs almost at the bursting point, her questing hand came across something long and slightly pointed. She quickly wrapped her hand around it, her sensitive fingers telling her it was something wooden. Swinging her free hand back around to her front, Buffy instinctively launched the long object straight towards the heart of the vampire that was slowly choking her. It stared at her in shock and reached for the drumstick now sticking out of its chest. With one last desperate kick, she sent it the rest of the way through the vampire's heart. Gripping her throat until it had completely turned to dust, the vampire dropped Buffy in a heap on the floor before engulfing her in its dusty remains.

The remaining vampires stared at her in shock before racing for the exits, quickly followed by the surviving Bronze patrons.

"Well, that was a bit anti-climactic." Buffy grumbled, once her heart had slowed down after the narrow escape. Climbing to her feet, she brushed the the remains of several vampires from her clothes and shook her hair, sending an additional cloud of dust into the air.

Giles parked his car in an alley Xander pointed out to him a block from the Bronze.

"Stay here! With the windows closed." Xander told Dawn. "And keep your head down." She nodded, watching them climb out of the car and head towards the Bronze.

Before they could reach the door, it burst open and a large crowd of frightened teenagers poured out into the night.

"Wait here." Giles told them with a look that allowed no arguing before fighting his way through the crowd into the Bronze. Ignoring his order, Willow and Xander followed closely behind him.

Looking around, it appeared empty to Willow, until she caught sight of the small figure sitting on the edge of the stage. "Are you okay?" she asked anxiously as they approached.

"Yeah." Buffy mumbled, tiredly sliding off of her perch on the edge of the stage onto her feet. "No more vampire hostages."

"Did you get them all?" Xander asked, kicking at a pile of dust.

"No." She told him with a grimace. "A couple of them got away. Out the back." She waved towards the other end of the Bronze. "They weren't in any hurry to stay once I took care of their boss."

"You'll have to hunt them down this weekend." Giles told her, drawing a frown from Willow. "They can't be allowed to tell anyone there's a slayer in Sunnydale. It's too dangerous."

"Can we discuss that later?" Buffy asked. "I really don't want to be here when the police show up. They tend to react badly to dead people." She waved towards the bodies slumped at the back of the stage. Xander and Willow both turned pale when they saw what she was pointing to.

"Yes, of course." Giles exclaimed, quickly motioning them towards the exit.

She let her exhaustion overtake her once they reached Giles' car. Leaning against it she watched them for a minute as they calmed down from the earlier excitement. "Cordelia had another close call tonight." She told them, shaking her head. "Can I charge her next time?" She asked Giles hopefully. "She's kind of high maintenance."

"Maybe you can use her as bait for the ones that escaped!" Xander suggested. Willow giggled nervously at the idea, not sure if she should be finding something like that funny.

Giles frowned at the strange look that quickly crossed Buffy's face at Xander's comment. "That wouldn't be appropriate." he told him.

"One can dream." Xander retorted.

Before he could reply, Buffy noticed the occupant of Giles' car. "What's she doing here?" she asked, shocked. She narrowed her eyes when she noticed Giles and Willow looking quickly at Xander. "You brought my little sister?" She stared at Xander in disbelief. "Here?"

"Buffy! She was following us." He told her. "What was I supposed to do with her?"

"Take her home?" Buffy suggested.

"There wasn't time to take her home!" He protested. "I had to get to Giles! And she would have just followed us back here anyway!"

She looked at the others, hoping for some clue, some idea of how to deal with his revelation. She could tell Giles wasn't happy with the situation but thought he would save his displeasure for when he had her alone. She sighed in resignation. "Okay. But next time... don't bring her along." She looked down at her curious sister, who was watching them through the now open window. "What did you think you were doing?" She asked in her best imitation of Mom-voice.

"I wanted to watch you fighting vampires!" Dawn told her eagerly.

"What vampires?" Buffy asked. She caved in, recognizing the expression on her sister's face. Dawn could be very stubborn when she knew she was right. "You know better than that. You aren't even supposed to know about them."

"Buffy!" Dawn whined. "I'm not going to forget."

"And what if Mom finds out you were wandering around this late at night? She'll ground you until next summer." When it looked like Dawn wasn't taking the threat seriously, she added, "And if you accidentally say the 'V' word? We'll both be in trouble. You know what she thinks about that."

"I'm not a kid!" Dawn protested. "I would never do that."

Buffy shook her head. "I need to get her home," she told the others, opening the door and pulling a subdued Dawn out of the car.

"I'll see you tomorrow morning." Giles told her. "We can talk about tonight."

"But it's a Saturday!" Buffy protested.

"And we need to spend the day getting her caught up on her classes." Willow added, trying to be helpful.

"Yeah!" Buffy agreed, giving Willow a wink in thanks.

"You can do that after we talk." Giles told her firmly. "You can use the library."

"When?" Buffy asked. "After lunch?" She added hopefully.

"10 o'clock." He corrected her. "In the morning."

