BS:VH III To Err is Human ...
Authors Notes: For those of you that want to keep as current as possible, you can check out the entire series at my website. www.buffysboudoir.com
"Are you sure about this?"
"It's the only way to be sure the vampire doesn't come back to life. You have to take the head and the heart."
The first couple of nights had been fairly boring. I followed Anita around from zombie raising to zombie raising. Once you've seen one chicken's throat cut you've seen them ...
"Are you paying attention?"
Lately I had been categorizing Anita's facial expressions, especially since she's been giving me a lot of negative ones. This was her 'Get on with it, already' face. It was a annoyed smirk with a faint left eyebrow raise.
I guess it all started the day Willow and Asher left. Apparently she had some untested love/lust thing going on with Asher and somehow it was all my fault he chose Willow instead of her. She hadn't said as much, but I can still see it on her face.
Heck, it wasn't like she was lonely or anything. She still had like twelve other guys, more guys than you can shake a stick at. What does that mean anyway. I can shake a stick at a lot of people.
Shake shake shake, shake shake shake, shake your boo ...
"Buffy! Oh, forget it. I'll do it."
I held my hands up. "Wait."
I raised the blade I had purchased two days before. It wasn't much more than an over sized machete. You'd think in a world of vampires that there would be a decent sword shop in a big city like St. Louis. However, I was out of luck. Most of what I found were swords for wanna-be collectors.
Anita had given me a list of supplies to purchase and only have with me when carrying a valid court order of execution. Apparently it's against the law to even carry tools of the trade. The only exception to this is a dying will. If you want, you can request never to live as a vamp. If you wind up in the morgue as the result of a vamp attack, I get to come chop off your head and cut out your heart; much like this guy right here. Isn't that nice?
The cut was clean and relatively bloodless. It was the heart cutting that was going to be messy, but I've had my hands in worse than this. Soap is one of the great inventions known to man. Dry cleaning is the other.
Anita handed over the rib cutters; nothing more than an oversized pair of snippers vaguely resembling bolt cutters. It made the job a bit cleaner and gave easy access to the heart. No matter what people tell you, if you are a normal human, you can't just rip someone's heart out. It's a big honkin' muscle and it's attached to the body. You have to cut these attachments ... unless you are really strong. I'm the Slayer, and a werewolf.
"Was that really necessary?" Anita grimaced.
I dropped the heart in the provided plastic bag and sat it next to the severed head. They would be brought to a crematorium and the ashes would be scattered later.
"I'm a werewolf ... sue me."
We washed up and delivered the prizes to the proper authorities for disposal or whatever they do with it. My job was done for the night. Yea, me!
I dropped out of my bloodstained coveralls. I have Anita to thank for that suggestion. I didn't need anymore clothing casualties until payday. Not that I was broke already, but all of the supplies that I had to buy for this job seriously cut into that little nest egg.
At Anita's insistence I purchased a handgun. It was a Smith and Wesson Sigma 40 P. Why did I pick that one? It looked cool and felt right in my hand. I had that tucked away under my left arm. It only took a few days in a classroom and on the firing range a little background check and poof, legally armed Buffy. Don't get me wrong. I'm not a big fan of guns. I'd much prefer a nice long sword or my favorite Mr. Pointy than this hardware.
I seriously don't know how I passed the background check. I'm not supposed to exist in this universe. Maybe Bert had something to do with it. But I'm not really sweating the weird stuff. I already have too much weird on my plate.
The ringing of my cell phone pulled me out of my self-absorbing thoughts.
"Buffy, It's Sylvie."
Sylvie Barker is Geri of the Thronos Rokke Clan. Basically it means she's top dog ... uh, wolf when Richard and me aren't around.
"Hey, Sylvie. What's up?"
She sounded kinda hesitant. "We have a problem, and I can't find Richard."
This wasn't out of the ordinary. Richard didn't like to carry a cell phone. You'd have thought one of his bodyguards would carry one, but they tend to be of the old school. Wherever Richard is, he must be in transition. He'll be tracked down soon, but apparently not soon enough for this particular problem.
