Sergeant Ramon looked over to Helen and then barked out, "Raphael Caldwell."
"Ma'am," he said, standing up straighter.
"These three," she said to Helen as she pointed out Buffy, Angel, and Oz, "must register as demons to you. Based on what I saw during the walk over here, you aren't afraid of them, but you're terrified of Rafe?"
Helen's thoughts flashed back to that night in the club. He'd threatened her. He'd definitely threatened her, and he'd known she was a werewolf, although apparently that wasn't as much of a secret as she'd thought.
Rafe hung his head, as if he were trying to look sheepish. "You used the snack line on her?" Sergeant Ramon belted out.
As Rafe hung his head even lower, Angel growled, "Snack?"
Sergeant Ramon turned towards Helen. "I apologize for this idiot, Miss Ash." Helen shrank behind Xander again as she wondered how the woman knew her last name.
Rafe's eyes flashed as he said, "I could tell she'd recognized me as a demon. I thought a joke would help ease the tension."
"Dude, you have the most unfortunate sense of humor," Robert said. A quick glare from Sergeant Ramon shut him up.
"It's not funny to someone who doesn't know you're a eudaimon," Wayne added.
"A U-demon?" Xander asked. "It that like a U-turn, a demon going back the way it came, because I think we'd all be very happy to see the last of–"
"Oh, give it a break," Ripper said, rolling his eyes.
"It's from the Greek," Angel said. "Combining eu, which means good or well, as in euphoric, and daimon, which means guardian spirit. A eudaimon is basically a benevolent demon."
"A demon who wears a white hat," Oz added.
"Hold on, I know Angel's a good guy, but I thought he was an exception to the rule. Now I'm finding out all demons aren't evil?" Buffy pointedly asked Giles.
"Don't look at me," Ripper replied. "I never wanted any of this Watcher nonsense."
"Right, how could I have forgotten you aren't Giles," Buffy said.
"Watchers' Council doesn't like the Slayer to have that kind of info. Might leave them uncertain at a crucial moment," Rafe said.
"Demon lad does have a point," Ripper added, unlocking the door.
"And you think I can trust him?" Buffy asked.
As they piled into Giles' apartment, Ripper shrugged. "As much as you can trust anyone. He's obviously part dra'katha demon, but they're no more violent than your average human."
As Mr. Nash settled himself on the largest chair in the room. "Now see here," he said. "If you're suggesting that Helen and Oz can trust the Jagers... My people have been helping werewolves for centuries, while these," he waved his hand around vaguely, "children are merely playing around, pretending they have some sort of a cure."
Oz, leaning against the back wall by the record player, shifted forward. "Cure?"
"Now look here, you old tosser," Ripper said, looming over Mr. Nash.
"Stop it, both of you," Buffy shouted. As Mr. Nash settled back into the chair, Ripper joined Joyce by the kitchen counter.
"I'd sorta like to hear about that cure," Oz added. Mr. Nash's mouth settled into a thin, grim line.
"It's not so much a cure as a means of self-control: meditation, herbs, things like that," Makoto said.
Sergeant Ramon was staring at Helen. "But first, there's one more member of the team you need to meet." Speaking into what looked like a wristwatch, she said, "T? You can come in now."
"All our cards out in the open," Rafe said, giving Mr. Nash a significant look.
Buffy tensed, as if about to be attacked when the door started to open, but Helen was the one who felt as though she'd been sucker punched when she saw who it was. "Tonya?" Helen asked, rising from her chair.
"Hey," Tonya said apologetically. "How've you been?"
Helen stepped back with a look of fury. "I thought you were my friend," she said through clenched teeth.
Looking abashed, Tonya stepped back. "Can't I be both? Yeah, sure, I originally looked you up because we knew you'd been infected by that werewolf, but I am your friend." As she finished, Tonya held an arm out towards Helen.
"How'd you find me?" Helen asked.
