Author: Tim Knight
Title: Another Tuesday Night In Sunnydale
Copyright: August 2001
Rating: PG (Action, Humor, some Language)
Season 2 until Phases.
Specific Episodes: Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered.
Season 5 until Season finale.
Richie Ryan lives and Season 6 does not take place.
Keywords: Buffy/ Highlander.
Summary: While Jenny and Giles are in London during The Prodigal Son�s Consort, and Steve�s in Boston working on stuff for his day job at the antiques store, Buffy, Amy and Willow work on a spell that causes some hijinks for one of Sunnydale�s most eligible bachelorettes.
Legalese: All characters except those noted below with their respective rights, properties and copyrights are the property of their respective creators, authors, owners, producers and agencies. These characters are used without permission. No copyright infringement is intended or meant, and no money will be made from this story. This story may be copied in its entirety, and may be distributed as long as all copyright information remains.
The characters Shaw Hunter, Ulric Johansen, and Brenna are mine. Anyone wishing to use them may contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The characters Steve St. Wolf, Robert Lawrence, and Carol Lawrence are property of Steve Pantovich, as is the universe in which this story takes place. Steve can be contacted at email@example.com.
The character Robin Goodfellow is property of Mike Weyer. Mike can be contacted at SWERJ321@msn.com.
The character Edwin Giles is property of Harvey. Edwin does not make an actual appearance, but he is mentioned. Also, The Prodigal Son�s Consort should be read before this story <G>.
Author's Notes: This story takes place in mid-February 1999, at the same time as the already thrice-mentioned
Dedications: First, to Steve, who lets us have our fun in his universe.
Second, to Rebekah "Red Ink" Sandell (who gets her nickname from Steve, not me), the Almighty Editor who shall (hopefully) be appeased by this (sort of) Valentine�s Day tale.
Second, to Harvey, who gave me the idea to try this by mentioning how he was waiting for a story involving a certain woman, the Troll of Sunnydale High, and a love spell. Thank (or blame, depending on a reader�s point of view) him for inspiring me.
Third, to Mike, for dialogue help <G>.
Here are the changes from your normal shows that may play a part in this story:
1. Due to her drowning at the hands of the Master in Prophecy Girl, Buffy is Immortal.
2. Passion and Becoming never took place, so Jenny and Kendra are alive and well. Jenny is engaged to and living with Giles at this point. Kendra is attending UC Sunnydale and living in the Summers home.
3. Faith is not evil. At least, not in the strictest sense. She lives with Joyce and Buffy and is a junior at Sunnydale High.
Sunnydale High School
16 February 1999
As the teenagers of Sunnydale, California walked into school on a bright, sunny Tuesday morning, they continuously chattered amongst themselves about the usual matters that mattered to teenagers; clothes, sports, and dating (amongst other things). While most of the kids talked about such things, three particular teenagers were discussing another matter entirely.
"Well, are we on?" Buffy asked the girls walking with her.
Willow grinned with a gleam of anticipation in her eyes. "Yeah, Buffy, we're ready. You just have to get the ball rolling." A look of uncertainty crossed her face. "But are you sure Plan A will work?"
"Pretty sure," the Slayer said with a grin. "You know she's just dying to get a chance to do something to Snyder."
"But she doesn't know what we're planning, right?" Amy asked, bringing up a possible sticking point. "You know she'd SO object to our plan."
"Yeah, I know," Buffy assured her. "I only told her we need to work on a spell and that we could use some privacy. I told her that we need to get the Troll out of the way. You wouldn't believe how quick she said she was in."
"Good," Willow said thankfully. She glanced at Amy and said, "You have the ingredients?"
"The ones I collected," Amy said, reaching over her shoulder and patting her backpack. "How about you?"
"Got 'em," the red witch replied with a grin. She looked at Buffy and said, "Are you sure about this, Buffy? I mean, you don't mind?"
"I'll admit it," Buffy said dryly, "the idea of using your magic on her Wigs me a bit, but I know your heart's in the right place. So I'm in. But let me get our accomplice going. I SO don't want Snyder to be walking in on us in the middle of our work."
"Amen," the Amazon witches said together.
In another part of the school, Faith was walking to class when she heard a voice call to her.
The Slayer from the Northeastern United States turned around, letting her brown-green eyes scan the crowd of noisy students for the man she'd heard call her name. Soon enough, Percy Williams and his cronies parted the sea of students and came up to her.
"Hey, Pryce," the jock said with a lecherous grin on his face, "just wanted to ask you if you might consider going out with me this weekend?"
"Where were you last week when Valentine's was rollin' around, Williams?" Faith asked with a teasing smile on her face. She�d been warned on her first day to expect something like this. "Little late for trying to play 'Romance Boy,' ain't it, big guy?"
Percy chuckled. < This is going to be way too easy. > he thought to himself. He leered at Faith and asked, "So how about it? You want to have some fun?"
Faith looked into his eyes and smiled seductively. She thrust one hip to the side and placed her hand on the leather mini-skirt she was wearing. She whispered, "Oh, I'm always up for some fun. What kind of place would I find this 'fun?'"
Percy heard the snickers from behind him and said, "Oh, I was thinking. . . Lookout Point. What do you say?"
Faith looked up and down Percy's body with a tiny grin before saying, "Sure. If I find a guy worth my time, I just might try it." When his smile disappeared, she dug the knife deeper. "Thanks for the suggestion."
With a laugh at the shocked football/basketball player, the Boston native turned and started striding away, purposely wiggling her butt to give the senior a good look at what he'd never have.
Now pissed off, not only at Faith shooting him down but at his cronies laughing at his expense, Williams snapped, "I don't believe you, Pryce!" He let a smirk curve his lip and said, "What are you, some kind of lezbo bitch?"
The junior turned around and grinned at him. "What, you think I'm some kind of Amazon? Pa-leeze."
Percy's face began to turn red as he laid into the woman who'd just embarrassed him. "So that's your game, huh?" he asked. "You a tease or something?"
"For one thing," the Dark Slayer said as she turned away, "I'm not easy."
Before she could take a step, the disgusted jock shouted, "Right, Pryce. The 'girl next door' act doesn't wash with us." He raised his voice so that the other students could hear his insult. "We heard your background. You're street trash. Always have been, always will be."
Faith turned back around, a look of dark anger in her eyes. The students between her and Percy rapidly cleared a path between the two, having heard the rumors that she was one of the few people who could stand up to the reigning Ball Buster of Sunnydale High, Cordelia Chase. The new girl stalked forward, her high heels clacking as they struck the tiles. She got within a foot of the much larger Percy and gazed directly into his eyes. Her anger was replaced with a look of amusement and the same predatory look that he'd had when he initiated the conversation.
"Look, Mungo," she said in a low, husky voice, "I don't know what you heard, but lemme tell you something; unlike some people I could name, I'm not a stuck-up little tight-ass with no sense of fun." She cocked her head just so, letting a sensuous smile come to her face. "I could have you, Perse. I could have any one of your friends." She leaned in close, giving the jocks a good look of her cleavage. "You wanna know what I could do if I had you for one night?"
Caught off guard by the sudden change in Faith's attitude, Percy softly muttered, "What?"
The seventeen-year-old brunette leaned in close, gazed into his eyes, and seductively whispered, "I could ride you at a gallop until your legs buckled and your eyes rolled up. I've got muscles you've never even dreamed of. I could squeeze you until you popped like warm champagne and you'd beg me to hurt you just a little bit more. And you know why I don't?"
Percy just gazed into her eyes, lost in the description of what a hot time with her would be like.
"I have standards."
Faith turned away, her dark brown hair flying around, and started walking away, leaving the six teenage men hot and frustrated.
Once he regained his senses, the star of Sunnydale High's varsity basketball team barked, "I should've expected something like that from a little bitch whose mom was a ho."
The girl froze again and the people in the hallway could see her taking a deep breath. She turned around and slowly walked back up to the guy who just wouldn't quit. She looked at him with barely repressed rage and told him, "Yeah, I admit it, my Mom was a boozer. But I'll tell ya something; being on my own taught me how to be tough and how to survive. And I'll tell ya, you and your little pansy boyfriends there wouldn't survive one night on the streets of South Boston, asshole. And I'll tell ya one more thing. I found someone who was a Mom to me. And I think of her like a Mom. And if you're stupid enough to try and say just *one* bad thing about her, I'll literally beat the living shit out of you."
Percy was trembling with rage at this no-name chick standing up to him. He was seeing red, so he began to draw breath to say something smart.
Faith didn't give him the chance. Moving faster than mere mortal eyes could follow, the junior Slayer's knee shot in between Williams' legs. As his eyes crossed, he fell to his knees. Faith took advantage of the fall to whip her right hand around and bitch slap Percy across the cheek. The senior spun around and crashed to the tile, a touch of blood splattering from the bite he'd put on the inside of his cheek.
