!See part 1 for disclaimer!
Ashley had thought she was confused before, but apparently she had very much underestimated the levels of confusion this town and its strange inhabitants could elevate her to. Here was a vampire who bought her blood at the Butcher instead of taking it from a bystander. A vampire who simply walked into what appeared to be a private home to lean over a sleeping girl, but apparently not in order to feed on her. At least not if their current behavior was any indication.
The formerly sleeping girl was now buried in the vampire's embrace, sobbing her heart out. Just moments earlier she had managed to make that same vampire let go of Ashley, who would probably be dead now if she had not.
Seeing as neither the vampire nor the blonde girl (who was dressed in nothing but a shirt that was a bit too large for her, yet still did little to cover all the areas that should be covered) seemed to have heard her earlier question, Ashley instead turned toward the redheaded girl who had turned up a few minutes ago. The redhead was looking at the scene in front of her as well, her eyes wide, but apparently felt Ashley's stare and turned towards her.
"Hi," she just said. "I guess you are Ashley, right?"
Ashley assumed her face gave away that she was completely clueless at the moment, so she did not bother saying anything. She was quite sure her mouth would have produced nothing but stupid sounds at the moment.
"I am Willow," the redhead continued. "Giles just told me we have a new Slayer in town."
Giles? Mr. Giles? How did this girl know Mr. Giles, the Watcher? How did she know about Slayers? Again, she found herself incapable of actually pronouncing all these questions.
Willow gave the shattered remains of the apartment door a glance, then turned back toward Ashley with a smile.
"I guess you already met Angela and Buffy, right?"
Willow indicated the two persons in question, who were still hugging each other for all they were worth. The blonde one had slipped to the ground, still sobbing, and the vampire was now sitting with her, still holding her.
"What ... who ...?" Ashley realized that she still should not have opened her mouth.
"It's a long story," Willow said with a happy sigh. "I guess I should give you some background on this, right? Just so you don't try slaying the good guys again."
"Good guys?" Well, at least that had sounded semi-coherent.
"Angela is as good as they come," Willow said, her voice leaving no doubt as to the truth of her words. "None of us would be here today if not for her."
Ashley simply nodded, following Willow as she drew her aside a few steps, giving Buffy and Angela (which was which and what kind of stupid name was Buffy anyway?) a little room.
"This is gonna be one heck of a story, right?"
"Count on it!"
"This is just great," Mrs. Post sighed, shaking her head. "What was Ashley thinking just running off?"
Giles stood beside her, not able to give any answer to that question. They had looked around the school and the nearby area, but there was no trace of the white-haired Slayer. Seeing as it was not exactly a good idea to go around strolling in the dark in Sunnydale, especially now with so many vampires around, they had not widened their search but instead returned to the library.
"Is this usual behavior for her?"
Certainly not," Post emphasized. "Ashley is a good girl and does what she is told. She has never behaved in this way before."
Giles, who had sensed the barely concealed eagerness in Ashley's voice earlier, was not quite convinced, but chose not to argue the point. Right now it was more important to find the girl before she got into more trouble than she could handle.
Which left him with the question just how to accomplish that.
"I will call a few friends," Giles finally decided. "If we go out in a larger group we should be relatively safe to look for her."
Post gave him a glance. "You do not mean the civilians that Buffy Summers has seen fit to include in her duties, do you? Quite frankly, Mr. Giles, the Council has never been too happy about that and I certainly do not want Ashley to get any ideas in that direction."
"Mrs. Post," Giles said, finding that remaining courteous with this woman might put quite a strain on him, "Buffy's friends are one of the reasons she has managed to perform her duties so well. If not for one of those friends she would not have returned from her death at the Master's hand and the world would now be ruled by demons. These young people have done more than their share to keep the world safe from the things that lurk around the Hellmouth and I would very much appreciate it if you kept from belittling them."
Post was a bit taken aback by his words, but decided that the matter was not worth an argument. At least not while Ashley was somewhere out there, doing God alone knew what.
"Very well, call them if you must. I do not want Ashley to have any kind of prolonged contact with them, though. Your methods might have proven successful with Buffy, but Ashley is a different kind of girl."
"If you say so."
"We have to hurry, too," Post said as an afterthought. "One of the reasons the Council sent us here so quickly was that we received information about a demon called Lagos, who will be coming to Sunnydale to find a mystical artifact called the Glove of Mynhegon."
"The ... the Glove of Mynhegon?"
"By your tone I presume you have read about it?"
Giles reached for the phone, now filled with a great sense of urgency.
"Wow," Ashley said when Willow finished filling her in.
"Pretty much, yeah." The redhead's gaze was once again on Buffy and Angela.
Ashley shook her head, unable to believe this story she had just heard. So this blonde girl was Buffy, the Slayer who had died but come back. She had heard some rumors about that back at the Watchers' headquarters near London, but written them off to some people's passion for gossip. Slayers in training were not told much about their predecessors, which Ashley felt was not such a bad idea. She had enough reminders about the retirement aspects of being the Slayer even without learning about the deaths of the others. By the time she had figured out where Mrs. Post hid her diaries there had been no mention of one Buffy Summers in them, only of Kendra, who had died on the Hellmouth.
She had not been the only Slayer here, though. There was Buffy, also a Slayer, the one who had died in order for Kendra to be called, but had returned none the worse for wear. Then there was Angela, a vampire cursed with a soul, who had apparently been Buffy's best friend and fought at her side for quite some time.
Only then something had happened and Angela had been split into her human and demonic halves, resulting in the demon Angelus' nearly bringing about the end of the world. Only Angela's sacrifice had prevented that, her taking the demon back inside and then giving her life to close the portal to Hell he had opened.
Apparently, though, that life had not been given away after all. The vampire was here, holding a sobbing Slayer.
"How did she come back?"
Willow shrugged. "I have no idea. Before I saw you two fighting tonight I thought she was dead and gone." A happy smile spread on her face. "She's back! She's really back!"
It seemed to sink in only now, Ashley realized when she saw Willow's face. The redhead was positively bouncing with happiness at seeing the vampire alive and well ... or well, at least. Everything inside Ashley refused to acknowledge that a vampire might be the source of that happiness. Vampires were the enemy. They had to be destroyed.
How did the rules apply to a vampire with a soul, though? One who had been split apart into a demon and a human? One whose human half had reintegrated with the demon to save the world? Ashley had no idea about that one.
"I ... I need to speak to my Watcher about this," she muttered, then remembered something else. The little fact that she had run out on said Watcher earlier tonight to follow this very vampire. Post would be livid.
Ashley groaned. She did not even have a dusted vampire to show for her disobedience.
"This is just great!"
TO BE CONTINUED