In the light of day, the situation was exactly the same as it had been last night and Xander felt something give inside him as he realised that. There'd been a part - no matter how small - of him that had expected to go to sleep last night and wake up back in his ratty bed at home to the sounds of his parents snoring with everything the way it had been before. In short, he'd expected it all to be one long nightmare he'd had.
He'd be so lucky.
The best part had to be the memories though. Oh the joys of having your own personal Sith Lord in your head. He now knew oh so many ways to break a prisoner's will and get them to confess anything and everything they knew. The memories of the torture, maiming, killing, conquering, and other assorted Sithly activities were going to be nighmare fodder for months, he knew.
Showering that morning proved to be an educational experience. He had to admit that if he saw a woman in the street with a body like this he'd think she was hot. He'd kept what seemed to be all of his height at a guess but the proportions had changed to become more feminine, so he now had one of the longest pairs of legs he'd ever seen. He appeared to have lost a lot of weight too - he certainly felt a lot lighter - but thankfully he still appeared to have enough muscle tone that he wouldn't be one of those weakling girls who needed a man to do their lifting for them. That would have driven him nuts. Weaker, yes, but not a complete weakling.
He refused to think about the breasts or genitals. That was just too disturbing. It's suffice to say that their size and shape were proportional to his height and new gender and that was about all he could think about it without freaking.
If he hadn't been convinced before, looking in the bathroom mirror would have certainly done that. There was very little Xander left in those features. Probably a good thing considering that he didn't exactly look feminine before but it was still more than a touch weird to look in the mirror and see a face that was more video-game character than Xander. His hair was still relatively short but well within normal female bounds to his untrained eye - doubtlessly Buffy and Cordelia would find it appalling. His eyes were unchanged but the high cheek boned, aristocratic set to his facial features looked about as much like a female member of the Harris clan as the average bulldog. Actually the bulldog was probably closer considering how butt-ugly some of his relatives were.
He couldn't hold back a smirk at that thought. Now there was a thumb in the eye to his foul family if there'd ever been one.
It was when he pulled on his clothes from the night before that he realised the problem. The shirt was like a tent on him and it had been one of his closer fitting shirts before! Shoulders far too broad, general size far too large - it was no good to him, he could fit two of his new self in it! The trousers were if anything worse. Waist too wide, hips too narrow, legs too wide, legs too damn short - they were the worst fitting trousers he'd ever worn and that was saying something. At least the boxers were still comfortable. Right now the only vaguely suitable clothing he had was Revan's robe and mask which he didn't want to wear on general principles. Damn thing was way creepy looking to him now.
He sighed. So undignified to be seen in such ill-fitting clothes! And then he snorted. Where the Hell had that thought come from? Xander Harris and dignified were not concepts that meshed. They were not concepts that he ever wanted to mesh. Being dignified would take all of the joy out of life. Amongst other horrible things it would mean no more gulping back twinkies in one bite!
With a shake of his head he turned and left the bathroom.
"How are you this morning, Xander?" asked Giles, looking up from the newspaper he was reading.
"I've been better, Giles," said Xander dryly. "But I'm dealing."
"I have to say you're dealing with this much better than I would have expected. Most men would be screaming bloody murder," said Giles. "I know I would be."
"I think some of Revan's personality was left behind. That's probably helping - it goes without saying that she was somewhat better equipped to dealing with being female than I am," said Xander while making himself a bowl of cereal for breakfast. "Actually we should look into that. If Buffy's got that useless noble-woman hanging around in her head we might have a problem."
"You raise a good point. That will have to be added to the list of things I need to look into. It's almost a shame that Ethan's dead, he could have been most helpful after some persuasion," said Giles.
"Hmm. I extracted quite a lot of information from Ethan's mind last night. If you give me a pen and some paper, I'll provide all the details of the ritual he used down to the daubings on his face," said Xander.
"That . . . that would be exceedingly helpful, Xander. It also raises another question I feel I must ask you: How are you dealing with the actions your body took while it was under the control of the spell?"
