She was awoken in the morning by a raspy tongue skimming her face.
Needless to say Willow shrieked and bolted out of her bed. She was expecting … well, she was unsure what she had been expecting, but what greeted her was...
A black and white puppy with blue eyes and two perky ears and a lolling tongue …
"Willow, are you alright?" her mothers voice rang from the closed doors to Willow's bedroom.
Joined by her father's voice as he asked. "Willow, are you decent?"
"I'm in my pajamas, dad," Willow yelled. "Um mom, since when do we have a dog?"
"You bought Aleshanee, from one of your teachers – Mr. Jan Congeria, he is such a nice teacher he brought the puppy himself" her mother explained, but Willow's mind was already racing.
The name – Aleshanee translated to 'She who always plays' so the puppy was a girl. In addition though, Willow hadn't bought any new animal – not since Angel killed her goldfish! When she would see that Bad Vampire, she'd shoot him in the ass, then she'd tie him up and lock him somewhere until the cure for his soullessness was found, and then she'd shove that soul in and nail the darn thing in place. Willow frowned ...'shoot him in the ass' where did that come from? It's not like she had a gun; she didn't even like guns. She ran her hands through her hair … and pulled the locks over her shoulder so that they fell in front of her. Startled, Willow gazed at.... Her very, very NOT red hair.
"What?" she squeaked out loud, confused. Her hair was longer for one – now it fell over her bust line – and her bust was bigger than yesterday! She practically ran to the bathroom to see the person who looked back at her in the mirror …
It was her, but at the same time it was NOT her. Her face shape was subtly different yesterday as she went to sleep with her familiar long, oval face, round green eyes, and red hair that came just past her slim shoulders. Now she had more of a hawk like sharpness to her features. Her face, while still oval, was not so long, and her eye shape was subtly different too; before her eyes were round and green and now her eyes were turned up at the corners and sported a brown hue. She had thinner and higher arched eyebrows as well. And her ears were pierced, each with a silver stud. Her mom and dad said that she was only allowed ear piercing after her eighteenth birthday. Willow's shoulders were broader too, along with having bigger boobs and flaring hips! Yesterday, she was not even done with puberty yet. And now she looked like she had been attacked by it overnight! She would have to ask Giles if there was such a thing as a Puberty Demon.
"Willow!" came her mom's voice again; wait, her parents saw her looking like this and they didn't even react?
"Willow," her mother Sheila chided, "haven't you heard me calling?"
"I'm sorry, mother, what is it?" Willow turned, neatly shoving her panicky feelings into a corner – she didn't need those; they were neither practical nor helpful.
"Yes, breakfast is ready, and tomorrow Ira and I are going out. I'm going on tour to promote my new book and your father is having a lecture in Quantico. Now while he's there, he may, if you want, put your name into consideration, since you expressed that you'd like to enter the FBI National Academy after you are done with college."
Now that was news for Willow, not that her parents would be absent they often were but that she could be trusted and left alone in their home. Perhaps she should check her LiveJournal; surely her love for blogging was still there – even with this obviously magical change.
"Yes, please," she answered, and with that, Sheila Rosenberg left her daughter to her own devices once again. Willow booted up her computer and then quickly pulled on a black pencil skirt, black turtleneck, and a white jacket over it. Then she sat down and typed her password for the web page WillowsunnyLivejournal.com along with her e-mail account firstname.lastname@example.org She would get to the bottom of this.
Walking – marching really through the halls, with her new dog at her heels, was a whole new experience. Somehow the whispers and occasional pointing didn't bother her – or make her hide in shame, even if she was wearing something that Cordelia or Buffy would have been more comfortable in. Otherwise, all was normal...that was until a yellow, red, and black blur ran past her, in fact nearly ran her to the floor. And despite the figure being blurry due to speed and had blonde hair braided down his back … she recognized him. It was Xander, her best friend.
"Xander!" she yelled after him. He skidded to a stop and turned around to face her.
"What's it to you?" He obviously did not recognize her; she felt a pang of sadness, since she had known that he was Xander when he passed her mere seconds ago.
"I'm Willow!" she exclaimed, hurt. His stupefied staring did not make her feel better. "Willow? You are blonde and hot and blonde; did I mention that you are hot?" he started to ramble. She could feel annoyance bubbling and angry heat rising to her face – this was what he chose to say?! Then again, Willow thought, shaking her head to clear it; she had to focus.
"Xander – wh," she took a deep breath and started again. "Why were you in such a hurry?" As she was talking Xander stopped gawking at her as his gaze fell back onto his … hand. He turned sharply around and ran toward the library's door, leaving her standing in the middle of the hallway.
