Year 18
"

Chapter 5

by E.Escher - 2nd Oct 2017
Against all logic and reason, Xander found himself inside the grounds of Sunnydale High. He frantically turned this way and that to get his bearings. 'Your secret den is inside the school grounds?' he demanded, 'Are you crazy?'

Miki followed him out onto the sports field. 'Nobody seems to come over this side. It was close to my target, but out of everybody's way. Besides, my den is hidden underground, remember?'

He looked back at the clump of trees, and had to admit it was a reasonably sheltered location. A good thing, too. 'You're gonna leave that dead demon on the floor over there?'

'Naw, I'll wait til night then get rid of it. Nothing stinks quite like a dead monster.'

'With ya on that one. Yeesh. I wonder what it was doing out here in the daytime.'

Miki shrugged again. 'Don't care. Baddies just pop up wherever. Doesn't matter.'

'Kinda blasé, there, kiddo.'

'I do what I do. Bad guys gotta be smushed. That's what I do.'

A new voice cut into the conversation. 'Harris? Hey Harris, that you lurkin' in the bushes?'

Xander quickly pushed his way toward the newcomer, hoping to hide Miki from view. 'Oh, Jimmy, hi! I was just, uh, hi.' He desperately tried to think of a cover story, but what could he say to explain the wings, and the fact she was wearing a copy of his shirt?

Jimmy's gaze drifted past Xander's shoulder. 'Who's the new girl? Does Willow know you're getting some action on the side?'

Xander almost cheered. No freak-out meant the devil-girl's illusion of normalcy was active and working, which meant Jimmy was most likely seeing a normal teenage girl.

'This is our new exchange student, from, ah, Europe! I saw her over here and thought I'd come say hello, because, uh, we have such a similar taste in clothes!' He fixed a smile on his face as Miki stepped forward, holding out a hand.

'Hi, I'm Mikisha Nicholls. From Europe.'

Xander looked around, and belatedly realised that Miki's quick-change power had furnished her with a catholic schoolgirl uniform. He stared for a moment, before noticing Jimmy's frown. The other boy shook his head.

'I meant the red and black checks! I've got a lumberjack shirt just like that!'

Miki turned and gave a thumbs-up sign. 'Nice recovery.'

The comment got no reaction from Jimmy, who stared straight ahead.

Xander raised a brow. 'Is this that normality thing?'

Jimmy blinked. 'What normality thing?'

Miki rolled her eyes and waved a hand to attract the boy's attention. 'Hey Jimmy, I think it's time for your next class. I'll see you around.'

'Yeah, I better go.' He turned to leave. 'See you around.'

Xander watched him go. 'Your illusion thing lets you say weird stuff and nobody notices?'

'It's not perfect,' she admitted, 'and it only works for me. It doesn't disguise weird stuff that other people do or say.'

'Yah, I saw that. Thanks.' He took a moment to look her up and down properly. In the daylight, she was still kinda pretty, if you ignored the tail and the horns and the wings. That said, the wings and horns were cutesy, Disney versions, and her skin colour was more of a red tint than actual scare-devil red.

'I gotta say, catholic school outfit on a devil? Totally wrong, on so many levels.'

She gave a little twirl. 'Even the socks?'

'Even the socks, and I'm pretty sure catholic girls aren't allowed to wear boots like that.'

Her dark eyes flashed. 'Yeah, but I'm naughty. Come on, I'm gonna take a look around.'

'In the school?'

'Sure, I'm an exchange student, remember.' She started walking, and Xander gave chase.

'This is a really bad idea.'

'It's a great idea,' she assured him, turning back. 'Are you coming back later to help with my furniture, or do I have to come find you again?'

He bit back a retort. 'I'll try, but no promises.'

'I'll make you some food.'

'Sure, bribe me. Works every time.'

'Awesome! Catch ya later!' She turned toward the school, and disappeared.

= = =

A few blinks later Miki was weaving her way through the corridors of Sunnydale High, letting her illusion conceal her nature from the humans. She spotted a couple of adults, but mostly Sunnydale High was full of kids, teenagers like herself. Or if not actually like herself, close enough.

That was assuming she was still a teenager. She'd been nineteen for a very long time, and she had a vague idea that wasn't how ages were supposed to work. Much like time travel, being apparently immortal made some things complicated. If she had been nineteen, but that was eight years in the future, how old was she now? Or did that even count? She'd lost track of her actual birthdays when she was four, and then Jack had found her and told her a bunch of years had passed and she was now nineteen.

That seemed a lifetime ago. A lifetime ago, and two worlds away. Not that it mattered; with the local magic powering her illusion she could claim to be any age she wanted and everything would be fine.

She paused to study a trophy cabinet. The golden figures seemed to represent ordinary earth-sports, like the throwy one and the shovey one and the one with the stick. There didn't seem to be any fighting trophies, or anything regarding the use of magic. This apparently wasn't one of those magical schools she'd heard about, which struck her as odd. The magical aura here was so strong she could almost taste it, but the humans didn't seem to care. It seemed a strange place to hide a magical source.

'You there!'

She turned in surprise as a compact, pointy-faced man pushed his way through the crowd. He had strong brows and keen, deep-set eyes, and he moved with a confidence that cut a swathe through the much larger humans around him. Clearly he was a man of power and authority.

'I haven't seen you before. Who are you?'

Miki found herself smiling. 'I haven't seen you before either. I'm Mikisha.' She batted her eyelashes.

'Snyder. That is, Principal Snyder.' He blushed, and Miki grinned. 'I'm the Principal.'

'I'm the new exchange student. From Europe. They told you I was coming, right?'

Her statement was a complete lie, of course, and there was a moment's hesitation as the magic smoothed over the gaps in Snyder's memory.

