Rupert Giles, Buffy Summers et. al. belong to Joss Whedon and the WB; I'm just playing with them. No copyright infringement intended.

The Watcher Diaries

by Jeanne DeVore

 

December 11, 1996

I've kept a journal for years. I don't know why starting this one should fill me with such terror.

That's a lie. I do know why.

Because this is the one which will be read by generations to come. This is the one which matters.

I got the call this afternoon. Merrick is dead. The details are fuzzy, but no doubt he died badly.

The new slayer he was training apparently acquitted herself rather well afterward. They say she killed Lothos.

But of course, now she is alone. And a slayer cannot be left alone for long especially not one as new and inexperienced as this.

So I got the call the one I'd spent my whole life hoping to avoid.

It was one thing to accept my destiny, my responsibility. To learn all I could in the event that one day I would be called. But it's quite another to actually receive the call to know that I will be the primary resource standing between the slayer and death.

I had hoped I would be one of the lucky ones one of the watchers who never has responsibility for a slayer. I would have happily spent my life with my books and my researches, learning all I could about the forces of evil, passing that information on to the current active watcher. That would have satisfied me.

Instead I get the dubious privilege of becoming watcher to a young, inexperienced slayer. Lothos notwithstanding, this child, barely sixteen, they tell me, has only been aware of her sacred calling for six months. Merrick was the best, but he'd barely begun with this girl when he was killed.

And to add insult to injury, she's in California. California, for God's sake, land of tanned bodies and empty minds. You probably can't even get a decent cup of tea there.

I'm expected to be there within three weeks to pack up my worldly possessions and move halfway around the world.

About the only thing which could be considered at all positive is that the town I'm going to is Sunnydale.

Sunnydale. Now there's a name for the books. Boca del Infierno. Hellmouth. Its reputation precedes it. A hotbed of demonic activity for centuries. My only surprise is that there hasn't been a slayer in Sunnydale before now.

They've secured for me a position in the high school where Buffy Summers that's the slayer's name (what kind of name is Buffy?) will be attending. I'll be the school librarian. High school. I shudder at the very idea. I haven't had much to do with children not even when I was one. How can I possibly relate to them? How can I relate to Miss Summers (I simply cannot refer to the slayer as "Buffy")?

So. It begins.

Tomorrow I tender my resignation at the museum. Poor old Professor Bingham will be disappointed. He'd gotten used to using my research as his own. I'll have to come up with some plausible reason for leaving, of course something other than the truth. From Curator of Historical Books to high school librarian is not exactly a step up the career ladder.

Except it's the step my career my life must take.

 

January 2, 1997

It's hot here.

I am led to understand that it's always hot here even in the middle of winter. My clothes, consisting as they do of wools and tweeds, will be most inappropriate for this clime.

One more reason to hate California.

Oh, good beginning, Rupert. In California for less than eight hours and already you're complaining.

Well, I've got plenty to complain about. It was a miserable flight crowded, small, and those seats never have enough leg room. The layover in Chicago was an interminable three hours long. It was only supposed to be an hour, but it being Chicago, a storm was brewing. I sat in the terminal and watched it sleet. I should have gone outside it would have been the last chance to feel cold air.

So I arrived almost four hours late, only to discover that somehow my luggage had not made the trip with me. They think for some reason it debarked in Chicago. They promise to send it on as soon as they can locate it.

Fortunately, I have the bare necessities in my carry-on bag. So I took a taxi (bloody expensive) into Sunnydale and found a halfway respectable hotel to stay in until I can arrange lodgings.

I'd love to find another rooming house somewhere I don't have to worry about cooking or cleaning and can concentrate on my researches. Oh, and my slayer, of course. But I don't think I could explain occasional visits by a sixteen year old girl to a questioning landlady. So I'll be better off finding a flat.

Besides, the books will be arriving soon and I doubt I'd have space for them in a room.

The books. I must say, that's one part of this I am looking forward to. Getting to see the journals of my predecessors. The Watcher Diaries. We're all commanded to keep extensive records of our activities: our researches, our discoveries, our problems and our solutions. In this way, we can pass on to future watchers our experience. Each watcher is the sum of all the watchers before him....

