1 July 2000
Xander glanced out the window, but the view had not changed since the last time he had looked. "It's still raining," he reported, turning back to the Scoobies who were clustered around the reading tables in the Magic Box. Willow and the still painfully-shy Tara had their heads together over a book, while Anya leafed lazily through a fashion magazine. Giles stood behind the register, tallying up the day's receipts. Leave it to someone as old-fashioned as a Watcher to be doing it by hand. "The Buffster's not going to be pleased when she gets back from her patrol."
"Do you suppose I should've given her a rain charm?" Willow asked.
"A Slayer is expected to brave the weather," Giles said, glancing up from his task. "Besides, I'm relatively certain that she owns a raincoat. Doesn't she?"
"I th-thought it wasn't s-supposed to rain in California," Tara said, then immediately ducked her head and looked back at the book.
"This is one of those rare southern California rainstorms, sweetie," Willow answered, smiling indulgently. Tara glanced up at her and blushed. "We should be out there with bottles and jars collecting the rain so that we could sell it."
Xander chuckled. "I can just see the ad on eBay: Special California summer rain! Good for what ails ya!"
Anya looked up from her magazine. "Do you think we should? What's it likely to fetch on the open market?" The others stared at her, excepting Giles, who merely shook his head and went on with his bookkeeping.
4 July 2000
"Not much of a barbecue," Joyce Summers observed to Giles, as they stood on the back porch of the Summers residence while rain poured down. Giles, a decent enough cook under normal circumstances, couldn't barbecue to save his life. Instead, he was offering moral support -- and enjoying the rare privilege of adult company -- while Joyce provided the seared hot dogs and hamburgers that had been promised to her daughter and her friends when the Fourth of July barbecue had been planned a few weeks ago. No one had bargained on this weather; there were inch-deep puddles in the back yard since the rain had not stopped falling for three days straight.
In the house, Xander sighed and pushed his Monopoly token -- the dog -- onto the hotel-laden Park Avenue square. "I can't believe it's still raining."
Anya let out an ear-splitting squeal. "Park Avenue! That's mine. You owe me...." Xander continued his complaint as if Anya hadn't spoken. "I can't believe they cancelled the fireworks just because of a little rain."
"Fireworks, Xander," Buffy pointed out, reaching for the die. "They'd be all fizzly in this weather." She tossed the die and moved her little hat; without waiting for Anya's squeal, she started counting out play money. "Maybe we should've picked a different game," she whispered to Willow, who rolled her eyes in acknowledgement.
"Have you decided whether or not you're going to live on campus again this year?" she asked instead.
Buffy sighed. "Not yet. I hate to leave Mom alone, but I have to leave the nest sometime, right? It'd be easier if I had brothers or sisters." Still feeling guilty over how easy it had been for Faith, using her body, to take her place in Joyce's affections, she had been waffling for weeks over whether or not to continue as Willow's roommate for another year.
"Yes," Willow said firmly, accepting the die for her turn. "You should be all nest-leavey."
There was a knock at the door, which then opened before anyone could get up. "Sorry I'm late," Riley called as he stepped through the door. "Man, can you believe this rain? I'd expect weather like this back home, but I thought it was always sunny in California."
"Normally so," Buffy said, accepting a kiss as he came up to the table, "hence the name 'Sunnydale.'"
"I'd say that's pretty much wishful thinking these days," he responded. "Monopoly, eh? Who's winning?"
"Who do you think?" Willow asked, glancing darkly at the happily oblivious Anya's stacks of brightly-colored play money, neatly arranged by denomination. In contrast, Xander's money was all higgledy-piggledy on his section of the table.
Riley chuckled. "Where's your mom, Buffy?" He hefted his brown paper grocery bag. "I brought some adult libations."
"Be right back." He ducked through the house, grocery bag clanking.
"From the perspective of someone from out of state, he's r-right," Tara said quietly. "This is w-weather we'd expect elsewhere. It feels kind of...odd to me."
"It's just a little rain," Buffy answered dismissively. "California does occasionally get rain."
Tara bit her lip and ducked her head so that her hair swung forward and hid her face. Willow shot her best friend an annoyed look, but Buffy wasn't paying attention.
11 July 2000
"Time to throw it over to Les for the weather." The anchorwoman, her blonde hair arranged just so, smiled brightly. "So, Les? How long is this rain going to continue?"
"Well, Valerie, I just can't say," the weatherman replied with a hearty laugh, as equally false as Valerie's brittle smile. "As you can see from the map, this odd weather system that has been stalled over Sunnydale for the last ten days doesn't show any sign of shifting in any direction."
