Disclaimer: Joss owns all the good characters
Thanks to everyone who gave feedback, I always really appreciate it. If anything seems confusing, can you let me know what bits so I can try and clarify it later. Also I thought long and hard about how the sequel to "No time to choose" should be written, and I chose the episodic format because I figured it would help me learn more about pace and timing by keeping to a teaser and four acts. I don't think I am learning anything, because each episode seems to be getting longer and longer which defeats the whole point, but I've started now and as I have all the eps pretty much planned I guess I should keep going. So I guess if any of you catch me losing the flow let me know where too, so I can give myself a slap. Anyway why are you all still listening to me yap on...
Slayers 1.2 – Beneath the Moon
Kennedy walked along the road slightly ahead of the three younger girls. The night so far had been uneventful, and she was bored. The girl's had been chattering non-stop since they'd arrived in town and parked the truck. She had tried to actually teach them something, impart some of her adventures in Sunnydale, and show them what being a Slayer meant, just like Buffy had done for her and the others when they had come to her. However the girls seemed more interested in discussing Xander and Andrew and the world's number one Slayer. Kennedy sighed, none of them interested her. Now if they had been talking about Willow she could have happily forgone the hunt for beasties and bored for Ohio on the subject. Not that anything was boring about her Willow.
One of the girls screamed behind her and she spun around to the face the foe.
There was nothing there but the three girls. Miranda had her hand to her mouth, the other pointing into the shadows of a shop awning. Kennedy turned to look that way, her eyes adjusting to the gloom. She could see the pale green eyes staring back at her balefully, and if she strained she could make out a thin, whip like tail swirling in the air.
She barked out a laugh and squatted at the road side, holding out her hand palm up she made kissing noises. The big ginger tom cat came gracefully out of the shadows and made its way towards her hand.
"Here's your big bad…" Kennedy began until a rushing matt of grey and black pounced on the cat and disappeared up the road. The cat in its mouth. "What the…?" Kennedy never finished the sentence as another of the creatures landed on her, knocking her sideways to fall on the road.
"Get back." She shouted to the girls as she pulled her knees up under the beast and stopped it from getting a good grip on her.
One big paw swiped down, intending to rip her throat out, but she was just quick enough to lift one of her hands to block it. Her arm took the bash and its claws left thick red welts on her fore arm, but she still had a head so all was good. She used the same hand to grab a hold on its hairy head and pulled it backwards with all her Slayer strength. She wanted to get her legs around its neck and snap it, but they were still trapped under the weight of its body. Its mouth, full of sharp teeth and dripping saliva was trying to connect with her face, but her grip on its hair was keeping it at bay. That's all she was doing though. She couldn't find any leverage to get the thing off of her.
Alison had been huddling the other two girls into the shop doorway but now she saw that Kennedy was struggling, she ran back to help. The only weapon she had was a wooden stake. She'd never used one before to kill anything, but it wasn't difficult to figure out which end went in the monster. She held it in both hands and lifted her arms up high above her head. She debated with herself for a second where the heart was supposed to be, and then with a shake of her head plunged it hard into beast's back.
It yelped and went rigid on top of Kennedy for a second and Alison thought she had killed it, but before she could celebrate it twisted on top of the older Slayer and lashed out a paw that sent Alison flying through the air. Before Kennedy could take advantage of it's distraction it had leapt off of her and snarling, ran up the road after its buddy.
Faith looked at the slop in her bowl with disgust. It was supposed to be mashed potatoes and stew. Sure didn't look like it. She sighed, thinking about the huge cheeseburger she'd eaten the day before. Now that was food.
A shadow fell across her table, but she didn't bother looking up as she asked:
"What's up, Lol? Something I can help you with?"
Lolitta was two hundred and ten pound of tall, dark and scary. An Italian American with a fiery temper. As far as Faith knew she was inside for a mob hit that went wrong. Instead of killing the guy she'd been told to, she killed the guy she was doing the job with because he pissed her off while they waited. In the time before Faith had jumped ship, she and Lolitta had become, not friends but equals maybe. They were the only two women no one else in the place would mess with. A lot of the time Faith had despised the other woman but deep down she knew that they were pretty similar. They'd both had a rough go of it, both been brought up in a world which made you not give a damn about anyone but yourself. They had both been chosen for jobs either due to birthright or destiny that they could not walk away from. If Faith didn't have Angel and the rest on the outside rooting for her, she would probably be still as angry as Lolitta and taking it out on the population of Stockton Correctional Facility. Plus, before, she had been more fun to hang with than most of the retards in the place. Since she'd been back though the Slayer had been keeping her distance. She wanted to keep her nose clean and hanging with Lolitta would not make that easy.
"I was gonna ask you the same thing, Wilkins." Faith cringed at the name. That wasn't her anymore, but she kept quiet. "Word has it that you've been playing Governor's lap dog. You switching sides on us?"
Faith looked up. Lolitta was flanked by her two little lackeys. Not that they were small women, just Lol had a habit of making a tank look little.
Buffy pulled her wardrobe out of one of the boxes littering the floor and inspected it. There wasn't much. She hadn't been as enthusiastic as the others when it came to replacing their lost belongings. She picked a pair of cream cotton pants and a loose black sweater out of the pile and gave them a quick sniff. They were passable. Hesitating she swapped the pants for a pair of blue jeans that wouldn't crease so easily and shoved them in her new duffel bag.
She went to the bathroom for her toiletries, passing Dawn on the way, she was perched on the laundry basket outside her door.
"So do you know what you're going to say to her yet?" The young brunette asked.
Buffy had thought of little else all night, but she still hadn't come up with a final draft. Going back into her room with her tooth brush, she said. "I'm going to tell her she's an idiot."
Dawn scrunched her face up in thought. "But if she's such an idiot why are you bothering to go see her?"
"Because someone needs to point it out to her."
"Hello it's called a phone." Dawn held a phone made of fingers to her ear.
"You can't tell someone they're an idiot over the phone Dawn, it's rude. You have to say it in person, there are like …rules." Buffy looked around her room and decided to grab her walkman as well. It was a long flight to Los Angeles, which would go easier if she couldn't hear all the worrying little plane noises.
"Well just as long as you're not running all the way out there to make up with her or forgive her or let her off the hook for anything."
Buffy didn't answer.
"Buffy! She left you, remember. Disappeared without a trace. Left you miserable and alone."
"I know, but I have to see her so please just back off Dawn, okay?"
Dawn exhaled in frustration, but relented. "So you haven't forgotten about my enrolment meeting this morning, have you?"
Buffy paused for a second while she counted days in her mind before replying. "No of course not. My flights not until noon, we'll go this morning."
"Thanks. I would ask Willow, she'd probably make a better impression on the Principal anyway, but she's been in a bit of a state ever since Kennedy called last night." Dawn wished she didn't even have to enrol in another school. This would make three schools in three years.
Buffy nodded. "It's okay, I have time."
The phone started to ring downstairs. "Oh Dawn could you get that…and if it's Angel don't tell him I know. I don't want him hanging up until I get to shout at him."
"Okay Kenn, no I'll be here. I'm just glad you're okay….So can you tell me what happened, what was it? ...Oh yeah I guess, hospital corridor not really the place for an open discussion…And you're sure Ali is fine…" Dawn came careering into the kitchen and Willow held her hand up to keep the girl quiet. "…Well that's the main thing…Yep see you then – drive safely." Willow put the phone down and smiled at Dawn. "Everyone's okay. They're leaving Cleveland General now so they should be back in an hour."
"Cool." Said Dawn, buttering toast.
Giles, his glasses discarded on the kitchen table, rubbed at his forehead. "That is good news. Did Kennedy throw any light on what we're dealing with? Vampire? Demon?"
"Nope. It was a bit busy and she didn't want to scare the other patients. She just said they got jumped and Alison got knocked out."
"Well we'll learn more when they get back, I'm sure." He put his glasses back on. "How's Buffy this morning?" He asked Dawn.
Dawn chuckled. "Well you and Angel are tying first place for public enemy number one." Giles winced. "I think Faith's number one and a half. I don't know whether Buffy is gonna hit her when she's sees her, or kiss her, but either way I think it will be unpleasant and painful to watch." Giles coughed and Willow smirked. "She is taking me for enrolment though before she catches her flight."
"That's good. This Faith thing can't be upsetting her too much if she's still thinking about you're education first." Willow said positively.
"I had to remind her."
Buffy came down the back stairs into the kitchen. "Dawn – scoot, go get ready. We have to leave now. If this makes me late I'll have to leave you at the school and go catch my plane from there."
Dawn looked horrified. "But the school is like ten miles away."
"So hurry up then." Buffy started pouring herself some cereal.
Dawn stomped up the stairs, muttering "Yeah she cares about my education, but doesn't give a flying Rathcalek demon about me."
Buffy shook her head at Dawn's muttered grumbles and rolled her eyes at Willow.
Willow beamed at Buffy. "Kennedy just phoned, she said everything's fine and they're on their way home."
Buffy didn't look up from the cereal she was pushing around her bowl. "That's good."
"Well the rest of us thought so." Willow was obviously annoyed that Buffy didn't seem to care about the health of her girlfriend and the new Slayers.
Buffy recognised the tone of voice and looked up sharply. "Sorry Wills, it is good and I'm glad their okay. I've just got a lot on my mind."
Giles cleared his throat. "Buffy, I know I said this last night, in fact I spent most of last night saying it, but do you really think it's a good idea to go and see Faith, after she expressly asked that you didn't find out where she was staying."
Buffy scraped her chair back loudly and took her bowl to the sink, where she let it clatter into the bottom. "Giles, I'm going."
"But in the mood you're in you may just make matters worse." The Watcher tried to reason.
"I wouldn't be in any mood about it if someone had bothered to tell me where she was."
"Buffy, Angel and I…"
"Angel and you what?" Buffy cut him off. "Decided to go behind my back and keep secrets from me. Important secrets that affect my life, my happiness. Why do you two always do that?"
"Buffy we didn't do any of that to you. We did it for Faith…"
"Yeah and I expect Angel to take her side now their such bosom buddies but you…I thought you were on my side."
"Buffy." Willow said softly.
Giles looked pained; he rubbed his forehead again and took a sip from his teacup. "I thought I was doing the right thing, and I still believe that, but I, I'm sorry I hurt you in the process."
Buffy sighed. "I know Giles. It's just that, I've been going crazy the past two months and that all could have been avoided, but…but I'm glad she felt she could trust you and I'm glad you helped her." Buffy looked back at Willow. "Tell Dawn I'll be out in the car and if she takes any longer I'll just go and enrol myself instead of her." She turned and went out the back door.
Faith pulled the rack out of the mechanical wringer and reached in for the sheet. Before she could lean back up someone or something had grabbed the back of her neck. She tried to force her head back up, but the something pushed forward and laid its body weight against her back, keeping her in the awkward position.
She let herself go limp and just hang over the metal railing, waiting for her chance.
"That's it Wilkins, play like a good girl and we won't have to hurt you."
'Oh for Christ's sake' thought Faith, 'how did they even get down here?' It was Lolitta and most likely her two henchwomen as well. Only the women working the laundry should have been able to get into the hot, steam-filled room. Lol was obviously working someone for favours.
"What do you want, Lol?" Faith tried to keep her voice light and friendly, because she was hardly in a position to pick a fight.
"The truth. We hear you've got an appeal coming up. How'd you get an appeal, Wilkins, with you're track record. Something ain't right. Either you're sleeping with the Governor, or you're telling tales to him. Nothing else would make him give a rat's ass whether you rotted in this place."
Faith sneered but it was hidden in the rack. "My lawyer found new evidence, that's all it is. The Governor can't keep me in here if I ain't supposed to be."
"Aww and you expect us to believe you're all sweet and innocent and you didn't kill anyone." Lolitta mocked her.
"I never said I didn't kill no one. What's this about anyhow? What's it got to do with you whether I'm in here or not?"
Lolitta dragged Faith up by the back of the neck and slammed her against the driers behind her. Faith could have stopped herself from being thrown anywhere, but let her momentum carry her backwards to where Lolitta wanted her.
Lolitta leaned close to her, and Faith's nose wrinkled from the smell of the woman's breath. "I don't care if you're in here, in fact I wish you're ugly ass was outta here for good, and I don't mean through the gates. However I suddenly thought that you and me used to hang a fair bit before you disappeared and I don't want you getting any ideas about using stories about me as you're 'Get out of jail free' card. You got it?"
Faith let them see her sneer this time. "Lol, everyone in here knows how dirty you are. Any shit going down in this place and you've got a finger in it. The screws don't need me to tell them that. You just got a problem 'cause I'm so much prettier than you're ugly, skanky-assed self, but you don't wanna admit that in front of Igor and Quasimodo, other there." She shut her eyes when the first swing came at her face, that one stung, catching her squarely on the nose, but the others she hardly felt at all.
Buffy pulled the car up outside the school's admin office. It had only taken them twenty minutes to get there and Buffy had relaxed a bit on the drive. She opened her door and climbed out. Dawn got out the passenger side.
"Have you got everything you need?" The blonde asked.
Dawn was nervous. "Uh, I think so. What exactly do I need?"
Buffy moaned in exasperation. "I don't know…Transcripts, books, a pencil."
"Uh Buffy, you do know this is just an enrolment thing don't you. I don't actually start classes until next week. I don't need any of that stuff and besides transcripts get sent by the school board, don't you remember?"
"Well it never hurts to be prepared." Buffy answered distractedly, looking for the way in. Spotting the doors she headed for them. A moment of clarity struck her over heated mind. "Ooh I know, have you got that letter of recommendation Robin sent you."
"Yep." Dawn pulled it out of her pocket and waved it around. "It arrived a few days ago. It was nice of him to send it all the way from New York. I'm kind of going to miss having him as Principal."
"Really?" Buffy was amused, she'd never realised Dawn had a crush on the freelance demon-fighter.
Dawn carried on oblivious to her sister's speculation. "Yeah, it was cool having someone who knew about the nasties. You tell any other teacher you've seen a Ghost Zombie…"
"Vengeful Manifest Spirits."
"Yeah them, and they either give you detention for smoking drugs in school time, or they send you to some hokey guidance counsellor…"
"…For six months of heavy therapy."
"Yeah well this school isn't directly on top of a Hellmouth so you should be okay here." Buffy straightened her skirt and top before knocking on the door to the Principal's suite.
"You're right; it's at least half a mile from here. Everything should be fine." Dawn responded sarcastically before following her sister through the door.
A man with blonde hair watched them go through the door from the end of the hall. He studied them from the distance and for a second it looked like his nose twitched and his nostrils flared, but then he shrugged and walked back to the music room.
Willow and Giles were still sat at the kitchen table when Xander came down the back stairs into the kitchen, clutching his head with one hand and scratching at his chest with the other.
He stopped at the foot of the stairs. "Has the yelling stopped? Because if the yelling hasn't stopped then I'm going back to bed."
"The yelling has stopped, Xander. The loud lady has taken Dawn to enrol." Said Willow. "What's wrong?"
Xander slumped down at the table with his hands in the same position, one to his head and one to chest. "My head feels like I'm inside it trying to hammer nails into my skull."
"Well that's what happens when you drink that much beer." Willow told him, totally unsympathetic.
"But I only drank so much to try and make me forget about the itching – look." He pulled his pyjama shirt open to reveal a rash all across his chest accompanied by red scratch marks. He took the shirt right off and Willow and Giles could see it went all down his arms and back too. "I thought it was just mosquito bites but it got worse and worse. Willow, tell it to me straight, am I dying?"
Giles leaned back in his chair as far away from Xander as he could. "What is it? It looks awful. You should be quarantined or something until we can figure it out."
Xander perked up enough to play his favourite game of tease the G-man. "Aww come on Giles, where's the love? Gimme a hug." He opened his arms wide and leant across the table towards the ex-librarian.
Giles nearly fell out of his chair trying to get away.
"Pack it in you guys. Xander, it's just Poison Ivy. You must have brushed against some yesterday. You had it when you were younger, remember." Willow explained his problem, smiling.
"Oh yeah." He said sheepishly, and then scowled when Willow smacked his hand away from scratching his arm. "It feels worse now, though, I don't know…itchier."
