I focus on Jim almost by instinct. He is staring at the guy who just walked in and I can tell there's something wrong. I put my hand on his shoulder, trying to ground him and then I hear him mutter "His heart's not beating, Chief." As soon as those words are uttered Buffy turns her attention back to us... I'm really not looking forward to getting reacquainted with that wall, though by the look in her eyes I suspect that Jim is now her intended target. I place myself between them and I turn to Giles for help. In a gesture that mirrors my own he places a hand on Buffy's shoulder and the standoff is momentarily broken, however I am aware that this is just a temporary truce. We all have our secrets here, that much is obvious, and it's time for all of us to come clean. I turn to Jim and he silently nods his approval though I can see he's not happy about it. I don't blame him, I understand that we've just met these people a few minutes ago and that the only reference we have about them is the fact that they are Giles's friends... and even though he's my father I know we just met Giles less than a week ago.
I look at the people who are gathered around us and I see they are as comfortable with the idea of coming clean as we are, though they too seem to realize that it's inevitable. Their reaction is not surprising considering what we have seen so far. There's a girl who obviously has at least enhanced hearing and whose strength is also abnormal, a girl with a green glow and a guy who's walking around without a heartbeat as if it were the most natural thing in the world. This is going to be interesting. I turn to my father, knowing he's the one who's going to have to get this started. He is the only one who knows everything that's going on and he's the only one who is trusted by everyone here.
After cleaning his glasses for almost a full minute Giles starts talking, telling us about demons, slayers and vampires. I listen to his explanation and almost immediately I find myself questioning my father's sanity and wondering if his condition could possibly be hereditary. What he's saying goes against everything I've ever known and the scientist in me cannot bring himself to believe it, the only problem is that it makes sense. As much as I hate to admit it, I can't come up with a better explanation as to why Spike doesn't have a pulse than the fact that he's a vampire... and the fact is that Jim's hearing has confirmed that little tidbit. I have no choice but to acknowledge that, as farfetched as it sounds, what my father is saying also provides some sort of explanation for Buffy's strength and it accounts for her reaction when I mentioned the glow surrounding her sister. Sure, my whole world view is being turned upside down by that explanation, but whether I like it or not it fits the facts. In a last ditch attempt to hold on to my skepticism I turn to Jim. I know he is monitoring everyone's vital signs... well, except Spike's that is... and as I acknowledge that thought I realize that, in spite of myself, I do believe my father's words.
The funny thing is that when it gets to be my turn to tell our side of the story it's almost anticlimactic. For once we are accepted for what we are, no questions asked, no suspicions, no doubts. I guess for these people a shaman and a sentinel are not particularly extraordinary and that's a welcome change. Following Giles's example I don't go into too many details, I just give them the basic facts. There will be time for details later as we get to know each other but at least now all secrets are out of the way, and I know things will be fine just as soon as I can get a little time to process everything I've been told.
The truth is that, whether I believe it or not, I'm not entirely comfortable with what I've just learned. Even though as a shaman who has been brought back from the dead and works with a sentinel every day I'm aware of some mystical forces, I still sometimes find myself trying to dismiss that aspect of my role. That has always been a problem for me, a source of conflict (though never to this point). I'm a shaman who was also trained as a scientist and because of that, I'm still struggling with the thought that, in addition to me and my sentinel, there's a vampire slayer, a vampire, a mystical Key, a former vengeance demon, a watcher, two witches and a carpenter gathered in this room. In fact the closest thing to a coherent thought I can come up with at this time is a single question: What on earth is a carpenter doing here?