***High School Library***
"I'm a Terminator!" Those were the words Xander yelled at the top of his lungs, kicking the library doors in.
"Calm down, Xander," she soothed him after she entered the library, methodically categorizing people that were already present. There was Giles, and if she followed the general theme that was emerging, the two blondes were Buffy and Cordelia.
"I can't calm down, Wills – don't you see I have robotic arm?!" Xander yelled, and Willow actually rolled her, now brown, eyes and sighed at him. He was being a Drama King. "
You are not," the shorter and smaller of the two, with very long, pale blonde hair, said. She was sitting on the table – probably for a better view of the room and by the way she held herself, Willow could recognize her now – it was Buffy, her BFF.
"You just have a robotic arm and leg and ..." she continued with a calm voice.
"LEGGG!!!!!!!!!!" Xander grabbed his hair and pulled at his bangs. Willow noticed Cordelia's throw but she only sat back and watched as the book sailed and collided with Xander's head.
"How did you know Mr. Calm has a robotic leg?" Cordelia asked, as Willow knelled by Xander.
He was sitting on the ground where that book had knocked him over.
"M-Miss Chase!" G-Man squawked as Xander was nursing an angry, throbbing welt on his head, and Giles passed him without checking on him.
"The way he walked was slightly tilted, so …" Buffy said.
"Ahh," Cordelia nodded, closing her red eyes and holding her chin in thought. Willow returned her attention on Xander and started to put some bandages on his throbbing head. Xander tried, and failed, to fend her off.
"Guys!" Buffy called for everybody's attention. Xander blinked and looked passed Willow at Buffy. "Huh, who are you?" he asked – Willow felt validated that Xander didn't know that Buffy was Buffy, just as he didn't recognize her.
"She is Buffy, dumbass ," Cordelia put in, glaring "– you know, Miss-Slays-a-lot."
After she said her piece, she pointedly ignored his muttered "That's gotta be Cordelia Bitchy Queen." Cordelia turned to Giles, pointing at him as well as pinning him down with her reddish eyes. "Better think of a way to solve this ," she commanded imperiously, "I do not fancy missing cheerleader practice." At that she looked down her front, frowning thunderously, "And I want my chest back!"
"Oh yeah, Cordy, you are as flat as a board now," Willow said, smirking and wiggling her eyebrows. Cordelia narrowed her eyes into slits while her eyebrow twitched, and Willow felt a thrill of satisfaction on one upping Queen C. "Don't call me Cordy, little miss softer side of Sears," Cordelia growled out. Willow's mouth twitched into an even wider smile. This was amusing.
"Children !!!" Giles yelled, trying to calm them all down, not that he was very successful in his attempt at diverting their attention; Willow had enough situational awareness to note that.
"Oi – blondies!" Buffy called out as she held up some book. "Did some guy come to your home yesterday?" Xander nodded even as he inched away from the bottle of milk … for some reason she was not surprised by that reaction.
"Jan Congeria," Xander elaborated. Willow perked up; her parents had mentioned him just this morning, and he was the one that brought Aleshanee to her house, after she apparently bought her from him. Willow still didn't believe that she went out and got herself a dog – a young puppy that was very vulnerable to Angel. She did not want to come home with Aleshanee nailed to her front door.
"Man, what is with you and milk?" Oz suddenly asked Xander, "you've been avoiding it all day."
At Oz's 'milk comment,' Xander whirled on the werewolf and started to yell. "I don't like to drink milk, all right! I don't wanna!"
"Xander, that is not for you. It's for my neighbor's cat."
Finally, the voice of reason. That made Xander calm down. "Ahh, OK then." He then sprawled himself onto the chair.
"Jan Congeria was apparently at my house talking to my father," Willow said. "And this is Aleshanee. Dad said that the same man brought her to our house before I woke up." She pointed at the Shiba Inu, who was sniffing at a fox? Whatever, not important right now.
"Right," Buffy drawled. "One, I think this is permanent. And done by Giles' buddy Ethan Rayne."
"WHAT?!" That yell came from all of them except for Oz, who didn't say anything and who was content in waiting for Buffy to share. It was kind off sweet and weird at the same time. "How is it Ethan?" Giles asked, frowning at Buffy.
"This is not permanent!" Cordelia yelled at them all, "FIX IT!" Cordelia demanded.
Willow looked at the now blonde cheerleader with growing amusement. Something good had come from all this; Willow found Cordelia's and Xander's antics hilariously entertaining – better than comedy TV Shows.