Tonya glanced at Sergeant Ramon who nodded. "Mr. Boo Boo. Inside him, there's a tracking device."
Buffy asked, "Mr. Boo Boo?" as Helen tore her keys off the chain and angrily threw the leopard-print snake at Tonya, who caught it easily.
"I know your upset," Wayne said, "but think it through. We had a rogue werewolf out there with who knows what kind of control during the full moon. Your situation wasn't stable, with only your grandmother to keep an eye on you."
"Grandma was trying to contact someone in the old country," Helen said.
"And if she'd gotten through to the Domuti, we never would have made ourselves known," Sergeant Ramon said. "But Social Services found you locked in a cage."
"I'm a werewolf," Helen said, as if to apologize for her grandmother's actions.
"Only three nights out of the month," Tonya said angrily. "She put you in that cage as soon as you got home from school. Admit it! You never wanted to go home."
Helen heard Xander and his friends gasp at the accusation and hung her head, feeling guilty for her grandmother's actions. She hadn't liked the way her grandmother had treated her, but in the terrible mourning for her family, it hadn't seemed worth fighting over.
"Wait a min," Buffy said. "You turned Helen in to Social Services?"
Sergeant Ramon answered. "No, that was an accident. Some kids were playing hide-and-seek near the basement windows and saw Helen in the cage."
"So," Buffy said slowly, as if working something out, "Helen's grandmother was having trouble contacting the Doumui, but you knew Mr. Nash was here in Sunnydale. Why didn't you contact him yourself?"
"Because they use werewolves as cannon fodder," Mr. Nash sneered.
"Well that's a bit over the top," Ripper said. "That's like saying the army just tosses young men into the field to get killed. Wait a minute, I agree with that last bit."
"You'd be in the same position I am," Rafe said. "Demonic attributes, enhanced senses and abilities, are useful in our line of work.
"So, you want to turn me into some sort of military mutt," Helen said, "and you," she added, turning to Mr. Nash. "What is it you want from me?"
"The Domuti are shamans, you see," Ripper explained. "They control werewolves. You'd still shape-shift, but you wouldn't kill anyone."
"What's it like?" Helen asked Oz.
"What's it like to not become a crazed killer?" Buffy asked.
"No," Helen corrected, ignoring the implied criticism. "What does this control feel like?"
"Don't know," Oz shrugged.
As Helen looked at Oz suspiciously, Mr. Nash said, "Oz hasn't been a werewolf long enough to recall his transformations, but I won't lie to you. Based on what I've heard from our charges, it's not comfortable, but the relief of knowing you won't have to worry about killing–"
"You don't have to turn," Rafe interrupted.
"How's that work?" Oz asked, causing Mr. Nash to frown.
Wayne replied. "Carol Fuss, a werewolf who didn't appreciate being bound to the Domuti, traveled the world to study with anyone who would teach her to control the wolf: Tibetan monks, shamans in both Africa and South America, even with a monastery of eudaemons in Siberia."
"Still love to know how she swung that one," Rafe exclaimed. "They do not take to outsiders."
"Carol could be quite persuasive when she had a mind to be," Sergeant Ramon added. "Her family had been Jagers for generations. She brought the techniques to us, so that we could get other werewolves out from under Domuti dominion."
"Just a minute," Mr. Nash said, jumping out of his chair. "Ours is a sacred duty. You make it sound like we enslave our charges, but we give them peace of mind. They know they haven't killed while under our control."
"Wouldn't mind controlling myself," Oz said.
"Ha," Ripper laughed. "Looks like you've got a choice. Lucky girl."
"It seems like each of you has a choice," Joyce said, looking to both Helen and Oz.
"Huh," Oz stated.
"What about my grandmother?" Helen asked. "She was only trying to help me. I don't want her spending the rest of her life in jail."
"It'd be possible to get her out," Sergeant Ramon said. "Some of the wealthier Jager families have separate homes on their estates. We could get her set up in one."