Xander shrugged. "I'm fine. Other than Ethan, I just killed a whole lot of demon scum. And Ethan really did deserve what he got. Just look in that newspaper you've got. I bet you there was a whole lot of death and destruction last night and it was all the fault of that childish fool. The fact that he died at the hands of his own creation is nothing more than poetic justice as far as I'm concerned. At least with Eyghon it was only a threat to those foolish enough to partake in your group's little games."
Giles went very, very pale as Xander spoke. "You . . . you know about Eyghon?"
Xander rolled his eyes. "Giles, I know pretty much everything on down to what size clothes the man wore. He had all the willpower and mental strength of the average chipmunk. Actually know some pretty interesting stuff now if I was ever inclined to play with dark magic. That little ritual combined with a superman costume would make our job so much easier," speculated Xander idly. "Or just imagine what Buffy could do after a Batman possession."
"Xander! Those sort of forces are not things to be played with lightly. There are consequences to using chaos magic!"
"I know, Giles," said Xander with a lop-sided grin on his face. "I was just playing with you. That sort of stuff is way too close to the Dark Side of the Force for my tastes."
Giles rolled his eyes. "Americans! I have work to do but I believe that Buffy and Willow will be stopping by after school to take you shopping."
Xander grimaced at the thought of that. Clothes shopping! Nightmare!
"Yes, indeed," said Giles at Xander's expression. "You have my complete sympathy. As an aside, do you have any money?"
Xander waved his hand dismissively. "I have a fair amount put aside. This seems as good a reason as any to spend it." The idea of a road trip didn't really appeal as much as it had done before anyway. Seeing the country was a whole lot less interesting looking when you've seen the sights an entire galaxy has to offer.
"Well, if you need any help you know who to ask."
"I appreciate it, Giles. I really do."
Xander whiled away the rest of the morning by browsing through several of the books Giles had on demonology. When he stopped to think about it at dinnertime it was a source of wonder to him that he'd never been interested in learning about this stuff before. Revan was the sort of person who would consider reading through an entire library an excellent use of time and that thirst for knowledge had been passed down into him after the possession.
If he'd stopped to think about that, he would perhaps have worried about how strong Revan's influence was on him, but Xander had never been one to overthink a situation and no amount of possessions would alter that aspect of his personality. He took things at face value and dealt with them as such. For example, he hated vampires and Angel was a vampire, so he hated him. No need to think on it further than that in his mind.
But by lunchtime he was getting a bit antsy. New thirst for knowledge or not, Xander was not the sort of person who could spend an entire day sitting on his backside reading. He wanted to be up and about doing stuff. He needed to be up and about doing stuff. It was part of the reason he did so poorly in school. Casting his mind about for something to do, he came upon sneaking into his parents home and retrieving some of his belongings. He'd never been wealthy in terms of material possessions but there were some things he would want to keep: his comic book collection for one.
With that decided he had to come up with a plan for entering his room unseen. That was easy enough. Climb up the tree in the back garden, shimmy onto the porch roof, and open the unlocked bedroom window. Easy. The lack of a functioning lock on his window had been a godsend when he was a kid, making it easy to escape to Willow's when things got really bad, and it was going to come in handy again now. God bless lazy, uncaring parents. Or something. Good thing that nearly all the normal crooks in this town get eaten before they can do anything, he supposed.
Now he had a plan on getting in, he needed a plan for getting his stuff out. Getting out boxes of belongings while climbing would have been highly difficult before but his muscle mass had been significantly lowered when his body took on a female form. Thumbing through his new, and highly useful memories, he remembered that females generally had something in the area of a third less muscle mass than men. Not of the good in this town but there nothing he could do about it. So he needed an accomplice. Willow would be no good for a spot of breaking and entering and Giles would be way too stuffy for it now that he'd dropped his Ripper persona. That left Buffy. She'd be good for it. It's not like she would really have to do anything - just grab the boxes and get them safely to the ground - and it wasn't really illegal to steal his own stuff.
That settled, he just needed to get to school and track down Buffy. Not difficult but he'd probably be best off minimising encounters with other people just in case and he needed encounters with Cordelia and her sheep like he needed a hole in the head right now.
