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White Magic

Project Paranormal

Author: Becks

Season 1.

Part 4

 

**

Summary: It’s Halloween, and while the girls go to a party, there’s trouble at Giles’…

Disclaimer: Not mine, etc etc. Buffy and Angel aren’t my creations.

 

**

 

White Magic

 

 


Buffy looked up with unmasked fear at the huge beast before her. “Uh… Giles? This so isn’t a great idea…”

Giles turned to look at her and gave her a nervous smile. “You know what to do, Buffy. I assure you that you won’t come to any harm.”

Almost unconsciously, Buffy turned her head and gazed down the slopes towards Angel’s small flat over the garage. The sun that banished him to the darkness glanced off the windows in to her eyes, shielding him from her view, but she knew he was there, standing watching her. She could feel him, even from here, and the hairs on the back of her neck rose uncomfortably as she felt him meet her eyes. Ever since returning from the chalk figure on the hill, Angel had been hiding away more than ever, and seemed to gently push her away whenever Buffy tried to get close to him. It had been weeks now, and they were as separate as they had ever been before.

“Buffy.”

Buffy shook her head. “Sorry Giles, what?”

“I asked if you were ready.”

A sigh escaped her lips. “Ready as I’ll ever be. Let’s face this thing.”

Giles cupped his hands for her to use as a step up. A slayer didn’t need it, of course, but Giles wouldn’t be Giles if he wasn’t so endearingly proper, and Buffy accepted his help with a small, quivering smile. With one quick, accurate bound, like a cat scaling a vertical wall, Buffy had slung her leg over and sat down carefully. Her neck tingled further as Angel watched her. Giles was smiling.

“How does that feel?”

Buffy looked down at the long horse’s neck in front of her and said, “A surprisingly short cry from weird.”

Giles gave her a reassuring smile and gently moved her leg forward on to the horse’s shoulder to tighten the girth. The animal was a rich bay colour, and out of the two horses, Giles had considered this one much more suitable for her; Celoso was calm and straightforward, and he very much doubted the horse would give her trouble. After seeing how eager Buffy was to get something done, Angel had suggested a ride in one of his irregular jaunts to the house, and while Giles hated to admit it, it had been a rather good idea. Once certain that Buffy was secure on Celoso, Giles turned to his own ride – a slightly larger, dapple-grey Spanish breed named Windsor – and mounted him. Buffy grinned at him and looked down at her reins.

“Giles, where’re the brakes on this thing?”

“In your willpower, mostly.” Giles gave her a kindly smile. “When you’re ready, squeeze him on. Gentle squeezes, Buffy.”

Wearing a look of almost endearing concentration, Buffy tried it, and looked surprised when the horse moved off. Walking the horses side by side through the long grasses towards the village, Giles put his reins in to one hand and pointed up in to the thicket of ferns standing sentry on the hilltop. “Buffy, look. Vulpes vulpes.” At her blank look, he translated, “A red fox.”

“Still number one with the Latin, huh, Giles.”

“Among other things.”

The small carnivore picked up the scent of their horses, and, after giving them a fleeting look, turned and vanished in to the undergrowth. “In Sunnydale we had coyotes. Now I’ve got foxes.”

“Maybe so, but the fox is still a fascinating animal, Buffy. It’s a rather reclusive hunter that thrives on nightime.”

Huh, Buffy thought. Foxes aren’t the only ones, either.

Sneaky with the Angel subtext.

At that moment, Celoso looked left, and Buffy looked that way as well, interested to see what had caught his attention. There was a dark blue taxi motoring up towards Giles’ house. Buffy eased back on Celoso.

“Hey Giles. Are we expecting company?”

Giles halted Windsor, absently patting the grey neck as he replied. “Ah. In a manner of speaking, yes.”

“Who?” Speaking with her foot in her mouth as usual, Buffy rewound quickly and added, “I mean, that is if it’s not classified Giles info.”

Her watcher smiled, and Buffy noted with fondness that the smile reached his benign eyes as usual. “Perhaps you should see for yourself once we return?”

“That’s your way of saying yes, isn’t it.”

“Since I know you will go and find out even if I say that it’s private?” Giles smiled once more. “Absolutely.”

