Buffy called her mother’s house before Dawn could leave for school that morning, to ask her what Amanda might know about Buffy’s night job. After some evasive coughing and throat clearing, Dawn finally understood that Buffy was asking a serious question, not trying to find a reason to yell at her, and she admitted that Amanda knew not only that Buffy was the Slayer, but that Spike was an unusual vampire who didn’t kill people and could walk around in the daylight.
“Oh. Well, that’s good then. Will you tell Amanda that I need to talk to her about slayers? Sooner rather than later?”
“Okay. I’ll talk to her at lunch. Maybe we can meet somewhere after school.”
“Sounds like a plan. Oh, by the way, give your principal my cell number and tell him to call me if he wants to meet sometime today. ‘K?”
“Sheesh! What am I, your social secretary?”
“Just do it. Please and thank you.”
“I’ll bet people with normal big sisters don’t have to do stuff like this….”
The call from Robin Wood came rather quickly. Buffy hoped that was a good sign, not a bad one. They had a short, pleasant conversation as was appropriate for two people who were going to be meeting for the first time, and agreed to meet in his office at 1:30 when the lunch shifts would be over and he would be off duty.
When it was time to get ready, Buffy dressed in a manner that she hoped was appropriate for meeting her sister’s principal, but that also made her look older than he would expect her to be. Spike was amused.
“Tryin’ to make sure the wanker doesn’t ask you out this time?” he said, rolling his eyes when she added a blazer to her more conservative than usual outfit.
“No, smartass,” she said, glaring at him. “I want to look like a serious person, who he should pay attention to and believe what she says.”
“Got a plan, then, have you?”
“Sort of? Depending on what he has to say first. If he admits right up front that he knows who I am, and that his mother was a slayer, then I can tell him some stuff about the First and the hellmouth. If he doesn’t…. then I don’t have a plan.”
“Well, good luck with it, then. Give him my best.”
“Not funny, Spike,” she growled. “What are you going to do today?”
“Think I’ll chat with Max for a bit and warn him Mel might not be the last wayward potential to show up on our doorstep.”
“Good idea. He really hasn’t been part of most of our discussions…. I mean he saw the Bringers go after Abby, and he heard my speech about the First, but we haven’t really talked to him about a lot of it.”
He walked to the door with her, stopped her before she could go out, and kissed her long and hard before letting her go.
“What was that for?” Buffy asked, somewhat breathlessly.
“Just a reminder that you’re married,” he smirked.
“Consider me reminded,” she said with a shake of her head. “As if I needed it.”
She left the apartment and heard the door shut behind her.
“It’s not like I’m going to forget his kisses are one of the reasons I fell in love with him,” she muttered to herself as she started down the sidewalk. “Dumb ass vampire.”
“So you’re Buffy Summers,” Robin Wood said, taking Buffy’s extended hand and shaking it. “Ever since I saw how you handled that incident at the beginning of the year, I’ve been dying to have a chance to talk to you.”
“That’s kind of an unfortunate choice of words in this town,” Buffy said, smiling broadly, in case he genuinely had no idea about her. However, it was immediately clear that he did.
“I suppose it was,” he said. “It was my less-than-subtle way of suggesting that I know who and what you are.”
“And you know that because…?” Buffy had to keep reminding herself to be careful not to give away how much she already knew about him.
“Because my mother was a slayer,” he said, as he closed the door to his office. “She died when I was quite young and I was raised by her watcher. A good man. He saw to it that I got an education… in more ways than one.”
“Apparently he did. What brings you to Sunnydale?”
“Honestly? A rumor that the vampire that killed my mother might be here. Although, from what I’ve heard about you, it seems unlikely. Your reputation as a slayer is incredibly impressive. If he really was here, you’ve probably long since dusted him.”
Buffy wasn’t able to get out much more than an “Ulp!” although she tried to keep her face impassive, as she struggled to say something coherent.
“I have a reputation?” she finally managed to get out.
“Oh yes. You killed the Master when you were just a sophomore in high school, you prevented the famous Angelus from ending the world, you left William the Bloody to burn to ash, their female companions have disappeared, so the assumption is that you slayed them too, you beat a hellgod….stop me when I get to something that isn’t amazing.”
“Oh, wow,” Buffy said as she sank into a chair.
“Are those things not true?”
“Yes… and no,” she said. “But I can’t fill in all the blanks right now. I will say that Angel—Angelus with a soul—dusted Darla. Not me. And I had all kinds of help with Glory. You have no idea.”
“Help? Slayers fight alone. That’s what I was always told.” He frowned at her as if she was trying to trick him.
“Heh. Well, that’s the thing, see. I kind of do things… my way? And my way means friends who can help me if and when I need it.”
“How fascinating! I’d love to meet these people.” He smiled eagerly, almost too eagerly, and she narrowed her eyes at him.
“I’ll talk to them. Maybe we can arrange that. Anyway, the real reason I wanted to meet with you was to tell you about the First Evil. Since you already know about vamps and demons and things, that makes it a lot easier to do without sounding like a lunatic.”