Willow got up from the table. "That's because you're a man now and less able to deal with being ill than when you were a little bitty boy. Now just don't scratch and I can mix you up an ointment to clear it up."
"That was a dig. I know a dig and that was one." Xander looked from Willow to Giles. "That was definitely a dig."
"It was dug with love." She promised him.
Giles merely winced with distaste. "Put your shirt on and for heavens sake, don't come near me."
"It's okay Giles it's not contagious." Willow assured him. "I'd have thought you would have known that."
"Ha ha, something the G-man didn't know and I did. Well who's man of the house now then, huh?" Xander laughed.
"I am. You're the man who is living here rent free because you are supposed to be fixing it up, strange - I don't see any fixing so maybe I should start seeing some rent." Giles stood with his cup. "And anyway we don't have you're stupid American plants in England. We have proper plants that know their place. I'll take the rest of my tea on the veranda." He walked out the back door.
"What's his beef?" Xander asked, frowning at the outburst.
"Buffy stuff, Slayer stuff. While you were sleeping the sleep of the recently beered up the rest of us had a busy night." Willow shrugged, downplaying the tears and tantrums from Buffy when Giles revealed Faith's whereabouts to her and her own panic over Cici's call from the hospital saying both Kennedy and Alison were being treated for serious damage.
"I'm sorry I wasn't around to help." Xander told her sincerely.
Willow gave him a smile. "I wish you had been too, but there wasn't really anything you could have done. Go on upstairs back to bed and I'll bring this up when it's done." She shooed him from his seat and to the stairs.
"Thanks Will." He gave her a kiss on the top of her head before ascending. "Oh, you better make a triple dose, 'cause Andy's suffering too and he's moaning way more than I am."
Willow smiled at his retreating back and went back to her potion.
Marvin and Hank Arcane loved their little cabin in the woods. It was quiet and secluded, a couple of miles from Boudenver and completely off the beaten track. It suited them fine.
They hadn't always lived in Ohio. They were born and raised in New York City, but a few years back there had been some trouble and Hank had got the blame. Marvin loved his little brother and didn't want to see him in any more trouble with the cops so he'd moved the both of them, the last Arcane's in the family, to their cosy little cabin and they were happy with their lot in life.
The day was warm, even by summer's standards, and they were both outside, sans shirts, soaking up the sunshine. Marvin was chopping wood for the fire. No matter what time of year it was, the night always brought a chill to the air and a fire made it homely anyhow. He was on his last log when he called to his brother.
Hank had been sunning himself on a lawn chair and he was nearly asleep. His brother's call startled him awake.
"What?" He grumbled, sleepily.
"Go fetch me those logs. You sleep in front of the fire, the least you can do is help me make it." Marvin pointed the axe head towards a haphazard wood pile against the cabin's side.
"Naw. I'm tired. Get them yourself." Hank sank back down into the chair and closed his eyes again.
"A lad of you're age shouldn't be so lazy, just 'cause a one sleepless night." Marv grumbled, but still he went to fetch a few more logs himself.
The twenty two year old opened one eye to look at his older brother. "It's the howling, it makes me jittery, like all the hairs are standing up on the back of my neck."
Marvin nodded in understanding, as he set up the next block to cut.
Hank rubbed his stomach and burped. "An' I think I ate somethin' that didn' agree with me."
"Naw, you just gotta learn to chew your food." Marvin laughed at Hank, he was twelve years his senior and had pretty much raised him since they're parents had been killed in a tragic hunting accident. "Okay get some sleep. We're going out to the McGee's tonight and I want you fresh."
Hank nodded and drifted back off to sleep. Marvin looked up at the sky, judging the time by the sun's position. Estimating they had about nine hours left of daylight he carried on chopping.
Willow was putting the finishing touches to the medicine for Xander and Andrew in the kitchen. Her computer room was already fully furnished but it would take a while before she was able to get a Laboratory/Magic room set up. She looked up with a smile when she heard a familiar voice call:
"Hi Honey I'm home."
Kennedy strolled through the door, with the three tired Newbies behind her. Alison's blonde hair was matted at the back with dried blood and a wad of gauze had been fastened to her head with tape. Giles brought up the rear, eager to concentrate on work related issues for a while and leave the emotional ones alone.
Willow left her preparation and came over to give her girlfriend a kiss and a hug hello. "Are you okay? What happened?" She turned to look at Alison. "Are you okay? Ouch, does it hurt?"
Alison shrugged. "Not as much as it did last night."
Kennedy grinned. "Yeah, Slayer healing is almost worth getting hurt for." She lifted her arm for inspection. Faint red lines marred her otherwise perfect olive skin. "See. Last night they were deep red lacerations, according to the doctors anyways, now they're just itsy bitsy scratches. It's pretty cool."
"Kennedy, what scratched you , can you give us a description?" Giles asked.
Kennedy fell into a chair and leaned back yawning. "Big, hairy, breath like an evil sausage factory, claws like Freddy. To be honest I only really saw the inside of the things throat clearly. It had a lot of teeth."
Willow's hand covered the tiny 'O' her mouth had formed. She looked worriedly at Giles, unable to voice her fears.
He did it for her. "A Werewolf."
Kennedy nodded. "Never seen one before but if I had to make a guess that's what I'd guess. Except its werewolves. It's a pity Buffy couldn't be bothered to come out last night, she would have known for sure. I mean you guys have dealt with them, right. Sunnydale must have experienced Werewolves."
"Er…yes, um yes we did, once or twice." Giles looked at Willow puzzled. Kennedy seemed very vague on the subject but surely anyone spending any amount of time with the redhead would know who Sunnydale's resident wolf had been.
Willow wasn't looking back at him; she was too busy looking at Kennedy, a look of abject horror on her face. She fell to her knees in front of the brunette and clasped the younger girl's hands holding them out to the sides while she looked her lover over.
"You didn't get bit, did you? Oh Goddess tell me that thing didn't bite you." She panicked.
Kennedy pulled away from her girlfriend just slightly. "Huh?" She asked an unsure smile on her face.
"Did it bite you? Did you get bitten…anywhere….did it break you're skin with its teeth." Willow had begun patting her girlfriend's torso looking for tears in her jumper that may have been made by fangs.
"No Willow, it didn't bite me I promise." Kennedy grabbed hold of Willow's hands and held them in her lap. "It just got me with its claws. Ali staked it in the back before it could do any real damage. Then it ran after its buddy."
"Oh thank you." Willow fell into her arms and hugged her tightly.
"It was nothing." Kennedy grinned and hugged her back. Her Willow was a strange chick sometimes but she wouldn't have her any other way.
Alison, Cici and Miranda were still standing at the back of the kitchen listening to this and wondering what crazy world they had found themselves in.
"I didn't get bit either." Alison told them.
Giles smiled at her. "That's good, and well done on scaring the beast off. That was very brave of you. Now why don't you all go and get some sleep. I know from plenty of experience just how uncomfortable Hospital waiting rooms can be."
They all began to file up the stairs to the big bedroom they shared. Cici stopped next to Willow. "Can we still go to the hairdressers later?" She asked shyly, running a hand through her messy, clipped locks.
Willow smiled again now her personal crisis was over. "Yes, of course we can. I have to go out to the airport later, we can try and find one then."
Kennedy pulled away from snuggling into Willow's neck, something Giles was trying to pretend he hadn't noticed, and asked: "Airport? Are you going somewhere?
Buffy nervously fiddled with a pencil on the desk in front of her. 'I've worked in one of these places now.' She thought. 'So why does sitting here in front of the Principal's desk still make me feel like I'm sixteen again and trying to convince Mr. Flutie I won't burn down the gym.' The silence was getting to her so she decided to break it.
"Dawn's a very good student, much better than I ever was. Not that I was a dummy, you should have seen my S.A.T. scores, mom couldn't believe them"… 'Okay should have just put up with the silence.' …"Dawn has always been the brain in the family though; I think she takes after Willow. Is it possible, do you think, to take after someone you're not related to? I guess it is if you spend a lot of time with them right, and Dawn's spends a lot of time with Willow and Willow's a straight A student, no she's more, she's a straight A-plus-gold star student and Dawn…"
She sucked in a much needed lungful of air as the grey-haired, broad-shouldered, twinkly eyed Principal, introduced as Principal Hayes, held up his hand and instructed "Ms Summers – breathe."
In his other hand he held the letter Robin Wood had sent from New York. He finished reading it quickly before smiling at the blonde.
"You can relax Ms Summers. Dawn has already been guaranteed a place here at McKinley high. Her grades in the past have been a little inconsistent but I believe we can put that down to the unsettling circumstances she has been through. One thing they do show me is that's she capable of great work and that's potential we can build on here at McKinley's."
Buffy smiled. "Thanks, she is a great kid and it's not been easy for her. We…uh…lost our mother a few years ago and so she's had to rely on me and my friends for her parenting and then with the thing…that happened. Having to up and leave her home and her own friends and start all over again. Well it hasn't been easy for any of us." Buffy went quiet for a second and looked back down at the pencil. Principal Hayes stayed quiet and waited for her to continue. "I just want her to spend the next two years doing high school stuff and not having to worry about losing her home to malicious holes in the ground."
Principal Hayes busied himself putting the letter away in a folder and placing it in his desk. When he was done he rested his elbows on the top and steepled his fingers. Smiling kindly he said. "Yes, we heard about the terrible trouble you had out west. It must have been awful."
Buffy frowned, confused. 'There's a Hellmouth Newsletter doing the rounds' she thought, 'huh, why aren't I surprised.'
The Principal tried to decipher the look she was giving him. It looked more like she was trying to subtract four hundred and thirty seven from nine thousand six hundred and twenty four and a half, using only her toes. Not the look of someone who had just survived a terrible tragedy.
"The earthquake." He clarified. "It must have been terrible for all of you. Losing you're homes and belongings, like that. It was all over the national news for weeks. The rumblings didn't reach us up here, but from what I've heard the shock waves were felt all over California and the surrounding states. It's a wonder anyone survived at all."
Buffy chuckled. 'Newspapers, T.V. of course.' She'd seen the reports herself, just hadn't wondered what the rest of the world would make of them. She realised that chuckling after a statement like that wasn't really appropriate. "Yeah… yes it was terrible. I must have repressed it for a minute there. One second there's you're town and the next kaboom!"
"Total kaboom…So this school, it's a good school, right? I mean of course it's a good school, you wouldn't be Principal of a bad school would you. So what's the death count like?"
Dawn sat in a chair in the secretary's office, kicking at the floor. Buffy was in talking with the Principal and the secretary was elsewhere and she was bored. They'd been in there talking about her for thirty minutes already and she didn't know why she couldn't go in and join them. Surely if she was the topic of conversation she should be able to at least participate in it. After all she was practically an adult herself, she'd be seventeen soon enough.
She was startled from her thoughts when the outside door opened. Looking to see who it was, her eyes were pleasantly surprised by the sleek, dark haired boy that strolled confidently in.
'Sleek' she thought. 'That's an unusual word to describe someone with.'
He stopped in the doorway and stared at her.
"Er..Hello." She said. The way he was looking at her was making her blush. Luckily she couldn't see a letterman jacket and he was cute, so staring was good right. It was definitely more promising than running away screaming.
"Hi." He flashed a brief smile before making his way past and sitting down on the furthest chair away. With another fleeting smile he said: "Cold." By way of explanation and patted the heater next to him. Then he turned to stare at the wall.
'Ookay' thought Dawn, 'it's like seventy degrees out there.' She looked out of the window at the bright blue sky and then back at him. He was still looking at the wall like he was expecting it to do something other than stand there. Still, he was the first kid she'd met since moving to Boudenver and someone that good looking had to be popular, right? It couldn't hurt to make friends.
"Uh…I'm Dawn." She began nervously. "I'm new here."
He turned to face her slowly, blinked his green eyes and then turned back to the wall. "Sethos." He pulled a face. "Me too."
"That's an unusual name."
The boy shrugged.
Dawn tried again. "So which class will you be in?"
"Junior." His accent wasn't quite American, although it seemed to try and be, with hints of spice and exotic places Dawn would probably never get to. She loved it.
"Ooh me too. I'm glad I met someone before school starts. This way I won't look like a total spaz not knowing anyone and neither will you."
Sethos nodded but didn't take his eyes off the wall. Undeterred Dawn kept on.
"So where are you from?"
The boy ran a lazy hand through his short black hair and sighed.
Principal Hayes recovered from his coughing fit with the help of a glass of water fetched from the side by Buffy.
"No…no, of course you are going to be concerned for you're sister's safety." He spluttered. "I can assure you we've not lost a single student, on school grounds, since I've been in charge here." 'What a strange girl,' he thought, 'one minute sweet and bubbly and the next asking when they last had a case spontaneous combustion. It must be all she's been through.' He thought sadly, making a note in his diary to send the younger Summers sister to the guidance counsellor the first day of term.
"Well that's good." Buffy was saying, still patting him rather harder on the back than he deemed necessary. "It was silly of me to ask, but you know kid these days. Always bumping into things, and catching things and falling over and … things."
"Ms Summers, you're sister is sixteen, isn't she?"
"Uh huh." Buffy went to sit back down when she realised the Principal's face had returned to its normal colour.
"Well then, she should be fine – we don't get many sixteen year old girls falling off the jungle-gym."
Buffy blushed. "Well that's good." She repeated.
"It must have been so cool living in Egypt." Dawn gushed, thinking of Sunnydale and now Boudenver. The only exciting thing in either was the Evil and she could live without that sort of excitement.
"Was okay." Sethos was slumped even further down in his chair with his feet propped up on the rectangular wall heater. He was still faced away from Dawn, she was trying to hang on to the thought that he was just shy but she was starting to suspect it was more than that.
"So did you live near the pyramids?"
"What were they like?"
"Big, old and dusty."
Dawn frowned. "Dusty. Oh I get it because of the desert right?"
Sethos deigned to look her way as he said. "No, because dead people don't care much for spring cleaning."
Dawn burst out laughing at the joke, it sounded loud in the other wise pin dropping quiet of the office. Sethos turned back to the wall without smiling.
Dawn stopped laughing as suddenly as she started, embarrassed and a little intimidated by the strange youth, and that annoyed her. She'd faced Hell-Gods and Uber-vamps and the purest evil in the whole world, and one gorgeous guy thinking she was an idiot still had more potential to make her quake in her boots.
She stared down at said boots ready to accept this boy was not interested in being friends with her, so when he spoke next in his slow drawl she jumped.
"So you're from Sunnydale?"
"Yeah." She said cautiously. There were so many different stories going around about her home town she was never sure what she might hear next. "How did you know? I didn't say."
He shrugged. "My father knows things."
It wasn't much of an explanation but it was all she was going to get because the door opened to the Principal's office and he and Buffy came out.
Principal Hayes turned to Sethos first. "Ah, you must be Seth. I won't keep you a moment." He looked around surprised. "Didn't you're parents come with you?"
"No." Sethos didn't bother to look at the Principal.
The Principal looked apologetically at Buffy and then turned to Dawn with his hand out. She stood and they shook hands.
"Well Dawn, it was nice to meet you and I'm pleased to say that you'll be joining us on Monday morning. If you could come here before school starts then we'll have a little chat about classes and there will be a few tests you'll have to do so we know what standard you're up too. You're old Principal, Mr Wood has provided an excellent reference for you but unfortunately you were forced to leave before you could take you're end of year exams. However we don't want to see someone as bright as you kept back a year if we don't need to, hence the tests." He smiled enthusiastically at her and she smiled back, pleased despite the threat of tests.
To Buffy he said. "I'd like you to come and see me after Dawn's sixth week if that's possible. Just to discuss how she is doing and to make sure we're all happy."
"Yeah, sure, whatever you need. We've got to go now, sorry." Buffy had just seen the time on the clock behind the secretary's desk. "Dawn, come on." She practically dragged her younger sister out to the car by her arm.
"See you on Monday." Dawn called back to Sethos but he just ignored her.
Faith sat on her bunk in her cell still a little dazed. She'd blacked out sometime during her beating and was surprised she'd come to again, that week at least. Lolitta didn't normally have such self-control. Faith assumed they must have been interrupted. No one had found her prone body though. She had still been on the floor between the wringer and the drier when she awoke.