Sorry, chums, I don't feel like I'm the sum of anybody. Knowing how my predecessors acted might be interesting, but I can't see how the experiences of a watcher in seventeenth century France could have much relevance to my life here in beautiful southern California. Nor to my late twentieth-century slayer, who will most certainly not be a slave to the mores of an earlier time.

On the other hand, Merrick's journals ought to be helpful. Hopefully, I'll get them before I have to meet her. My slayer.

Buffy.

God, what a name!

 

January 5, 1997

Well, here I am, in my new flat.

There are water stains on the ceiling and the kitchen hasn't seen improvements since the year I was born. But no matter. It was cheap.

Bloody watchers. They give you plane fare to wherever you need to go, but the rest is up to you. And California's much more expensive than England.

For starts, there's no such thing as a bus system or a tube. A car is essential. Yet another expense. Then it cost me hundreds of pounds sorry, dollars--just to ship my books over. They still haven't arrived. And while the salary they're promising me at the high school is higher than the one I had at the museum, my expenses have more than doubled. If this were so bloody important to them, you think they'd give you a few quid to make it easier!

Though to be fair, the flat's not that bad. An odd sort of floor-plan in an odd sort of building Spanish, I think, with wood trim and ceramic tile ornamentation on the stair risers and around the fireplace.

Who the hell uses a fireplace in California?

But I actually rather like it. It's got a bizarre sort of charm.

I don't have any furniture yet. That will come eventually. I spoke with the realtor about it and she recommended some good second-hand places.

What a step up, Rupert. Forty years old and you're decorating from Oxfam.

Oh, and you should see the car I got! It's an ancient Citroen DS. The odometer must be on it's second go-round and the paint job lost its luster years ago. It grinds when it gets into fourth gear, but it ought to get me around town just fine. And it only cost $800. I don't think the guy who sold it to me quite knew what it was.

So I'm slowly settling in. Tomorrow I start my new job. And some time after that I get to meet Miss Summers (I simply cannot call her Buffy!).

In a way, I think I'm actually looking forward to it. Perhaps I've been too long amongst my books. Here in this very strange land, working to settle in, I suddenly feel more "alive" than I have in quite some time. Perhaps it's a sense of adventure setting out into the unknown. New town, new digs, new job....

New direction.

 

January 6, 1997

First day on the new job.

Did all the usual "new job" things met with personnel, met with the principal. The principal, Robert Flutie, is a nice enough man. A bit too "California touchy-feely" for my taste, but mostly harmless. He didn't say anything about my predecessor and I didn't ask why a high school should suddenly need a new librarian halfway through the school year.

I gather in Sunnydale, one doesn't ask too many questions.

Whatever the reason, the opening was advantageous for me.

Apparently, my "charge" is not in attendance yet. I made a very clumsy remark about being "the new kid", and how all of the teachers and all of the students were into their routines already, and he mentioned that a new student would be starting later in the week. So I've got a few days to get settled in, at any rate.

The library is astonishing. The school building itself well, buildings actually is rather Spanish in motif, with outdoor colonnades, staircases, even a fountain. The interior is "industrial drab", much like any modern building.

But the library it looks like it doesn't belong. The central core is hexagonal in shape, with a work table and some chairs in the centre, surrounded by short shelves and steps leading to a second level, separated with a railing. Here are more shelves, and a set of double glass doors leading into the stacks. To one side of the central core is the circulation desk with its online card catalog terminal, which I plan to ignore, and behind it, the librarian's office. My office. It's small, but adequate. To the other side are the card catalogs in decent wooden cabinets, and a wire cage with a locking door I can only assume is used for reserves and rare books. Certainly, that's what I shall use it for.

That and weaponry storage.

But all throughout is wood good paneling, wooden stacks. Someone put some effort into this library. It's extremely anachronistic.

I think I'll like it.

The collection is a bit mundane. A few more titles on the occult than usual, it being Sunnydale, after all, but it's a pretty ordinary collection for a high school.

And I doubt I'll have to worry about interacting much with the students. I think there were three in there all day. Two came in together to look for a specific title they needed for class. The third....

The third, I think, actually came in looking for me.

