Board Meetings Need Coffee
AN: I’m back! I’m sorry everyone, for the long wait. Some things happened in my life that caused me to have to put a bunch of things on hold. This situation is being resolved and I should have loads more time to work on this and my other fic, Songs to a Fallen Hero. Hope you enjoy the chapter.
Chapter Six: Board Meetings Need Coffee
“Is it you?”
“This is not happening!”
Dawn was aware that she was in denial. She could feel all the emotional markers that Tara had explained to her after Mom’s death. But her minds’ absolute refusal to deal with this wasn’t going to do her any good when she had been so thoroughly outted.
She was also aware that Asher was slowly making his way around the table towards her and Rona looked about ready to snap him in two over her knee. Claudia had pushed Anita behind her and into the other vampire’s arms, even though both of the women were armed and not afraid to show it. Dawn assumed quite safely that this was the Master of the City and Anita’s personal master, Jean-Claude, who she would, at the first opportunity, begin to call JC, Jean-Claude was just too much of a mouthful and she so didn’t want to be making that joke with Rona around.
The were’s, most of them anyway, were all sitting calmly. The Asian Shang-da had moved more beside Richard on Jamils’ side than behind him but you almost couldn’t tell the difference with how quiet he was.
“One more step fang face and I will end you.” There was no mistaking that tone when it came with a slayers voice attached to it. Rona was extremely serious. Dawn jerked sharply at the tone, it wasn’t a good sign.
In all the slayers that had been called after the Exodus from Sunnydale, the ones that had taken part in that battle and survived went on to become the most vicious, second only to the two original Chosen. Most slayers got by with a group Watcher, one who was assigned to maybe five or six girls, but Sunnydale Survivors were required to have their own Watcher, to ensure that the very thing that was happening in this room didn’t happen. Berserker.
Dawn had heard a few accounts from other Watchers on what happened when one of their slayers went berserker, usually brought on by extreme emotional pain or guilt. Someone they couldn’t save, the reality of their life that finally got to them, or a situation they knew they wouldn’t be able to reconcile.
Those slayers had taken out whole demon tribes with barely a thought, dozens of vampires with no recollection of the action.
Dawn had seen only one slayer like that before. Buffy. On Dawn’s nineteenth birthday. They had been backpacking in the Himalaya’s and had come across a demon tribe native to the area. If they had a name it wasn’t relevant anymore. They hadn’t given any warning, just starting tossing spears and shooting arrows both tipped with a deadly poison they had later learned was derived from the great horned toad.
One of the spears had brushed against Dawn’s shoulder, she still had that scar, and had immediately paralyzed her. Buffy had gone nuts. Absolute gonzo. She killed every single one of them. That particular type of demon was extinct now. She wasn’t entirely saddened about that fact. But Buffy had been like a battle god that day, it had both awed and frightened Dawn to the core of her being, and it had really scared Buffy.
“Rona.” She tried to sound more steady than she knew she was, her slayer needed her. “Stand down. Now.”
Rona heeded her immediately. It was imperative for an active slayer to trust her watcher and follow their commands instinctively.
Rona took up a position behind and to the right of Dawn, on the side that Asher had been advancing from. The golden haired vampire had stopped just behind Micah, unsure about this new situation.
Dawn heaved a sigh and stood up to move her chair back to its original position. She motioned for Rona to take her original seat next to Jamil and began rooting around in her bag again. Methodically pulling out items and setting them in an order only known by her, she didn’t notice the faces of the people around her and the look of confusion and surprise on some of them. All but Rona’s and Asher’s, who were too busy concentrating on her face to care much what she was setting on the table.
When she was done she looked at the others for the first time. Taking in their reactions and positions once more. Anita had retaken her seat and the two bodyguards on her side of the room had stood down. Jean-Claude had taken his seat at the head of the table and another vampire had come into the room.
Wearing black from head to toe and looking like nothing more than a shadow. She couldn’t get a handle on his age, but she marked him irrelevant. If he had power his body didn’t say it. He didn’t look confident enough to be a Master and the grimace on his face bespoke of pain. She doubted someone old enough to be considered at all would allow the weakness to show in front of new people.
She finally dragged her eyes up to Asher. It took a physical effort not to meet his eyes, but she wasn’t ready for another trip down memory lane. So she starred at his clavicle, it was showed off by the midnight blue buttoned-down shirt he wore, open to about mid-chest. He looked entirely too delicious, but she couldn’t afford to get distracted right now.
“Please take your seat, we have a lot to cover.” She worked at keeping her voice cool and even. Giles would be so proud, she was finally taking the stiff upper-lip approach.
“I said,” she ground out, “please take your seat. Please.”
“Very well, cherie.”
She briefly closed her eyes in relief. She wasn’t sure how she was going to get through this meeting, let alone out of the building, but for now it was okay. She grabbed for the first item on the agenda.
“There were rumors.”
“Didn’t anyone hear me? I said ‘bullshit’. As in ‘no way in hell’.” Dawn though that Anita seemed quite attached to that word. But she honestly couldn’t blame her.
They had all finished reading the ten page Council manifesto and were expelling their reactions in a typical manner. She was used to this. She had done meet and greets with parents as watcher training the year she had been a junior watcher, the response was one she was used to.
She looked to her slayer, “Rona?”
