Monday morning found Buffy and her four schoolmates still saturnine as they sat in the school lounge before first bell. They had gathered to talk, but it was a long time before anyone actually got around to speaking. Their combined mood was definitely one of depression, each face reflecting various degrees of despondency and despair. Finally, Buffy sighed, and summed up what they all were feeling.
"I can't believe that Giles is gone," she pouted, leaning low in her seat. "It feels so weird."
"He's probably still in America somewhere," Willow said to her blonde friend. "It takes a long time to get to England, so it's not like he's completely gone yet."
"Yeah, but he's not here, Will," Buffy reminded her unnecessarily. "Do you think we'll ever see him again?"
"Maybe they'll give him time off for good behavior," Willow suggested, hoping to cheer herself as well as Buffy. The other girl's expression said she found that statement unlikely, especially considering how unstable Giles' moods had been those last few days. The red head tried another idea. "He might come visit over vacation or something," she said. "Or we could go visit him someday. Or, hey! Maybe Giles could get into one of those schools that has a student exchange program with Sunnydale!"
"Of course, it isn't like he needs to be in school," Oz said to his girlfriend, gently pointing out the flaw in her logic. "He does have a Master's degree already, doesn't he? Going through high school again would seem a bit redundant for him."
"Plus, he's already done it once before," Xander added. He didn't notice the look his friends gave him.
"Oz is right," Buffy sighed wistfully. "Besides, we wouldn't even be here once he's old enough for high school. He's barely eight and that puts him way back in grade school. By the time he's a Junior, we'll all be graduating from college.." Again the depression hit her. Giles was gone. He wan't ever coming back.
As they continued to mope, Willow noticed Principal Snyder walking by in the hallway. "Do you think Snyder's got his resignation letter yet?" she asked no one in particular.
"I doubt it," replied Xander, staring at the troll-like man. "I don't see him dancing pirouettes or flipping cartwheels down the hallway. That pretty much says he's still doesn't know."
"I don't know if I'll ever be able to go in the library again," the blonde lamented ruefully.
"It's just a room, Buff," Xander tried to reason with the girl. "A big room with lots of books."
"But it was his room," Buffy reminded the boy, and they all nodded in understanding.
"It would be like he was still in there," Cordelia remarked sympathetically. "Haunting the place."
"He's just gone, Cordy,." Xander corrected his ex-girlfriend tersely. "Not dead. It's not like he's a ghost, or something."
"Maybe Cordelia isn't so far off," Oz philosophized thoughtfully. "Metaphorically speaking, of course."
"That's right," the dark haired girl replied smugly, glad to have someone on her side for a change. Then she frowned in confusion. "How am I right again?"
"Well, the library is, or was, Giles' second home." the musician explained. "He had a spiritual connection with the place. In a way, it was him. Giles was the soul and the brain in the body of the library. It's only natural that Buffy would feel wigged about going in there now that Giles is gone. It would be like viewing his dead body.." He gave the blonde a compassionate look. "The idea of it kind of creeps me a bit, too."
"Ewww!" Cordelia protested, wrinkling her nose in disgust.. "That's like totally ishy gross! I'm sure that's not what I meant."
"Well, I have to face it sometime," Buffy announced, rising to her feet. "Might as well get it over with now." She began to walk away, then stopped, turning to her friends. "I wouldn't mind a little backup, guys," she told the seated group.
The others joined her as she made the long walk down the hall to the familiar double doors of the library with their round windows. Buffy took a deep breath, and bracing herself mentally, she pushed her way though the doors and into the library, her friends at her side. It didn't feel as strange as she imagined it would. Everything still looked the same as always, so very normal. On the table where they would often study lay and open book, one of the many volumes that they promised to send on to Giles later. Crossing over t to the long table, Buffy stared down at the lexicon for a long moment. Reaching out, she slowly turned a few of its yellow pages, here eyes glancing over the fancy script in which the text was written. It was an ancient looking tome, the hand lettering difficult to read, but the language at least was English, and she could make out most of the words. It mentioned something about the Rusalka, the creature that she had fought against the night before. There were only a few short paragraphs. Not much at all. Buffy realized she now knew about the creature n question than the author of the book could possibly have ever known or imagined. Chalk one up to slayer experience again.
A noise distracted her, and Buffy looked up to see Wesley standing above them in the raised area of the book stacks. He seemed very pleased to see them all there, and immediately hurried down the steps to greet the slayer.
"There you are, Buffy!" the Englishman beamed cheerfully at the teen. He acknowledged her friends with a polite nod. "I'm glad you're all here this morning. I have some important news to tell."
"What are you doing here?" Buffy asked, bewildered at finding the man there in the library. "You must have caught some tail wind coming back last night." Suddenly, she was suspicious. Her recent change of opinion about this man's character was slowly returning to its former doubts as to his worth as a human being. "I bet you've been dying for this day, haven't you, Wes? You just couldn't wait to get back and take over. Probably threw poor Giles on that plane to London and never gave him another thought." She stood up tall, facing the Brit. "Okay. Now you're my only Watcher, and I guess that means I'll have to work with you. But it doesn't mean I have to like it. Or you. I mean, you're no Giles, you know."
