1. Of Phone Calls and Other Matters
Well, here it is. The first new chapter of the story. Well, first old new chapter, if that even makes any sense. For the next few updates, I'm going to be posting to the end of the story, just in case people haven't had time to read my note in the last "update". There's a longer note at the end of the chapter, but right now, it's time for some shameless pimpage. Don't forget to check out my new story, Set Fire to the Third Bar
(still looking for a new title) and my new lj, which gets updated a lot more frequently (and faster) then my stories here. The link is in my profile.
Now, for some shout-outs:Balover
, Qihotex, Eden's Echo, Mister Gordo, scruffybunny, Anon, SS13, buffyrules-115, Spikes Girl5, FuriaeIntus, Jenna Summers,
and Allen Pitt
, I can't thank you enough for your feedback. Reviewers like you are the only reason I didn't completely abandon this story when life started getting hectic. It's hard to describe how good it feels to be hitting the bold
button time after time to type your names out.Please Review!
“The best stories in life start with “Once upon a time…”.”
- Dorothy Parker
Of Phone Calls and Other MattersBeep. Beep. Beep. “Buffy, get your butt out of bed!”Beep. Beep. Beep.
“I think you should answer that.”
Buffy Summers groaned and rolled over, refusing to open her eyes.
“It’s just going to continue all morning,” the man continued, seeming highly amused. “It might even get worse. Who knows what Willow has programmed that thing to do if you ignore it for to long.”
Eyes still kept firmly shut, Buffy’s lips still managed to form into a drowsy smile as she thought of the other things Willow had recently programmed her phone to do; little things like having a direct connection to the President’s personal phone, and having the nearest Starbucks location automatically programmed into her phone via satellite. The drowsy smile became more alert at the thought of coffee…perhaps that little place in the village?
Her thoughts were interrupted when she felt him move against her before placing a kiss in the hollow of her throat. The grin on her face began to widen, especially when he began moving lower, flicking his tongue over her smooth skin. Involuntarily, she gave a little purr of pleasure. Whatever her friends had to say about him, there were definite perks to dating Dante, not the least of which was the two thousand years of experience he had.
Before they could really get into their…activities, Willow’s pre-recorded voice blared from the phone again.“Buffy, get your butt out of bed!”
And if that wasn’t a mood killer, Buffy really didn’t know what was.
Sighing regretfully, the Slayer finally let the covers fall off her and hopped out of the bed, padding across the room to the rolled up ball of clothes near the door. The Immortal leaned back on his pillows and watched as she sifted through her clothes, searching for the cell phone that was still beeping obnoxiously.
He loved to watch her. There was something mesmerizing about her; it was present in every motion her lithe, tanned body made, every toss of her head or quirk of her lips. He had never seen it in a Slayer before – the cat-like grace with which she moved, yes, but not that unidentifiable quality which so fascinated him. It hadn’t taken him long to figure out what it was, though. One night with this particular woman was all that was necessary for him to realize that it was passion that he saw – pure, and unadulterated, the kind of passion that was present in only a few, usually the hero-types he so despised. But while one night had been all that was necessary, it hadn’t been all he wanted. Fortunately, she’d felt the same way.
The Immortal paused his musings long enough to watch as she bent over and triumphantly plucked her magically-enhanced cell phone out of her jeans.Ah, the Great Phone Hunt is finished
, he thought.
“I’ll be right back,” she said, jerking her head toward the phone apologetically.
He nodded and settled back on his pillows to watch her leave, long hair swaying just above her…Vaffanculo!
She had grabbed a robe on her way out.
Buffy slipped out the villa’s wide double doors and headed down to the beach. There was no one around for miles, and she felt reasonably sure that she wouldn’t be overheard. She could just hear Giles lecturing her for “neglecting the security of the Council”, though, so she ran further down the shore. Once she was out of sight of the house, she dialed the number for Giles’s office. “Good afternoon, this is the office of Rupert Giles, Director of the International Watcher’s Council, how may I help you?”
“Hey, Emily,” Buffy said, recognizing the clipped Oxford accent of Giles’s new secretary. “I need to talk to Giles.”
“Just a moment, Miss Summers,” Emily responded promptly.
There was a slight pause, and then Giles’s familiar voice was saying, “Buffy, what took you so long?”
“I’m good, it’s nice to talk to you, too,” she sniped.
“Buffy, this is not the time for games. I’ve been calling you for over an hour.”
“I’m sorry, Giles,” she said. “I was a little busy with other things.”
Her mind immediately strayed to a picture of the very naked Dante, who was probably still waiting for her in bed. A pleased grin curved over her mouth, but it quickly evaporated with Giles’s next comment.