"Oh knock it off, Cordy, you might be flat as a board ..." Xander said from his corner that was the farthest place from milk.
"I am not flat!" Cordelia screeched.
"And I am not short!" Xander yelled back.
"Nobody called you short!" Cordelia's eyes became a burning red in her anger when she marched up to Xander and poked him in the chest. "Buffy is short, you idiot, not you!"
Willow couldn't help but agree to that – Buffy become even shorter than she was before. "Buffy, what did you mean by permanent?" Willow asked instead of laughing. Mr. Giles clicked his tongue.
"And how is Ethan involved in all of this?" he directed his question at Buffy again.
"I'll explain. The name Jan is short for Janus and Congeria is Latin for Chaos. Also this is somewhat similar to the spell he did on Halloween. Only far more potent and not to mention targeted. Nobody sees the changes but us. And you Giles" then Buffy shrugged "but I haven't met any other that is aware of the magic and what we do or Angel, I haven't seen him either," she added as an afterthought.
As the sudden silence stretched on, the door to the library swung open and the Computer Science teacher Miss Jenny Calendar walked in. Her eyes darted around, looking for something, when her eyes met the group; she faltered in her steps. Miss Calendar's cognac colored eyes flew toward Giles for a moment, then fell to the ground.
"Rupert, can I …" Miss Calendar was looking at Mr. Giles, though she was avoiding direct eye contact.
"Miss Calendar." Buffy stepped closer in one firm and precise movement, cutting across the Computer Science teacher's words, but her voice was mild, her eyes soft, to cushion the abruptness of her interruption of Miss Calendar's plea. "Do you notice something different about all of us?" She pointed to the room at large. Miss Calendar looked at them, really looked, then she shook her head in the negative, her brows furrowed in confusion.
"No," Miss Calendar said, then she glanced under her eyelashes at Mr. Giles. "I should..."
"Jenny, wait please," Giles said while he gently touched Miss Calendar's elbow. Then he adjusted his glasses, suddenly flustered as Jenny turned back and faced him, her expression hopeful and his guarded and flustered.
"Oh for the love of," Cordelia exploded then. "Miss Calendar lied and chose the kooky gypsy clan over us, which resulted in Miss-Slays-a-lot's psycho boyfriend to lose his soul. Get over it! Spank your inner Mopped, but get over it. We have bigger problems than one more blood sucker in Sunnydale."
"What is going on?" Miss Calendar looked from one person to the next, her eyes filled with focused intent. Finally – now she took Buffy seriously.
"Well, it's like this -" Giles said while looking imploringly at Miss Calendar, "the children do not look the same as they did the previous evening; they woke up … different."
Willow held in a snort at that; 'different' was an understatement – they changed, not only on the outside but also on the inside. She knew that normally she should be a bundle of nervous babble, cowering when Cordelia went all Bitch Queen – but she was calm and pragmatic about the change and she found Cordelia amusing; Willow even baited her. In addition to all of that, Willow was carrying guns. Miss Calendar blinked, Willow was guessing in disbelief, and tilted her head like a confused puppy.
"They do not look any different."
"Well, we do!" Cordelia started on her rant mode, "I had a fabulous figure and now I'm flat with tacky shoes and blonde hair – though I look good blonde. Buffy turned into a tiny dolly Lolita; Xander became a spazzy, long haired blonde idiot … though that is not much different. And nerd girl is not a redhead anymore but a gun toting blonde."
Miss Calendar blinked. "And I don't see, or even remember, the difference?" she asked, "But Rupert does?" At that, everyone nodded; she hummed. "Are you sure you are not under some spell that makes you think all that?"
***Half an hour later***
Miss Calendar – who insisted to be called Jenny decided to cast bones to find out what happened to them. Buffy was reading some book, while Oz was standing near, also book in hand. Willow was typing on the library computer – from there she could more easily hack into the school's mainframe. Xander was napping on the two seat. And Giles was also researching somewhere in the stacks of books he pulled from somewhere.
Suddenly Snyder marched in like he'd owned the place.
"Right, little miscreants, stop loitering. You have short..."
"DON'T CALL ME SHORT!" Xander roared, and there was lightning and suddenly the swinging doors transformed into a palm and slapped Snyder like how one would slap the annoying fly. Xander stared at the unconscious body.
"Did I do that?"
Oz nodded. "Yes."
Xander walked to the body and poked it with a stick – hey where did that stick come from, oh well. "Why the heck did I do that?" he asked. Nobody answered him. Then after half a minute...
