Chapter Five—Beer Bad, Margaritas Worse
The Initiative, 0800 Hours, Wednesday, November 1, 2000...
Maggie eyed the group of young men around the conference table. All of Miller's capture team were here except one, who was currently in the infirmary. Damn. Their survival was going to make things... awkward.
Graham wearily pushed his hair back from his face. He looked around the conference table. "Hey, where's Bill?"
Maggie said, "Bill's getting checked out. I noticed his pupils had some odd dilation and sent him to Medical."
Graham nodded in a desultory way. He looked exhausted. Maggie thought he damn sure should be, especially since his team had managed to kill the damn things. She'd hoped for at least two casualties, but instead, because of the interference of 'Han Solo' and 'Sailor Neptune,' she didn't even have one. If she thought for a second she could get away with it, she'd process Bill right now regardless of his physical survival. Actually, it might make him an even better donor. Unfortunately, too many people knew he'd survived. Now I'm going to have to manufacture another incident to try to get my corpse, she thought angrily.
"All right, let me make sure I have the facts straight. You were on patrol checking out a low-level demon source when you came across a very powerful and dangerous Hostile whose distinguishing feature was extremely large genitalia." Maggie paused, waiting for the nervous chuckles to die down. "Your weapons were ineffective. You were getting beaten down when you were rescued by 'Sailor Neptune.'" This time, no one laughed, although there were a couple of embarrassed throat-clearings around the table.
Maggie continued, "She kills the Hostile and runs off into the night. Which you let her do. Then a couple of minutes later, another of the same species of Hostile shows up, possibly its mate. This time 'Han Solo' uses a blaster similar to yours but more powerful to hurt it badly. Then his blaster overloads and he uses it to destroy both Hostiles. In the resulting confusion, he gets away as well. Does that pretty much cover what happened?"
Riley stood to one side of the classroom not really listening as Professor Walsh droned on. Fortunately, the class was almost over. Then he would have a chance to talk to Kennedy. And maybe a certain other girl who had attracted his interest recently.
Ever since hearing about the fiasco that had happened on Saturday night, Riley had known that there was more than an even chance that Kennedy and her group were involved. Sailor Neptune and Han Solo. Riley could even see, in his mind's eye, who would have dressed as the two, remembering Kennedy's lesbianism and her tall, skinny friend's nerdism. The guy even had a blaster that day in the quad.
Riley shook off his thoughts and glanced at the clock. Very soon now. He focused on what the Professor was saying. "Now, does anyone have any questions about what is going on with the experiment?" She scanned the sea of hands. "If you have questions about the experiment, please see my TA after class. Riley will be happy to answer any and all questions."
Riley watched with a deer in the headlight look as the bell sounded, signally the end of class. With disgusted eyes, he watched the objects of his thoughts walk out of class one after the other while he was inundated with questions. Well, there was always Friday, he thought in amusement.
Warren stared at the pieces of the exotic taser. The design was elegant and obvious. Why hadn't he thought of it? Because I'm a moron, he thought bitterly. A complete fool. He slammed his hand into and through the drywall next to him, playing Russian roulette with the studs there.
The problem was that figuring it out was only half the battle. He'd easily designed a far better, more powerful weapon than the one in front of him, using elements of both his old design and this new one. Now he was one hundred percent magic-free. Although, already Warren could envision a weapon combining both elements that would be ten times as powerful as this one. Not that it mattered. Warren could no more afford the exotic electronics he needed to build either model, than he could completely satisfy Anya. He stared morosely into space for a long time before finally making a decision. Walking over to his desk, he opened the first drawer, where he pulled out a small, flat, black box with phone connections on both ends.
Warren took the box and fastened it inline with the phone and the wall jack. Picking up the receiver, he briefly listened to the dial tone. There was a strangeness to the sound from the scrambler he had just attached. Warren dialed a number from memory. The phone rang three times, then was picked up.
"Hello." The voice was flat and inflectionless. Actually, reflected Warren, it was exactly the same each time. Either it was the same guy every time, or they just trained their people to sound identical. Or, he mused, they had a voice synthesizer that made everyone sound alike. He could actually envision the electronics of the object.
"I need to speak to the Man."
Warren hated this part. "Echo Alpha Tango Charlie Alpha Tango Papa Oscar Oscar." That sonuvabitch had one low sense of humor, he thought unhappily. He also clearly had little respect for Warren despite his half-hearted recruitment efforts.
Warren sat listening to blank air for the next ten minutes. He was about to say fuck it, when a voice came on the line that was smooth as a snake oil salesman's. "Is that you, Warren?"
"What do you have for me?"
"Plans for a wireless taser with two hundred and fifty thousand watts output. Estimated range fifty to eighty yards. You interested?"
"The Army's testing something like that right now. Why would I be interested? What's its effective current?"
Ah, so it was the military chasing down demons. "I know what they're testing. It's a quarter of the output of what I have here with less than half the range. Plus I have the costs down to under ten thousand per unit. I figure that's probably under a hundred thousand for you government types. Oh, and the current is forty-six amperes for up to ten seconds."
The voice brightened. "Well, well. I might be interested. What terms?"
"Agreed. I'll be by to pick up the package tomorrow. The usual place."
"Okay, I'll be there." With that, the line went dead.
Warren stared thoughtfully at the phone in his hand before hanging it up. So "Mr. Smith" was willing to drop fifty grand on his little toy. That would give Warren enough cash to finish a couple of prototypes with plenty left over to take Anya out. Even better, he could continue to play with the blaster. The nice thing about dealing with whatever shadowy alphabet agency "Mr. Smith" worked for was that they didn't demand exclusivity, just so long as you didn't sell it to a foreign power.
Kennedy was shaving her legs. While she wasn't any hairier than any other girl, she wasn't any less hairy either, which meant she had to shave on average every two or three days to avoid having stubble. Kennedy hated stubble. She had just finished with her left leg, but was less than halfway done with her right, when there was a knock at the door. "Veruca, can you get that?"
Only silence answered her. Great, Kennedy thought, Veruca was still asleep at 11:30 am. Granted she had a gig with her band last night, but then Kennedy had patrolled until 4:00 am, and had still been up by 8:00 am. Maybe werewolves need more sleep, Kennedy thought. It wasn't as if she knew any others.
The knock came again. Quickly grabbing her towel, Kennedy wiped the remaining soap off of her leg. She quickly headed to the door and opened it. Standing outside was a tall, slim blonde. She looked about Veruca's age, but she already was showing signs of a dissolute lifestyle as evidenced by puffy, bloodshot eyes and a sallow complexion. "Yes?"
The girl waved a quick hello. "I'm Sarah. Sarah Dunn. I'm Veruca's roommate. Is she here?" She walked past Kennedy into the apartment, looking around.
Kennedy thought the girl seemed pretty damn pushy. "It's nice to meet you, Sarah. I'm Kennedy. I'm also Veruca's roommate."
The girl turned, looking surprised. "She already found another roommate? Well, that sucks."
Sarah turned at the voice behind her. Kennedy saw Veruca standing there dressed in sleep shorts and loose t-shirt, looking half asleep still. Veruca caught sight of Sarah and smiled. "Hey, Sarah. How are you doing?"
"Hi, Veruca. Kenny was just telling me that she's your roommate. I guess you didn't waste any time filling my spot, huh?"
Veruca frowned. "Her name's Kennedy, and you know I can't afford this place without a roommate. I nearly got evicted. So don't give me any crap."
