Part I: http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/1096503.html
Giles was frowning over a map when Buffy and Willow popped back into the library. Using a ruler and several colored pencils, he’d marked all over it, drawing what looked like a giant asterisk.
“Looking to teach art class?” Buffy flopped bonelessly into a chair. “It looks like you could use a little work.”
“Oh, I don’t know.” Willow sat down much more primly. “Mrs. Edenburgh has gotten a bit shaky lately. Ever since that problem on Parent-Teacher night last year…”
“But there’s shaky and then there’s, well, then there’s Giles. No offense, Giles.”
“None taken. After all, it isn’t often that portraiture or still lifes are a required part of being a Watcher. And, indeed.” He looked down at the map one more time. “It is not that this isn’t conveying what I want it to—”
“X marks the spot?” Buffy offered brightly.
“Indeed. That is the spot… However, I do not like what this is showing me.”
“Still not with the clarity. What’s it showing, Giles?” Buffy put her finger down on one of the lines. “That’s… well, that can’t be a hellmouth, in the middle of Nebraska?”
“South Dakota. Honestly, what do you children study these days?”
“Are those ley lines?” Willow leaned forward. “If so, that’s, well, wow. I didn’t know they did the thing where they went straight like that.”
“They, ah, they don’t. Normally. And these aren’t quite ley lines, not per se. But what they are is, ah, lines of power.”
Willow furrowed her brow. “But isn’t that what ley lines are?”
“Ley lines are naturally-occurring, or at least, old enough to appear naturally occurring, places where the power has cut a channel into the world. These are, ah, the difference between a stream and a canal. And they are all pointing towards this Addergoole.” He erased a few lines carefully. “But as far as I can tell, they point towards. They stop about 2 kilometers out and just… stop.”
“Like, something is making them stop, or there’s a dead spot in the magical fields, or… oh, is there a Hellmouth in South Dakota? It doesn’t seem like the sort of place they tend to end up, I mean, don’t icky things normally congregate around a Hellmouth? Not like corn and the world most ridiculous airport — I mean, who puts a proper airport in a town that has a population of about two thousand and twice that many cows? — that doesn’t seem like Hellmouth material at all.”
“Will?” Buffy thumped a hand on her friend’s shoulder. “Breathe. Wait, this place is in South Dakota? In a town of two thousand? There’s not going to be any shopping there at all.” She frowned at her nails. “Or probably a decent place to get a mani-pedi, and, besides, I can’t go.” She looked up at Giles, perturbed look replaced for a moment with something tired and determined. “The Hellmouth is here. The Slayer stays here.”
“Indeed.” Giles took off his glasses and began to clean them. “I believe what we may have here is an interesting conflict. It is entirely possible that your mother, not knowing the life to which you were — or would be — already committed, committed you to a school. If that is the case, there may be some interesting maneuvers necessary to get you out of this commitment. And, in the meantime…” He put his glasses back on and pinned both girls with a stare. “Willow has no such protection.”
Buffy frowned. “You’re saying she’d have to go, whether or not I went? No way. Willow’s gonna — wait. This place isn’t a Hellmouth, it’s like, an anti-Hellmouth?”
“Buffy,” Willow cut in. “No magic.”
“And? I mean, I know, that would suck for you, but we’re talking about getting you off the Hellmouth, Willow. That’s got to be worth a couple years of low-magic. I mean…” Buffy frowned. “I know, you like to be all involved-girl, and you’re great with it! I mean, I’m still alive because of you and Xan and Giles here. But I don’t want you to end up dead because of me, either. Let’s face it, Sunnydale isn’t exactly Survival Central or anything.”
“Buffy…” Willow’s brow furrowed. “That’s not fair! I mean, why should I run off and be safe when you and everyone else here is still all in danger and stuff?”
“You know…” Giles spoke slowly, but there was something about his voice that made both girls look at him. “Perhaps we ought to check out this school first. Then we’ll be in a better position to make a decision.”
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