The weather map projected on the green screen behind Les the Weather Man showed normal sunny weather in all directions around Sunnydale, but clouds directly overhead. Xander, making a sandwich to take to work with him narrowed his eyes at the TV. He wasn't much for the brainy stuff, and he certainly hadn't paid any more attention in earth science than in any other class, but that looked decidedly unnatural to him. Unlike Buffy and Willow, he had actually been paying attention to Riley and Tara's remarks about the weather, and he had the sudden sinking feeling that they were right. He picked up the telephone and dialed Willow's number as, on the television, Valerie and Les started bantering about building arks.
15 July 2000
Willow stood back and looked over the books in the stacks at the back of the Magic Box. She would have thought that as a former librarian, Giles would have arranged them in some sort of order, but he appeared to have just tossed the books into place as each box was unpacked and never gone back to them. Annoyed, she nearly said as much to Tara before she remembered that Buffy, with her Slayer strength, had been the one schlepping the heavy boxes of books. She shook her head at her friend's lack of respect for learning and resolved to get the books in order before school started next month.
The shop was closed, as was most of downtown Sunnydale; it had been raining for two weeks straight and there was flooding in parts of town. The National Guard had been sent to Sunnydale and Riley was off helping them deal with evacuations and guarding against looting. Giles was doing research at home in his private library.
"What you n-need is a copy of Rain-Making for Fun and Profit," Tara said. "Or maybe Rain-Stopping for Fun and Profit." Tara's stutter was much less pronounced when they were alone. As Willow looked over at her, Tara smiled her calm, sweet smile, the one that managed to lift the sadness from her eyes, the one that she reserved for Willow alone. A tingle that had nothing to do with magic -- in the ordinary sense, if one could use that word with magic -- ran up Willow's spine and she smiled back.
She reached out and curled her fingers around Tara's. "Do you happen to have a copy?"
Tara shook her head and glanced over at the table where Dawn sat quietly reading. She and Willow were baby-sitting Buffy's little sister; despite the flooding, Joyce was at work, and the days were so dark and dreary that Buffy was doing extra patrols. The youngster seemed oblivious to them. Nevertheless, Tara gently disentangled her fingers from Willow's, but not before giving them a gentle squeeze.
"Wait!" Willow said, excited. She had felt something, just before she lost contact with Tara's fingers. This had happened before, where Tara's magic, in contact with her own had amplified both. "Give me your hand, sweetie!"
Tara, who had felt it, too, reached out and joined her hand palm-to-palm with Willow's. "There," she whispered, nodding to a book whose spine was suddenly -- to their Sight -- glowing softly. Willow pulled the volume from the shelf and they joined Dawn at the table.
But the book proved to be a disappointment when they leafed through it. Although it had rain spells in it, they were all about calling rain from elsewhere, rather than stopping it.
"Maybe you could, you know, reverse one of them?" Dawn said, glancing up from her book.
"That's a good idea, Dawnie," Tara said, "but it doesn't always work that way. We'd need to know which of any number of infinite spells was used to begin with."
"Then we need to find the person who cast the spell and ask them." Dawn's suggestion was so reasonable that the two witches looked at one another gape-mouthed for a moment. "And if they don't want to tell us," Dawn continued sweetly, "then we send Buffy to kick their ass."
16 July 2000
The seeking spell that Willow and Tara had crafted had led them to a low-rent apartment building near the UC Sunnydale campus; it was the sort of place that students normally rented, but there were a few year-round residents. Buffy, Willow, Tara and Xander, all sopping wet from following the bobbing will-o'-the-wisp through the sodden streets of Sunnydale, followed it up three flights of stairs.
"It's this one," Buffy said, indicating a door with her shoulder.
"How do you know?" Xander asked.
"Well, there's that," she answered, pointing to the tiny light floating patiently in front of the door, "and then there's that." She pointed this time to the thin trickle of bright blue smoke seeping from beneath the door.
"Oh. Do we knock?"
"That would be the polite thing," Willow said. "Maybe...Tara, could you do it? And we can hide on either side of the door, and that way, when the weather-witch answers, we can kibosh them."
Tara nodded nervously. She dismissed the seeking spell and waited until the other three had flattened themselves to either side of the door, Buffy and Xander on one side and Willow on the other, Buffy closest to where whoever answered the door would be standing. She stepped up to the door, raised her hand, and, with a glance at Willow, knocked.
There was a yelp from the other side of the door, and a muffled cursing. "Someone's not happy," Xander observed.
"Good," Buffy answered, shortly. She was tired of being wet, tired of patroling in the rain, tired of wrinkly fingers and cold toes and had a strong desire to beat something, and desperately hoped there was a demon on the other side of the door.
The door opened, and she sprang, grabbing a double handful of polo shirt, and wrenching its wearer around and flattening...him...against a wall. She pulled back her hand...
"Wait! Buffy, wait! Don't hit me!"
...which was when she registered that the weather-witch was Jonathan Levinson. She let him go in disgust as her companions trailed dripping through the door. Tara politely closed it and leaned against it out of the way.
