This is bad, this is so bad. So bad.
The thought was a loop in Willow’s thoughts, however she presented a picture of concentration her eyes focused on two pencils that she had levitated off the table about an inch. Both were vertical, their erasers hovering over her done homework, her objective was to lift one higher so its eraser would appear to be precariously balanced on the other pencil’s tip. It wasn’t going well.
Willow’s mind was in overdrive, her mind more focused on Oz, who was sitting across from her at the table either sleeping or meditating. He’d asked her to Homecoming and she’d gleefully said yes without thinking. Without thinking that she had never bought a dress for a dance before, without thinking she’d never been at a dance with a boyfriend before, without thinking that she’d never had a boyfriend who would expect her to be in a dress and dance with him – when he wasn’t playing the music…okay maybe she could get out of the dancing.
This is bad, this is so bad. So bad.
Once again the thought was in the front of her mind and she held back a little yelp of worry. What was she going to do? Buffy was so weird lately, she had Scott, she had Slaying and overprotective watcher and mother. Willow bit the inside of her cheek. No she wouldn’t bother Buffy with this, not unless she had too. She could shop, maybe she could shop with Cordelia. Right? Willow and Oz, Cordelia and Xander.
They’d all go together, right? Right? She’d run it by Xander. Make sure of it. Cordelia would help her, wouldn’t she? Willow mentally nodded to herself, of course she would. She could make sure Willow was okay to be with in public? Maybe? God, no, she didn’t want to invite Cordelia to make fun of what a pathetic loser she was when it came to boys.
Xander! Willow broke her eye contact with the pencils and glanced at Xander. He was sitting on the library counter and eating a candy bar. Yep. Xander was perfect. Cute and goofy Xander, yes, if he said a dress looked good on her then it had to be good, right? If she could get Xander to thumbs up a dress than Oz would drool over her…it was logical. Right?
This is bad, this is so bad. So bad.
The yelp of fear escaped her throat then, and the pencil she was trying to hover over the first flew up in the air, started to spin and zag around and came to a halt by embedding itself in the wood of Oz’s chair. A millimeter from his ear, due to his slouching. “Yikes! Oz!”
He sat up, twisted around and pulled the pencil free. “I’m thinking, maybe we don’t practice the levitation thing near werewolves and humans. Vampires however is okay.” Oz leaned over the table and handed her the pencil. “It’s tip broke.”
“It missed you though, it did right? I’m so sorry, are you sure you’re okay?” Willow said all in one nervous breath.
“He’s fine. He didn’t even flinch,” Xander said from the counter, where he was just standing up from getting his candy bar from the floor. “I, and I will admit it, screamed like a girly-man and dropped to the floor to avoid all incoming pencil missiles. Not quite as cool as the rocket launcher, but dangerous nonetheless.”
The doors to the library opened then a blonde woman with a severe hairstyle and glasses walked in like she owned the place. Willow felt an instant fear that whoever this adult was it wasn’t going to be good news and she stood up instantly taking control of the library since Giles was elsewhere with Buffy. “May we help you?”
“The librarian isn’t here?” the woman asked, her English accent confirming Willow’s instinct about the woman. This couldn’t be good, this woman had to be a watcher.
“English. Watcher. You’re a watcher!” Xander stammered through a bite of his candy bar.
The woman turned her head, her eyes narrowing at Xander. “And you would know about Watcher’s how?”
“We, uh, help Buffy.” Willow stepped out from the table, the thought that was looping around in her brain taking on whole new meaning as she stepped closer. “You are a Watcher then?”
She sighed, the sigh of the disappointed and bored. “No one should know who Buffy is. Nor her Watcher. I’m Gwendolyn Post. Mrs. I need to speak with Mr. Giles. It is urgent. Perhaps more so than I thought at first.”
“We’ll get him.” Willow turned toward Oz, as she motioned with her hands she meant her and Xander. “Oz will stay here with you.”
“Very well. I don’t have all day to wait. There are things to get started.”
