*peeks out from behind the curtain*
*runs behind the curtain only to get shoved back into the open*
Hello to everyone who just friended me, and, unh, my, there's a lot of you. Thank you. I just friended you all back.
I'm usually slightly more interactive as person than I have been in the past month (*kicks Africander fic*) but I'm cleaning the story as I go so I've actually been staring at word instead of being actually, unh, friendly. Apologies.
Please feel free to look around. I don't often lock posts (I think maybe five times in two years), so everything is pretty much open for inspection.
Well, you can bite, but only if I ask for it.
For the Scatterlings and Orphanages Africander Fiction Challenge by ludditerobot
For all previous parts, go here.
Continued from Part 25.
I grinned in anticipation. No doubt that I would be positively shocked and suitably horrified before Mr. Harris was done.
I take no comfort in the fact that I was right.
Before Mr. Harris was done, I was horrified.
Not because he lied, but because he told the truth.
“Dave, I need you to promise me you won’t talk about this to anyone,” Mr. Harris said.
“As long as it doesn’t put anyone in danger,” Dave said cautiously.
With that single statement, Dave showed himself to be a wiser person than I.
Mr. Harris barked a bitter laugh. “That’s just it. I don’t know what would be worse. Everyone finding out, or no one finding out.” The angry amusement left Mr. Harris’s voice. “I couldn’t figure it out so, I took the easy way. I still don’t know if it was the right…”
There was a long pause.
“Dave, what would you do if I told you that there used to be one Slayer? Singular. One girl in all the world and that was it,” Mr. Harris said.
“Impossible,” Dave said. “How the hell is one girl supposed to go out and protect a whole world crawling with vampires and demons? Can’t be done.”
“Ooooooh, but it’s true,” Mr. Harris said. “See, the system was simple. Ugly, but simple.”
“Doesn’t sound all that simple to me,” Dave grumbled. “It’s a pretty big planet out there.”
“Okay, got it,” Mr. Harris said quietly. In a louder voice he added, “The world had a lot of potential Slayers but they didn’t have the power. Follow?”
“Potential Slayers, but no Slayer power. Got it.”
“Now most of them, 99% of them, maybe, would never actually get the power,” Mr. Harris continued. “They’d live and die just like any normal human being.”
“Ooookay,” Dave said slowly. “So how come all of these girls are now Slayers when before they weren’t?”
“I’m getting to that, but first I have to explain this to you,” Mr. Harris said.
“Sorry,” Dave said. “Go ahead.”
“Now, for how it used to work, I want you to imagine this looooong line of potential Slayers. The one at the head of the line, she’s the Slayer. She’s got all the power.”
“Okay,” Dave said.
“While the Slayer, who has all the power, is at the head of the line, some of the girls behind her get older. Now, at a certain point, they step out of the line because they’re too old to take over. They still have the potential to be a Slayer, they don’t lose that, but at some point they lose the opportunity to actually be the Slayer.”
“How’d that happen?” Dave asked.
“How’d what happen?”
“If I follow you, they’ve still had the potential to be a Slayer, but once they got to a certain age, they didn’t get the power no matter how much potential they had,” Dave said. “So, the question is why?”
“No one knows,” Mr. Harris responded. “In fact, until recently, the Council thought those girls lost the potential to be a Slayer, too. So when the Council started coming across grannies who were now Slayers, they figured out they were just a little wrong.”
In the silence the followed this, I wondered just what a pensioner would do after she crushed her walker with her bare hands and threw away her medications. The mental image of blue-haired octogenarians leading patrols and staking vampires brought me to the edge of nervous giggles.
“Dave?” Mr. Harris tentatively asked. “You’re staring.”
“Are you seriously telling me that the Council wasn’t sure how this Slayer thing even worked?” Dave sounded aghast.
“They didn’t know because they didn’t need to,” Mr. Harris said with resignation in his voice. “All they knew was that they had one Slayer and when she got killed, they’d have a new Slayer, usually between 14 and 16. Sometimes they came in as old as 18, sometimes as young as 12, but pretty much the 14- to 16-year-old mallrat set was in the crosshairs.”
I nodded along with this. Although inelegantly put, Mr. Harris was correct.
“Wait. Killed?” Dave sounded like he was in shock.
“Killed,” Mr. Harris said quietly. “The only way the Slayer left the head of the line was if she was killed. Then the girl standing right behind her in line would become the Slayer.”