"Okay. If I don't get grounded." She grumbled, before leaving, Dawn in tow.

Buffy dropped down onto the grass and leaned against the tree next to Willow. "Hey!" She waved around her at Xander, who was sitting on her other side. "Am I too early?" she asked.

"Yeah. Another ten minutes." Willow told her, looking at her watch. "They don't open the doors until 10:00 on Saturdays."

"Some people, who shall remain nameless, got here thirty minutes ago." Xander grumbled tiredly. "I think they want to prove they are better than the rest of us patriarchal drones."

"You learn well, young Jedi." Willow replied mockingly. "The patriarchy shall be defeated."

"I'm impressed." Buffy told her with a grin. "You have him using big words."

"Hey!" Xander protested.

"Yup." Willow winked at her.

Buffy leaned across Willow and patted him on the shoulder. "There, there. It'll be okay. You'll forget them eventually." Feeling a slight shudder from Willow as she sat back up, Buffy looked at her curiously for a moment.

"Why are we here?" Xander asked. "Again?"

"You can go home if you want to." Buffy told him. "Giles just wants to know about last night. Neither of you needs to be here. Unless you really want to watch him get huffy."

"Huffy? Why would he get huffy?" Willow asked.

"Well..." before she could continue, Buffy noticed Xander was about to say something. "You want to tell her, Xander?"

"Me?" He looked at her innocently.

"Yes, you." Buffy waved for him to go ahead.

"You didn't notice?" He asked Willow. When she shook her head he sighed. "He was unhappy about Dawn knowing about Buffy being the slayer. I don't think he's too happy that you and I know about Buffy either."

"Tough!" Willow muttered. "He'll just have to live with it. And it isn't Buffy's fault her sister followed you guys last night. It's sort of cute actually." She turned to Buffy. "She couldn't stop asking questions all the way to the Bronze."

"He also probably isn't too happy that I didn't wait for you guys to show up before going into the Bronze." Buffy added morosely.

"Why not?" Xander asked curiously.

Buffy shrugged. "It's a whole Watcher thing. They like to be the ones to make the big decisions."

"And I'm not going home!" Willow spouted.

"Huh?" Buffy stared at her, wondering what she was talking about.

"You said we could leave. Nuh-uh!" Willow shook her head briskly. "We still have to get started with the studying. I can't help you if I don't know what you don't know. And the library is the best place for that."

"We can't do that at your house?" Buffy asked her hopefully. "My house is out. Mom wanted me to babysit. I only got out of it because she doesn't want me to fail my classes."

"No. My dad is home. He might want to do the father-daughter-girlfriend bonding thing." Willow swatted Xander at his unsuccessful attempt to not laugh.

"Girlfriend?" Buffy squeaked.

"Yeah." Xander laughed. "Her parents are a bit over-supportive of the whole lesbian thing. They think any girl friends Willow has over, for any reason, are 'girlfriend' material."

Willow shrugged as if unable to really explain her parents. "Xander and Jesse are the only friends I have left who are brave enough to come over."

"Ouch." Buffy said, reaching over and, without thinking, giving her a quick hug. "Sounds kind of embarrassing."

"Yup." Willow murmured sadly.

"You know, I get the whole Obi-Wan thing." Xander mused several minutes later. "He was really quick to get out the stakes and holy water last night. But calling him a 'Watcher' makes it sound like he's one of those Highlander guys."

"Highlander?" Buffy asked confused. She looked at Willow for an explanation.

"TV show. Guys running around chopping each other's heads off with swords." Willow told her, glaring at Xander. "They have these people called watchers who secretly follow them around and write down everything they do."

"It's a cool show!" Xander protested, stung by her obvious displeasure. "And we only did it once."

"Sounds kind of creepy." Buffy said, sensing a story there. "But that isn't Giles' job. He's more like a coach." She thought for a moment, trying to think of a good example. "Ice skaters have personal coaches. Slayers have Watchers."

"And he knows a lot of things." Willow added excitedly. "He has all of those ancient books. And he knows all sorts of languages. We might not have helped with the vampires last night but we were ready to!"

Before Buffy could add anything, they noticed Giles standing on the school steps silently watching them. "I think that's for us." She told them, climbing to her feet, bending down to brush bits of grass and stone from her jeans. She wasn't able to stop the faint blush that resulted from the sound of two quickly in-drawn breaths but she managed to not turn back and look at her companions, instead walking quickly across the street towards Giles.

Giles watched her fidget out of the corner of one eye as he wrote everything she'd told him in his working journal. He could tell she was looking for the slightest excuse to leave. She seemed to have an excess of nervous energy, even for a slayer. "We need to discuss a regular training schedule." He told her. "And you need to work on your endurance."

"Huh?" She looked at him for a moment before her attention returned to Willow and Xander, who were at a table out in the library laughing about something.

"From what you told me, the vampires themselves weren't your real problem. You were more than a match for them until you ran out of energy."

"I kinda know that." She grumbled. "I was there."