The Slayer surveyed Jonathan's apartment. In some ways, it was a regular student bachelor pad, with take-out boxes tossed everywhere, and dirty dishes and glasses on every surface. But the furniture was all shoved up against the walls and weird symbols were chalked in various colors on the bare floorboards. Candles burned everywhere and the air was thick with incense and candle smoke.
She turned back to Jonathan and realized that he looked as bad as his apartment. Even before she'd wrinkled his shirt by grabbing him, it looked like he'd been sleeping in it. His normally clean-shaven face had a several days' growth of beard, his eyes were bloodshot and the deep shadows beneath argued with his shirt about a profound lack of sleep.
She sighed and crossed her arms. "All right, Jonathan, what did you do?"
"It was just research," he protested, "for Sosh 208."
"Sosh?" Xander asked.
"Sociology," the university students chorused. None of them seemed to notice when Xander reddened slightly.
"208...that's P-primitive Peoples and M-mythologies, isn't it?" Tara asked, without moving from her station by the door. "I w-was planning to take it this semester with D-doctor Stevens."
Jonathan brightened. "You should. Stevens is a great teacher; he really knows his stuff. I'm taking it as a summer class...." His voice trailed off as Buffy cleared her throat meaningfully. The Scoobies had a complicated relationship with Jonathan. He'd had a difficult time in high school, and Buffy had, in their senior year, stopped him from committing suicide in the belltower. He'd done better after that, but had turned to sorcery. Like Willow, he was very talented, and sometimes, he even managed to cast a truly enormous spell, like the one he'd recently cast that had made himself into a well-liked, well-respected superhero in Sunnydale, ascendant even over the Slayer. But in the end, the spell had been broken and the only ones to remember it now were Jonathan and the Scoobies.
"Um. Well, and that's what happened, really. I was reading about primitive peoples and weather beliefs...."
"And so for extra credit you decided to make it rain? Didn't you grow out of that sort of suck-upism when you graduated?" Buffy's voice was harsher than she intended, but, dammit, she was tired of being wet.
"Hey, no need to be nasty." Jonathan was just as tired. "I tried to make it stop. And tried. And tried some more. It just won't."
"W-we have an idea," Tara said gently. "If you'll j-just tell us w-what spell you used?"
"Sure," Jonathan said. "It's this one." He picked up an old book which fell open at a well-marked page. "Have fun. I'm going to take a nap."
17 July 2000
"Rain, rain, go away. Come again another day.” Willow and Tara spoke the children's rhyme in matching sing-song voices, their hands clasped, Willow's right in Tara's left. Buffy could feel, though, beneath the words, the indefinable push that meant magic.
"That's it?" Xander asked, from his station outside the circle meticulously chalked onto the cement floor of the back room of the magic shop. "Isn't that sort of...unmagicky?"
The witches turned to look at him. Tara's shoulders seemed slumped a bit with fatigue, but Willow did not appear at all affected by the outlay of magical energy.
Tara shrugged. "Nothing like the classics."
"Besides," Willow added. "It wasn't as unmagicky as you might think. There was a lot of magic. It was very magicky."
"But will it work?" Xander still sounded unconvinced, and not without reason -- while Willow's magic had improved a lot since she'd met Tara, she still occasionally had flubs. Not on the giant scale of Jonathan's, but flubby, nonetheless. And Tara, for the most part, was an unknown quantity.
Buffy cocked her head. "Listen. It already has."
"Excellent!" Willow said. The candles around the circle suddenly went out, and she and Tara each scuffed a section of the chalk away and stepped out of the circle. The Scoobies hurried into the front of the magic shop, where Giles, Dawn and Anya were already standing at the front window.
Buffy strode to the door and flung it open, stepping into the street. For the first time in over two weeks, the air was dry. As the others filed out of the door behind her, the clouds rolled back and the sun shone through. The sidewalks of downtown Sunnydale started to steam.
"Much better," Buffy declared.
"So," Xander said, "the next question is, 'how long is it going to take to clean this mess up?'"
"No," Buffy disagreed. "The next question is, 'who wants pizza?'"
"I could do pizza," Xander said instantly.
"Pizza would be wonderful," Tara agreed. "I'm starved."
Willow put her arm around Tara's waist. "Magic makes us hungry. I'm in."
"We should call Jonathan," Tara said quietly.
Buffy turned to her. "Why? He can get his own pizza."
"That's not what I meant," Tara said. "We should let him know how we stopped the rain. For his research paper."
"Hey, sweetie," Willow said, delighted, "you didn't stutter!"
Tara shrugged. "It's the magic. It'll come back, probably. It always does."
"All right," Buffy said. "Pizza and Jonathan it is." And the Scoobies filed back into the Magic Box while around them the residents of Sunnydale stepped outside and turned their eyes wonderingly to the sunlit skies.