"One thing about bitches, Percy dear," Faith said, her voice dripping with sarcastic venom, "is that we fight dirty." A smile came to her face. "Ta!" she said like a spoiled rich girl, giving a dainty wave as she turned and began to flounce off to class.
Faith's feelings of satisfaction and victory vanished in an instant. She moaned and looked up at the Heavens before turning around to see the man universally referred to as "the Troll." Principal Snyder.
"Oh Gawd," the Slayerette moaned.
"Oh, He won't be able to help you, Pryce," the diminutive Principal sneered at her. The corner of his mouth twitched before he glared at Faith and ordered, "My office. Now!"
Faith's head sagged as she trudged off to the last place she would ever want to be trapped. Snyder turned toward the six athletes and snapped, "Get to class! I'll handle this."
Percy just nodded with a grin and watched as the head of Sunnydale High and the woman who'd made him look like such a wuss vanished from view. He heard the scuffling noises of sneakers behind him, figuring his partners in crime were heading to class before Snyder could think of an excuse to chew them out. Chuckling to himself, he turned around.
His smile died as he stopped just short of colliding with Xander Harris and Oz Green. A shiver went through his spine as he tried to bluff his way past the man who'd kicked his ass on two occasions and his companion. "Get out of my way, Harris."
"Oh, I'm hurt, Percy," Xander said with a tone of regret. Without any regret whatsoever, he grabbed Williams by his varsity jacket and slammed him up against the lockers. Percy seemed stunned by the strength Harris possessed, but couldn't protest before Xander got in his face. "You know, Percy, I'd think you would've learned by now not to mess with my friends. Faith's my friend, and now she's stuck in Snyder's office for something you started."
"Kiss my ass, Harris," Percy spat back. "Why are you so up on defending her, huh? Getting a little action on the side 'cause your usual lay ain't producing?"
"Oh, this just gets better and better," Xander said, shaking his head and smiling. He glanced at the silent redhead next to him. "Well, Oz, what do you think? What do we do with this little dickhead?"
"Hmmm," Oz said, pursing his lips as he gazed at the jock. After several seconds, he finally shrugged and said, "Boiler room?"
"Sounds good to me," Xander consented. "Come on, Percy."
"You're not taking me anywhere!" he shouted, looking for support. The few students who had been brave enough to not immediately evacuate the area lost the rest of their courage, leaving the hallway amazingly deserted for a Tuesday pre-class morning. "Oh God. You wouldn't. . ."
"Don't worry, Percy," the Harris boy said with a tone of false sympathy, "we won't do any permanent damage. We won't even leave any marks."
Percy's terrified eyes flicked to Oz, wondering what the laconic man would possibly do to him in conjunction with Harris.
Oz just raised an eyebrow and let a smile play across his lips, but Percy could almost swear that he heard a low, doglike growl emanating from somewhere. However, he wasn't given any time to ponder that as the two seniors dragged him off to parts unknown.
Shaw looked up when Buffy cleared her throat. She smiled and said, "Yes, Buffy?"
The Slayer grinned at her and said, "It's a go. So do your thing and get the ball rolling."
Shaw nodded before glancing down at the paperwork she was working on. "By Mielikki, Buffy, if I did not know better, I would swear that Giles did no paperwork whatsoever last week."
"Maybe he didn't," Buffy teased. Shaw shot her a frosty look. "Just kidding! Besides, he *did* have his mind on other things, remember?"
"Such as meeting his father," Shaw muttered. Without seeing Buffy's agreeing nod, the ranger did some quick calculations. "I should have this batch done in another few minutes. I will take them to Principal Snyder and use that as an excuse to see him."
"Good plan," the Immortal said approvingly. She started to head out but said, "See you at lunch?"
"Maybe," Shaw sighed with a chuckle. "As I said, I have a *lot* of paperwork."
The two shared a laugh and Buffy went on her way to class.
Faith walked into Snyder's office and plopped down in a chair. Snyder growled at her disrespectful attitude and snapped, "Show me some respect, Pryce!"
The Slayer glared at him and said, "Hey, he started it."
"That's not what I saw," the Principal sneered at her. He sat down at his desk and said, "I saw you kick and punch one of Sunnydale High's most important athletes."
"So THAT'S what this is about, huh?" Faith said wryly. She folded her arms and said, "I don't suppose you care about my side of the story. And I didn�t punch him. If I had, he�d be countin� sheep right now."
"Did he even lay a hand on you?" Snyder said, confident of the answer.
"Well, no. But--"
"That's all I needed to hear, Pryce," the vertically challenged man snapped. He took out some paper and began writing. "It's going to be a pleasure to suspend you, Pryce. I knew---"
"He called me 'street trash!'" Faith angrily protested.
Snyder stared back at her and said, "Pryce, I knew from the first time I laid eyes on you that you'd be a troublemaker. Just like Summers and her bunch. And you moved in with those Summers women. I also know that Williams is a star basketball player who wouldn't approach worthless girls like you. He---"
"Excuse me, Principal Guy," Faith interrupted, "but didn't he try something fresh with a girl named Hunter last year? She hangs out with us and you don't call her worthless. Seem to recall her telling me that she kicked his ass."
"She dropped the complaint," Snyder told her, trying not to allow the Bostonian any momentum. "She also said that she considered the matter dropped. I think she was trying to keep from getting caught in a lie."
"Naw, she just didn't want you making her life a living Hell because that asshole got arrested during football season," Faith countered, examining her fingernails.
"Don't use that language in my office!" Snyder thundered. When Faith looked less than impressed, he seethed. "Pryce, I can't tell you how much enjoyment I'm going to get out of suspending you. I figure I can suspend you for two weeks for cursing to your Principal, and then another month for assault and battery on Williams. If I were you, I'd cancel any plans you have for the summer. And all it takes is the sweep of a pen. . ."
A knock came on the door, startling Snyder and Faith out of their showdown. Before Snyder could bark out an answer, Shaw Hunter walked in with a bunch of paperwork.
"What are you doing here?" the administrator shot at her.
The woman who'd been "drafted" to run the library while Giles was in England blinked at his vehemence. She nodded at the papers in her hands and said, "I was bringing the library work for you, sir."
"Just drop it off with the secretary," he snapped. "I'm busy with this troublemaker."
"But Mrs. Sharpe was not at her desk, Principal Snyder," the student informed him. "I believe that she may be coming down with that virus that is going around."
Snyder blinked at the mention of the flu bug that had indeed struck a good many students and teachers. < One good thing about the flu; less children to deal with. > "Then why didn't you just drop it off?"
"I was specifically told to place it in your hands," Shaw replied. Faith fought down some giggles at the lie. "Mr. Giles told me that these include the order forms for text books for the next school year, and that you were, how did he say, quite intent on looking over and editing his orders?"
Faith watched as the Troll tried to counter an argument he'd made himself. Finally, he growled and snatched the papers from her friend. He put them to the side and said, "Now get back to work, Hunter."
"Yes, sir." Shaw turned to leave, but stopped as if remembering something. Sharing a sly glance at Faith, she turned back to Snyder and asked, "Sir, might I ask a favor?"
Snyder blinked in disbelief; no one ever asked HIM for a favor. "W-what?" he asked. "What kind of favor?"
Faith watched her fellow Slayerette reach into her pants pocket and say, "I was hoping you might be able to give me some smaller denominations for a five dollar bank note. The food dispensers in the cafeteria will not accept the bank notes I am carrying."
"What?" Snyder asked, totally flummoxed.
Faith rolled her eyes and said, "She's asking if you got change for a five."
"I didn't ask you!" Snyder snapped.
With a shrug, the Slayer retorted with, "Just tryin' to help. Sheesh."
Snyder snarled at the disrespectful young woman, but hesitated to say something with her friend in the room, something that could be relayed back to Giles and Calendar. Wanting to get both of them out of his office, he pulled out his wallet and started looking.
Faith glanced at Shaw to see her mumbling under her breath. Faith's Slayer ability, which Buffy often called their "Spider sense," was picking up a building of mystical energy in the priestess.
< Hoo boy. Magic time, > Faith thought gleefully, eagerly waiting to see what Shaw was going to do.
She switched her attention back to the Principal, who pulled out four singles and a bunch of dimes. He glared at Hunter and said, "Four and a half is all I have. Take it or leave it."
"Thank you, sir," Shaw said. She reached out and the two exchanged the money. Faith didn't miss how Shaw's hand grazed Snyder's. Shaw pocketed her money and said, "Thank you again, sir. I appreciate this."
"Fine, whatever. Now get---" Snyder's outburst was cut off when he launched a violent sneeze that splattered phlegm all over the suspension form he'd been about to fill out. He moaned and felt his head. "Oh, God. Whud's habbening doo me?"
Shaw's face became one of faked concern. "Principal Snyder, are you all right?"
"Doo I wook all wide?" he snarled, snat running out of both nostrils. "My ed id all stubbed ub! I beel like sit!"
