Rating: PG-14. The language is a little nastier than the show—maybe—but that’s it.
Characters: S4 Cast
Spoilers: None, really. Set between "Hush" and "The ‘I’ In Team"
Disclaimer: I own these characters and I’m making money from this story. Yeah, right. My landlord is breathing down my neck because I like antagonizing him
Summary: Buffy’s principles are tested when she is faced with an all-too-common human evil.

Lesser Evils
By Matt

Willow shifted uncomfortably in her seat. She wouldn’t have thought that the herd of ditzes that comprised the Wicca group had the collective attention span to run a meeting longer than ten minutes.


She really should have known better. If nothing else, association with Cordelia Chase should have taught her that ditzes can talk for a very long time. Even if it was about nothing.

Especially if it was about nothing.

"Okay, everyone, I have a few final announcements," Nightshade Silverhawk—also known as Rebecca Malloy—declared, clapping her hands for silence. Nightshade was the martinet who made the few actual decisions that were ever made in the unnamed Wicca group. She sometimes complained of the responsibility, but she wouldn’t have had it any other way. Something she’d made very clear. The girl who’d made the mistake of running against her for "Coven President" at the beginning of the semester had been out of the group three weeks later.

Willow paid little attention to the announcements, which included another bake sale, the proceeds of which would be taken to one of the magic shops in town and used to purchase a Book of Shadows for the "coven". Said Book to include Merilee’s "empowering" brownie recipe, apparently.

Instead, she thought about quitting the group. Quitting wasn’t something that came naturally to her, but this was hopeless. She was pretty sure that she could convince Tara to come with her, and one serious co-witch was better than the whole flock of black-and-silver clad poseurs.

"And finally—"

Thank the Goddess.

"We have some congratulations. Althea, please stand up."

Looking uncomfortable, Althea did so. Althea was a tall African-American girl with an athletic build. She was another member of the group that Willow knew to be considering quitting. No point in trying to get her to join the little coven of two she was planning to form with Tara, however. Althea had joined the Wicca group for feminist, rather than religious or mystical, reasons. She’d found it just as dissatisfying.

"Althea’s application to join the Advocates has been accepted," Nightshade announced. "She begins training next week. Althea, the Sisterhood is proud of you." With that, she led a round of applause while Althea looked more and more embarrassed.

Willow clapped, but glanced sideways at Tara. Tara looked just as confused as she was. What the hell was an Advocate?

"I see some confused looks," Nightshade declared. Willow and Tara’s attention snapped back to the front, where Nightshade was smirking pointedly at them. There were others who also looked confused, but she hadn’t liked either of them since just before the Gentlemen’s invasion, when they’d suggested actually doing some magic. "Some of the First Years here apparently didn’t pay attention during Orientation," she continued smugly. "Althea, why don’t you explain what an Advocate is?"

Althea glanced at Nightshade sourly—Nightshade hadn’t been nearly this interested in activism when Althea had suggested using group funds to get some art supplies and a sheet to hang back when Take Back the Night had come through. Nonetheless, she turned back to the group and spoke.

"Advocates is a group of students who act as sexual assault, harassment, and abuse counselors. We’re run by the Equal Educational Opportunities office, and while, yeah, we’re there for people to talk to, we go further than that. We’ll take people to the police, and the hospital, and we help ‘em through the system. Whether the school system, or the legal system."

Nightshade was looking at Willow and Tara as if daring them to ask questions, but it was one of the other girls who raised her hand.

"Is that a big issue here?" She asked. "UC Sunnydale seems pretty safe…"

"Bigger than you’d think," Althea said. "You don’t hear much about it, partly because we’re completely confidential and partly because the administration and the trustees don’t like to advertise it. Last year, there were nearly sixty rapes on campus. Probably a lot more—those were just the ones who came to us." She paused and looked around the circle. "This is a dangerous time for a lot of you. This first semester. You’re fresh out of high school, first time away from your parents, so you go more overboard with the partying than you ever will again, drinking until you pass out every weekend. You don’t know the danger spots and you can’t spot the predators and you don’t really know how to take care of yourselves yet. This is the semester when it happens."