She had managed to get back to her cell with the minimal of fuss. The bruises had already blossomed and begun to fade while she was having her induced nap. She still looked plenty banged up but not like she'd gone ten rounds with Tyson anymore.
She leaned over, mindful of some pain in her ribs, and plucked the Polaroid of the Scoobies off the wall. She tried to lie back on her bunk but her bones protested too much, it was less painful to just sit still. She placed one thumb over Xander's face and her other over Willow's and stared down at Buffy.
She didn't know how long she sat there. The bell for lunch jangled; startling her, but food was the last thing on her mind.
A while later a shadow fell over her. "You got ten minutes to eat Wilkins or you can starve 'til tonight." It was one of the guards. The guy was okay compared to some of them, but none of them were particularly friendly. After all, she was a criminal.
She didn't bother looking up at him. "I'll wait."
The guard shifted his weight. "What's up with you? You're normally the first in line for chow down." It was true, Slayer metabolism meant she had to keep eating, even when she wasn't actually Slaying.
She looked up at him to tell him to get lost and he caught sight of her face.
"Jesus girl, you okay?"
She looked back down at the photo and smiled, ignoring the sting of her split lip. "Five by five."
Buffy rushed in the front door, talking to Dawn over her shoulder. "I'm sure he was just shy."
"No, he was rude and weird." Dawn followed her in. She'd been moaning about Sethos the entire drive home.
"So forget about him, they'll be plenty more kids at school to make friends with."
Dawn didn't look convinced. "Whatever."
Buffy saw Kennedy and Giles sat at the kitchen table. "You okay?" She asked the younger Slayer and then without waiting for an answer. "Where's Willow?"
"I'm fine." Said Kennedy looking annoyed. "Will's upstairs, slathering gooey stuff on the boys."
Despite Buffy's preoccupation that got her attention as well as Dawn's. "What?" She asked with a smirk.
"They got poison ivy'd. I guess I escaped because of the Slayer stuff. How about you?" She asked Dawn.
Dawn pulled up her sleeve and inspected her arm closely. "Huh, I wondered what all these little itchy bumps were." She gave it a little rub, then pulled her sleeve back down and shrugged it off as nothing important. "So how are you, anyway?"
Giles spoke before Kennedy could. "We have Werewolves!"
"Damn is that gonna play havoc with the property prices or what?" Buffy darted up the stairs before anyone could ask her for a serious comment.
She walked into the room Xander and Andrew were sharing until the house renovations had been finished and sure enough the red-head was liberally spreading some creamy looking stuff all over Xander's chest. Andrew had already been done and he lay in bed, only covered from the waist down by a sheet and the top half of him covered up to the neck in the off-white mixture.
All three greeted her hello.
"You ready to go Will. I've got to check in, in an hour."
"Yep, you go grab you're bag and I'll be right out." Said Willow, wiping her hands and leaving to get the car keys and Cici.
Buffy leant over Xander's bed and gave him a kiss on the forehead. "I'll be back in a couple of days." She told him.
He smiled up at her. "I would give you a hug but you don't want to be on a plane smelling of this stuff." He waved his arms around and she caught a whiff of the potion and he was right she really didn't.
She left the room to grab her bags. Andrew lifted his head from the pillow ready for his goodbye kiss, but she didn't even notice. He lowered his head again dejected. "Am I ever gonna be a Scooby." He whined.
"Probably not." Said Xander honestly, then he called to Buffy as she passed the doorway again. "Buff, I hope it goes good in L.A., but you know, if for some reason it doesn't. We all still love you. Don't forget that okay?"
Buffy broke into a proper smile for the first time since the night before. "I never do." Then she was off down the stairs to the car.
Willow pulled the car up outside the airport terminal; the drive from Boudenver had been mostly silent. Buffy was fretting over her plans, Willow was trying to think of the best way to say what she wanted to say and Cici had been sitting in the back feeling the tension roll over her like an oil slick.
Willow realised she had no time for anymore re-writes and turned to Buffy as she was about to get out of the car.
"Buffy, I really wish you weren't just rushing off like this."
"Will, I have to see her." Buffy grabbed her hold-all from between her feet.
"But what if she doesn't want to see you?" Willow asked the valid question gently.
Buffy shrugged, trying for nonchalant, but the tightness of her features gave away the pain the comment brought. "Then at least I'll have tried."
"But…but…" Willow knew Kennedy wouldn't be happy with what she was going to say next, and probably neither would Buffy. "Can't you just wait for a few more days? We've got a dangerous Werewolf on the loose…"
Buffy smiled and gave her friend a good bye kiss on the cheek. "She'll be fine. She's a Slayer."
Buffy opened her door but Willow started speaking again. "Yeah but she's new. She's had no experience of Werewolves and you've had lots. You'd only have to help this once and then she'd know what to do herself next time. Please Buffy."
"Willow, my flights booked. My plane leaves in twenty minutes. I need to see Faith, like, yesterday. I'm not cancelling all that to hold Kennedy's hand. If you're that worried about it, just tell her not to patrol. I'll be back in a couple of days."
"We can't leave it Buffy. Tomorrow's the last night of the full moon. If we don't capture it by then it might have moved on before next months…and anyway it's not like Faith's going to be going anywhere in a big hurry." Willow flinched from the look the blonde Slayer shot her way.
Buffy climbed out of the car, and then turned to lean one hand on the roof so she could bend to look through the door. "So you want me to forget about what my girlfriend is going through so I can mollycoddle yours." She snapped. "Don't you think that's a bit selfish?"
"She's not you're girlfriend, Buffy."
Buffy's hand slapped the roof of the car, making Cici jump. "For Gods sake Will, is that even the point. Kennedy is facing her first Werewolves in exactly the same position as I was in – in fact she's actually got it better. All I had was you guys and a tranquillizer gun, she's got three Slayer-strength assistants and lots of Werewolf facts we didn't have back then. If Kennedy can't handle a couple of 'wolves with all that behind her, then maybe she's just not cut out to be a Slayer."
Buffy slammed the door shut and walked into the crowded terminal without waiting for a reply. Willow stared after her angrily. She had a nagging suspicion that everything Buffy had just pointed out was true. Kennedy was the first Slayer to have the constant back up of an army, okay not an army yet but it would be soon enough, of Slayers. Still it didn't change the fact that Willow was scared that something would go wrong tonight and she would be back to spending three nights of the month in bed alone. 'And let's face it." She thought as she headed the car into town. 'If something goes wrong then that's the best case scenario'.
Buffy settled into her seat and buckled the seat belt. She'd always had an irrational fear of flying. The fright gripping her from take off 'til landing, leaving her a sweatier, panting mess quicker than any demon had ever managed.
Giles had explained to her once that it was the fear of being out of control of what was happening to her. As soon as the plane took off she was relinquishing control to the pilot and that was something extremely hard for a Slayer to do. A Slayer had to be in control of the situation at all times or else the bad guys won.
Buffy had her own explanation which went more like 'How on earth can all this metal get up in the sky and stay there!' It wasn't natural to be forty thousand feet in the air unless you had feathers, and even then it was just stupid.
'Faith damn well better appreciate this.' She thought grimly, gripping the armrests hard enough to leave her fingerprints on them as the plane began to taxi down the runway.
She wondered for a moment if this wasn't a really stupid idea after all. Maybe she should have stayed. Willow was right; she had dealt with Oz plenty of times, plus plenty of strays that wandered towards the Hellmouth's energy. Was she the one being selfish by not sticking around to help put the bad doggies down? It wouldn't be the first time her rash decisions had put her friends in danger. She could have waited until after the full moon, it wasn't as if Faith knew she was coming or anything, she wouldn't have baked a cake.
'No I'm right about this, even if I could have gone about it a bit nicer. Kennedy has to be able to tackle this sort of thing, just like I had to, there can't always be someone there to help a Slayer out and it's not like she's going in blind. I've passed on the Scooby elite with an extra helping of experience.' She closed her eyes as the plane picked up speed on the runway. 'I haven't passed the Scoobies on I've just loaned them out. If I ever get off this thing alive I might want them back.' She thought, then all rational thought disappeared and all she was left with was "Oh Shiiiiiiiiiit." As the plane left the tarmac.
Hank left his seat at the window and came over to join his brother by the fire. "Not long now, Marv, I can feel it. Tonight's gonna be a good night I can tell." He took the bottle from Marvin and drank straight from the neck.
"Yeah well, don't you be pulling no stunts like you did last night. How am I supposed to be looking out for you, when you're acting all reckless the second my back's turned." Marvin took the bottle back off of Hank with deliberation, Hank tended to get a little …wild, when he was drunk. "You stick by me tonight, okay."
"Sure thing Marv, but you know I wasn't gonna hurt 'em right. I was just playing with 'em, but then she smelled funny, didn't you smell it?"
"Yeah, she smelled like she weren't scared." Said Marvin, more to himself than his brother, it had been bothering him a little all day.
"What do ya think that means Marv?"
Marvin shrugged. "Dunno Bro, probably nothing. We'll be okay tonight though. The old guy in the shop said no ones going to be at the McGee farm for a few weeks. It'll be perfect."
"See, I said it was gonna be a good night." Said a grinning Hank, he was rubbing his hands together in anticipation.
Willow arrived back at the house to find Kennedy and Giles in deep Werewolf discussion. She paused at the back door wondering if Giles had mentioned Oz, but from what she could tell it was more your basic facts and figures session than campfire tales.
She wondered if she was being as selfish as she had accused Buffy of being, no one knew more about the nature of the wolf than she, in the loosest term she'd been ones mate for nearly three years. 'Oh yeah, I can just imagine that going down well with Kennedy.' Her thoughts were disturbed when Cici politely pushed past her, gathering the attention of the couple in the kitchen.
"Hey Cici, it looks good. I think those plants almost did you a favour." Kennedy admired the younger Slayer's new haircut. It was much shorter than before, reaching to just below her ears and kind of wispy around her face. It reminded her a little of Vi, although Cici's colouring was much lighter than either Vi's or Willow's. Speaking of which.
Her girlfriend wrapped an arm around her shoulder and dropped a soft kiss on her head. "Hope you don't like it too much, I'd hate Cici's training to be neglected because I had to keep the two of you apart." Willow teased, then let out a squeal of surprise as Kennedy's arm snaked back and around her waist, lifting her easily and depositing her on her lap. She hadn't yet got used to the Slayer strength, but that didn't mean she didn't like it.
Cici was obviously embarrassed, whether by Kennedy's attention or the way her two elders were now looking at each other with hungry eyes, but either way it made her feel hot and uncomfortable. She blurted out her thanks to Willow and shot up the stairs to find Miranda and Alison.
"So Willow," Began Giles, blocking out the girl's hello kiss in a way he never could of imagined eight years ago. 'I trust Buffy got away safely."
Willow broke the kiss and moved from her girlfriend's lap to the chair next to her, which seemed more appropriate for a work based discussion. "Yep. We had words though. Not of the nice kind."
"You argued? What about?" Asked Giles.
"Not argued as such, more spoke our minds. And it turns out our minds aren't exactly in sync. Which shouldn't be a surprise but…I don't know Giles, I hate arguing with her, especially when she's about to go half way across the country, but I think she's making a mistake."
Kennedy squeezed her hand as Giles asked her. "What mistake do you think she's making? I mean is it just the fact that she's taken off at such short notice when we're facing another demon-related problem, or is it that she's taken off at such short notice to see Faith."
"Well, it's the demon thing obviously. She…she shouldn't just be running off when we need her help. She's the Slayer or…or…one of them.' She gave Kennedy an apologetic grimace.
"Willow, I think you know as well as I do that Buffy has earned the right to put personal matters ahead of Slaying at least for a while, and a couple of Werewolves hardly amounts to an apocalypse, or for that matter a particularly difficult encounter. Both you and I dealt with Oz plenty of times without Buffy's help. On top of that, Buffy in her current state over Faith would not have been much help anyway."
"Who's Oz?" Kennedy asked, looking from Giles to Willow.
"Okay it's the Faith thing!" Willow blurted out before Kennedy had even finished her question.
Giles looked puzzled but decided to let it go for now, he'd have a talk with Willow when they were alone. "And that would be…?
"It's Faith…again. Seriously Giles, she messed up Buffy's life, no all our lives, back in high school. Then she came back when we started college and did it all again. Then she came back last year, and okay I invited her and its good she came but look at the mess she left Buffy in again." As Willow carried on speaking she realised this really was the reason she'd been pissed at Buffy, and it helped her warm to the subject. "And now Buffy's run off to see her with all her hopes high and what if Faith isn't interested. What if all she wanted was to get Buffy into bed and now she's had her fun she'll just tell her to go away. Buffy's gonna be devastated and it'll be all Faith's fault…and partly mine 'cause I helped push the two of them together." She added guiltily, remembering how she told Faith the only room with any space left was the one Buffy was in.
"Willow, I know you have every reason not to trust Faith, she hurt you terribly by sleeping with Xander and…" Giles was talking slowly, choosing his words carefully, but Willow cut him off.
"Actually Giles, the holding a knife to my throat is higher up on my 'thousand reasons why I don't like Faith' list, but this isn't about that. I've forgiven her for all that. I had to last year. I've made mistakes just like she did. When I saw her in Los Angeles, what she did for Angel. It made me see just how much she has changed, wants to change. So honestly this isn't about that, although I think Xander may still have some issues." She smirked a little. "I just don't want to see Buffy hurt again and I think that's all Faith is capable of doing."
"I think you're wrong Willow. I believe Faith loves Buffy very much, much more than Buffy probably will ever realise. When she told me she wanted to go back to prison I was surprised to say the least, and I don't mind saying I tried to talk her out of it, but her reasons were ones I couldn't argue with even though I knew it could hurt Buffy. She did it so she wouldn't drag Buffy down, so Buffy could go and have the normal life she'd always dreamed of. She couldn't have done that if she'd accepted a wanted criminal into her life, into her home. Personally I believe we could have made it work, that we could have hidden Faith from the police long enough to work something out…"
Willow was shocked, Giles obviously really did believe in Faith, plus he was being uber-supportive of Faith and Buffy being together as a couple. Even she, as token Scooby lesbian, was having trouble with that mental picture.
"…But she felt the only way was to go back to prison and I felt that at least was better than her just running away." Giles finished.
"Well I hope Faith's appeal goes well." Said Willow, honestly. "But if she gets out and comes here, I don't think it's going to be all Christmas and cookies"
"More like a year long Fourth of July." Added Kennedy, thinking of the fireworks the two original Slayers caused even when they weren't together.
With a resigned smile, Giles had to agree.
Dawn was sitting on his bed talking to Andrew when Xander came out of the shower.
"Hey Dawnster, what's up? Did you escape the parting gift of yesterdays curse?"
Dawn looked up at him smiling brightly. "No I got the Poison Ivy." She showed off her arms, which were still covered in a light pinkish rash. "I'm just not a big girl about it." She teased.
"Well, ah, obviously you didn't get got as bad as I did." Xander quickly covered. He was in fact feeling a lot less itchy than he had in the morning. Willow was indeed a witch doctor.
"And me." Said Andrew. He was still lying in bed, his top half covered in the milky substance that had now dried to create a hard shell. "But this stuff is pretty cool; I have like an exo-skeleton." He grinned and rapped his knuckles against the stiff layer. It cracked and little creamy flecks flew up but it still made a knocking on wood sound.
"Hey we should spray you green and you could be a teenage ninja turtle." Laughed Dawn.
"Or he could be a teenage turtle." Amended Xander while he looked though their wardrobe for some fresh clothes. "'Cause he's not so much with the ninja skills."
"I could so be a ninja." Pouted Andrew.
Xander winked at Dawn, who smirked a little at Andrew then quickly turned it into a smile when he looked her way.
"So how was school? Did you meet any nice boys…and that answer had better be a no." Xander settled on a moss coloured polo top and a pair of baggy black pants and disappeared into the bathroom to dress. He left the door open though, so he could hear Dawn's answer.
"I don't actually start school until next week, Xander. Today was just an excuse for Buffy and the new Principal to talk about me behind my back." She grumbled. "Actually I did …meet a boy that is."