"Even if you don't decide to join us, I'll personally make sure your grandma gets set up someplace," Tonya told Helen.
"On whose authority?" Sergeant Ramon barked.
Tonya leveled her gaze at the sergeant. "My own." Their eyes flashed in silent battle until Sergeant Ramon gave in with a nod.
Seeing the look on Oz's face, Buffy asked, "What if someone wanted the training, but wasn't interested in wearing camouflage?"
"The training is still in development. We'd want you where we could keep an eye on you," Sergeant Ramon replied.
"So, no joinee, no trainee," Xander summed up.
"We could research it ourselves, right Giles?" Buffy asked.
"Yeah, if we wanted to read dull as ditch-water books," Ripper joked. Catching Buffy glaring at him, he added, "Which is what we do."
"If you did train me, I'd share it with anyone who wanted it," Helen stated.
"That's not recommended," Sergeant Ramon replied.
"But it's also not an unusual response," Tonya added. "My aunt is pushing for a structured reach-out training program for werewolves who don't join. Given that our trainees are sharing this info, we're better off knowing who has what training so we can judge how effective it is." Both Mr. Nash and Sergeant Ramon glared at Tonya who was so focused on Helen that she didn't even seem to notice their attention.
Grandma kept me in a cage, Helen thought. Mr. Nash, however good his intentions, would just keep me in a larger cage. She thought of the past few weeks, living on the run and worrying about what would happen at the next full moon. If I can't control the change, that'll always be a concern. Am I going to be somebody's responsibility for the rest of my life? If I get the training, I'll never have to worry about destroying a family like somebody destroyed mine.
She looked at Xander. While she did like him, they hadn't had much of a chance to get to know each other. Helen's gaze shifted over to Tonya, who remained silent, but whose eyes spoke of her concern. She really is my friend, even if it wasn't chance that brought us together. "OK," she told Tonya. "I'll go with you."
"No," Mr. Nash shouted.
Buffy grabbed his arm. "I think it's for the best."
Helen turned to her employer. "Mr. Nash?" He wouldn't even look at her. Helen didn't know what to say. He'd apparently tried to help her, even though he hadn't been all that good at letting her know help was available. Still, she didn't want things to be bad between them, but she could see he didn't want to hear anything she had to say.
Xander's eyes were wide as he stared at Helen. She reached out to him, but then let her hand drop. "I'm sorry I can't stay."
"Yeah," he said.
Helen took in a deep breath, as if fortifying herself. "And I'm sorry I almost infected you with the werewolf curse. I was sort of freaked."
Xander's face paled. Damn, he hadn't picked up on that. "You what?" Buffy shouted.
"Hey," Xander said, stepping between them. "It's OK." As Buffy glared at Helen he added, "Really." Turning to Helen he said, "No problem, most of my girlfriends try to kill me, so this? Actually an improvement."
Helen couldn't even raise her eyes from the ground. Xander tucked a hand under her chin and lifted her face up until they were looking at each other. "Hey," he said, "You stopped yourself. Here I am, totally werewolf virus or germ or whatever free, and it's because you chose not to."
Helen gave him a weak smile. "Thanks."
"Come on," Tonya said, laying a comforting hand on Helen's shoulder. "I'll buy you a blue slushy on the way out of town."
"One more thing," Helen said, almost reluctantly, knowing Mr. Nash wouldn't approve. "Phone number?" she asked Oz. "So we can share training and research? I don't know where I'll be–"
While Oz wrote down his phone number, Tonya turned to Buffy and said, "Mr. Giles will know how to contact the Jagers. Since he seems to be, um, a bit out of it this evening, tell him she'll be at our Arizona training center." She gestured towards Ripper who was busy kissing Joyce.
"Mom! Giles!" Buffy shouted as she rushed over to drag them apart.
Just as they'd reached the door, Xander called out, "Helen." When she turned he said, with a shrug, "Good luck."
"You too," she said, finally feeling that everything would be OK.