Upon entering the library, Esther noticed that there were three people already there, none seemed to have perceived her appearance. Two were conversing, while one was trying to be quiet, sneaking into the office, and it wasn't Rupert Giles.
"Miss Calendar said you were a babe!" Buffy Summers was apparently trying to be a distraction, the melody of her voice was distinct and memorable.
"She said what?" Rupert was somewhat shocked, not the Rupert she remembered. She wondered what had happened to the confident swagger, but then again he was a librarian now.
"She said you were a hunk of burning something or other... so what do you think of that?" Oh, her distraction techniques were excellent.
She could imagine Rupert taking off his glasses and polishing them, nervously. He did everything nervously now. Esther missed Ripper, he used to have a wicked sharp tongue. "Oh, I, er... I don't er... a burning hunk of what?"
"A burning hunka love, Ru." Esther piped up, Rupert turned to her as the third person left the office. "Surely people tell you that all the time." If it hadn't been for the sunglasses, she'd have thrown him a wink.
"And who, are, you?"
"Miss Rayne, the new Guidance Counsellor. And you must be Buffy Summers. Anyhow, it's Mr Giles I came to talk to."
The pair of students left the room rather quickly, only for Rupert to come and join her by the doors. "Esther, what on earth are you doing here?"
"Hopefully saving the day, please can we sit? and may I trouble you for a cup of tea?"
He took her arm and led her into his office. Turns out that he had some reasonably comfortable furniture in there.
"Now what brings you to Sunnydale?"
"I moved in with my brother for a while, meaning I'm on the sofa. But he's in town, and he's making trouble."
"When isn't he making trouble?" He placed the saucer in her hand and led her fingers to the cup.
"Thank you." It was nice to have people around her that bothered to help her, "I don't think he's ever not making trouble."
"When did this happen?" It was clear that he was referring to the glasses and the stick.
Esther rested her forearms on her knees, holding the teacup steady. "Not long after you left to join the Council.
"Ethan got really mad that his best mate left. And I got in the way of a drunken magical outburst.." The intake of breath saw her burst into an explanation. "It was an accident Ru!
"Ethan was distressed, you left and then everyone else broke off to do their own thing. He couldn't quite handle the thought of growing up, still hasn't quite managed it yet. He got furious, and it just burst out, I was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.
"Don't you dare feel guilty, you went to follow your calling. It's all on Ethan, and he's more than made up for it over the years... although he still can't rent an apartment big enough to house himself and his baby sister."
She could hear him shake his head, "If I'd have known..."
"You'd have what, Ru? Come running back? Blown off your family again? What could you have done? Rupert, everything about me is fine, well as fine as it can be. But I'm not here about me. I really need your help with Ethan."
"What's he planning?"
"He's got ideas on showing people to be careful what they wish for. I think it's linked to his costume shop."
Esther was happy to chill out in the library while the town was on Halloween overdrive. Sure it was the one night a year that the vampires stayed quiet, but she wasn't too happy about hanging around her nightmare of a brother. She might actually kill him before Rupert could stop him.
There'd been no appointments with students that afternoon, and she'd been more than happy to help with the research. Ru hadn't been happy with her proficiency in magic; historical texts didn't exactly come in braille.
"It's not like I'm abusing magic, not like Ethan. And I stick to white magic and little things that help. Like braille."
They'd found the spells that Ethan was using, not long after the ghost girl, Willow had appeared. Esther felt rather useless, she wasn't able to contribute to the fight. On a usual day, she might have been able to help out, but she was still recovering her powers; everything had gone into overdrive the day that Michael had walked out.
Rupert was out there, taking down Ethan and his idiocy. She was sitting, drinking tea, praying to any divine entity that would listen. Praying for the Watcher and his Slayer.
She busied herself reading through the Watcher diaries, it was all fascinating catching up on Rupert's life between when she last saw him and now.
A fresh pot of tea was brewing when she felt it. All the way across town, she felt the familiar ripples of magic. Ripper was out of his box. Esther just wished that she was able to see it; magical showdowns between Ripper and Ethan used to be amazing to watch.
When the magic faded, Esther made the library all neat and tidy again and made her way to the entrance hall of the school. There would be people coming in to pick up their kids if they didn't make their own way home.
With a couple of spells, she made sure the tea would not run dry. It didn't take a genius to realise that there would be some scared children and adults turning up. It was surprising how a decent cup of tea could distract people from their problems, if only for a short period of time.
Once everyone was settled and back with their families, they departed, and Esther made to clear up the tea things. She made a mental note to replace Rupert's tea supplies.
There weren't any other people heading towards the school, so she made her way out. She was pretty sure that she could make it home without incident. Hopefully, the vamps had already gone back to ground. Halloween was meant to be peaceful after all.
Stepping into the night air, she found her way blocked by a warm body.
"This was delightful timing. I'll take you home."
Esther took the arm that was offered, "is that what you say to all the pretty ladies?"
"What? Can't a pretty lady, flirt with a handsome man?" They were walking at a steady pace towards home.
"Esther, you know..."
"That you don't see me like that. I know." She smiled at him, even in the half-light he could tell it didn't reach her eyes. "Anyhow, what about this Miss Calendar, I keep hearing about?"