Summary: This takes place in an alternate timeline, where Surprise/Innocence and Becoming never happened.
Disclaimer: Buffy the Vampire Slayer and all her friends belong to someone other than me. Despite the fact that I firmly believe that I would be much nicer to them than their *cough* actual owner. ;)
Author's Notes: This takes place in an alternate timeline, where none of that nasty Surprise/Innocence, Becoming stuff ever happened. It would be post-'Halloween', except I've obviously taken some huge liberties with some of the 'Buffy' mythos... like all those pesky escape-clauses-for-souls rules.
Feedback: Thanks for reading! Feedback is, as always, appreciated :)
Giles sighed heavily, running one palm over his face. "Good Lord, it's late," he said abruptly, glancing around the library. Xander and Willow were sitting at the computer, searching diligently for a spell to correct the... problem. Angel and Buffy were over by the stacks, talking quietly. Angel held a book in his hand - one more tome that Giles hoped would contain the secret to restoring the student to normal.
A pathetic croaking sound echoed through the library, and Willow jumped up from her seat, running over to a shoebox that was sitting rather innocuously on the check-in desk. "Oh, poor baby! He needs more water," she said after a moment, in explanation.
Buffy and Angel, their conversation interrupted, moved closer as one. Giles approached Willow as well. "Is he quite all right?" the Watcher asked as Willow reached into the box and withdrew a mottled brown and green frog.
"I think so," the red-haired girl replied, dipping her fingers into a glass of water that was close by. She smoothed her fingertips over the amphibian's back. The tiny frog seemed to arch into her touch, croaking once more. This time it sounded a touch less forlorn. Willow had been terrified of the animal initially - she had frog-fear, after all - but had quickly taken pity on the defenseless little guy when it became clear that he _had_ been human. After all, he was only temporarily a frog, right? So that made him less-to-be-feared. Besides, she had a soft spot for creatures in need. Buffy and Xander were worse than useless when it came to caring for living things, and Giles had already been busy researching a solution. When Angel had arrived, he'd seemed no more willing than Buffy or Xander had been... so Willow had been forced to fight down her fear and care for creature. Now, many hours later, with sunrise only a few hours away, she felt a sort of bond with the green and brown mottled frog - as though they were almost friends. She grinned at the flight of fancy.
Angel moved a bit closer, trying to see the frog more clearly. "So... that was a student here?" he asked quietly, trying not to startle the girl or the frog.
"Yeah," Willow replied, not looking up from her ministrations. "None of us actually knew him - except for Cordy. He was the guitarist in the band that one of the guys she dated was with. I guess his name was Oz... or something."
"Any idea what happened to him?" the vampire ventured, reaching back to enfold Buffy's hand in his own, pulling her closer to his side. She went willingly, leaning her head against his shoulder.
Giles cleared his throat. "He... er... it seems he got in the way of a rather powerful spell. We're not certain who the witch was trying to hit with it... Buffy seems a likely possibility. We think he may have been targeted because he happened - for some odd reason - to be in the library today."
"So this little guy saved me... cool, huh?," the Slayer chirped. She pulled a bit away from Angel's side to lean closer to the frog for a moment. "I promise you that won't go unrewarded," she told the amphibian solemnly, apparently unconcerned that she was addressing a tiny little animal perched moistly in her friend's hand. "We'll figure out a way to change you back."
"Done and done!" Xander said firmly, pushing away from the computer to rip off a page that the printer was spitting out.
"You've found it?" Giles asked urgently, holding out his hand to receive the slip of paper. He scanned it quickly, his eyes lighting up with relief. "Well done, Xander!"
"T'weren't nothin'," Xander quipped, dragging his sneakered foot modestly across the floor. "Will actually found the site right before she jumped up - all I had to do was hunt down the specific spell."
Giles sat down, mentally tallying what they would need for the spell-casting. He had all the candles, herbs, and other paraphernalia lying around his office - that would be no problem, but... "We'll need a virgin," he announced.
A long, awkward silence met his words. Glancing up, he saw Buffy blushing as she looked towards Angel... who was shifting from foot to foot in a rather guilty fashion. "Uh... don't look at me," she mumbled, not quite meeting her Watcher's eyes.
"Ewwww!" Xander moaned, clutching dramatically at his stomach and making a gagging motion.
Willow, already possessed of the abruptly blurted out information, hurried to cover for her friend. "Um, what do we need a virgin for, Giles?" she asked loudly, drawing the librarian's piercing gaze away from the nervous couple.
