For the next few minutes, there was quiet in the room, as all there stared out the front window into the steady October rain. Then came idle conversation among the Scoobies, including when dinner would be ready, how to adjust the training schedule for indoors if the bad weather continued, and other trivial topics. Willow had been mostly quiet, trying not to look at her worst fear that Dawn seemed to aiming directly at her during that young woman's sprawl among the bedding. In an effort to distract herself, Willow glanced around the room, to finally spot something on another Summers sister that sparked a question in the witch's mind.

Breaking the momentarily silence that had been maintained for several moments, Willow called, "Buffy, that eagle on your Wonder Woman robe reminds me of something. Did you ever find out just what kind of eagle your avatar appears in the tree at the dryad's glade?"

"Huh?" blinked Buffy, looking down at her Slanky, and frowning at the representation of that avian there. "Come to think of it, I never got around to it. It's not like this one, right?"

"That's a bald eagle," commented Giles. The Englishman looked puzzled, continuing, "I believe I once had a theory, but I can't recall it offhand. Did anyone else check?" With those words, Giles looked around the room, receiving headshakes and shrugs from the rest of those there.

Lounging on the floor, Dawn suggested, "How 'bout we check it later--"


Buffy was instantly at her feet, at the others' heads turned in alarm at that unexpected soft noise coming from the back of the room, at where one of the new cabinets that covered up a former window of the old Sunnydale house was located. Gliding forwards and ready for action, Buffy stalked to where the sound had originated from. The others remained motionless, not sure if they should be doing anything but to watch Buffy, as this woman reached the cabinet, to stand in front of it for a moment and then bending down.

A worried Dawn was sitting up, and the others in their seats now saw Buffy straighten up, with something in her hand, to stand there for a few seconds until she turned around, a look of absolute bewilderment on her face, as she announced, "A book fell on the floor from the bottom shelf." Indeed, Buffy now waved her right hand, showing everyone there a small volume with a bright cover that was too far for anyone to see what was presented there.

The others relaxed a little, with Giles the first to ask, "Just what kind--"

"It says, 'Birds of the World.' Oh, and I'm damn certain we didn't have that book in our house back in Sunnydale." Buffy sent a serious fish-eye towards Xander on the sofa having lifted himself up and twisted his neck to peer at Buffy.

A startled look passed over that man's face, that rapidly changed to humor, as he chuckled, "I didn't get anything from her, but it's her house, so I guess she's just being polite. Why don't you bring it over, and let's look at it?" Still chuckling, Xander laid himself back down into Willow's lap, as that woman also giggled in relief.

"Humf," snorted Buffy, as she stepped over to Giles. When she got close enough, the Slayer thrust the volume towards the man also turned in his chair, regarding his former charge with a hint of amusement, this sentiment also shared by Jenny in his lap. This resulted in Buffy glowering at the pair, and still holding the book, she grumped, "Well, Watcher mine, how about you doing a little work?"

Also beginning to chuckle, Giles took the book, and turning around in his chair, he examined it with interest. It was a fairly old book, with the title as passed on by Buffy showing itself in the middle of the paper cover and surrounded by a quartet of various birds caught in color photographs in the dated style of just after World War II. Absently noting that Buffy had come up behind his chair and was now peering over his shoulder, Giles glanced up at Jenny looking down at the book with equal interest. Clearing his throat, the man opened the book and rapidly flipped through the pages, all with more color photographs of birds and written information about these creatures given under the pictures.

Now beginning to be caught up in the search, Giles muttered, "Let's see, all the avatars seem to be based on European species in the main, though some are world-wide, so….Europe, raptors--"

"HAH!" Nobody was surprised at that triumphant bark from the Slayer, as Buffy's finger blurred from her side to pointing at a specific page in the book where Giles had stopped. She blurted, "Yeah, that's it!"

Those not near the book craned their necks to unsuccessfully see what the others were staring at, with Xander cheerfully calling out, "Hey, G-man, say it loud and say it proud!"

