Buffy the Vampire Slayer
A Retirement in Sunnydale
By S. T. Farnham
Notes: This probably takes place during season three. I thought this would be the prologue to a long novella, but I finally decided it worked just fine as a short story and would not gain from being longer.
Disclaimer: All is Joss Whedon's or Donald Hamilton's property. I'm just fooling around here.
Summary: What might happen if someone who is seriously experienced at killing should happen to retire to Sunnydale?
Well, I finally did it. After thirty-five years of murdering for democracy, I retired. Perhaps murdering is the wrong word, executing is actually more accurate; officially we used the phrase counter-assassination. My little un-named agency is the one that is called in when the going gets tough for the boys and girls of the FBI or any of the other glamor agencies. After years of getting shot, stabbed, beaten and left for dead, as well as doing the same to others, for a bureaucrat's paycheck (plus danger pay) and a pension, I finally got out – alive to my considerable surprise. I believe that I did some good in the world, but generally, I just don't think about it – I'm afraid I might have made a good psychopath.
I originally retired to New Mexico, but a bit of unfinished business caught up with me and after I took care of it in my usual fashion (I'm alive, the other guy and a couple of innocent bystanders aren't). I decided to avoid any future visits from old enemies and looked for another place to live – a place where few would think to look for me. I chose California on a whim, and studied a map carefully. I finally decided that Sunnydale sounded like a good quiet place to live out my remaining years. After all, I reasoned, if in all my years of traveling around the globe dealing in violence I had never heard of Sunnydale, perhaps it wasn't notably violent. Even if it was, I could take care of any small town violence that came my way, unless I got overconfident in my old age.
My first day in Sunnydale I was quite charmed. Only one Starbucks in town – that was a good sign. The weather seemed pleasant, if a trifle humid for someone from New Mexico, but not terribly so. And the real estate prices seemed reasonable, perhaps a bit low. I figured it must be because the towns' youngsters were moving out faster than they could be replaced. Well, that was all right by me I thought, as I paid a down payment on a nice little house with a clear field of fire.
I went to sleep the first night in the Sunnydale Motel 6, since my house wouldn't be ready for a few days. Around midnight I woke up, my fingers curled around the grip of my five-shot aluminum framed short-barreled 38. I used it as my backup gun, the last one the U.S. Government gave to me. I really hated those little things; it was so light that it kicked like a damned mule. On the other hand, if I managed to hit someone with it, they didn't usually get up. I left a 9-mm semi-automatic on a table, with an empty clip, to act as a magnet to any uninvited guests. Tonight though, I just woke up. There was nothing there. If I were a religious man I would think that the ghosts of all those dead people I left behind or hastened to their deaths, were all sitting around watching me. But I don't believe in that garbage. Could that be why I had so much trouble sleeping?
To hell with it, I'm gonna take a walk around this burg. Leaving the five-shot under my pillow, I loaded the Glock and shoved it into my belt on my left side, where I could grab it with either hand. I know that it may seem like overkill to wander around a small California town with thirteen 9-mm bullets ready to fire, but that's how I've stayed alive.
As I passed the third graveyard of the evening (did this place seem to have an unusually high number of graveyards, or was that just my imagination?) I was admiring the stars and the trees. I was wondering about the possibility of hunting season – perhaps I would see about bagging an elk this year. On the other hand, I've spent many a year hunting the most elusive and dangerous game of all (humans, in case you weren't paying attention) and there just didn't seem much challenge to blasting away at creatures who couldn't shoot back. Surely there was a range around here to keep up my shooting skills though.
Then I noticed three people off in the distance running across the graveyard. Two seemed to be in serious trouble, and they were really burning up the grass under their feet. Hmmm, I thought, I suppose I should do something, or maybe not. You're shocked at my attitude, I know, but I was never in the business of saving damsels in distress. That would be a full time but thankless job anyway. But I actually wasn't sure who was chasing whom in this instance.
My former business was saving the country as a whole, and if sometimes, once in a while, I found it necessary to route one of my bullets through an innocent bystander on its way to a bad guy, well, I did it. More than once actually. And if I occasionally got an innocent hostage killed because neither my boss nor I played the hostage game, it was just too damn bad. Besides, I couldn't run like those guys, and when I did catch up to them I probably couldn't figure out anything to do besides kill them, and I didn't want unfavorable police opinion to fall on me. Still, this is going to be my adopted town, and I didn't like the idea of criminals taking advantage of less muscular and gun-challenged individuals. So I sort of ducked into a little copse of trees, kind of innocent-like in case anyone was watching me, and quietly tracked though the woods, or what passed for woods in this graveyard.