Dave seemed rather stuck on that word, I noticed.
“I know,” Mr. Harris answered quietly.
“Killed,” Dave softly repeated.
I shivered. There was something in their voices that hinted at a fear without name. The image of the First Council’s grey ghosts once more flashed in my memory. On that, I suddenly understood why Dave seemed so focused on the Slayer’s death. Dave was a Watcher to a Slayer in the field. There was no worse fate for one such as him than to bury his Slayer.
“All we know now is that there aren’t any Slayers younger than 10 or 11 out there, but there are potential Slayers who are younger,” Mr. Harris explained. “The Council thinks the Slayer power is now triggered by, unh, you know.”
“No, I don’t know,” Dave said.
“Them getting their, unh, period,” Mr. Harris mumbled quickly.
“I guess that’s good news,” Dave said weakly. “No terrible twos who can throw mommy through the wall.”
“Don’t say that too loud, please,” Mr. Harris quickly said. “With my luck, the Council will be wrong. Again. If that happens, I just know I’ll be the one to find super toddler. My luck runs that way. If it’s impossible, it’ll happen to me every single time.”
Mr. Harris’s rather self-centered view of the world was one of his more unpleasant traits, I decided.
“Wait. Hold on,” Dave said quietly.
“You’ve got that look on your face,” Mr. Harris remarked.
“What look?” Dave asked.
“The one that says I’m really going to hate whatever you’re going to say,” Mr. Harris said.
“You had only one Slayer at a time, which means, she was pretty much on her own,” Dave said. “She couldn’t call her Amazon sisters for backup if she had a really tough case, like what happened in Gao. She’s got her Watcher and whoever else the Council can send to help her.”
“Unhhhhhh,” Mr. Harris began, “not so much on the Council sending help.”
I winced. I knew I was about to hear a round of condemnation from Mr. Harris.
“Excuse me?” Dave asked sharply.
Mr. Harris released an angry snort. “Her only official help was her Watcher. He cracked the books and did the research. If the Watcher needed more information, he — or she — could call their friends on the Council for some backup research, but I never saw the Council do squat. The more dangerous the sitch, the more squat they did. They were really good at getting in the way, but as for helping? The Slayer was on her own.”
This time I winced because Dave sounded horrified.
“You mean to tell me,” Dave angrily began, “That they left some young girl swinging out there on her own—”
“She had a Watcher,” Mr. Harris protested.
Frankly, I was surprised that Mr. Harris was willing to defend the Council even that much.
“Oh, big help there,” Dave said sarcastically. “Big comfort, I’m sure, when you’re so outgunned by whatever you’re facing that you just know you’ll get yourself killed if you try to take it on alone. You’re asking a girl who’s barely out of puberty to work miracles and you’re making it sound like the Council sat back and basically gave her a golf clap if she survived.”
“There were golf claps?” Mr. Harris asked.
There was a beat of silence.
“You’re serious,” Dave said with wonder.
“Beyond deadly,” Mr. Harris answered. “I get that some Slayers were able to get help from non-Watcher-y type people. The Slayer who was in my town did, which I know because I was one of them. I found out later that there were others who sometimes had some help of the non-official kind. It also didn’t happen all that often because there was this whole deal where the Slayer was supposed to stand alone and fight alone and blah, blah, blah. Most Slayers bought into that, even the one I knew back in the day did to a certain extent. But the old Council? It was really big on that. Overjoyed they weren’t when they found out that the Slayer in my hometown had a bunch of ‘civilians’ helping. And let’s just forget us ‘civilians’ had been in over our heads for more than four years at that point.”
I shook my head. Mr. Harris clearly missed the point. Keeping civilians away from the Slayer was as much about protecting them, as it was to protect the girl in question. If the Slayer had to worry about the people around her as well as doing her duty, she could easily find herself in the untenable position of being forced to sacrifice her people for the greater good, or she might be forced to watch them die or suffer grievous injuries because they involved themselves in her affairs.
Given the loss of Mr. Harris’s eye, I was surprised that he seemed incapable of seeing that. Then again, he seemed to be so self-centered that he might well believe that Miss Summers had been incapable of doing her duty without his input.
Dave had yet to respond to Mr. Harris’s answer.