It proved to be rather easy to find Buffy and avoid encountering other people, even with his now far too large shoes flapping around like they belonged on a clown. Slipping from shadow to shadow and avoiding passers by seemed to be ingrained skills in him now and the few people that walked by a bit too close for comfort seemed to miss his presence entirely even if his heart was beating its way out of his chest at the time. All he'd had to was wait for Willow and the boy he didn't recognise - who he got a very strange vibe off - to leave for classes and he'd pulled Buffy into the corner he was skulking in.
It proved to be more difficult to persuade Buffy to join him than anything else.
"Nuh-uh. No way. Being expelled for burning down a gym was bad enough, I am not breaking into a house," she'd said with her arms folded across her chest.
"Please? Come on, it won't be that bad. It's not really stealing if it's my stuff we're taking, is it?"
"Somehow I don't the police or my mom would see it your way. No."
He gave her the best puppy dog eyes he could manage. With his new female face they were utterly devastating. "Please? For me?"
"This is so not a good idea."
"I'll buy you coffee and doughnuts. I'll even let you pick out my new shoes tonight."
"Deal. But if we get caught this is all your fault."
"You won't regret this, Buffy, I promise."
"I cannot believe that he believed that story you fed him," said Buffy looking like she was about ready to collapse as they dumped the boxes of his stuff in his room at Giles'.
Xander shrugged. "Sunnydale police, about as good at what they do as Redshirts. Never thought it would come in useful for me but I'm not complaining. No normal police officer would have believed that I'd just forgotten my keys when we had boxes full of stuff in our arms."
"Right. Well forgive me if I never, ever go along with one of your mad plans ever again, Xander."
"Well, you're no fun at all."
"Right. I've got to be getting back to class. No more quality police-dodging time for me."
"I'll see you after school then."
Never again. Never, ever again. Xander was never, ever going to enter a clothes shop with Buffy Summers ever again if he could humanly prevent it. Nothing in Revan's memories had prepared him for the sheer obsession the former cheerleader had for clothes and shoes and accessories and everything else that goes with. He sure as Hell hadn't acquired such an appetite for clothes and the shopping for them when he managed to swap genders.
He'd found the entire experience to be utterly baffling. The obsession Buffy had with creating matching outfits with the right shoes and handbags had left him completely stymied. Shoes were shoes in his mind, it wasn't like anyone would ever actually look at your feet, was it? He could testify himself that the last thing on a male's mind when they saw a woman was what sort of shoes they were wearing. Handbags too. Well at least he'd managed to talk her into only picking out shoes with reasonable heels. High heels would have resulted in him humiliating himself for certain and they looked damn uncomfortable anyway.
The clothes themselves did not appeal either. He'd managed to stop the worst of them from being bought - he loved the short skirts on Buffy but on himself, no chance - but the idea of wearing skirts and dresses did not fill him with joy. Everything about his posture and body language would have to change or he'd be flashing the world. He couldn't even rely on Revan's memories and instincts with that because she'd always worn robes of some description and been as utterly uncomfortable in this sort of clothing as he felt. He really did long for the days when he could wear jeans and a shirt and be done with it.
And that led him up to now where he was stood in front of a mirror in a knee-length skirt and blouse combination that was far more feminine than he was comfortable with. Too damn tight and restricting too. Buffy assured him he looked wonderful and Willow was giving him a supportive smile whenever he looked her way but he'd be damned if he felt right in this getup. The underwear was bloody uncomfortable too. He missed his boxers.
"Buffy, I do not like this at all," he pleaded. "Why can't I wear something less . . . feminine? You know, trousers?"
"Xander, you're a girl now. Feminine is no longer bad," replied Buffy absent-mindedly. "Now how about some lipstick? What do you think, Willow?"
"NO!" said Xander forcefully. "No. No. No. No way in Hell. That's a step too far, Buffy. I'm still a male inside. Lipstick is going too far. You'll get that stuff on me over my cold, dead body."
"You're no fun," she pouted. "You'd look stunning."
