Chapter Eight—Cowboys & Indians, Part I
As Graham, Bill, and Forrest walked into the briefing room, they were greeted with a shout of “DEEP SUBMERGE!” Graham cursed his complexion as he was the only one who went noticeably red. And going redder as the cries changed to “Look, Luke, it's Han! He's come to save the day!” and “Chewie, get us out of here!”
It had been nearly two weeks since that
night. Since the night when their team had to be rescued by a couple of costume-wearing people, one of whom had to be an HST herself. There was no other way that the girl could have done what she did. Not that anyone was in a hurry to bag and tag her, especially after she'd saved their lives. Even Forrest, no fan of HST's, had indicated he had no plans to go hunting for the people who'd saved them.
Graham noticed Professor Walsh come in along with Riley. He was about to tell everyone to cool it, when she raised her hand and slapped it flat on her desk. Whack!
The room fell silent as she gave them all a menacing glare. Then she spoke. “Does everyone here consider this amusing? Not only was our security compromised, but we have two dangerous people running around out there. One's a powerful, unknown HST. The other's her confederate, who's created a weapon more dangerous and advanced than even what we
have. If the higher ups get wind of the security breech, we could get shut down. Is there anyone here who doesn't believe in the work we're doing? That doesn't believe what we are doing is crucial to the survival of the human race? If there is, walk out right now. Otherwise, behave with a little decorum. It could easily have been any of you out there that night.”
She glared around the room for a while, but finally her gaze softened. “I didn't think so. Now to move on, I want to discuss the various new security measures for the holding cells.”
Maggie stalked into Room 314 as angry as she had ever been. What a clusterfuck, she thought visciously. Then she caught sight of her creation and as always, it calmed her. “Adam,” she said fondly, trailing a hand over one broad shoulder, “You truly are a work of art.”
No matter how badly things went, at least Adam was on track. She had despaired of getting a proper corpse after how badly things went at Halloween. Then a capture team had run across a dead man while on a routine patrol, his neck snapped. He had been perfect for what she needed, his body only a couple of hours old. And best of all, no one had come looking for him. None of the standard programs monitoring law enforcement had turned up a single thing.
Now if she could just get the rest of the parts she needed. Another like Hostile Thirteen would be perfect, with its built in biological weapons system. But if they did not run across one, they would make do. Too bad they had already taken Hostile Thirteen apart and shipped it back east for further experimentation. However, her higher ups were not to be denied. So be it.
Stomach churning, Warren walked towards the building. He eyed the door a moment, then with a feeling of trepidation, entered. He looked at the various offices around him until he finally saw his destination. Steeling himself, he entered. The receptionist gave him a inquiring look, while asking, “May I help you?”
You can do this, Warren told himself. You can do this. After a moment, he answered, “Warren Mears here to see Dr. Shapiro.”
She grabbed the bound figure and along with the others, helped drag him through the snow. It was the first snow of winter, and that meant their victim was going to get a thorough drubbing tonight as well as getting his balls froze off.
They managed to pick up their victim and toss him into the newly formed snowbank. After a moment, they pulled him out, since there was no animosity involved.
Kennedy reached for the BBQ sauce to dump over his head...
She woke up with a smile on her face, which quickly turned into a frown. Not only was she completely flummoxed by the dream, but Kennedy doubted she would sleep again tonight. Which sucked royally. These strange dreams were starting to bother her. That they were Slayer dreams, she was sure of. That she was looking out through the eyes of a Slayer, Kennedy was also sure of. She understood most of her dreams, even the ones where she'd been two different Slayers. including the one who had probably died and brought her forth.
But not these odd ones. Why dream of flying dwarves and hazing somebody? Kennedy couldn't even tell if she was male or female in these dreams. It was too weird. Shaking her head, she got out of bed. There was no point in trying to sleep anymore. More importantly, she had a early meeting with Notty. They were going to discuss the investigation of Buffy Summers, who was quite possibly an assassin for the Watchers' Council.
“So you've been having these odd dreams for some time? Extremely vivid with all of your senses engaged?” Notty's voice was devoid of all emotion as he asked his questions. But his eyes told a different story. And it wasn't a fairytale.
Kennedy gave him a rueful look. “Sheesh, Notty, you don't need to beat a dead horse. I get it. I should have known that the dreams were Slayer dreams. I should have come to you earlier. Happy?”
Notty's wintry gaze thawed ever so slightly as he nodded. “Let's say, rather, that I am slightly mollified. I am all for you having independence in the field, Kennedy, as I have said over and over. No one can know your abilities or how to use them better than you. But when it comes to something that you don't understand, you must
come to me. That is my purpose in these proceedings. Are we clear?”
Glumly, Kennedy replied, “Crystal.”
Notty nodded briskly. “Good. Now let's talk further about the investigation I need you to conduct.”
Kennedy whined, “Notty, I'm a Slayer, not Sam Spade.”
“Yes, well, for right now, you're both. I need you to find out about Buffy Summers. Where she is, what she has done, what she might be off doing. Obviously, the first place to start is with anyone she went to school with. I suggest checking with Andrew to see if he has a current Sunnydale High yearbook you can use. I've already checked the phone book and there's not a listing for Summers there, but their number might be ex-directory.”
“I believe you Americans call it unlisted. Now, since Mr. Mears is quite the computer expert, I suggest you request his help in checking the various local bureaucracies for information about Miss Summers as well. Now do you have any questions?”