Her slayer looked to her, a definite smirk on her face. Rona loved this part of the job, demonstration. People always went fishy-face when she did the demo.
Dawn handed her the reinforced tire-iron she had put on the table earlier. Rona tested the weight and balance, then looked to her audience, coming up with an even better idea.
She walked to the nearest vampire, who just happened to be Asher, it was coincidence, she was sure, just a stroke of pure luck that it was him. Syke.
Dawn let a small smirk come on to her face, her slayer was mean, but she wasn’t complaining. She knew Rona was still pissed at him for trying to invade her Watchers’ personal space.
Rona was standing in front of Asher now, holding out the tire-iron. “Try to bend it into a pretzel.”
He gave her a look that told Dawn he considered Rona extremely slow in the head, or that maybe she had a problem with her brain being missing.
He looked up at Dawn in askance, wondering if he was supposed to humor this obviously deranged creature.
She gave him the go ahead and he gingerly too the offered item. With one hand on either end he glared at the length of metal while exerting pressure, and since she could see the effort on his face she assumed it was a lot of effort.
She could have warned him that it was made of a metal that demons from another dimension used to make their armor with and was about as dense as titanium, but strangely wasn’t fire retardant, but that would have been too easy. There was no way he was going to bend that, stronger things than a vampire had tried with little to no success.
He eventually, after about three minutes, decided to give up and handed the tool back to Rona.
“And what exactly was that supposed to prove?” Dawn could her the ‘I’m-a-pissed-off-Executioner-so-don’t-fuck-with-me’ tone in Anita’s voice, her sister had her own version and it never failed to make Dawn wince on the inside and smirk on the outside.
“Here’s what is proves, no vampire on the planet can bend that tire-iron. It’s as strong as titanium. Now watch. Rona?”
Rona took her cue and promptly bent it into a pretzel. Every jaw in the room dropped. Dawn wished she had a camera, they all looked so goofy, especially that asshole Richard, he had a bit of drool running down the side of his mouth, probably because his jaw was almost to the floor.
Then Dawn started to giggle because Rona, with her twisted sense of humor, decided to play animal balloon with the tire-iron and started to twist it into the shape of what Dawn could only assume was a polgara demon, complete with spike on the hand. Pretty impressive, but then, Rona was her
Anita looked twitchy. Like she wanted to reach for one of the many guns Dawn knew she was carrying. That, or she was a huge coffee addict and hadn’t had her fix today.
Anita had worn that same expression when she read the title page of the Council manifesto Rona had passed around for her. “Who We are. What We are about. What We do to Evil!” Dawn really had meant to get the public relations people to change that but never seemed to get the time to brave the lair of Gunn and his crazy legal team, all made up of rejects from Wolfram and Hart or dimensional travelers looking for something to keep them out of the light of a camcorder attached to a reporter.
The were behind Anita, Claudia, had managed to get her face back to impassable lines. So had Shang-da and Jamil, Shang-da more so than Jamil. Micah and Merle had slight smiles on their faces and Nathanial looked a little frightened, she felt kinda bad about that, he looked like he had been hurt a lot in his short life, she didn’t want to scare him.
The look on the vampire’s faces was the showstopper though. Asher looked like he was trying very hard not to fall flat on his ass. The vampire in all black still had his mouth slightly ajar and his eyes were huge in his face, lit with fear, hate, and small sliver of hope. That worried her.
Jean-Claude, JC, must be the iceman. His face showed almost nothing. But she could sense curiosity, and she could feel his eyes on her and Rona, wondering, figuring, trying to manipulate the situation to his advantage. This always happened with the Masters of any City. Every meet-and-greet representative had the same problem with the Masters. They always had to be put down hard at some point or another, they just couldn’t help themselves. You didn’t get to be that old and in charge without having a hellova lot of ambition. She would have to talk to him, or get an actual meeter out here to talk to him before he started something. If he bit off more he could chew the slayer’s would take him apart and destroy his entire power base. They would do worse if it was Dawn he tried to chew on. She had seen it happen before in London.
The master there had attempted to use a slayer as his personal killing machine and tried to wipe out all his rivals. Dawn had been sent in with a junior team to try to resolve the situation. It hadn’t worked. Within one hour the team had been subdued and Dawn had been kidnapped, again. His numbers had been underestimated. Dawn had been lucky it hasn’t been a fatal mistake on her part.
Buffy had brought the whole Slayer Army down on his head. When she was done there was barely a building standing, and only those vampires that had surrendered and proven themselves to Lorne had been left alive.
The Vampire Council had been contacted and the Scoobies agreed to wipe the memories of the remaining vamps and replace it with the story of the Harlequin.
She didn’t really want that to happen to Jean-Claude. She kinda liked him already. And she really liked Anita. So she would do what she could to keep them alive.
She started to gather up the supplies, shoving them back into their slots inside her bag. When she was done she reached out and handed Rona the last lollipop she had. Pinapple. Dawn’s favorite, she had been saving it.
“I do have some questions I would like to pose to you.” And it was starting. She better make sure he understood his standing before he got too far in his planning.
“Sure, shoot…figuratively speaking.”
“As allies,” he started.
“We aren’t allies.”
“Then why come here?”
AN: I know it wasn’t that much. So sorry. I am trying to hurry up and finish this. Next chapter should be within the next week or so.