Disclaimer: Joss Whedon and Mutant Enemy own Buffy and her related characters and specific locales. King Kong is technically public domain, but the most recent filming belongs to Universal Pictures.
Welcome to the Jungle
zNovember First, 1933, New York City
Ann Darrow fought her tears, and looked into the soft, brown eyes of the titanic beast. They stared at her, unblinking, and accusing. For Kong lay dead on the streets of New York, and she knew in her heart that she was to blame.
October Third, 2006, New York City
"Oh, puh-LEEZE," snorted Buffy Summers. "You fledgies always have the worst lines."
"Huh? What's wrong with 'I'll feast on your entrails'?" The vampire was in full game face, but suddenly stopped, and looked at the Prime Slayer with his head cocked to one side.
Buffy held up the hand that didn't have the stake. "First of all, eww much? Do you even know what's actually in entrails? Second, you wouldn't. You'd drink my blood if you could, but would leave the rest of me alone. And third..."
A quick jab, a rushing of air, and only dust lay near Buffy in the back alley. "Third, you're all just as dumb as a box of rocks."
Sauntering out of the alley, Buffy walked on down Fifth Avenue, soon reaching the famous Empire State Building. It was closing on two in the morning, and most New York Vampires would already be wherever they went by now - prime hunting time was pretty much sundown to midnight. However, New York itself never really stopped, and the streets were as crowded as ever. Stopping to read a historical plaque on the side of the building, she reached into her purse, and pulled out a cell phone.
"Heya, Xan. Yes, I know it was only ten minutes away, but I ran into some business on the way there. Yes, I know. " She paused, and smiled, even blushed a little. "You sure, Xander? Alright, I'm right in front of the Empire State Building, by the Kong plaque. See you soon."
While she waited, she read the plaque. It wasn't official at first, but nobody knew who had put it up. It simply had the date of Kong's death, a rough overview of the events of that day, and the legend, 'Twas beauty slew the beast'. While the people of New York had originally proclaimed it a 'good thing' that Kong had died, hindsight showed that the biplanes had done ten times as much property damage as Kong himself, and that the only deaths involved the pilot or the plane swatted out of the sky by Kong, and two people on the street where it crashed. Buffy tried picturing what a Slayer would have done in the presence of a fifty-foot gorilla, and decided she would likely have tried to adopt it. She smiled to herself, and amused herself for a few minutes with mental images of what she would do with her pet fifty-foot gorilla.
The footsteps coming up behind her were unusually loud, probably deliberately so. She figured that most people in the crowd passing by wouldn't be able to hear them, but whoever this was knew that she could. They were men's footsteps, not women's, so it couldn't be Dawn, Willow, or one of the SIT's; it could only be... "Xander," she smiled, spinning around to face her one-eyed fiance. "Thanks for being obvious."
He snorted, and took her into his arms. "Last time I accidentally snuck up on you in a crowd like this, it took thirteen stitches. Of COURSE I'll be obvious. So... whatcha thinking about?"
She grinned. "Well, I had planned on teasing you about escaping from a hormonal and overemotional pregnant Willow, but I got distracted wondering what I would do with a pet fifty-foot gorilla."
He nodded. "Ahh, yes. Well, first, we would never again have to worry about fifty-foot snakes."
"You either?" wheezed the faint voice of a frail old woman. She stood in front of the Kong Plaque, one nearly skeletal hand tracing the words carved there. "Thanks to him, I didn't either."
This took both Buffy and Xander by surprise, and they both took closer looks at the woman. She was old, at least ninety or older, but she stood tall and straight-backed. She was dressed quite well, though conservatively, and to their shock tears dripped down her eyes as she studied the plaque.
A light bulb went off in Buffy's head. "M-Mrs Driscoll?" she asked, reaching out gently with one hand.
"Yes, my dear. I am Ann Driscoll, poor Kong's assassin." She reached up with a lace handkerchief, and dabbed at her eyes. "Forgive the maudlin tendencies of an old woman. I shall leave you to your dreams of fifty foot gorillas and giant snakes." She turned to leave.
As she turned to go, the Slayer felt an urge. Trusting her hunches, she called out, "Wait, Mrs Driscoll, please. My name is Buffy Summers, and this is my fiance, Xander Harris."
Mrs Driscoll turned back, and sighed. "It is a pleasure to meet the both of you."