“See? Now you’re staring at me like I’m crazy,” Mr. Harris said. “Which, no blame here because, yeah, it is crazy. Crazy-making, too, if you actually had to put up with it. Not that I had to all that much. I got to be interrogated. Once. Some weird power play the Council was trying, so they actually weren’t all that interested in me or what I had to say. Hell, I probably could’ve said that my ultimate goal was to become the ultimate evil overlord and they wouldn’t have even reacted beyond writing it down in their notebooks.”
This statement did surprise me. Mr. Harris obviously knew that the Watchers who had questioned him and his blasphemous excuse of lover had little interest in him. Although whether he knew this to be true at the time of the interview or if he realized it after the fact was difficult for me to say. However, he seemed to be under the misconception that they had little interest as a mater of principle. The Watchers’ apathy could be traced more to the fact that he and his little chit had said nothing worth listening to.
I wondered how Mr. Harris would react if he were told that the First Council had become very interested indeed in Anyanka as a result of an indiscreet comment by Miss Summers. Although, to be honest, the First Council still had little interest in Mr. Harris himself, despite the amount of research that went into discovering the identity of the monster who shared his bed. They didn’t care about the whys of it, just the who, and only one of the whos involved at that.
“The Council wanted to twist a few arms that they’d been itching to twist for years and thought the time was right to do that,” Mr. Harris continued. “Didn’t work out for them, but even after that they weren’t interested in playing nice.”
“Even with their own Slayer?” Dave asked.
“Not even,” Mr. Harris answered. He added with a grumble, “And people wonder why I’ve got issues with that whole ‘I’m a Watcher by blood, so suck my spotted dick’ deal some of them have got going.”
I clenched my fists in anger and winced at the dried, crusty feeling the accompanied this flexing of my hands.
Dave burst out laughing, but there was an uneven, nervous quality about it. “It’s a pudding.”
“Spotted dick is a pudding.” Dave wheezed on the edge of hysteria.
“It is?” Mr. Harris asked. “Wow. I, unh, think I totally misunderstood what that was. Not that I’m a pudding fan, but now I’m kinda sorry about all those jokes I made about it to Giles. Guess I know why he thought I was regression boy.”
I shook my head. I knew my share of American exchange students at university, not well of course. I am sure that his jokes about the food and the names were no more original than the first hundred or so times I heard such weak attempts at hilarity.
Dave finally calmed down. “All right. So my thousand-dollar question is now a million-dollar question.”
“Oh?” Mr. Harris prompted suspiciously.
“Back when there was only one, how long was the average lifespan for a Slayer?” Dave asked.
“I…don’t know,” Mr. Harris stumbled.
“Can you guess?” Dave prodded.
I rather wondered where Dave was going with this.
There was a release of breath. “This one guy I know, Robin, he said his mother hung on for 10 years or so, almost five before he was born and almost five after. But that’s kind of, unh, unusually long.”
“How long, Xander.” Dave’s voice was hard enough to hurt.
I wondered if Mr. Harris flinched at the tone like I did.
“The Slayer that I knew back in the day, she, unh, she died at 16. Drowning. A little CPR action got her back. Then she died again at 20, but, unh, there was a resurrection thing, so she came back again,” Mr. Harris stumbled. “Last I heard, she was still alive and in less-than-zero danger of getting hurt.”
I frowned. Did he just say that Miss Summers had died a second time? I certainly didn’t recall ever hearing that before. I made a mental note to contact my London-based peers to look into the matter before worrying about it any further.
“Resurrection?” Dave asked.
“Loooong story. One of those stories you can hit me up about later,” Mr. Harris answered quietly. “Trust me, nobody looks good in that mess, especially me. That’s one of those really complicated things that — well, like I said, the short story is that she’s still alive.”
There was a long silence.
“So you’re telling me that this Slayer you knew died twice in, what? Four, five years?” Dave asked.
“Yeah,” Mr. Harris answered cautiously.
“Is that more or less than most other Slayers?” Dave asked. “Not the dying part. The living four or five years part.”
There was a pause. “Falls on the ‘more’ side, possibly the ‘way more’ side,” Mr. Harris finally answered. “I knew one Slayer that lasted less than two years. She, unh, got the Slayer power because of that drowning thing I mentioned. I guess you just have to die, but you don’t have to stay dead. Not that Bu— I mean the Slayer that got revived by the CPR lost the Slayer power when she came to. She was still as Slayer-ish as ever after that. It’s just that now you had two girls standing at the head of the line instead of just the one.”
