My apologies for not getting back to this one sooner. I got stuck and then wrote a first draft of this chapter in one of my many notebooks, which promptly got lost somewhere in my office. Sooo…I've had to reconstruct this from memory. Hope you enjoy it.
"I'm late," Buffy mumbled, grabbing her keys from the table and taking a sip of her coffee. The call from Willow had disrupted her sleep and she hadn't slept much the entire night. She reached for the door, when the phone on the kitchen wall began to ring. She groaned. "Now what." Backtracking she grabbed the annoyance. "Hello?"
"Hi, Buffy," Willow's cheerful voice greeted her. "Piper and Paige both had girls. Piper named her daughter Melinda," Buffy knew that from talking with the older sister. "And Paige decided to call hers Prudence. Peter didn't seem too sure about the choice."
"Don't blame him." She'd seen the picture of the original sisters hanging on the wall before Pru had been killed and Paige had found them.
"Guess Paige disagreed. Both moms are fine and the dads are, too."
"Good to hear."
"What?" Buffy could hear muffled voices in the background. "Sorry, Buffy. I need to go."
"No problem. I'm late as it is."
"Oops. Sorry. Have a great day. Bye." Her friend hung up.
"Bye." The slayer dashed out the door and to her car. Luckily, the traffic wasn't bad. If she'd left this late in San Francisco, she would never make it without being VERY late. She slid her car into a spot in the teacher's parking lot and hurried to her classroom. Locking her stuff away in a desk drawer, she greeted her students with a smile. "Test today." A collective groan filled the room.
When the last bell rang, she gathered up the tests and put them in a bag to take home. At least she knew what she'd be doing for the rest of the evening. Dumping them in her car she went inside main building to check her mailbox. Nothing too important, just general announcements about the Valentine's dance on Saturday night and yet another teacher's meeting.
"Worse than Giles in the magic shop," she muttered to herself.
She started, turning to glare at Connor Grant and held up the notice. "Yet another meeting?"
"School board regulations," he returned with a teasing grin, though she didn't miss the odd look that passed over his face nor the fact he tensed.
"Leave the poor girl alone," his cousin commented from the doorway.
"Hello, Duncan." Grant pivoted to face the dark haired man. "Thought you were going to spend the day downtown."
"I did." He walked into the back area where only teachers and staff were supposed to be. "Found a perfect studio for my dojo."
"Now, if you'd just find an apartment."
"Workin' on it." He offered Buffy a charming smile. "How are you today, Miss Summers?"
"Buffy," she corrected. "Fine. Tired and ready to go home." She couldn't resist adding. "Having warmed up pizza tonight." The pained expression on Connor's face was worth it and she slipped past both men, making good her escape.
Before going home she decided to drop by Walmart to pick up a few items. She grabbed a basket and browsed the store. Some of her choices she was certain would seem strange. Phoebe, in the last letter she'd gotten, had sent a list of ingredients for a defensive potion the blonde could use 'in the event' and had strongly suggested adding another protective charm over the main door. 'And any open window' the middle sister had added.
"In the dead of winter," Buffy mused. True, she might have several open during the summer months. She hadn't seen an air conditioner for the attic, so she had no doubt it would get unbearably hot. From what she'd gathered from listening to the various teachers during their lunch breaks, the temperatures got up into the hundreds.
She glanced away from the shelf and found Richie standing close by. "Hi, Richie, isn't it?"
"Yeah." The young man shifted uncomfortably and glanced nervously behind him.
She recognized the stance. Richie was braced for a possible fight. "Unwanted company?"
"Huh?" His blue eyes reflected his astonishment. "How did you?"
"Years of practice." Buffy reached up and selected a bottle. "Had a very good teacher."
"Mac said something about you training with Caine."
"Father and son." She didn't go into detail. "I got the idea Duncan knows them both."
"He knows a lot of people." Richie's tone was guarded.
"Sure he does." She moved on down the aisle wishing stores still used mirrors instead of cameras. It would have made it easier for her to see who might possibly be after the young waiter.
"I probably shouldn't have come in here."
Out of the corner of her eye she saw figure duck behind a fixture filled with clearance items. She lowered her voice and moved close enough so only Richie could her. "I'm guessing another Immortal wants to take your head?"
He jerked back stunned. "I don't know what,"
"Sure you do." She gave him an innocent smile. "I have sources. Come on." Grabbing at his sleeve she took him with her as she went to check out. "Somehow, I don't think your 'friend' there, will make a scene inside a crowded public place."
"He'll come after you if he thinks he can get to me."
She snorted. "Like to see him try."
"You don't know what he's capable of."
"Tell me," she asked as she headed into the lot with her purchases. "What happens if one of you looses your head and there isn't anyone around to take the,' she frowned as if she were trying to recall the right word.
"Quickening," he supplied.
"Yeah. That's it." Opening the trunk she put the bags inside.
"What's all this stuff?"
"Ingredients for a potion."
"Like for doing magic?"
"Yeah." She slammed the trunk closed. "Get in the car. I'll take you home with me."
"You shouldn't get involved." He made a move to leave.
"Richie Ryan, get in this car."
"But, nothing." She unlocked her side and hit the unlock button.
Ryan got in. "You don't know he'll do to you."