"And I never will be, Buffy," Wesley replied with great humbleness. "I can only hope that over time, you and I will come to an understanding that will allow a mutual respect for each other." He regarded her with confidence that his words would impress upon her his sincerity. Buffy turned to her friend Willow, her eyes asking what the other girl though about this.
"He is being reasonable," the red head remarked.
"I know," Buffy pouted, her anger deflated. "I don't like it. I was kind of hoping to be mad at him for a while longer." She sighed, and extended her hand toward the Brit. "You got yourself a deal, Wes. Just promise me that you'll loosen up a bit. You've got to learn to let go of those rules of yours once in a while."
"And you shall have to agree to tighten up upon occasion," he grinned at her in return, shaking her hand. "Not every rule is a bad one. Some are very important. But you are right, Buffy. There are times one must go against convention and do not what should be done, but rather what must be done."
"Sounds like you've got him onto your line of thinking," Oz grinned at his blonde classmate.
"Looks like a Slayer, Watcher tie on that one," agreed Xander. The teens' temperaments had all definitely improved, and they could at last smile again. But Buffy still felt a nagging sadness inside of her as she looked around the room. Oz had been right. In many ways Giles was still there. She could sense him all around her. Buffy slowly walked over toward the circulation desk, thinking about her friend the librarian with remembered fondness.
"I still can't get over it," she said aloud to no one as she turned to face her classmates. "It's like at any minute, Giles is going to come walking through that door," she told them, pointing toward the small office behind her.
The words were barely out of her mouth when the door swung open. For a moment Buffy simply stared, gaping in shocked disbelief. He friends all moved forward to see what she was reacting to so strangely. Striding calmly into the main room, a steaming mug of tea in one hand and several books in his other was Giles. But not the same Giles that they had all said good bye to only yesterday. This was the old, adult Giles, tall and tweedy, and looking as perfectly normal as ever.
"Wesley, have you located that book yet?" the librarian was muttering inanely, crossing over to drop his books onto the circulation desk area next to Buffy. "There seems to be a volume missing from the set. Oh, good morning, Buffy," he said, finally acknowledging first the blonde, and then the other young students in the room.
The library was pierced by five simultaneous shrieking voices as the teens all flung themselves at the older Englishman. They began to all talk at once, asking questions, demanding explanations. Giles couldn't understand what they were saying, their cacophony of voices blending into one unintelligible sound. Buffy finally managed to make herself heard above all the others.
"Giles!" she squealed giddily. "You're you again!"
"Full sized even," added Oz with obvious delight, his green eyes twinkling.
"And old!" Cordelia chimed in loudly. But instead of being insulted, Giles was grinning broadly.
"Yes," he replied happily. "Thank goodness for that!"
"But...how?" Willow excitedly questioned the man. "When? Why?"
"You left out where and who," Xander jovially told the red head.
"The who was Wesley, actually," the librarian replied, nodding toward his fellow countryman.
"Wesley?" Buffy echoed incredulously . They all turned toward the man in question, who was smiling in modest embarrassment at the attention.
"What did he do?" Cordelia asked, her tactless tone one of disbelief that quickly deflated the Brit's ego.
"Why don't you tell them, Wesley," Giles deferred to the younger man, who had recovered his self-esteem enough to explain.
"It was that watch that put me onto the idea," Wesley began, pointing at the blonde's recent gift. "I happened to recognize it as one in that salesman fellow's case. It is a rather unique piece. Once Mr. Giles told me where he had purchased the bauble, we were able to trace its origins back to our mysterious traveling salesman. Luckily for us he was still in the area. After a bit of good old fashioned detective work on our parts, we managed to locate him. We were able to persuade him to reverse the spell in exchange for the return of his property. He was quite keen on getting that amulet back, I must say."
"You gave him the amulet?" Buffy couldn't believe he had said that. "But I thought that you were sending it back to England, to the Council. Aren't they going to be upset?"
"Yes, well..." Wesley frowned, still not easily accepting his own disobedience. "They aren't going to be very pleased with me, I must admit," he replied, looking to Giles.
"We'll simply tell them that the amulet was destroyed, or some such thing," the librarian responded. "And that it's magic was consequently nullified at that time, thereby reversing its spell. That's about all the Council really needs to know."
"I suppose it's a plausible explanation," Wesley mused in reluctant agreement. An expression of awareness came over his features. "Have you contrived these sort of stories before concerning what goes on here?"
"Not very often," Giles replied with a mischievous gleam in his eyes. As Wesley mulled over that response, Buffy asked her own question.
"Did you find out from this guy how this thing happened?" the girl inquired of the librarian.