Buffy put it to the back of her mind and they walked on. Early evening was creeping in over the landscape and the sun started to sink steadily in to the horizon, leaving a watercolour wash of orange across the sky. Within an hour or two, it would be time.

Time for the foxes to emerge once more.

*

He immersed his hands in to the hot water. It didn’t matter if it were hot or cold, because he could never feel the difference. Slowly washing out a glass in his small sink, Angel wiped the remnants of blood from around its rim and stood it on its head on the board to drain. His mind not on the task, Angel reached for an already clean glass and washed it again, tackling imaginary stains. His dark, deep eyes were on the window through which he could see, in the distance, two horses. A bay one and a larger, mottled grey one. They were trotting slowly, and the man on the grey horse was leaning across to the blonde girl, helping show her how to hold her reins.

Under the thumb and over the little finger, Buffy.
She’s used to holding a broad sword. Not a horse’s reins.


Angel knew he shouldn’t, but in his mind’s eye he saw himself on that grey horse in Giles’ place. It was him gently arranging her hands over that tight leather. Him cantering up that hillside with her, silky manes blowing around them like breezes, hearing her soft laughter in his ears as she experienced what it was to ride the back of a horse. Angel had grown up with horses, and he appreciated them. He appreciated her.

Angel would take her love. He would take her hate. He would take her pain and set it alight with nothing but a raw desire. He would give up all centuries of his eternal life, for an extra minute of hers.

And so he kept his distance.

There was a crunch of tyres on gravel outside and he heard, somewhere in the vast house, the laughter of some of the Slayer girls. Grateful for his own privacy up here in his flat, Angel pulled the plug on the tinted pink water and allowed it to wash away. Leaning forward on to the edge of the sink, he continued to watch the horses. They were turning and heading back for the house now. The sun was sinking, and Angel watched the shadows of the trees chase them downhill.

Footsteps were approaching. One of the girls, maybe, Angel thought. He distanced himself from them as much as he could, but it wasn’t possible to stay away all the time. Most days he was expected to help train them. Some of them were committed, and some of them thought the whole thing was just a game. Some of them saw both sides of the argument. Angel took no sides.

The door swung open, no knock. Somebody came in to the room. Angel, still with his back to the door, said without turning around,

“Hello Faith.”

*

“Hey Travis.”

The bartender looked up, nodding a mop of dark hair from his eyes as the vampire dropped heavily on to a stool. “Usual, Malen?”

Malen nodded, grinning to show his fangs. “Yeah. O positive, buddy.”

“Coming up.”

The bartender ducked down, retrieved some fresh human blood from the fridge and put it down on the bar in front of the vampire. The creature gave an undignified swallow from the jar, licking a tress of blood from his chin. “So Travis, got any plans for the NoL?”

Travis looked blank. Malen laughed.

“Dude! Night of the Living! Halloween night!”

“Halloween? I’m not doing anything. Its not like I’ll have any customers that night.” Travis scowled angrily and poked at a dirty glass with his dishcloth. “Yourself?”

“I’m going over to Whit’s place, man. There’s some big rave party on, but we’ve got better plans.”

“Yeah?”

“Yeah. Whit and I are getting take out.” The vampire licked his fangs. “Something fresh.”

Travis smiled. “So where’s this party thing taking place?”

“It’s all here.” The vampire tapped at the pile of coloured fliers on the bar beside him. “It’s gonna be a freak out, dude.”

“We’ll see.”

They talked for another half hour or so, while demons came and went around them. When Malen had finally finished his warming blood, like a single guy lingering too long over a warm beer, he tossed down a few dollars and left the bar. He passed her in the doorway without a second glance.

Head held high, eyes scanning the demons for trouble, the Slayer named Laura slipped in to the bar. She slid from the shadows from where she’d been listening in, and her hand reached out and picked up a leaflet from the bar as if she were picking up beans from the store. With one last look around her, she tucked the pink flier in to the pocket of her jacket and left, as silently and as calmly as she’d entered.

*

Buffy was hot and bothered, but in a relatively good mood as she shut the door on Celoso and crossed the courtyard in to the house. It was cooler in here and she walked briskly towards the kitchen to get a glass of water. She imagined Giles sitting in his study and smiled to herself. She really did have a lot to thank him for, and she felt she could forgive his quirks, as she considered them – such as the one concerning Angel. Buffy could see from the way Giles looked at Angel that they didn’t get on, and she could tell equally as much that Angel was willing to conform to that. Angelus was tucked away beneath the surface for now, but he was never far from Angel’s mind. Sometimes, just occasionally, she could see the demon flicker behind his dark eyes.

