No lockers slamming shut. No bells ringing. No feet scuffling in the halls. No talking. It gave her time to concentrate.
She had no assignments to look over. No lesson plan to prepare. This time was for her and her alone. Research. Only the type she knew that Giles would warn her to stay away from.
She felt a little guilty for getting so much enjoyment out of this side project of hers. No one knew about it, because she was fairly sure none of them would understand.
At first, she’d felt morbid. Ms. Calendar was dead and Giles had been violated in a most cruel and hurtful way. She shouldn’t benefit from anyone else’s pain.
Yet. Ms. Calendar’s files were there, begging to be gone through. Initially, it was to ensure she was on track with the lesson plans, not wanting to stray from those. After all, Willow wasn’t really a teacher even if she knew more than the majority of the teachers about computers. So, to go beyond what Ms. Calendar had planned wasn’t to be done. Principal Snyder had made it clear what Willow was to do. Keep the class going until a suitable substitute, or permanent, replacement could be gotten.
She sensed it was going to be a while. Teachers just weren’t busting down the doors to come to Sunnydale High. With Dr. Gregory getting decapitated, Principal Flutie getting eaten, and Ms. Miller nearly getting suffocated last year and the death rate mounting this year it was no wonder. So, the longer it appeared she would be filling in, she decided going through her files was essential.
Willow wanted to tell someone, anyone, the stuff she found. Files of stuff that seemed as if it was meant for Willow to find, though she doubted that was the case. She’d never had a chance to talk to Ms. Calendar about her beliefs, though she’d wanted to. She just hadn’t gotten around to it, assuming she’d have tons of time. She was still coming to grips with the fact that there was a world out there that appealed to her as much as magic did. There was more to it than just spells, she was learning.
Spells and information. In depth things that the books she’d seen of Giles’ just didn’t offer. Or perhaps Willow just hadn’t known where to look or what to look for.
Here, it was spelled out.
She’d actually gone to the Sunnydale Public Library to check out some books on Wicca and witchcraft, not wanting Giles to see what she was reading. She hadn’t gotten too deep into those yet as there were more pressing matters at hand, but she read a little each night. She was raised Jewish, but the religion of her parents never moved her the way what she was reading about Wicca did. Reading and practicing were different things, she understood that, but she was curious enough to continue researching.
Oz would have understood and supported her and yet she said nothing even to him. For the time being Willow felt she had something that was exclusively hers. A piece of Ms. Calendar reserved solely for those like her. Willow wasn’t yet sure she was like Ms. Calendar, but the more she read and explored the more she was convinced that was the case.
She’d almost told Buffy. That’s what best friends did. Share their excitement with one another. Except she knew that talking about Ms. Calendar would only make Buffy think about Angel, not that her friend wasn’t thinking about Angel and ways to stop him twenty-four hours a day already. Willow didn’t want to add to it, though. Buffy would probably worry, wondering what exactly Willow was finding. Worrying about Willow would distract her from where her focus should be.
Willow didn’t want to be the cause of Buffy’s distraction. Distraction could lead to Buffy getting hurt or killed. Ms. Calendar’s death was bad enough, she wasn’t sure they’d survive Buffy dying again. Angel wouldn’t be there to lead Xander to where she was this time. He might even turn her; make her a vampire like he did Drusilla. That would be the ultimate evil, turning a Slayer.
Buffy hadn’t talked much about her brief time spent as a vampire last year during their nightmare worlds, but Willow knew she’d experienced the hunger for blood the same as any vampire did. Yet, she’d still wanted to do the right thing (for the good side), so Willow had no idea what she’d be like as an evil, soulless creature.
Tonight, she’d discovered more about Ms. Calendar’s family. At first, she’d bypassed that stuff, not wanting to be completely intrusive even if no one else knew. The more she got sucked in the more she wanted to know. When she started reading the more personal stuff she’d justified it as looking for information on Angel, how to stop him or what other surprises he may have in store for them. Ms. Calendar’s family had to know things about him beyond what she’d been able to tell them. She didn’t find much. Once he’d gotten his soul they’d stopped keeping track of his transgressions because there hadn’t been many.
Gypsies. How had they lived? Outcasts, living on the fringe. Moving place to place like nomads. And yet. That curse had forged a tie to Angel still strong one hundred years later because they’d known something important. Generations of a Klan keeping an eye on him, knowing he was as evil as they came. Wanting to keep the world safe. She could find no evidence they’d cursed any other vampire as they had Angel.
It was an incredible idea, Willow had to admit. If they could do it to all vampires, only without the ability for the soul to be taken away again it would be amazing. That was a thought for another time, though, as she saw no information on how they’d even gone about doing it the one time let alone several.
Why hadn’t they told Ms. Calendar?
Willow saw evidence they’d been in contact with her throughout her time in Sunnydale. They’d sent her here to keep an eye on him. It didn’t seem like her family was any less diligent about ensuring his soul remained intact today as they had been one hundred years ago.
So, why hadn’t they warned her?
Willow finished taking her notes for the night, shutting off Ms. Calendar’s computer. There was still more stuff for Willow to go through at Ms. Calendar’s apartment. Giles was going to pay the rent on it until he was told what to do with her stuff. She’d need Oz for that, though, to keep look out for her. That meant she’d have to tell him what she was doing and soon because Giles wouldn’t pay rent on an empty apartment forever.
She turned off the light, glancing at the empty classroom. Just a week ago, she was at her desk, listening to Harmony ask the most ridiculous questions. She smiled a little at that. She still asked the dumbest questions, but now it was Willow’s turn to answer them as if they were the most brilliant questions ever asked.
Here, in quiet moments like these, she could almost forget.
Almost. Not quite. She doubted she’d ever forget.
Losing Jesse, everything was so new and surreal that she hadn’t really had time to process all of it. Now, though, she knew and understood what was going on in Sunnydale. To that end, Willow knew that Ms. Calendar would not mind Willow’s intrusion into her computer and files. She’d want Angel stopped, too, and she’d want to be sure Giles and the rest of them were safe.
She hated to think it, but in a way Ms. Calendar’s family was responsible for what happened. Had she had the information, known that something might happen she would have told Buffy. Or Angel if she didn’t think Buffy would take a warning seriously.
Either way. Angel wouldn’t have lost his soul and Ms. Calendar would still be alive. Buffy would still have her boyfriend. The death toll wouldn’t be increasing at a pace that was making the police department look awfully inept.
Life would be normal.
“Was there ever really such a thing?” she whispered to no one.
Story ©Susan Falk/APCKRFAN/PhantomRoses.com