“When you say Bureaucracies, do you mean...”
“Police, Child Protective Services, Fire Department, School District.”
“Wow, Notty, you trying to turn me into a criminal here?”
“Of course not. Besides, if by some unlikely chance you are apprehended, I will invoke our diplomatic immunity.”
Kennedy gave him a dubious look. “Yeah, sure. And when they kick us out of the country, we can go kill vampires in London. Oh wait, there aren't any vampires in London, what with the Council being so gung ho to keep their home turf demon-free.”
Notty sighed. “Kennedy, I am aware that you are reluctant to take this path, but I believe it will be both useful and good for you. You have become complacent with Slaying.” He caught her mouth opening and held up a finger. “Let me finish. You have become complacent with Slaying. No one can fault the time you put in on the physical side. I know you want to try to make up for all of the experience this Buffy has over you, but you must realize that you can't achieve in a couple of months what took her three to four years. So be patient and don't ignore the cerebral side of yourself. I believe that if you were to be put in a confrontation with Buffy Summers, you would need to out-think her.”
“Because I certainly couldn't outfight her,” Kennedy finished bitterly. As much as she hated saying it, Notty was right. There was no way that she could take on Buffy Summers and live. Well, maybe if she had a couple of Colt .45's, she would have a shot. But in any kind of physical confrontation, she would be mincemeat. The other Slayer had performed moves in her dream that she couldn't do and didn't see herself doing in a million years.
Kennedy chewed her bottom lip as she contemplated her exaggeration. Well, maybe not a million years, but two or three more years of intense training, assuming she lived that long. With a sigh, she gave in. “Okay, Notty. I'll do it. I'll stop obsessing over Buffy's abilities and focus on her location. And I'll watch the teen angst.” She gave him another rueful smile.
Notty gave her a surprisingly sincere smile in return. “Thank you, Kennedy.”
Casually, Kennedy asked, “It is okay if I use Doyle as well?”
Notty looked thoughtful, then nodded. “Certainly, but please keep him off anything where it would be a hindrance to be remembered. A man with his accent and style of clothing isn't exactly... shall we say inconspicuous?”
Kennedy nodded hurriedly, happy that she had gotten what she wanted. “I'll do that. Thanks, Notty.”
Notty looked decidedly less pleasant as he brought up the next subject. “Now about your training regimen. I am still very concerned about how you are dropping your left shoulder ever time you attempt a blow with that arm, either a jab or a full strike. Furthermore, if you are ever to be the Slayer you aspire to be, you are going to need to find an additional two hours a day to train with me. The three hours we spend currently are barely acceptable. Also...”
Andrew dug through his stuff, looking for the yearbook that Kennedy had asked him for. From downstairs he heard his parents fighting again. Since Tucker's death, it seemed that all they did was fight. He paused for a moment, listening, as the sounds grew ever louder and more angry. When the voices were cut off by the fierce sound of flesh being struck, Andrew shivered and withdrew into himself. He focused all of his attention into finding the book for Kennedy.
And there it was. Andrew stared at the outside cover, before slowly opening it to the inside, already aware of what he'd find. It was exactly as he remembered it. There weren't any personalized well wishes in his yearbook. “Have a great summer” wasn't much to use as an epitaph. Somehow, he doubted this year would be any different, despite going to Cordoba High. He was as much of a nonentity there as he was here in Sunnydale. Andrew was aware that despite the way he liked to introduce himself, he was really nothing to the world around him. Except for one place.
To Kennedy and the others, he mattered. They might look at him as if he was retarded occasionally, but he was cool with that. To them he was someone. They knew that he had saved Kennedy and Doyle's lives, even if he had peed his pants doing the first and vomited doing the second. With them, if he kept studying, he might someday actually be 'Andrew the Wise'. At least he had a chance, according to Notty.
Andrew paused, feeling as something wet fell onto the inner cover of his yearbook. Where had that come from? He reached up and rubbed his sleeve across his eyes, feeling his tears soak into the fabric. Why was he crying? It's not as if that would bring back his brother or make his parents stop fighting. All it did was make him feel weak. Shaking his head angrily, Andrew turned to the inside of the yearbook, stopping in a certain section.
There she was in all of her blonde glory. Under the section of the yearbook entitled “Prom,” it read “Buffy Summers, Class Protector.” Andrew studied features that were already familiar to him from countless previous views. Warren might not remember her that well, but then he'd been a senior when Buffy was a sophomore. Andrew, on the other hand, remembered her quite well, and not just because she'd broken up Tucker's plans for revenge at the Prom.
He remembered her because of just how much larger than life she'd been. There was a vibrancy to her, a vivacity that made most people seem to fade into the background around her. Andrew wasn't the only person who noticed Buffy. There was an entire subculture of people who planned their days around her moods. Good moods meant hangin' at the Bronze, while a down mood meant staying home that evening and hoping the sun would rise the next day.
When Notty had espoused his theory about Buffy, Andrew's first instinct had been to come to her defense. She couldn't be an assassin, could she? But then he remembered some of the things she'd done that he'd witnessed, killing “things,” some of which appeared to be human. What if they were? So Andrew had kept quiet, mulling over the idea. He'd silently rebelled by not telling Notty and Kennedy what he knew about Buffy and the others, the “Scoobies.” But now Kennedy had asked him for his yearbook and he had no choice but to give it to her. Maybe he should try to convince Kennedy that Buffy was okay, that she wasn't a crazed killer, Slayer dreams or no Slayer dreams.