"I think you might be coming down with the flu," Shaw said, backing up a bit as if she were afraid of catching it.
"I am nod!" Snyder denied until he sneezed again. "I beel awfool!"
Faith winced when his claim of feeling awful was enhanced by more sneezing. She forced herself not to smile and said, "Hey, maybe you oughta go home and get some sleep, huh?"
Snyder stood up to tell Faith to mind her own business, but his spinning head prevented him from doing anything other than holding himself up. He glared at Faith and said, "I'm all wight."
"Sir," Shaw meekly said, "perhaps Faith is correct in this instance. Some rest might do you some good." When he started to retort, she lowered her eyes and said, "Our school will only suffer if poor health denies us your leadership."
The little man blinked at her play to his ego. So large was it that he never saw the quirky grin curving Faith's lips. He puffed himself up as much as he could and said, "Maybe you our wight. I cand leab you chidwen to yo own debices fo long. Owl be bag tomowwow."
Snyder quickly left before he could faint in front of children and lose his dignity. The girls waited until they heard the outer office door slam to look at each other and begin laughing.
Faith fought her laughing enough to ask, "Gawd, Hunter. What the Hell did you give him?"
"Just a stronger case of the same influenza that others are getting," the elfwoman said merrily. "I just never expected to have a reason to give it to someone."
Faith blinked. "Who�d you take it from?"
"Cindy and Terri," the older woman answered, referring to Amy's younger sisters. She smiled and said, "Even if they do not know it. Michael asked very kindly."
"Right." Faith sighed and said, "But that doesn't keep me from gettin' kicked out for kickin' Percy's butt."
Shaw's eyes grew grim. "If I did not expect that little pathetic bastard to be watching for some form of retaliation, I would handle it. But as it is, we have to be careful. But let us get out of this place. It reeks of a piece of shit."
Faith grinned and stood up. "Well, at least this day's looking up now. No Snyder, Steve's in Boston, and Alfred's in England. Nice day off with no brain-type training."
Shaw grinned; Faith had little patience for training that didn't involve some form of physical contact. "I would not say that," the assistant librarian told her friend. When Faith arched an eyebrow in question, she told her, "I have arranged a training session for you alone in the library after school."
"What?!?" Faith blurted out. She moaned, "Oh come on, Shaw! When the head honchos aren't in town, that's a cue to cut back just a bit on the kung fu lessons!"
"It is no excuse to let our guard down," the half-elf countered. She gave Faith a full smile and said, "Besides, we will have enough room and privacy in the library to make it. . . interesting. And with Snyder gone for the day. . ."
"We can cut loose and have a little fun," the junior Slayer finished. She stopped and fed Shaw a suspicious look. "Wait a minute. What's *your* idea of 'fun?'"
The woman from another dimension just smiled at the Slayer and said, "Trust me."
"Yeah, right," Faith muttered.
The three girls walked into the library just as the bell signaling the lunch hour blared. While Amy and Willow efficiently set their bags on one table and started pulling out equipment, Buffy proceeded to the office and knocked on the door.
She peeked in and asked, "Well?"
"You will have no problems," Shaw reported without looking up from her paperwork. "Principal Snyder has *left* the building."
Buffy nodded with a smile and had nearly backed out when her teammate's answer caught up with her brain. She sourly glared at the slightly grinning junior and told her, "Smartass. Stop rubbing in the pop culture stuff."
Not bothering to give Hunter another opening, the Immortal Slayer shook her head and retreated to the main library. She saw Amy setting up a Bunsen burner that the witch had "borrowed" from the Chemistry Lab at the beginning of the school year. As she pulled out a sparker and lit the burner, Willow walked over and set up a stand to place something over the burner, as well as a glass beaker similarly appropriated from a science class at the school.
"We ready to start?" Buffy asked the witches, who both nodded eagerly.
"Just hope Shaw doesn't find out," Amy reminded her leader. "If she comes out, she'll give us a lecture on using magic like this."
"Don't worry," Buffy grinned. She jerked a thumb at the office and said, "Religion Girl's swamped in paperwork. We're cool. So, what do we do?"
"Okay," Amy said, reaching into some jars she'd set on the table while glancing at her spell book, "let's start with. . . petals from white roses."
The witch dropped in some flower petals and read to discern the next ingredient. She said, "Will, grab the holy water."
Willow nodded and picked up the small flask of blessed liquid. She popped the top and poured it in. When she was done, well over 300 milliliters were in the beaker. The Bunsen burner began to make the water bubble a bit, and the Wicca nodded. "What's next, Amy?"
"Hmmm," Amy said, looking over the list again. "Ah. Dogwood leaves."
"What?" Buffy asked in confusion. "What does dogwood--"
Amy smiled as Willow dropped in six leaves from a dogwood plant. "There's this old legend," she explained to the magic-challenged Slayer, "that the dogwood used to be a big tree type plant. According to the legend, the Romans used a dogwood tree for the Cross at the Crucifixion. God warped the plant so it couldn't be used like that again. Kind of made it special to God or something."
"Ahhh," Buffy said. She figured if it involved something to do with religion, she wasn't going to argue.
Amy had turned her attention back to the bubbling beaker. She pulled out a Ziploc bag and opened it. Buffy and her fellow seniors grimaced at the smell as Amy dropped the finely diced contents into the concoction. "Okay, garlic bits. Will?"
"Dirt from consecrated ground," the redhead promptly answered. She opened another baggie and turned it upside down, letting the Earth fall and land in the warming water and other ingredients.
Buffy winced at the idea of dirt being added and asked, "Okay, tell me again; this potion will let you cast a spell that'll make any vamp that comes within ten feet of my Mom go 'poof?'"
"More like 'boom,'" Willow corrected.
"And you have to use dirt."
Amy sighed and looked at the leader of the Slayerettes. "Buffy, it's from consecrated ground. You know how much pain that causes vampires."
"Yeah, but still," Buffy muttered. With a sour glance at the apparatus, she added, "These ingredients. . ."
Not paying any attention to Buffy's dialogue, Willow took out a piece of bone and dropped it into the glass holding the recipe. "Tip of an arm spike from a Polgara demon. . ."
Buffy sighed in disgust. "Remind me to *buy* a cake when Mom's birthday rolls around."
Willow just smiled as Amy picked up a similar piece of bone. "Chunk of antler from a Chaos demon."
She dropped it in and looked at the book once more. She looked at the waiting Willow and Buffy. "We have to let this sit for twenty minutes. Once it comes to a boil, we cast the protection spell and we're all done. All we need now is the personal item. You got it?"
"Oh yeah," Buffy said. She reached into the outside pocket of her backpack and pulled out a gold ring set with a single ruby. Holding it up, she said, "This is my Mom's. She doesn't wear it that much any more, but I figured it'd work."
"How often she wears it doesn't matter," Willow assured her best friend. "Just drop it in and we'll be in business in twenty minutes."
"Okay," the Slayer said uncertainly. She dropped the ring into the bubbling holy water and asked, "This won't do something like make my Mom's finger turn green when she wears it again, will it?"
Amy and Willow declined to dignify that question with a response.
"Okay, now what?" Buffy asked. "I mean, we got twenty minutes to boil off."
"What do we do until then?" Willow asked curiously.
Buffy shared a look with the two Amazons. "Run to the cafeteria and grab some ice cream?"
"Yep," all three agreed.
They picked up their book bags and left for the cafeteria, leaving their potion to complete its mixing.
Five minutes later, Faith walked into the library and called out, "Hey B! You in here? Red?"
The Slayer looked around but didn't see or sense the three members of their team who hadn't shown up for lunch at their usual table. Xander had asked her to check around for them, so she'd first checked the Computer Lab, where Willow was taking over for Jenny while the Gypsy Faith had tagged with the moniker "Calendar Girl" was in London meeting with the Council of Watchers with Giles. Having struck out there, she'd come to the next logical location, the library.
Seeing no one in there, Faith noticed the book and apparent Chemistry project on one of the tables. Shrugging, she walked over to the office and knocked on the door. Hearing Shaw tell whomever it was to come in, the Dark Slayer strode in and grinned at the look of frustration on her friend's face.
"Hey Hunter, how's it hanging?"
Shaw sighed and said, "Actually, hanging is looking like a pleasant alternative right now. And consider that I *enjoy* working here."
"Right," Faith giggled. She leaned against the wall and changed over to the subject that had brought her here. "Need to ask you if you've seen B, Red, and Sabrina."
"They are not in the library?" Shaw asked, now looking up from her mountain of paper.
Faith shook her head. "Nope. There's just some of their home-brewed stuff going over a blowtorch."
"Ah, that," the Mielikkian nodded. "Buffy, Willow, and Amy are working on a spell. They might have decided to take a break for the time being and get something to eat."
"Great," Faith moaned. "I bust my butt walking all over this school to find 'em, and they're on their way to where I started from!"
"Faith," Shaw said nonchalantly, "are all you Earth people such drama queens?"
