Part I: http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/1096503.html
Part II: http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/1100922.html
Part III: http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/1104619.html#cutid1
Part IV: http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/1108537.html
Part V: http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/1112216.html
“Wait.” Buffy leaned forward. “You’re serious. Really serious. Commitments were made. Those commitments, they, what, overlap? Someone can do that? Someone can just be like ‘hey, this person, she’s going to go to an elite boarding school,’ and then someone else is like ‘oh hey, yoink, she’s going to stab vampires for us’? I mean, really? What if I’d died before I got to their fancy school? How does that work?”
“That is, indeed, the difficulty with making agreements or arrangements for other people.” Giles stared at the road as if he didn’t want to turn to look at Buffy. “If you had made these arrangements yourself, you would know that they might — were very likely to, indeed — conflict. However…” He made a thoughtful noise. “The commitment to be Slayer, such as it is, is not a commitment to a location. That is the choice of the Council and a choice of, ah, the situation. You can still be Slayer and not be in Sunnydale — as this summer so aptly proved.”
“Wait, wait.” Xander leaned forward. “You remember what this summer was like. We survived, yeah — but barely. Come on. If Buffy bails to go to this school, what’s going to happen in Sunnydale?”
Giles coughed uncomfortably. Buffy looked out the window, her shoulders hunching forward, and said nothing. Willow opened her mouth to say something, set her hand on Xander’s leg… and said nothing at all.
“Well? Come on, you know what this place was like before Buffy showed up. And now, the student paper’s obit section is down to every other month. We’re doing okay — as long as Buffy’s there. She goes away again, then what?”
“I’m quite aware of the problem, as I’m certain Buffy is. You’ve heard her repeatedly say that she cannot leave the Hellmouth, Xander; there’s no reason for you to lambaste her.”
“I’m not… I’m not basting the Buffster.” Xander frowned. “I’m just pointing out that this is a stupid plan.”
“The problem is not in convincing me, Xander, nor is it in convincing Buffy — or even Willow, although I believe the situation may be quite different for her. The problem lies in convincing this school — or the Council — that the situation cannot stand as it appears to be.”
“What, aren’t invitations to schools normally, you know, an invitation? Not a requirement? I mean, private schools, fancy schools.”
“Xander…” Willow put her hand on Xander’s arm. “This is complicated. It’s a mess of complicatediness, and yelling at Giles isn’t going to help him straighten it out. It’s all Watcher-y business and complicated fancy magicy sorts and stuff. So there’s fancy magical promises and things like that, too.”
“Willow?” Giles raised his eyebrows at the rear-view mirror. She squirmed in her seat.
“I did a little of the research and stuff. I mean, they want me to go to school there. There has to be a reason, right? Something going on there that makes them want me? I mean, me and Buffy, not exactly in the same league.”
“Will’s got a point. She’s way out of my league in the things of scholastic-ness, and in the magic-stuff. What kind of weird school wants me when they can have her?”
“That’s not what I meant!” Willow wrinkled up her face at Buffy. “You know it’s not! Buffy… I just meant, you’re the Chosen One, one girl in every generation…”
“Maybe two,” Xander put in helpfully.
“Well, if Buffy would stop dying… that’s major mojo, Buff. I’m just, well, me. Willow Rosenberg, good at reading books.”
“Including books locked in a librarian’s private stash,” Giles coughed.
“Well… um. About that.” Willow looked down at her knees. “I’m, ah, also good at picking locks? I learned it for the scooby-age! This summer. I mean, what with the… I’m just gonna shut up now.”
“Mm-hrrm. We’ll discuss this when we are back in Sunnydale, Willow. As for now — much as I am loathe to say it, Xander, Buffy, Willow is correct. The matter is immensely complicated, and we — or at least I, and possibly your mothers — are going to have to spend some time talking to this Director Avonmorea before anything can be worked out. I am certain that she will understand our situation, once it is explained to her.”
“Wait, are you just going to be like, ‘this is the Slayer, she cannot leave?’” Willow put on a deep, ominous sounding voice. “Because,” she returned to her normal perkiness with a quick throat-clearing, “what about that whole ‘vampires are a secret, don’t tell anyone’ thing that you were just lambasting Buffy about?” She drew the word out with a relish.
Giles did not seem to appreciate it. “I assure you, anyone to whom I will need to explain the situation with Buffy to that detail will already be aware of…” He caught his breath and swallowed. “Oh, my.”
Willow did not answer. She was pressed against the seat back, her hands flat on the upholstery, her already-pale skin white.
Buffy, to her left, had a death grip on the door handle and her right hand fisted in her lap. “Giles…” she managed. “Something is…”
“Wards,” Willow forced out.
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