Willow nodded and met Xander’s eyes, her own widening to convey worry as they walked out of the library. “This is bad, this is so bad. So bad,” she said out loud for the first time. “Could this day get more traumatic. What is someone from the Council doing here? And Oz asked me to Homecoming, what am I going to do?”
Xander took the final bite of his Payday and shrugged. “We tell Giles the stuffy Watcher Woman is here. And is it just me or did she make him look loose? And he and Buffy deal with it. I’m sure it’s nothing to worry about…probably just another apocalypse or something, you know,” he said throughout chewing his bite and finished with a swallow. “And what do you mean about Oz and Homecoming?”
“You have to help me, Xander.”
“Of course I’ll help you. But what do you mean?”
“There are dresses to be worn, to make me look… you know pretty. And dancing! I don’t know if I can dance.”
“You can dance…and did you say pretty. Oh, God. Is Cordy going to expect me to be in a tux?”
“This is bad, this is so bad. So, very, bad,” Xander said with a groan.
“This accursed machine has eaten my money again,” Giles said, continuing to push the button for the orange flavored soda he’d ordered.
Buffy sipped from her own can of soda and watched his futile attempt to tame the machine for a full minute before deciding to help. “You just have to know…” she trailed off as she started shaking the machine. “Use. Slayer. Strength.” She smiled triumphantly as a grape soda fell out.
“I wanted orange.”
“Not my fault what comes out, it’s liquid isn’t it?”
Giles balanced the soda between the crook of his arm and his chest, as he cleaned his glasses and muttered something under his breath. Buffy fought the urge to run away from him and not have the inevitable conversation about her next three days of training and other Slayertastic – in Giles’ mind only – things.
“Okay, now that I have your full attention…Buffy?”
“I’m here. Fully attentive.”
“Right, now today after your lunch period…” Giles trailed off when Cordelia shoved herself in the space between them and started to tape something to the wall. “Uh, Cordelia, if you would excuse us, Buffy and I are having a conversation.”
“And you should thank me, considering it’s probably boring demon stuff, Harmony wanted me to do this for me…and normally I would make her do the menial work herself. But I saw that Buffy looked bored and you looked serious so –“
“Thank you, Cordy,” Buffy said, cutting her off, her eyes falling on what she was taping up on the wall, a picture of herself grinning. “Homecoming Queen?”
“Of course. Who else but me?”
Buffy stared at the poster. She’d been a Homecoming Queen once, in junior high in Los Angeles. Everyone who was anyone had voted for her. Buffy’s brow wrinkled, was that even true? Was it even conceivable that she, The Slayer, the girl being over-watched by her watcher, and nagged constantly by her mother was the same person. Now the only person she knew on campus who was anyone was Cordelia. She’d killed countless demons, vampires and sent her boyfriend – ex-boyfriend—to hell, only to have him return. Had she, Buffy, really been a popular girl, someone on the cheerleading squad, and voted to wear tiaras? Had she really only ever worried about what to wear, and not constantly wondering what to do about her mother, Slaying, Angel and Giles? Had she really ever been like Cordelia Chase?
A shiver ran down her spine when she realized the answer was ‘ yeah, you kinda were like Cordelia?’ It jolted her out of her thoughts just in time to hear Giles ask her.
“Buffy, are you even listening to me?”
“Sorry, I was having really scary thoughts,” she admitted.
“Let me guess. After my lunch period, I’m to meet you in the library during my study hall hour – you arranged with the teacher for me to meet you in the library for…well, whatever lie you called it. I will then spend the hour beating you up.”
“We will be working on your kick boxing skills.”
“Like I said beating you up. Then I will finish my academic day. Try to get some fun time with Willow and Xander in, before I must go home for another mother-daughter bonding dinner. Then I must, and I stress the must, patrol because that’s what good little Slayers do.”
Giles face fell into what Buffy called his stern-wannabe parent look of frustrated disappointment. It worked. It worked well, reminding her both about how she’d run away after her fight with Angelus, and also about Angel. Angel out there all alone in his mansion, back and probably still confused. She needed to go to him, she wanted to go to him. She needed to talk to him about… too many things, most of which she didn’t want to say out loud.
