Spoilers: through the end of Season 3, including major spoilers for Graduation 2, slight for
Notes: this refers back to events in most of my previous stories, especially my Watchers'
Compound series, Helplessness and Wild Magic, but it should still be understandable even if
you haven't read any of those stories. The only things to keep in mind are: 1) in my version of
things, prospective Watchers are called Candidates, and they are trained in groups of three by
senior Watchers called Handlers; 2) the Council of Watchers is BAD and 3) Giles's dark past
was really dark.
Transformations - Prologue
Her name was Maria, and she had died a long way from home, secure in the knowledge that
despite all she'd learned, and all she'd done, she still hadn't been good enough. To die in the way
she had was, more or less, the final insult, the big old wash-out at the end of her road of life--but
that didn't bother her so much, anymore.
The whole thing had reminded her of the way Wile E. Coyote's legs would move, still running in
a blurred circle for about ten seconds after the cliff fell away. Ten seconds to realize and fear and
Maria knew her cartoons--as a kid she'd watched them every morning before school, translating
the words into Italian for her grandmother, also named Maria, who would sit on the couch in her
long, black, old lady dress. Everything sounded funnier in Italian, and the two of them would
laugh and laugh.
During those very same childhood mornings her former teammates from Watcher training: sweet
Simon Quartermass, that major jerk Wesley Wyndham-Price, and every single other member of
their Candidates class had been nicely dressed in their little suits and ties, sitting on their wooden
forms and reciting the words of Julius Caesar in the Roman's original tongue. Maria had started
learning Latin in college, attending on an athletic scholarship and working part time as a waitress
in her uncle's restaurant to put herself through. She was bright enough, and she'd been accepted
to Oxford, but by that time her mom was sick, and the money hadn't been there. The point was,
she couldn't catch up to the others, not ever.
Her mom's dad had been English, and after she died, Maria found a book--a journal, really--that
changed her life. The world wasn't the way she'd thought. She'd always considered herself
tough. She knew martial arts, and could run pretty much like the wind. She hadn't worried about
whether she was safe or not, even at night. For weeks after she read the book, though, she was
almost too scared to step outside her apartment once the sun went down. Two weeks before she
got her Masters in Ancient History from UC Berkeley, she wrote a letter, and just when she'd
given up waiting for a reply, when she thought she'd have to take the job as a history teacher in
that podunk town called Sunnydale after all, someone came in person from the Council of
She'd entered into her apartment after a run, just as sweaty and gross as it was possible to be, and
found the woman sitting on the end of her couch, reading The Book. The woman's presence
scared and flustered Maria--she was the most poised person Maria had ever met, and very
beautiful, the way women were beautiful in those Victorian paintings where the subjects are
supposed to be Greek but for some reason have the most luscious red hair. Maria was partial to
redheads, always had been.
Maria's own hair was black, thick and wild, like that Gilda Radner character from those old
Saturday Night Live shows--what was her name? Yeah, Roseanne Rosannadanna. When they'd
moved from Boston to San Francisco, about the time she began high school, kids had started
calling her that. Because of the hair, and because her own horrible Boston twang--she had the
worst voice of anyone she ever knew, and all the speech lessons in the world hadn't been enough
to completely change it--wasn't so much different from the character's exaggerated New Jersey
"Maria Del Ciello?" the Watchers' Council lady said, and her voice, too, was completely
beautiful, soft and low-pitched, with the most perfect Masterpiece Theater accent you ever heard
in your life. Maria fell in love with her immediately, almost before she knew what she was doing.
"I've studied your records, and I've come to bring you home with me. My name is Moira
Bannister-St. Ives, but you may call me Em, if you like."
Thank you, God! Maria though irreverently. She hadn't been able to speak, just nod.
Maria had tried to please Em, so very, very hard. Tried every day, stayed up half the night
reading. She could do the physical stuff, no problem, and the emotional stuff, and the anti-torture
training--the hardest part of that was seeing how much it hurt her Handler to flip the switch, even
though she was getting twice as many volts. Em had talked to her, and tutored her, but it all
came down to this--she could grasp the concepts, connect the demon dots, but except for the
English and the Italian she'd spoken for as long as she could talk, she couldn't hack the
languages. Not even the easy stuff, that Wesley could do in his sleep. Time after time, she'd been
told: "You act on that translation, Maria, and your Slayer is dead."
She'd never had a Slayer, and now she never would. The weird thing was, how little different she
felt. She didn't feel necessarily evil, though she'd drunk blood and hadn't cared--maybe her
victims lived, maybe they died, it wasn't really a big moral issue. She got hungry, and she fed,
end of story. The first couple times it felt weird the way her face went wrinkly, and her sire had
laughed at her when she cried out in surprise, then kissed her, fangs bumping fangs.
Maria wouldn't mind sharing Em, not at all, but it worried her that for now she'd have to be the
brains of this operation--because for all her good qualities, Maria's sire's stairs really didn't go all
the way to the attic--and this against people like the Slayer, and Em, and Em's friend Rupert
Giles, who Maria knew was a smart man in his own right. Windy Wesley didn't concern her at
all. If it wasn't in a reference book, written in Greek, he couldn't handle it, and she'd kinda enjoy
hearing him give a few more of his girly little screams before she tore his throat out.
Soon the old men with the plan would be there, and for all their book learning they were pretty
damn naive. Didn't they think vampires could lie? Didn't they think the undead could have a
hidden agenda, and their own sets of loves and hates? They had no idea, really, what it meant to
be a mixture of human and demon, and they never would know, because soon enough they'd be
dead. Once Em was brought onto the vampire team, they'd be dead.
Em would hate the thought at first, but after she was turned, she'd get over it, and she'd make a
hell of a vampire queen. Her sire wouldn't like it, but Maria had every intention of turning little
Buffy too--she was cute as a button and perky as hell, and she just seemed like fun to have
around. Plus, there was that issue of Slayer strength.
What her sire would really be mad about, though, was when Maria turned Rupert Giles. Her sire
had some major jealousy issues. Admittedly, turning Rupert was taking a chance, because she
knew Em liked him, liked him a lot--maybe more than she liked anyone else. It just felt like the
kindest thing to do, really--let him be with the women he loved. Besides, there was just
something about him, and she'd always enjoyed watching his tapes: he was a planner, he hated the
Council, and he could do the magic stuff too.
Maria knew it could get tough, after you were vamped, to stay around, and she fully intended to
celebrate the year 3000 if she possibly could. The more smart allies you had on board, the better.
Most of the Potterville vampires, her sire's little minions, were nothing but cannon fodder, just
about as dumb as soup.
Besides, even in those lousy Council videos, Rupert had the coolest eyes.
She reached out in the dark, that didn't look dark to her anymore and, smiling, took her sire
In minutes, now, the old men from the Watchers' Council would arrive, and in only a while
longer, Helena and Maria would be on their way to California, going to Sunnydale after all.