A few minutes later I came to a clearing and stopped to check out the lay of the land. It's only in the movies that the intrepid hero charges madly into the midst of mayhem without any care. I looked first. I saw one woman standing in the middle of the clearing and two dead bodies on the ground with truly monstrous neck wounds, although there didn't seem to be as much blood as one would expect from the wounds. She turned and seemed to look directly into my eyes. Although I felt a shiver go up my spine, I was confidant that I was invisible in the darkness, having spent plenty of time tracking through woods and jungles in my day. But in the dim starlight I thought I could see some sort of malformation of her face, and she had blood on her chin! What could have happened here?
"You might as well come on out, you can't get away from me," she said.
Well, damn, I thought, that girl has amazing night vision. There didn't seem to be anything else to do so I stood up and walked towards her, but I had my gun down at my side, hidden by my leg. As I got closer I could see her forehead more clearly, she definitely had some sort of weird disease or growth. And her eyes! Damn, they glowed with reflected light, bright yellow – the effect was startling.
She leaped at me with a suddenness that took my breath away, and she actually growled! They never learn, I thought, and calmly put five 9-mm bullets into her chest. She stopped, looked at me, and much to my amazement, smiled and attacked me. What? What? Oh, she must have a bulletproof vest on. I emptied the gun into her, this time in her legs and abdomen; I was trying for her head but couldn't make the shot before she was on me.
I have never in my life held back when it came to defending myself, and I didn't this time. I hit her with everything I could muster; it felt like hitting a solid wall. She hardly flinched. I picked up a branch about the size of a bat and swung it into her head as hard as I could. It didn't faze her. But when she hit me I flew backwards into a tree, the breath knocked out of me. I don't mind admitting that I was in a state of shock. This was completely opposite of my years of experience in the field of applying violence to others. Being on the receiving end of violent retribution was not new for me, but I couldn't figure out why my bullets didn't seem to be affecting her. I sure as hell didn't like it.
I could see fangs on this woman, little sparkles of reflected moonlight gleaming between her bloody lips. She stalked towards me, moving slowly, in complete control, grinning at me. I would've reloaded and shot her some more, but this was California for god's sake, I had no reason to expect a war in the graveyard – I only brought the one gun and no extra clips. The only other weapon I had was my pocketknife, which I flipped open as soon as I thought of it. The girl, or monster, or whatever, didn't even acknowledge the existence of it. As she leaned over me and grabbed my shoulders, I slipped the blade up between her ribs right into her heart. Surely that would do it! She picked me up from an angle that should have been impossible and threw me across the clearing! I landed on the grass, just missing some sharp rocks and headstones.
I think at that moment I gave up. Thirteen bullets, a powerful whack across the temple, a very hard right to the solar plexus and a knifeblade though the heart. That clearly wasn't enough, and I was out of tricks and evidently out of time. Well, it had to happen to me sometime, but I was sure surprised that it would be in peaceful little Sunnydale.
Right when I gave up, starting to close my eyes, I saw movement in my peripheral vision. A girl, a small blond missile, streaked into the clearing. Wham! The newcomer hit my adversary with her feet, flipped over in the air and hit her again, a left, a right! She whirled around and struck with her feet. That little maneuver should have gotten her killed, but she spun around with inhuman speed. I could hear the power of her strikes. The enemy, and I surely thought of her as an enemy by now, flew though the air herself. Hah! I thought, now you see what it feels like! Seconds later, my accomplice brought out a large knife, no, it was a wooden stake of all things, and plunged it into our enemy's chest. How did she do that, I wondered? The ribs should have deflected her strike, her angle of attack was all wrong. But apparently the wielder of that stake knew very well what she was doing because the vampire, (and yes, I had finally caught up to what was happening here) crumbled into dust, right before my eyes.
My new friend took a quick look at the previous victims and saw that they were dead. I was a little surprised to see that dead bodies didn't seem to bother her much. She walked over to me and asked,
"Are you all right? Can I get you something?"
"I think so," I said, "I just need to rest a minute or two. Who, or should I say what, are you?"
"I'm Buffy, the Vampire Slayer. And you are?"
"You can call me Matt, Matt Helm. I'm new in town, and I'm more than a little surprised by some of the residents here. Can you clue me in?"
"I could, and will if you really insist," she replied, "but are you sure you want to enter my world? It can be extraordinarily dangerous, and very weird, and extremely violent."