Andrew sighed and started to close the yearbook. Then he stopped. Staring at the book as if it would bite, he turned the pages to near the end of the student section, until he came to one of the last pictures there. His brother, Tucker Wells. Why hadn't they arrested or expelled him? He had, after all, caused the death of another student. But no, instead he'd gone to Graduation and died, like so many others.
Andrew stared at the picture of his brother on the yearbook page. His brother who had summoned hell hounds on the school prom. His brother, who had taught him the summoning magic that he, himself, had used against the school play. His brother, who always had time for his little brother, Andrew. Who was never too busy to make him feel a little less like an alien. His brother, who was gone forever.
Andrew slowly closed the pages, sealing memories within. He would give Kennedy the book, but not his memories. Not yet. Maybe someday soon Andrew would put himself out there, for all the world to see.
Anya woke, her thoughts chaotic. Then she relaxed, lulled by the slow, deep breathing of the body lying next to her. She turned her head slightly to stare at Warren's sleeping features. A faint smile graced her lips. She was glad she'd given in and gone back to having sex with him. He really was quite a studmuffin, as the kids back in school used to say. For a moment she was Anya Emerson again, Sunnydale High senior, then Anyanka shook her head slightly, dispelling the persona she'd assumed last year.
She continued to stare at Warren's face as she brooded. Anya still missed the power of the Wish. It was almost god-like, to be able to change reality according the wishes of a wronged woman. Now she was just ordinary Anya, who's only claim to fame could be that of a wrong woman. Would Warren wrong her? She wondered about that on a daily basis. It was, after all, a man taking advantage of her that had driven her into the vengeance business in the first place.
And Warren could be cruel and petty. She'd seen hints of that about him on the first night they'd met, when he'd sicced that asshole Parker Abrams on Kennedy. Now there was someone who needed some serious vengeance enacted against him. What she wouldn't give to turn him inside out.
Anya focused back on the important matter, her feelings about Warren. As she'd just thought, he could be cruel and petty. There was something dark and hurting inside of him. Something that drove him to do things that made him look terrible. Yet at the same time, he could be the sweetest person, especially if he did something without thinking about it, like the other night.
Anya had come back to the apartment after working in her crappy job selling funeral plots over the phone, with her back hurting and her neck stiff. Warren had given her a neck rub, then ran a hot bath for her, undressing her and putting her into the tub. Afterwards, he had dried her off and tucked her into bed. All without once hinting of wanting to have sex. Very odd. He had stared at her breasts while he was undressing her, but that was normal. If he hadn't, Anya would have run across the hall to Kennedy and told her that Warren was possessed. But he had been just normal enough that Anya had felt reassured.
Reassured enough that she had initiated sex. Four times as a matter of fact. It had felt great to have him inside of her. His face, inches from hers, making that funny little expression as he'd orgasmed. She liked his orgasm face. Anya wondered if Warren liked hers. She wondered if he liked her half as much as she liked him. She would have nagged him about it, but had quickly realized that there was a limit to how far you could go with Warren. A limit that she'd nearly hit once. Now she was careful to keep things casual. But someday soon, Anya thought she might just tell Warren how much she liked him.
Riley stood in Strategic Ops and contemplated this week's patrol schedule. They were going to focus on the town more this week to see just how widespread the HST's were in the area. He had a feeling that they'd find out that the creatures were everywhere in Sunnydale, but as the Professor often said, you needed facts, not theories for your research.
Which brought his mind to the other problem he had. Kennedy. What was he supposed to do about her? Riley had kept quiet after speaking to Doyle, but it had come at a cost. He'd been almost surly lately, struggling with the dichotomy of his duty versus what he felt was the right thing to do. It had caused ripples both down here and above ground in his personal life. He would be lucky if the girl of his dreams ever spoke to him again after what he said to her.
Damn that girl. Kennedy, not the one he liked. Why couldn't she let herself be put in some nice, neat little box. Normal person. HST. No, not her. Instead she had to be some kind of mythic figure. King Arthur. Robin Hood. Paul Bunyan. Kennedy Stallings. Riley had never believed in magic growing up. Living on a farm in Iowa didn't exactly make you a dreamer.
So, finding out after Westpoint that demons were real and that there was an actual shadow war going on against them had been a real eye opener for him. He'd had to reevaluate a lot of the things he'd believed in. But he had come out stronger for it. So Riley had thought.
Now, he had found out that the craziest myth they'd ever come across, the one featuring a teenage girl called the Slayer, was probably true. And the Slayer was a lesbian named Kennedy. Riley almost laughed out loud at the entire idea. You couldn't write stuff like that in a comic book without being laughed at, he thought. Now here it was in Technicolor and real life. A story of a girl killing demons. And incidentally saving the lives of several of his friends. Men he had gone through hell with. So how did he betray the one who had kept them alive at more than a little risk of her own life?
The answer was, he didn't. Not and live with himself. No, he would keep Kennedy's secret a little longer. Except—
“Earth to Riley. Come in, Riley.”
Riley looked up to see Graham Miller's quizzical expression. He shrugged self-deprecating and said, “Sorry. I've got a lot on my mind.”
Graham laughed. “It wouldn't be a certain girl, would it?”
Riley quickly nodded. “That's it.” He stopped a second, then almost unwillingly asked, “Graham, have you ever heard the story of the Slayer?”