Sarah's face wore a faint smile. "I wouldn't do that, Rue. Still, what am I going to do for the next few days. I don't have a place to stay..."
Veruca sighed. "You want to stay here and sleep on the couch for a few days?" She ignored Kennedy's frantic head shaking from behind Sarah's back.
Great, Kennedy thought, now I have a bag lady camped out on the couch. Can this day get any worse?"
Kennedy tossed the last of the most recent batch of cave men into the van and locked it. Hopefully, whoever its owner and the owners of the other eight vehicles she'd used, wouldn't find out who trapped a bunch of drooling, peeing, and pooping cave men inside their pride and joys. Kennedy had been chasing the damn things all over town, catching up to them a few at a time for the most part.
It had taken quite a while to figure out what was causing it, but eventually Warren had recognized a couple of the pricks, despite their One Million BC look. He had directed Kennedy to a bar called "The Pub" where they hung out most of the time. The owner had been a small, rotund man who had been tremendously bitter over being treated poorly by the various college kids who came in. So he had cursed an entire keg of beer. Kennedy had broken up him and his bar a bit to drive home the message to not do that again, then headed out to see if there were any more of them around.
So far with this group, she was up to thirty-three cave men corralled. At least they all seemed to be sleeping it off and should recover by tomorrow if the pub owner hadn't lied. There had even been a group involved in a fire at one of the local coffee shops, but that one had, at least, been handled before she got there. God, she hoped that was all of them. If so, she could head home and grab a shower.
"Geeze, Rue, where did all the loot come from?" Sarah asked, genuinely interested. It had been waaayyy cool playing Mario Kart on the big plasma television. And the couch that she'd spent the night before on was huge and comfy.
"Kennedy bought it all. She's pretty cool."
"I guess. What does she have, a rich daddy?" The vague stirrings of a plan crept through Sarah's head.
Veruca shrugged. "I don't know. I'm not sure how wealthy he is."
Sarah dropped it. The last thing she needed was to make Rue suspicious. Sarah made more small talk, but finally decided she needed to be alone. Sarah yawned elaborately, waiting for Rue to take the hint. After a moment, she said goodnight and went into her room, leaving Sarah alone in the living room. Kennedy was still out doing whatever. Or whoever. It seemed like the perfect time to check out her room.
Careful to be quiet, Sarah headed into Kennedy's room. She searched it meticulously, careful not to move anything out of place. She was mostly looking for a stash, but would settle for a stack of bills so that she could hit up her dealer. Unfortunately, Kennedy had nothing of that nature.
However, Sarah struck pay dirt a few minutes later in the bottom of Kennedy's underwear drawer. There were three documents inside a manila envelope. One was a state ID card from New York with the name Kennedy DaSilva. The other two were passports under the names Kennedy DaSilva and Kennedy Stallings. Kennedy's face stared back at her from all three documents. Sarah had never heard the name Stallings, but DaSilva seemed vaguely familiar.
DaSilva, Sarah thought. Where had she heard that name before? Then it hit her. The DaSilvas were a bunch of rich pricks from Westchester, New York. They were always being written up in "high society" magazines, sorta like the Hiltons, but classier. Kennedy could be a younger daughter or maybe a cousin. Then Sarah thought about the dresses she'd seen in Kennedy's closet.
Hurriedly, Sarah checked the closet again. She hadn't really been looking at clothes the first time she had gone through it, but now she was. Checking labels, Sarah realized there had to be at least fifty k worth of designer dresses in Kennedy's closet. So daughter, she thought numbly. Quickly, she put everything back where she'd found it. Then she headed back into the living room.
She grabbed the phone and placed a call. Getting the motel switchboard, she hit Jeff's room number. The phone rang and rang, but finally picked up. "What?"
Keeping her voice low, Sarah said, "Jeff, it's Sarah."
The voice was irritated. "What do you want, you stupid junkie bitch? I'm surprised you have the guts to call with what you owe me."
Sarah blinked back tears. Jeff could be so mean. "I got something for you."
There was skepticism in the voice now. "Right. Like I believe you."
Desperate, Sarah blurted, "It's the real deal. It's a rich girl that I'm staying with. Her family's loaded. And she's staying in an apartment with no security."
The voice grew interested. "You wouldn't be lying to me, would you, Sarah? How much we talkin' about?"
"Millions. They're richer than God. We might even get tens of millions. What do you think?"
The voice purred, "Well, baby, you and me need to meet up. What time can we get together tomorrow?"
Sarah calculated when both girls would be at class. "Come by at 10:00 am." She rattled off the address and waited for confirmation. After getting it, she hung up. Smiling, she thought, Jeff still loves me.
Cain was smiling. Only a couple more days in this rat hole town, then he could deal with the wolf. He'd searched her apartment a couple of days ago and she did have a cage. It would make killing her extremely easy. He'd have to work fast to get the skin off of her once he shot her. She'd change back as soon as the full moon set.
Thinking about it, it might be better to drug her and take her away so that he had all the time he needed to deal with her. Luckily, so far there hadn't been an appearance by Blondie or the local chapter of People for the Ethical Treatment of Werewolves. Cain chuckled quietly. He could certainly shoot a dart into a caged werewolf. He even had a tranquilizer rifle. Cain had taken the idea from Blondie and her group who had caused him so much trouble a couple of years back. He'd even used it to convince two different sets of parents that he was going to cure their kids. After he had taken off with them, he'd done the usual. Still, if he ran into Blondie again, he would have to thank her for her help.
Kennedy stared into her coffee cup, then yawned hugely. From across the table, Sarah asked, "Late night?"
Kennedy stared at the girl. There was just something off about her. But for Veruca's sake, she would try to be nice to her. "Yeah, kinda. I was running all over town last night." She went back to staring into her coffee cup, finding it more interesting that Sarah.
Sarah leaned forward. "So, what's his name?"
Kennedy looked up in confusion. "Huh?"
Sarah gave her a confiding look. "The guy who you were chasing all over town, silly."
"Sorry, but there wasn't a guy."
Sarah shrugged. "If you say so. It's just the only times I've been running around is having to check up on my man."
Kennedy felt amused. "Well, if I was chasing anyone, it would have been a girl. Dig?"
Sarah stiffened. "You're gay?"
Kennedy stared her down. "You against the lifestyle?"
"No no, it's just that I thought you would be into guys, being Veruca's roommate 'n all. She's a bit of a goer, if you know what I mean."
"Actually, I don't." Talk about the pot calling the kettle, Kennedy mused. Taking a look at her watch, Kennedy said, "Where's the time gone? I need to be in class soon. See ya." With that, she grabbed her pack and split.
Sarah seethed. That fuckin' dyke, she raged. How dare she rub my nose in it? First Kennedy ignored her, then she treated Sarah like she was lower class just because she wasn't taking classes. The capper was her flashing that damn expensive gold watch in Sarah's face. I hope Jeff gets here soon, she thought. Then we'll teach that bitch.
Sarah tried to watch TV for a while, but couldn't get into any of the shows. She was feeling the effects of her meth withdrawal, making her feel exhausted and angry. Also, a little paranoid. Finally there was a knock on the door. Running to open it, she saw someone unexpected.
"Oh, it's you."
Warren stared at the girl who answered the door. When had Sarah gotten back, he wondered? Warren hoped that didn't mean Kennedy was leaving the apartment. He'd hoped to catch her before she left for class today to show her his new blaster design. Warren decided to test the waters. "Hey, Sarah. I was wondering if Kennedy was here."