"I have been dealing in violence for most of my existence, I can handle myself. And a little blood doesn't bother me much. It would seem that I need to learn how to deal with these … uh, creatures, though." I couldn't bring myself to say the word 'vampire' out loud. It just sounded too foolish for words. Though I did wonder if I could get the deposit back on the house I bought this afternoon. And a girl named – Buffy? What kind of name is that? She looked liked she ought to be on the High School cheerleading squad or maybe the homecoming queen. But then I looked a little closer, looked into her eyes, and recognized a kindred spirit. This girl was a killer, she had seen death and destruction in her young life, and it made her stronger. But she wasn't one of the cold ones, the youngsters who could kill in cold blood and appear untouched. She could feel.
"Well, let's get out of here. Can you stand to be surrounded be kids dancing? If so, I know a place where you can get a drink. It's looks like you could use one," she said.
"Yeah, I could use a very strong drink. Let's go."
She took me to a place called the Bronze. I wasn't enthused, but the drinks weren't diluted, much. And I really needed it. "So, Buffy," I said, without stumbling over her unlikely name, "what's your story? Or should I ask?"
She was about to answer when several other youngsters walked up and sat down around Buffy. They all kind of stared at me and questioned Buffy with their eyes. Jesus, I thought, are they all vampire hunters? I thought more than thirty years of dealing in death had made me tough, but maybe I was wrong.
"Matt, this is Xander, Willow, Cordelia, and Oz. Guys, this is Matt Helm. Matt observed me dusting a vampire, a vamp that fed off two others and almost got him – he was a bit surprised I think when he pumped thirteen bullets into the vamp and was still in danger. I haven't asked yet why he's carrying a gun."
Xander said, "Oooh, what kind of gun do you have?"
Willow interrupted, "Mostly, guns don't do much to vampires and demons. Although a few shots can slow them down, we would prefer not to get noticed by the local cops. They probably notice us entirely too much as it is.
"Yeah," said Cordelia (Damn!, I thought, she's in High School?) "Except for that time you fired a rocket at a demon in the mall – I mean, that was a really big gun!"
"I hope the cops are still baffled by that one," said Buffy.
I looked at her, "Did you kill what you intended to kill?"
"Yup. And no bystanders, either. At least, not by me. The demon managed to get a few first."
"Huh, bystanders can take care of themselves. If I worried about innocent people I wouldn't be here today," I told her. I'm sure getting garrulous in my old age, I must be getting senile to babble on so.
They all looked at me as if I were a demon myself. "That's a cold-hearted attitude," said Willow, "Buffy's job is to protect the innocent, that's her calling."
"I don't mean that I accidentally spray bullets all over creation, like so many TV hero's. My bullets go where I intend them to go. But if a bad guy is holding a hostage, I shoot through the hostage. I mean, presumably the bad guy is truly deserving of death, and one is saving the world," I said, a little defensively.
Xander spoke up, "If you're such a good shot, why don't you shoot around the hostage, or shoot the gun out of his hand, or something?"
"You've been watching way too much TV," I replied, "it doesn't work that way in the real world."
Willow said, "I still don't like your attitude, if you want to be introduced to the demonic underworld, you need to change your style, and right now mister!"
"And just who is being introduced to the demonic underworld?" I heard a cultured British voice from over my shoulder.
"Oh, hello Giles. This is Matt Helm, a guy who I discovered in the graveyard trying to shoot a vampire. He wasn't having much luck."
"Hello, my name is Rupert Giles, how do you do?" he said. We shook hands, a little warily. I could see that this was another one like me, I can almost always tell. He'd seen action, he could kill. I could see the same shock of recognition in his eyes as he looked at me. Unlike Buffy (his charge maybe?) he could be cold, very cold. I'd better watch out for this guy.
"Actually, I shot the vampire thirteen times, whacked her in the head with a heavy branch, slipped a knife blade into her heart, and I might as well have been a newborn Labrador puppy for all the good it did. I was pretty impressed with Buffy's style, as well as being surprised at having her save my life."
"Yes," said Giles, "it is more effective to stab vampires with a wooden stake through the heart."
"Or decapitate them," said Buffy.
"Or spray them with holy water," said Willow.
"Or fire," said Xander.
"Or hairspray," said Cordelia. There was a pregnant pause. "What? Set the spray on fire, of course! What'd you think I meant?" I noticed that everyone seemed a little exasperated with her, all except Xander, who appeared mesmerized by her breasts – well, I could see why.
"And, finally," they all chorused, "sunlight!"
I could see that retirement was going to a little more exciting than I had thought.