A burst of laughter sounded from the kitchen; assuming the girls were in there, Buffy pushed the door open. She stopped dead.

“- and she’s got this huge knife,” Faith was saying, “and she runs at me with this gigantic blade –“ hearing the door open, the dark-haired Slayer looked towards the doorway, her hand in the crisp bowl. “B.”

Buffy looked slowly from her to the slayers gathered around the kitchen table, and said coldly, “Hello… you might have told us you were coming.”

Faith popped a crisp in to her mouth and crunched it. “I did.”

“What?”

“I rang Giles a week ago, B. Didn’t he tell you?”

“No. He didn’t tell me.” Buffy cast a glance at the slayers, as if daring them to laugh, and said coolly to Faith, “Let’s go and see him. That is if you can bare to be away from the girls for a minute.”

“Yeah. Whatever.” Faith got up, nodding at the slayers. “Hey, later, girls.”

They walked in silence back towards Giles’ study. Buffy was fighting hard to keep a lid on her temper, which was threatening to bubble over the sides of the pan if she wasn’t careful. Why was Faith always barging in to her life all the time? Why wasn’t she in Cleveland? Not bothering to knock first, Buffy strode in to the study. Giles was sitting in a swivel chair by the desk, with the cat Aristotle purring on his lap.

“Ah, Buffy. Faith, there you are.”

Never one to beat about the bush, Buffy said, “She was coming and you didn’t think to tell me?”

“I’m sorry, Buffy, but I thought you had enough on your plate with the slayers.” Giles took off his glasses and cleaned them absently. “After all, if you don’t mind me saying so you could probably do with Faith’s help.”

“Is that why she’s here then? To help me?”

Faith, who was perched on the end of Giles’ desk playing with a fancy pen, interrupted, “Actually I just came to see Angel.”

Buffy glared at her. “Fine. I’ll go with you to see him.”

“I already saw him, Buffy.” Faith flicked the end of the pen and the lid cracked. She quickly stuck the pen back in to the desk tidy in the hope that Giles hadn’t noticed. Perhaps due to this, she failed to notice the look of absolute venom that the other Slayer was giving her. For the moment unable to think of anything to say, Buffy just stared at her. She imagined Faith and Angel together in that little garage flat, exchanging touches, laughing together. Had they hugged? Had they done something more? There was a sharp exploding noise and Buffy felt a stinging pain in her hand as the glass she’d picked up smashed in her squeezing grasp, stabbing her palm with glass fragments. Blood dribbled down her hand and dripped slowly on to the floor.

“Fine.” Buffy repeated softly. “You’ve seen Angel. You don’t appear to be leaving.”

“Buffy,” Giles cut in, getting up and nearly catapulting Aristotle on to the floor in the process, “Faith could be a tremendous asset in helping you keep control of the slayers.”

“Yeah, B. I can hang around for a while if you’ll need me. You know, the girls look pretty tight. We could take them out someplace. It’s Halloween, after all.”

“Yeah,” Buffy snapped, “And the last time you took the girls out, it went so well.”

“Buffy, look, you gotta treat them like people! They need a break just the way everybody else does. Back off them a bit, yeah?” Faith felt in her pocket and extracted a crumpled flier, which she slapped down on Giles’ desk. “Laura picked this up in town. What about it, B?”

“A party?” Buffy said incredulously. “If it appeals to Laura, it’s going to be drink and drugs and jerks touching up all the girls.”

Faith just grinned. “Then taking the girls is a good move… imagine some guy trying to get off on them.”

Buffy sighed heavily and looked at Giles, expecting him to back her up. To her surprise, he shrugged helplessly and said, “Buffy, while it pains me to admit that going partying might be a Godsend, a night out might do them good. And you, if you don’t mind my saying so.”

“Get Giles,” Faith said, leaning back on the desk and tossing her fan of dark hair over one shoulder. “So, Buffy, we party?”

Buffy sighed. “We party.”

*

“The new slayer is awesome.”