"W-well, it's rather interesting, actually," Giles finally said, his attention sufficiently diverted. "There was a fable about a princess and a frog..."
"Oh nasty!" Xander announced, barely recovered from his revelation about Angel and Buffy. "My lips ain't touching that thing."
Giles almost smiled. "It's fascinating, really," he mused, not bothering to respond to the outburst, "I'd never supposed that particular fairy tale was based on fact."
"You mean someone has to kiss him?" Willow asked, peering down at the tiny frog, nestled in her palm. "I'll do it," she decided quickly.
"Oh Will - you've got to be kidding me!" Xander said, looking even greener than the frog.
"It's just a little kiss," Willow argued. "And he saved Buffy from... well... being a frog, I guess. We can't just leave him like this. So what do I do, Giles?" she asked the Watcher pointedly.
"Er... well... just give me a moment to set things up - then we should be able to carry out the spell with no difficulty," Giles replied, jumping up from his seat to fetch the items he'd need from his office.
Buffy sidled over to Willow's side, dragging Angel with her. "Thanks for the save, Will," she whispered.
"Any time, Buffy," Willow murmured back, still stroking the frog's smooth back. "I wonder if he knows what's going on?" she wondered aloud.
"Who? Oh, the frog," Buffy realized. "Um... not sure. Actually, I'm kind of hoping not. After all, we were talking about Slayer-type stuff, earlier. But Cordy said he was pretty cool - so maybe he can be trusted... if he does remember."
"Speaking of... where _is_ the 'Queen of Mean'?" Xander asked suddenly, still looking ill - but alternating that with evil glares at Angel.
"She left to get her hair done," Willow said with thinly veiled disgust. She hadn't thought much of Cordelia's eagerness to get away from the situation. She dipped her fingers in the water once more, trailing the drops soothingly along the amphibian's back as it shifted it's negligible weight, almost seeming to heave a tiny sigh.
Giles emerged quickly from his office, his arms loaded down with a combination of scented candles and smelly herbs. He configured them to his liking on one of the tables, lighting the candles when he was finished. "Very well, then... Willow?"
Carrying her precious burden over to the Watcher, Willow ignored Xander making loud smacking sounds somewhere to her left. "So... what do I do?" she asked nervously.
"Just wait until I've read this short text - then er... kiss the frog," Giles supplied. He began to intone the Latin phrases as Buffy, Angel, and Xander backed away from where the two stood. Willow lifted her hand close to her mouth... and found herself staring into the frog's iridescent emerald eyes. All too soon, Giles was finished. "Now, Willow," he hissed quietly.
Closing her eyes, Willow took a deep breath, slightly puckered her lips, and leaned forward. She felt her mouth brush against something clammy and moist... and very frog-like. And then, suddenly... so very NOT-frog-like.
"Whoa!" she heard Buffy exclaim loudly.
"What the hell...?" Xander demanded.
"I s-say..." Giles stuttered.
"Uh - that was supposed to happen, right?" Angel asked rhetorically.
Willow pulled slowly away from the warm, only slightly moist lips that had held hers in a gentle, sweet kiss. Letting her eyelids flutter open, she stared up into the face of a boy just about her age, with reddish hair. "Um... hi?" she said hesitantly, realizing that she was holding hands with him.
The boy seemed confused, but very pleased, with the situation. "It's you!" he said softly, before crumpling in a dead faint.
"Oh dear, oh dear," Giles commented, looking down at the boy as Willow cried out and sank to her knees next to him. "I have a feeling this is going to be most awkward."
"Is he okay?" Willow asked anxiously, feeling quickly for the boy's pulse, reassured to find it strong and steady. "I guess it was just too much... being a frog."
"Well, it's getting to be that time," Angel said with deliberate casualness, leaning over to kiss Buffy under Xander's openly hostile glare. He then began to nonchalantly ease toward the library doors.
"Wait just a moment." The Watcher's voice had the chill of an arctic wind. "Buffy. Angel. My office for a moment, if you please."
As the Slayer cast her boyfriend a dread-laden expression, Giles herded them towards the open door. "But Giles!" Buffy's whine carried well out into the library right before the door clicked shut behind the trio. Xander allowed himself a smug little smile, and wandered away to raid the vending machines.
Willow looked around herself at the suddenly empty library, then back down at the boy... Oz... who's hand she held reassuringly. "Don't worry," she whispered, touching the fingertips of her other hand to his lips, seeing his eyelashes barely twitch. "I'll still be here when you wake up."
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