A glare was sent toward the unabashed younger man by Giles, who now sighed, "Well, if you must know…. Ahem. The golden eagle, Aquila chrysaetos, present in Eurasia, North America, and parts of Africa. So called due to its striking golden-buff crown and nape--"

Everyone's attention was then attracted by Buffy's most unusual behavior then, starting off with a truly gloating cackle, accompanied by her hopping up and down in place with glee, as that woman thrust her hands up the side of her head, and then straight back horizontally, causing her long hair to billow out in golden waves. It all finished with Buffy clapping her hands and doing her version of the Snoopy Dance, all while sticking out her tongue at everyone else in the room.

Dawn dryly commented at that point, "It's nice to see her taking this with so calmly and gracefully, guys."

"Yes, indeed," acerbically added Giles, as Buffy went off skipping among the room, to then start swooping around in clear imitation of her avatar, flapping her arms as she went past Dawn hastily pulling in her legs.

Willow just rolled her eyes, and trying to hurry things along over Buffy's capering, she asked, "Is there anything else, Giles? Like, say, it eats….frogs." The witch hissed out that last word, eyes gleaming with pretended malice directed at Dawn. Who promptly stuck out her own tongue at Willow.

Giles just harrumphed, quite used to all this. Over Xander's snickering and Jenny's giggling, the Englishman determinedly went on, glancing at the book again and reading, "Ah, the golden eagle was the model for the aquila, the standard of the Roman legions. During the Middle Ages, it was considered a truly majestic bird and such an obvious symbol of authority and royalty that only kings and emperors were allowed to fly that bird during falconry, with even wolves being hunted down and taken by the golden eagle."

Dead silence.

Alarmed, Giles and Jenny looked up, to see all the others frozen motionless. No, not quite, Giles mentally corrected himself. In the center of the room, Buffy Summers now stood stock-still, with an enormously smug expression slowly appearing on her face, and her chest beginning to swell in utter conceit.

In a voice of absolute doom, Xander Harris reproved the appalled older man, "Giles, why in the name of God did you tell us that? You should have known she's gonna be insufferable about that for WEEKS!" After bellowing that last word, Xander fell back with a moan of agony into Willow's lap, as the redhead dropped her face into her hands, whimpering.

A look of true resolve now appeared on Dawn's face, as she shifted up to onto her knees, and then into a crouching position that culminated in diving forward towards Buffy's ankles, and as she promptly clenched her hands around those parts of her sister's body, yanking hard, Dawn shrieked, "TICKLE ATTACK, GUYS!"

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, who had unflinchingly withstood earth-shattering hits from hellgoddesses, master vampires, and cyborg monsters, abruptly went down like a toppled tree.

Knowing from past experience that they had only precious seconds in which to act, Xander and Willow scrambled up from the sofa, and then also dived onto the Summers sisters.

As shrieks of glee, howls of triumph at counting coup, and unheeded protests of "Not under the short ribs!" came from the Scooby pile, Rupert Giles heaved a sigh, closed his book and carefully placed it on the table by the side of the armchair, and then he proceeded to kiss the dickens out of his woman.

That man became rather aggrieved a minute later, which might explain his actions then. Still, as he broke away from embracing Jenny to balefully stare at Buffy stomping towards him on her knees, casually dragging Dawn, Willow, and Xander hanging on like grim death to the Slayer, who protested to her Watcher, "Hey! Aren't you going to be such a fuddy-duddy English dude and tell them to knock this off?"

Giles thoughtfully considered the young woman in front of him for, oh, maybe a second or two, and then he leaned forward, thrust out his right arm with a stiff, extended index finger to press against the middle of Buffy's forehead, and pushed hard, while at the same time saying calmly, "No."

As Buffy fell back into the others' grasp with a scream of "TRAITOR!", the cold rain continued to fall outside, while indoors in the house of the dryad, it was warm and filled with family taking joy in each other, and unnoticed by all in a very special room, a painting had the lips of Joyce Summers widen just a fraction.

It had been a good day.