Graham frowned. “Isn't that the HST boogeyman? A girl who kills them? I remember some of the vampires mentioned the Slayer, like they thought we were working for her. It was kind of funny, actually. Did you come across anything that might make you think she was real? 'Cause, I was wondering after Halloween night about what really happened. If that girl wasn't something other than a demon.”
Riley steadily met Graham's eyes as he mulled over telling him. His eyes showed a thoughtfulness that was part and parcel of who he was. To Riley, it sounded like he was already half convinced. Now the only question was whether he took him all the way over. Should he give Graham the red pill? Snorting at his own lapse into nerdism, Riley decided to wait for now. After all, there was always time to let his friend in on the secret he carried.
Special Agent Jennifer Stanfield listened to the tape again. Finally, she looked up. “Do we have any evidence that Blue Lou actually sent any of his boys to Sunnydale to deal with the kidnappers of DaSilva's daughter?”
Special Agent Gerald Rivera shook his head. “No, we don't. And it doesn't appear that he did.”
Jennifer stared at her sometimes partner. “Then how did she get loose? No ransom was paid. We have the money leaving his accounts, but then being deposited back the next day.”
Rivera shrugged. “No idea. Maybe it was never a kidnapping. Maybe it was part of their money laundering scheme. Five million is a lot of laundering done in an instant.”
Jennifer stared at her partner, stunned. “That could be it. We haven't been able to track a single transaction between them since we started monitoring them. So they must know we're watching. So, they come up with this plot to “kidnap” Kennedy DaSilva, and in one huge transaction, wash months worth of cash.”
“But why then didn't they finish it?”
It was Jennifer's turn to shrug. “Maybe they got cold feet. Maybe there was a flaw in the system. Doesn't matter. Something went wrong. And we can work with that. I think our best bet is to pay the daughter a visit. Get her to talk about Daddy.”
Rivera looked unhappy. “What are the odds she'll talk to us without immediately lawyering up?”
“Even that will tell us something.” And, Jennifer thought, maybe we can put some pressure on that family to give up Blue Lou.
Kennedy leafed through Andrew's yearbook. It contained no personal notations or signatures, instead it was almost pristine. Just a handful of “Have a great summer"; code for “I don't know you.” Ouch. Poor kid. Well, this was the part that she was most dreading, cold calling all those people. It was going to be the part that was less fun.
Kennedy stopped, staring at the page she'd turned to. She had been idly leafing through the book, putting off calling people as long as possible, when she'd come across the blurb about the Prom. There, big as life and pretty damn cute, was the girl from her dreams. Buffy Summers. Class Protector. There wasn't anything else written there. But the radiant smile of the girl who stood there holding some kind of little glittery umbrella with a plaque on it, while dressed in a pretty violet prom dress, didn't look like a killer.
Instead, she looked like a normal high school girl who was enjoying the Prom. Kennedy felt galvanized. She turned back to the beginning of the yearbook, and leafed through it carefully, one page at a time. Halfway through, she struck pay dirt. There was a single picture of four kids around a table in the cafeteria. The caption read “The Scoobies”, along with the names, Buffy Summers, Willow Rosenberg, Alexander Harris, and Daniel “Oz” Osbourne. Willow was a shy and pretty redhead. Xander wore a goofy grin as if he dared the world to bother him. Oz's look was as calm as it was inscrutable. Buffy wore a faint pout as she stared directly into the camera's lens, looking for all the world like an out of place prom princess.
The Scoobies. Kennedy remembered the name that Andrew had come up with, 'the Scrappies', and wondered. Surely not. Well, she had a place to start, although not today. She had managed to waste enough time that she had to study, then patrol. Of course, she would have to call tomorrow, but that was at least, tomorrow.
BAM! BAM! BAM!
Kennedy got up from where she was watching television and walked over to the door. Staring through the peephole, she saw Andrew's face. Wondering what he wanted when she had just seen him only a few hours ago, she opened the door.
Andrew looked nervous, but then he wore that look enough that it wasn't exactly out of place. “Hi, Kennedy. Is Warren here?”
Kennedy shook her head. “Sorry, but I haven't seen him.”
Andrew scraped the tip of his shoe over the concrete. “That's okay. I was just wondering if I could ask you for a favor.”
Smiling, Kennedy nodded. “Sure thing, Andrew. I mean, I'm not sleeping with you or anything, but any normal favor I can do. After all, you saved my life.”
Blushing, Andrew ducked his head. “It's not that. It's about Thanksgiving.” He didn't continue, but just stood there.
Mystified, Kenned waited, and after a moment, asked, “What about it, Andrew?”
He drew himself up self-importantly. “I, Andrew the Wise, do humbly...” He trailed off when he noticed Kennedy rolling her eyes. “I was wondering if we could do Thanksgiving dinner at your place. My parents are heading out of town to different places and they both want me to go with them. They're fighting a lot and I don't want to be the thing they're fighting over. So I told them I had made plans to have Thanksgiving with you.” He cringed as he finished as if he expected Kennedy to whack him for his presumption.
Taken aback, Kennedy stood there a moment. She hadn't really even considered Thanksgiving. Rue had mentioned something in passing about cooking a turkey, but Kennedy hadn't really been listening. But it was cool if Andrew wanted to hang here for Thanksgiving, she thought. “That's cool, Andrew. You can come here for Thanksgiving. It'll be fun.”