Faith stared at her before sticking her tongue out at the ranger. "Ha, ha, Hunter. Look, I'm headin' back to lunch. If B and the fairy dust twins come back to play 'Sorcerer's Apprentice,' let 'em know I stopped by, huh?"
"Of course," Shaw said as she smiled at the Slayer's comments. "Just remember, I will see you after school."
"Don't remind me!" Faith groaned as she left the office and slammed the door shut behind her. She was rewarded with a sigh of pain from the half-elf. < Sometimes, it just doesn't pay to have good hearing, > she thought triumphantly.
She began strolling out of the library to try and catch Buffy and gang, but stopped when her curiosity got the better of her. She stared at the beaker for several seconds before she sighed. "I gotta know."
She walked over and glanced at the pages with a felt bookmark nestled in between them. She looked over the Latin writing, not noticing how she mouthed the words and spoke just above a whisper. Her eyes went wide and she snarled in disgust. As she looked up toward the Heavens, she failed to notice the small "poof" and cloud of smoke that came from the beaker.
"These guys NEVER quit!" she hissed while looking up at the ceiling. "Come ON, Big Guy. Don't you think they would've learned their lesson with Jack last month? Gawd, they gotta let Redeye find her own man. I better warn her."
She started back toward office, but hesitated. She considered the likely reaction that Shaw would have if she found out that Amy was once again trying to play matchmaker, and had enlisted Willow and Buffy in the attempt.
< I'll give 'em credit, > the New Englander thought, < they're using a new approach. A spell to draw a girl's true love in to her, rather than just do the 'boy meets girl, gets the Whammy put on him, and gets pelvic with girl' type spell. But still. . . >
Faith truly thought Shaw should be warned, but her sense of adventure and love of having fun overrode it, so she decided to let things play out and see if Shaw could once again dodge the proverbial Cupid's arrow.
< Or Amy's arrow, > she snickered. <It'll be fun to see what happens. >
Faith turned and sauntered out, leaving the witches and priestess to settle this love spell thing on their own.
Scant minutes later, the three Slayerettes walked in, chattering about the protection spell they were going to cast for Joyce Summers. Buffy was grateful to the pair for coming up with the idea of a spell that would negate the possibility of any vampires or demons getting anywhere near her mother, at least physically. If this spell worked, Buffy was considering bringing up a second spell, to repel any type of magic cast at her mom.
"Okay, we should be just about ready to get this done," Amy said with a smile. She wanted to do this for Joyce just as much as the others. "Okay, let's check--- What the HELL?!?"
Buffy and Willow shot their glances at the beaker, which was now completely empty. The girls ran forward and stared at the glass container, which was devoid of any of the ingredients the two teenage witches had so painstakingly collected.
"Uh, Will?" Buffy asked, noticing what else was missing. "Where's the ring?"
"Uh, I don't know, Buffy," the computer expert admitted.
"Oh God, Mom's gonna kill me!" the Slayer said in horror. Her horror grew when she looked at Amy. "Amy, what happened to her ring? Heck with that, what's going to happen with my MOM?!?"
"Buffy, chill out," Amy said, unconcerned. Waving a hand to dismiss Buffy's fear, she said, "As long as no one read a spell, nothing will happen. We just burned the ingredients too long or something."
"You're sure nothing'll happen to her."
Amy and Willow sighed at Buffy's tone. Amy turned to her friend and said, "Buffy, since we didn't cast the protection spell, it won't even take hold, let alone go bad. Trust us."
"After you let the stuff burn too long?" Buffy asked rhetorically.
Willow smiled and said, "Don't worry. We can try again tomorrow." She sighed as she looked at the beaker. "But we'll have to collect a couple of the ingredients again tonight."
"That shouldn't be too hard," Buffy shrugged.
Amy shot her an evil grin. "This coming from the Slayer who not only has to explain the loss of her Mom's ring, but also has to get *another* object for the spell."
Buffy started stammering as the two witches laughed and started putting away their equipment, figuring they'd just try again tomorrow.
16 February 1999
"This is great, Joyce," Carol Lawrence said graciously. She dug into the take out Joyce Summers had brought from the new Thai restaurant down the street and savored the spicy taste. "You have to give me the address to this place."
Joyce smiled at her friend. "Gladly," she agreed with a note of mischief in her voice. "That way, *you* can treat next time."
Carol nodded in agreement. She took another bite of her lunch. "Steve said he�d call tonight, to tell us what he thinks of the items that Skinner is auctioning. From his message last night, I get the feeling we�re going to have some stiff competition for some of the Louis XIV pieces."
"Well, I hope it goes well for him," Joyce said kindly. She giggled, prompting Carol to arch an eyebrow. "Buffy gets restive whenever he leaves town for any length of time."
"I understand," Carol says wistfully, but with understanding. "When Robert was working, I spent every minute he was gone worrying about him. Since he retired from the �Company,� these have been the happiest years of our marriage." She paused and said, "How about your other girls? How are they doing on the man front?"
"Oh, God help me on that. With BOTH of them," the art gallery owner lamented dramatically. "Kendra has a man, but they�re both in the �denial� phase."
"Wherein they refuse to admit they�re in love?" Carol correctly guessed.
"Exactly," Joyce laughed. "But still, Joe is a good man. Once they figure out their feelings, they�ll make a fine couple."
Carol nodded; Joyce knew the girls living under her roof better than anyone. "And the other one? What�s her name. . . Faith?"
"Faith," Mrs. Summers sighed. She folded her hands around her soft drink and thought about the newest Slayer to hit the Hellmouth. "Faith is. . . unique, to say the least."
"In what way?" Carol smiled, although she�d heard Steve mutter on more than one occasion what this girl was like, personality wise. < Firebrand, indeed. >
"It�s strange," Buffy�s mom admitted. "Imagine the one person that gives Cordelia a run for her money in dressing up and being a hard case." Carol laughed, and Joyce joined in soon after. "Faith is the ultimate tomboy. It�s weird; Buffy�s told me how Faith dresses sexy, but doesn�t take advantage of it. She�s said that she shows off her body to the boys, almost like she�s thanking them for noticing her. But she hasn�t asked any of them out, or vice versa."
"Any idea why?" the antiquarian asked.
Joyce smiled. < Poor Faith. > "It seems she has her eyes on one of the other boys that works with Steve. She even nicknamed him �Beefcake.� But I don�t think he�s interested."
"Is he a nice boy?"
"Of course," she confirmed, before explaining it diplomatically. "It�s just that he isn�t the type to just go to bed with a girl."
Carol smiled at that. < Not many men like that. Maybe she�ll hook him yet. > Mrs. Lawrence then grinned at Joyce. "How about you? Any luck on the dating front?"
Joyce shook her head ruefully. "No, Carol. There just doesn�t seem to be a single, good unattached man in this town anymore. Even if there was, he�d have to pass the Buffy test."
"Buffy test?" Carol asked in confusion.
Joyce started chuckling. "One, is he a vampire. Two, is he a demon. Three, is he an android. Four. . ."
Joyce glanced at Carol�s blank eyes. "Never mind. The point is, trying to get a date with me would be like. . . submitting yourself to an IRS audit. With my first daughter being the auditor." She sighed and muttered, "It�s not like men are falling in love with me as soon as they walk through a door."
The bell above the door rang as someone entered. Joyce and Carol looked up to see Carol�s husband Robert walking in with a couple of bags from the local drug store. He smiled at his wife and said, "I�m back, sweetheart."
"I see that," Carol teased him. She then added, "I�m sorry you weren�t here to join us for lunch. Joyce brought some take out from this great new Thai restaurant down the street."
"I passed them on the way back," the co-owner nodded. "If the food tastes anything like it smells, they�re in for some great business." He looked at Joyce and greeted her with a nod, while his smile became tender. "Joyce, you�re looking great this afternoon."
"Thank you, Robert," Joyce said, taking in the big smile on his face. "I brought you some lunch as well. It�s in the bag on the desk in the warehouse."
"Why, thank you. That was sweet of you," he said. His smile widened just the tiniest bit before he headed for the back of the store.
When he disappeared, Joyce sent a glance toward her friend. "Sweet of me? All I did was bought some takeout."
Carol gave Joyce a knowing grin. She purred, "He�s in one of his romantic moods today." She giggled and said, "Looks like we�ll be opening late again tomorrow."
Joyce shared her friend�s laughs. "Well, good for you. I just wish I could find a man like Robert." She wryly shook her head and said, "I have to get to the drug store to pick up some cleaning supplies, and get back to the gallery. Talk to you later?"
"Of course," Carol promised. Her smile became demure as she said, "Let me know if you want the romantic details."
"Of course," Joyce smiled agreeably. She turned and left the antiques shop, neither her nor Carol seeing the smile sent at her back by Carol�s husband.