“Better than Buffy. What’s her deal?”

“She’s not a new slayer for us,” Kennedy reminded them, checking out a mean-looking crossbow. “Vi, Rona and I already know her.”

“So you keep telling us.” Laura slipped on a pair of high heels and cast a glance over the two new slayers sitting quietly in a corner. “So you two, you trained with Faith in Cleveland?”

“Yeah,” ventured one of the girls. She was small but very pretty, with wavy black hair and a rather Goth look to her. She wore all black, complete with dark blue makeup and a spiky collar, and she had a ring piercing through her lower lip. “I’m Nadine, and this is Calisto – Cali – She’s from Spain.” She indicated Faith’s other slayer; an equally small, meek-looking girl with short blonde hair and big brown eyes.

“Hola,” said Cali shyly. “Me encanta su casa.”

Laura stared at Nadine. “What’d she say?”

“I’ve no idea.”

“Does she speak English?”

“A little. Just don’t ask her how old she is, she’ll start describing her pet cat to you.”

“You’ve got a cat?” Kennedy asked Cali, trying to make conversation.

“Yes,” said the girl, with some difficulty. “He is… he is… blanco.”

“He’s white,” Nadine said brightly. “Faith figured that already.”

Right on cue, Faith entered the kitchen where the girls were gathered. She’d been here a day now and Buffy had agreed to tolerate her presence, on what Faith suspected was a there-are-bigger-things-at-stake pact. Such as taking these bored, twenty-one vampire slayers to a Halloween party.

“Hey ladies, you ready to go?”

“Sure.” Kennedy put down her crossbow. “Should we take stakes or something?”

“I shouldn’t bother. Vamps shy away from Halloween. Suckers,” Faith said, without a trace of irony. “This is gonna be trippin’.” She herself was dressed to party, in tight jeans, boots and a low-cut sleeveless black top that showed off the tattoo snaring about her upper arm. If she was a little underdressed for late October, she didn’t seem to care. “Buffy’s waiting outside, come on.”

The girls all crowded outside, chatting and laughing amongst themselves. Faith went to join Buffy and they started the walk towards the village. The blonde slayer was not dressed to party; she wore jeans and a thick jumper thing and she had barely bothered with her hair. Refusing to allow her spirits to be dampened by Buffy’s expression, which was more like a hurricane cloud than a rain shower, Faith questioned, “Not feeling the party, B? Come on, it’ll be great!”

Buffy gave a wan smile. “I guess I haven’t had much luck with parties before. Especially the Halloween sort.”

“And you’re worried about Angel, right?”

Buffy looked quickly at her. She had no worries about the girls hearing their conversation; they were clomping along and talking so loudly that an elephant could have crept up behind them. “Oh… no… I mean, he’ll probably welcome the peace and quiet. The stealth gang back there can get kind of tiresome.”

“Yeah. Still, now they can let their hair down for a while.”

They walked on towards the party, through the quietly dark Wessex streets. Trailing behind the main group, Calisto announced, “¿dónde estamos?”

*

Giles had finally ventured from his study. Ah, the much underestimated luxury of having one’s home to oneself. Well. With one exception, of course. Giles paused in the kitchen as he heard Angel pass by, on a walk around the house as was Giles. So he assumed, anyway. Deciding not to bother himself with the concerns of the vampire, Giles took a drink of water and ate some apple before leaving the kitchen, taking care to switch off the light, and walking to his bedroom. There he shut the door and clicked the light switch.

Nothing happened.

“Damn electrics,” Giles muttered. He went to try the bedside lamp, stumbling in the dark, and thankfully that came on. He sank on to the bed.

The light turned itself off.

Giles was reaching for the cord on the lamp when it came on again by itself, only to start flickering, on and off. Giles stared at it, his hand frozen in midair. If it wasn’t enough with Buffy and the slayers, now he had a cranky lamp on his hands. He did the only thing he could think of, and reached down and pulled out the plug. The light died instantly.

Calmed, Giles got up again and headed for the door: no point sitting in darkness. No doubt the wiring was faulty or something.

He had just opened the door, when the unplugged lamp came on again.

