Disclaimer: Not mine, never will be.

Chapter 1


"Whatcha doing?" a perky redhead asked, leaning over her friends shoulder.

Buffy Summers slammed the book closed before looking back to see Willow Rosenberg's startled face. "Oh, sorry, Will. I didn't realise it was you. You surprised me," Buffy smiled apologetically.


"S'Ok. I was just researching stuff. You know, demons and vampires. All that jazz."

"Can I help? Is the world ending? 'Cos if it is I think we should have some kinda system set-up to let everyone know. There could be memo's and, well, I don't know what else, but I'll get back to you."

Buffy forced herself not to laugh at Willow's babbling. "Nah. It's nothing important. Not even remotely apocalypse like."

"Well that's Ok then." Willow sighed in relief. "You had me worried."

At that moment an older man poked his head around his office door. "Buffy, you're here good. Training?" he asked with a British accent.

"Sure." Buffy stood up with the book in her arms and went over to her watcher. Dropping the book in his arms she turned back to Willow and said, "so, are we studying tonight? I'm kinda worried about tomorrow's history quiz."

"Oh, yes. I'll come over to yours later and we'll do that."

"Cool. See you later."

"Bye." Willow left the library with a backward glance at the Slayer. Why did she get the feeling Buffy was trying to stop her seeing what the book she had been reading was about? That wasn't like her. She was normally so open.

As soon as Willow was gone Buffy turned to Giles. "Timely save," she murmured. "I didn't think she'd leave without lots and lots of detail on what that book was about."

"Yes. Well. Be that as it may my primary reason for interrupting was your training."

"Of course it was." Buffy replied, "but thank you anyway."

"How many times must I tell you? If you must study such things in secret, then you should at least try to be a little more…"

"Secretive?" Buffy piped up.

"Exactly," Giles was doing that exasperated thing he did where he took off his glasses and polished them so Buffy figured she should let it drop. "So. Training?"

An hour or so later as Buffy was leaving the library Giles called her back. Returning the book she had been studying earlier he gave her one final glare. "Do try not to let Willow and Xander read this. It's very sensitive information and they are not yet privy to the…"

"I know, I know. But I've gotta keep up to date Giles. One day soon I'm gonna need this stuff. I need to be prepared. I only wish I could really practise it instead of just reading about it. You never realise how important the practical aspect is until you can't do it anymore."

Giles expression softened to one of pity. "You know why you can't."

"Yeah." Buffy sighed dejectedly. "They'll find me and then bad things will happen. I wouldn't be safe here anymore." She turned and walked out of the library, her head hung low and the book clutched to her chest.

Willow had left about ten minutes or so before. Their impromptu study date had of course turned into boy talk. Willow had been detailing some new quirk of Xander's and Buffy had described her latest Angel dream. Not much actual studying had been done. Buffy figured she'd probably already failed that quiz. Her mom would be disappointed when she found out, but Buffy couldn't really seem to care right now. She had priorities and history just wasn't one of them.

This thought reminded her of the rather heavy book she had hidden in a drawer. She pulled it out, planning on getting some real studying done, when her eye was caught by something underneath. It was a photograph of her and her old friends, from her old life, when everything had been so simple, yet so complicated.

Her fingers brushed the photographic faces gently as they smiled up at her, perpetually happy, never knowing what was to come. It had been taken the summer before she had been called as the Slayer, they had been doing something, cleaning perhaps, she could no longer remember exactly what, when one of her friends had told a joke that had had them all rolling around the floor in hysterical laughter. Later they had discovered that another friend had seen them and snapped a picture to embarrass them. She, of course, had confiscated the picture, but had forgotten to destroy it. She had found it again when packing all her things up to move, but knowing she would likely never see them again she had decided to keep it, regretting never being able to take a better one.

"I miss you guys," she whispered softly. "I hate to think what you're doing without me." She snorted then. "Probably things you're not supposed to." Sighing for what she had lost, she put the picture back in her drawer of things no one but her was ever supposed to see. Willow and Xander were great but they were so close to one another that sometimes she felt a bit of a third wheel. Of course it had been like that with her old friends in the beginning to, but as they'd grown up together they had learned to appreciate each other. They had been quite the exclusive group, everyone had wanted to be a part of it, but no one could get close enough and nothing could split them up. She frowned, remembering that one time, well, not for long anyway.

She glanced at the clock. It was almost 9. She could almost hear Giles nagging her to get out on patrol. "Ok, Giles I'm going. Studying can wait 'til after."