"I don't want to look stunning. Don't you get it? This is all wrong. I know you think I'm like one of the girls already but this is way wrong. Way, way wrong. Come on, Willow, back me up already. Xander is male. That is the way things are supposed to be. Not this."
"He's right, Buffy, and you're beginning to really scare him. Her. Is it her now? I'm not sure. He sure looks like a her to me now but Xander and being a her don't really go together."
"That's why we need to give him a new name," said Buffy immediately but before she could say more Xander cut her off.
"I can't be called Xander anymore but I've already sorted a new name out with Giles. I'm going to be posing as his niece and my name will be Rachel Giles."
And thank God for that. Imagine what someone called Buffy could come up with for names?
"That's great, Xan - Rachel," said Willow. "It'll help you get used to being a girl if you get used to answering to a girl's name."
"Doesn't having all those memories help you get used to being a girl, Xander?" asked Buffy with an expression of honest confusion on her face. "My memories have got me passing French so why don't yours help you?"
"Revan doesn't remember anything other than being a Jedi or a Sith. The Jedi are a monastic order and the Sith aren't really interested in things like attracting a boyfriend. She never, ever wore anything other than robes. For a Jedi the only difference between being a male or female is in the cut of the robes and which dormitory you get assigned to as a youngling. So no they don't really help. "
"Well, we'll have to teach you all about it then," said Buffy brightly.
Xander had never felt so awkward as he did now playing pool in the Bronze. Every time he leaned over the table he felt like every eye in the place was on him. He'd have been utterly horrified if he'd realised that he wasn't far off the truth. Hot new girl bending over? Score! Teenage males are after all utterly predictable creatures when it comes to such things. She was new and she was attractive and she was in a position that showed her, ahem, assets off, so she attracted a ridiculous amount of attention.
"Rachel, you might want to find something else to do," whispered Willow in his ear. "You're attracting a lot of attention."
At that point Xander almost leapt away from the table. "That's it I'm going home!" he said. "I give up."
And if Willow hadn't grabbed his arm and Buffy hadn't shown up at that exact moment he would have. This was about as much fun as having a lightsabre shoved through his gut by your best friend.
"Ford! You made it," said Buffy happily.
"Wasn't hard to find," replied Ford.
"Buffy, Ford was just telling us about the ninth grade beauty contest, and the, uh, swimsuit competition," said Willow as she kept a firm but discreet grip on Xander's arm.
"Oh, my God, Ford, stop that! The more people you tell, the more people I have to kill," said Buffy, half embarrassed, half joking.
"You can't touch me, Summers. I know all your darkest secrets."
"Wanna make a bet on that?" quipped Xander instinctively. Ah it was good to know that the quips were still there ready to be used and hadn't been leeched out by Revan's boringness.
"I'm gonna go get a drink. Ford, try not to talk."
As Buffy wandered over to the bar, Xander took a moment to look at Ford. He looked normal enough, but there was something about him, something indescribable, that set his teeth on edge. He frowned slightly but then dismissed it as unimportant. "Wilow, why don't you play Ford now?"
Xander slumped down in the nearest chair and cast an eagle eye over the club. Most people were paying him no heed. A few boys were stealing glances - yuck - but mostly he was being ignored. One thing that puzzled him was the strange, speculative look that Cordelia was shooting him. He didn't think she knew anything so why was she looked over at him? She wasn't going to try and recruit him into her little gang was she? He had to forcibly restrain the shudder that he threatened to break out in at that thought.
He saw Buffy talking to Angel at the bar and managed to fire off a comment about Angel being her special friend but his heart wasn't in it. It just didn't feel right anymore. How could he still be attracted to Buffy and slightly jealous of Angel now? It was even more pointless than before. Buffy was no lesbian and in all honesty there was no way to know if he was in this body so soon. When he got comfortable as he was, would he find himself attracted to males? Would he really start thinking of himself as a she?
The only conclusion he could come to was that this truly, more than anything sucked ass. Most people get maimed or killed or turned on the Hellmouth, but not him. Oh no. He got turned into a freaking girl. He just had to find something unique to happen to himself, didn't he?