Stephens� Drug Store
16 February 1999
Joyce walked down the aisle, idly looking for any of the last items she needed for the gallery. She�d packed up on cleaning supplies, so she was just checking around for anything that might come in handy. < No sense in leaving without being thorough. > she told herself. She reached the end of the aisle and turned the corner when a loud sneeze snatched her attention.
She looked and saw one of her most unfavorable people in the world in the medicine aisle, looking completely miserable. She sneered with pleasure at seeing Principal Snyder in such a sorry state.
Snyder was holding a sodden tissue to his nose, his rat�s eyes darting up and down, looking for something to handle what appeared to be a severe case of the flu that had been going around town. Joyce chuckled to herself to see someone truly deserving of some misery being given a taste of his own medicine, so to speak.
< Bad pun, Joyce, > the shop owner berated herself. She was just about to turn around and leave the Troll to his misery when he glanced up and saw her.
"Middus Summoos!" he bleated through his wet Kleenex. He waved to keep her from leaving. "I---"
"I have nothing to say to you, you little troll," Joyce declared with motherly anger. She growled more. "Get out of my way."
"But---" the principal began to whine.
Joyce leaned over her shopping cart, gripping it with both hands and sending the look of wrath down upon him. "After the way you treat my girls, you�re lucky I don�t beat you to a pulp."
When Joyce started to walk away, Snyder sniffed, "I�m sowwy!"
Joyce stopped dead in her tracks. She slowly turned around and looked at him as if she hadn�t heard him correctly. "What?" she dully asked.
Snyder entered a sneezing fit before he could say anything. After several bellows, he wheezed, "I�m sowwy I evoo did or tawt of doooing anyting to Summoos. . ."
"Her name is Buffy," Joyce icily reminded him.
"I�m sowwy I evu did or tawt of dooeng anyting to Bubby or her fwends!" the head of Sunnydale High declared. Groveling for all he was worth (something of an effort with the flu), he said, "I�m so sowwy I evu did anyting dat offended yooo, Joyce. I�ll ebun keep fwum expewwing dat Pwyce ghul."
"What?" Joyce said, her eyes going wide. Mother-level anger rose within her. "By what right were you going to expel Faith?!?"
With a truly sorrowful look in his eyes, the balding man explained. "Pwyce kicked Poocy Wiwwiams in duh gwoin and punched him in duh jaw. See said he wuz hiding on huh. She towed me he cawed her swteet twash."
"And you were going to expel HER?!?" Joyce snarled in disbelief. "WHY."
Snyder groveled like a Ferengi on Star Trek as her anger barreled into him. "I won�d doo id! I�ll ebun pood id in widing!"
"Darn right you will, you little---" Joyce stopped and pulled out a pad of paper she�d picked out for writing down notes and orders at the gallery. She opened it up and pulled out an ink pen. She held it out to Snyder. "Here. Write it down NOW. Write down, "I, Principal Snyder, hereby promise that I will take no disciplinary action against Faith Pryce for standing up for herself against a pathetic, self-centered jerk who tried to hurt her feelings.� And sign it."
"Gwadwy," Snyder said, glad to find a way to get into Joyce�s good graces. He hurriedly wrote down exactly what she�d dictated and signed his own name with a flourish. He handed the pad and paper back to Mrs. Summers, a beatific look on his face. "Dere yoo go, Middus Summoos. I---" He stopped to bring his tissue back to his face as a fresh sneezing attack erupted. He blew his nose with a disgusting foghorn-like sound. He gazed back at Joyce and said, "Again, I�m sowwy for evoo huwting yowr ghuls."
"Good." Joyce turned to leave and triumphantly said, "I accept your apology, Mr. Snyder. This time." < Miserable little troll. >
As she strode away, she failed to see the look of puppy love on the diminutive administrator�s face.
"She knows my name!"
Sunnydale High School
16 February 1999
Buffy walked down the steps of the school, heading to Steve�s for an easy training session before heading out on patrol that night. She looked back at her friends, who were discussing what type of training to do that night.
"I still say we should have our own little tournament," Xander said with a grin. "You know, elimination style sword fights, see who�s the best of the best."
"Right, Xander," Cordelia groused. She gave him a disapproving look and sourly told him, "Steve, Jenny, and Giles are all out of town, leaving them out of this little competition you want to play at. Plus, we wouldn�t have Randi or Kendra there, since they�re still at school, leaving two more out of it. Larry�s got baseball practice, and Faith�s meeting Shaw in the library for whatever kind of training session they have planned, and Oz has practice tonight."
"So we have a private contest," Xander continued eagerly. "That still leaves me, you, Buffy, Willow, Amy, and Robin. Enough for some fun. That�s the operative word here, hon; fun."
Cordelia fed him an evil smile, her dark eyes flashing with dark humor. "Or we could just take turns beating you up. That�s fun, too. . . hon."
"Robin won�t be there," Amy piped up. When the couple turned their eyes onto her, she smirked. "He scammed a day off from Steve. He�s chilling out at his apartment, and planning something for me for tonight. I�m meeting him after training."
Willow�s forehead scrunched up as she did some quick calculations. "Uhm, Amy? Isn�t it like your six-month anniversary? Of your first date?"
Amy stared at her as she also compared dates. "Oh, Goddess," she breathed, "you�re right. By Artemis, you�re right! I can�t believe I forgot!"
"How often does that happen?" Buffy asked the group at large. At their confused looks, she elaborated. "How often does the *guy* remember the anniversary?"
"Hey!" Xander said in defense of the male race at large.
"That�s so sweet, Amy," Willow said to her fellow witch. "Maybe you can pick something up on the way from training. Let him know that you remembered, too."
"Yeah, I�ll have to do that," the blonde Amazon agreed with a distracted nod. "I�ll stop by the gift shop on the way to his place."
"Well, we�ll meet you at Steve�s," Cordelia said off handedly. She took Xander�s hand and murmured something in his ear. His face lit up and she sent a wicked smile towards the girls. "See you there."
The two lovebirds jogged off towards Cordelia�s Shelby Z convertible, leaving the other four by themselves. Oz looked at Willow. "See you later?"
"Sure," the redhead smiled at him. "I need to talk to Buffy and Amy." She gave him a loving glance of her pixie-green eyes. "See you at the Bronze?"
"Cool," the guitarist said with a millimeter-sized nod and an equal smile. He nodded at the other girls. "Later."
Oz took of for his van, leaving Buffy and Amy looking at each other.
"You know, Will," the Immortal Slayer said out the side of her mouth, "you really need to get him a copy of �Hooked On Phonics.� He might learn to say two or three words at once."
"Oz is just fine the way he is, Buffy," Willow play-scolded her best friend. "But we need to figure out what we�re going to do about the spell for your Mom."
"Right," Buffy agreed. She sighed and said, "I still wish we could figure out what went wrong."
"We just left the ingredients on too long," Amy shrugged. She grinned at Buffy and said, "Stop worrying, Buffy. Your Mom will be fine. Once we get the spell done, she won�t have to worry about vamps and demons any more. We�ll do it right tomorrow."
"Okay," Buffy muttered uncertainly. < If we screw this up, Mom will ground me for life! > She turned to look at Amy. "Hey, did you ever see Shaw or Faith today? Find out what *they�re* planning?"
The senior witch shook her head. "Nope. Didn�t see them all day, except for lunch. That�s the problem with them being juniors; we don�t share anything all day, except for maybe Gym and Lunch."
"Right," Willow agreed. "Well, I don�t think they�ll do anything crazy. Let�s just hope they don�t blow up the school."
Buffy and Amy didn�t look too scared about that possibility.
Faith walked into the library, looking around for her training partner for the day. She was surprised to see the tables and chairs all moved to the sides of the main floor.
The Boston Slayer glanced all around, trying to find the ranger. She finally stood in the center of the library, placed her hands on her hips, and snapped, "All right, Hunter. Where are you and what�s up with the redecorating?"
She didn�t receive a verbal answer. However, Shaw did walk out of the office, carrying two cloth sacks. She set them on the counter, a soft clink of metal reaching Faith�s ears. Shaw then removed the centuries-old hair clasp that held her hair back and shook her hair loose. She turned to her friend and said, "I am sure you are wondering what I have planned."
Faith frowned at her and said, "Hell yeah, I�m wondering." She took in how everything had been moved. "What�s up with the tables being moved?"
"So we have room to maneuver," Shaw said with a grin. She was going through the process of putting her hair into a scrunchy, but some of the hair near her forehead came loose, leaving curling strands dangling to the sides of her eyes. Finishing up, she glanced at the impatiently waiting Faith and chuckled. "Very well. There is a bit of explanation in order, but there is a reason I asked you to come here."
"And?" Faith asked, wanting to get down to whatever training she was in for.
Shaw sighed, wishing that the Slayer would show *some* patience. < But again, > she asked herself, < what is that phrase about pots and kettles? > "I have noticed how you complain about certain things involving our patrolling methods."
Faith�s eyes flashed with indignation. "Like what, Redeye?" she snapped sarcastically, using the nickname she�d handed the half-elf. "Just what do I complain about?"