Andrew's face lit up as if she had just given him the best gift in the world. “That's great! You won't regret it, Kennedy. I'm the best cook! I'm going to make the biggest turkey with stuffing! We're going to have yams and rolls and mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie. I'll be by tomorrow to check your kitchen so that I can fit the turkey to your oven. I can't wait to tell Warren!”
With that he raced off, making Kennedy wonder if he didn't have just a hint of Slayer speed. Fuck! She had forgotten to ask him about the name. Well, she would ask him tomorrow when he came over to “check her kitchen.” Kennedy stood there realizing that she had just committed her apartment to hosting Thanksgiving for everyone. Oh well, she thought in amusement, what's the worst that could happen?The next day...
Fuck! Kennedy put down the receiver slowly. She had struck out again. That was four for four. Was anyone still around in this one-horse town? First, no Buffy Summers. Now, no Daniel. And the number for the Rosenbergs just rang and rang, while the Harris number had been answered. By someone who had sounded drunk. Who had slammed the phone down in Kennedy's ear as soon as she asked about Alexander. Weird.
Time to pull out the big guns. That was what she had been dreading for the last week. Good thing she didn't have class tomorrow until late, it being Thursday and all. Because tomorrow, Thursday, November 18, 1999, Kennedy was going back to high school.
“...and I need a table that seats twelve. And I need twelve chairs. Because a table that seats twelve is useless without the proper number of chairs. And...”
“Stop!” Kennedy commanded, incipient headache growing worse. “Andrew, I need to ask you about something.”
He trailed off as Kennedy raised a warning finger. “Look, I'll do my best to get everything on your list.” At his panicked look, she smiled reassuringly. “I promise. Okay?”
Andrew nodded glumly. “Okay. What did you want to ask me about?”
“Oh, yeah. It's about that name you came up with, the “Scrappies.” Where did you get the idea for that?”
Andrew hesitated a second, then said, “From the show, Scooby Doo! Scrappy Doo was Scoopy's nephew. I thought he was much better as a mascot than Scooby.”
Kennedy looked doubtful. “That's it?”
“Yes. I swear by my Boba Fett Limited Edition Action Figure!”
“Okay. Thanks, Andrew.”
“Sure thing. Now about that table and chairs...”
“I'll do it! Okay?”
With that he left. Slowly Kennedy closed the door behind Andrew. She slowly massaged the bridge of her nose, trying to thwart the dull ache in her temple that was threatening to become a full-fledged migraine. Only Andrew could give a Slayer a headache. Who knew that Andrew could be so insanely OCD about having Thanksgiving dinner there. Dully, she eyed the list in her hand which Andrew had given her to complete.
Most of the things on it were simple, but a couple boggled her mind. Where am I going to find a table that seats twelve, Kennedy wondered. Not to mention fresh cranberries? Crap, Kennedy thought, what did I get myself into? A day later...
Kennedy adjusted the tight top she wore, wondering if she had gotten the look right. Jesus, it sucked to be in high school, especially when you had never gone to high school. She just knew she would do or say something to get her pegged as a narc or at least, uncool. Kennedy slowly walked up to the entrance of the school, aware of getting some interested stares from several people, mostly boys. She wasn't pretty enough to get a ton of interest from jealous girls. Not that it bothered her. Kennedy had come to terms with her looks a long time ago.
Cute, but not gorgeous. But she did have a tight, toned body, which went a long way to leveling the playing field. She put a little extra wiggle in her walk and it wasn't long before she was approached by her first little fish.
Another bust. If Kennedy didn't know better, she would have thought there was a conspiracy of silence about the other Slayer. No one admitted to knowing Buffy Summers. Not even kids who had been juniors last year when she was a senior.
“So what's the deal?”
Kennedy looked up to see a cute girl standing in front of her. The girl's clothes screamed “I am a lesbian! Deal with it!” Still, either despite the way she was dressed, or because of it, the girl looked super cute. If Kennedy didn't have a certain blonde waiting to meet her at 3:30 pm for coffee, she might have been tempted to flirt. But thoughts of Tara brought any lustful feelings up short. “What do you mean?”
“You've been here all day grilling everyone about that psycho chick. I just wanted to know why?”
“You think Buffy Summers is a psycho?”
The girl nodded. “Sure. She was always getting into fights with, like, everyone. She practically killed Larry that time. She broke that guy on the swim team's nose and wrist. She was accused of murdering a guy that her mom was dating, but got off when he turned out to be some kind of serial killer. She even got expelled for murder again, but got back into school again in the Fall. And she's the only one who survived Graduation. What luck, huh?”
Kennedy slowly nodded. Lucky was one way to put it. Wait... Graduation? What the fuck? “What happened at Graduation?”
The girl looked surprised. “You don't know?” At Kennedy's blank expression, she shrugged, and said, “I guess most people don't talk about it. The old high school blew up on Graduation. Gas leak, according to the cops. Everyone there died, even the Mayor, Chief of Police, and Principal Snyder. Well, everyone except Buffy. We didn't find out until later that she didn't die, but Chandler saw her at Cordelia's funeral. She was dressed in this knock off black...”
Kennedy interrupted her, not interested in a fashion lesson, “You didn't see her at any of the other funerals?”
“Like I would go to any of her lamo friends' funerals. I only went to Cordelia's because she used
to be cool.”
