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Home Chapter Fifteen
Home is Where You Hang Your Crossbow
by Camille A. Lufkin
"I don't get it," Cordelia said. "What does that Orb do, anyway?"
Giles pushed his glasses up further on his nose and took a deep breath.
"In English, and in words of less than three syllables," Cordelia said quickly.
Giles deflated slightly. "Yes. Well, Ikit was one of the most powerful of the creators of magical tools. She created her Globe as a magic sensor, which would lead the person carrying it to energy sources. Rather like a divining rod, I suppose."
Cordelia shrugged. "That doesn't sound so bad."
"Well, it did become rather sought after almost immediately. Every magic worker who was looking for a power boost wanted it. As Willow can testify," and Giles nodded at the redhead who was absorbed in ancient books, "magic is addictive. It is hard to be satisfied with what you know. You always want more, and for a great many, they don't care how they get it."
"So that explains the glowing." Cordelia frowned at a fingernail and dug around in her purse until she found a file and attacked the offending nail.
Giles frowned, sensing that he was losing his audience. "The problem was that it was more powerful than Ikit had intended. Apparently, it also was capable of storing such raw energy, in a rather large capacity. It was rather unobtrusive about the whole thing. No one really knew just how much energy it had until it created a black hole in Ikit's laboratory that ate the building and half the city block. Ikit decided that it was far too powerful and that she should destroy it. However, it was so powerful that destroying it would roughly be the equivalent of setting off an atom bomb."
Cordelia stared at him, her fingernails forgotten. "And you just chuck it off a cliff.... because ... ?"
"Ah," and Giles looked very pleased with himself. "You see, Ikit couldn't destroy the Globe, but her mentor, Gekkos, was able to come up with a way to siphon the energy out of it. Once it was... empty, as it were... it was quite harmless. Rather than destroy it, Gekkos put a stasis spell on it. It was still a rather useful magic sensor, and he thought that it might yet prove to be useful. However, it apparently was shoved away in a cupboard someplace and forgotten. Then, some years later, the building was burnt to the ground in a political uprising at the time, which is entirely fascinating..." Giles glanced at the faces around him, their eyes beginning to glaze over. "Yes, well, perhaps that can wait for another time. Gekkos and Ikit were both killed, and the Orb was never seen again."
"Until it shows up in a flea market in Sunnydale?" Cordelia raised a sceptical eyebrow.
"Yes." Giles smiled brightly. "And since Gekkos was the only one who could lift the stasis spell, I was fairly certain the Globe was still harmless."
"Fairly certain?" Cordelia repeated.
"Well, there was always the chance he had removed it at one time himself,"
Giles admitted. "But I figured the chances of that were fairly slim."
Cordelia set down her nail file and leaned forward. "You mean, after all this fuss, all this fighting, and, God. all that hideously boring reading, that miserable piece of glass is little more than a... than a..."
"Unusual paperweight," Giles finished, beaming.
Cordelia stared at him. "I hate you all," she said and went to work at her nails again.
"The best part of it," Buffy grinned, "was that Trick and his goons still don't know what happened."
Willow looked over the top of her book and giggled. "They probably think we're crazy."
"And they wouldn't be very far off," Cordelia muttered.
Willow laughed again. "Maybe I should post something on the 'Net. Y'know, let them know." Then she cocked her head, considering. "Nah," she decided with a malicious glint in her eyes. "Let 'em suffer."
Sarah shrugged her knapsack on her shoulder. "And on that note..."
"Do you really have to go?" Buffy asked. "I mean, you came to help and all, and now you're leaving."
"No," Sarah corrected. "I cam to see if you needed help." She grinned ruefully. "And I think your group is about as with it as any of my troops are."
"Your troops?" Giles asked.
"Yes." She met his gaze steadily. "It's time I go home." She shrugged and gave the same grin to Buffy. "I guess if you can return home, maybe I can too." She and Buffy exchanged knowing expressions. "Anyway," Sarah said, "I have to head up north to that body shop Willow found for me."
They all walked her out to her car. It was starting to grow dusk, and Buffy sighed, remembering that there was probably a ton of homework in her own knapsack. She had kicked it under her bed in an effort to avoid seeing it and feeling guilty. Not that it was much more likely to get finished tonight, either. She glanced at Xander, who was about as likely to study tonight as she was. She raised an eyebrow at him, and he nodded in return -- he would help her patrol tonight and let the others get home early to work on their own assignments.
As if on cue, Principal Snyder was coming up the stairs as they came out the school doors. "Only he would be here on a Sunday," Buffy hissed to Xander.
He gave her a pained look. "Buffy, we're here on a Sunday."
"It's gotta be different," she insisted.
Snyder focused upon them the sneering look he was so famous for. "If it isn't Sunnydale's' own little group of delinquents." His gaze included Giles, and hesitated on Sarah, not sure if she should be included in his automatic disapproval. "And how is the Big Sistering going?" he asked reluctantly. "Have you had to bail any of them out of jail, yet?"
Sarah beamed at him. "Actually, it's been going wonderfully. They are incredible children. I quit." She bounded past him, enjoying his doubletake.
"Is there no one who understands the word 'responsibility' anymore?" he snarled.
"It's a noun, meaning..." Willow wilted against Oz under Snyder's gaze. "Oh, that wasn't meant to be answered, was it?"
Giles muffled a snort of laughter, and the principal stomped up the steps and slammed the doors shut behind him.
"I really can't stand that man," Sarah muttered. "He's a slimy monster of his own sort."
"But I can't slay him," Buffy pouted.
Sarah let herself grin for a moment. "Ah, but I don't have those restrictions..." She sighed and shook her head. "Ah, well. " She looked helplessly at her car, then gave it an encouraging pat on the hood. She tossed her pack in the overly-full back seat. "I guess that's it," she said gruffly.
They stood next to the car in uncomfortable silence.
"Oh, hell," Sarah sighed again. She collected hugs from the Slayerettes, and stopped in front of Buffy. They exchanged long looks, that Willow recognised as that same wordless communication that she and Oz shared. She understood the general gist of it: Be strong. Keep fighting. Live, because you might be dead tomorrow. She heard Giles sigh next to her; he hadn't missed the exchange either.
Then Sarah winked at Buffy and bounded over to Giles, catching the Watcher by his tie and giving him a quick kiss on the cheek. He sputtered and she grinned wickedly at him, then swung the car door open and slid inside. "Willow, you have Wren's e-mail address?"
"Yep," Willow said cheerfully. "We’ll keep in touch."
Sarah started the car, let it run for a moment, then eased it away from the curb without another look back.
Buffy moved closer to Giles. "Is that what I'm going to be like?" she asked quietly, so the others wouldn't bear.
Her Watcher took off his glasses and began to clean them. "Perhaps," he said, not looking at her. If you live that long echoed silently between them. "And perhaps not," he said, replacing his glasses and meeting her gaze. "There's no way of telling, Buffy. You know that."
"I know," she said softly, and gave him a little crooked smile. "But sometimes... 1 just wish..."
She shrugged, and looked away, refusing to meet his eyes again.
"It's not like it the end of the world, Will," Xander was saying, and Giles and Buffy gratefully let themselves be distracted. "After all, we've been on the verge of the end of the word many times, and this definitely doesn't I qualify."
Willow's face was downcast. "Yeah, I know... but...
"What is it, Will?" Buffy asked.
Willow shrugged. "I just realised I have to find something else to give my aunt for Hanukkah."
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