*

Rachel Stevens blared out of the loudspeakers across the packed hall. Lights flashed and shimmered off the walls, making stars and patterns on the wood panelling, while hundreds of people danced or lounged in the sofas along the walls, chatting, kissing or drinking, or a combination of the three. Buffy had completely lost track off all her slayers, and didn’t have a clue where any of them were; they were in this huge crowd somewhere. With a sigh, Buffy sipped her bland orange juice and stood on her own against the buffet table, feeling lonely.

What the hell is that? Buffy thought dubiously, poking at a bowl of some weird creamy sauce. Some cute boy swept past, grabbed a piece of celery and dipped it in the white sauce on his way past. None the wiser, Buffy took a sausage roll and started looking for the girls.

“Put it down!” Laura screamed, getting way too hyper as Nadine waved a bottle of beer, the contents streaming out of the top and down all over her hand. “Ewwwww! That’s sooo gross!”

“Drink it!” Vi was shouting. Nadine screwed up her nose and took a gulp. The surrounding girls screeched as if she’d patted a tarantula. Nadine passed the overflowing alcohol around their little gaggle of slayers. Laura was already swaying slightly on her four-inch heels. Somehow some vodka was suddenly introduced as well. Regardless to the fact that it was unwise to mix drinks, the girls carried on drinking and dancing, getting more and more crazy as their soberness deserted them.

Across the hall, the rest of the slayers were dancing, leaping around extravagantly, showing off to their recently accumulated male audience. These girls were not exactly with it either, and as a guy staggered in to them Sarah swung and gave him a hard roundhouse kick in the chest. It was only because Sarah was drunk that her power wasn’t in it, and the man merely staggered before seizing her and grabbing her to him in a menacing sort of way. A second later Kennedy and Rona had seized the boisterous Sarah and pulled her away.

“Back off her,” Kennedy barked, rather irrationally. The guy scowled, but turned and walked off in to the thronging crowd.

“Faith was right,” Sarah gasped, her eyes gleaming, nodding towards where Faith was throwing herself around in a circle of smirking lads, wildly tossing her hair about. “This party is totally tripping!”

*

Angel slowly trailed his hand along the shiny kitchen counters. He was pleased. Pleased to be able to walk the house without the girls giggling in his wake, and pleased to be able to walk the night, where the sun did not reach him. He stood in the window for a minute, the way a human might bask in morning sunlight, and then moved on. Examining the kitchen, Angel opened the knife drawer and had a good look before sliding it closed. He wandered around a bit more, then opened the dishwasher, not realising what it was.

Two huge black tarantulas scurried out.

Caught off guard, Angel leaped back. Why on earth were there spiders in Giles’ dishwasher? They weren’t exactly British natives. Angel watched curiously as the huge animals crawled up the legs of the kitchen table. Then, with the lightning strike of a predator, Angel seized a giant cookery book and banged it down on top of the spiders. He slowly lifted it and peered at the underside of the book.

“Oh.”

As Buffy would say, ewww.

Thinking that he should go seek out Giles about the strange encounter, Angel left the kitchen. As he walked down the dark corridors, he distinctly heard a voice whisper gently in the air,

“Angel…”

He slowed down.

“Angel… where are you… Angel…”

Ahead of him in the corridor, something whipped from one doorway in to another, so fast that he couldn’t see what it was. “Hello?” Angel called softly. The light above his head flickered slightly, buzzing.

“Angel… I can’t see you… Angel… Angel…”

Angel felt his unbeating heart clench inside his chest. “Buffy?”

“Angel… help me… Angel…”

Standing completely still in the corridor now, the vampire strained all his senses. Something was seriously wrong with this house. A floorboard creaked behind him. Angel whisked around and grabbed the throat of-

“Giles!” Angel quickly released him. “I’m so sorry –“

Giles coughed, rubbing his throat. “Quite all right-“ he said hoarsely. “I was actually on my way to find you – something strange is happening –“

“I know. There were tropical spiders in the kitchen, and I keep hearing someone talk to me. It sounds like…” Angel lowered his eyes. “It sounds like Buffy. I also saw something.”

“Like Buffy?” Giles echoed, looking alarmed. “This doesn’t make any sense. This house is not haunted.”

A chill wind blew along the sealed corridor, lifting their clothes slightly. “Sure about that?” Angel asked quietly. “There’s something here, and whatever it is, it’s pissed off.”

