Willow has never been close with anyone in her family. Her aunts, uncles, and cousins are aloof, and they wear the same wearily patient smiles to every holiday gathering and bustle out the door as soon as they are able. Her father is cold and distant, and her mother only vaguely interested in the events of her everyday life. Perhaps that is why she is so in love with the idea of being “one of the gang.” Friends are wonderful substitute for younger relatives, Jenny cheerfully asks after her current programming and research projects, Giles is constantly watching over her with a proud and gentle gaze, and she always thought that saying about blood and water was stupid, anyway.
It stings like hell, but Xander keeps quiet as Jenny dabs carefully at the cut on his forehead with some pungent sort of antiseptic. She is concerned but careful as she doctors him, despite her awkward position as she perches on the edge of the bathtub. It is by no means comfortable for him, either, but he remembers skinned knees, scraped elbows, and even broken bones being treated with abrasive dismissal by his mother. Jenny catches him staring at her with a look something like wonder, and she reassures him that she only needs him to stay still for a few more minutes. She needn’t have worried – he doesn’t want to go anywhere.
“Erm, Buffy, I’m fairly certain that that button-”
“I’ve got it, Giles,” Buffy snaps, and jams her finger down on the button in question. It does nothing to still the ominous rumblings of the car’s engine or lift in out of the ditch, but does start the windshield wipers whooshing lamely from side to side. Both of the car’s occupants sigh as one. “Okay,” Buffy says, a pained look on her face. “I’m sorry. What now?”
Giles pushes his glasses up and shrugs hopelessly. “There’s nothing for it – we’re just going to have to push it out.”
Buffy grins for the first time since entering the vehicle. “Shouldn’t be a problem. I may suck at driving lessons, but Slayer strength is good for pushing stuff around.” Together, they clamber out and set to work.
Jenny was, and is, one hundred percent sure that she isn’t going to have kids. Ever. Kids are annoying, and they’d tie her down, and who would she even want to have them with, anyway?
So she can’t quite figure out how to feel whenever she takes Buffy shopping when Joyce is at the gallery, or talks about boys with Willow, or even when she lets Xander crash at her place when his parents are fighting. They seem like they’re hers, more than anyone she’s related to ever has, and she doesn’t know what to do about it. Every day, the line between friends and family crumbles a little bit more, and the reports she writes go out to strangers rather than kin. It’s a reversal that she can’t bring herself to regret.
At first, Giles is just very happy to have a system. Buffy is the muscle. She charges in, puts the foe down, and returns for more direction. Willow, her odd little friend, gathers intelligence. Xander is a mixed bag of backup grunt work, halfhearted research, and terrible jokes. Giles himself is the tactician, drawing from his vast wealth of knowledge to command the troops and win the day. At first.
Then Buffy becomes a determined, vivacious girl with an enormous heart. He begins to see Willow as quirky, cheerful, and infinitely precious. Even Xander reveals himself to be a bitter teen with a soft spot for cheesy science fiction and his friends. Jenny Calendar appears, and goes from an annoyance to an enigma to something even more intriguing. And Giles changes, too.