"The passage I had found pretty much explained the general idea of the situation," Giles told her, setting his mug aside. "Apparently, all it took was one small work to set its power into motion. Unfortunately for me, though the particular word that enabled the amulet was not one of common use, it sounds very much like another fairly common phrase." He cocked his head toward Buffy. "Once the amulet thought it recognized its trigger, it somehow took the next vocalization to be its command, though I'm not certain how it managed to translate it all into the spell itself. The salesman fellow wasn't very clear on that point."
:So what was this magic word?" Willow asked, curious.
"Iwis," Wesley smugly supplied in answer.
"Guzeundheit!" Xander snickered in retort.
"Iwis," Wesley repeated an arrogant grumble, pointedly dismissing the teen's attempt at humor. It is an adverb derived from the Old English gewiss. Its meaning is certainly, assuredly."
"Certainly and assuredly what?" Xander glibly smiled.
Ignoring her friend, Buffy turned to her Watcher. "Giles, I can pretty much guarantee none of us ever said thatword."
"Perhaps not in that exact context," the librarian said. "Unfortunately, the amulet couldn't actually differentiate between the word Iwis and the more common phrase I wish..
A strange expression came over Buffy's face, her unfortunate choice of words returning to haunt her as she remembered what she had said to Giles when he had dropped her off at the park. "I said I wished you could see things our way," she sheepishly quoted herself with an apologetic grimace. "It was me," she realized in shock. "I did it to you. Oh,god, I"m so sorry, Giles. You have to believe me. I never meant..."
"Yes, yes, I know, Buffy," Giles dismissed her guilt with a smile. "It obviously was never your intention to do me any harm. Unfortunately, the amulet had no way of knowing you were merely expressing an idle thought. It wasn't able to distinguish a few words in the context of simply conversation from a command. All that mattered was that the approximate sounds were spoken and it everything that followed became so."
"Wait! But I was there when I said that, and you didn't suddenly gopoof! 'Hey, look I'm a kid'."Buffy pouted, confused. "And after that, you and Wesley were here at the library doing stuff together. I'm pretty sure one of you would have noticed something like that happening to you."
"Some magics takes time to work," explained Wesley helpfully. "The changes were likely so gradual when they occurred, neither of us noticed anything the least out of the ordinary."
"I'm afraid Wesley is correct," Giles reluctantly sighed in admission. "Even I wasn't aware of any changes taking place, and I dare say I was likely a lot more privileged to what was happening to my body than anyone else."
"And what about the spell's reversal?" Willow queried. "Did that take all night, too?"
"Now that was an absolutely fascinating thing to behold!" Wesley excitedly gushed, grinning broadly.. "It was rather like watching one of those time lapse photography sequences, where the camera speeds everything up very fast. Though it wan't exactly instantaneous, " he frowned. "So it did begin loose some of its appeal after the first hour or so."
The teens stared strangely at the two men, astonished to learn that they had spent what sounded like an entire night together. "I guess we should be thankful you both managed to make it through to morning in one piece," Buffy remarked. "And we won't bother to go into details about how you passed the time. Believe me, none of us wants to go there."
Before Giles could respond to her insinuations, the library doors swung open and in stalked Principal Snyder. He saw the gathering of conspirators, for that was how he thought of them all, and frowned at the group as he approached.
"I see that you're all still here," he grumbled, glaring at each teen in turn, searching their faces for some trace of guilt about anything. "Don't you students ever go to class?"
"Only when we haven't got any other choice," Xander replied flippantly, then fell silent as the principal stared him down, not an easy task, considering the man's shorter stature.
"Did you get my message Friday?" Snyder asked, turning to face the tall librarian. Giles' expression was blank, the statement meaning nothing to him at first. The reaction only served to irritate the principal. "I knew I couldn't trust that nephew of yours to pass it on," the small man groused, though he seemed pleased to have his suspicions vilified. "He seemed a little flaky to me. You Brits sure have a weird way of raising your kids over there." Snyder made another suspicious survey around the library. "Where is the little brat anyway?" he demanded.
"Where is who?" Giles innocently asked, still confused.
"Your nephew!" Snyder replied, looking at the librarian as if he were dense. "Robby? The one who was visiting last Friday? He was supposed to tell you the teacher's meeting was moved to today." he further prompted.
"Ah, yes., him.." Giles glanced toward Buffy with a secretive smile. "I'm afraid, the lad's no longer with us."
"Robert didn't really like it here," added the blonde, winking at her older friend. "I'm sure he's much happier where he is right now."
Giles nodded in agreement. "I most heartily concur."
Snyder stared at the two, trying to decipher their strange expressions. "Just as well," the man snorted derisively. "The boy had trouble written all over him. I could see it the minute I laid eyes on him. He had that look." The principal paused, his narrow, beady gaze piercing as he frowned at the librarian. "Yeah, that one was definitely a troublemaker. Just like you!"
With a spin on his heel, the little troll-like principal marched out of the library, the door swinging shut behind him . An obviously insulted Giles gave a contemptuous sniff at his exit, while Buffy and the others doubled over in their hysterical laughter.