"She's out." The statement was said in a flat and sullen tone. Sarah wouldn't meet Warren's eyes.
"What about Veruca?"
"Rue's out, too."
Okay, Warren thought, she's being a major league bitch. He'd had a bit of a thing for Sarah last year before she had started taking on all comers. Basically, anyone who could hook her up with a fix. That had pretty much killed any attraction. Well, that and the way her looks had deteriorated from a succession of addictions. Warren considered it too bad because she'd been really hot at one point. For an instant, he felt ashamed of himself. Sarah was more than a piece of tail. She was.
"Want anything else? No. Bye." Sarah slammed the door in his face.
Warren stared in astonishment. What a scrag, he thought, anger burning inside of him, hot and filling. And he'd actually thought she was a person. No, she's just another slut who got what she deserved, he thought bitterly.
He headed back to his apartment. Anya was coming over soon. She said she had something to talk to him about, which was code for she wanted to screw his brains out. Not literally, thank God, or he would have the IQ of a pinhead. Just as Warren was about to step inside of his apartment, he saw something that froze him in place. A man was walking up the steps. Someone he recognized.
Hurried, Warren stepped inside. He turned and looked through the peep hole to see what was going on. The man stopped in front of Kennedy's place and knocked loudly. The door opened and he stepped inside. Warren didn't see anything after that, not that he needed to. Jeff Chaney. What the hell was he doing in Kennedy's apartment? He was more than bad news. Jeff was a drug-dealing piece of ass-excrement, Warren thought pithily. What the fuck did Sarah want with him?
Jeff smiled at Sarah. Stupid bitch, he thought, if she doesn't have something for me, I'm going to bust her up bad. Make that cow face of hers look even worse. "Hey, baby. What's going on?"
Somehow, he managed not to recoil when she threw herself into his arms. "Ooooh, Jeff, I've missed you so much."
Sarah kissed him several times. After a moment, Jeff eased back from her. He slowly walked around the living room. "Nice place. Why don't you tell me about the girl?"
Nervously, Sarah nodded. "The name on the lease is Kennedy Stallings, but her real name is Kennedy DaSilva. She's rich as God or at least her old man is. The DaSilvas are like the Hiltons, only wealthier, if you know what I mean. She..."
Jeff smacked his hand into the wall. Hard. "Why do you think she's a DaSilva?"
"I checked her drawers and found her IDs. She has a New York State ID card and a passport, both under Kennedy DaSilva. I also found this." Sarah held out a letter in a trembling hand.
Jeff snatched it from her. Unfolding it, he read:
I hope this finds you well. I know you felt like you had to leave with Reginald...
"What is this shit?" He wadded up the letter and threw it at Sarah. He almost laughed as she scrambled around on the floor after it.
Hurriedly, Sarah unwadded the paper, smoothing it back flat. "Look at the letterhead. That says Arthur DaSilva. That's the head honcho's nephew. And it's signed "Dad". So Kennedy's his daughter. She must be worth a fortune."
Interest stirred inside of Jeff. "Well, well, well. That does sound promising. Do we have an address for the motherfucker?"
Sarah nodded eagerly. "Right here on the envelope. See?" She held it up for Jeff to see.
Not bad, he thought. Not bad at all. Kennedy could be worth some serious bucks. "So what's your plan?"
Sarah looked momentarily unsure, then finally replied, "I think we should do this..."
Kennedy yawned as she trudged home. Classes had been uber boring today, especially psychology. Too bad, she thought. Maggie was smart as hell, but seemed to struggle to relate to her students. If she were just a little more personable, the class would be a whole lot better.
Kennedy paused at the bottom of the stairs. Music was booming ahead and above her. Oh, shit, I hope that isn't my apartment, she thought. With Veruca at band practice, that meant Sarah was there alone, possibly abusing those expensive speakers that Kennedy had bought. She slowly climbed the stairs to the second floor. As she reached the top, Kennedy ran into Warren and Anya. "Hey, Warren. Anya. How's it going?"
"Warren has been giving me lots of orgasms. Now we're off to go buy stuff so that I'll have more sex with him later," Anya matter-of-factly stated.
Wow, too much information, Kennedy thought. She watched with amusement as Warren nudged Anya. Finally, Anya reluctantly asked in a fake, perky tone, "How has your day been, Kennedy?"
Kennedy hid a smile. The girl really was strange. "It's fine. Thanks for asking."
Anya looked relieved. "Well, that's all I have to say. Come along, Warren." Anya grabbed Warren's arm and literally dragged the poor guy off.
Talk about whipped, Kennedy thought. She walked over to her apartment and opened the door with her key. Immediately, she was enveloped in sound with music blaring and the blender going at full speed. Walking in, Kennedy noted Sarah sitting watching MTV with the sound cranked up. If Sarah was sitting on her ass, then who was manning the blender and what was being blended? Kennedy wondered. She was hoping for something alcoholic and frozen.
Turning towards the kitchen, she was just in time to see a tall dark-haired man around twenty-five exit the kitchen holding three margaritas. He handed her one as he went by on his way to sit next to Sarah on the couch. He shouted over the music, "I'm Jeff, a friend of Sarah's. Drink up. Plenty more where that came from."
Kennedy was torn between amazement at the guy's chutzpah and anger that now she had another freeloader taking up couch space. Why the hell would Veruca invite another bum in? Or maybe Sarah did it. Oh, what the fuck, Kennedy thought. At least this one brought drinks.
Kennedy took a big sip of her margarita. It was a perfect blend of tangy and sour. "Not bad! Thanks for the drink!" She also had to shout to be heard over the music. Deciding that was enough, Kennedy walked over and grabbed the remote, turning down the music.
"That's better. I'm Kennedy, by the way. Nice to meet you, Jeff." Studying him, Kennedy wasn't too pleased with what she saw. While he was a nice looking guy with a great build, there was something cruel and dismissive about his eyes. And he obviously spent way too much time on his hair based on the amount of gel that shaped it.
"Nice to meet you, too. How ya enjoying good ol' Sunnydale?"
Sarah sat nervously twisting her hands together with her drink balanced between her legs. Kennedy watched as she finally reached down and picked up her drink, taking a small sip. Kennedy took a large drink of the frozen concoction, then answered, "It's okay. Kinda so so, if you know what I mean?"
Jeff nodded knowingly. "I get it. Wow, you're about done with that. Want another?"
Kennedy nodded. It took a lot more that a few margaritas to make a Slayer sloshed, she thought. "Yes, I do. Thanks."
"It's cool." Jeff grabbed his drink and headed back into the kitchen.
Jeff added the margarita mix, ice, and tequila to the blender. He quickly peeked to make sure Kennedy was still sitting. Then he grabbed a vial of GHB and poured half of it in the blender. With a considering look, he slowly added the rest. Might as well make sure she's out for a while, he thought.
He quickly finished blending the drink and went and grabbed Kennedy's cup, filling it to the top. Jeff took it back out and handed it to Kennedy, watching as she took another long sip. That's right, bitch, drink up, he thought maliciously. He took the opportunity to give her a quick once over. Not bad, he thought. A little flat-chested, but Kennedy had a nice ass to make up for it.
"So, when did you get here, Jeff?"
He shrugged. "A couple of hours ago. I had to look up Sarah here and make sure everything was all right."
"You two dating?"