Then there was Giles, her mother…her friends. She owed them all the truth, but this was Angel. He’d been her boyfriend, he’d lost his soul because they’d loved each other and she’d been the one to stab him through the heart and send him to hell. Knowing, just like Giles said she would that Willow had returned his soul. She should tell Giles, she shouldn’t be keeping this from Giles. He was her Watcher. He was the guy with a parental-like look of exasperation on his face when he lectured her. He was Giles.
“Will you be at the library on time?”
Buffy nodded furiously. “Yes, I promise. I’m sorry, Giles. I will.”
Giles’ expression softened. “Good, good. I don’t mean this to be a trial, Buffy. I do this for your own safety. Your life is of utmost importance to me…and this grape soda is swill. The orange at least doesn’t –.”
“Hi, Buffy. Mr. Giles,” Scott said, stopping next to Buffy and giving Giles a sympathetic smile. “I never touch anything but the root beer from there.”
“I like the diet cola myself,” Buffy said, smiling hello to Scott. Cute, nice, Scott, who was supposed to be her boyfriend, and she was ignoring him all the time. She had to make a conscious effort not to let the Slayer half of her life interfere with…well, the having of a life she could call ‘the other half of her life’. “Hi, Scott.”
“There is a great band playing at the Bronze tonight and I was wondering –”
“Giles!” Willow’s yell interrupted Scott, as she and Xander skidded to a halt next to Buffy and Scott. Buffy’s instincts perked up at the looks on her two best friends faces alerting her to possible trouble.
“A Wa…” Xander bit his tongue, seeing Scott. “A woman, British. Stuffy. In the library with Oz. Waiting for you.”
Willow bobbed her head up and down. “It seemed important and urgent. Possibly not good. But it will be good right?”
Giles handed his soda to Xander, took off his glasses and took a few steps away. “British you say? Did she give a name?”
“Mrs. Post,” Willow said and Buffy met her eyes and saw major worry this meant something bad.
“Should I?” Buffy asked, stepping closer to Giles.
“No, no.” Giles shook his head. “I’ll go. See what it is about, no reason to bother you with it yet…” he then took off.
Buffy turned back to Willow and Xander to ask more questions, and wanted to scream. Cordelia was back, sidled up next to Xander looking at the three of them with her mouth already wide open.
“What’s going on?”
“Some woman, from England wanted to see Mr. Giles. Maybe she’s a relative,” Scott supplied. “Buffy, I was wondering if…” But Buffy didn’t notice him.
What she noticed was that when Scott spoke, Xander manage to cough ‘Watcher’ in Cordelia’s ear. What she noticed was that even Cordelia looked worried about what that could mean. What Buffy noticed was that Willow was bouncing on her toes, wondering what was going on. She turned around and stared down the hallway where Giles had disappeared.
Whenever Watchers or the Council had been mentioned in the past, Giles always seemed to get really tense, more British and he’d even wear more tweed. Buffy didn’t like this, and why was she standing in the hall letting him find out what was up alone? She had to stand by him. With a half-wave at the group by the soda machine, Buffy took off down the hall in a fast paced walk, she wasn’t going to let Giles deal with whatever it was alone.
Cordelia left Willow and Xander to apologize for Buffy to Scott, frankly she didn’t see why they were bothering. Or why Buffy was bothering, or why Scott was putting up with her disinterest in the first place. Buffy only had one man on her mind and he had fangs, and Cordelia knew it. No one else did though and she had to keep her mouth shut when she wanted to shout at Scott that he could do better than someone who wasn’t telling her closest friends that her ex had come back from Hell.
Or yell after Buffy and tell her what a hypocritical little bitch she was being when it came to Giles. Cordelia couldn’t help but wonder if he would still appreciate Buffy’s so-called loyalty if he knew that while she rushed to his defense simply because of some woman from England that she keeping Angel’s existence from him. Giles deserved to know more than any of them, he was The Watcher, he was the man whose girlfriend had been killed, he was the one who had been tortured, he was the one who’d pulled out his hair when Buffy ran away…
Cordelia didn’t get Buffy at all. And she’d kill to ask Buffy where she got off, not telling, not making sure Angel was safe to be left alone and a whole bunch of other questions but she couldn’t.