“Shit,” Dave softly remarked.
There was another pause. “What is it?” Mr. Harris quietly asked. If I didn’t know any better, I’d think he sounded almost nervous.
“It’s just—” Dave began. He uncomfortably cleared his throat. “Let me repeat the basics, okay? I want to be sure I heard you right.”
“A lot of potential Slayers, but only one Slayer. Her job is to defend the whole world, but in most cases she can’t do that because you’re talking about a young girl. So, she’s not so much defending the world as she’s defending her neighborhood, right?” Dave asked.
“Some neighborhoods are really, really up there on the demonic suck-o-meter,” Mr. Harris countered.
“Okay, I guess,” Dave said doubtfully.
I shook my head. Of course, Dave knew nothing about Sunnydale and its Hellmouth. A catastrophe there could have very well spelled the world’s doom. However, I could forgive his ignorance on the matter since Mr. Harris couldn’t be bothered to explain that to him.
“Buuuuut, the Council isn’t exactly whisking her away and training her to be James Bond, Demon Hunter,” Dave said. “They’re not giving her the best combat training on the planet with all the leading experts. They’re not bundling her on a plane so she can parachute her way into the world’s trouble spots. And she doesn’t have Q creating all these cool gadgets to help her fight the bad guys. She’s stuck in one geographic location, she’s got one Watcher to lend a hand, and if she’s lucky, she’s got people like you helping out.”
“In a nutshell,” Mr. Harris said cautiously.
It appeared that despite the fact Mr. Harris had admitted lying to him, Dave was willing to accept that Mr. Harris had worked with Miss Summers. Then again, I did tell Dave that Mr. Harris had been fighting demons since he was 16, so I suppose I couldn’t blame him for questioning it.
That’s when I realized something else startling. Mr. Harris had not mentioned Miss Summers by name through the whole course of the conversation. She was ‘the Slayer,’ and nothing more. This simple refusal to acknowledge that ‘the Slayer’ even had a name seemed a far cry from his statements to the Watchers that had interviewed him back in Sunnydale. The one unequivocal answer he had given was that his role in the group was to “help Buffy,” as if it were the only thing that truly mattered to him.
Yet here, on the Mali Sahel, Miss Summers seemed to matter to him not at all, to the point that she wasn’t even given a name.
I wondered why Dave didn’t remark on this. Obviously Dave cared a great deal about Kavitha, so his not mentioning it was even more remarkable to my mind. The fact that Dave hadn’t was cause for concern. It could point to the fact that Mr. Harris had a troubling view of the Slayers under him. Were they, too, also nameless? Were they, too, also unimportant to him beyond the fact that they were Slayers and had power? Could it be that Dave was so used to Mr. Harris’s impersonal view of his charges that he didn’t find Mr. Harris’s refusal to voice Miss Summers’s name worthy of comment?
I shivered as my mind traveled to a dark place in contemplating the answers.
There was a long pause. “They were disposable,” Dave said quietly.
“Who was?” Mr. Harris asked.
“The Slayers,” Dave said. “They were disposable. The Army invests a lot of money in training soldiers when they sign up for a 4-year commitment, but the Council invested nothing in the girl who was supposed to be responsible for protecting the entire planet.”
I frowned. I still wasn’t sure what Dave was driving at.
“Unh, there was a Watcher, remember?” Mr. Harris asked uncomfortably.
“So they invest the salary and time of one person in the Slayer,” Dave said angrily. “So what? Big deal. That’s nothing. That’s not even peanuts. That’s peanut shells. That’s peanut shell dust is what I’m telling you.”
“I agree,” Mr. Harris said, “but you’re kind of losing me. The whole Council existed because of the Slayer, whoever she was. I mean, sure, they had that whole ‘the Slayer is a weapon and a tool’ mindset, which bugged to no end because, hey, a Slayer is a person too, which they seemed to forget all the time.”
This sentiment voiced by Mr. Harris caused a certain amount of mental whiplash on my part. His refusal to say Miss Summers’s name had to be rooted in a more personal reason, then. I then recalled that Miss Summers had argued, in writing, against Mr. Harris’s African placement.
