Disclaimer: Still not mine. Still no money made.
Xander and Liza had managed to clear most of the empty bottles from the furniture.
"She has to be a slayer," Xander mumbled, "a normal person would be in hospital with a severe case of alcohol poisoning."
They both turned their heads when the shower stopped running.
"Let's take it easy," Xander said. "Looks like she'll be with us in a few minutes."
They remained standing.
A few minutes later the door to the bedroom opened and the girl stepped out. She had showered and put on the clothes she had slept in, a pink t-shirt and a pair of fading black jeans.
She had a half-full bottle of beer in her hand and took a long swallow from it.
She eyed Xander and Liza warily.
She set two unopened bottles of beer on the table in front of them and opened them with a flip of her thumb.
She plopped down in on of the seats. "You are here to talk. Talk."
Xander and Liza sat down on the couch, facing her. Xander moved the bottles to the side, away from Liza.
"She is fourteen and I have to drive." he stated.
The girl gave a nod, not really caring. She took another drink from the bottle.
Xander waited until the girl faced him again. He held her eyes and began:
"First off, I am very sorry for your loss. Our condolences."
The girl gave a slight nod of acceptance.
"Look, Michelle, there is a reason for us being here. You probably wondered, why you were able to punch through the door of your uncle's car, why you are stronger, faster now? Why you dreamed of young girls fighting against monsters and vampires? And why you had to drink that much beer to pass out?"
Xander held her gaze, looking for a reaction. None. Michelle just cradled her bottle and waited for him to go on.
"Maybe you felt the need to go out hunting at night?"
This time Xander waited for an answer.
Michelle drank from her bottle.
"There's nothing here." she finally said.
"Nothing here or didn't you find anything?"
"I found nothing."
Xander thought for a short time. "We'll come back to that. But I have something to tell you first. You are a slayer." He took a deep breath. "The world is older than you know…"
The girl listened to his explanations. She gave no sign if she believed him or not.
"The thing is, you have a choice now." Xander had reached the end of his often given speech. "You can accompany us to Cleveland and train as a slayer. Or you can stay here and live your life. We'd stay for about a week and give you a crash course, so you wouldn't be without a clue if a vampire or any other trouble of this sort shows up. And you can always call the New Council in Cleveland for help."
Michelle sneered and finished her beer. She pointed to the bottles Xander had moved to the side. "Are you gonna drink that?"
She snatched one of the bottles before Xander could answer. "Your bad."
She looked at Xander. "I don't believe you. Yeah, I'm stronger and faster and I'm having these weird dreams now. I even checked the graveyards and dark corners around here. There are no vampires, no monsters. I think the freaky meteors are to blame."
Xander remained silent. This was new.
"Freaky meteors?" he finally asked.
"There has been a meteor shower about twenty years ago. You can find pieces of them even today, if you're really looking. Killed some people, destroyed a lot of property. But some people seem to be affected by these rocks up to today."
Michelle drank from her new beer. "At least Chloe Sullivan of the Torch, the Smallville High newspaper, is convinced that they are connected to all the madness."
She got up. "Wait a minute."
She disappeared into her bedroom. Drawers where opened and closed, she was searching for something. Then she was back.
The girl put a piece of rock in front of Xander on the table.
Xander looked at it. It looked quite normal. He took a pair of surgeon gloves out of his jacket's pocket and put them on. He picked the small stone up and examined it. Once he turned the rock there were some green crystals embedded, which gave off a faint glow.
He showed the crystals to Liza. "Do you notice anything?"
Liza frowned, concentrating on her slayer senses.
She shook her head. "No, it's just a piece of green glowing rock."
Liza grinned. "Willow will love it."
Xander looked at Michelle. "Is it okay, if I keep that?"
"Yeah, I don't care. There are plenty of them around. In some places."
Xander wrapped the rock in his surgeon gloves and put it in his pocket.
"This is the first time my explanation is questioned. I'd like to make a phone call, if that's okay with you?"
