Days of Futures Not: Epilogue -

From the personal Journals of Rupert Giles, Watcher:

As I have a number of hours remaining before I must hasten to the Sacramento airport to rendezvous with my plane back to Sunnydale, at least a part of the time may as well be spent in in updating this journal.

While it has been rather a busy week, all in all, I cannot help but feel some satisfaction at the amount of things accomplished within that relatively short span of time.

Following up on the previous joint progress made towards readying the new training area, Willow and Oz have put in remarkable efforts of their own during the absence of Faith, Cordelia, and Xander on their vacation sojourn. I begin to feel confident that this endeavor will bear fruit shortly into the beginning of the new school year.

As well, I am somewhat heartened by my meeting with young Willow's prospective magic teacher. Upon speaking with her as extensively as time allowed, Lirio seems to have an excellent grasp of the principles of both magic and witchcraft, and to have an appreciation for the difficulties inherent in training an untutored and mostly unstructured wild mage such as Willow. She also come highly recommended by Althenea of the Council coven. While it has not been my pleasure to know Althenea well, it has been my observation that she is quite expert in her field, and her recommendations carry quite a bit of weight in the community of magic practitioners.

I can only choose to be hopeful that whatever damages caused by Willow's interrupted training following the death of Jenny Calendar, and her subsequent unstructured explorations into magecraft, are easily remedied. I must note that upon their return to my library, as I had requested, perusing the titles of some of the tomes Willow's self study regimen took her through were rather alarming to me. There are some branches and pathways through magic that even an expert in the craft should undertake with grave trepidation, much less a novice in the arts who is quite unprepared for the subtle and gross dangers a practitioner may face. While commendable as a trait, Willow's natural curiosity and drive for learning can also be a hazard to her that I fear she does not fully appreciate.

I would not see her proceed down some of the darker paths into the arts that I traveled in my youth, driven in her case by curiosity and a sincere desire to be helpful rather than my own darker rebellion and nature. The dark arts have little care for what motivates one to enter them, only that one does so.

(As an aside, it occurs to me, rather belatedly I fear, to wonder whatever became of Jenny Calendar's own books on magecraft and her Book of Shadows. I am certain that a practitioner of her caliber must have had such... )

On other home front topics, as it were, I am not displeased to see my new Slayer and her cohorts take some time away from the Hellmouth to recuperate and enjoy themselves. Given the nature of the shadowy state of almost constant warfare we must needs endure, any brief moments that can be snatched away from the battles should be treasured when they arise. As well, it is my hope that the three of them can use some of the time away to talk out some of the strains that may have arisen during their conflict with the purveyors of that rather obscene sounding vampire narcotic. Notably the potential strain between Faith and young Harris over Faith's tentative semi alliance with the vampire Shelia. I would not care to see the emerging partnership between the three teenagers fall by the wayside, especially considering the detrimental effects I fear that would have on young Faith.

I should, I suppose, have more trepidation over Faith's formation of that tentative and quite unconventional alliance, however temporary it may prove. However, having listened to Faith's reasoning on her choices in the matter, and having spoken with her on it following the events, I come away feeling that this is a considerably different situation than Buffy's dalliances with the souled Angelus.

Quite honestly, while I do have some reservations over Faith's judgment and stability in certain areas, her 'people' judgment as it were is not one of those. Based upon my own impressions of her reasoning and her attitudes on the situation, I am reasonably certain that her decisions are not made from a perspective that's blinded by sentiment. (Quite the contrary. 'Sentiment', I fear, is one thing that Faith is probably least likely to be blinded by. She is far more likely to be blinded by her own wariness and reserved nature into not trusting when she possibly should, than in trusting too well when she shouldn't.) Unfortunately, and it grieves me to state this, the exact opposite applies to Buffy Summers: I was never able to rid myself of the certainty that her judgment on Angelus was completely motivated by sentimental impressions based upon what she wished to see, rather than on cold appraisals of what was actually there.

It must also be stated that my own observations of the former Shelia Martini fascinate me, as does my understanding of the interactions between the vampire and the others that I was not present for. It is rare, at least in my awareness, for a vampire to be able to put aside his/her bloodlust in order to act upon other motivations, and yet that does seem to be the case in this situation. While I shan't pretend to assume that there are any altruistic motivations involved - and indeed, the young vampiress herself states emphatically that her motivations are purely based upon self interest and her own entertainment - there remain some anomalies that aren't completely consistent with a purely self-interest motivation, at least upon surface examination.