"For one thing," the nature priest went on impishly, "particularly, the thing that brings us here today, the complaints that you do not have a �cool ass� sword like Steven, Buffy, Xander or myself." She untied the strings holding one of the sacks closed and reached in. "So, I have taken measures to oblige you."
Shaw pulled out an ornately handled weapon, inside a leather-wrapped metal sheath, and tossed with to Faith with an underhanded motion. Faith caught it in both hands and looked at it, examining the elaborate designs of the leather and gold thread wrapped hilt, the pommel cap being connected to the filigreed guard, in which was a cross made of blue stones, perhaps lapis lazuli. She smiled at the design and looked up at Shaw. "This freaking thing looks like something a Musketeer would use, Hunter."
"His name was Slava," Shaw replied while untying the other sack. "His family migrated from Russia to France and Slava became a Musketeer until he was changed into a vampire."
"Wait a sec," Faith said, staring at the blade again, "you mean a *real* Musketeer used this baby?"
"Yes," came the simple answer. Shaw pulled out a blade of her own and said, "Your blade was forged in the seventeenth century and used by Slava in his mortal and undead life."
Faith did a double take at her answer. "MY blade?" she asked.
"You wanted a �cool ass� sword, did you not?" the older woman reminded her. She let her eyes wander to Faith�s new weapon and said, "Now you have one. I thought you might get a �kick� out of using a Musketeer�s weapon."
Faith stared at the gift that Shaw had just given her. She whispered, "You guys didn�t put any crazy witch stuff on it, did you?"
"The only magic on it is a religious blessing," Shaw vowed. "I know you have some distrust of magic, Faith. I did not want you to feel uncomfortable."
"Hey, as long as it�s magic pointed at the bad guys, I don�t care," Faith clarified. She slowly drew the well-kept blade out of the sheath and examined the way the light glinted off of the blade. She started to giggle as she considered the fine weapon that was now hers and hers alone. She looked at Shaw, a goofy grin on her face. "Shaw, thanks. A lot."
"You are quite welcome," the half-elf replied. She pulled out a similar rapier and drew it. She dropped the hilt onto the table and said, "Shall we begin?"
"Begin what?" Faith asked, not understanding.
"Our training session," came the response, complete with a falsely innocent smile. "Fencing. With real blades. And since we need not worry about trolls interfering. . ."
Faith�s face curled up with a similar look of faked innocence. "Oh, hell yeah!" she snapped gleefully.
The friends shot each other mocking salutes and began their fun.
16 February 1999
Joyce looked through her refrigerator and sighed in frustration. She glanced at Kendra and said, "Well, honey, with only the two of us here, I can�t see putting forth the effort of cooking a large meal. Does pizza sound all right to you?"
The Jamaican nodded her assent. "That sounds fine."
"Good," she said. She went to pick up the phone. As she dialed, she asked, "What do you want on it?"
Kendra shrugged. "That does not matter, Joyce."
"Okay, then. I�ll keep it simple," the extended mother of the Slayers decided. She heard someone pick up the line at the other end. "Hello, Ted? It�s Joyce Summers. I�d like to order a large pizza with pepperonis, mushrooms, and extra cheese."
"Hi, Mrs. Summers," Ted greeted her. Joyce heard him do some number crunching on the register in the background. "That�ll be 12.40. You want any pops with that?"
"No, thank you," Joyce answered. "I appreciate the offer, though."
"No problem," the deliveryman said kindly. "I�ll have it there in about thirty minutes."
"Thank you, Ted. I�ll see you then," she said. Hanging up the phone, she called out to Kendra. "The pizza will be here in about half an hour. Do you need help with your homework?"
Twenty-seven minutes later, Kendra and Joyce heard a knock at the door. Joyce smiled and told Kendra she�d get it.
The elder Summers walked to the door and looked through the peephole. Seeing Ted standing there with their pizza, Joyce opened the door. She grinned at the pizza man. "Good evening, Ted."
"You too, Mrs. Summers," Ted returned with a smile. He started to hand the pizza over to Joyce, who was fumbling through her wallet. He stared at her for several seconds before a smile and a shiny look in his eyes came forth.
"Here�s fifteen, Ted," Joyce said, handing out a ten and five. She stopped when she saw the smile on his face. "Ted?"
Ted jerked, as if brought back to reality. He smiled and said, "You know, Joyce, it�s a slow night tonight. I don�t have any more deliveries right now, so if you want, I could come in and handle cutting the pizza for you."
Joyce stared at the young man, feeling like she was seeing something that she definitely didn�t want to see. While she couldn�t figure out what exactly, she was somehow put off balance by Ted�s courtesy. "Thank you, Ted, but no," she finally answered. "That�s quite all right."
Ted�s smile slowly faded as her negative answer registered in the distracted young man. His eyes shifted to try and glance past Joyce, into the living room. He looked back at Joyce, a small sound of anger in his voice. "Why not? Is there someone else?" He looked at her and demanded, "Do you have another man in the house?"
Now growing worried, Joyce tried to be gentle with the seemingly erratic delivery boy. "Ted, please leave," she requested worriedly.
"Not until you tell me why you�re seeing another man!" the young man demanded.
"I don�t have another man in here!" Joyce snapped. "I don�t have any man!"
Ted folded his arms and told her, "I want proof."
Having heard the commotion, Kendra came over to the door, standing behind Joyce�s shoulder. Ted, taken aback by the appearance of the mocha-skinned college freshman, asked, "Who�s she, Joyce?"
"I am Kendra," the stoic Slayer answered proudly. She folded her arms and stared Ted down with her chocolate eyes. "I live here with Joyce."
"Oh. Can you tell me why she has another man in there?" he asked her. "Is she cheating on me?"
Joyce�s eyes went wide at that question, but Kendra�s own eyes were rife with confusion. "What is he talking about?" she asked her foster mother.
"I have no idea," the flustered Joyce replied.
"Ted," Joyce interrupted, finally losing all patience with the strange occurrence, "leave now or I call the police."
Kendra moved past Joyce and reached out toward Ted. Grabbing his shirt, she whipped her head forward, her forehead colliding with the area between Ted�s eyes. With a resounding crack from the impact, Ted�s eyes rolled up, showing nothing but whites. The Slayer gently set him on the ground, then turned around to face Joyce, who was staring at her in shock over the girl�s actions.
"What?" a confused West Indian asked.
Joyce sighed and muttered, "Now I see why Buffy calls you the �Pink Ranger.�"
Kendra felt her face flushing as she realized that she might have acted rashly. She moved to explain her tactics by telling her guardian, "I don�t think this is something that police would be able to handle."
"What do you mean?"
She nodded toward the sleeping pizza man. "I�ve seen the look in his eyes before."
"What look?" the stumped Joyce asked.
Kendra glanced at the ground and embarrassedly replied, "The one in his eyes. It�s the same one that Xander shares with Cordelia, the one Willow has for Oz, Buffy with. . ."
"I get the point!" Joyce admitted. She blinked as she realized what Kendra was saying about her and Ted. She brought her hands up to her forehead and moaned, "Oh God. What is it with me and men named Ted?!"
"I can sense some magic in him, Joyce," Kendra absently said, gazing at her victim. "Perhaps we should call Buffy and the others."
"Right," Joyce said, becoming decisive. She backed into the living room and picked up her phone. She dialed Steve�s number and waited for several seconds and rings before someone picked up.
"Hello?" came Xander�s voice.
"Xander, thank God!" Joyce exhaled in relief. "Listen, I have a situation here. Can you tell Buffy and come over to help?"
"What happened?" the young man asked, his own concern for Buffy�s mom coming through the line. Joyce gave him a hurried explanation of the discussion with Ted, finishing with Kendra�s own observations. "Don�t worry. I�ll be right over."
"Thank you, Xander," Joyce told him, greatly relieved. She hung up the phone and looked at her �daughter.� "Xander says he�ll be right over. What should we do with Ted until he gets here?"
"Put him on the couch and make sure he causes no trouble," Kendra guessed with a shrug. She sheepishly added, "I think he�ll be out a while."
"At this point, I�m not complaining," Joyce muttered.
Kendra just nodded in wry agreement.
Five minutes later, a knock on the door startled both women, who had been keeping a close eye on the knocked out pizza guy. Kendra held a hand up for Joyce to stay back while she answered the door. Joyce nodded reluctantly, but stayed her ground.
The Slayer looked through the peephole and breathed a sigh of relief at seeing whoever was on the other side of the door. She undid the heavy bolts and pulled the door open to reveal Oz.
"Thank God you are here," Kendra greeted him before looking past him. She felt confusion rising inside of her and looked back at the werewolf. "Oz, where�s Xander?"
"Dunno," Oz said with the most miniscule of shrugs. He cocked an eyebrow that would have not been noticed by those who were unfamiliar with the laconic young musician. "Is Joyce here?"