Jeff gave Sarah a cold look, then realizing that he was playing her friend, toned it down. "Not really. We've dated, but that's about it."
Kennedy waved her hand, the gesture slightly jerky. Slurring slightly, she said, "Thash cool." She took another sip of the drink.
Jeff noted it was almost empty. Hell, he thought, I could have saved the GHB for another time at the rate she'd downing the alcohol. Jeff started to worry that Kennedy would drink too much alcohol, which combined with the double dose of GHB he'd given her, might put her into a coma or even kill the goose that laid the golden eggs. He reached over to take the glass from her, but she gave him a hard, if unsteady push, that made him stumble across the room.
Kennedy laughed. "Thash funny. Jefffsh, you're a funny funny guy."
Surprised and pissed off, Jeff steadied himself against a wall. You stupid little bitch, he thought. He stalked over to her and deliberately threw a hard right hook with his left hand to knock the little bitch out. To his utter astonishment, Kennedy casually ducked the blow, then kicked him in the chest like a pile driver, before falling on her ass, laughing uproariously.
Holy fuck, that hurt, Jeff thought, rubbing his chest. Quickly before Kennedy could get up, he kicked her in the head. At least he tried to. Kennedy caught his foot and tossed him back into the wall behind him, literally throwing him through space.
The entire apartment shook as Jeff hit the wall. Oh God, my back hurts, he thought. He managed to roll over onto his side in preparation to get up, when he saw Kennedy fall face down onto the floor. Behind her, Sarah stood, holding a heavy statue made out of some kind of dark stone. Staggering to his feet, Jeff walked over and grabbed the statue from Sarah. "You silly bitch, if you've killed her, I'm going to make you wish you'd never been born. Got that?"
Sarah's eyes filled with tears. "I was only trying to help you. You don't have to be so mean, you know."
"Shut up and go find something to tie her up with. Hurry!" He snapped the last word out, grimacing as Sarah raced away. Stupid junkie bitch, he thought scornfully. I can't wait until I can dump you along with Kennedy in a shallow grave somewhere.
Speaking of Kennedy, Jeff headed into the nearest bedroom and then into the bathroom. Grabbing a hand mirror from the vanity there, he took it into the living room and checked Kennedy's reflection in it. He was relieved that she had a reflection.
Tossing the mirror aside, Jeff dug into his pocket for his folder. Pulling it out, he gave a quick flick of his wrist and freed the blade. Picking up Kennedy's hand, he made a small cut on it. The blood that slowly oozed out was as red as his. Two for two, he thought absently.
"Sarah! Get your butt back here right now! And you'd better have something for me!"
Sarah raced back into the living room clutching something in her hands. A big roll of duct tape. Perfect, Jeff thought. "Great job, baby. Hand it here."
Sarah nervously handed it over. She was having the shakes. Gotta hate that meth withdrawal, Jeff mused as he started to wrap Kennedy's legs, winding duct tape round and around her feet, then again around her calves and finally around her knees. He didn't go higher since they'd need to pull her pants down for her to use the bathroom.
Jeff rolled her onto her stomach and started to tape her hands together, when he noticed it. Where was the cut he'd just made? There was a trace of blood on one hand, but no cut. With trembling hands, he pulled his knife back out and opened it again. Jeff cut Kennedy's hand again and sat back to wait.
"Ewww, what are you doing to her?"
"Shut it, slut," He replied absently, focusing on the girl in front of him. Within five minutes, the cut was closed and gone completely. "What the fuck? What are you, you little bitch?"
Sarah grabbed his arm. "What are you talking about, Jeff? Why did you cut Kennedy?"
Jeff shook his arm loose from Sarah's clutching hold. "I cut her to prove a point. The girl's not human. Not completely, anyway. I thought there was something wrong with her when she knocked me on my ass. Now I know there is."
Sarah eyed the unconscious girl nervously. "What is she? A vampire?"
Jeff rolled his eyes. What a cow, he thought. "No, dumbass, she has a reflection. And red blood. So not a demon. But she's strong as a ox, and fast, too. She also heals really quick. We're going to need to be very careful with her. You got that?"
Sarah's head bobbed up and down. "I got it, Jeff."
Jeff nodded in dismissal and went back to taping up Kennedy. He put dozens of layers of tape around her wrists, then did the same with her arms, winding the roll around and around Kennedy, until she had more gray on her than the original color of the clothes she'd worn. He eyed the result with satisfaction. "The fuckin' Hulk couldn't break that. Grab a blanket to wrap her in, Sarah."
A minute later, Jeff took the cheery blue comforter from Sarah and laid it on the living room floor. He carefully set Kennedy on one end of it and began rolling her up. When he was done, presto! No Kennedy. Instead, there was just a big, rolled up comforter.
"You pack that overnight bag for her yet?"
Sarah hesitated, then said, "Not yet, I was..."
Jeff pushed her towards Kennedy's room. "Move your ass. Fuckin' hell, it was your plan and you still didn't do it. I want to be out of here in five. Got it?"
Hurrying off, Sarah whined in her rabbit's voice, "Yes, Jeff."
Warren waited at the corner of Jersey and Westside for his meeting. Half a block away, Anya sat in his Celica. She'd already honked the horn once and Warren had had to tell her to take a chill pill and not to call attention to them. Damn, he thought. After earlier, you'd think she would be patient and relaxed. Warren was pretty sure she'd come at least seven times during the three times they'd had sex this morning. Seven times. That was four more than me, he thought smugly and more than a little enviously.
Actually, he couldn't blame her. He was just as nervous as she was impatient. Ever since high school the man that Warren was meeting had tried to recruit him. Warren hadn't wanted any part of the man's bullshit. There was just something about the guy's eyes that said he'd just as soon kill you as work with you. Still, when "Mr. Smith" had suggested a little quid pro quo after his graduation, emphasizing it with a envelope full of cash, Warren had agreed. In the intervening year and a half, Warren had sold four items to his organization, including an undetectable micro radio, a jet pack that used a rebuilt mower engine and two gyroscopes to lift up to two hundred and fifty pounds, a plan for a freeze ray, and some initial, crude plans for his android. In exchange, Warren had received two hundred thousand dollars, all of it tax-free.
And I've spend every dime of it, Warren thought glumly. He didn't wonder why Kennedy didn't have a clue how much money he'd spent on the gadgets with which he'd saved her life. After all, she wasn't much of a techie, other than doing a bit of surfing. Warren was surprised that Notty wasn't curious, though. The older man had struck him as nobody's fool. But if Notty had any suspicions, he was keeping them to himself for now.
Even Andrew knew that Warren had dropped big bucks on the things he'd made. It was one reason why he wasn't even more persistent in trying to obtain a blaster. The damn things cost almost four thousand dollars to make, with the new ones coming in at least twice that amount. Not a lot of money for the government, but for one Warren Mears, it was a bit pricey. For Andrew, who couldn't even afford issue number three hundred of the Amazing Spider-Man, it might as well have been the Hope diamond. He didn't have a prayer of being able to pay Warren back.
Thinking about Kennedy made him realize that he hadn't told her about Jeff. Shit! That worthless bastard was there with her. Well, him and Sarah. Despite Kennedy being the Slayer, Warren was still feeling uneasy.
"Do you have the disc?"
Warren jumped two feet in the air and barely stopped himself from screeching. "Don't do that, man!"
Smith gave him an insincere smile. "Sorry. You have the disc?"