“It’s Halloween,” Giles said distractedly. “Traditionally, ghosts and demons lie low on this night.”

“There’s always an exception to the rule,” Angel replied.

“I suggest we try to contact Buffy,” Giles mused. “Did she take a phone on her?” Not waiting for a response, he added, “I dare say she might have a phone.” He started walking towards his study. Angel followed, still instinctively straining all his senses to try and pick up on what was going wrong. As Giles pushed open the door to his study, Aristotle charged out and disappeared down the corridor, his tail like a fox’s. They quickly saw why.

Everything had been moved. Angel, his eyes picking out the shapes in the dark, saw that the chairs were on top of the desk, the lamp was on top of the chairs, Giles’ carefully arranged papers and notes scattered all over the floor.

“Dear Lord –“ Giles just stood there in the doorway. “My study – “

Angel walked past him in to the room and looked around. He wasn’t easily ruffled by spooks, but the Buffy thing had creeped him out slightly. Giles slowly followed him in to the room, looking around. “The phone. Where’s my phone?”

“I don’t think something wants us calling Buffy,” Angel said, making a not-too-irrational conclusion.

Giles nodded, trying to pull himself together. “We may be able to put a protection spell on the building, just temporarily, to ward the thing away.”

“Poltergeist?”

“Most likely. A poltergeist can come from anywhere, and it’s often just a manifestation from the mind. But, since we appear to have a distinctly violent spirit, a spell would be a good idea.”

“What do you need?”

“Just some candles, and a spell book. The book is entitled Magio Blanco.”

Angel just nodded in acknowledgement and started bending to search through the bookshelves. Giles opened a cupboard to find candles, knocking in to things. There was little purpose in turning the light on, as the poltergeist seemed intent on turning off every light they turned on. After a moment, Giles straightened up with a small “ah ha” of triumph and placed six small pale candles on the edge of his desk. As another slight breeze blew through the room, as if perhaps the spirit was waiting to see what they were doing, Angel located the heavy spell book and handed it to Giles.

“We need to make a basic circle on the floor,” Giles instructed, “And light the candles – I need a lighter –“

Working on the logic that there should be a candle lighter accompanying the candles, Angel made his way across the littered floor to the cupboard and found a small, heavy, rather high-quality plated lighter. As Giles placed the candles in a circle and started trying to find the incantation in his book, the tall vampire crouched down and carefully lit the candles. Outside the open doorway in the hallway, a light flickered again. This spook really likes his light shows. Angel straightened up. “Giles, you ready?”

Giles was about to reply when a heavy bust statue of Beethoven shot off a shelf and flung itself at him. Within a split second of seeing the thing fly Angel had leaped forward in front of Giles and caught the object in both hands. Behind him, Giles exhaled.

“Thank you,” he said gruffly. “If you could perhaps – keep an eye out for other airborne articles while I complete the spell.” He stepped in to the centre of the candle sphere, and while the vampire patrolled the edge Giles chanted softly,

“Demon di spirito!
Siete permesso con ciò banished
Ora andate ora!
Demon di spirito!”


There was a blinding white flash – during which both ex-Watcher and vampire quickly twisted away, covering their eyes – which suddenly subsided, and the room went still and quiet. Outside in the hallway, the flickering light came on and stayed on. Nothing moved.

“It appears to have worked,” Giles observed, climbing out of the circle and placing down the heavy spell book. “It’s likely that the spirit will move on of its own accord. It could just have been a stray, ah, section of paranormal activity. There’s a lot of it loose on Halloween, because demons and vampires are so dormant.”

Angel nodded, only half listening; his main concern was to ensure that Buffy was alright. Maybe this paranormal thing had affected her too, and she did have quite a bad track record when it came to special events.

*



The girls were all wonderfully drunk.

Buffy wasn’t thinking straight herself as she walked out in to the cold night air. Behind her, the girls and Faith left the hall as well, following her out in to the darkness. Some of them could hardly walk. Buffy was furious, both with Faith for suggesting this and herself for being so stupid as to allow them to get in to this state. They were her responsibility, and she’d failed. She’d failed them and Giles. She walked ahead of the rest of the group, distancing herself from them, just wanting to get home.

“Yo, Buffy, what’s up?”