“The First Evil?”
“I can get my watcher to give you the big researchy explanation, but the important thing for you to know right now is that—” She paused. “Did you know this office is literally right over the hellmouth? It’s straight down there.” Buffy pointed to the floor. “Just in case you get any weird vibes from time to time, that’s probably where they’re coming from.”
“The hellmouth? Here?” He stared around his office, eyes wide. “I mean, I knew it wasn’t a normal building, but….”
“Uh, yeah. Why do you think the Slayer is stationed in Sunnydale?” She took a deep breath. “Anyway, sorry to get distracted, but it kinda all ties together. The hellmouth, the First…. The important thing you need to know, is that the First Evil will probably try to control or manipulate you. And it does it by appearing to you as somebody you trust…. Somebody you trust, who is dead. Like… like your mother, for instance. Or me—Don’t ask,” she said quickly when he visibly startled. “I’ll explain that some other time. The important information you need to have is that you are sitting on the hellmouth, and that the First Evil seems to be trying to get a foothold up here in this world, and that it will try to manipulate you to help with that, if it can. And that it might appear to you as your mother to do it.”
She paused to get more air, then stood up. She smiled tentatively at Wood’s expression that was somewhere between disbelief, curiosity, and suspicion.
“You have my cell number. I’ll talk to Giles—my watcher, you can find him at the Magic Box—and the others and we’ll find a time for you to meet them.” She smiled at him. “If we really do have fight the First, we can probably use the extra help.” She held out her hand again, which he shook without actually seeming to be aware of it as he continued to stare at her. “It was nice to meet you.”
He watched her leave, and walked to the door to close it. When he turned around, Principal Snyder was standing by the desk.
“That girl is trouble,” Snyder said, glaring at the door. “She always was. She was a terrible student, always missing school and getting into fights. You shouldn’t listen to her.”
Wood stared at the apparition of one of his predecessors. An apparition he’d become used to talking to since he opened the school. He frowned, remembering Buffy’s warning.
“Maybe it’s you I shouldn’t be listening to,” he said, walking toward Snyder.
“Hey! What kind of an attitude is that? I’m just trying to help you out. It was my school first, you know. Show a little gratitude!”
Snyder disappeared with a loud pop, and Wood sat in his chair, frowning at the floor under his feet. After several minutes of thought, he decided upon a course of action and went back to his school duties until evening.
Buffy’s talk with Amanda went better than she’d expected. With Amanda being Dawn’s friend, and already knowing about slayers and vampires, she took the news that she was a potential slayer herself better than Buffy had expected.
“Well, that’s kind of cool,” she said. “I mean, there’s never been anything special about me… except for being tall and skinny, I guess. And now there is.”
“Did you miss the part about that specialness meaning your life could be in danger?” Buffy said, more harshly than she’d intended. She sighed. “I’m sorry, Amanda. It’s just that, you can ask Dawn what it’s like to have a target on your back. You’ll have to be even more careful than you probably already are just because you know what Sunnydale is like. You’re probably still okay in the daytime, but only because the Bringers would be too weird looking to be able to walk around in the daylight. Even in Sunnydale.”
“Abby is a potential slayer too,” Dawn said, trying to be helpful. “And now there’s a new one, but I haven’t met her yet.”
“Mel was raised by her watcher, so she’ll know more slayer stuff than even Abby does. The three of you should probably try to hang out together as much as you can. It’ll be easier for me... and Spike… to protect you if you’re usually in the same place.” Buffy thought for a minute. “I guess we need to have Willow or Winston do some wards on your house like they did on Abby’s. I’ll talk to them about it when they get back from Mel’s.”
Having already warned Robin Wood about the First, and told him where he could find Giles for more information, Buffy thought she’d done all she could for the time being. Although, the fact that Robin’s stated reason for coming to Sunnydale was to look for Spike was more than a bit disturbing. A concern she shared the next time they were all together.
“I kinda gave him a heads-up about the First, but if it pops up as his mom and points him at Spike, I doubt he’s going to care that it’s evil and trying to win a battle Robin doesn’t even know he’s in yet.”
“I was correct then,” Winston said, “when I said we all need to watch Spike’s back?”
“Probably, maybe? I mean I don’t think he can be dusted, but I’d rather not test that if we don’t have to.”
Everyone just nodded. Even though they hadn’t actually told Willow and Xander that Spike had the Gem of Amara, they knew enough to have figured it out by themselves, and everyone was used to Spike’s relative invulnerability to things that would end most vampires.
“I believe the question then becomes, will he allow his anger at Spike to make him vulnerable to the First’s influence in other ways?”
“You mean, will he go all evil on us?” Buffy looked shocked. “His mother was a slayer! He was raised by her watcher.”
“Who, well intentioned or not, has instilled in the man a strong opinion about vampires as a species, and one particular vampire in particular.”
Buffy sighed and gave Giles a smile. “Good point. Not all watchers are as perfect as mine is.”