"You always do that!" Begrudging, Warren asked, "You have the money?"
Smith handed over a small satchel, which Warren quickly checked. Fifty thousand dollars in relatively crisp twenty dollar bills. Silently, he handed over the CD containing the design and specifications for the blaster.
"Thanks, Warren. You sure you don't want to work for us? It would be quite... lucrative. There's all kinds of perks working for Uncle Sam."
Warren shook his head. "I don't think so."
Smith's eyes were cold as he said, "If you get any more bright ideas, give me a call."
"Mr. Smith?" Warren had been dying to ask this the last six months.
"How did the android work out?"
For a second, a brief look of disgust colored those cold eyes, then it vanished. "Let's just say that we aren't quite up to that level of technical expertise just yet. Maybe soon." With that, he turned and walked away.
Warren waited for him to head out of view, then walked back to the car. Getting in, he tossed the satchel over to Anya, who eagerly looked inside. She gasped in surprise. "Warren, how did you get so much money? You didn't do anything illegal, did you? You can go to prison until you're very, very old if you break the law."
Warren sighed. "No, Anya, I didn't break the law."
She eyed him suspiciously. Then she pulled several stacks of twenty dollar bills from the bag. "This is an awful lot of money for something honest."
Warren shook his head. "I sold them the design for the blaster."
Anya looked surprised, happy, then worried. "Kennedy is not going to be happy when she finds out."
"Screw her. It's my invention. I'll do what I want with it." Plus, what Kennedy doesn't know, won't hurt her.
With fantastic speed, she blocked the blow that would have decapitated her. Her riposte nearly did the same to the vampire in front of her. Behind him, she could see the portal slowly growing from Acathla. Then the sword was struck from her hands!
As she knelt on the ground in front of the vampire, he mouthed words that she did not understand. Then he drove his blade right at her! With exquisite skill, she caught the blade between her hands, and thrust the hilt back into the vampire's face.
Racing to her sword, she grabbed it and began to flail away at the vampire, driving it back, wearing it down. Finally, it was disarmed and she prepared to destroy it. That's when it happened.
Some force went through the vampire. As he looked up at her, she recognized her lover staring back at her. Oh God, please no, she thought. Please, no. But it was him, the demon driven beneath again. She exchanged tender words with her confused lover, all the time knowing what she must do.
Staring momentarily at the still growing portal behind him, she told her lover to close his eyes, then told him she loved him. Lifting the blade, she drove it through the vampire's chest. He vanished into the portal, closing it.
Standing there, all she knew was pain. She'd lost her lover, her mother, her friends, her watcher, and her reputation today. There was nothing left to live for. Better to move on and see what the road holds...
Kennedy woke, tears damp on her cheeks, the dream still filling her mind. That's when the reality of her situation overwhelmed her. Her head felt like it was about to burst. As did her bladder. She was wrapped in something that had almost no give and appeared to be unbreakable. That conclusion was based upon several minutes of flexing with all of her might. A gag filled her mouth and a blindfold covered her eyes. She was lying in a trunk, from the smells around her of old rubber, oil, and gasoline. There was something hard and metallic digging into her right shoulder blade.
What had happened to her? Kennedy concentrated on trying to remember. That was when it came to her. She remembered the margaritas, then the feelings as if the world were starting to spin and blur. It was a little like being really drunk, yet not. Then that guy, Jeff, had tried to hit her. She'd knocked him into next Tuesday, or thought she had. Afterwards, everything had gone black.
There was no point in trying to figure out her situation. It appeared on the surface to be a simple kidnapping. Hopefully, they weren't serial killers like that movie Natural Born Killers. If so, then she'd just have to try to do her best to survive.
Thoughts of the dream she'd just had filled her mind. Was it about the other Slayer here? Or another Slayer sometime in the past? The vampire who'd been her lover was dressed in very recent fashions. Vampire who'd been her lover. The thought made Kennedy ill, more at the idea than the execution. Killing him had hurt so badly. How had the other girl endured? Had the loss been what finally killed her? Made her give up?
Another thought that was slowly creeping around the edges of her mind was just how good the other Slayer was. She's way better than I am, Kennedy decided, disturbed at some deeper level. The other Slayer was so good, that Kennedy was actually worried about running into someone like that. Would the other girl kick her ass? She wondered how long the other had been the Slayer, as well as how long it had taken her to get that good. With grim determination, Kennedy made a promise to herself: If I survive long enough, I'll be that good or better.
One thing about the idea sent a shiver through her. Would she survive long enough to become that skillful? Thoughts of her fight with Spike crept into her head. He'd kicked her ass easily. It had only been her friends who'd saved her ass. Well, her friends and Riley. Would the next master vampire or especially nasty demon that came along kill her?
The trunk lid opened after about fifteen minutes, letting in blinding light. Kennedy furiously blinked back renewed tears at the blaze of light. Vague shapes above her resolved themselves into two familiar figures after a few seconds. Jeff and Sarah.
Jeff reached down into the trunk and grabbed Kennedy, lifting her with a grunt and throwing her over his shoulder. All Kennedy had was a view of his butt as he strode across into a warehouse-looking building. Then she managed to twist her head a little. Sarah followed behind them, looking worried to Kennedy's upside down vision.
Jeff carried her into a room off of a large space and tossed her down onto a bare and dirty mattress on the floor. Casually, he knelt down and slapped her hard across the face. "Listen up, bitch. You give us any trouble, and I'll cut your throat. Behave and you might just get out of this alive. So long as your old man comes through with the cash. Got that?"
Kennedy just stared back at him. Jeff made a fist and punched her in the stomach, doubling her up. "Answer me when I ask you something. Nod. Your. Fuckin'. Head." Kennedy nodded, more angry than hurt at the blows. After all, Jeff only put human strength behind them.
Jeff eyed her coldly. "Good. Now can he afford five million dollars?" Kennedy nodded again. He looked pleased. "That's good. Because I already Fed Ex'd him the ransom note and I asked for that much." He smiled, probably already counting his money. Then he became all business. "You need to pee?"
Kennedy nodded vigorously. Hopefully, he would release her and she could kick his ass. Jeff gave her a thoughtful look. Then he told her, "We're not unfastening you for even one second. I don't know what what the fuck you are and I don't care. But get this. You try anything and I'll leave you here to piss and shit all over yourself. Understand?"
Kennedy slowly nodded. Then he bent over and picked her up, carrying her through the only other door in the room. It was a bare-bones bathroom with a simple toilet and shower. Jeff sat Kennedy down on the toilet lid and began to unfasten her pants. Kennedy jerked in surprise. What the fuck was he doing? She tried to squirm away.
He slapped her again. "Stop it, you silly bitch. What do you want? Sarah can't carry you in here. So you're going to have to make do with me. Don't worry, I've seen plenty of cunts in my time. Yours is nothing special." With ruthless efficiency, he pulled her unfastened pants halfway down her thighs, then sat her back down on the toilet.
Kennedy wasn't sure she would be able to go right in front of someone else. A male someone else. Then the sound of urine hitting the toilet bowl filled her with a sense of relief. As did the reduction of pressure in her bladder. She shuddered though as Jeff started to pull her pants and underwear back up without wiping her. It was disgusting, but on the other hand did she want him touching her?.