Shallow much? Well, that confirmed most of what Andrew had said. It sounded like she needed to get Warren working on the computer records side of things. “Thanks for the 411. Can I get your number in case I have any other questions?”
The girl shrugged again. “I guess. It's 555-4814.”
Kennedy smiled. “Thanks for your help. I'm sorry, but I can't tell you why I want to know this stuff.”
The girl looked momentarily ticked off, but then mellowed. “That's cool. Then I guess I'll be going.”
“Thanks again, uh...”
“It's nice to meet you, Amity,” Kennedy said, aware that there was something familiar about that name.
Tara waited anxiously for Kennedy to show. The last several days had been the happiest of her life. Getting to know Kennedy had been so much better than she'd imagined in her fantasies. Even if the two of them had barely kissed, it was just nice to be around her. Kennedy was just soo... dreamy.
The sight of Kennedy moving quickly towards her broke Tara's train of thought. She immediately got to her feet, her heart beating rapidly. She greeted her with “Hi, Kennedy.” Tara was pulled into a quick hug, then Kennedy gave her a soft kiss, before seating herself across the table.
Kennedy glanced at the table top. “Is one of those for me?” She barely waited for Tara nod before grabbing the frappachino. She took the wrapper off of the end of the straw and took a long sip. “Mmmm... That's soooo good. Thank you, baby.”
Tara felt her face beaming. She hoped she wasn't being too obvious about her feelings, but soon didn't care after seeing the answering smile on Kennedy's face. “I-I m-missed you today.”
Kennedy leaned forward in her chair. In a husky voice, she rasped, “I missed you, too.”
For the first time, Tara noticed what Kennedy was wearing. A short black skirt and a purple, silk tank top. That, along with her makeup, made her look years younger. She was just about to ask about the outfit, when it was as if Kennedy read her mind. With a rueful smile, Kennedy said, “Let me tell you about my day, honey.”
“A-a-and s-she was the only one who would t-talk to you?” Tara asked.
Kennedy shrugged and nodded. “I figure it was because she had some kind of grudge. While I was walking over here, I remembered where I had seen her last name. Kendall. She had an older sister in Buffy's grade. She would have died at graduation. I guess she's mad that her sister died and Buffy didn't.”
“O-or maybe she's just sad about her sister.”
Kennedy thought about it, then shrugged. “I don't know. Maybe you're right. It's just turning out to be harder than I thought to track down info on Buffy.”
“H-have you asked A-andrew?”
“Kinda. He would have told us if he knew anything about Buffy back when Notty asked him. Or surely when I went and talked to him yesterday.”
“Why wouldn't he?”
Tara looked nervous at the challenging look that Kennedy threw her way. Kennedy knew she had to tone it down a little around Tara. Not be someone else, but just not be so intense. But it was hard while talking about something so important to her. Then she saw Tara's shoulders come up and she looked Kennedy squarely in the eye as she suggested, “M-maybe he knows her and thinks she wouldn't have d-done that. But he's too s-shy or n-nervous to say anything.”
Kennedy pondered that. How had he greeted the news from Notty about his suspicions? She couldn't remember. Warren had been completely neutral about Buffy. Andrew had... hadn't been Andrew. He hadn't had a single nerdgasm the entire time. And there had
been something vaguely suspicious yesterday when she'd spoke to him. So maybe he did know something. Time to talk to Andrew, she decided.
Andrew face froze a second, then he started to babble, “Kennedy, Scrappy Doo is better than Scooby Doo. I don't know why you're asking me again.”
Kennedy opened the yearbook to the page she'd marked and handed it to him. “That's why, Andrew.”
“Come on, you can do better than that. Start by explaining.”
Andrew's eyes looked sad. “I got the name from what Xander called their group. The ones helping Buffy. The Scoobies. But we're not there yet, too new and all, so I called us the Scrappies.”
Bingo! Kennedy probed, “Who all was in the group?”
“Xander, Willow, Oz, Buffy, and Cordelia. Well, Cordelia was kinda in the group at times. Early on. Not so much later. And...”
“Andrew, you knew Buffy Summers? Tell me about her.”
Andrew's look grew cautious. “I don't know much. Weird stuff happened around her. But she always seemed to make things right. Or at least, not so bad. She was kinda like Han, you know?”
Mystified, Kennedy asked, “Han?”
Andrew grew more animated. “Han Solo. Like Han, Buffy would swoop in and save the day. That's why they voted her Class Protector. It was Jonathan's idea for a new award.”
“Where is Buffy now? And the rest of the Scoobies?”
“They died at Graduation. Everybody died at Graduation. My brother, Tucker, too.”
Kennedy nodded. She still could not understand how it hadn't been on the nationwide news. “What happened?”
Andrew looked nervous. “Gas leak is what they told my parents.”
Gas leak? “Is that like 'Gangs on PCP?'”
“What really happened, Andrew?”
Were those tears, Kennedy wondered? All doubt was removed when one ran down Andrew's cheek. “I don't know. I wasn't 'in the know,' you know? But something big went down. The entire senior class was armed and ready for trouble. Tucker made me and my parents stay home. He said they were handling it. That Xander had a plan. That it would be okay. Then the school blew up. And everyone died. Including Tucker. Now mom and dad fight all the time. And everything's bad.”
Kennedy swallowed. “I'm sorry, Andrew. You loved your brother.”