Xander went through the rest of the night on auto-pilot and paid no attention to the world around him as he walked home. His mind was so firmly focused on the mess he was in that he almost didn't notice the vampire that jumped out in front of him till it was too late. As it was the vampire's punch clipped him on the side and staggered him backwards. Before he could move to retaliate it attacked again, hitting him with a punch that sent him crashing to the floor.
The two attacks left Xander dazed but he knew without a shadow of the doubt that if he went down and stayed down, he was dead. With a supreme effort of will he turned the fall into a roll and sprang back up onto his feet and wiped the blood away from his eyes with the back of his hand. It was times like this he really missed having access to the Force and being able to just blast these things with enough lightning to reduce them to a pile of ash on the floor.
The vampire immediately rushed at Xander with all its supernatural speed and began to attack in earnest, throwing a furious series of lefts and rights that Xander could in no way block or avoid, at least not entirely. Within the minute, Xander was on the floor bleeding from a split lip as well as the cut he'd already had just above his eye, and he was battered to a point where it took all of his strength to hold on to his consciousness.
It was at this point that something else took over. Instinct, perhaps. He could never tell. Whatever it was, Xander was on auto-pilot now. He rolled to the side and sprang to his feet before the vampire could descend upon him and begin to feed. And then he attacked. He lashed out with a low kick to the vampire's left thigh that would have deadened the muscles there if it wasn't already dead before following with up with a roundhouse kick that snapped the creature's head to the side before landing a hard punch to the gut that knocked the creature off-balance and down onto his backside.
Xander then sidestepped towards the nearest tree and snapped a branch off to use as a stake. The now enraged vampire charged at him and a quick thrust dusted it. He stood there for a few minutes as his breathing returned to normal before what had just happened hit him. "Holy shit," he said. "How the Hell did I do that?"
"GILES!" he yelled as soon as he'd let himself back into the apartment. "GILES!"
"What on Earth are you making that infernal racket for?" said an unamused looking Giles from where he was sat on the other side of the room. "I'm sat all of ten metres away from you, for Heaven's sake! And what happened to your face!"
"Giles, I just got jumped by a vampire. It had me dead to rights, no way out, and then I just . . . I don't know. It was like something else took over, and I kicked its ass. Hard."
"Oh. Oh my. Combine this with the other things that you have told me and it looks as if your possessing spirit is even stronger in you than we believed."
Xander slumped down into the chair. "No surprise there. I have breasts. Kindof a good clue that somethings up."
"Indeed. I'm afraid that all indications are that this spell effect will be . . . permanent."
"Yeah, I'd guessed that. It sure doesn't feel temporary. I am thoroughly emasculated. Suppose it's time to give up and start thinking of myself as a she, as Rachel."
"I am sorry, Xander. If it's any consolation I believe you are dealing with this rather well."
"Please, call me Rachel."
She groaned as the alarm woke her up the next day. Back to school. Yay. She would have preferred to skip it, but Giles had insisted. Should have expected it from a librarian really.
"If you don't get up soon you won't have time for breakfast," came the rather amused sounding voice of Giles as Rachel struggled to work her way to wakefulness.
"Ugh. He's enjoying this far too much," muttered Rachel as she crawled out of bed and began to pull together clothes for the day ahead.
"Rachel Giles, niece of Rupert, sophomore. Formerly of England. Welcome to Sunnydale High. Your records seem innocent enough, too innocent if you ask me, but I'll be keeping an eye on you. Keep yourself in line and out of trouble and we'll both be happy. Turn out to be like the other brats here and there'll be consequences. This isn't a school for troublemakers. I expect your uncle will have told you what's expected of you."
"Yes, sir," said Rachel crisply. She didn't have the energy or the inclination to deal with the troll this early in the morning. She really didn't. Keeping up an English sounding accent was taking enough of her very limited reserves of morning energy.
"Pick up your timetable from the receptionist," said Snyder before turning away from her and putting her file back in the cabinet. At this clear dismissal she turned and marched out of the office. It was nice to see that Snyder hated everyone equally and not just everyone associated with Buffy Summers.