Jeff pulled her thong up, but stopped with her pants only halfway up. He casually ran his hands over Kennedy's ass. With a leer, he casually fondled her between her legs, holding her still as she tried to jerk away. Then he finished pulling her pants up. "That's to give you an idea of what you'll get if you give me any shit. I got the impression that you aren't to worried about getting hit. Maybe if I had a baseball bat, you'd feel differently. Since I don't and I'm not going to go find one, I need something to keep you in line, slut. So here's the thing. You get out of line with me or Sarah, and I'll show you how it feels to be had by a real man. Got it?"
Kennedy stared at him in horror. The fingers touching her ass and fondling her through her thong had filled her with a sense of helplessness for the first time. It made her feel weak and frightened.
Jeff shook his head and grabbed Kennedy's breast through her shirt, just above the tape, and painfully squeezing it. "I said that when I spoke, I wanted an answer." He released her and it was all she could do not to cower from him. "Do you get what I just said?"
Kennedy hurriedly nodded. He smiled with cruel satisfaction and turned her around. He picked her up in a bear hug and carried her the ten feet back into the other room. Setting her down, he pushed her over onto the mattress, laughing as she fell slightly sideways and hit the wall on the way down with her shoulder. He then knelt down and looped a piece of chain between her legs, fastening it to a heavy staple in the wall. Getting up, he silently walked towards the door, looking back only once.
As Kennedy lay where she'd fallen, she made a decision. Jeff was going to die, no matter what. Killing a human was forbidden, but she just didn't care. Rage swept away the feelings of fear and helplessness she'd had. The Slayer was going to make him wish he'd never touched her before she killed him. He was going to die so painfully.
Jeff walked over to Sarah, his stomach churning. She stared at him worriedly. "You hear what I told Kennedy?"
Jerkily, she nodded. He continued, "Good. I'm going out for a while. Don't touch her or go near her. Don't feed her or give her a drink."
Looking confused, Sarah shakily said, "But I thought you wanted me to feed her and stuff. What..."
"Don't even think about it. That was before we found out that she isn't human. For all I know, she could kill you and get away if you take the gag out. The girl's dangerous, so stay the fuck away from her. Understand?"
Sarah nodded hurriedly. Good, he thought. At least one bitch knows her place. He headed outside to get the car. He was going to get something to eat and drink. Especially drink. Sarah could eat the ravioli that they'd bought to feed Kennedy. And Kennedy could starve. That last look she'd given him from the the bed had chilled Jeff to the bone. It hadn't been human.
He'd used the threat of rape to keep the bitch in line, figuring an uppity slut like her would have lived a fairly sheltered life. At first, it had seemed to work. She'd looked like she was going to cry as Jeff had groped her ass and copped a feel of her twat. He'd actually been getting a little turned on and thought he might even try her out sometime in the next day or two if he got too bored.
Then, after he'd carried her back into the room and dumped her on the bed, he'd started to head out of the room. Right before exiting, he turned to catch her eye to emphasize his dominance. That's when he'd seen the look. There had been something utterly inhuman staring back at him. Anger so intense it had physical form had filled the room. It had shriveled his erection in his pants. Jeff would just as soon screw a vamp as Kennedy now. Shivering, he wondered what the fuck the girl was.
Sarah sat on the floor in the big warehouse, her arms hugging her knees. She now wished she'd never called Jeff. He'd treated her like dirt even since he'd shown up this morning. He'd belittled and ridiculed her at every turn. Sarah didn't know what she'd done to stop him loving her, but there was no point in trying to pretend. Jeff hated her now.
Sarah had heard what he'd threatened Kennedy with. She imagined the girl lying on the bed in the other room, not knowing if she was going to live or die. Not knowing if the next sound she heard was going to be Jeff coming back to make good on his threat. Despite how angry Sarah had been at Kennedy earlier, she couldn't help but feel sorry for the girl.
Feeling sick and nauseous, Sarah wished more than anything that she had a hit of meth. Or horse. She'd even settle for some weed, which at least might help make her feel less ill. However, Jeff hadn't given her anything. He'd said it was because he needed her clear-headed for the remainder of the time they held Kennedy and couldn't afford her getting paranoid and even more strung out.
Sarah could almost see his point. She was in the last stages of withdrawal now. The worst was over. It was just like when she'd been locked up a few months ago for shoplifting. She was mostly clearheaded. Clearheaded enough to realize that Jeff wasn't going to share the ransom with her. He was going to rip her off. And because she was the only link between him and Kennedy, he might even go further. He might decide to get rid of her.
Fuck, I'm getting paranoid, Sarah told herself. But she wasn't. Not really. It had a kind of painful logic that tore away at her sense of self-worth. Why keep a junkie around when you could hit her over the head and leave her in any of a dozen Sunnydale alleys to be dealt with by the local nightlife? Sarah was under no illusions as to what existed in her hometown. She'd seen too much of what others ignored, like sheep who didn't want to know that they were being slowly culled by wolves. It had driven her parents to leave town for San Francisco after her younger brother died.
So Jeff would try to kill her and probably succeed. He'd rape and kill Kennedy as well. Then he'd pocket his millions and go live in some tropical paradise far away from here. Or maybe go to Paris and live the high life there. Sarah wasn't sure, but decided at that moment that she didn't want to die. She also didn't want to be part of killing someone else. She wanted more than anything else to just go home. To find her parents and just be their little girl again.
Sarah got to her feet. She headed for the warehouse's exit, then stopped. If she just left, Kennedy would be helpless. Not just from Jeff, but from what else prowled the town. That what else might come in here anytime after dark. And Kennedy would die.
Sarah slowly turned and walked back towards the room that Kennedy was in. Entering, she saw the girl laying on her side on the bed, her back to the wall, facing the door. Fierce eyes glared up at Sarah. Dangerous, glittering eyes. Sarah almost retreated, almost ran from the room. Those eyes scared her worse than Jeff did. Maybe Kennedy wasn't as helpless as she thought? But if she could've gotten loose, she already would have.
Slowly, tentatively, Sarah approached the girl. She knelt down on the mattress next to her. Pulling the grimy gag, a balled-up athletic sock, out of Kennedy's mouth, Sarah asked her, "Do you have any money on you?"
Kennedy stared at her bitterly. "Why? So you can rob me while your friend rapes me?"
Sarah flinched. "No. If you give me money, I'll help you." And you'll help me, she thought.
Kennedy looked hopeful, then sagged. "I don't have any cash on me, only a credit card. Look, let me go and we'll hit an ATM together. I'll give you however much money you want. I'll..."
"Wait. Let me think." Sarah thought about it. A credit card could be traced. But if she only used it to grab a quick meal and a bus ticket to San Fransisco, she should be pretty safe. "Okay, give me the credit card."
Kennedy gave her a disillusioned look. "It's in my back pocket."
Sarah felt around and finally found the slim card. It was a platinum VISA. No photo ID on it, thank God. Otherwise, it would have been useless. She would be able to easily use this to get out of here.
"So, you're going to let me go now?" Kennedy's question hung in the air between them, a challenge thrown in Sarah's face.
Sarah looked away from the girl and chewed her lip. She could just leave. No one would know. Not for sure. Even if the police came by later, she could just claim ignorance. And if she didn't release Kennedy, Jeff wouldn't be out to get her. Sarah felt fear so intense it made her nauseous at the idea of Jeff actively trying to find her to get revenge. But she couldn't do that. She just couldn't leave without doing something.
Grabbing the grimy sock, Sarah hurriedly stuffed it back in Kennedy's mouth, ignoring the sounds she made. She got to her feet, the headed out of the room. Searching, she quickly found what she was looking for.