Watcher histories and observations are quite clear upon the nature of vampires and vampirism, with numerous documented observances to base both theory and practice upon. And yet, the more I am exposed to observations in the field as opposed to academic studies, the more I find myself wondering if we indeed have a complete picture of that which we are sworn to fight. While the vast majority of vampires do seem to conform to the creatures depicted within our chronicles, there are often anomalies that aren't easily explained.

I also have some thoughts upon whether the siring of a vampire at the cusps of the three nights of St. Vigeous may have some effects upon the nature of the beast that arises. Also whether the atypical nature of a sire such as Drusilla may have any effect upon the progeny. To the best of my knowledge, no formal attempts have ever been made to correlate mystical events and the natures of siring vampires with the observed natures of their vampiric offspring. This is something that I shall have to follow up upon in my researches once I again have access to my books and materials.

Regarding my current travels to obtain first hand observations of the two newly discovered Potential slayers, I shall merely note a few passing observations. A much more detailed account has already been chronicled in my official journals for later transcription and forwarding to the Council offices.

The second Potential here in Sacramento, one Ashley Caldwell, age fourteen, seems to be a typical blonde California teenager. Indeed, given her family and schooling situation, she appears to me quite as I picture Buffy Summers must have when she was first encountered by Merrick Jamison-Smythe a few years back. Not quite the same nature, of course: Miss Caldwell appears to be a rather studious and athletic teen with a promising future in track and field or academics, or both, should she so choose. Given that the mystical appraisal of the Devon Coven indicates that she is unlikely to be in line to be Chosen, it will be my recommendation that she be left in place as she is rather a bit badly placed to be taken in and trained under a formal Watcher apprenticeship. My impressions of her family indicate to me that they are at best likely to be unreceptive to approach by the Council, as well.

The other newly discovered Potential, the one in Monterey, seems to be a situation of somewhat of a different nature. Erin Whittaker, age sixteen, and currently in the custody of the State of California's foster care system following the death of her parents and younger sibling in an automotive accident two years ago. Having been able to utilize the documentation provided to me by the Council to gain access to the state foster care placement facility where she is currently in residence, and to speak with her, briefly, it is my opinion that young Miss Whittaker's lot could only be improved by placement into a Watcher's care. (Not that I necessarily believe that the facilities in my own country for the care of orphaned teens are better, but my perusal of the State facility here leaves me with as great an impression of distaste as that which I have developed for what passes for institutions of public "education" in this benighted country.)

Which brings me to yet another area of personal disquietude. While not perfect by any means, my studies of the Watcher and Slayer chronicles have indicated to me that it is a rarity to have a potential slayer that escapes discovery by the Council and/or Coven well into their late adolescence. Buffy Summers was considered to have been an anomaly in remaining completely undiscovered until after her Calling.

And yet, we have not one, but several Potentials who within a relatively brief span of time remained so, three of them within a relatively small geographic area. The fourth, Faith, remained undiscovered until roughly a year before she was Called, by her own accounts and the Council's. Also, we have a missing active Slayer who appears to be completely impervious to Council efforts to locate her, said efforts both mundane and mystical in nature.

In the wake of Buffy Summers' - or more properly, Xander Harris' - equally unprecedented flaunting of a supposedly ironclad Prophecy, it leaves me to wonder if we are not entering into an era where the ancient rules no longer hold quite the sway that they once did. Anomalous vampires, broken prophecy, mislaid Slayers, a rash of undiscovered Potentials... I find myself oft minded of the words of Yeats: "Things fall apart; the center cannot hold; and Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world". Living in a realm where superstition is often the best and most likely answer to a dilemma, rather than something to be discounted with a sneer, it is almost enough to make one wonder whether some force is moving about deliberately disrupting the staid designs that normally comprise the workings of the world about us, both seen and unseen.

Let us hope that whatever hand may be at work is guided by something more benevolent than beings with "a gaze blank and pitiless as the sun", for all of our sakes.

- Rupert Giles, Watcher; In this Year of Our Lord 1998, Monday, September the 7th.

The End

To be Continued in the Alternate BtVS Season 3 Episode 1: "Terminate and Stay Resident"