"There seem to be an unusually large amount of vampires in the area." He said. "From Merrick's journals..."

"You have his journals?" She interrupted. "Can I see them?" She asked hopefully.

"Not here. They're in the Council archives in London." He watched her enthusiasm deflate at his answer and wondered what she expected to find in them. He'd found them rather dry and impersonal. "If you wish I can request a copy be sent here."

"Thanks!" She perked up visibly.

"As I was about to say," He continued. "Merrick's training seemed to focus on single combat. I have the feeling you need to know how to deal with larger packs of vampires. A more long term strategy. And the sooner the better."

"You're the watcher." Buffy told him. "Whatever you think I need that I don't already know."

"Buffy, learning is a constant process, even for a slayer. There will always be something you will need to know." He told her firmly.

"Whatever." She grumbled, causing him to sigh. "So... when are you going to yell at me?"

"Yell? Why would I yell at you?" He asked in surprise.

"I can think of half a dozen different things that went wrong last night." She told him. "And we're not even talking about Dawn, Willow, and Xander knowing about the slayer thing. Merrick would go ballistic if I even walked too fast in public."

"I'm not Merrick." He told her. "While I'm not happy that you have involved Willow and Xander in your life, I'm not angry with you."

"And Dawn?" Buffy asked.

"Children see more than they are given credit for." He told her. "Living at home it was inevitable she would find out."

"And?"

"I'm not sure what else you want me to say. It's going to make your job harder, and the Council won't be pleased when they find out."

"No surprise there." Buffy muttered. "Are you going to tell them?"

"No." He kept his answer simple. Now wasn't the time to upset her by telling her what the Council's most likely reaction to finding out about her friends would be.

"Is there anything else?" She asked quietly, picking up on his seriousness.

"Yes." He pulled out a book he'd found earlier that morning. Opening it to a page he'd marked, he placed it in front of her. "Does that look familiar?" He pointed to the symbol on the forehead of the central figure.

"Yeah." She looked closer. "The vampire that was in charge of last nights little party had that on his face."

"And he referred to his 'Master' ?"

"Yes." She looked at him curiously. "Why?"

"The Harvest is apparently a ceremony where a vampire called the 'Vessel' is able to gain power from the blood of its' victims and share it with another vampire."

"So... we have a more powerful vampire out there somewhere?" She asked. "Is it going to try that Harvest thing again?"

"No. Fortunately it'll be a long time, a number of decades, before the ceremony can be done again. And hopefully we can deal with this 'Master' vampire before that happens." He told her.

"Do you have any idea who this 'Master' is?" Buffy asked. "Is it some famous vampire?"

"I don't know yet." He admitted. "There are a few clues but nothing solid."

"Let me know when you find out." Buffy said. "I need to spend some time with the studying thing. According to Xander, Willow isn't someone you want to piss off."

Raising an eyebrow, he turned to look over at Willow in surprise.

"No, I don't see it either." She told him giggling. "But you never know. No one takes me seriously because I'm too short and blonde. You wouldn't believe the things I can get away with." She winked at him before getting up and leaving his office to join Willow and Xander.

Shaking his head, Giles stared in bemusement at the three teenagers for a moment before closing the door to his office. He wasn't sure who to feel sorry for the most. Himself, the Council, or any vampires who wandered into Sunnydale.

"That's the news from Sunnydale, where all the vampires are strong, all the slayers are good looking, and all of the Scoobies are above average."

TBC in "Girls just wanna have... prophecies?"


Some Additional Notes:

1: Why yes, Buffy DOES stake Jesse in this fic. It was either that or have him run off with Darla. Or maybe it wasn't him? Don't worry, Darla will have her revenge in a future part of the story.
2: This is not an exact episode rewrite. There will not be 54 more parts covering the first three seasons. We're just going to be checking in occasionally over the years with the Scoobies to see how things are going.
3: This is not a crossover. But Stargate fans might have noticed that it takes place within the Stargate universe. A sequel (does that make this a prequel?) that I have tentatively planned will be a crossover. But don't hold your breath.
4: This is based on a challenge posted to the "Buffy Wants Willow" shipper list. There is a very good chance that before the end of this series the Buffy/Willow sub-text will become text. (In a PG-13 kind of way). So don't bother suggesting any Buffy/Spike or Buffy/Angel action here if you are so inclined. So.. No Spuffy or B/A shippy goodness ahead...
5: This is definitely an alternate universe. Some things are different, some are almost the same as canon. Characters WILL die. Lives will change. It's the nature of life on a Hellmouth. (Those who like to read ahead know where to find my notes...)
6: Random car Giles SHOULD have gotten instead of that Citroen junker: a Rover P5 Coupe with the 3.5 liter V8.


(5/15/2013) Important Note: I wrote this 7 years ago (Yikes!). It was originally meant to have approx. 12 separate 'episodes', in multiple parts covering the 1st 3 seasons of Buffy. Instead, I am now writing a series of separate stories, of which this is the first, in semi-chronological order. Check my profile for a list.