She’d told Angel she would stay quiet and she really believed that was the right call. After all it wasn’t her secret, she wasn’t a Slayer, she wasn’t part of the love drama that was them. Her part in the situation was over and done, unless Angel decided to tell Buffy about their run in, Cordelia frowned, that would be a fun conversation – not. She wondered what Buffy would like hearing more, that she hadn’t fed her vampire enough, or that Cordelia despite being almost vamp-food had. Cordelia bit back a smile, it would almost be worth it to be able to lord the huge mistake over Buffy’s head – for the few minutes the Buffy Squad would let her get away with it.
Because lets not forget, Buffy has a lot to deal with, we have to understand…being a Slayer is a tough thing – Well, duh, Cordelia thought, but she refused to believe that it gave Buffy the right to be stupid, or act the victim.
Xander’s hands fell on her shoulders and Cordelia realized she had spent way too much time thinking about Buffy. She shook it all off, reminded herself she had nothing to do with the situation anymore – despite thinking that the people who mattered should know about Angel, she turned to Xander. He should know, she thought and then berated herself, not her secret to tell, or her issue to obsess about. She needed a new subject, a fun subject…
“So, I have issues about Homecoming to take up with you,” Xander said.
Yes, Cordelia thought, the perfect subject of them all. “Me too. Like if you have issues about it, you should ask me first or I won’t address them…”
Xander’s mouth fell open and then he shut it quick. He blinked, then looked at Willow, who was still standing nearby and back at Cordelia. “I, I, didn’t ask you?”
“No,” Cordelia said.
“Oh. Well, uh, Cordy, will you go to the Homecoming dance with me?”
“Yes. See, piece of cake. What are your issues?”
“Well, Willow here, she mentioned dresses and I realized that, um, do I have to wear a tux?”
“Of course you do. I’m going to be Homecoming Queen, so you have to look your best. Especially, since you’re the reason I have to actually campaign this year to get all the votes I should. I mean, I’ll date who I want to and I want to date you because well… you are kinda cute and sweet. But I will still be Homecoming Queen and you will be in a tux and looking wonderful for the dance. Got it?”
“Right. Uh, right…” Xander glanced at Willow.
“Is there something wrong?” Cordelia asked, realizing the two friends looked horrified, worried and baffled.
Willow hopped up. “No. Nothing wrong. Just…well, I’ll make sure he looks nice and spiffy for you Cordy. He’s going to help me look nice for Oz, male perspective. I’ll be the female for him…”
“You go ahead and try,” Cordelia said and then her brain caught up with her mouth. “Oh! And Willow, could you do me a favor. I’m going to need a database of my competition for Homecoming. So far it’s not too back, but I’ve heard a few rumors about someone else, and if she runs I may have a bit of competition. Will you do it?”
“Sure,” Willow said.
“Great! You are so sweet…and Oz and you will look so cute at the prom together. Xander and I will look gorgeous, and I guess if Scott keeps putting up with Buffy they’ll look okay too.”
“You think we’ll look gorgeous?” Xander asked.
Cordelia turned toward her boyfriend and smiled. “Yeah, I kind of do,” she admitted, looking around to make sure only Willow had heard her. She still had a bit of a reputation to maintain, she didn’t need people to know that she was nice to Xander more than forty percent of the time.
He grinned. “Wanna go to the closet?”
Cordelia rolled her eyes. “You are one big hormone.”
“Is that a no?”
‘I didn’t say that.” Cordelia smiled, waved bye to Willow and let Xander her lead her down the hall to their special place, deciding that she’d done her fill of wondering about Buffy’s brain. Angel wasn’t her problem plus she had more important things to focus on. Like a cute, goofy boyfriend who was a great kisser, finding the perfect dress for the dance and winning Homecoming Queen.