Author’s Note: An older fic -- actually, the last complete fic I wrote in my first go-round as a writer. Slightly edited from earlier appearances.
Disclaimer: All characters were created by Joss Whedon. The plot alone is mine
X X X X X
By Cale Benjamin
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA: Buffy Summers stands behind Tamara Ellis. "No, no," she says. "You have to balance yourself properly. Throw your weight forward too much and you'll fall over." She adjusts the student's position slightly and then moves back. "Nice," she says.
To me, she says, "You know how it is. Especially these days, with as many women as get attacked, we have to be able to take care of themselves."
She moves aside and lets the class' normal teacher take over. "We've got a half dozen of these around the continent," she says. By these she means the SUMMERS DOJOs. Her younger sister, Dawn, runs the business end of the operation. "And - here's a secret - our first international one's opening later this year in Mexico City." Mexico City - the site of one of her seven gold medals. (One of the two in judo.)
She doesn't look thirty-nine. Every article about Buffy Summers mentions this. It's required by law. What they don't mention is that she doesn't even look twenty-nine. If you didn't know she'd been in 9 Olympics (soon to be 10), if you didn't know she'd won ten LPGA majors, if you didn't know she was born in 1981, you'd probably assume she was young enough to be her own daughter.
"Good genes, I suppose," she says.
But your parents don't look fifteen years younger than they're supposed to . . . do they?
"No, but they're in good health, knock wood," she answers. "So I give them the credit. I mean, how else do you explain it? Do I look like I was sent here from Krypton?"
February 8, 2020
He walked into the reception room. There were a half dozen people there, milling around, drinking sodas and chatting. Wait. Was that --
He tapped the woman on the shoulder. "Cordy?" he said.
She spun around. "Yes - my god. Xander!" She smiled - a genuine smile, apparently, and she gave him a big hug. After they broke the clench, she said, "What have you been doing for the last - god, twenty years?"
Xander laughed. "Guess a big star like you doesn't read much science fiction . . . just finished my sixth novel and sent it off."
"That's right," Cordelia said. "One of them was made into that movie a couple years back, Head Games, right? They tried to get me to play the female lead, what was her name, Jade, Ruby . . ."
"Amber," Xander said. "Amber Ferragamo. You would have been perfect for the role."
"Well, yeah," Cordelia said. "But I was tied up with that damn action flick back then and the director wouldn't let me out." That damn action flick, in fact, had grossed hundreds of millions of dollars worldwide, but it hadn't actually required much acting ability. Or a plot that made sense.
"You always wanted to be a star," Xander said.
"Olay, now that we're done being nice to each other," Cordelia said seriously, "Do you have any idea why we're here? I mean, look at this crowd." The crowd so far was the two of them, a balding man wearing an army uniform --- his rank marked him as a colonel - a pretty, studious-looking woman in her mid-40s, a blonde woman with a serene smile wearing a long, flowing robe, a tweed-garbed Englishman who looked to be around fifty, and a nervous-looking guy who honestly looked like he belonged more at a race track than at a reception. Right then another woman walked in - Xander recognized her. "You see that woman that just walked in?" he asked Cordy. "Isn't that Buffy Summers?"
Cordelia spun. "The greatest female athlete of all time?" She looked at the door. "Wow. That is her." Buffy Summers was a legend; she'd participated in every Olympics since the 1998 Winter Games, and she'd won over ten gold medals. In her off years, she played pro golf. The upcoming summer games in Toronto would be her tenth and last; she'd announced her retirement. "What do you suppose she's doing here?"
"Probably got an invitation," Xander said. "You did get an invitation, right?"
"Got it right here." Xander looked at hers and then pulled out his own. They were identical except for the name. "I mean, I get life and death type messages every day," Cordelia said. "But this one seemed somehow - you know, real?"
"I know," Xander said. "It was like I couldn't not come."
Immediately following Buffy inside was a tall, well-built bald black man. Xander recognized him right off. "That's the activist, Charles Gunn," he said. "Activist, crusader -"
"And one tough son of a bitch," Cordelia said admiringly. It wasn't an exaggeration; Mr. Gunn's crusade against poverty and class warfare - what he called the 'vampires' of the downtrodden - could be damned aggressive. It also tended to piss certain people off. A group of thugs had tried to beat him up about ten years ago; they'd had tire irons and baseball bats, he nothing but his fists, but by the time the police got there they were lying on the ground or had run away.
He and Buffy had apparently met before, because they immediately began what looked to be an intense conversation. "You weren't given any other clues as to what it was about?"
Cordelia shook her head. "No. None. Except -- my assistants usually handle the mail but this one got straight through to me. When I asked them about it they swore they'd never seen it."
"It would have been kind of hard to miss," Xander commented. His letter, at least, had come in an oversized brown envelope, and the writing on the side had been calligraphy. Cordelia confirmed that her letter had looked the same. "Hmmm -" Xander began, only to be cut short when he saw the couple coming in the door. "Will! Oz! Over here!"
Eyes turned to look at the shouter, but soon enough everyone was back to their own conversations. The people in question came over and hugs were exchanged, even with Cordelia.
"What, no revival of the we hate Cordelia club?" Cordelia asked.
Willow laughed. "Naah. Not yet. Give us time, though."
"So, Oz, man . . . how's the latest album coming?"
Oz nodded. "Pretty well, actually. Devon and I are stuck on this one song, but we've got a couple dozen others we're going to start whittling down soon. Should be in stores sometime in September."
"Good to hear. And, you, Will -"
But right then one final person entered and the door slammed closed. The man looked to be somewhere around sixty, with gray hair and glasses. Not many people wore glasses these days; that marked whoever this was as a thorough traditionalist. "May I have your attention, please?" he said in a surprisingly commanding British voice. "My name is Rupert Giles . . . and my guess is, you want to know why you came here tonight."
Everyone turned to look at the man. "Got that right," Buffy Summers said. "I mean, a matter of life and death? What's that gig all about?"
The other Englishman in the room said, "Quite right. I know . . . your employers, Mr. Giles, as they are my own. And they have informed me of no such -"
"They would have no idea," Rupert Giles snapped. "They're a pack of idiots."
The blonde woman said, calmly, "I believe you were asking why we had to come." She looked around the room. "Because I'm guessing that we all felt the same compulsion to come to this hotel in Los Angeles. Am I correct? This wasn't something any of us debated."
Nods and general agreement all the way around the room. "I felt it too," the studious woman said. "I wasn't sure what it was, but I really didn't have a choice."
"And why'd you suppose that is?" the nervous man asked with a slight Irish accent. "I mean, I felt it too, lass, but what on god's green earth would anyone need with the lot of us?"
"This is going to require a leap of faith on all your parts," Rupert Giles said. "Because you're all needed to save the world."