Glancing at Buffy, and guessing something was up, Xander smiled at her. "Mrs Driscoll, if you're not busy, would you allow two young whipper-snappers to buy you a coffee or something at the Starbucks right there? Kong always fascinated me, and I used to make up stories at night when I was a kid of what would have happened if I had been the one to find him."
She looked at him askance, the eye patch reminding her of the later years of her own husband Jack. "Are you sure that two youngsters like you don't have better things to do at night than spend time with a worn out old husk like me?"
Buffy smiled warmly. "We're positive. You see, we're sort interested in the more unusual happenings in the world, and Kong was right up there. Add in the company you and your late husband founded, and wild horses couldn't drag us away."
"Literally," piped in Xander. "Oof!" he added as Buffy's elbow hit his ribs.
Ann Driscoll looked at the younger two, eyes narrowed. "Let's step inside, then. It is less crowded, and we could discuss matters with greater ease."
Sipping at her black coffee, Ann let her curiosity show in her eyes. "How is it that you know my company does more than just promote Wildlife Conservation?"
Buffy glanced around, and confirmed to herself that nobody was within two tables of them. Though the Starbucks was open, it was sparsely populated. In a few hours, it would pick up a bit, but the lack of customers suited her right now. "Because Xander and I are on the Council for the New Watchers," she simply said.
Ann's eyes widened, and her respect for the two rose a notch. "I see. Then I assume you know the young lady who accompanied my grandson on his trip to Ayers Rock?"
Xander grinned. "If you mean Lilliana, I don't just know her, I trained her personally. She's a really sweet girl, if a little impulsive and a little hyperactive."
"Trained her? But surely you couldn't be more than twenty-five, yourself?"
His remaining eye grew distant. "Mrs Driscoll, I've been... working this job, so to speak, since I was sixteen. I've seen it take my brother in all but blood from me, more friends than I care to think about, as well as my first fiancée. Ten years of near constant field work, and I think I'm qualified to train others."
"My dear boy, I meant no offense." She patted his hand gently, and let a smile crack her worn features. "Lilliana saved my grandson's life at least three times on that trip. Has he yet ceased his efforts to adopt her?"
Buffy giggled slightly, and Xander shook his head. "A request from him comes across my desk every four months. And to be honest, I'm starting to seriously consider it. He takes her out to the zoo and the museums and the like whenever he's in town. And while it may have started as a joke, I think they're really beginning to care a lot about each other."
Buffy's eyes fell. "But consider is all we can do. Yes, Lilliana is an orphan, but it just wouldn't be fair to your grandson. Even with the number of Slayers we have now, she still has a very slim chance of seeing her twenty-fifth birthday. And before you say anything about me, you should know that I've died twice."
"Three times, Buff - you flatlined for a while on the operating table when Warren shot you."
Ann looked thoughtful. "Would you say, Miss Summers, that it isn't fair for you to marry Mister Harris, here?"
"I see where you're going, and I see your point," admitted Buffy, "but it's not quite the same. See Xander is in my line of work, and has about the same life expectancy I do. A little less because he has no special abilities besides raw courage, and a little longer because he's on the second line, not the front line. We comfort each other, and whoever survives the other probably won't live THAT much longer."
"Then what if my grandson wished to adopt a girl dying of cancer? Would you deny them?"
"I... I never thought of it that way," admitted Buffy.
The table fell silent for a few long moments as the analogy sunk in, and both Buffy and Xander began to see other aspects of their lives colored by it. Finally, Xander shook it off. "Well, Mrs Driscoll..."
"Call me Ann, please."
"Okay," he continued, "Ann... how'd your company shift sideways into its... current... line of work?"
She sipped her coffee, and let her mind wander back. She fought a smile as she remembered that day. "We were one of the first wildlife conservation foundations back then, shortly before World War II. Jack and I had returned to Skull Island, and begun to take steps to keep it not only safe, but protected from the outside world, with the cooperation of the US Government. The island turned out to be the site of some form of spatial anamoly - though it is only ten miles across on a map, or sailing past it, it's nearly the size of Greenland once you're on it."
Xander whistled, and Buffy's eyes grew wide. "Wow. But don't explain, please, we left our portable scientist at home," she said.
Ann blinked, and said, "Oh... okay." She sipped some more coffee, then continued. "While we were there, we encountered something none of us ever expected - a sentient non-human species."