'Uh, yes, of course.' He rallied pretty quickly. 'You'll have to fill out some paperwork. Stop by my office later and we'll take down your particulars.'

She chuckled. 'Okay.'

'Do you have a class schedule? You can't just wander the corridors all day.' He straightened up, and Miki noted that he was only fractionally taller than her. 'We have standards here, and rules.'

'You're right. I'd better get moving, I'm supposed to be... this way.' She stepped around the principal and continued down the corridor. 'Thanks!'

= = =

Snyder frowned to himself. There was something different about that girl, and he wasn't sure he trusted her. But gosh, what a smile!

= = =

Xander was barely through the door when he ran into Buffy. The slayer hooked an arm into his elbow and pulled him aside. She looked mad.

'And just where have you been all night? Not to mention some of the morning?'

He managed a vague shrug. 'You wouldn't believe it. I'm not sure I believe it myself.'

'Spill, mister. Does it involve a certain goat-headed pygmy demon in a wooden mask?'

He blinked. 'Ah, no?'

'Oh.' she pouted a little. 'Well, if Giles asks, could you say it was? Otherwise I might owe him a dollar.'

'Uh, sure?'

'Seriously though, where were you? We were all worried, I've been out searching, even Cordelia made some concerned-sounding complaints.'

'I was helping somebody move into their new place.'

'Oh. Not what I was expecting. Kinda mundane and non-hellmouthy.'

'You were expecting goat-headed pygmy demons?'

'Just one. Possibly in a tent.'

'Boy, am I happy to disappoint.'

Buffy looked past him, sharply. 'What was that?'

He turned. 'What was what?'

'I thought I saw a demon.' she hissed. 'Wait here, I'm gonna go check it out.'

Xander panicked. 'I'll come help you look.'

'No. Go warn Giles. I'll find out what it's after.' She hurried off in pursuit, leaving Xander close to panic. Buffy was in full-slayer mode, and if the demon she'd spotted wasn't Miki he'd be extremely surprised.

Lacking any better ideas, he headed for the library.

= = =

Buffy wasn't sure what she'd spotted, but for just an instant she'd glimpsed a red-tinted face through the crowd. It had pointed ears, and a pair of stubby horns sprouting from the forehead. And then it was gone.

Arriving at the place she'd seen it, she looked in all directions, but saw nothing out of the ordinary. It had evaded her for now, but she assumed it was headed the direction it was facing. With no other clues in sight, she headed toward the cafeteria.

= = =

The corridors were emptying as kids filed into their classrooms, leaving Miki free to explore. The few students milling around paid her no attention, so she used her blink-teleport to quickly get a feel for the school, zipping point-to-point in a series of small jumps.

Teleportation was an innate talent, or a mutant 'warper' power, depending who you asked. The really cool part was that it didn't take much energy, magical or otherwise. The other really cool part was the split-second of observation time she got upon emerging from the wormhole, before the physical universe caught up with her. She couldn't really interact with anything during that time, but it was long enough for her magical senses to triangulate the really big power source she was hunting for.

It felt like it was underground, but whoever was guarding it would probably have some stairs or an elevator. She paused to get her bearings, then set off at a brisk jog.

= = =

Xander shoved through the library doors and skidded to a halt. 'Giles!'

'Yes?'

'Uh...' He was horrified to realise he'd run all the way here without thinking of something to say.

The librarian's eyebrows rose in silent, questioning judgement, strongly implying that Xander had some explaining to do.

'You're wondering where I was last night. I get that. It's a long story, totally not interesting.'

'I see. And you ran in here with the specific intent of not telling it?'

'No. Buffy sent me. She says she saw a demon. Near the soda machine.'

Giles blinked. 'In the school? During the day?'

'Couple of minutes ago.'

The englishman looked flustered. 'Well, that's... You should get to class. I shall try to locate Buffy.'

'Class. Right.'

Xander grimaced as Giles hurried away. He was pretty sure he could have handled that better. Demon, devil, or whatever, he'd never forgive himself if Miki was killed on her first day of school.

= = =

Giles returned to the library frustrated and alone. A quick circuit of the main block had failed to locate his slayer, so he'd checked her class schedule and saw her sitting in her chemistry class, staring out the window. There was absolutely no sign of any demon, and he couldn't very well pull her out of class to ask her about it.

He took off his glasses and polished them as he ducked into his small office. It was only when he emerged a minute later that he realised the library wasn't empty; somebody was lurking in the stacks.

'Ah, hello?' He closed his hand around the crossbow under the counter.

A girl emerged from the shadows, book in hand. She was quite pretty, and looked a little lost.

'Oh. A student. Of course. Were you looking for anything in particular?'

'I was, but I don't think it's here.'

Giles' professional pride was stung. 'What was it? You might be surprised.'

The girl glanced around. 'This is all just books and stuff? Like a library?'

'Ah, very much like a library, yes. It is a library, in fact. Hence the books. And the sign on the door, marked "Library".'

'Right. And you work here?'

'Yes. I'm Mister Giles, the librarian.'

'Mikisha Nicholls. I'm the exchange student. From Europe.'

'Charmed, I'm sure.'

'You sure have some scary books in here.' She let the book fall open in her hand, and squinted at the pages. 'What's a ga... gal... rok... galrok demon?'

Giles cursed inwardly, but put on his best poker face. 'A work of supertition and fiction, dreamed up by overimaginative scholars in the middle ages.' He'd have to have a word with Willow about locking up the watcher resources after use. The girl seemed to accept his explanation easily enough, thankfully.

'He looks fun. I like the tusks. You don't see many of those.'

'Tusks are quite rare, yes.'

The girl blinked. 'You heard me say that?'
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