More thunking exposition, but also a bit of early Xander-Giles banter.
Xander stood across the circulation desk from him, fidgeting. He pulled from his backpack the two books on witches he'd checked out. "Don't tell Willow," he said, "because it would ruin my reputation. But I kinda read them not for the engravings."
"I shan't tell," said Giles. The boy was wearing a striped sweater today, sleeves too long in the wrists, which were ragged. Giles supposed this was of a piece with holes in the knees of one's jeans.
"I'm still cranking through the demonology thing. You know, I had the weirdest idea. If I treated it like a D&D book, like the monster manual, it's way more fun than if I think about it like a textbook. So I can memorize tons of stuff about demons and *not* be geeky. Okay, it's geeky, but more like knowing batting averages geeky than being good at history geeky. Get me?"
"I, I'm not sure," said Giles. "I'm afraid I was the good at history sort myself." Giles came around the circulation desk carrying a box, which he placed on the study table. Xander joined him.
"Gimme that pile of proto-stakes, would you? Christ, look at the size of the knife. I'm pretty sure that possession of this knife is illegal in all fifty states. Well, maybe not Alaska. I hear they require that all Alaskan citizens be armed at all times for hand-to-hand bear combat. But this knife? Illegal in California."
"Not to mention the contents of the rare book cage," murmured Giles. He'd moved the last of the practice weapons in yesterday. Buffy had been in ecstasy when he'd shown her what was available and given her a set of keys for both library and cage.
"When they come to cart me away I'll just say it's for my woodworking project. I am making my very own punji pit."
Giles got a knife and sat next to Xander, who was now speculating on the benefits of very large pencil sharpeners in automated stake production. He let the happy chatter wash over him. Giles pondered the problem of interruptions. Xander was right that the weaponry would cause great consternation if discovered. He had yet to do anything about warding the library. Every time he thought about it he could feel the nausea creeping up. They'd been lucky for the last couple of weeks, but the luck couldn't hold.
He would have to find a way to bring himself to do magic. Especially if their theory was correct, and one of the cheerleaders was using witchcraft to gain a place on the squad.
Xander finished a stake, clattering it onto the table. He cheerfully grabbed another dowel, chattering on about... training montages? Whatever those were. Giles was continually surprised how willingly the two of them, Willow and Xander, had joined the battle against demons. Far more willingly than Buffy herself. And with such bravery, so unlooked for in youth. Perhaps it was because it wasn't demanded of them. They could choose. Unlike Buffy. And Giles himself. He wondered, for a moment, if either of them would show signs of being marked as demon-hunters, if he were to cast the revealing spell. Perhaps the ease of their choice was mystical. Then he knew he'd never look. He didn't want to know, didn't want them to know. The illusion of free will was nearly as good as free will itself might have been.
Though the issue of his own choice was clouded. He had been forced, at first, by his father. Forced into Council schools, forced to study subjects he might not have chosen for himself. And even if he admitted he loved the languages, and the martial arts, was that possibly because he was the product of a Council breeding program? And of careful nurturing by his father? But he'd chosen in the end. After the breakdown, when he'd gone back to school and resumed work on his thesis, when the dreams had started. Every night. Dreams of a Slayer he knew to be his. Nightmares of being unable to help her because he wasn't trained, because he wasn't ready. The dreams had driven him back to the Council, after a month of waking up trembling. From that moment of decision, he'd done everything he could to fulfill his destiny, even when it had made him miserable. The Council had not been easy on him. And now here he was. He had a Slayer.
The thought of Buffy made Giles smile to himself, sitting there in the library.
"Cloud control to Major Giles! Can you hear me, Major Giles?"
"I, I, pardon me, uh, I, what were you saying?"
"We're done with the stake-making."
"Oh! Right. Good work. Here," he said to Xander. "Let me show you how to sharpen the knives."
"Cool. And you can answer some questions I had about Ptaira'an demons. Starting with how you pronounce apostrophes in the middle of words. Is it one of those click sounds?"