"Well, that does it then," Buffy suddenly said, drawing attention of all of them. Xander, stopped with the poking of unconscious principle and started to stand up, when, Snyder's hand twitched; he was waking up then, so Xander knelled down and delivered a Xander-chop to the back of Snyder's head, sending the Principal back into LaLa land.
"Somebody will have to patrol instead of me," Buffy continued.
Cordelia whirled at her. "Wait – why. You are the Slayer; it's your job!"
"I don't get paid – so not a job," Buffy pointedly said like she was explaining something very simple, all while reading a book.
"She can't patrol," Oz stated with finality that was startling, but then Willow observed that Oz was hovering over Buffy, standing guard almost like the smallest breeze would harm Buffy. Could it be that Buffy lost her Slayer powers during the change?
"I u - understand that changes are distracting," Giles said, while ripping his glasses off and cleaning them with vengeance. The librarian/Watcher was clearly frustrated by what was happening, if the creasing of his forehead was any indication. "But you are still the Slayer."
"She is sensitive to pain," Oz said flatly. "She was having trouble with the human bullies, and if she is sent out, she will die."
Oz slated an apologetic look to Buffy, who just nodded solemnly back at Oz. Buffy nodded, "It's true," she confirmed Oz's words, then she turned back to Giles. "When I hit that guy … I … it felt like my knuckle bone fractured, and for brief moment, I couldn't move because it hurt so much and my eyes went blurry ...and..." While Buffy was telling her experience to Giles, the Watcher reached forward and flicked her forehead.
"Ouch Giles!" Buffy immediately put her small palm over the spot while she teared up.
"What's wrong with you? That wasn't cool, man," Oz chided Giles, who looked chagrined but also worried about Buffy.
"That hurt?" Giles asked while he stepped back.
"Yes!" Buffy was now rubbing her forehead and blinking furiously so that the tears would not fall. That had truly done it – until they found a solution, Buffy couldn't come near any situations that had the potential to require her to fight. "It felt like you'd slapped me!" Buffy exclaimed; her voice shook slightly, like she could not believe that just happened. "I'm terribly sorry." Giles apologized, while furiously whipping his glasses.
"She cannot go on patrol, Rupert, she'll get killed," Miss Calendar said, frowning in concern.
"Miss Calendar," Buffy drew Miss Calendar's attention to herself "how did Angel lose his soul or is my new liability ...well new?"
A valid point, because if Buffy was supposedly so sensitive to pain before, Angel could not have lost his soul in the same way he did.
"He felt accepted and loved by you that was the true reason," Miss Calendar stated.
So no sex?
"He felt loved, trusted, and accepted by me – and he and I shared an intimate moment," Buffy said matter of fact and that was the clinch that cost Angel his soul.
"Oh, well … about that, I umm, made a program that translates lost Romani language," Miss Calendar said, hesitantly looking from Buffy to Giles.
"You are looking for a Soul Restoration Spell?" Giles asked, and there was caution in his voice, why? Was this some type of thing where magic had a fine print where there it said the cost or something? But then again Giles was always, heh, watchful of magic. Curtsy of being burned when he was a teen himself?
Miss Calendar nodded. "Aahh yes."
"Miss Calendar, stay with Giles and do not go out after nightfall," Buffy said, while tapping the cover of the book. Willow nodded; it was sensible – as Miss Jenny was now a target.
"That is all right," Miss Calendar smiled at Buffy, "no one knows that I'm from the Kalderash tribe and"
"Miss Calendar," Buffy interrupted her again, though her voice was even and kind, "Drusilla is a seer; she might already have had a vision that you are able to do the restoration spell." There was still the problem of patrolling Sunnydale for baddies of the night.
"That is OK – I'll take patrol." Xander raised his hand from his place on the floor, where he was poking the unconscious principal, again.
Giles clucked his tongue. "Xander, it is not your duty to...."
"Neither is it Buffy's. She died once so technically she is done with that duty," Willow said matter of fact. "Besides, the way you use this word is incorrect. Duty implies choice – Buffy had none. She did not chose to be a slayer; she is not bound by oath to use her powers."
Buffy nodded. "C'est correct."
Giles turned toward Buffy, his eyes wide in astonishment. "Buffy – since when do you speak French?"
"Since I woke up this morning …. and I also speak German, Italian, and Japanese, oh and Arabic. Oh and Greek – also apparently Occitan and Monégasque, whatever that is," Buffy listed but ended with a frustrated huff accompanied by throwing her arms into the air and sitting heavily on the chair with a small pout. Mr. Giles then turned around and brought out a couple of books and then put them before Buffy to read in the language they were written in out loud and then summarize what she had read.