I can't judge the ages of these students they all look painfully young, to me. But this one looked younger than most, and yet with an old soul, if that makes sense. Petite, with long auburn hair and bright, intelligent eyes, she came in as I was sorting one of the shipments of books (yes, they've finally arrived) and seemed fascinated that I should be bringing so many antiquarian volumes with me. She thought it was "cool" (her words). Her name is Willow (Willow, Buffy, what were these parents thinking?).

She told me what I'd already figured out: that most of the students avoid the library because they don't want to do anything remotely connected with studying. But she said she loved it because it was quiet, and it was full of interesting titles. Willow, it seems, loves learning for its own sake. She asked me if I would mind if she came in and studied sometimes. I thought it was an odd question after all, I thought that was the purpose of a library. I told her she was welcome at any time, but that there might be some times when I needed to get some of my own research done and I might ask her to leave. It wouldn't do to have her studying in there while I was training with the slayer. She didn't seem to think that strange, and in fact, thanked me.

Then she smiled, a sweet expression. I like her. Willow is one of the terminally timid. But she has a gentle spirit and a keen intelligence.

So, I'm settling in, bit by bit. And soon I'll meet my slayer.

And that's when it ought to start getting interesting.

 

January 9, 1997

I finally met her.

Dear God, she's young.

Tiny little thing, all honey-blonde hair and big blue eyes....

And an attitude that would stop a lorry. Smart-mouthed, sassy, insolent, she told me in no uncertain terms exactly what I could do with my vampire lore and my prophecies.

Of course, I don't think I could have been more cack-handed if I'd planned it. I was putting things away in the cage when she walked in. I didn't know it was her, it was just unusual to see a student in here at all. I asked if I could help her and she said she was new, so I immediately knew she was the one. The slayer. She didn't know who I was (except the school librarian). She'd come in looking for some school books and I practically threw a volume of vampire lore at her in my enthusiasm.

She to use the popular vernacular freaked. By the time I realized my mistake she'd run out of the library.

Later this afternoon, she came back, raging at me. Apparently, it has already started; they found a body in a locker. His blood had been drained. The students were, naturally, upset. So was Buffy, but for very different reasons.

It seems that her calling as a slayer is not sitting well. Because of her activities, she was expelled from her previous school, her parents divorced, and her mother moved her here ostensibly to start over. The last thing this young lady wants or needs is to have her past come back at her like this.

I admit I'm at a bit of a loss. She knows the import of her birthright, she knows what she must do. But at the moment she is refusing to acknowledge she has any responsibility at all. She doesn't want to be the slayer; she wants to be an ordinary sixteen year old girl.

I understand her feeling. I hadn't wanted the responsibility of my calling, either.

But it is mine. I accept that. Now I must figure out a way to make Buffy accept hers.

The kids all go to a club on the other side of town the Bronze, it's called. Buffy is trying very hard to fit in here; she will most likely go to the Bronze as well.

And, since it's the hotbed of teen-aged activity in Sunnydale, it will most likely be the place the vampires will go, too.

I must go there as well. Much as it galls me to think about going to a place like that. I must convince her to assume the responsibility of her sacred birthright. She is the slayer, she can't just quit. It doesn't work that way.

Perhaps it would be better if it did.

 

January 10, 1997

Well, this has been interesting.

We've managed to make it through our first major crisis more or less intact. And my slayer acquitted herself quite admirably, all things considered.

I kept feeling like I was one step behind her the whole time (I keep forgetting that she's been the slayer for several months already; I really am the new kid on the job), but I was able to give her some information which ultimately, I believe, saved her. And I was able to save many of the bystanders who got caught in the crossfire.

Mind, I'm not sure the Watcher's council would approve that we wound up involving a couple of civilians in the process (Willow, of all people, and her friend, Xander). But some things simply can't be helped. They had seen too much to allow them to stay ignorant any longer. And they are sworn to secrecy.

And my slayer did very well. Despite her initial reluctance, she managed to thwart the Master and disrupt the Harvest. Not bad. And proof, as if any were still needed, that she is the chosen one.

She doesn't like the things she is required to do, resents the fact that she cannot be a normal teen-ager, and will have difficulty keeping her activities from her mother this is already proving to be somewhat of a problem.

But she is the slayer. She knows it and she accepts it. And she's prepared to make the best of it.

And so am I.