That goddamned stupid little junkie whore, Kennedy thought, raging against her restraints. She added Sarah's name to Jeff's on her list. She would kill the girl as painfully as anyone had ever died in the history of the world. Then Kennedy's thoughts lurched to an almost painful stop as Sarah came back into the room clutching a piece of glass.
The girl talked almost to herself as she knelt down next to Kennedy. "Jeff won't know where the glass came from. He'll think you somehow got it. He won't know it's me. He won't." She looked so scared as she chanted her litany, that Kennedy almost felt sorry for her. Almost.
Kennedy watched as the girl ran the glass in a sawing motion across the duct tape on the left side of Kennedy's body, exposed by the way she lay. It wasn't having much effect, but it was better than nothing. Finally, it cut through the outer layer of duct tape. After a few more minutes of sawing, it cut through two or three more. Then Sarah stopped and tossed the glass to the floor. Kennedy made noises through the gag in her mouth to try to get her attention.
Sarah looked at her, then looked away. "I'm sorry, but I can't let Jeff know it was me. If I thought you would kill him and leave me alive, I'd let you go. But you don't look like a killer to me. And if I'm wrong, I don't want to die. So, I gotta get out of here before he gets back. Those cuts should give you a head start. Make sure to lay on your other side so that Jeff doesn't see them."
Sarah turned and started to go. Short of the door, she stopped again. "I hope you don't die, Kennedy. I'm sorry." With those final words, she fled.
Kennedy heard her rapid footsteps heading away from her. What was she going to do now? Grimly, she decided to try to get loose. Was there just a little give now in her cocoon? Kennedy began the slow, tedious task of trying to tear the tape holding her.
Riley stood at the entrance to class, hoping that Kennedy would come in early enough that he could talk to her a second before class started. But as more and more students trickled in, with a chorus of hellos and good mornings, he still didn't see Kennedy. The bell rang, signally class was starting. Riley shut the doors to the room, wondering where Kennedy was. Maybe it was time to track down her home address.
Notty sat at his dining room table, sipping tea and eating a bagel for breakfast while perusing the morning papers for unusual events. So far, it appeared to have been a quiet night. So why hadn't Kennedy called as she usually did after patrol? Then the phone rang and he sighed with relief.
"Kennedy, I'm glad you..."
"Notty!" The explosive sound of Arthur DaSilva's voice over the line made Notty instantly wary.
"What is it, Arthur? What's happened?"
"I received a ransom note this morning, Notty. Kennedy's been kidnapped."
Notty paused, the very absurdity of what Arthur DaSilva had just said throwing him off-balance. Kennedy kidnapped? For God's sake, by whom? And why? "What are they asking for, Arthur?"
"Five million dollars. I don't care about the money, Notty, you know that. I just want Kennedy back. What do you think I should do?"
Notty stated in a voice as cold as death, "Get the money together. Don't pay the ransom until you talk to me. Don't call the police and don't call anyone else. Are we clear, Arthur?"
Arthur whispered, "Yes." Then in a slightly stronger voice, he asked, "What are you going to be doing?"
"I will find whoever took Kennedy. Then I will make them regret it for the remainder of their remarkably short lives. Call me when you have the money." With that, Notty hung up the phone.
He immediately picked it back up. He would call together this group that Kennedy had assembled. They would help him get his... Slayer back. Then he would deal with the walking dead man who took her.
Arthur DaSilva slowly hung up the phone. He'd planned to call Lou Cipriani as soon as he had finished talking to Notty, but now changed his mind. Notty's warning had been about calling Lou, that he was sure of. Recalling those cold pale eyes in that patrician face, Arthur didn't know who he would back in a fight between the two.
Actually, both men were hewn from the same material. Cold-eyed, dangerous men, they faced the world with a confidence born of an absolute ruthlessness that frightened lesser men. Arthur acknowledged himself to one of those men. Both Lou and Notty made him aware that he was no match for them. Although of the two, Arthur actually thought he'd rather face the mobster than the man who taught his daughter. The man who faced down more dangerous things than mobsters.
Arthur DaSilva wasn't stupid. He was aware that recently something had changed with Kennedy. She'd always been a wild, rambunctious girl, but in the previous few months before she'd left, her energy had been ridiculous. She'd been out all hours of the night, only coming home to fuel up and sequester herself alone with that man. Thus had the months passed until the day she left.
Maids brought Arthur reports of blood and other less savory fluids on her clothes. The one time he had tried to approach Notty about the situation, the other man had given him a look of pity before saying, "Arthur, you really don't want to know about this. We both know that. So stop asking questions when you are not ready for the answers. If you ever get ready for them, come talk to me."
Arthur had stopped asking. He tried to just love his daughter. He thought that he had succeeded, at least somewhat, in communicating that to her. Then she'd left, only to pop back up in Sunnydale, California. Who knew what she was doing there besides spending money. Sighing, Arther picked up the phone to call his banker. "Bill, I have a request to make."
Notty stared at the circle of young faces surrounding him. They all looked blank as if they couldn't process what he had just said. Finally, Warren asked, "When you say kidnapped, do you mean like really kidnapped?"
That was the last straw. "I mean she was abducted. Kidnapped. Held for ransom. Someone has her and wants five million dollars to let her go. Is there anyone that doesn't understand what I just said?"
Andrew exclaimed, "But how could Kennedy be kidnapped. She's like a Jedi Knight."
Warren shook his head. "Dude, Jedi get kidnapped."
"No, they don't!"
"Enough." That one word was laden with as much menace as he could put into it. From the paling faces around him, that was enough. "Here's what we are going to do. Warren, you and Anya are going to that demon bar with your taser and get information from that sleazy bartender. Veruca, you are going to that Wicca group. They are meeting again today and there might be an actual magic user among them. Try to see if any of them can cast a location spell. Take something of Kennedy's with you."
Veruca hesitated, then said, "Notty, I had this girl staying with me, my old roommate, Sarah. She's split and didn't say goodbye. She might be involved."
Notty gave her an icy look. "For your own sake, you'd better hope you're wrong." Calm down, he told himself, as the girl's face crumpled, you're damaging the group's morale. "Veruca." She looked at him, obviously worried he was going to tear into her again. "Please forgive me. I was out of line. I'm just worried about Kennedy." She nodded quickly, but looked much less stressed.
Notty questioned her, "Now is there anything about Sarah that would make you worry about her involvement?"
Veruca hesitated, then answered, "She's a junkie and always desperately short of cash. She also knows some bad people."
"Bad enough that I wouldn't want to hang around them unless I was in wolf form."
Notty didn't need to have it explained any further. Almost certainly Sarah was involved in some manner. She-
Andrew interrupted his train of thought, eagerly asking, "What am I going to do?"
Bugger him sideways. "You're going back to school."
Andrew looked like he was going to cry. "Why? Why can't I stay and cast a spell? I could summon a hellhound to find her."
"Could you control it after you summon it?" Don't ask for something you're not ready for, boy, Notty thought coldly.
Andrew hesitated. "Well..."
Notty shook his head. "You can come back after school." To the others, "Well, what you are all waiting for? Go! Hurry!" Find me something that I can use to hunt these bastards down, he raged.
The others scattered. Then it was just him and Andrew. He gave the boy a considering look. "Andrew, if worse comes to worse, I might just let you cast that spell."