"He doesn't know what I can do to him." Key in the ignition, she pulled out of the parking lot and headed up the road. In her rearview mirror she saw a battered old pick up following her. "Who is he?"
"One of the those who don't believe," he shut his mouth.
"Don't believe what?" He didn't answer. "Oh, come on, Richie. It's not like I don't know about Immortals."
"I'm guessing Connor told you."
"No. As I said, I have my sources."
"Well," he glanced nervously behind them. "Not long ago a…woman came to us and told us how and why the Immortals were created."
That was interesting. Maybe if she asked the right questions or kept silent at the correct moments, he'd tell her and she'd pass the information on to Giles and Willow.
He was quiet briefly before he continued. "She said we'd been created as pawns in a great game and that the reason for it no longer existed." Richie took a deep breath and rubbed his hand on his jeans. "It was quite a revelation. Anyway, Mac, Adam and Connor all decided to contact their friends, who contacted theirs and so forth. After months of discussion we all decided the game needed to stop."
"I'm guessing not everyone agreed." She checked to see where the truck currently was. There was one car between her and it.
"Those who don't believe it are…bad." He shook his head. "There doesn't seem to be another word."
"Okay, they're bad." Probably greedy and selfish and wanting the prize for themselves. That would be her guess.
"One by one we're getting rid of them."
He took a deep breath. "We hadn't decided yet. Depends on how long it takes."
"Will you be glad to see the game gone?"
"Yeah. Since the reason for it no longer exists."
"Don't suppose you'd like to elaborate on that?"
"Sorry." He gave a half smile. "No."
"Fair enough." She didn't really want to lead the bad guy back to her home. But where to take him? "Any idea on how we can lose this guy?"
"Turn at the church."
She turned and went by the church sitting on the corner. The car behind her went by. The pick up followed. "Now where?"
"Turn here." He directed her through a number of streets and past a blue house. "Honk three times and pull into the drive way."
She did as he told her. Two figures raced out the front door, swords in hand. The driver of the pick up hit the accelerator and raced down the street.
Richie got out of the car and waved. "Thanks, guys."
"You okay, Richie?" Duncan asked.
Buffy considered that a silly question. Obviously the boy was fine. She got out of the car. "Hello, Connor," she greeted. "Duncan."
Connor looked at her. "You know about us." It wasn't a question.
"As I said, I have friends who can find out many things."
"You know she does," Joe commented from his place on the porch.
"I know." He winked at her. "Just as I know about her."
"You do, huh?" She couldn't resist the slight taunt.
"When you've lived as long as I have, you encounter many things." He met her eyes. "Even slayers."
"Buffy's a slayer?" Duncan didn't sound like he believed it.
"She is. One of the best, if the stories I've heard are correct."
"Exaggerations I'm sure." She didn't feel like one of the best. Sunnydale was gone. Her mother was dead and many others she couldn't protect.
"I could tell you stories," Connor began.
"Well," she grabbed her purse and closed her car door. "Now would be great time to start."
May rolled around and with it the summer break. Dawn called her and wanted to know if Buffy would mind terribly if she didn't come visit until around the Fourth of July. 'Got myself a boyfriend and we're going to do some camping and hiking', her younger sister had said.
'Just stay out of trouble,' she'd replied, hoping Dawn kept her promise and came to visit.
Buffy also called Piper. "I'm not going to come for the summer," she informed the oldest sister.
"I'd hoped you would. You haven't seen Melinda or Prudence yet." The slayer heard the disappointment in the witch's voice.
"I know. It's just that," how could she say the words and not hurt those who were now family to her? "I live here now."
"I think I understand." There was a brief pause. "You are coming home for Christmas, right?"
"Wouldn't miss it."
"Good. If you miss your plane or there's bad weather, just let me know. I'm sure Leo or Paige wouldn't mind orbing you here."
Buffy laughed. "I'll remember that."
"Good. Now, tell me how the rest of your year went."
They stayed on the phone talking for about an hour. After Buffy hung up she almost regretted her decision not to return to San Francisco. She'd had a real home with the Charmed Ones, even with still having to fight demons. The first she'd had since her mother's death.
Opening the fridge she poured herself a glass of sun tea and added sugar. With a smile, she went into her living room and gazed out the window. Connor had presented her with a new contract for the next year, as well as an offer to teach Kung Fu. She'd happily accepted.
Duncan had finally opened his dojo and promised to teach her several new moves he'd learned over the centuries. The good looking man had also found and purchased one of the houses that sat on the hill overlooking the river. He planned to stay awhile.
Richie still worked for Joe and the Watcher, which is what he was, had sat down and talked with her about his organization and what he knew of their history. She still wasn't convinced they weren't an off shoot of the one she knew about. In her next letter to Giles, she'd tell them all about them.
Her last bit of business had been to put up a new protective charm over her front door and every window she had open. Not that she'd seen any monsters in her time in Lewiston, but no need to take chances. She also had a good supply of potions to use against them.
Content her life was now going the way she wanted, Buffy curled up on her couch and idly picked up the remote. Her new DVD player beckoned and she wanted to watch a movie she'd rented from Netflix. The title sounded hilarious and it was by the same writer who had done the series that so resembled her life. Joss Whedon was his name and the movie was called, Buffy The Vampire Slayer.
Prepared to laugh herself silly, she turned it on.
See my stories Serendipity and Discovery to find out what happened to the Immortals.