Andrew sat up a little straighter, sending white flecks flying into the air and Xander called through from the bathroom. "Go on."
"Well there's not much to tell. Except the guy is a jerk, and he's got a stupid name. Sethos. He's from Egypt which I thought was really cool but he acted like it was just some boring dump of a place." Said Dawn irritably.
"Yeah well you used to think that about Sunnydale, in fact we all did." Xander pointed out. "It's different when you live somewhere, the everyday becomes mundane."
"Yeah but who in their right mind would want to live in Sunnydale, despite the evil population obviously."
"Well no one now because it's a great big hole, but for that very reason I bet when you start school Monday and tell everyone where you're from, they'll think you're pretty cool. Sunnydale is bigger news than Area 51 at the moment. I say cash in on it." Xander re-emerged from the bathroom.
Dawn couldn't help but think he looked good. He certainly wasn't her type anymore, at least that's what she told herself when she saw him looking so good and, she noticed as he collected his watch from the side of his bed, smelling this good.
She shook the thoughts away and looked over at Andrew to distract her, he was picking away at the milky flecks. Yep, she always had Andrew to flush away the last of any tingly feelings.
Andrew noticed her watching and blushed. "I'm just gonna take a shower, wash this off." He told her before getting out of bed and going into the bathroom.
Seeing Andrew in his Spiderman pyjama pants just wasn't the same. She smiled at herself then realised that Xander was pulling on his shoes.
"You going somewhere?" She asked.
"Uh huh. I'm going down to the tavern. Meet some people, maybe purchase a beer or two."
"On your own." Dawn wrinkled her nose.
"Well I would take you, but I want to check the place out first. Do a taste test for evil beer; make sure the patrons aren't trolls or whatever. You can come next time." He promised.
"Well thanks, that's cool, but I really meant is it safe for you? You got beaten up yesterday by a gang of children, think what their parents could do."
"I'll be fine Dawnie, that was just some freak misunderstanding. Besides I've been down to Barnies before. It's okay, not the cool sophistication that was the Bronze, I'll grant you, but friendly enough."
He gave Dawn a smile and left the room. She followed after him.
"I'll grab something from the bar menu while I'm there, so that's one less meal to cook too." He was coming down the back stairs to the kitchen as he said that and Willow heard him.
"Grab what from what?" She asked looking up.
"Food, Barnies." He filled in the blanks and grabbed the car keys from the counter.
"You're going there tonight? You can't, we're going out on patrol." She told him, standing and moving between him and the back door.
He tapped his eye patch. "Me not so good with the patrolling anymore. I get blind-sided I'm just one more thing you have to worry about."
"That's not true, Xander. You are still every bit as helpful as you were before." Giles told him gravely.
Xander chuckled. "And I wasn't no great shakes before. Look you guys can handle this, I'm going out."
He tried to walk around Willow but she side-stepped keeping between him and the door.
"Xander, what ever you were before, you never deserted us when we needed you." She tried the guilt card, but he was ready for it.
"Still not." He took his cell phone out of his pocket and held it up. "You need me, hit the button and I'll come running." He put the phone away again.
"You'll come staggering more like." Said Kennedy unkindly.
Xander pretended like he didn't hear, but his face tightened.
"I'm taking the jeep, you can the have the car for patrol, it's quieter." He turned then and left the room. After a few seconds they heard the front door slam.
"Congratulations Kennedy." Said Dawn, sarcastically.
"If I said something you guys weren't thinking then I'll go after him and apologise right now." Said the Slayer.
No one spoke.
"Right then, in that case, can we talk about more important things? Like the fact that you guys don't have to patrol, that's my job."
"I'm going with you." Willow's resolve face was firmly on. "I have experience with Werewolves." She looked at Giles quickly then back to her girlfriend. "You haven't. We go together."
"I agree." Said Giles. "I think the three of us should…"
"I'm going." Said Dawn immediately.
"No you're not." Said Giles just as quickly.
"No Giles, I am. I've been through my share of badness with you guys and that doesn't go away just because we've moved to an all new Hellmouth. I have skills, utilise me."
Giles cleaned his glasses wearily, would his days of arguing futilely with the Summers' sisters ever end? He smiled, would he want it too? "Okay Dawn, but someone has to stay at the house."
"I don't think Alison should go out so soon, I know she's almost healed completely, but what's the good of having all these Slayer's if we can't substitute when we need to." Willow said.
"Andrew could stay with her. Then there's two people here to guard the homestead." Dawn added her suggestion.
Kennedy looked from one to the other as they spoke. Everything they said made sense but still…
"Well I think that's settled then. Alison will stay home and take it easy and Andrew can keep her company. The four of us will patrol accompanied by Miranda and Cici, the routine patrolling will be good for their training." Giles surmised.
"If we find the Werewolves, it may not be very routine." Said Willow.
"Well I think there are enough of us to keep them safe should needs be." Giles looked to Kennedy. "What time would you like to leave?"
"I'm just the Slayer, why ask me?" She huffed, and then relented when she saw their rueful expressions. "We'll get into town before dusk. They were on the main street last night. I guess we should start there."
Buffy got out of the cab with her bag and handed the money through the drivers open window. She turned as the cab pulled off to look up at the hotel... She'd stayed here for six weeks after the big battle, but it didn't feel like home. Nowhere did anymore. Most of those six weeks had passed in a blur of tears and staring competions with the ceiling. Now she was about to face the cause of all that and she still didn't know whether she wanted to hug her or hurt her. With a sigh she passed through the front doors of the Hyperion.
Lorne was in the lobby alone, on the phone behind the front desk. He gave her a big welcoming smile and a wave when he saw her, se gave him a half smile back and he mouthed "Won't be a minute." Before speaking into the phone again.
She dropped her bag onto the floor and stood impatiently tapping her feet and wondering if anyone else was around. She'd just spent three hours on a plane with screaming children and smarmy business men, she'd had the pleasure of sitting between one of each, and her fingers hurt from hanging on to her seat. Not to mention the time difference, she'd left Cleveland at twelve-thirty and she'd arrived in Los Angeles at twelve thirty. She knew it wasn't exactly light years she travelled but it was irritating her none the less, made her feel out of whack. So she wasn't feeling really friendly and she wanted someone to vent on, but she didn't want that to be Lorne. The green-skinned Demon was too sweet; it would be like kicking a puppy, or Tara. He reminded her of Clem, but even Clem had more of an edge when it came to kitten poker.
Lorne was finally done on the phone and sashayed over to give the Slayer a hug. "You look great." He told her before pulling back to look at her properly, he frowned. "Except for the bags under your eyes that could accommodate even Cordy's wardrobe, may she sleep restlessly and wake up soon." He added.
"How is she?" Buffy asked him politely.
"Oh no change, but Cordelia's a fighter."
"She is." She allowed herself to smile.
Lorne led her by the arm to the central seating area. "So to what do we owe the pleasure? I don't remember Angel saying you were coming." He sat down next to her.
Her face turned cold again. "He doesn't know. At least not unless anyone has phoned to warn him."
"Ah, you know then." Lorne stood up slowly, scared to make any sudden movements.
"And from that I guess you do too. Do you know where he is?"
"Well he's a busy man these days. Big chief of Wolfram and Hart, he doesn't get a lot of chance to just kick back and relax, Sweetie"
Buffy stood up fast and Lorne back-stepped before he could stop himself.
"Just tell me where I can find him. Or Gunn, Giles said he's acting as her lawyer. I need one of them to get me in to see her."
"Well Crumb-cake, I don't know if that will be possible."
"Why not." She asked vehemently.
"Uh because it's a prison. They don't just let you walk in any old time you like. They have rules about visits and red tape, who ever knew how much red tape existed. Oh don't mind me; its just who knew running a department of the biggest law firm in the universe would be so time consuming. " He saw she was about to shout at him and he pulled out his cell and snapped it open with the flick of a wrist. "…I'll give the big guy a call."
Lorne turned around and paced back to the desk while he waited for the other end to be picked up.
"Ah Angel buddy, it's me Lorne. Um I think you need to get back to the hotel. We have a visitor…No it really can't wait…Forget about the meeting with the Hairst'ka Prince, I know him, I'll send him a Tina Turner signed photo and he'll sign his grandspawn over to you, trust me this is more important…Hey!"
Buffy snatched the phone and spoke quickly. "Angel, it's me. Now we can do this the easy way or the hard way…the easy way is you and Gunn getting back here right now…Okay then we'll do it the hard way, I'm just gonna send Lorne out to buy some lozenges 'cause you know how sore my throat gets when I just won't stop yelling…Okay then I'll come to Wolfram and Hart …Why? Angel why don't you want me to see where you work?...What are you trying to hide from me now?...God, you're impossible, I'm coming over." She flipped Lorne's phone shut and handed it back to the uncomfortable looking demon. "Can you take me over there please?" She asked him sweetly.
"I guess." He gave her an unsure smile, donned a hat and trench coat and led the way out of the hotel.
Xander ordered himself a beer and sat down on a bar stool. He smiled and slipped the money across the bar when the big burly bearded barman plonked a tankard of foamy goodness down in front of him.
The place was almost empty. Besides the barman and himself there were only three other patrons that he could see. It was still early though, not even five 'o' clock yet. Most people would probably still be at work.
Ah work, he remembered that distant concept. It wasn't something he'd had to think about since the First Evil up-ended their lives. He missed it, in the sense that being a carpenter, a respected carpenter no less had given him a basis to build his life on. That had been his big status in life. A couple of years ago he'd been 'Marriage guy' and 'Suit wearing carpenter guy', which together made him the most grown up out of all of his friends, and who on earth could have predicted that. In fact it was so out of left field there was probably a prophesy about it in some ancient book. Then he'd been hit by the idiot stick and dumped Anya at the alter and he'd left himself with just the job to make him anything more than a loser. Now he didn't even have that. He was back to being the only one without a skill, without anything he could contribute. Sure he was happy to carry on fetching donuts for the gang during research sessions, but he'd come too far to let that be all he was now.
He took a healthy sip from his drink and wiped the frothy moustache from his upper lip. Dawn had told him last year that he was the one who saw everything. 'Percepto guy'. He rubbed at the elastic of his eye patch. 'Guess that's gone now too,' he thought 'thanks to crazy Caleb and his opposable thumbs. Who ever said evolution was a good thing.' He stared glumly into his drink until the bartender spoke to him breaking up his thoughts.
"Hey, Xander isn't it. You were in the night before last." The burly bartender asked genially.
"Yeah." Xander smiled back. "That was me."
The bartender thrust his hand across the bar top. "Alex." He announced.
"Hey me too!" Xander's smile grew and reached to shake the man's hand, it turned to a grimace when his own was nearly crushed.
"Huh? I thought you just said it was Xander?" The big man looked puzzled.
"No it is, I'm Alexander, but my parents could never manage to slur more than Xander so it kind of stuck."
Alex's brow was still slightly furrowed but he broke into a grin and said. "Well that's cool; at least we won't get each other confused."
Xander nodded and finished his drink. Alex pulled it to him across the bar and began refilling it before Xander even asked. 'This is service.' He thought.
"So how you finding it up at Camp Creepy?" Alex pushed his tankard back to him.
"Camp Creepy, that actually a really good name for it." Xander smirked. "Okay I guess. It's a bit different to what we're used to." He admitted,
"So where you from originally?"
"Southern California, Sunnydale to be exact."
"Sunnydale, whoo! I heard about that place on the news. You lived through the 'quake? What was it like?"
Xander smiled to himself and settled in to tell Alex all about their escape from the 'Dale. Leaving out anything to do with Hellmouths, Vampires and Slayer mythos changing spells.
Buffy stormed ahead of Lorne into the lobby of Wolfram and Hart. She stopped in her tracks and spun around to take everything in. "Wow!" She grinned. "Not quite the Initiative but still gotta say – pretty cool."
"Uh glad you like it, Buffster. Angel's office is this way."
He led her through the maze that was their new offices until they reached Angel's assistant's desk.
"Hey Harmonica baby, is Angel in?" He called over the desk.
Harmony poked her head up, a bunch of loose-leaf pages slipping from her hands all over the desk. "Uh huh, he's in with the Prince of Hairst'ka, something to do with parking permits." She looked up from the papers for the first time and saw Buffy standing next to the demon, smirk in place and arms folded. She leapt back out of her chair, tipping it over as she scurried backwards. "Buffy, hi." She said sweetly.
"Harmony. You're working for Angel now?" Buffy's smirk grew. "I'm not surprised, he always did like dumb blondes, should have expected himself to have the ultimate one as his secretary."
"I'm not a secretary, I'm his assistant and anyway, you just called yourself a dumb blonde, so, HA!"
"Uh uh, I buy mine at the drug store. I'm just artificially dumb, you're all natural."
Harmony started to preen, running a pale hand through her hair, until she saw the expression on Buffy's face and realised she was being laughed at. She frowned and her demon came to the fore.
"Now, now Harm. You know what Angel said about going bumpy on the job. You save that for after work." Lorne calmed her.
Angel came out of his office with big smiles and lots of handshakes to a group of tall demons with bald, spotted scalps and long wispy green beards. They all bowed low to him before leaving.
Buffy noticed his smile snapped off the second their backs were turned. She marched over. "Angel we need to talk, call Gunn."
Angel audibly groaned when he saw her and then rubbed a hand over his face. "Come in Buffy. Harmony can you call Gunn and tell him I need to see him now, oh and a cup of coffee for Buffy too please."
"Angel, I want to make a complaint about Slayers in the workplace. I don't have to put up with…"
Angel shut the door on her and Harmony pulled a few faces before sitting back down and phoning Gunn's department.
Inside the office Buffy was speaking. "I'm not mad now Angel okay. I think I have every right to be, what with you keeping secrets from me…again, but I'm not. I thought lots about it on the way here and Lorne helped as well, and I see you did it for Faith's good and not for my bad. So all's forgiven, but I need to see her Angel, I need to and I'm not going anywhere until I have."
Angel held his hands up. "Okay we'll see what we can do."
Gunn opened the door and walked in. "Yo, Angel what's this all about, I'm in the middle of…" He trailed off when he saw Buffy. "Oh it's you, well okay then."
"She knows." Angel told him.
"Figured as much. She doesn't want to see you." Gunn said simply.
"How do you know? She doesn't even know I'm here."
"Well she didn't want you to know where she was so I'm guessing she doesn't want to see you." He leaned his butt against Angel's desk and crossed his arms.
"I don't care, I want to see her."
"And in the interests of my client I'm going to say no."
Buffy stared at him in disbelief.
"Okay, have we got everything?" Asked Giles, looking around the table.
"Gun." Said Kennedy holding up the tranquilliser dart gun.
"Crossbow, silver bolts." Said Dawn, holding up both hands to show them.
"Fingers and funny sounding words." Said Willow, holding her hands up and getting into the spirit with a smile.
Giles rolled his eyes with a smile and turned to the two newest Slayers.
Miranda held up two ornate silver daggers. "Daggers." She said shyly.
Cici held up a canvas backpack. "Nets, rope and a flask of tea." She said in her Upper East Side accent. "Why do I feel like I'm the designated die-er, in this hunting party."
Willow smiled at her. "You won't be weapon less once we leave the car and anyway you're job is perhaps the most important," She told the auburn haired girl.
"How's that?" She asked.
"Giles gets really cranky without his tea. You think a Werewolf is scary…"
Faith studied her bruises in the small cracked mirror she had wedged above her wash basin. The ones on her face had already faded to nearly nothing, her jaw still felt sore and it hurt to put to much weight on her left leg, but otherwise her accelerated healing was all business as usual.
She nodded to her reflection and finished putting on a little make up. She had five minutes until afternoon exercise started. The last thing she felt like was walking aimlessly around in the yard, but the alternative was getting herself sent to the infirmary and she'd already spent way too much of her young life in hospitals.
At least Lolitta and her groupies wouldn't be able to cause her too much grief with everyone out there. Sat in her cell they could pay her a visit at any time, it wasn't as if she could lock the door.
Buffy strode forward straight at Gunn and was a little put out when he didn't look intimidated by her. Still she could fix that. When he refused to move she placed one hand on his chest and carried on walking. He was swept backwards until his back met a filing cabinet.