"Where are you at? Or should I ask where is the problem at?"
"The Lunatic Cafe."
Oh, I totally forgot to tell you about that. Apparently I inherited a restaurant. Raina, a former Lupa, was the proprietor of The Lunatic Cafe, a restaurant in University City. Normally ownership was passed on from Lupa to Lupa, but when Anita killed Raina it kinda threw a wrench in the works.
Anita didn't kill her by werewolf rules, she used a gun. So that undid the deal. But now that I acquired the title by wolfy means, I get the restaurant. That ticked off more than a few people. The alpha females of the clan had a co-operative ownership running and were raking in the bucks. They didn't want to lose their retirement fund, I guess.
When I found out it was going to cause problems I was going to tell them to keep it. I'm not really a service industry type of girl. But Richard wouldn't hear of it. When the alpha's came to complain, he put his foot down, literally.
When I was trying to pull his foot off of Michelle's chest it all became clear. Michelle didn't want to be Lupa. The only reason she fought me at the Lupinar was because of the money. She knew she would be losing the Cafe. And Richard had overreacted against Michelle because she had challenged me thinking I was not wolfy enough to take her.
In the end I put my own foot down saying that I would be sorta a chairwoman-of-the-board. I'd share the Cafe with the female alphas under the condition that I had final say in any major decision making plus twenty percent of the profit. I thought that was fair. Heck, I could have taken the entire thing and made them work for me. I think they got the better deal.
"Are you still there?" Sylvie asked.
"Yeah. I'll be there in twenty minutes."
Luckily I was still in a busier portion of the city and was able to hail a cab; taking the bus would have been a lot slower.
The Lunatic Cafe could have passed for any other business, nestled amongst the others, bustling with the comings and goings of the local college kiddos at the late hour.
The cab dropped me off at the front door and Theodore the doorman got the fair. Hey, being Lupa has it's perks every once in a while.
From the inside, the Cafe looked like it used to be somebody's house. On one side of the room stretched the bar, everywhere else was virtually crammed with tables which in turn were crammed with people having a great time cutting up their steaks and baked potatoes.
Sylvie met me at the front. I held out my machete for Theodore to keep an eye on. People tend to get nervous when that see a wide, two-foot blade stretched down someone's leg. I still had my Sigma and a decent sized knife at my back just in case things got out of hand.
I'll still rely on my own skill before I'll ever reach for the gun, however, it's a comforting thought that the artillery is there if I need it.
Sylvie moved in close and buried her face in my hair, hugging me close. To the casual passer-by this scene was probably two close friends saying hi, but I knew better. It was one pack mate greeting her Lupa. It took me a couple of times to get used to this overly touchy way of saying hello, but my uneasiness faded to satisfaction and closeness. It's hard to describe unless you are pack.
After the pleasantries were complete, Sylvie pulled back and led me to the Hall. The Hall was located in toward the back of the Cafe at the end of a long narrow hallway. It was the size of a banquet hall with a large circle of chairs in the middle; half of which were full.
Those that were sitting, rose when I entered the room. The alphas greeted me as Sylvie did, and I touched the less dominant of the pack as I passed them. Just my touch is sufficient to let them know I acknowledge them, wish them well, and offer my protection.
Then the bloodsmell hit me.
It wasn't overwhelming, but strong enough to make my own blood rush and my heart to pump a bit faster. Once I cleared the line of chairs I saw what was bleeding. It was Sonja.
Sonja and I had a disagreement once. Okay, twice. I broke her jaw both times, strangely enough, with similar kicks to the face. This time however it looked as if someone beat me to it. The left half of her face was caved in and she was out cold. A doctor that I had never seen before was treating her wounds. Although this isn't out of the ordinary. I still don't know half the clan as of yet. I do know everyone's scent, but not their faces. More weirdness.
I knelt down and touched the doctor's shoulder. "She going to be okay?"
"I do not know yet, my Lupa. She's probably sustained a serious concussion. It's healing, but it's too slow."
