Buffy's having a really strange day.
Chapter six, and matters are starting to move towards a climax. Characters, in order of appearance: Buffy, Dawn and Willow. Rating PG. 901 words. Chapter One is here.
Ch. 6 - in which Buffy has lunch
Not wanting to risk going back into the shop, Buffy changed out of her old sweatpants in the mall's restroom - making sure to go into the right one this time. The row of urinals along one wall had completely freaked her out: did men really stand there right out in the open where any complete stranger could see them? She almost wondered for a moment if she would be expected to strip off in the middle of the floor to change into her new trousers as well, but quickly common sense prevailed and she locked herself safely into one of the cubicles.
By the time she arrived home again it was lunchtime. She pushed open the front door and was about to call out when she heard Dawn's voice being raised from the kitchen.
"What do you mean she went out?" She was sick!"
Willow's reply was a soothing murmur that Buffy failed to catch. Silently, she crept forward.
"If she's just going to make excuses to avoid going out with me, then she can keep her stupid..."
"Dawnie, no! It's not like that at all. There is something wrong with your sister. It's just not... the normal kind of wrong."
"That's not news. Are you saying there's something else wrong with her as well, then?"
"She's uh, she's not really herself at the moment. She..."
Buffy decided it was time to announce her presence, calling out from the corridor. "I'm under a spell, Dawn. Don't worry, it's only temporary."
"Huh. I thought it was something, y'know, dangerous or freaky. So what have you turned into? Can I look?"
And with that Dawn dashed through the door, saw Buffy standing there, and came to a dead stop. She blinked; tilted her head to one side... and then snorted in disgust.
"God, is that all? I thought you might have become some scaley demon or a giant insect or something. So you're a man. Big deal. What's for lunch?"
Now it was Buffy's turn to roll her eyes. "Nice to see you care so much. I've bought some beef and some potatoes; I fancy a fry-up."
"For lunch? Buffy, what's gotten into you?"
From the table, Willow interjected drily, "Clearly she's turning more male by the hour."
"We've got to kill her now, before it's too late."
"Uh, Dawnie, card-carrying lesbian feminist here and even I think killing her for being a man is a little extreme."
"Suppose so. Can we lock her in the basement instead?"
"Spike's down there, remember."
"So? They're both men now, aren't they? Hey, maybe they could do that Greek wrestling stuff together. Y'know, with oil?"
"Dawn! Shut up, you unnatural child!" Buffy tried hard to suppress the image her sister just conjured in her mind. She couldn't quite manage it. "There'll be no wrestling and definitely no oil of any kind! You're worse than Anya. I'd just like to eat my lunch in peace and then hopefully we can change me back to normal." The last part of her sentence was directed at Willow, and she raised her eyebrows hopefully.
"It's looking good, actually, Buff. I think I've narrowed it down to just a couple of possibilities, and I... ooh! Wait a minute."
Willow scowled in concentration as she turned and stared at her computer screen, then started clicking the mouse rapidly, muttering under her breath occasionally. Buffy watched her in silent expectation. Willow bit her lip, looked thoughtful then typed in a few words. Two more mouse clicks and she sat back with a radiant smile on her face.
"Of course!" She looked at the screen again... and suddenly her face seemed to crumple. All the light drained out of her eyes... and then without another word she got up and bolted out of the room. Buffy heard her footsteps pounding up the stairs... then nothing.
What on Earth?
Buffy stared after her, then turned to look at Dawn. Dawn stared back at her, equally dumbfounded - then both sisters got up at once and rushed over to look at Willow's computer. The screen was filled with windows, at least four tabs open on her browser and three separate document files open with what looked like cut-and-pasted text and images. Buffy felt nervous even looking at it, but Dawn slid into the chair in front of her and began confidently clicking on the various windows. Then she began reading out loud:
"O - uh, insert goddess name here - I call on you;
I humbly ask your will be done.
Hear my request, a simple change;
Create a daughter from a son."
"That's it? That's the spell? But it's the wrong way round; I was an, um, 'daughter' before."
"Maybe she was planning to use a new spell to turn you back, instead of finding the old spell and reversing it?"
"I guess. So why should she panic like that? Wait here, I'll go find her, make sure she's okay. Maybe you could even fix lunch, if you hate my choice so much."
And with that, Buffy walked out and then cautiously climbed the stairs.
"Will? Will, where are you? What's wrong?
The landing was deserted, and she pushed the bathroom door open to find it empty. The door to Willow's room was closed, and she knocked on it gently.
"Willow, it's me. What's the matter? Can I come in?"
On to Chapter Seven