"Buffy!" Angel called out warningly.
She ignored him and gave Gunn her best stare.
He infuriated her further by laughing. "Damn, you really are something else. You remind me of some of the girls in my old crew. Of course they ain't got super powers so you lose points for that."
She scowled at him and he just chuckled harder. "I can definitely see how you two could be good together."
"Then why won't you take me to see her." Buffy demanded.
"Like I said, I don't think it's in the best interests of Faith. Firstly, she don't want you to know where she is, so taking you in there is going to make her pissed at me, and I need her to trust me one hundred percent. Secondly if she sees you it could make her mess up the case." Buffy started to protest. "I'm not saying it would, but it could. From what I can tell you're like the flame thrower to her fuse. I need her calm and thinking clearly if we're gonna pull this off."
"Giles said it was all straight forward. That you've got everything you need to get Faith off as long as she tells the truth when her appeal comes around."
Buffy turned sharply to look at the wall, her senses were trying to scream something at her, but there was nothing there. She noticed Angel look that way too but when she gave him a questioning glance he only offered a big inocent smile. Irritably she shook the feeling away and focused on what Gunn was saying.
"We have, but the thing with the truth is that it doesn't actually prove she's not a murderer, all it proves is that Wilkins was working her from the start. The jury doesn't necessarily have to believe that Faith didn't happily go and kill those people. We have to make them believe that. Faith slips up just once and this could all just be a waste of time. That's why I need her primed."
"But surely seeing me will give her more to fight for. If she knows I'm behind her one hundred percent." Tried Buffy.
"Maybe, but all I know is that at the moment Faith is putting everything into this because it's the only way she can see you again. You go in there and tell her she can see you any time it might take some of the fight out of her, she might lose the edge that will help her win this appeal and nothing against you Buffy but my first priority is getting Faith out, not you're love life."
Buffy punched out hard and Gunn turned his head with a surprised expression to look at the small rupture her fist had made in the filing cabinet behind him.
Spike listened to his Slayer speak from halfway through the wall, careful to make sure none of his ghostly parts were sticking out in Angel's office. He couldn't let her see him like this, all go throughable, it was embarrassing. He allowed himself a smile as she gave the lawyer what for, at least she was here about her rogue sweetheart and not tall, dark and droopy-drawers.
"Gunn I am going to see her. I've listened very calmly to all your reasons why I shouldn't and not one of them is good enough for me to change my mind, and she will still be fully prepared to win this appeal, because if I find out she's done anything to jeopardise it then I will personally get myself arrested and thrown in jail so I can kick her ass all over it. If you won't help me see her today then I'll ring the head guy and demand a visit or I'll get Willow to magic me in or I'll storm the place with tear gas and an AK-47. Some way I'm getting in there, with you're help it will just be less disruptive."
Gunn looked at Angel. "Is she for real?"
"She's pretty stubborn." Shrugged Angel.
Spike grinned, resisting the urge to peek out of the wall and see the obstinate bloody look he knew would be on her face right now.
"You better believe it. Now please phone them and tell them Faith's lawyer needs to see her urgently. You can do that right?"
Gunn sighed heavily before reaching for the phone on Angel's desk. "If Faith loses it over this and gets herself chucked in solitary and her appeal cancelled, I'm gonna say I told you so, like, a hundred times. You got that?"
Buffy nodded. "Thank you."
Spike melted out of the wall into the hall and sauntered off whistling, his girl might not be the one and only Chosen any more, but she was still a force to be reckoned with!
"Okay, everybody out." Said Kennedy as she pulled up behind the 'The Mouth' diner. It was open late and the only place the car wouldn't be conspicuous. "Good name for a place around here." She pointed at the weather scratched wooden sign above the door.
"Indeed." Smiled Giles.
Everyone clambered out of the car and stood ready, Giles handed Cici a small crossbow. "You shouldn't need it, but just in case." He told her before leaning into the trunk and pulling out a long silver sword, he tucked it underneath his coat to keep it out of sight.
Kennedy walked to the edge of the car lot and looked both ways down Main Street. She waited for the others to join her. "They came from that way and they disappeared that way." She pointed to show where she meant, then looked at the two new Slayers for confirmation. They both nodded.
"Right, well it will be dark soon, which way do you want to try first?" Asked Giles. Kennedy may have been new at patrolling and unprepared for whatever they might find, but Slayers by nature had senses and instincts for the occult much stronger than any human, even for a man who had spent most of his life watching for these occult happenings. He trusted Kennedy to lead them where they had to be, even if she didn't know where that was yet.
Kennedy shrugged. "Where do Werewolves like to hang out?" She asked, keeping her voice quiet even though the street was deserted.
"That's a good question and the answer is where ever they want." Giles answered wryly. "Mostly, experience would dictate that they are drawn to places where, uh, h- hormones were raging, so to speak. Although they are human more than not, most Werewolves, when they change, are only interested in causing destruction. It is the wolf that wants to cause the damage though and not the human…"
"Unless they're a big old skank!" Willow muttered, earning her a questioning glance from her girlfriend which she pretended not to notice.
Giles carried on. "…and we must remember that, when we come across them. Our mission tonight is to capture not to kill. These people may not even be aware of what is happening to them."
"I can feel it Marvin. I can feel it." Hank paced the floor incessantly, his gaze trained on the window which let in the last of the suns rays.
Marvin was sweating slightly, even though he stood there naked in the chill cabin. He propped the window open with a chunk of the wood he had chopped earlier and then threw a few more logs on the fire, so it would still be burning fierce when they returned. One of these days he feared they'd come home to find the place on fire, but it was worth it to lay in front of the makeshift hearth after a night on the town.
"Yeah well if you can feel it, rein it in. Don't you go forgetting what I said? We made ourselves a nice home here, don't you go ruining it by making trouble." He told his younger brother, he stretched his neck out and flexed his arms as he began to feel the tingle of the moon himself.
"I'll be good, I promise." Promised Hank, while he was still able to talk.
The sun sank below the horizon and a minute later two large, grey shapes jumped through the open window, growling with exuberance.
Mr and Mrs Maple were just about to sit down to a roast chicken dinner. Their living room was small but they called it cosy. The crockery and cutlery laid out wasn't the prettiest or the most expensive but it was the family best and that meant a lot to the Maple's.
Edna Maple was just bringing through a steaming jug of gravy when movement outside the window caught her eye. Leaning the hot jug precariously on the window sill she peered through the lacy curtains at the darkening street.
"Garth." She called out to her husband.
"Aye." He was in the kitchen sharpening the carving knife.
"Them kids is outside. The ones from the store yesterday, and they've got friends with them."
"What are they doing? They best not be coming here!" Garth moved quickly to latch the front door, waving the carving knife in front of him menacingly.
"No you old fool, they're just walking down the street, bold as you please." Said Edna, her eyes not leaving the figures outside.
"I wonder what they could be up to." Garth wondered aloud, joining his wife of forty years at the window.
"I'm sure I've no idea, but whatever it is, I'll bet it's no good." Said Edna, sure of herself. "One of them's the man. It's not right, him being out at night with all them young girl's. The sheriff should do something about it."
"Aye." Garth agreed, secretly wishing he ever got a chance to be out at night in the company of young girls. Smiling at himself for his foolish thoughts, he gave his wife a kiss on the cheek. "They're heading up to the McGee place; maybe they've got some business with him."
Edna shook her head. "Charles McGee isn't there is he? He's taken his family on vacation out west somewhere, remember."
"Well I guess they'll have a wasted trip then." Garth's stomach gave a growl with hunger and the smell of roast chicken wasn't doing anything to tame it, he was ready to forget about whatever the city lot were up to, for tonight at least.
"No I think old Owen said that the Thomas's boy was going over most nights to feed the animals. If they're lucky they'll catch him." Edna also moved from the window and busied herself with taking the gravy to the table.
"That Owen knows everything." Chuckled Garth as he began to carve.
"Well that's what comes from running a general store for as long as you can remember."
"Why don't they have street lights out here Giles?" Moaned Dawn.
"Because we're traipsing through the back of bloody beyond that's why." Giles grumbled back.
They were walking up a single track road in a tight clump. Kennedy only slightly ahead, with her finger on the tranq. guns trigger so she could fire at a split seconds notice. Every time someone nudged her from behind she nearly did just that.
"Could you guys back off just a tad?" She asked for the fourth time since leaving the street lamps behind on Main Street.
"Are you kidding me?" Whispered Miranda. "Who knows what's lurking in the hedges. Watching us from the dark shadows, getting ready to pounce. It's not like we'd know, there could be a wolf close enough to touch right now."
Everyone looked around nervously.
"I think I speak for everyone when I say 'shut up Miranda'." Dawn chuckled nervously.
"I'm just saying." Miranda whispered back. She felt someone take her hand and nearly screamed. She whipped her head around quickly. "Christ Cici, warn me next time."
Cici gave her hand a little squeeze. "Sorry I thought I'd be less scared if I was holding on to someone."
Willow sighed then held a hand in front of her. A tiny ball of blue light appeared, illuminating just enough to see each other and the road directly in front of them.
"Won't that attract the Werewolves?" Asked Dawn.
"If Kennedy senses anything I'll get rid of it." Promised Willow.
"No keep it on, let them come." Said Kennedy. "It beats walking around half the night trying to find them.
Marvin and Hank were loping along side by side and it felt great. There was no bigger rush than those first few hours in the wolf. The power was at its strongest, when the moon was fresh and you felt like you could run forever. Or at least until you woke up naked twenty miles out of town.
He steered his brother towards the farm. Better to stay out of town. Marvin didn't care how much havoc Hank would cause at the farm. Animals were there to be eaten. People though, that was a different matter. People and wolves were equals; they'd learnt millennia ago to co-exist by keeping out of each others way. People left you alone if you left them alone. You soon learnt that there were a lot more people out there to hunt you down if you didn't abide by the rules, too.
Hank didn't think like that, he just felt the energy coursing through him and let it over take him. Sure that was a fun way to live but it didn't let you live very long. Look what had happened to their parents. He'd never told Hank the full story of their deaths, hadn't wanted to upset the boy, but he knew. He'd been running with them that night when they had got reckless, forgot about the rules. They'd chased down a pack of hunters, just for the fun of it, just for the thrill. Marvin believed in his heart they hadn't wanted to hurt anybody, after all they were the ones who taught him the rules. They had just got caught up in the energy, and then disaster had struck. The hunters hadn't been scared, they'd been expecting it. Humans lived by the same ideas as wolves. Safety in numbers, and there were more humans than his mom and pop had realised and they turned and they fired.
It was guns they fired of course, guns with silver bullets, but his young wolf brain hadn't known that. He'd seen the flashes of fire and turned and ran even before the deafening report reached his ears.
Going into town the night before had been a mistake, but the place was usually so quiet and Hank liked to knock over the dumpsters. It had seemed harmless but it wasn't, it had nearly ended in the ancient set of laws being broken. If Hank had killed that weird girl they would have had to move again and Marvin would have had to live with the guilt of Hank's mistake. He loved his brother dearly and would do anything in the world for him and if that meant keeping him out of trouble to keep him safe then so be it. Chicken tasted pretty good anyway.
They leapt easily over the wire fence protecting the south end of the McGee property, and Marvin could feel the excitement pouring off his little brother and it was infectious. His tongue lolled out of the side of his mouth as they ran nearer the chicken houses, giving him the appearance of laughing.
They were near enough to smell the chickens and he heard Hank give a cross between a growl and a bark as he surged ahead of him, but Marvin suddenly got the impression that something was wrong. He lifted his nose to air and sniffed hard. There was someone here. Above the lingering scent of the McGee's and the blood tingling scent of the chickens was a fresher scent, a human one.
Hank gave a strangled howl as he leapt at the first chicken house. His supernatural strength knocked the house clean over and the air was filled with the cluck and squawk of frightened chickens. He pounced and dived among them, feathers flying.
Marvin snapped up at passing chicken more by reflex than will, he was still trying to figure out what was going on. There was supposed to be no one here, it was supposed to be safe, but he could smell someone close by. He tried to get his brothers attention, and damned the wolf body not for the first time for not having decent vocal cords. They had to get out of there.
Marvin started yelping and growling, telling Hank it was time to move, but Hank was having too much of a good time. For every chicken he sunk his fangs into there was another three or four just flapping around like funny looking clowns. He was in his element, plus this was all legal, he weren't breaking his brother's precious rules by wailing on a few chickens.
The outside light suddenly came on making the yard as bright as day. Marvin froze under the spot light, wondering what the billyheck to do next. Hank tossed a chicken into the air with his jaws and pounced on another drunk on the thrill of the kill and the taste of warm blood.
A lad of no more than sixteen came flying out into the yard, shotgun at the ready and took in the scene of devastation. Hank was up to his eyes in white feathers. Marvin stood stock still, staring at the young man. They were equals after all, this situation was bad, but they were equals. All he needed to do was to get Hank and get the hell away from there. The boy wouldn't shoot, not just for some chickens that weren't even his.
"Hey get away from there, ya thieving critters." The lad called, raising the shotgun to his shoulder and firing a warning shot into the air.
'That's it boy.' Thought Marvin, 'Do your duty and scare Hank off for me at the same time."
Marvin was geared to run when he saw Hank react to the gun shot. His brother looked up from the chickens and tensed, preparing for flight.
"Come on boy." Marvin managed to convey in a growl. He wanted to already be running but he couldn't leave Hank behind.
Hank gave a growl and leapt forward away from the chickens, but instead of running to meet Marvin he stopped and faced the lad, growling fiercely all the while. Marvin could see the blood lust in his eyes making them gleam with liquid fire.
The lad raised the shot gun and levelled it at the monstrous wolf in front of him. "I'm gonna shoot you dead, dog. Now get the hell outta here."
With a snarl Hank pounced, the muscles in his legs propelling him much further than a regular wolf could have managed, but before he covered half his intended distance his eyes reflected the flash of fire and his yelp was lost in the sound of the gun.
Marvin saw the sparks, he heard the gun go off, he saw his brother go down and he went insane. He threw himself at the young man, yelping and snarling, and took him by surprise as he tried to reload his gun. He bore the man down to the ground and sunk his fangs into the first flesh he could find. The blood flowed down his throat and made him feel sick, but this was right. The boy had killed his brother, it deserved to be avenged..
Marvin was was caught off guard when another wolf appeared on the scene, running full pelt towards him and then leaping and knocking him clear of the murderer. He rolled several feet away and then landed back on his paws, facing the other creature. It was a Werewolf, but of a different species to his own. Marvin had the look of a real wolf, just bigger and stronger and with the ability to think alomost like a human. This new wolf was more humanoid, while it stood on all fours like he did, it's back looked funny, like he was hunched over and his muzzle was short and stubby, the nose more human than animal. His assessment of his attacker ended abruptly when it launched itself at him and they engaged in a vicious battle of claws and fangs.
The Thomas's youngest son had screamed as he felt the weight of the Werewolf knock him to the ground. He screamed again and struggled as hard as he could when he felt sharp fangs slide into the skin of his shoulder. He continued to scream even as the blood drained out of him, but they became weaker and weaker. When the heavy weight of the wolf disappeared from his chest and the fangs withdrew with a stinging pain from his skin he was already too weak to do anything but lay there gasping, and listening to the snarling and growling of the fight.
The Slayers and the Scoobies trudging up to the farm by the light of Willow's spell paused to look around wildly and then at each other, as the sounds of screaming and gunfire and snarling floated over the fields to them. Then, as one, they sprinted up the track towards the source.
Xander had spent a pleasant four hours steadily sipping his beers and chatting to Alex, the barman, and he was disappointed when a beeping noise caused the guy to abandon his post near Xander and head to where a heavy duty oil skin coat hung on a hook behind the bar. He reached into a deep pocket and pulled free a walkie talkie. He pressed a button and a tinny voice could be heard.
"Alex, we've got a situation out on 'Old Town Road.' I was driving west of there and I heard shooting and screaming coming from the McGee place."
"Sam, I thought that place was empty?" Replied Alex.