“Busy with the Immortal?” he asked shrewdly.
“His name is Dante,” she snapped.
“Must you continue this relationship with him?” he asked. “The longer you keep this up, the more you are placing yourself, not to mention the rest of the Council, in danger.”
“It’s not a relationship,” the Slayer protested half-heartedly.
“And what exactly would you prefer to call it?”
“Dante and I have an…arrangement,” she said.
“An arrangement,” Giles repeated slowly. “Have you gone mad? You are willing to risk the entire future of the Council on an arrangement
Buffy took a deep breath and counted to ten. It wouldn’t do anyone any good if she crushed her cell phone into powder. Besides, she really didn’t want to find out what protection spells Willow had put on the phone this time – a fleeting memory of a boil-covered Fyarl demon flitted through her mind, and she shuddered.
“Don’t you think you’re exaggerating just a little, Giles?” she asked tiredly. “I don’t think the Council is going to collapse if I have sex with someone who actually has a pulse.”
She could hear Giles sputtering on the other end of the line.
“You know this is more than that,” he said. “This isn’t just about you…satisfying your urges with the Immortal.”
She could practically hear him polishing his glasses, and tried very hard not to laugh. Before she could stop herself, a giggle escaped her. Luckily, he chose to ignore her and continued.
“Whether you like it or not, you are still the Slayer,” he told her.
Slayer,” she corrected him.
“You may be one of many, now, but you are the Slayer. It’s who you are.”
She had no reply to this, because, deep down, she knew he was right. She was the last of the true Chosen line – the last one to stand alone. The new generation of Slayers she and Willow had called would never know the feeling of having the world resting on their shoulders. They would always have others to share the load.
“You didn’t call me to lecture me about my love life, did you, Giles?” she asked, changing the subject. “Because we already know it’s a lost cause.”
“No, you’re right,” he agreed. “I apologize for getting so far off topic.”
Buffy let a deep breath out and forced herself to relax. Things were always strained between her and the rest of the Scoobies whenever Dante came up; Willow was the only one who seemed okay with her “arrangement”. And really, that’s what it was. They didn’t love each other, far from it, and she couldn’t pretend she was ignorant about his less-then-savory activities. However, he provided a nice distraction for her, and they enjoyed each other’s company. That was really all she was looking for.
“So what did you call about?” she asked, feigning levity.
She heard him hesitate for a moment before he spoke.
“I wanted to know if you’d be open to coming to London,” he said. “Not,” he hastened to add, “because of the Imm- Dante
“Why, then?” she asked immediately.
“Willow has been noticing some strange power surges around Europe lately,” he told her. “At first, we put it down to the influx of new Slayers, but Althenea just called and told us that the Coven was getting worried about it. We have people researching further, but still -”
At this point, Buffy cut him off.
“So have people research it,” she told him firmly. “That’s no reason to call me to London, and you know it. What is it? What aren’t you telling me, Giles?”
“I can’t tell you that,” he said.
“What?” Count to ten, Buffy, count to ten. Remember what happened to the Fyarl demon. Count to ten. One, two, three, four, five, six, sev- oh, screw it.
“What the hell do you mean? I don’t think anyone deserves to know if - ”
“Buffy, calm down,” Giles said. “I just meant that the information you want to know isn’t safe to be told over the telephone.”
“So you just don’t want your new secretary eavesdropping?” she summarized, smirking when she heard a soft click
“Precisely,” he replied. “We have a meeting scheduled for tomorrow afternoon at 3 o’clock. A plane is waiting for you in Rome.”
“I’ll be there,” she promised. “Oh, and Giles?”
“Fire your secretary.”
Buffy pressed END and started walking back to the villa. She figured it would take her an hour to pack, and another hour or so to get back to the city. What that really meant, was that she had half a day with Dante before she had to leave. She found herself humming happily as she made her way back to her very comfortable bed.
In London, however, her sister was feeling anything but happy. Dawn Summers had two weeks to go before the new term started at Oxford, and she was bored to tears.
At first, she had been more then able to amuse herself by going clubbing with the mini-Slayers, as she referred to the former Potentials, and shopping to her heart’s content with the new Council credit cards (hey, Giles owed her for not telling anyone about what she’d caught him doing during his “personal briefing” with Althenea). After having grown up on the Hellmouth, though, those things had quickly lost their excitement.
Everyone had given up trying to cheer her up, too. Willow had meditated with her and shown her some neat new spells (“Don’t tell Buffy, ‘kay, Dawnie?”) and Vi had rounded up some of the more relaxed mini-Slayers to go out with her for yet another whirlwind night of clubbing. Even Andrew had tried, by attempting to introduce her to his world of comic books and Jedi adventures.