The boy looked at him with an expression that said he wasn't sure if that's what he really wanted or not. Too bad, Notty thought. If he couldn't find Kennedy by conventional means he had no problem with sacrificing the most useless member of their group. No problem at all.
Warren drove as fast as he thought he could get away with. Anya complained, "If we die before we get there, there won't be anyone to ask Willy about Kennedy."
Anya shrugged. "The bartender that Notty sent us to roust."
Warren stared at her. "How exactly do you know that?"
"He was willing to serve a minor."
There was something more, something unsaid, which Warren wasn't sure he wanted to know. Then they were there. Thank God he'd had time to spend some of the money he'd gotten yesterday on parts. He'd spent most of last night, between bouts with Anya, putting the blaster together. Unfortunately, it was still untested. But it should work.
Stepping into the dimly lit bar, Warren shuddered at the clientele, which seemed to be mostly vampires and demons, with a handful of hard-faced men scattered here and there. He headed for the bar with Anya beside him.
"What'll ya have?" The bartender, Willy, asked. Sheesh, Warren thought, could the guy be anymore of a stereotype. He even looks like a rat, he thought.
Anya put her hands on the bar. "Information."
Willy looked nervous. "What information?"
"Do you know where Kennedy is?"
Willy looked surprised. "Why would I know or want to know where the Slayer is?"
Warren stepped in. "Let me, Anya." To Willy, he said, "I want to know anything you know about a plot to kidnap Kennedy."
Willy started to reply, then apparently saw something over Warren's shoulder. "I won't answer any questions for anyone working for the Slayer. Get lost!"
A heavy hand fell on Warren's shoulder. He turned and looked up. And up. Finally he saw the face of the demon whose hand was on his shoulder. It was at least eight feet tall and built like a tank. It rumbled, "You work for the Slayer? I hate her! She killed my littermate one year ago."
Warren shrugged the hand off. "That wasn't Kennedy. That was some other Slayer."
"I do not believe you, human. I will crack open your marrow and divine with it to see if you are telling the truth."
Warren looked over at Anya. "You know this guy, Anya?"
Ragnark seemed to recognize her at that moment. "Anyanka? Is it you?"
She preened. "Yep, it's me. How are you doing? Still hiring out?"
Ragnark swelled up in pride. "You are looking at one of the most sought after mercenaries in this hemisphere."
"Well, that's just wonderful. I know you were really hoping for something like that when you came here back in fifty-nine."
"Yes, it has been good for me. Anyanka, can it be that you work for the Slayer."
Anya shook her head. "No, but my boyfriend does. I'm just here because of him. And, well, to get a drink."
"So he does work for the Slayer. I am sorry, Anyanka, but I am going to have to kill him."
Warren slowly edged the blaster out from under his jacket. He turned the dial up to its highest setting. The new design went all the way from knock out a person to... who knows. It's not as if he had a chance to test it.
Anya asked, "Are you sure? Cause we could just go."
Ragnark rumbled, "You can go, Anyanka, in light of the fun you and I had together those many years ago. But this one stays and I crack his bones for marrow."
Anya scornfully said, "Like you could actually use that for divination. You're just hungry, aren't you?"
Ragnark looked abashed. "Well, yes. And Willy's doesn't carry any worthwhile snack food these days. So say goodbye to your friend, Anyanka."
He started to turn towards Warren. That's when Warren raised the barrel of the blaster to waist level and snarled, "You say goodbye, tall and gruesome." He pulled the trigger. Bzzzzzttttzzzzpppp! Immediately, a blast of white lightning so bright that it hurt his eyes burst from the weapon and hit the demon right in the crotch. The creature shook and shuddered, frozen in place. The greasy smell of cooked meat began to permeate the air. When Warren took his finger off the trigger after ten seconds, the demon just fell over, his body smoking. He looked completely cooked. Now, that is what I call a blaster, Warren thought with pride.
"Wow, I think it's dead," Warren said, feeling a sense of satisfaction as he eyed the huge corpse.
"Warren, let's get out of here." Anya was edging towards the door.
Looking at what was bothering her, Warren saw the entire roomful of demons and vamps getting up from their tables. Fuck that, he thought. That was two huge demons he'd killed with his tasers now. He swung the barrel towards the nearest vampire and pulled the trigger. Bzzzzzttttzzzzpppp! The blast blew a hole right through the vampire's chest, turning it to ash. Warren swung the blaster back towards the others. "Everybody back! Or you get what he got!"
All movement stopped. Then it began to reverse as if a film was being run backwards. After a few seconds, everyone was seated. "Now we can go." Taking Anya's arm, Warren headed out of the bar.
As they reached the car, he started to release Anya's arm. She grabbed his hand. She gave him a smoldering look. "That was just so... manly. I'm feeling suddenly all warm. Let's have sex in the car. Right now."
Warren's mouth gaped. Holy shit, he thought. "Umm, Anya, have you seen my car? Plus it's broad daylight."
She just looked at him, then slowly licked her lips. "So?"
Warren looked at her, looked at his car, then looked around. What the fuck, he thought.
Veruca found the group of pagans easily. You just had to look for all the henna tattoos, she thought smugly. She stopped for a sec and listened to them arguing about a bake sale. Jesus Christ, what a bunch of losers. She walked up and addressed the group. "Any of you know magic?"
They all turned towards her, mouths gaping. Finally one of them pointed an accusing finger at Veruca. "How dare you unearth that ancient stereotype. Just because we believe in our connection to the goddess, doesn't mean we are witches. I mean, grow up. Like magic's real." This last was said scornfully.
Veruca gave her a dangerous look that made her shut up. The wolf was starting to rise within her, sensing the nearness of the moon tonight. It made her feel strange and ferocious. Aggressively, Veruca leaned forward. "Look Wicca-girl, I don't want to be here. I think I'm wasting my time. But my friend, Kennedy, is missing. So I need someone to cast a location spell on her. If you can't help, then... Go. Fuck. Yourself. Dig?" With that, she actually snapped at the girl, her teeth clicking shut a few inches from the girl's face.
The girl's mouth opened and closed like a fish. Then like Veruca had given a signal, the other Wiccans scattered. That's just great, she thought. I manage to drive away what might be Kennedy's only chance. Then a timid hand touched her sleeve.
"D-d-did you say K-k-kennedy's missing?" The speaker was a medium sized blonde girl whose bangs hid part of her face. She looked shy and very awkward.
Veruca nodded impatiently. "Yes, I did. She's been kidnapped."
"H-h-have you called the p-p-police?"
Veruca shook her head. "We can't. I can't tell you why. Look..." Veruca realized that she didn't know the girl's name.
"Look, Tara..." Why was that familiar? Then Veruca remembered the girl who had introduced Kennedy to Michelle. "Kennedy mentioned you to me once. Anyway, I gotta go. I need to figure out something to help Kennedy." Veruca started to turn and leave.
"I can do it."
Veruca stopped, confused. "You can do what?"
Tara met Veruca's eyes squarely for the first time. "I can cast the spell."
Kennedy had been trying all day to break the damn tape, but she hadn't made much progress. The sun had set a few minutes ago, but there had been no sign of Jeff or Sarah. I hope Veruca's tucked away safe and sound in her cage, she thought absently. The last thing she needed was to have to hunt her down again. That's when Kennedy heard it. A faint scraping sound. She froze, completely still, even slowing her heartbeat as she listened. Someone was here. Someone or something. That's when she saw it. Two blazing eyes in the darkness. The eyes of a vampire. And it was heading her way.