The bar, that hadn't got much busier since Xander had come in, had fallen silent at Sam's message. Xander wondered why this Sam guy was calling his new barman friend for help.
Static filled the silence before Sam's disembodied voice was heard again. "Doesn't sound very empty."
"Okay I'm on my way. Move around to the front of the property but don't approach the house. I repeat don't approach until I get there. Over and out." Alex started shrugging into the big coat slipping the walkie talkie back in the pocket.
Xander sat staring into space. His friends were patrolling tonight. What were the chances that they weren't involved in whatever ruckus was going on? He figured slim to none. Sam had said there was shooting and screaming, that couldn't be good. He had to get to them.
He got off his stool so fast he had to catch it to keep it from tipping over, he didn't even realise Alex was talking to him.
"Hey, Xander, I said I've got to go out, can you watch the bar for me."
"Um what? Oh no I'm sorry I have to go." He made his way towards the door and suddenly thought of something. "And you shouldn't be going out there anyway, it might not be safe, you should call the police. Have them deal with it." Xander was aware of a few chuckles from around the room as he stumbled out of the door.
He stood in the middle of the road, looking from left to right. "Oh yeah this is good. I have no idea where anyone is, I have no idea where the trouble is and I have no idea where anywhere is." He muttered to himself. "Wonder Xander to the rescue."
Alex came striding through the door after him. "Xander what was all that about? Are you okay?"
Xander spun around when he heard the barman's voice. "Uh yeah, I'm fine. I was going to check out this trouble. I'm trained for things like this. As a civilian I suggest you go back inside until I have this under control." Said Xander in his best fake Riley voice. "Uh after you've pointed me in the direction of Old Town Road that is."
Alex laughed and it was a big booming sound. He reached into another pocket and pulled out a leather wallet, which he flipped open to show Xander a silver star. Underneath the star was the name 'Deputy Alexander Nichols'.
"I think it's my job to tell you to stay inside." Joked Alex as he walked over to a big four-wheeler parked in the alley beside the bar.
"I have to get out there, I can't explain, at least not until I get there, but I'm just going to hop in my car, can you wait so I can follow you." Xander was already fishing in his pocket for his keys, expecting Alex to laugh at him and drive off, so he'd have to be quick.
"Get in here, we can go up together."
"Huh?" Xander dropped the keys and cursed, bending down to scoop them up again he asked. "You're serious?"
"Yep." Alex reached under the driver's seat and pulled out a blue light shaped like a snow globe.
"Cool." Xander ran for the passenger side and jumped in as Alex began to pull off.
"Besides if you'd got in that jeep then I'd have had to arrest you for drunk driving and that always puts a strain on budding friendships." Alex swung onto the main road and headed out of town.
"I expect it would." Agreed Xander. "Can we put on the flashy light?" He asked excitedly.
Alex smiled. "Sure, flip that switch." Xander did so and the blue light started flashing on top of the car. "So Xander, are you a military man?"
"Yeah, well no, well sorta."
"You're a complicated fellow."
Faith's back hit the chain link fence surrounding the exercise compound and she only just ducked the punch to her face. She'd underestimated the quality of Lolitta's rage. The Italian-American had a serious case of hate for Faith and it seemed she didn't care who knew it. Faith figured Lol just didn't like the fact that she wouldn't kow-tow to her like everyone else. As far as Faith could tell she was the only woman in the whole stinking place who wouldn't be grateful to be Lollita's bitch and that really burned her. Especially with Faith's appeal coming up, the Slayer wouldn't be surprised if Lolitta didn't plan on killing her before she had a chance to get out. Use her as an example of what happened when you didn't fall in line.
'Well she can try, but she doesn't know what a Slayer can take if she thinks these weak ass attempts are gonna finish me off. Huh you idiot Faith, she don't even know what a Slayer is.' Faith thought to herself chuckling grimly as she side stepped another punch watching as Lolitta grew increasingly angry. 'Maybe just before I leave I'll have to teach her." She decided as she was rushed from the side and smacked into the chain link fence by one of the ugly sisters.
She was forced to the ground, by the sheer weight of the woman bearing down on her and she stayed there with her head tucked in between her arms until the kicks stopped. 'A guard has finally noticed what's going on.' She thought as she peeked through her hair.
A guard was indeed approaching the chain link fence where she had been cornered, but he didn't look like he was running to her rescue, he just looked put out that he had to come all the way down here. She lifted her head further and saw Lolitta and her pals sauntering off in the other direction. Why were they walking away? Why wasn't the guard telling them to stop?
"Wilkins." The guard barked her name.
"What?" She snapped, looking up at him still on her hands and knees.
"Shit girl, what happened to you?"
"You mean you didn't see?" From his blank expression she could tell he hadn't. She shook her head in disgust. "Nothing, nothing happened." She started to stand up, wincing as she did so. Her ribs, already bruised earlier, were giving her the most pain. She figured she probably had at least one or two broken now. Her face had taken at least one solid kick too.
The guard frowned. "Nothing? You look like you got run over by a heard of Bison." He reached out to touch her swollen cheek and she slapped his hand away.
"I slipped." She spat sarcastically. "What did you want?"
The guard had to think for a second before he remembered. "Oh yeah, you're lawyers here."
"Gunn? Cool. Lead the way." Faith started hobbling in the direction of the visitors block.
"Uh you sure you don't want to go to the infirmary. I can tell them to come back another time." The guard was still looking at her with something akin to concern.
"No really I'm fine. Hang on – Them? Angel's here too?"
"Dunno if that's her name. She sure looks like one though. Damn Faith, you're either luckier than you look or smarter than you look. Having a blonde babe with a killer body for a lawyer; the jury'll be so busy creaming their shorts, they'll agree with anything she says." The guard laughed at his own wit.
Faith wasn't listening anymore – her body was having some kind of melt down. Her heart ping-ponged inside her chest until it settled in her throat and her stomach did a loop the loop before sinking into an icy pit somewhere near her bowels.
Only one person had the ability to cause such conflicting emotions in her.
And she was here!
Marvin had had enough. This creature was just as fast, just as agile and just as strong as he, but it had the advantage of size, plus the uncanny ability to rise up on its hind legs and swipe with its forepaws. More like a bear than a wolf.
The next time the thing batted him away, instead of leaping straight back in to the fray, he turned and dashed away across the field. After a seconds surprise the newcomer took off after him.
Marvin had the benefit of a small head start but he could still feel the other wolf's breath on his heels, he picked up a little speed and tried a feint to the left, before veering to the right. It worked, and he heard the other wolf skid across the dewy grass as he tried to change direction. Now Marvin was heading for the road and he pulled out all the stops. If he could get into the woods on the other side of Old Town Road then he stood a chance of losing his attacker.
He leapt the boundary fence at the same time he smelled humans. In mid-flight he could do nothing but hope he was across the road to fast for them to register him. He could see a faint blue light, like concentrated moonlight and he growled at the sight. His paws hit the asphalt at the same time as something pierced his left shoulder. He yelped in shock more than pain and stumbled badly, losing his footing and sliding across the rough surface of the road.
He lay there struggling to get up and heard a shout of, "Good shot Kennedy." Then everything went black.
The second wolf skidded to halt at the fence, spraying up dirt and pebbles which scattered across the asphalt alerting the humans to his presence.
Someone yelled. "There's the other one!" And he sniffed the air deeply, his tail wagging slowly from side to side. He took a hesitant step forward, but saw the tranquilliser gun aimed at him, and that stirred memories of pain and captivity and he spun on a dime and ran back the way he had come.
Kennedy cursed as her second dart went wide. "Damn dog." She muttered. "Giles and Cici bag and tag this one. The rest come on. Let's make tonight two for two." She jumped the fence and sprinted across the field in pursuit of the second wolf.
Hank blearily opened his eyes. His stomach hurt and his throat felt dry and he was pissed about it. He pulled himself up on his haunches and choked up a mouthful of chicken feathers. That made his throat feel better, but it didn't improve his mood any.
He looked around for his big brother. Marvin always made everything better. He wasn't there. His scent was all around, mixed with the scent of another Werewolf, one Hank didn't recognise, it made his nose itch, but fast on the heels of that was another scent, one that was infinitely more pleasurable, one he'd never been allowed to enjoy before, but now without Marvin there to stop him, he was drawn towards it.
He crept towards the fallen boy, like a dog that knew he was doing something naughty but his master wasn't around to tell him off so to hell with the slipper. The scent of human blood felt thick on his tongue and it was better than any chocolate he'd tasted in his human shape.
The man was still alive, he could hear his heartbeat. It was weak, but it was there. Whoever had attacked this man had bitten a chunk out of his shoulder, if it had been any nearer his neck he would have been dead in an instant. Hank gingerly stuck out a tongue and lapped at the congealing blood. It tasted so good, he paid no heed to the panting sounds coming across the field, or of the car pulling up alongside the house. It wasn't until he heard a human voice that he ceased his lapping and looked up.
"Oh my sweet Jesus."
A man stood in front of him with a gun. He was sickened by what he was witnessing and leaned to the side heaving, by the time he had the presence of mind to raise his gun and shoot, Hank had already done the math. Man plus gun equals pain. He leapt at the man with a ferocious snarl and the man staggered backwards. He hadn't had time to fire the gun, but he had brought it up in front of him pretty quick and now he used it as leverage to keep the wolf away from his throat. The things claws sliced through the material at his shoulders, but his uniform was thick and he wasn't badly injured yet.
"Oh my God, there's another one." Dawn's voice came from the dark. "It's attacking that man."
"Well shoot it." Said Kennedy. "I've got the other one." Shepulled the tranq. gun up to her shoulder as she hastily inserted another dart,and fired at the wolf who was twenty feet in front of her and closing on its companion and the helpless man fast.
Dawn stopped, took a firm stance and raised her crossbow. She sighted on the wolf attacking what looked like a cop and pulled the trigger. The bolt headed straight for the attacking wolf's rump.
The dart Kennedy had fired clipped the end of the fleeing wolf's tail off. He yelped and jumped in the air a little earlier than he'd planned to, his strong back legs sending him sailing into Hank and knocking him off of Sam the Cop. Just in time for the crossbow bolt to hit Sam in the thigh. He gave a yowl of pain equal to Hank's and collapsed to the ground.
"Oh crap!" Said Dawn.
The sounds of snarling filled the night air and raised hairs on everyone's neck. Willow rushed immediately to the cop Dawn had just shot in the leg, ignoring the fighting werewolves to the side of her. The cop held his leg and groaned in pain and she put her hand on his shoulder as some form of comfort.
Dawn stood frozen to the spot, the crossbow hanging limply by her left side, her other hand was raised to her mouth. What had she done now? Buffy was gonna kill her.
Miranda was crouched over the other fallen young man. The black-haired Slayer checked for a pulse and pulled her sweatshirt over her head and held it to the wound on his shoulder.
Kennedy quickly moved away from her friends towards the wolves, reaching into the bag at her shoulder for fresh darts for the gun. She kept her eyes glued to them as they tumbled over one another in a desperate attempt to pin the other down.
The noises they were making as they fought were creeping her out and she fumbled nervously in her bag, her hand coming out empty every time. She almost cheered when the sprawling scrap landed the bigger beast against a stone used to keep the gate from opening.
Stunned, it lay there trying to recover, slowly shaking its head back and forth. Hank wasted no time in leaping away from the dazed interloper and Kennedy cursed herself for being distracted. Hank looked at her, blood and drool dripping from his muzzle. She raised the gun and pulled the trigger, but all that happened was a quiet 'thwip'. She'd forgotten she hadn't found another dart.
Hank pawed at the ground his yellow eyes flashing as he watched this funny smelling human warily. He was filled with rage and hate and blood-lust for everything at the moment. Marvin wasn't there and that always made him feel bad. He wanted to kill this human without the fear for making him scared himself.
He backed up a little and Kennedy smiled grimly. She gave up on finding a tranquilliser dart and instead spun the gun around in her hands so she held the muzzle, the stock raised to head height.
"Come on then Fido, come and get it." She told the terrified Hank, slowly advancing on him. His growls grew louder and even fiercer as he watched her come closer. He wanted to pounce and rip her limb from limb but his brain was sending him messages about the pain of a gun. The holes in his abdomen a testament to the memo.
Willow turned around to see her girlfriend walking towards the werewolf, the tranquilliser gun raised like a club. "No." She screamed out.
Kennedy didn't take her eyes off the wolf but Hank's head spun to the source of the warning and seeing an unarmed human, saw the way to vent his wrath. He twisted his body and leapt at the witch, catching her by surprise.
Hank bowled the red-head over, but she just had time to fling a hand up and shout "Protect!" The wolf continued to snap and snarl inches from her face and she gritted her teeth and willed the magick to hold.
Kennedy gave her own cry of "No!" and rushed over. A police jeep pulled to a stop in the yard with a screech of tires, drowning her out. Xander jumped from the vehicle and rushed towards Willow and the wolf, without a thought for weapons.
Willow lay there with her head pushing back against the ground. Despite the magick creating a barrier between her and the monster, she could still smell its rank breath and could feel the saliva drip across her face and throat. She wondered where Kennedy and the other Slayers were. They had swords; they should be chopping this things head off. She realised they were probably battling against the second werewolf, figuring her magick would keep her safe. 'Maybe it will' she thought, 'but that doesn't mean it'll be safe for everybody.' She could feel the magick pulling her in, she knew she could blast this creature to smithereens with a flick of her wrist if she wanted to. She could feel the words she needed to say floating at the top of her mind waiting to be picked up and thrown at the werewolf, but she resisted. This thing was human for twenty-eight days of the month, she couldn't kill it. 'But someone else damn well can!'
Kennedy reached the wolf and grabbed the first part she could, his tail. She gripped it tight and tried to pull him away from her girlfriend, but Hank wasn't to keen on that and he took a second out from terrorising Willow to turn and slash wildly across Kennedy's face with a paw. She fell back and felt the claws slice open her cheek.
Xander caught her as she fell back into him and he unceremoniously cast her to the side to get to his best friend, but he was too late. The other werewolf had recovered and he saw what was going on. He rushed in from the side, inches in front of Xander, and again knocked Hank clear.
Xander knelt at Willow's side. "It's okay. You're okay." He had to shout to be heard over the wolf fight.
She opened her eyes slowly and he watched as the black seeped out of them and they were green again. He stroked her hair, the black turning to copper under his hand. She gave him a tentative smile and asked. "Am I still Willow?"
He smiled down at her. "Yeah."
"That's real touching you guys." Said Kennedy, climbing to her feet and gingerly touching the four gashes in her cheek, "but can we get to the killing now."
"I…I…I th…think its being d…done f…f…f…for us." Stuttered Miranda, horrified by the spectacle in front of her but unable to look away.
The bigger, heavier wolf was on top of Hank and had finally managed to pin him by the throat. Now he shook his head from side to side, driving his long canines in even deeper and pulling at the flesh.
When it ripped out a big chunk of Hank's neck, Miranda threw up everywhere. Dawn snapped out of the trance she had been in since shooting the cop in the leg and gave a heartfelt "Ewww."
Alex came running up beside Xander. "What the Hell is going on here?" He demanded angrily, pulling out his talkie to call for an ambulance. Xander nodded towards the dead werewolf and the very much alive werewolf. Alex swore and knelt beside Sam, who had sat up and was inspecting the bolt in his leg.
The live werewolf looked up from Hank's body and stared at the assembled humans. His jowls dripped blood onto the cracked earth of the yard and it mixed with that flowing from Hank's neck. His flanks heaved as he panted and his gaze fixed on Willow.
She stared back, leaning against Xander, unnerved by the animal's interest. Its tail shifted slightly from side to side and she blinked, her brow creased in confusion and still they held each others gaze.
Kennedy grabbed the crossbow from Dawn's hands and swiftly loaded a bolt from her bag. "One to go." She said as she pointed it at the wolf.
"The tranq. gun?" Said Xander, wondering where it had gone.
"No time." Kennedy started to pull the trigger, convinced the werewolf giving Willow so much attention was about to attack like the last one had.
"No!" Shouted Willow again and pushed Kennedy's arm down just as the bolt left the bow, it went 'thunk' into the dry earth and quivered there.