Well, well, well, I thought. It appeared that I already had an answer to the source of Mr. Harris’s disgruntlement against Miss Summers, courtesy of Mr. Giles’s office. Perhaps that was why the letters had been disclosed: to explain why Mr. Harris might react negatively to my mentioning Miss Summers to him.
I vowed to bring Miss Summers up in conversation with Mr. Harris at the earliest possible opportunity.
“You don’t see it, do you?” Dave asked with dawning wonder. “You know it’s the wrong attitude. I can tell you know it’s wrong. Hell, everything you’ve done here tells me you know it’s wrong. But you can’t even see it, even though it’s staring you right in the face.”
For once, Mr. Harris echoed my thoughts as he asked, “What’s staring me in the face?”
“One Slayer dies, you have another who takes her place. Chances are, that other Slayer pops up in another part of the world,” Dave said. “Am I right?”
“Pretty much,” Mr. Harris said. “The Slayer in my town was from California. The Slayer after her was from Jamaica. The Slayer after that came from Boston. So, yeah, global tic-tac-toe.”
“Don’t you get it? Don’t you see?” Dave asked. “Did it ever occur to you that maybe when it was just one Slayer that it wasn’t in the Council’s best interest that she had a long and healthy life?”
My eyes snapped again to the window, not because I expected to see anyone, but because the question caught me so off guard.
“I don’t—” Mr. Harris began.
“Xander! Think. One Slayer in the whole world. Except she’s not protecting the whole world, just her patch of real estate. She dies, and you’ve got a new Slayer in a completely different part of the world who now has the job of protecting a whole new patch of real estate,” Dave said. “If that new Slayer manages to hang on for a couple of years, she cuts down on the local demon population. Maybe even put a good dent in it. Maybe, if she’s lucky, completely clean it up. But at some point, Xander, at some point a Slayer lives so long that it defeats the purpose. While the reigning Slayer is keeping her neighborhood safe, the rest of the world is still getting eaten by vampires and, until she dies that’s not going to change anywhere.”
I stared into the dark. No, I thought, no. Dave misunderstood. He was wrong. Of course he was wrong.
“You’re staring at me like I’m the crazy one,” Dave deadpanned.
“Giles would never—” Mr. Harris softly began. “Dave, if you knew him back when I was growing up, he fought like hell to keep his Slayer alive. He’d do anything—”
I found my self in a most untenable position. I was cheering Mr. Harris. I wanted him to convince Dave that he was wrong.
“Of course his Slayer was his life,” Dave interrupted. “He was her Watcher. Probably any Watcher that ever had a connection with a Slayer would say that.” There was a pause and the sound of movement. “I don’t have to tell you. I know I don’t. But maybe you need to hear it. Once those Slayers died, how many of those Watchers were even capable of breathing, let alone arguing that the next Slayer needed better training or better support?”
Grey ghosts, I thought. They all became grey ghosts who were barely alive. If you’re not careful, Dave, you too will join them.
“I don’t know,” Mr. Harris’s voice shook. “After seeing Giles when — how he acted after — I guess I really doubt they’d even be capable of — I think—”
“You know I’m right,” Dave softly interrupted. “You just told me that the Council basically sat on its ass while the Slayer — the only Slayer they had — put her life on the line. That tells me right there that not one person like us ever got promoted to decision-maker after their Slayer died.”
“The Cruciamentum,” Mr. Harris whispered. “Son of a bitch. Son. Of. A. Bitch.”
“The what?” Dave sharply asked.
I could feel the beginning of tears in the corner of my eyes and I almost brought my hands up to swipe them away. The smell stopped me well before that and my hands dropped into the dirt instead, leaving me to let the tears flow freely.
I hated that Mr. Harris just might’ve been right about the Cruciamentum. I hated that even he had been taken surprise that he might’ve been more right than he knew. I took very little comfort in the fact that his nasty turn of mind on the matter did not even consider such a depraved notion until this very moment.
“The Cruciamentum,” Mr. Harris said quietly. “I never could figure out — but if this is — Dave, if you’re even close to right — what I’m trying to say it’s this ritual, see? Happened on the Slayer’s 18th birthday, if she lived that long. But it was the kind of ritual where you kind of wondered if they were actively trying to kill the Slayer.”
“Please tell me you’re joking,” Dave said in a flat voice.