Michelle nodded, looking bored.
Xander hit the quick-dial-button on his cell phone.
"Hi, it's Xander. Willow?"
"Yes, I am in Smallville and I have found the new slayer. Get this, she doesn't believe me."
The scream of outrage was clear to hear, even for people listening in without slayer hearing.
"Calm down, Willow, we'll figure this out. According to her there are no vampires here. But there has been, quote, a freaky meteor shower about twenty years ago, unquote. The girl blames the glowing rocks for this."
Xander listened to the flood of Willow's questions for a while.
"Willow, stop. Short answer: I don't know. I've met a strange kid in a coffee shop an hour before, but no evil vibe. Maybe I should ask the local expert, a Chloe Sullivan, high school newspaper reporter?"
"Willow, you are babbling. Yes, this calls for research. Maybe Vi would like to help you? Yes, call me back."
Xander ended the call and tucked his cell phone away.
"We will get this sorted out. – You've been an alcoholic before your parents and your sister died?"
Michelle leaped up and found herself forced back into the seat by Liza's hands.
"Liza is a slayer, if you believe me or not." Xander explained. "She is very protective."
He smiled at Liza.
He turned to Michelle. "Answer my question." His voice had become hard.
His voice reminded Michelle of the drill sergeant her uncle had told her about. He had called him an utter bastard, but he had survived in Vietnam because of that sergeant's ruthless training.
"No, I'm not an alcoholic." Michelle answered.
"Don't fight Liza," Xander warned, "she is one of the best. In your current condition she'll wipe the floor with you."
"You have to make a choice: Either we leave and you drink yourself into the next stupor. Or you accompany us and we find out together what changed you. But while we are doing that, you will listen to me. Choose."
Michelle considered his words. Then she put the bottle down on the table. "I want to find out."
Xander gave her an open smile. "Good choice. Do you have any clean clothes around here?"
Michelle frowned, irritated. "Of course."
"Good. And you will listen to me?"
"Very good. Liza, please take Michelle for a run. I want the alcohol out of her system."
Liza removed her hands from Michelle's shoulders.
Xander looked at Michelle without the smallest grin. "I want to know how good she is. Make her sweat."
Michelle put on an old pair of running shoes. In her opinion the small girl was in for a nasty surprise. She followed her outside.
Two hours later Liza walked into the house, a broad grin on her face. A few minutes later Michelle stumbled in, drenched in sweat and out of breath.
Xander watched them both, his face unreadable.
"Hi Xander," Liza smiled, "she's so out of shape, it isn't even funny. She took off fast, trying to outrun me. I followed for ten minutes, and then I closed up to her and asked if she couldn't go faster. She put up a burst of speed. Impressive for an athlete, not bad for a new slayer. I had reached her under a minute. Then I told her to keep up with me and run in earnest. She lagged behind after ten seconds. I waited for her and then told her to match my pace. She managed. Barely."
"Thank you, Liza, you've been kind."
"Kind!?" Michelle protested.
"Kind." Xander said. "Liza can keep up her top speed for four hours and keep going after that. I know."
"Hey, you were wounded and bleeding badly. I had to get help!"
"I know, Liza, and I'm thankful. – Now, Michelle, take a shower and get dressed in clean, not-smelly clothes. We don't want to attract unwanted attention."
Michelle left for the shower.
When she was out of earshot, Liza asked: "Why didn't you tell her I was carrying you?"
"The poor girl has suffered enough. To tell her that she isn't even close to your level would be kinda harsh."
Xander got up and ruffled her hair. "You're one of a kind, you know?"
Michelle emerged from her bedroom a while later, dressed in a dark blue t-shirt, a pair of blue jeans, and soft, brown leather boots.
Xander took a theatrical sniff, which caused Liza to snigger and Michelle to blush.
"You look fine." he said. "Let's get going. I'll buy you a mug of coffee and breakfast at the local coffee shop."