"What do you mean no?" Kennedy rounded on her angrily already searching for another bolt.
"It just saved my life." Muttered Willow. The werewolf gave a whine and turned to run away.
Willow watched it thoughtfully.
Kennedy watched Willow just as thoughtfully.
Buffy sat impatiently waiting in the small room. Gunn sat at her side, but he wasn't in the mood for talking. She gazed at the little windows. They weren't barred. Shouldn't prison windows be barred, Maybe they didn't worry too much about that when you were three floors up. Which is how Faith had managed to get away the first time. Buffy smiled at the thought.
It felt like they had been sat there in silence for hours when the door finally opened and Faith was led in.
"Faith!" Buffy jumped from her seat and Gunn put a hand on her arm to stop her from rushing over. She took the hint and settled for bouncing excitedly on the balls of her feet.
Faith didn't look up from behind her curtain of hair until the guard had removed her cuffs and retreated back outside the door.
"Thirty minutes." He barked before closing it behind him.
"Thirty minutes is that all?" Buffy moaned, watching Faith as she hobbled to the table. 'Hobbling, why is she hobbling, and why hasn't she looked at me yet.'
"You should be grateful I could get us in at all on such short notice." Gunn growled. "And that you ain't speaking through a phone like regular visitors. Hey Faith."
Faith sat down carefully on the opposite side of the table. "Hey." She greeted them, looking up for the first time.
Gunn whistled through his teeth and Buffy gasped. She jumped back up from her seat too fast for Gunn to stop her and started around the edge of the table to the injured Slayer.
Faith put her hand up to stop her. "Sit back down B. You come around here and they'll strip search me and it ain't as sexy as it sounds."
Buffy blushed and moved quickly back to her seat. "They really do that?"
"You bet and can you blame them?" Faith ran her hands down her body with a smirk, Buffy smirked back and then both Slayers winced as she aggravated her sore ribs.
"Faith what happened to you?" Buffy demanded.
"Pissed off the wrong people, you know me. Anyway it's cool, it looks worse than it is."
"But how could anyone…I mean why didn't you…You're a Slayer." Buffy whispered, as if Faith had forgotten.
"Thanks for the reminder B. Now I know that I'll just go back out there, break a few heads, get thrown in solitary and lose my appeal. Would that be your advice G?" She asked Gunn sarcastically.
Gunn just rolled his eyes.
Buffy looked down at her hands. "I hadn't thought of that." She admitted.
"Yeah anyway, it doesn't matter. With any luck I'll be outta here soon and that will piss them off way more than me handing out a beating. I've just gotta keep it in perspective."
Buffy looked more carefully at Faith's face, the bright purple bruises had a back ground of yellowy-green ones. This wasn't the first time she'd been attacked.
"Can't you tell someone?" She asked, desperate to be able to help her lover.
"Not the way it works."
"So you're just gonna keep taking it?"
"Like I said. With any luck it won't be for much longer and besides I'll be fine tomorrow."
Buffy looked away so Faith wouldn't see the tears in her eyes. All day she'd been planning the lecture she wanted to give the brunette Slayer, but now seeing her like this, no just seeing her at all, she just wanted to hug her.
Faith's voice made her turn back to the milk chocolate eyes she loved.
"So… you mad at me?"
"I think I have every right to be mad, don't you?" 'So that's where the lecture went.' Thought Buffy.
"Oh yeah, why's that?" 'Here she goes.' Thought Faith.
"'Cause you're an idiot."
"So I've been told." Faith looked away and slumped further in her chair, ignoring the pain.
"Well you are." Buffy assured her.
Faith looked at her again. "I'm mad at you too!"
"Because I distinctly remember telling you not to come looking for me, and yet here you are."
Buffy looked at her incredulously. "Faith, I don't care if you're mad at me for caring about you. I'm gonna do it with or without your consent."
"You couldn't just care about me from Cleveland."
"It's been six weeks Faith. I've been going out of my mind. I thought it was something I'd done to push you away, but I couldn't work out what."
"I told you I had stuff to do, and I'm doing it."
"You also told me you loved me."
Faith glanced at Gunn, embarrassed. "I never said that."
"Well you certainly implied it. Was it all a lie, was it just sex. I mean you said you were horny after the fight, was that all it was. 'Cause if so, boy do I feel stupid now. I mean I should have seen the warning signs. Not like it's the first time someone's 'got some and got gone'. Not the second either, and I mean it's you…Queen of the damned motto and I still fell for it. You must think I'm sooo stupid…"
"Buffy!" Faith cut off her babble in mid sentence. "Buffy can we not do this now. It's not exactly the time and place for a heart to heart, y'know. Besides I'm sure Gunn don't want to hear all the ins and outs of our…" She made a complicated motion with her hands and Buffy blushed.
"I don't mind." Said Gunn with a grin and a shrug. Both Slayers shot him a glare and he went back to looking out of the windows.
"When then, Faith. When do you want to talk about we mean to each other, if anything and since when are you shy about sex. I think you're just trying to avoid the conversation completely."
"Its not that." Said Faith, exasperated.
"Then tell me now. Do you want to be with me or not. If it was just sex you can tell me. I'm a big girl."
"It wasn't just sex, but I don't know what it means."
"What does that mean?" Stormed Buffy.
"You won't get it."
The two Slayers locked eyes.
The Slayers sat in silence, staring at each other. Gunn shifted uncomfortably and turned his gaze to another window.
Buffy pursed her lips and blew air up at her fringe – lifting it slightly, Faith watched it. Buffy relented with a sigh.
"Okay. So I'm forgiven?" Faith looked hopeful.
"Not by a long shot missy, but we've only got twenty minutes left and I don't want to waste them arguing. There's more pressing matters at hand." Buffy glanced at Gunn but he was studiously ignoring them both.
"Oh yeah, such as?"
No sound came out when Buffy tried to speak, she cleared her throat and tried again.
"Yeah, we have a new problem, uh a big, big bad." Buffy peeked up from the fasinating table top to guage Faith's reaction, but she was just sitting there waiting for details. "Uh really big…and bad. I, uh, can't handle it alone. I need help."
"It must be pretty bad to make you come out of retirement." Said Faith.
How did Faith know about that? She must have been asking questions; which had to be good, right?
"You've got the Scoobies. They're in Cleveland with you right?"
"Um, yeah, but this is way to dangerous to involve them. It needs a Slayer." Buffy insisted.
Faith suppressed a smile. "Really B, well you've got a few thousand out there. Take you're pick."
"No, no I don't want them. I mean, they aren't as experienced as you. Jeez most of them have never even seen a vampire, let alone staked one." She grumbled more to herself than the woman sat across from her. In a brighter tone she added. "Looks like theres only one person for this job." She winked at Faith.
Faith grinned easily back. "Well I'm flattered an' all but I'm a bit preoccupied with a life sentence at the moment B."
"But you could…" Buffy whispered nodding her head towards the window. "…You know."
Faith looked towards the unbarred windows and then back to Buffy. "You serious?" She felt a little worried.
"You have to. This is important. The fate of my world depends on it."
Alex finished speaking to the ambulance driver and walked around to the back, Sam was just being loaded in.
"Told you to wait for me Sam. Look what playing hero gets you."
Sam looked up at the deputy through the back doors of the ambulance. "If I hadn't gothere when I did…How's the kid?"
"He'll be fine. Lost a fair bit of blood, but the bite wasn't that deep, just large. He's already on his way to Cleveland General."
Sam nodded and laid his head back down, the shot they'd given him for the pain finally kicking in.
Xander came over to stand next to Alex. "Is he okay?"
Alex turned away from the doors when they were closed and surveyed the scene. "Yeah he'll be fine once they get that bolt out, funny thing though," Alex scratched his head through his mane of dark hair. "The paramedic said the bolt was silver, said it might cause an infection if Sam doesn't look after it.Weird isn't it?"
"Yeah." Xander chuckled nervously.
Alex went over to inspect Hank's body. "I've never seen the wolves so antsy before. I mean, they've come down to the farms before in the winter, but they've never been as bold as to come right up to the house. Must be the full moon." Alex laughed.
"Well that's when the werewolves like to play." Agreed Xander.
Alex looked at him, still with a broad smile on his face. "Werewolves? You city folk sure have funny ideas about life in the country. You'll be asking next if Count Dracula lives in Mage Manor."
Xander thought for a second. "Mage Manor, is that the place outside of town on the hill." On Alex's nod his face grew guarded. "He doesn't, does he? Of course he doesn't." He chuckled weakly.Spotting a way out running up, he called it over. "Giles, hey, this is Alex, he's the deputy sheriff barman in these parts."
"Oh hello." Giles offered his hand, automatically polite, but then hid it behind his back again because he was still holding his silver sword.
"Hi." Said Alex jovially. "Are you Xander's dad?"
"Good Lord no, the very idea."
"Thanks Giles." Said Xander.
"No I am…that is too say…" Giles noticed the wolf carcass for the first time. "…Too late." He went to study the body. "Oh dear."
Alex followed him, "Uh sir, I have to ask what you and you're friends are doing, trespassing on private farmland after dark, with swords."
"Uh, we are with Xander." Hedged Giles, obviously Xander knew this young man, so hopefully he'd be happy with that.
He wasn't. "Yeah, but Xander was with me. He wouldn't have been out here if I hadn't been, so why are you guys."
Giles thought quickly. "We, uh, we are members of an environmental group, sent here to study the local, indigenous species and we were out tonight tracking badgers…" He received a sharp poke in his back. "…Bear, we were tracking bear, when we came across the wolves." He removed his glasses and gave his boyish grin. "I must say, I never realised the local species were so virulent, it's been quite exciting."
Alex didn't look so thrilled. "Yeah so exciting two people have ended up in hospital."
Giles' face fell. "I'm sorry, I didn't realise. I fell behind from the group. Was it the wolves, is it serious?"
"One got bitten, pretty bad but he'll live. Might have a nasty scar." Alex told him.
Giles winced, he was going to have more than a scar, he was going to have a new persona three nights of the month. Another werewolf to look out for. Giles wiped his hanky across his damp forehead while Alex continued.
"The other injured party was my colleague."
"He didn't get bit too did he?" Asked Giles dreading the idea of a werewolf cop. That would just be the icing on the cake.
"No sir, he got shot by the young lady over there." Alex pointed to Dawn, she was standing sheepishly with Cici and Miranda but when she realised she'd been busted she slowly walked over.
"I'm so sorry Giles; it was like, a total accident. The we…wolf was on the cop and I shot it and then the other wolf came out of nowhere and suddenly the wolf wasn't on him anymore, but I'd already fired, I am so, so sorry. Please don't tell Buffy."
Giles groaned out loud, he'd been wrong - this was the icing on the cake.
Alex carried on "I'm afraid sir I'm gonna have to arrest her."
"What?"Cried Dawn. "I said I'm sorry, it was an accident."
"I'm sorry, I have no choice. You shot a police officer in the leg with a crossbow bolt, a silver tipped crossbow bolt, why are they silver anyway? Wouldn't they be too soft for hunting?"
Willow had wandered over to join the crowd. "They were like that when we brought them." She answered when no one else seemed ready to. "Weird huh?"
Alex broke into a charming smile and offered Willow his hand. "Yeah weird. I'm Alex."
Willow shook his hand. "Nice to meet you Alex, I'm Gay." She smiled, eyes bright and mischievous and confident,as her power took its time going back to sleep. The more she used, the more awake it seemed to get.
"That's a nice name." Began Alex.
Kennedy came over and put an arm around her waist. "It's not her name." She said, neutrally.
"Oh." Alex snatched his hand back quickly, completely embarrassed, then realised how rude that looked and stuck it out again to offer it to Kennedy. She shook it, smirking.
"Anyway, if the ladies have quite finished spraying around the testosterone, maybe we should sort this Jailbird Dawn thing out." Said Xander, trying to save his new friend from further embarrassment. "Is there no way we can deal with it, without a trip to the station. It's not like she meant to do it, Al."
"I get that Xand, and don't worry Dawn; I'm not going to put you behind bars for it. Not this time anyway.But you shot a cop; I can't just let you go home. You have to come down to the station and I'll ask you a few official questions and then you can sign some papers and go home to bed. It won't take no more than thirty minutes, but I can't let it go, my dad would kill me."
"Okay, well I'll go with you Dawnie, let's just think of it as life experience." Xander put his arm around the young girl ready to lead her to the police jeep.
Giles put his hand on the carpenter's shoulder. "No Xander, you've been drinking, it wouldn't be right."
"I'm not drunk Giles."
"I never said you were, but I still think its best if you stayed and helped the girls clean up and I'll go with Dawn to the station." Giles spoke calmly, but firmly, leaving Xander no room to argue. He stepped back, clearly miffed about it.
Giles lead Dawn to the car with Alex. The deputy stopped him before he could get in.
"Sir, it might be good idea to leave the sword with you're friends."
"Oh, oh yes, I suppose it would." Giles smiled bashfully and handed the long, silver sword to Cici, who was closest.
"The rest of you should get home now; leave the badgers and bears for another night." Alex advised the rest of them, and then he waved to Xander and drove away.
Buffy glanced at her watch, time was running out and they were still talking in circles. She sighed.
"Okay, you wanna do the right thing, stick it out and I'm proud of you for it, but you don't have to do it alone. I can stay."
"It's not a B and B, ...B. You can't just book a cell with an ensuite for a few weeks." Faith chuckled.
"I know that moron, I mean I can stay in L.A., and then I can visit you as much as they allow, and I'm sure Gunn can arrange more meetings like this." Buffy shot a glance at the lawyer but he appeared to be tuning them out, he didn't acknowledge her comment. "We can see each other all the time."
"You can't stay B. You're needed in Cleveland." Said Faith sensibly.
"No I'm not, I haven't even been actively slaying since…well for a while."
Faith smirked. "Uh huh, what about this new big bad that's about, won't you be needed for that." She couldn't believe Buffy had made up a monster, justto get her to escape again. It was kinda sweet really.
"Bugger the big bad." Snapped Buffy, she knew full well that Faith had cottoned on to her lie. "This is more important."
Faith's expression softened. She was touched, it was impossible not to be, but this was the worse thing that could have happened. She hadn't put herself through the last impossibly hard six weeks just to have Buffy follow her. She had to make the blonde Slayer see that there was nothing she could do to help Faith that she couldn't do better a thousand miles away.
"B, it's not that I don't appreciate the sentiment 'cause I do, but it's really not what I want. I'm stuck here cooling my jets and you're not, you don't have to be. You've got a whole new life and you should be living it. So go…live it."
Buffy leaned across the table and spoke earnestly. "I don't want to go home without you Faith. It's only a few weeks until you're appeal and then we can go home together."
"And what if I don't get out."
"Don't say that."
"I have to say it. I'm thinking positively as much as I can, but I have to be realistic too. If my appeal is unsuccessful I could be, no I will be, in here for years. Maybe another twenty, maybe more because I skipped out. I've accepted that, you have to too."
Buffy placed her small hand over Faith's. "I won't accept it until it happens and then, if it does we'll manage…"
Faith shook Buffy's hand off. "What do you mean: 'We'll manage?' How will we manage? Are you going to move here, uproot Dawn and bring her back to Los Angeles or leave her behind with you're friends – you're family. Or do you wanna commute back and forth; buy a season ticket with Intra-Air. Just so you can spend twenty minutes a week with a convicted murderer?" Faith ran out of steam and slumped back in her hard plastic chair.
Buffy let the tears spill from her eyes and said simply "Yes."
Faith shook her head sadly. "No, you can't."
Buffy grabbed Faith's hand again and pulled it across the table, holding it tight so she couldn't pull it away. "Yes I can Faith. If that's what I have to do to share a bit of your life then that's what I'll do. Dawn can either come with me or she can stay at the place in Boudenver, she's practically an adult now anyway. She'll be off to college next year and everyone else will probably be glad to see the back of me, I think I've been driving them all a little crazy since we moved in. I could get a place near here, or in L.A. I could work for Angel. If Harmony can find anyone to employ her, I'm damn sure I can, or there's always plenty of Doublemeat Palaces…" Buffy babbled on as she held Faith's hand, determined to convince her it could work.