Since the summer began, though, she’d only had one truly interesting evening. She’d been at a trendy new Soho restaurant with Matthew, one of the new Watchers. The restaurant was one of those pseudo-Wicca places that seemed to be springing up everywhere, complete with pre-meal meditation and seating on the floor. None of that was very extraordinary, and sadly, the same could be said for her companion. Matthew, she quickly found, was a self-absorbed, Cambridge-educated ass, a bit like her early memories of Wesley. After about three minutes of his monologue on the “inaccuracy of such establishments as the one they were in”, she’d let her attention drift, until, eventually, something on the wall had caught her eye.
It had been hard to tell when she entered the dimly lit restaurant, but she quickly noticed that the walls were covered in strange symbols. That wouldn’t have been particularly fascinating, even to her, a self-confessed “language freak”, but for the fact that she had the feeling she’d seen them before. Not from some obscure ancient text or prophecy, but somewhere else…somewhere earlier.
Uncharacteristically, for Dawn was a girl with a notoriously good memory (“But Buffy, you promised you’d lend me your new boots if I stopped stealing your lip gloss!”), it took her all night to remember where she last saw the symbol. Matthew, seeing her slight frown of concentration, and fancying that it was concentration on him
that had her looking so fascinated, thought to himself that he’d finally found someone who appreciated his importance. This may have been what prompted him to ask her to dinner again once the meal was over. Thankfully, Dawn wasn’t too preoccupied to refuse him – she did that with remarkable haste.
It wasn’t until she’d gotten back to her flat (alright, so it was really Buffy’s flat – it wasn’t like her sister was ever around to use it) that she figured out where she’d seen the troublesome little symbol. Almost as if she was seeing it through someone else’s eyes, an old memory resurfaced.Heavy yellow parchment and a quill pen were neatly set out on an equally neat desk. Next to it, a large book lay open to a page full of strange, squiggly signs and symbols. Ten-year-old Dawn Granger knew she shouldn’t be in her big sister’s room – Hermione always did get angry when she caught her snooping – but she couldn’t help herself. She always wanted to know what it was about her sister that everyone kept trying to hide from her. She shut the door behind her and slowly made her way up to the desk. The first thing she saw was a heavy black symbol, all curvy sides and twisting lines, on the parchment. Underneath it, in the neat handwriting she knew was her sister’s she saw the words “ehwaz – partnership or alliance.” Then she heard the front door slam and quickly ran from the room.
This memory had floated through her mind ever since, making any of the usual activities that would have ended her boredom seem pointless and annoying. She’d forgotten about all that, if, indeed, she ever really remembered anything at all. Her memories of that time were hazy and uncertain, and even if they weren’t, she’d received too many harsh warnings on the subject to delve any deeper.
None of that was enough to combat her curiosity, though. It was only natural; she was a Summers, after all. And so it was that she found herself taking a drive out to Hertfordshire with one of the Council cars one lazy summer afternoon in August. She knew as soon as she left London that her impromptu trip was not a good idea. No matter what her sister thought of her, she was (almost) always conscious of when she was making a mistake. And leaving on the eve of an important, Scooby-only briefing that she planned to sneak into definitely qualified as a mistake.
But, in an act that showed the monks had done a pretty good job of making her Buffy’s sister, she did it anyway. And at 7:30 p.m. on that same August day, now evening, she pulled up in front of a cheery looking house in the village of Long Marston.
I hope you liked it. I know I had fun writing it, even though it was a little short. Don't worry - my first chapters have always been short, if you remember.It feels good to be back with this story. Refreshing, I guess is the word. Once again, though, I am begging for some feedback on it. Not just from the "warm fuzzies" standpoint, either, but for a very serious reason.Rewriting this story is hard. I've been trying to mature it a little without losing the humor (which may not be as evident in this first chapter - again, I caution you to wait), and I have no idea if it works or not. Ideally, I'd like a beta, but I'm not sure if I should get one or not. Really, I rely on reviews to let me know how I'm doing. A one or two sentence - hell, one- or two-word
review lets me know if I'm doing my job right. I know everyone doesn't have the time to give long, insightful reviews, and I'm not asking for that. I just need to know what I can do to improve this story.
I've been looking over those surveys from Chapter Ten again, and they're pretty helpful. I'm surprised so many people were cool enough to answer it for me, too. I think I might have to do another one to get a more accurate idea of what I should do with this. Don't worry, if I do one at all, it'll be MUCH shorter.
I'm gonna end this a/n the same way I ended the one up top - with a heartfelt thanks to everyone who offered me thier opinions and advice on what I should do with this story, and a reminder to:Please Review!