Giles hung up the phone with slightly more force than strictly necessary and through an exercise of sheer will kept from throwing
it at the wall. As was a recurrant theme in his life, the Council was displeased.
"We haven't had a problem like this in twenty years, Rupert, and we thought you were competent enough to take care of it!"
The sharp rebuke was still ringing in his ears, and his swallowed reply was burning his tongue.
Bloody idiots. You've never had a problem like this.
"Giles?" He looked up and saw Willow peeking around the doorframe, worrying at the hem of her skirt. "Angel's back with
"The hospital was too well-guarded," Angel said apologetically as he plugged the device in. "I had to break into a vet's
office. I think this is usually used for looking at puppies."
"Kinda appropriate," Willow said with a tired smile. "But don't tell Buffy."
A harsh hooting laugh came from the cage at the far end of the room. They all deliberately didn't look at it. "Buf-fy...Buf-fy...hahahahoohoo..."
Angel hit the power button harder than it really needed. Ms. Calendar frowned at him, but considering his own treatment of
the telephone, Giles kept silent.
The only benefit he felt had come out of this whole imbroglio was the discovery of the strength, capability, and arcane knowledge
present in the school's computer teacher. She'd been a godsend (goddess-send?) ever since the trouble started, but now he
truly didn't know where they'd be without her, since the week before when she'd gone with Angel down into the Master's cave
and breathed life back into Buffy...
"Let's get moving." The door slammed shut behind the Slayer. She wore a hooded sweatshirt over black stretch pants and looked
supremely irritated. "I have to be home in an hour to finish packing for LA and try to get a little sleep before my
dad picks me up tomorrow." She tugged off the sweatshirt and flopped down on a table, easing the thin t-shirt she wore underneath
up off of her slightly swollen abdomen. "After all, I am sleeping for...an as yet undetermined number now."
Angel winced and began edging for the door. "I should go...I can do the patrol and stuff..."
"Girly parts make you squeamish, Angel?" Willow asked with a smirk.
"It just seems a little unchivalrous," the vampire muttered, still moving imperceptibly closer to the exit. "I mean, Buffy,
wouldn't you feel more comfortable with just the other women around?"
"What about Giles?" Jenny asked, a smile that matched Willow's tugging at her lips.
Angel's mouth moved helplessly but no sound came out. Giles gave him a level stare over the tops of his glasses.
"Go ahead and go, Angel," Buffy said from the table as Willow carefully spread ultrasound gel over her stomach. "But could
you throw another cow leg in the cage before you leave? This'll be a lot easier if I don't have the proud papa giggling at
me the whole time."
The thing that was Xander Harris hooted and flung himself against the bars.
Angel nodded, avoiding Buffy's eyes. "Sure, I'll get it. Bye. Have fun in LA."
Buffy snorted and stared up at the ceiling. "Yeah, right. At least it'll be easier to convince my dad than my mom that loose,
baggy clothes are in right now." She looked over at the monitor as Jenny moved the sensor over her skin. "Umm, that's cold...let's
see what we've got, Giles: one demon-hyena baby or a whole mess of 'em." The door slammed on Angel's hasty retreat.
"Definitely multiple heartbeats," Jenny said, staring at the screen. "Three...four..."
"I get seven." Willow's voice was stunned. "Seven."
"I, er, only make out five," Giles said, going for his handkerchief and glasses and polishing with a desperate intensity.
"Either way," Buffy said, staring at the flickering shapes growing inside of her, "I'm gonna have a litter."
"So it would seem." If the lenses were any more polished, they would cease to exist. He put the glasses back on.
"Well, at least they're probably strong and healthy, right?" Willow asked, wiping Buffy's stomach clean with a towel. "I
mean, that was the whole idea...alpha male and strongest female he could find, for strong, healthy babies?"
"But not smart babies, since the rest of their daddy's pack got hit by cars and I didn't clock him with a desk when
I had the chance," Buffy muttered.
"Besides, Willow, it hardly matters if they're strong and healthy, considering that they're demon puppies and will
almost certainly have to be destroyed." Giles felt his fingers twitching for his glasses again.
Buffy sat bolt upright and glared at him. "You're not going to destroy my babies!"
He braced himself for the recurrant ordeal that was trying to reason with her. "Buffy, the very fact that they're being born
en masse suggests that their demonic heritage will prevail-"
"She's right, Rupert," Jenny interjected firmly. "We can't just destroy them, not any more than we've been able to kill Xander."
"Yes, and that's an issue that needs resolution as well..." he said softly, then stopped at raised his hands at their matched
glares. "All right, all right, we won't fight about that right now."
Buffy glanced at the clock and sighed. "I gotta go. When would you guess I'm due, Giles?"
He put his hands in his pockets and rolled his eyes up to the ceiling. "Based on a standard hyena gestational period of five
months extended a month or so for the human effect...I'd say sometime in September."
"Great way to kick off the new school year," Buffy said, her mouth twisting bitterly. "Instead of buying a Homecoming dress,
I'll give birth to a litter of hyenas."
"You can still get a dress," Jenny said. "I mean, just think of the killer rack you're gonna have."
Buffy blinked. "What?"
They all stared at her. Jenny flushed. "Well, I mean...they're gonna have to eat, right?"
"Oh. My. God." Buffy's voice was absolutely flat. "I'm going to have to nurse them."
There was a moment of stunned silence. Hooting laughter came from the cage.
Buffy launched herself off the table and headed for the door, tugging her sweatshirt on over her head. "New mantra: I should've
let the world end, I should've let the world end..."