Kendra�s eyes went wide as she slowly began to realize that Ted�s behavior had been the tip of the proverbial iceberg. Apparently, Joyce had heard Oz�s question and promptly came to the same conclusion.
16 February 1999
Shifting his head to peek over Kendra's shoulder, Oz noticed Joyce standing in the living room. Cocking an eyebrow and letting the tiniest of smiles come to his face, the guitarist said, "Hi, Joyce."
Joyce moaned and said, "Why me? Why does these things happen to me?"
"Something happen?" Oz asked Kendra, not looking at her.
Kendra just stared at him with a stony look and replied, "I don't think you have any idea."
Oz shrugged. "Okay." Looking back to the mortified Joyce, he asked, "You doing anything, Joyce?"
"Uh. . . yes!" she said, looking hopeful. "I ordered some pizzas and Ted showed up with them. But something's wrong with him, so we might need to get him checked out. Can you take a look?"
"Sure." The werewolf walked in and strode over to the unconscious delivery boy.
Kendra stared wide-eyed at Joyce as if to ask, "What are you doing?" Joyce just shrugged helplessly. As long as Oz was occupied, he wasn't coming onto her.
Joyce watched as the brown-haired (this week) rocker looked Ted over. After a few moments, Oz stood up and looked at her.
"Huh," he said with a tiny shrug. "I can't see anything really wrong with him. Looks like he just got a bump on the head. Nothing serious."
"Are you sure?" the desperate mother asked. Putting a note of pleading in her voice, she said, "Can you check him over again and make sure?"
Oz raised an eyebrow at her. "If I didn't know you better, Joyce, I'd say you were playing hard to get."
"Oz, we're waiting for Xander to show up," Joyce said, growing more nervous by the second. "When he gets here, you two can hash out what's happening. Until then, why don't you wait outside?"
"And leave you with him in here?" Oz asked, inclining his head in the direction of the boy on the couch. "Nah."
"She asked you to leave, Oz," Kendra said, stepping in front of the senior and folding her muscular arms. "I think it would be best if you do what she says."
"Then stay here," the West Indian agreed. "We will meet Buffy and Xander elsewhere."
Oz turned to Joyce and "demanded," "Why are you meeting another man?"
Rolling her eyes at the shape her night was taking, Kendra reached up, grabbed Oz by the collar of his bowling shirt, and threw him toward the kitchen. She looked over her shoulder and shouted, "Joyce, get to Steven's house! You will be safe there!"
"Right," Joyce said with concern for her foster daughter. She ran for the front door as Oz got to his feet, grabbing the keys to her Cherokee Sportand her purse.
Kendra waited for her to get out the door before turning back to Oz. She saw him frown a bit and began to wonder if throwing him had been a good idea. "Oz," she began, slowly backing up, "you are not really in love with Joyce. Something is happening to you and to Ted. Do you understand?"
Oz just cricked his neck a bit. "I need to see Joyce."
"I cannot allow that," the Slayer said defiantly.
Oz shrugged. "Okay." He squinted just a bit and began to shift. Kendra's eyes went wide as her teammate began going into his lupine form.
< This was not a good idea, > the Slayer told herself in hindsight. Working to get herself some room, the woman ran up and gave Oz a jumping side kick, which knocked the half-transformed musician through the kitchen door with a tumble. Taking the only logical course of action left to her, the college freshman turned and ran after Joyce. When she got outside, she quickly closed the door and turned around. She found Joyce waiting for her. "Joyce, what is..."
She stopped when she saw Cordelia's Dodge Shelby convertible blocking the driveway. Feeling a surge of hope at the possible help with the brewing situation, Kendra started running to the driver's side, but stopped when Xander got out. The Jamaican Chosen One, having been on the Hellmouth long enough to know that things never went as planned, started to feel queasy to her stomach. "Please do not let him say. . ."
Joyce apparently had the same feeling. "PLEASE don't let him say. . ."
"Hi honey," Xander said with a silly smile.
When he started walking toward the Den Mother of the Scooby Gang, Kendra stepped between them.
"Hey, K, what's up?" Xander asked, using the nickname given her by Faith.
Thinking fast, Kendra said, "Xander, we have a problem. Where is Buffy?"
"At Steve's," the young man said, looking at Joyce with puppy dog eyes. "What's the sitch?"
"Oz is going wild," she answered, hoping that Xander's sense of duty would override his mystically induced infatuation.
"So?" the love struck senior asked. "He's a werewolf."
Said werewolf burst through the door at that point, growling at Kendra for her role in trying to keep him away from his one true love. Seeing herself and her adoptive mother stuck between the proverbial rock and the hard place, she resorted to a tactic that, under any other circumstances, would have been unethical, underhanded, and totally unacceptable.
She told Xander, "He was hitting on Joyce."
Xander's face twisted in anger. "WHAT?!?"
"WHAT?!?" Joyce echoed.
"Get back, you two," Xander ordered, going into Soldier Boy mode. He pushed Kendra aside and turned to the snarling werewolf. "Okay, fleabag, what's this I hear about you trying to cop a feel of my woman?"
"Xander!" Joyce snapped.
"What?" he asked.
"He did not try to cop a feel!" she snarled. "This is OZ we're talking about."
"Ohhh, he tried to woo you with his crappy music, huh?"
That pissed off Oz, who lurched forward to past Xander. Xander caught the wolf and threw him to the side, away from the two women. He turned and, with a look of love on his face, shouted, "Get out of here! I'll take him!"
"You can't hurt him! It's not his fault!" Joyce called in worry about the two boys, but Kendra grabbed her arm and opening the car door.
"Get in," the girl ordered, shoving Joyce to force her to comply.
Joyce got in and started the engine. She turned on the headlights just in time to see Oz pick up Xander and throw him through her front living room window. Her jaw dropped in shock. "XANDER!"
"GO!" Kendra ordered. "Once you are gone, they have no reason to fight! Drive to Steve's!"
Joyce looked to Oz, who was shifting back to his normal shape. She shifted into reverse and veered onto the sidewalk to avoid Cordelia's sports car. Landing in the street with a "thump" from dropping off the curb, Joyce put the Jeep in drive and sped off into the night.
Oz just watched as Joyce and Kendra tore down the street in Mrs. Summers' SUV. He looked back at the house, where he could hear Xander moaning. He didn't want to hurt his friend, but it just wasn't cool to let other people make eyes at his girl. Looking back to where Joyce's Jeep had vanished, he decided that she might be heading to the Motor Lodge for an evening with him, the better to keep Buffy from Wigging over their relationship.
Joyce drove toward town, wondering why everyone was acting like she was their girlfriend. "What is going on here?"
"It is magic," Kendra said with certainty. "I would guess a love spell of some kind."
"You think?" Joyce echoed sarcastically. "We have to get to Steve's. The girls are there, maybe they can do something to cancel whatever's happening."
A faint screeching noise attracted their attention. Joyce looked into her rearview mirror and saw the headlights of a van in the distant background. She moaned, "Don't tell me..."
Kendra turned around and nodded. "Oz is following us."
"God, why ME?" Joyce asked the Heavens. "Oh God, what do we do?"
Kendra scanned the area. She pointed right and said, "There! Go to the park!"
"The park? But.."
"We can lose him on foot," Kendra explained. "We can run into the woods, double back while he is looking for us, and come back and drive to Steve's. We can leave his tire flat to keep him from pursuing."
Joyce was impressed that Kendra could think that fast in a tense situation. "Good idea, honey. I'm proud of you."
Kendra just nodded, but Joyce could sense the beaming her girl was doing behind that neutral exterior. Joyce pulled into a parking slot and shut the Jeep off. The women rapidly exited the vehicle and began running into the park, Joyce not as fast as the Slayer but more than motivated to keep up. They disappeared through the front entrance just as Oz's van pulled up and slammed on the brakes.
Oz calmly turned the van off and slowly got out of the vehicle. He looked around and thought about why they'd try to lose him in the park. He knew it was probably Kendra who thought of it; get in, lead him on a merry chase through the park, and double back on him, leaving him in the dust. One corner of his mouth twitched at the thought of them trying to lose a werewolf in the woods.
< Silly Slayer. >
16 February 1999
As Joyce let Kendra lead her by the hand into the park, her spine tingled chillingly when the sound of a wolf's howl sounded throughout the night. She and Kendra both froze as they realized they'd led a werewolf into a natural setting.
"Oh, no," Joyce muttered. "Kendra. . ."
"Come on!" she said, taking Joyce's hand once again and running. The plan now wasn't to double back on Oz; now, it was a matter of putting any distance they could between themselves and the musician with a crush on Joyce.
It was a good plan in theory, but within five minutes, the faster werewolf passed them and laid an ambush that Kendra led Joyce straight into.
Oz leaped out and tackled Kendra to the ground. The shock of having the Slayer's hand ripped away sent Joyce stumbling forward. The Slayer's mother fell to the ground, landing on all fours. She turned to sit on her backside and yelled, "Oz! DON'T!"