Andrew nodded jerkily. “He could be an asshole, but usually wasn't to me. I think living here made it worse. It did something to him. That's why he did what he did at the Prom. But he went to Graduation anyway. Even knowing what could happen.”
“You don't know what happened?”
“Not really. I saw those guys, the Scoobies, moving books out of the library using Oz's van. But I don't know why. Or where they took them.”
“Thanks, Andrew. While I wish you knew more, I appreciate you finally telling me what you did know.”
“I'm sorry, Kennedy, for not telling you earlier.”
He did look sorry. Sorry and miserable, tear tracks still visible on his cheeks. She squeezed his shoulder gently and said said, “It's okay, Andrew. I get that you were conflicted.”
Andrew looked like he was going to say something else. Then he didn't speak for a minute. Finally, he got out, “I don't think Buffy was an assassin.”
He interrupted her, speaking with great urgency, “Buffy saved
people. All the time. I mean, no one really knew
knew her, but we all knew that about
her. I voted for her for Prom Queen. And Class Protector.”
Kennedy raised her brows. “You talk about her like she's dead.”
Andrew nodded. “Everyone died at Graduation. Even her. At least as far as I know.”
“And what would you say if I told you she was alive?”
Andrew's face lit up. “Really? OhmygodshereallyislikeHan.WhenhewasfrozenincarboniteandwasrescuedbyLukeandLeia...”
Okay, she only thought he was babbling before. Kennedy interrupted his flow, “Andrew! Stop!” He stopped, but looked like he wanted to keep going. Over my dead body, Kennedy thought.
“Look, my source isn't completely reliable, but I'm still fairly certain that she's alive. No, I won't tell you exactly why. It's a Slayer thing.”
Looking glum again, Andrew nodded. Kennedy gave him another squeeze on his shoulder, maybe a little too heartily judging from his wince, and said, “Cheer up. Maybe Notty and I are wrong and you're right. Anyway, I'll see you later.”
Time to talk to Notty and see what he thought, Kennedy decided. She decided to kill two birds with one stone and grab Tara on the way. Notty had been asking to meet her. Hopefully, he would be nice and not decided that Tara was trying to use her or something. Because Tara wasn't something she planned on giving up.
Kennedy knocked on Notty's door, Tara behind her. She waited for him to answer. The one time she had barged in and activated his wards had been enough for her. Being both electrocuted and frozen wasn't something she would recommend for anyone, despite Notty's assurance it was mostly nonlethal.
The door opened. “Kennedy, just in time.”
Huh? Kennedy strode past him, fully aware of the non-invite rule, Tara in tow. “What's up, Notty? There was something...”
“Unless it's an emergency, please let it wait. Because there is an situation brewing.” With that, Notty turned the sound up on the TV in the living room. Kennedy became aware of the story playing.
“This is Jacqueline Keys reporting for NBC affiliate KVEC-TV here at the Sunnydale Museum, site of a gruesome murder. The victim is curator Dr. Willem Scott. Oh wait, here's Lt. Madison, in charge of the investigation. Lieutenant, can you describe what happened?”
A tall, uniformed man who radiated competence, spoke in an assured voice, “Jacqueline, the facts are this: last night someone broke in, probably a gang member looking for items to fence for drugs, probably PCP. He appeared to have been discovered by Dr. Scott, the victim. The perpetrator stabbed Dr. Scott and fled the scene.”
Excited, the woman asked another question, “What was taken, Lieutenant? Anything of value?”
He shook his head. “The only thing taken was a Chumash Indian stone knife. It wasn't valuable, other than to another museum. We think he only took it because he didn't want to leave the murder weapon with his fingerprints on it. We expect to make an arrest shortly.”
The woman nodded, then turned back to the camera. “There you have it, folks. This is Jacqueline Keys, reporting for KVEC-TV, signing off.”
Puzzled, Kennedy asked, “So what's the big deal? Gangs on PCP is code for a vampire kill.”
Notty gave her a look that expressed his pity over her lack of intellect. In a lecturing tone, he began, “The Chumash Indians were native to the Sunnydale area, hundreds of year ago. They were peaceful, which was their downfall. A nearby Spanish Mission enslaved and killed them. Disease and pestilence finished them off.”
Kennedy shrugged. It was tragic, but it had been hundreds of years ago. Hard to get that upset. “Okay?”
Notty sighed in exasperation. “The curator was killed by being stabbed with a Chumash Indian ceremonial knife, probably made from obsidian. The odds of a gang member, real or vampiric, picking that particular weapon to kill with are ridiculously astronomical. However, there are any number of demons or vengeful spirits that would be willing to use the cursed blade of a dead people.”
Kennedy slowly nodded. “I get it, Notty. Okay, we're out of here.”
Crap. What now? “What did you need, Notty?”
His eyebrows were raised. “Weren't you going to introduce me to your friend?”
Hurriedly, Kennedy said, “Tara Maclay, Reginald Nottingham.”
Notty smiled at Tara. “It's nice to finally meet you, Miss Maclay.”
Tara smiled shyly and stammered, “I-i-it's n-nice to m-m-meet you, t-t-too.”
“Tara, let's go.” Kennedy reached for Tara's hand when she heard Notty again.
Fuck! “Yes, Notty?”
“You weren't planning to take Miss Maclay with you, were you?”
Notty appeared to be waiting patiently for a reply, but Kennedy was fresh out. Finally, she said, “I was, actually. I mean, she is a witch. She might have some insights.” There, she thought, that should work.