Buffy scowled as Faith caught up with her. “What’s up is that they’re drunk! I can’t trust you with anything.”

Faith laughed. “You’re not blaming this on me Buffy, you had just as much responsibility as me in there, if not more! Jeez, talk about passing the buck, B.”

Buffy walked on in stony silence.

As soon as they returned to Giles’ residence, the girls flocked around the sleepy Windsor and Celoso while Buffy and Faith headed for Giles’ study. Giles and Angel were in there, and the room looked as if a small bomb had hit it. Buffy stopped in the doorway.

“What the hell…?”

“Ah, Buffy.” Looking flustered, Giles made his way across the paper-strewn carpet to the two slayers. “We had a little bother with a poltergeist.”

Faith asked, “I thought poltergeists had to be exorcised, you did all that while we were gone?”

“No, a simple protection spell was enough to ward it away.” Giles took off as his glasses as he launched in to Explanation Mode. “On Halloween, there’s a lot of, uh, excess paranormal power in the air because of the lack of activity from demons. Demons lie dormant, but the Hellmouth is still fully active, of course. A little of this power probably ended up here and caused something representing a poltergeist to appear. It’s gone midnight – no longer Halloween – so we should be all right.”

“I miss having a business for this stuff,” Angel reflected quietly. “Things were so much simpler.”

“Actually, it’s funny you should mention that,” Giles replied, beaming. “I was becoming rather tired of seeing you two moping about, so I’ve made a little arrangement for the both of you.” Still smiling kindly, he reached in to his pocket, took out a flier, and handed it to Buffy, who unfolded it slowly and read it. Eyes widening, she raised her head to regard Giles.

“Project Paranormal? Giles – what –“

“I had an Agency set up, dealing with the Paranormal,” Giles explained gently. “Perhaps it might keep you out of trouble?”

Buffy stared at him for a moment, then looked at Angel. The vampire gave her a rare smile. “I think it might,” he said, speaking for the both of them.

“Very good. You can use my study when necessary. When it’s less like a bombsite, that is. I should start getting this mess cleaned up.”

“Would you like some help?” Angel asked politely, but Giles shook his head.

“That won’t be necessary, thank you.”

“We should really check up on the girls too,” Faith added, looking meaningfully at Buffy.

“You guys go ahead, okay? I’ll be there in a minute,” Buffy responded. Faith and Angel left, and Buffy, left alone with Giles, turned to her ex-watcher.

“Giles – listen –“

“If you’re going to thank me, Buffy, there’s no need. It’s quite all right.”

“Giles, I screwed up earlier. The girls – they’re all…drunk. I totally messed up.”

“So you think you shouldn’t have extra responsibility?”

“Yes.”

“Buffy, keeping track of twenty-one feisty young girls isn’t easy, and I realise that Faith doesn’t help matters much. If it’s any consolation, she’s going to be staying in a flat further in town, so she won’t be here all the time. And I’m not going to heap my disappointment on to you because I know that I can’t do any better job than you already are.” Giles gave her a very kindly smile. “You’ve done it once before, and I know you have it in you to bring these girls through. They look up to you, Buffy. And so do I.”

Buffy tried to smile back, the corners of her mouth quivering slightly as she looked up at him. “Thank you… for everything.”

“Once again… it’s quite all right. You’d better run along now and see that the girls are turning in.”

“Okay.” Buffy backed towards the door. “’Night.”

“Good night, Buffy.”

Giles listened until Buffy had left the room, shutting the door behind her, before taking his chair down from his desk and sitting on it. Turning slowly on the swivel chair, fingers steepled under his chin, Giles sank deep in to contemplation.

Drunken girls… poltergeist activity, here where they usually stay… it was all very convenient. Could it be that the girls had some involvement in the strange happenings…?

Giles sighed at himself and looked at the time. It was getting late, and he was jumping to ludicrous conclusions. The girls weren’t magic and couldn’t perform spells on the house; they weren’t anywhere near the building at the time of the occurrences.

Go to bed, old man, Giles scowled himself, getting up from his chair. Stop thinking so much.

He walked tiredly across his study and left the room to head for bed.

He switched off the light on his way out.

~


 

Author's Note:
Spanish translations:
When introducing herself to the girls Cali says “hello… I love your house” and on the way to the party, she asks, “Where are we?”

 



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