Oz had been about to claw Kendra, but hesitated at Joyce's begging. The indecision gave Kendra time to recover enough to drive a knee into the werewolf's groin and follow up with a backhand punch to the jaw that spun his head around. Oz turned on her, grabbed the black girl by the arms, and threw her into the bushes where she landed with a heavy thud.
Joyce started scooting back as the teenage werewolf turned and started shuffling toward her, huffing and puffing from his exertion. Joyce dimly thought, < If I wasn't living on the Mouth of Hell, I might find having a guitar-playing werewolf hitting on me funny. > "Oz, you don't want to do this. Think about Willow."
Oz cocked his head, which was something strange considering that he was in wolf form. He shrugged, yet another strange occurrence in his furry state, and began walking forward again. He started to bend down, prompting Joyce to draw breath to scream for help.
As it was, it wasn't needed.
As Oz leaned forward, two massive (and very not furry) arms snaked their way under Oz's armpits and went upward to clasp behind the laconic boy's neck. Oz struggled furiously, snarling and spitting but unable to bite or claw whoever had come to Joyce's rescue.
Joyce began to freak at the superhuman strength this person must have to hold back the enraged wolfman. < Oh no, please don't tell me it's a vampire! Who could. . . >
Her question was partially answered when a slim, female form weaved its way around the two combating titans and held her arms out to block Oz's progress, should he break loose. The small girl started chanting in a melodic tongue that Joyce didn't recognize, although she knew from the pitch and tone who it was. She watched, sitting immobile, as Shaw finished her spell and commanded, "Stop!"
Oz immediately ceased his struggles and looked at the small elven woman with glassy, yet friendly eyes.
"What did you do?" Joyce asked Shaw.
"One moment, Mrs. Summers," Shaw said, holding a hand up behind her to forestall any further comments. Buffy's Mom silently watched as Shaw focused on Oz and said, "Oz, it is time for you to get some sleep. Please, rest."
Oz huffed once and immediately sagged in his captor's arms. Joyce heard his breathing slow down and a bit of snoring began.
"You can put him down," Shaw said to her partner. "He will be asleep for two hours or so. That should be enough time to figure out what is going on." Joyce watched the girl turn to her, cocking an eyebrow.
< Subtle hint, thank you, > Joyce mused tiredly. She took Shaw's offered hand and let the half-elf help her up as Kendra came limping over, rubbing at her head. She moved to examine the sore Slayer, asking, "Kendra, honey, are you okay?"
"I will be all right," she responded with a wince when Joyce gingerly touched the bruise forming on her forehead. She glanced at Shaw and asked, "What did you do?"
"A charm spell," Shaw replied as Larry set Oz down on the grass. "I did not want to harm him."
"Good call, Shaw," Joyce said before realizing that the person who'd put Oz in the powerful full nelson was Larry, another member of the team. Her face and spirits fell as she moaned, "Oh NO!!!"
Kendra saw who Joyce was staring at and sighed, "It just continues to get worse."
Shaw and Larry looked at Kendra, each other, and Joyce. "What?" they both asked in puzzlement.
Kendra started moving toward Larry, her hands closing into fists from her impatience. Larry just asked, "Okay, what did I do to piss you off, Kendra?"
The Slayer stopped and said, "I am not going to let you go after Joyce, Larry."
Shaw and Larry looked at Kendra, each other, and Joyce. Shaw said, "Perhaps you should start at the beginning, Kendra."
"Everyone seems to be falling in love with Joyce as soon as they see her," the chocolate-skinned woman told the runners. "Ted, when he delivered our pizzas. Oz, when he showed up a few minutes later, Xander got into a fight with him over Joyce."
"Oh God, I just remembered!" Joyce groaned, getting the attention of the other three. "Principal Snyder was acting all apologetic over Faith and his treatment of Buffy at the drug store! Not HIM too!"
Shaw, Larry, and Kendra all shared sour looks. Larry said, "Okay, now THAT is going to give me nightmares."
"Larry!" Joyce snapped.
"Okay, let's get this straight; every man that sees Mrs. Summers instantly goes ga-ga over her?"
"That is what is happening," Kendra confirmed.
Larry nodded. "Thought so." He started snickering.
"It's not funny!" Joyce wailed in despair. "I'm running for my life from every man in Sunnydale, and now you show up. . ."
She trailed off and shared a look with the worried Kendra. Kendra looked at Larry, who had regained control of himself and glanced between the two. He groaned and looked up at the sky. "Mrs. Summers, no offense, but UGH! I am NOT in love with you!"
"If I wasn't scared out of my wits right now, I'd take offense to that, Larry," Joyce said while running a hand through her hair.
Kendra frowned and asked, "Why is Larry not affected by the love spell? No one else has been able to resist."
Shaw and Larry shared worried looks. The raven-locked Slayerette hastily said, "I put some protection spells on Larry some time ago. It gives him some protection from outside influences."
Kendra nodded but Joyce's eyebrows furrowed in thought. "Oh, so it's not because he's gay?" When Shaw and Larry stared at her in surprise, Joyce just shrugged like it was nothing. "I'm a mother, I notice things."
"Uhm, okay." Larry glanced at Shaw, who nodded reassuringly. "Look, Mrs. Summers. ."
Joyce gave him a kind look. "Larry, I don't judge people like that. I thought you knew me better than that."
"I do! I do!" the jock babbled, caught off guard by her assumption. Closing his eyes in frustration over his secret being known by Joyce all along, he said, "It's just. . . promise me one thing. Don't tell Faith."
"Why not?" Mrs. Summers asked, not understanding his request. "I think I know Faith pretty well. She won't judge you for that."
"Mrs. Summers, you've seen Faith hitting on me ever since she got here," the massive teenager told her, pleading his case. "If I told her the truth, what do you think she'd do?"
"Stop hitting on you?" Joyce guessed.
"Hit harder," Kendra and Shaw said sourly.
Remembering that this was *Faith* they were talking about, Joyce nodded. "Mum's the word." She turned to the girls. "Okay, we need to head for Steve's and get reinforcements."
"Mrs. Summers, I think that the others would expect you to do that," Shaw mentioned, looking to Kendra who nodded in agreement. She softly said, "Perhaps we should head somewhere a little less obvious."
"How about your place?" Larry suggested. "They might expect us to head for Giles� as a second choice, but not your house."
"Joyce Summers?" Shaw asked, looking to her, as did Larry and Kendra.
< Since when am *I* the one they ask for decisions? > Joyce moaned. She realized that part of it was their youth. < Great. I'm the oldest. . . well, relatively speaking, so they ask *me* how we're going to dodge people falling in love with me at first sight. This is just not my day. > "Okay, Shaw, your place it is."
Larry and Kendra moved the slumbering werewolf into the woods to keep him out of sight and headed for Joyce's truck.
16 February 1999
Shaw opened the door, letting Joyce and then the other Slayerettes walk in before her. She walked in, closing the door with one hand while holding her cell phone in the other.
"Yes, Faith, she is fine," the distracted ranger told the youngest Slayer, "it was Xander that Oz threw through your front window. But you are the only one answering your cell phone. Please hurry over here."
"On my way, Redeye," Faith cheerfully chimed in. "See you on the flip side and tell Mrs. Buffy's Mom to hang loose. We'll figure this out and be five by five in time for Letterman."
Faith hung up, leaving Shaw to stare at the receiver and listen to the dial tone. < Why am I not convinced? > she asked herself as she put the phone away. She looked up and said, "Faith is on her way."
"Good," Joyce said, rubbing her arms. "It's bad enough that the boys are falling in love with me, now we can't reach the girls. I'm worried about them."
"Perhaps you should hold your concerns for yourself, Joyce," Kendra suggested as she checked her stakes. "I am concerned for the others as well, but logically you should concentrate on your own situation for now."
"I can't," Joyce muttered. "I'm a mother. Worrying about my girls. . ." She looked at Larry and gave him a tired smile. ". . and my boys, is a required part of the job."
"Right," Larry joked. "Well, let's wait for Faith and get a plan going."
A few minutes later, the doorknob turned. Shaw was the first one who stood up, absently calling a shielding spell to mind, should it be one of the affected males of Sunnydale.
"Thank God," Joyce sighed, "Faith is here. That will help. . ."
"Hey guys! Look who I hooked up with on my way over!" the Dark Slayer said excitedly, her assertive personality preceding her through the door. She looked at the foursome with a smile on her attractive face until she saw the horrified looks that came over them. Her eyes widened just a bit and her mouth fell into an "o" of uncertainty. "Well, don't all say, 'Thank God you're here, F,' at once."
"Oh God, no. . ." Joyce moaned.
"Joyce," Ulric Johansen asked kindly, "is something wrong?"
Shaw, Larry, and Kendra all moaned in despair.
The thoroughly baffled Faith looked around the living room and said, "What did I do now?"