"She'll need to shift to repair the rest of the damage. Her jaw and most of the bone structure is crushed beyond conventional repair. It's amazing that she's survived this long."
The doc looked very worried.
"What aren't you telling me?" I asked.
"Sonja can't shift while she's unconscious and in this state, neither you nor the Ulfric can call her beast either."
The news settled in then my head whipped around to Sylvie.
"Have you found Richard?"
She nodded. "He'll be here in another twenty or thirty minutes."
The doc laid his hand on mine. "It will be too late."
I was fresh out of ideas. My gaze traveled the room from face to face, each person held a certain amount of fear and hope that I would come up with the answer. It was a look I had become quite familiar with, growing up in Sunnydale, but here, I was helpless.
"Give me a minute."
I stood and moved to the far side of the room, motioning Sylvie to come.
She looked a little timid which was weird for Sylvie. Normally she's the poster child for backbone.
"Anita was able to call munin to heal. Have you attempted this since the lupinar?"
I shook my head. "I wouldn't even know where to begin."
She nodded in sympathy. "Then Sonja will die."
She said it matter-of-factly. Like 'oh, I forgot the milk. Well then, you'll just have to drink your coffee black.'
Letting Sonja die wasn't an option. Granted she was a pain in my ass, but she was my pain in the ass, and nobody got to hurt her but me.
I turned from Sylvie and made my way back, shedding my coat and letting it fall to the floor. I had learned enough to know that closeness of the pack has it's own comfort. If nothing else she was going to feel me giving her that comfort before she died.
"Sit her up."
The doctor gave me a concerned look, but did as he was told.
Sylvie whispered as we approached. "Bare skin is best."
I looked at her and didn't think twice before shedding the shoulder holster and the blouse underneath. I sat down on the floor, behind her and let my legs straddle the sides of hers.
"Now lean her back against me."
Her head rested just under my chin and I encircled her body with my arms. Being this close to her was affecting me in an odd sort of way. Wolfy thoughts ran through my head. She was mine to protect and I wasn't there for her. I'm not smart enough to be there for her now, and she's going to die because I wasn't smart enough. I wasn't Lupa enough.
"Everyone down here with me. I want her to feel the pack before she goes."
People nodded and shed their shirts and some, the rest of their clothes, each in turn touching and sharing their warmth with Sonja. I just sat and rocked her slightly, smoothing away the stray hairs out of her damaged face. We lay like that for what seemed an eternity. I could feel her heart beat through her back. It was slow and erratic.
It was all I could do to keep my own from following. My heart was breaking that I was losing one of my own.
'Come on Sonja, wake up' was my silent mantra.
In the midst of my concentration I felt energy wash over me, not the munin, Richard. He was here and not far away.
"Hang on, Sonja. The Calvary is here."
My eyes locked on the door to the hall while I concentrated even harder on Sonja's heart; willing it to continue its labored task.
I didn't realize when I had closed my eyes again, but the feel of Richard at my back came to my senses. I felt his beast brush against mine and our energy flared, spreading into Sonja and outward to the rest of the pack.
His lips were at my ear whispering softly as to not break my concentration.
"Relax and open your mind, yourself. Call for the munin. It's a part of you now they have to answer your call. Reach out."
I did as he said, letting go of my tension and called out with my mind, praying for someone to answer. And they did. My eyes snapped open and I gasped. I felt as if my body was going to explode from the influx of energy. Instead I forced it out from my skin and into Sonja. Everything I had went with it. I willed her to live and heal and watched as my will was done.
Her face filled out before my eyes and the skin repaired itself to its flawless quality. Missing chunks of hair re-grew and her breathing resumed its regular rhythm.
My own breathing had become labored and Richard pulled me away.
"Enough, Buffy. Enough, my Lupa. She is saved."
I remember looking into his face and smiling before I realized I was dripping with sweat. I felt like I had just had a marathon bout with half the vampires in Sunnydale.
"Sleep my Lupa, sleep."