After picking up her new timetable - which surprisingly enough was exactly the same as his old one - she met up with the aforementioned Buffy Summers and Willow Rosenberg and headed to class with her.
Willow had been on edge all day so it was no surprise to Rachel that she was pulled aside at the end of the day. It did come as somewhat of a surprise that she'd managed to keep a secret from Buffy - Willow was the worst liar on the face of the Earth, easily - and even more surprising that Angel had been Willow's room. That was mildly disturbing actually. Soul or not he was still a vampire and inviting a vampire into your home is a dangerous thing to do, especially when you have no chance of subduing them. She didn't bother to say anything though. Willow's a romantic and she bought whole-heartedly into the tortured soul bullshit that was Angel so it would have accomplished nothing other than to cause friction between them.
The information about Ford, though, made the Angel thing look pretty minor by comparison. Buffy believed in Ford - she trusted him completely - and there was no way she'd believe he was up to no good unless they rubbed her nose in it and probably not even then until they were neck deep in trouble. If only she had HK-47 at her disposal. This boy would cease to be a problem very quickly if she did. Killing him herself was too much of a gamble, too much chance of being caught, and without Force powers it would be even more risky.
So that was why she found herself at this pathetic club full of vampire wannabes who were completely devoid of any redeeming features or worth as human beings as far as she could tell. They'd all been reading too many bullshit fantasy novels if they truly believed that vampires were the angsty, non-evil creatures they seemed to believe they were. Had none of them read any of the real vampire literature from before the time when perverse modern attitudes had corrupted the mythology? Lonely ones indeed! They were only lonely because they tended to kill everyone around them!
" So many people have that misconception. But they who walk with the night are not interested in harming anyone. They are creatures above us. Exalted!"
"I think being around so many stupid people is having an averse effect on my IQ," she said imperiously.
"You're a fool," said Angel bluntly while looking the blonde girl directly in the eye.
"You don't have to be so confrontational about it. Other viewpoints than yours may be valid, you know," said the girl before flouncing away in a huff.
"Pathetic," said Rachel. "What's next? People who watch Star Wars and think that the Sith are poor, misunderstood creatures who aren't really evil? These people need to read some real vampire literature not the rubbish that gets pumped out nowadays."
"For once I completely agree with you," said Angel.
"Now nobody's gonna talk to us," said Willow with a frown.
"A truly devastating loss, I'm sure," said Rachel.
"I've seen enough. I've seen this type before. I mean, they're children making up bedtime stories of friendly vampires to comfort themselves in the dark," replied Angel.
"Is that so bad? I mean, the dark can get pretty dark. Sometimes you need a story," said Willow.
"These people don't know anything about vampires. What they are, how they live, how they dress..."
One of the idiots walked past in the exact same outfit as Angel. Rachel could not hold back the laughter that welled up inside her at that and Angel had the decency to look sheepish.
"I think we have enough now to prove that Ford, supposed bestest bud of the Slayer, isn't what he wants to make us think he is," said Rachel. "I vote we run him out of town immediately."
"Somethings up with him but I think we should give him a chance to explain," said Willow. "He's known Buffy a long time he's at least earned that."
Rachel rolled her eyes. Typical, soft-hearted Willow. She was too nice for her own good sometimes.
Buffy did not look happy when she ran into Rachel and Willow the next day. Her resentment was strong enough that it was practically tangible but it was only to be expected. She would not want to believe that Ford would betray her and so she resented those who found the evidence of the betrayal. To her credit she did not show and the resentment soon faded to be replaced by a slow-burning anger that would serve her well if the situation turned nasty.
The school day mostly passed without event till Rachel's free period after lunch. She was heading for the library when a surprisingly strong female hand grabbed her arm and yanked her into a nearby closet. Even more surprising was that it was Cordelia doing the dragging.
"What on Earth are you playing at?" demanded Rachel immediately.
"I wanted to know what the Hell you were playing at, geek. I never had you down as a cross-dresser. An idiot, yes, but not that."