"So we, for some reason" Cordelia waved at them all "went totally blonde and learned another language?"
"It would appear so," Mr Giles said while looking over Buffy translating the Latin text into Greek.
"Not to rain on anyone's parade," Buffy looked up from her texts, "Willow can you check if our subjects changed – before I left for school today, my mom – who totally didn't notice anything different than usual" Buffy ignored Cordelia's muttering that Joyce Summers never sees anything amiss in general, "Mom,said that since I passed French I applied for Spanish, I believe that the new teacher Miss Greenaway is teaching that class."
Willow was already accessing their time tables. "You are right. Xander, you have added to your usual classes Advanced Chemistry, along with Biomolecular Engineering."
"What!" Xander went and peered over her shoulder. "No way – oh hey I do very well in those. Except for the fact that I have never been – or did we even have these subjects before?"
The answer to that question was no. Except for Spanish, none of the other subjects were there. She knew that for a fact. Because only yesterday she was thinking that it'd be beneficial if she'd taken Spanish.
"Moving on," Willow said, while typing on the keyboard, "well I have Vehicle engineering and Metallurgy and Law Studies." She leaned back in her chair. "Now those I know we did not have here before." Then she went back to the screen, scrolling up and down. "Cordy, you also have Law Studies with me, and Molecular engineering, something you have with Oz. Oz you have Ecological engineering, Culinary. OK, apparently you are into ecology and cooking – nice combo there. Buffy you have, along with Spanish , Sociology class and Ethnology and Anthropology," then she pressed couple of keys, "and you have two more classes - Folklore Studies and The Arts."
Buffy frowned. "That is a bit much isn't it? With the regular classes?" she looked at Willow, questioning.
Willow could see Buffy's dilemma to that particular problem. But Buffy had string of 'A's trough out all of her subjects. "That is just it; apparently you passed most of them already." she reassured her. It was true anyway.
"What? How and when?" Then Buffy paused, in thought. "How did I do?" Buffy asked in a small thin voice.
"Well you are apparently a brainy girl now. You passed my scores .. or my old scores." Willow smiled at her best friend. It was good, Willow decided – it meant that she and Buffy had more in common now. Not that Buffy was stupid before – it was just, Willow supposed that with the whole Slayer thingy hanging over Buffy's head, trying to keep it hidden from her mom, and living it up in the Bronze, Buffy had precious little time to devote herself to studying.
"Oh," Buffy breathed; she looked a bit overwhelmed. Not that Willow blamed her – they were all overwhelmed by the changes forced upon them. Then Willow's eyes winded in alarm.
"Uhuh," Willow muttered. "Big problem guys, we are going to be late to our classes" the new ones that is, normally they'd have more time. Her fingers flew over the keyboard in a hurry. "I'm printing our timetables and maps so that you'll know where the class is located, and we will meet before school. Oz, will you take Buffy home after class?" She took charge without a moment of hesitation, a new part of Willow thought – the part that was a jittery mess Willow shoved into a corner and ignored for the time being. At Oz's affirmative nod, Willow continued,
"Take the timetables with your names on it and – Miss Calendar, Mr Giles sign forms saying that you held us, so that we won't get detentions today for being late."
She quickly handed over the new time tables and notice forms. Her fellow blondes quickly moved to Giles and Miss Calendar for them to sign the notices. As Willow was standing and logging off to do the same, she noticed that an online School Notice Board had a new article. Flagging it for a later read, she finally logged off and hurried to her new and improved school schedule.
***Rosenberg Residence -after school***
Willow was packing clothes, a tooth brush, her unfinished homework into an overnight bag; she and Oz would be staying at Summers' house tonight. Both as guards and for a planning session; after all, the FBI would be coming tomorrow – she looked at the computer screen again.
'Mrs & Mr. Kendall came home to find their teenage daughter Harmony Kendall missing and their house in disarray. A missing report was filed by the concerned parents and they called on Sunnydale PD Detective P. Stein, who is leading the investigation, to call the FBI for help. Quantico BAU team will be landing at the Army base Airport tomorrow. Our prayers are with the missing teen Harmony Kendall.'
The news hadn't changed – nor would it no matter how many time she reread it. She wasn't able to reach Xander and Cordy, as they were on patrol, but she knew that Xander would insist that after patrol they should pop up at Buffy's place to cheek on all of them.