“It’s been banned,” Mr. Harris quickly said. “The second Giles took over it was the first thing he did because he thought it was beyond stupid. And that’s just only one of those things that make you wonder if — later. We’ll talk about this later. I have to — I have to do the thinky thoughts thing before I can even — Sonofabitch.”
Mr. Harris may have had to think on it, but I honestly didn’t. I had grown up in the First Council, after all. I knew its rituals and secrets in a way that Mr. Harris did not and never would. Everything he knew of the First Council, he knew courtesy of Mr. Giles. As a field Watcher, of course Mr. Giles’s mindset was different from those in the halls of power. Of course he would view preservation of the Slayer’s life as paramount. He couldn’t help but think otherwise.
However, the mindset of a field Watcher was very different from the mindset of the Watchers that wielded the true power in the Council. If you excuse the cliché, the First Watcher had to take the long view and be cognizant of the big picture. Individuals were important only if they hindered or helped in the good fight, and even then that importance hinged on whether the Council believed an individual could disrupt its aims.
I remembered all too well that under the First Council, the calling of a new Slayer was cause for celebration. There was excitement as we closely scrutinized what we knew about her, assuming anything was known at all. Was she a Potential who was known to us? Or was she a girl who had seemingly come out of nowhere? We scoured all our resources to find out about where she was from, what she was like, and everything about her area of the world, beyond simply knowing how demon-infested it was.
The occasion was marked with rituals to choose the new Slayer’s Watcher, and more rituals to mark that the Watcher had been chosen. There were celebrations and parties and Champaign corks were popped. Congratulations were heaped upon the Watcher who would gird his or her loins and enter the field of battle. There were toasts and speeches wishing him or her Godspeed.
Training and guiding the Slayer was, after all, the Council’s raison d’être. Nothing drove that lesson home more than a changing of the guard.
Yet, looking back on it, all those celebrations were about us. The Watchers. There was nothing focused on the new Slayer and no moment for mourning the old.
What’s more, there was no show of sympathy for the Watcher who had survived his or her worst nightmare. At most, the heartbroken creature who had just buried his or her life’s work was allowed to file a final report on his or her Slayer’s final exploit. That report was always done in secret and away from prying eyes. To spare the survivor, the Council had said. To not make an emotional situation worse, the Council had claimed.
As for the Slayer, living or dead, she was a mere tool, we were told. The Slayer was a nothing more than a weapon, we were taught. The Slayer line was our mystical trust, we believed.
What was left unsaid was that any individual Slayer was temporary at best and disposable at worst. We didn’t have to be told. It was merely understood, although imperfectly and not always clearly.
Perhaps someone should have spelled it out.
Perhaps someone should have said it out loud long before now.
The accusation, first murmured in a mudhut on the Mali Sahel, shattered my heart and made my soul ache.
Was the accusation true? I honestly couldn’t say. I honestly still can’t say, as so many of those who had been at the true center of power in the First Council have long departed this earth. The dead who stay buried in their crypts don’t speak, and raising their ghosts to ask a question about an issue that is now moot isn’t worth the effort.
I would like to believe that this sin is one the First Council was not guilty of because Lord knows it is guilty of plenty others. Yet, can I say with any certainty that the First Council isn’t guilty?
No, dear reader. Much as I want to say it is the case, I cannot do it good conscience.
“This is what you want me to join?” Dave demanded as I chased my thoughts around in my head. “You think me even being in the same room as these guys is a good idea? Are you out of your mind?”
“Dave—” Mr. Harris began.
“Because there is no way, Harris,” Dave sounded murderously furious. “Get me in the same room with one of these cocksuckers from the bad old days and I will kill them. Do you understand me? They’re dead.”
“Dave!” Mr. Harris snapped. “Shut the hell up for one goddamn second, will you? Cool the righteous or so help me God I’ll rip your damn tongue out, tie you to a chair, and make you listen to me.”
“Fuck you, Harris,” Dave snarled.
“Goddamn it, Dave!” Mr. Harris shouted. “Don’t you get it? Something changed. Something somewhere got broken.”
“If it ain’t the Council that got broken, then I ain’t interested,” Dave said. There was a harsh scrape of wood. “They’re still around, so I don’t think—”
“That’s just it,” Mr. Harris harshly interrupted. “Giles thinks the Watcher bloodlines are broken, and with it Council’s hold over the Slayers.”