Behind her, Spike coughed, earning a rueful smile from Giles. “I’d like to think I’m a bit closer to perfect than I was in your time, although it seems I regretted some of my actions before Buffy was sent back.” He shook his head and continued, “The thing, I believe, for all of us to remember, is that the man is looking for Spike. Whether he knows that’s who he’s looking for yet or not, he isn’t likely to be happy to learn that an old vampire is one of us.” Giles glanced at Buffy. “I take it that in your time I was more than willing to assist the man in his vendetta against Spike?”
“You did,” she said shortly. “It took me a long time to forgive you for almost getting Spike killed.”
“And yet, he survived to be around to close the hellmouth.”
“I was a bit harder to kill than Wood expected,” Spike muttered. “He was too angry for his own good, and took the time to enjoy what he was doin’. Turns out we both had some mummy issues, but his were harder to live with than mine, and that gave me time to snap out of my inability to fight back. I survived. And so did he,” Spike added, in case there was any doubt.
“You didn’t kill him?” Winston looked surprised.
Spike shrugged. “Man had—has—a right to hate me. I wasn’t kind to him, but I left him alive. The soul’s a bitch like that….”
“And now we all know why he’s here and what he wants to do, so he won’t be able to turn anybody against Spike, and I won’t let myself be distracted….”
“Did he become an ally? Or did he remain an enemy?”
“No, he was right there fighting with us.” Spike shook his head. “Once he recovered from—once he was able to participate, he was right back in the mix. I’m not saying he forgave me, but between knowing we were all on to him, and that Buffy wasn’t going to protect him if he went after me again, he sucked it up and stayed on the right side.”
Buffy said, “We’ll just have to wait and see what happens this time. It really is very different. He wants to meet everybody—which he did then too. But we were in a little deeper by then, and we already had potentials at the house….” She sighed. “I’ve got no idea how it’s gonna go.”
She turned her attention to Winston. “How did your talk with the Coven go? And what did they think of our idea?”
“They were surprisingly accepting of what I told them about me. I’ve only spoken to the two oldest members about it, and I’ve left it to their discretion as to what they tell the rest of the coven. They hope to be able to come up with a cohesive opinion of what we should do, and some suggestions for how to achieve it.” He shook his head. “They did say it may become necessary to share with at least the top echelons of the Council, but they are hoping to be able to put them on the alert without being too forthcoming about why they think there may be danger to them.”
Buffy nodded and sighed. “I guess that’s the best we can hope for right now. Were they hard to convince that you’re a time traveler?”
“It seemed not. They have been able to sense some distant rumblings of evil, and weren’t all that surprised to learn that in my timeline they had become part of the Council. Although the idea that it happened because the building was blown up and there were a lot of vacancies to be filled was upsetting to them.”
Winston glanced at Giles. “I suppose you should tell her how you fared….”
Giles nodded. “I did, indeed, get disturbing information about attacks upon potentials in other parts of the world. Mostly it seems, the result of attacks by Bringers, but one or two others targeted by vampires or demons. They didn’t seem surprised to learn that we’d had attacks here, but seemed shocked that I thought they should have been sharing the information with us.” He grimaced. “It was a bit difficult to get across the idea that it was important for the current slayer to aware of anything outside her immediate purview without telling them why it was important.”
“Wankers,” Spike snorted. “Are we sure we don’t want to let them all blow up so we can replace them with a Slayers and Watchers Council?”
Buffy snickered while Giles looked annoyed and Winston shook his head.
“As much as I would like to find myself in a world I can recognize, I can’t really approve of allowing an entire building full of people to be destroyed.”
“Not to mention the library and records it contains!” Giles said, his horror more than evident.
“So you didn’t tell them they might blow up?” Buffy asked with an innocent smile.
Giles flashed her a glare, but said, “I did my best to get them to take seriously the semi-threat Caleb made, but I didn’t make much of an impression, I’m afraid. I was only speaking with a few lower-echelon members of the department that oversees potentials and assigns watchers. Neither Wesley nor I are very popular with that group. It was difficult enough to explain why Buffy was going to another city to slay what they assumed was an evil, but human, man. Fortunately, I had Wes’s information about the girl they’d rescued from Bringers, as well as the report of those Spike and Angel had to fight their way though, and that distracted the person I was speaking to enough that he seemed to forget to ask how we knew to look into Caleb.”
“What about you, Winston? Is the Coven going to say their seer knows to watch out?”
“They’re going to endeavor to get that message across, without, one hopes, having to divulge exactly who the “seer” is, or how they know the Council may be in danger.” Winston frowned. “In my time, I’ve worked closely with the head of Council Security. A good man, open-minded and sharp. However, in this time, he’s still very subordinate to others, and of course, doesn’t actually even know me yet. I’m hoping Althenea will be able to speak to him at some point and offer some strong hints of what’s to come.”
“Perhaps we can approach him? Even if he doesn’t know you yet, if he’s as competent as you say, we may be able to mitigate some damage?”
“Something to think about. Let’s see what sort of success Althenea has before we try anything else.”