"The Auricans," supplied Xander.
"Right. Imagine our surprise when a seven foot long turtle waddles up to us, and starts speaking to us in the dialect of Polynesian the natives used?" She laughed slightly. "Dear Jack was so excited. That's when we discovered that Captain Englehorn was associated with the previous iteration of your Council. He explained about the supernatural, and the presence of the Auricans on Skull Island."
"So it was the Auricans that led to your becoming the advocates for the peaceful demons?" asked Buffy.
"Oh, not directly. Not until Wolfram and Hart stuck their noses into matters. But by that time, the legal matters surrounding Skull Island were sewn up tight, and not even their best could find a loophole." She shuddered."Those shysters always gave me chills, even before I learned what they really were."
Xander chuckled, a shark-like grin gracing his face. "You'll be glad to know that a couple years ago, WRH kinda lost their foothold in this dimension. No more demon lawyers on Earth for a while."
"Oh, the usual," said Buffy. "Two souled vampires, a demon god of the Primordium, a former gang-banger, and a rogue demon hunter sort of fought an army of evil in the streets of LA, and drove them out in an epic battle with no Slayers on their side because the macho idiots decided they didn't want to bother us."
"Good Lord!" gasped Ann. "Five against the Wolf, the Ram, and the Hart? And they WON?"
Xander took over as Buffy looked away. "You could say that. But they paid dearly. The only survivors were Illyria and Gunn, and Gunn will never walk again, or even scratch his nose. he's paralyzed from the neck down. Illyria... she's gone a little nuts. But in a kind of a safe way. She just alternates from looking human and crying, and looking blue and leathery and staring off into space."
"Illyria... good lord, I remember reading about her. From your description of her behavior, I assume she has finally realized she did not, in fact, consume the soul of her host?"
"Who knows. Anyway, no more Wolf, Ram, or Hart here in this continuum." He leaned back in his chair, and put an arm around Buffy's shoulders, drawing her close. "So what was the true story of Kong, anyway?"
Ann sighed. "I assume you've seen the movie by Mister Jackson last year?" They both nodded, and she continued. "The man is a master. Though much of the events on Skull Island depicted were fiction, deliberately so, the events that occurred once we returned to New York were relatively accurate." She took a deep breath, and released a shuddering sigh. "Especially Kong's last moments."
Buffy sniffed. "I'm so sorry. You loved him, didn't you?"
She nodded. "He was so bright, and so eager to please either myself or Jack. He was like a toddler, really, and it was easy to forget he wasn't human, or that he weighed over a hundred tons. You see, on Skull Island, we never encountered dinosaurs or any monsters other than the huge anaconda. Kong was more of a mascot for the tribe rather than a thing of worship, and his 'brides' weren't sacrifices - they were caretakers.
"We still don't know how old he was, but once we found out about the nature of the island, Jack came up with a theory." She smiled slightly as the two twenty-somethings sat enraptured by her story. "He believed that Kong was originally a normal ape of the kind found on Skull Island, which resemble gorillas but much smaller. Somehow he became a sort of guardian of the island, and was touched by the power of Nature, or Gaia. He was her champion, and her protector.
"When we brought him to New York, the bond grew weak. He became frightened, and when those photographers took their pictures and flashed their cameras, he panicked. Lost, frightened, and without the calming touch of Gaia, he clung to me, and tried to find some place even remotely familiar. She glanced out the door, across the street where the Kong Plaque lay. "And we all know how that turned out."
Buffy looked thoughtful. "Then... is there a new guardian of the island, now?"
Ann nodded, and smiled. "Yes, though it isn't an ape. It's a cat, actually. Captain Englehorn had an orange tabby on his ship, which gave birth to a litter while we were there the first time around. One of them appears to have run off, and now prowls around the island, treating eighty foot trees like scratching posts."
"Wow... Kitty Kong. Just imagine the size of the hairballs..." Buffy elbowed her fiance, and they laughed.
As the night went on, they spoke of many more things, from the Scoobies' own adventures to the progress on the construction of a city for the peaceful demon breeds on Skull Island. The ties between the New Council and the Driscoll Foundation grew stronger, and in the early morning wind, all three believed they could hear the gentle whuffing laughter of Kong.
A/N: This is just the prologue, folks! More is to come, trust me!