Or maybe not. “I think that's a terrible idea. Tara has never patrolled before. I do have an alternate plan. Tara can stay here with me while you check out the museum and we can get acquainted.”
Kennedy wondered if this was really happening, or if she was having a nightmare. She almost pinched herself, but decided not to. “Notty...”
He smiled. “Go ahead, Kennedy. We'll see you later.”
Defeated, Kennedy headed out the door.
Tara watched Mr. Nottingham in trepidation. The way he had so casually dismissed Kennedy, one of the strongest people she had ever met made her doubly worried. He appeared relatively innocuous, but there was something dangerous in his eyes. He also didn't waste any time.
“So, Miss Maclay, do you understand why I want to talk with you?”
Tara managed not to stutter too badly as she answered, “B-because you w-want to k-know what my intentions t-towards K-kennedy are.”
He nodded approvingly. “Exactly. So what exactly is your relationship with Kennedy?”
Tara swallowed nervously. “W-w-we're j-just f-f-friends.”
His approving smile dimmed. “Ahh, Miss Maclay, I don't believe that is accurate. It's certainly not what you want with Kennedy, is it?”
Tara felt beads of sweat forming on her forehead. “I-i-i d-d-don't k-know w-w-what you m-mean.”
His smile turned cruel. That coupled with his icy eyes, made him truly menacing. “Sure you do, Miss Maclay. You want Kennedy to become your lover. Isn't that true?”
Tara stared at him frozen. Finally, her face flaming, she managed to nod.
Notty's eyes thawed slightly. “I don't have a problem with that.”
Stunned, Tara just stared. Notty's smile grew crooked. “Not what you were expecting?”
“Call me Notty. Tara... if I may call you Tara?” At her hurried nod, Notty continued, “Kennedy is a very special girl. She definitely needs someone in her life. As a witch, you would be good for her in a number of ways. Please understand that I do not hold Kennedy's or your own sexuality against you. A homophobe I am not."
He trailed off for a moment. When his voice came back, all of Notty's attention was on her. “However, there is something you need to understand, Tara. If you love Kennedy and help me keep her safe, I'll be your best friend. There's little you can't ask of me. But if you harm her,” As he spoke, his eyes, which had softened, now grew glacial, “Nothing on earth can protect you from me. They'll be finding parts of your body for weeks. Understand?
Tara, emotions awhirl, hurriedly nodded. “Y-yes, s-s-sir.”
Notty smiled with only a trace of humor. “Remember, Tara, call me Notty. Now, it's tea time.” He got up from his seat and smiling down at her, extended his hand. After a second, Tara gingerly took it. He pulled her up with deceptive strength. “Why don't you get the cakes, while I brew us up a nice cuppa?” With that, he led them into the kitchen.
Kennedy moved cautiously as she approached the museum. There should be a side door around here somewhere, she thought. With a victorious smile, Kennedy found the door. No alarms were visible, so Kennedy decided to gamble. A little Slayer strength later, she was inside. Moving with deceptive quickness, Kennedy headed towards the Chumash Indian display that Notty had told her was in the north wing of the museum.
After a moment, she found it. Kennedy also saw a dark figure inside. From the outline, it appeared to be an Indian, all feathers and fringed buckskin. Casually flipping on the overhead light, Kennedy saw her guess was correct. Of course it didn't do the real image justice as she stared into dark, angry eyes under thick, jet black brows. Long, black hair hung past the man's buckskin-clad shoulders. His smoldering stare raised a feeling of caution within Kennedy and she carefully approached.
When he didn't speak, Kennedy decided on the direct approach. “So, are you the one who's causing all of the trouble, murdering museum curators and stealing artifacts?”
With a sneer, he exclaimed, “I have stolen nothing! I merely retrieved an item belonging to my people. As to murder, I merely seek justice for my people.”
Kennedy just shook her head. “Your people are dead. Not trying to offend you, but our two cultures clashed and the better culture won. It's the way of the world.”
The man's scowl deepened. “I will destroy all of those who killed my people.” Then he attacked her!
Kennedy easily avoided his first rush. For a ghost, he wasn't very ghosty. As he turned, she kicked him squarely in the face, sending him flying twenty feet through the air into a wall. He got back up as if nothing had happened. Kennedy was moving towards him when he suddenly stopped, and where his figure had been, a large group of black birds flew away.
Okay, Kennedy thought, he's pretty ghosty after all. That was an interesting stunt. And one that Notty was going to want to know about. She decided to head back to his place both to tell him about what was going on and to rescue Tara. God knows what he's said to her, she thought, worried. She decided to give him a piece of her mind if Tara was crying when she got there.
Drusilla stared down at the girl who had killed her Spike, darkness in her heart. “All the pretty birds are dead now, Spike, because of her. I shall invite her to tea, but she shall not get any cake. Indeed no. Rowf! But I shall sup with her. Eat her up.” Laughing, Drusilla did a whirl, delighting in how her dress flared up.
She was just about to follow after the bad Slayer, when she heard a twig snap. Then it came to her, clear as day. All the tea and crumpets had gone bad. Spinning as fast as she could, Drusilla launched herself at a dark figure, only to fall twitching madly as something terrible gripped her. She almost broke the grip of the awful toothed thing, when another bit her. And another. As her vision dimmed, she was surrounded by several of the dark figures. Staring glassily upwards, she muttered, “Oh Spike, the stars are all wrong...”