Faith let her hand be held but she was shaking her head and looking to Gunn for help, he gave a barely perceptible shrug and carried on looking the other way.
"Buffy, no." She tried.
Buffy babbled on regardless. "…And it may not be another twenty years anyway, they might reduce your sentence because of all the help you gave in the earthquake." She shot Faith a wink, who rolled her eyes helplessly. Buffy turned to Gunn. "You did mention how she helped evacuate the town, didn't you." Buffy winked at Gunn too. "Surely that will help, you did you're civic duty they shouldn't keep you locked up, and even if they do it's only twenty years, we'll still only be in our forties, and life begins then right and we don't have that pesky death sentence hanging over us now with all the new, uh new…"
"Buffy – No!" Faith shouted over the top of the blonde's babble.
Buffy pouted. "What do you mean No?"
"I mean no, we're not doing any of that. If my appeal isn't successful then this ends here. I don't want you waiting for me until I get out, I don't want you visiting me. You've got your own life to lead and I don't want to feel guilty because you're wasting it on me. I'm not worth it."
"Yes you are Faith, don't ever think you're not and you can't stop me from visiting you and waiting for you…"
"I won't accept the visits, I don't have to see you if I don't want to. I nearly didn't bother today, but I figured what the hell."
"But Faith it will give you something to look forward too, if you know I'm going to visit every week. It'll make it more bearable."
Faith smirked. "I can see you haven't lost any of the shine on your halo of superiority."
"I didn't mean it like that. I don't think I can come in here and wave a magic wand and make everything better, but I want to try." Buffy looked at their joined hands, her index finger stroked lightly over Faith's palm.
Faith stiffened slightly before pulling her hand away again. "B, you don't get it. I don't deserve better than this, not unless the jury decides I do and you're not making it any better anyway. I get that you're trying to help but it's not, it's making it worse. So just go home and wait for the appeal. If it's successful I'll come and see you and we'll talk. Until then I just want to be left alone."
Buffy sighed shakily, they only had a couple of minutes left, there wasn't time for any more arguing. "Okay Faith, have it you're way. I'll give you some space until the appeal, I get that you need to keep you're mind focused on that. I'll see you at the court house, maybe I can get some of the gang to come, for moral support."
"No." Snapped Faith, louder than she'd meant to.
"Okay, okay, just me and Giles then."
"No B. Just Giles, no you, no Scooby gang, just Giles. I don't want anyone else there."
"What do you mean, of course I'm going to be at you're appeal, silly."
"No you're not B, 'cause I don't want you there and it's my thing. There's gonna be enough people there makin' me crazy. I don't need another."
Buffy's voice was quiet when she asked. "What about before, I won't come in the room, I can just help you prepare?"
Faith's voice was firm. "I've got Gunn for that."
"So there's nothing at all I can do?" Buffy's voice was a hoarse whisper.
In contrast Faith sounded quite up-beat. "Yeah sure there is. You can go home and start living that normal life you've been harping on about since forever and let me deal with things this end."
Buffy wondered why she had never started biting her nails before, the hobby was looking attractive all of a sudden, she studied them and decided they were too dirty to bite, plus they probably tasted of plane. She steadied herself to keep going.
"And after the appeal, if it's successful, will you come home. To Cleveland I mean."
Faith gave a calculatedly casual shrug. "For a bit. It's not like I'm gonna have a lot of options as an ex-con, but it's a big wide world out there, B, and Cleveland is only a small corner of it, and who wants to spend their life in a place called Boudenver anyway. I dunno, I might take the opportunity to have a normal life myself, do a bit of travelling, away from Hellmouths and supernatural shit. I don't think I know how to grow roots."
Buffy gave another deep sigh, it was surprising there was any oxygen left in the room the amount she had been exhaling and inhaling.
"Do I figure in these plans at all?" Buffy's eyes were shiny with tears but they hadn't started to fall, not yet.
Faith shrugged again and Buffy wanted to dislocate both her shoulders. "We'll see."
"Faith, are you deliberately trying to piss me off?"
"Not deliberately, no. It just happens naturally."
"You're being an asshole!"
"Look B, we'll talk if I get out, yeah, but I never promised you anything." Faith was refusing to make eye contact, if she saw Buffy start to cry she knew she would start bawling too and then they'd be in even deeper.
"No you didn't."
Buffy's chair scraped back as she stood up, the buzzer above the door went off at the same time and the guard opened it to collect Faith. Buffy stormed to the other door and waited for it to be opened from the outside. When it was she turned back to Faith, who was just being handcuffed. Faith had expected to see tears but Buffy's eyes were like dry ice, cold, dry and a little smokey. Faith felt a twinge of pain in her gut under her scar, but she knew it was psychological and didn't consciously acknowledge it.
"Good luck." Buffy said in as civil a voice she could muster right now.
Faith nodded. "Thanks for coming."
Buffy turned and walked out the door, throwing a "Whatever" over her shoulder in reply.
Dawn stood on the black spot the deputy had directed her to and sulked. This was so unfair. She'd probably have a criminal record now for life all because her sister was the Slayer.She wasn't even the Slayer now just an 'a' but still Dawn got dragged into these totally not her fault situations.
Dawn conveniently forgot that she had insisted on accompanying the others on patrol that evening and that her sister hadn't even been there. 'Things like this never happen to my friends.' She moaned silently. 'Unless they're hanging out with me of course'. On Alex's instruction she lifted the board with the numbers on higher and tried not to smile out of habit for the camera. The flash made her blink.
When she could see again with out black dots clouding her vision the burly deputy was standing next to her.
"Well Miss Summers I think that's enough. I don't see this going any further, just as long as you promise to keep away from lethal weapons for a while." He gave her a pat on the shoulder and went to the counter to collect the official looking papers that Giles was signing.
"Fat chance of that happening with my life." Dawn muttered to herself.
"Thank you Mr Giles. This will all stay on file for a while but I think it's safe to say it won't come back and haunt you're Grand-daughter." Alex told the Watcher, amiably.
"Grand-daughter! Do I look old enough to be a bloody Grandfather?" Giles snapped. Dawn covered her giggles with her hand.
Alex looked discomfited. "I'm sorry sir, of course you don't I just assumed; and you did accompany Miss Summers in the place of a parent so I …was obviously wrong. Sorry." He gave an embarrassed, hairy smile.
Giles was not in the mood to be mollified. "If you must know, I'm Dawn'srakish Uncle, inan unofficial capacity." He told the young police man huffily. "And now if you've finished with us, I believe we should be getting home." He placed a hand on Dawn's shoulder and she allowed herself to be steered towards the door.
Alex's deep voice stopped them before they made it out. "One more thing sir."
They turned around to face him to find him more serious looking than he had been since they'd left the farm.
"People around here pride themselves on their hospitality. Boudenver is at the centre of a tourist area and we try to make visitors feel welcome, but I have to warn you, that you and you're friends already seem to be rubbing people up the wrong way." Giles looked like he was about to make a retort so Alex hurried on. "Now don't take offence because I don't mean any. Xander seems like a great guy and I figure any friends of his can't bethat bad, so please just think of this as friendly advice from one neighbour to another. The folks who owned that camp before you were a bit …strange. They were up to all kinds of nonsense and upsetting folk and people didn't take too kindly to it. The folks that live in town have mostly been here their whole lives and so have their parents, and so the memories of the witchipoo crowd go back a long way and I wouldn't be surprised if they stretched aways into the future too. It's not your fault you've been saddled with their crack pot legacy, but if you want to fit in around here you might want to avoid little escapades like tonight's. Otherwise not only do you chance being eaten or arrested." He chuckled softly before continuing. "You also run the risk as being painted no better than the witch council."
"Watchers Council." Giles corrected automatically, biting his lip a second to late.
"Excuse me?" Alex asked.
"I said 'What Council?' Amended Giles with a smile. "It sounds most intriguing."
"Not really. Just a bunch of kooks. English like yourself, but I'm sure that's where the similarities end sir."
Giles nodded and turned to leave again.
"If you're really interested you could ask my dad about it. He's away at the moment at a sheriff's conference in Cleveland, but he had lots of dealings with them up there. Said they used to get up to some strange goings on."
'I bet they did.' Giles was thinking of the goings on he'd gotten up to whilst training to be a Watcher. "That sounds interesting; maybe I'll get a chance to speak to your father when he returns."
"Yeah, you do that, or Owen, the shop keeper. If you're interested in the history of your new place, then he knows everything about everything around here and he's usually happy to chat when the shops quiet."
"I'll remember that." Said Giles as he and Dawn walked out into the night.
Dawn looked around the empty street then back to her unofficial rakish uncle. "Uh Giles how are we gonna get back to the house without a car."
"Oh blast, I keep forgetting we're in the middle of nowhere. Call Willow on you're mobile phone will you."
"We could always go back inside and ask Alex for a lift home, I'm sure he'd do it, he seems nice."
"No!" Snapped Giles. Seeing Dawn's startled face he cleared his throat and tried again. "No Dawn, I've had quite enough of that bloody bobby for one night. We'll manage without the inquisitive arm of the law."
Dawn shrugged and hit her speed dial button for Willow's phone. "Oh and Giles, it's called a cell."
"Maybe in your foreign lingo" Said the Watcher irratably and Dawn giggled.
After Alex had left with Dawn and Giles, Xander and Willow took charge. Xander organised Cici and Miranda in dragging the dead werewolf away from the farm.It wouldn't do to have the local authorities inspecting it too closely and realising it wasn't you're average wolf. Together they dragged it a good distance into the trees on the other side of Old Town Road and covered it with stones.
Back at the farm Willow ripped the hem of her shirt and held the wadded material to Kennedy's cheek. She had four long scratches reaching almost to her chin, but the young Slayer had moved fast and they weren't too deep, and besides, Willow knew scratches did not a werewolf make and with Slayer healing they wouldn't even scar.
Kennedy kept quiet and let Willow fuss over her cheek. She knew her girlfriend had something on her mind and she kept flashing back to the first wolf attacking her and the second just staring before disappearing in the opposite direction. Kennedy didn't know if that was what Willow was thinking about but it was certainly something. Willow fussed with her hands while she fussed inside her mind, as she did now, first with Kennedy's cheek and then with the scattered weapons. The brunette knew it was pointless to ask her about it now though, unless she wanted to spend the next couple of hours in a cold field trying to pick the needle out of the babble-stack.
The group came together again at the edge of the McGee property and Cici led them to where she and Giles had hidden the first drugged and bound werewolf.
The well spoken auburn-haired girl carefully separated some branches, mindful in case they attacked.When they didn't, she pointed through them. "It's under here."
Where she pointed was a bundle of tangled netting and absolutely no werewolf. Cici gave a little gasp and looked around in alarm. "It was here I promise."
Xander picked up the netting and inspected it, feeling the rough rope mesh with his hands to make up for the poor light the moon allowed into the bushes. His fingers hit some frayed ends and he held them up for everyone to see.
"I guess you're wolf didn't feel the need for a long snooze, it caught its forty winks and let itself out." He handed the useless net to one of the younger Slayers and pushed his way out of the trees onto the road. "Ropes no good, obviously, and what would we have done if you'd got it to the house before it escaped we'd have another attack on base like yesterday. We need manacles -orchains like we used to have. We should get some wire nets for starters. Something the beasts that go bump can't chew through…easily anyway." He started trudging down Old Town Road towards town. "I'll look into it for you."
Kennedy and the others were back on the tarmac now and she called after his retreating figure. "Hey where are you going?"
"To the jeep, there's nothing more we can do here." He carried on walking.
"Aren't we going to look for the other two werewolves?" She asked.
"What's the point? They'll be long gone."
"So that's it. The werewolves run wild, nearly kill someone, and they just get away with it. What, we just accept that and go home for cocoa?" Kennedy asked incredulously. "Is that what a Slayer would do"?
Xander called back over his shoulder. "I'm not a Slayer."
Cici and Miranda, who had been surreptitiously following Xander down the hill to town, stopped and looked back at Kennedy when Xander said that, but she just threw her hands up in the air in defeat and they scurried after him once more.
Willow put a soothing hand on her girlfriends arm. "He's right sweetie, if they were still about they would have attacked by now, and it's not all bad – we got one."
"We did not get one. You're werewolf hero got one, we got zilch."
"My what?" Willow chuckled nervously.
"It was a complete disaster. There are still two wolf monsters running around loose, one kid seriously injured, Dawn shot a cop and got arrested and you nearly got mauled because I wasn't prepared with a weapon." Kennedy's lower lip was trembling.
"All the more reason to cut our losses and go home." Xander called from where he and the younger Slayers were waiting down the road. "Let's just say that evil incarnate won the battle and you're regrouping to win the war, or kick its ass, whatever."
Kennedy merely grunted in reply but she followed Xander with Willow at her side.
Once they were back in what passed for the commercial district of Boudenver, all two roads of it, Kennedy and the other Slayers went to get the car from the back of 'The Mouth' and Xander was about to retrieve the jeep from the alley beside Barnies.
"Do you think you should drive if you've been drinking?" Willow asked him out of nowhere.
He turned to face her. "Trust me Will, seeing you nearly get eaten by Whitefang's evil twin brother is enough to sober me up any day of the week." He grinned. "In fact it kinda sent me too far the other way and now I need a drink just to reach normal." He looked longingly up at the wooden sign above the bar. It would still be open for a few hours yet and his night had been prematurely cut short.
He looked from the sign back to his best friend. Her eyes which had been black with power shortly before were now filled only with her familiar concern. How many times had he nearly lost that in the last few years? He shuddered to think how many and tonight another had been added to that number.
With all that they had already lost and with all the hell-raising adventures they still seemed to go through every day, how many more numbers did any of them have before their numbers were up. How much longer could he rely on that familiar, wide-eyed Willow-look to be there? He let out a big sigh and decided familiar was good right now. He opened the jeep door and climbed in. "Go jump in the car, I'll be right behind you." He promised her with a smile.
Marvin stopped cautiously when he reached the edge of the woods and sniffed the air. Hedidn't trust his senses and he stood there for a long time in the darkness. He couldn't think straight, his head was foggy from the drugs they'd shot him with and his human heart was overcome with grief and guilt over his brothers death.
He had led Hank to his death, however unwittingly.
When he was finally convinced he could smell nothing threatening he broke from the trees at a run and without slowing he leapt through the wedged open window. He sniffed around the rooms of his home; the smell of Hank was still fresh and strong. Whining morosely he curled up in front of the fire and with his nose tucked under his tail he waited for the dawn.
The plane banked to the left as it left L.A. behind and Buffy used one hand to cling to the arm rest, the other held the little bottle of bitter liquid to her lips. She swallowed the vodka miniture in one mouthful and her lip curled in distaste, or it could have been in response to the avalanche of despair crashing down inside her. She signaled the stewardess for another drink and wondered if there was enough in-flight booze on board to get a Slayer drunk.
Behind and beneath her, L.A. was shrinking from view, but Buffy didn't look out of the window like she had on the flight in, there was nothing left there to look at. She wiped an escaped tear from the corner of her eye and cursed herself for caring. She watched the head rest in front of her while she waited for her drink. Her face was blank and emotionless belying the kaleidoscope of emotions playing inside.
The full moon shone brightly through the bars of Faith's cell, the beams falling across her face and making the tears on her cheeks sparkle. She had no concept of the time. It had been time for dinner when her visit was over but she had declined the tasteless slop in favour of going straight to her cell and there she had remained ever since. No one came near her door, most inmates didn't anyway, but even a vicious alley cat like Lolitta knew when to leave the mouse alone. Not that Faith was usually much of a mouse, but she felt like one just then. She felt caught by the tail in a trap made of her own good intentions and all she could do was watch her cheese walk away from her.
"It's the right thing to do. I'm doing the right thing, damn it Buffy. It's the right thing, it's the right thing." She buried her face in her hands, muttering into the night.
The tattered clouds drifted away from the moon to reveal a monsterously deformed wolf alone on top of a hill. It sat back on it's haunches and howled desolately at the pale globe hanging low over the forest. To an ear trained in wolf phonetics it sounded a lot like "W-w-w-i-i-i-l-l-l-l-o-o-o-w-w-w-w-w.
To be continued in: "Day Terrors."