"Charmed, I'm sure. Now I'll just be leaving."
"Don't you turn your back on me, Xander Harris! You will tell me what's going on and you will tell me right this minute!"
"So what makes you think I'm this 'Xander Harris' then?" drawled Rachel. "Last I checked I didn't look much like a guy."
"Oh give me a break. Xander Harris disappears and his friends don't seem even vaguely freaked? If you were really missing, Rosenberg would be unbearable. And slotting straight back into your little group gave it away completely. Give me some credit."
Rachel had to smile at that. "You're smarter than you let on. You are correct: I am Alexander Harris or at least I was before Halloween. I think you can probably guess what happened."
"Freaky magic turned you into a girl? I almost feel sorry for you."
"My heart is warmed by your concern," snapped Rachel. "Now if you'll excuse me I have things to do."
Rachel didn't even notice the slightly hurt look on Cordelia's face as she stomped away. Old habits were, after all, hard to break, and there are few habits older than the instinct to snipe at each other for those two.
Rachel did not like Buffy's plan for dealing with the Ford situation. Actually calling it a plan was being generous in her mind. The only way the trap could be more obvious would be if there was a giant, blinking neon sign above the door saying, "TRAP HERE!" But Giles insisted that Buffy knew what she was doing - which did not comfort her one bit when she remembered Buffy's brilliant plan for dealing with The Master - and Willow and Angel seemed inclined to go along with it too so she was well and truly outvoted.
The old Xander style plan of following her into battle with a stake in hand didn't appeal much either. Buffy might be stupid enough to wander into a trap this obvious but she most certainly was not and she didn't fancy her chances of making a great deal of difference against the great mob of vampires that would show if they thought they had a shot at the slayer.
So that was why she found herself waiting with the others near the vampire wannabe club as they waited to see if Buffy was going to get out of this mess with her hide still intact. For all that she blundered into horrendous situations, Rachel had her money on Buffy surviving. She'd taken out a hell of a lot of vampires in the past and from what she'd seen only a Master level vamp would really have a chance against a Buffy that was fighting all out and even then it was even odds at best. She did have a feeling that there were an awful lot of vamps in there though.
And then the doors to the club swang open and a mass of very scared looking idiots came tumbling out, running for their miserable lives. It was all she could do not to laugh. Now they knew the truth of vampirism. No more nonsense about the good for nothing demonic scum being exalted coming from them, she imagined. The way they were running like the devil himself was on their tail certainly suggested that they wouldn't be seeking out vampires again any time soon anyway.
Then Buffy came out and slammed the massive door shut. They immediately set to joining her and she turned to face them as they approached. "You guys are just in time," she said.
"Are there vampires?" asked Willow.
"They're contained. They'll get out eventually, though. We should probably go. We can come back when they're gone."
"I vote we torch the building," said Rachel. "That way we'll kill off a whole mess of vampires with very little risk to ourselves."
"They're sealed in the basement and it used to be a bomb shelter. A fire won't reach them and they won't be affected by the smoke. It would be pointless," responded Buffy immediately. "And I don't fancy having to dodge any more police thanks to your mad plans."
Rachel shrugged innocently as Giles and Willow turned fearsome glares on her. "Just a thought."
"Why would you want to come back?" asked Angel.
"For the body," said Buffy with a little-girl-lost look in her eyes that made Rachel's heart ache to see. Her romantic feelings for Buffy had been on the wane for a while now but she still hated to see her hurt just like she got caveman protective of Willow if anyone bugged her.
When they returned to the apartment that night after spending some time attempting to comfort Buffy, Giles had a thoughtful look on his face. "So how are you dealing with your situation now, Rachel?"
"Still getting used to being Rachel. I've managed to start thinking of myself as Rachel rather than Xander but I still feel weird at times. This body just feels . . . wrong somehow. And I haven't really had time to run into problems yet."
"That's excellent. If you have need of anything, just ask, though you may be better talking to Willow or Buffy when it comes to feminine issues. Perhaps Ms. Calender if you need an adult to talk to."
"I'll keep that in mind, Giles."