Chapter Twelve—The Investigation
Buffy hurried to her class, being careful not to slip on any of the snow and ice that covered the grounds. The last thing she needed was to have a Firstie give her a Checkpoint quiz. That had happened to another smack just a few minutes before, slipping and getting quizzed. Buffy had stood nearby lending him her silent support as he was hammered mercilessly on his knowledge of the number of days until Air Force next beats Army and sundry other questions, all the while wet snow dripped down his uniform coat. Oh well, Buffy thought, at least he hadn't fallen right in front of his tormentors. When he was finally done, face red with embarrassment, he'd given Buffy a grateful look, then headed off.
It made her feel like she belonged, the camaraderie that she'd developed with others in her class. You were supposed to succeed or fail as a unit. The only part that Buffy didn't like was that you were also not supposed to stand out from that unit in either a good or bad way. She supposed that she'd already failed that, although a Firstie could always find a way to use Class Unity against you if they really wanted you to fail.
Sighing, Buffy slipped into class. She wasn't late, but also not as early as she preferred. Hurriedly pulling out her notebook, Buffy got ready to take notes. Her thoughts wandered to the previous Thanksgiving weekend. That had been both fun and horrible. Having Connie there the entire time had meant there was someone who she could hang out with, watch TV with, and shop with. Unfortunately, it also meant she had to be on her guard the entire time, in the one place she usually could count upon being herself.
Not that Buffy thought she'd been especially effective. Stuffing five times as much food into yourself as anyone else could eat wasn't especially inconspicuous, but dammit! The food was just sooo good. And with Thanksgiving being the one big meal of the day, Buffy hadn't been able to sneak in snacks throughout the day as she usually did. Worse, Connie seemed to take note of her munching on power bars now where before she'd been oblivious. If Buffy wasn't careful, Connie was going to think she was an alien here to infiltrate the Zoo and learn all of its secrets. Although what self-respecting alien would put themselves through this?
Buffy tried to focus on what the instructor was saying, but decided it was a lost cause. Tonight was the night she investigated Sheridan and Merryman's room. She was actually nervous, which was funny. Fighting vampires and demons didn't make her nervous, but raiding the room of a couple of jerks did. Buffy knew she would be fine. Their room was on the sheltered side of the building and with the recent snowfall and early sunset, very few people would be out. Of course, that didn't mean no one would be out. At least she shouldn't have to worry about either of the cadets in question showing up. Sher was acting as an Honor Rep, helping cadets understand the Honor Code, while Merryman was doing something with his flight as Cadet Flight Commander. Buffy should have the room to herself.
Of course, the only thing left was how to get in. Their room was on the fourth floor and she was sure to get busted if she tried to go in through the inside door. That left the outside window, which hopefully would be unlocked. No one who lived on the third floor or higher locked their windows. There wasn't much chance of a burglar breaking in, even if anyone had something worth stealing. But Buffy wasn't just any burglar. She thought that she could climb up the outside of the building using the gaps between bricks for toe and finger holds. It would be cold, but not that difficult.
Buffy stood outside Vandenberg Hall, feeling icy wind whipping by her. It was a miserable night, with temperatures hovering in the twenties. Additionally, there was a thirty mile per hour wind blowing with gusts even worse. It was the coldest Buffy had ever been, although oddly enough, she wasn't really uncomfortable. She'd felt much colder during the ski trip she'd taken with her parents when she was twelve. But that was before becoming the Slayer. Giles had always told her that she had far more abilities than she'd ever used. If only she would focus more. Momentarily, a fond smile touched Buffy's face as she thought about her former mentor. Sternly, she repressed the answering touch of sadness that usually accompanied thoughts of Giles. She had a job to do and needed to get to it.
It was a perfect night for breaking into a certain twosome's room. Both were occupied with extra duties and shouldn't be back until after 2100 hours. It was now just 1930 hours, and the entire area was completely deserted. The sun had set two hours ago, but it hadn't mattered. With the the heavy cloud cover, it had been twilight all day.
The night was dark enough that Buffy doubted she would have been noticed if she was wearing an orange jumpsuit, but in just in case, she wore dark clothes that allowed her to blend in. Dark gloves and a black ski mask finished her ensemble. Even if she was spotted, no one would know they were looking at Cadet Buffy Summers. At least she hoped not.
Buffy approached the brick wall. She'd been sure it was easily climbable for someone with her abilities and it was. Buffy slowly, finger hold by finger hold, moved up the face of the wall until she reached Sheridan and Merryman's window. The room was dark, which was good since she wouldn't be silhouetted against a light. Not that there was anyone
out, a fact Buffy confirmed with a quick glance around behind and beneath her. Now if only the window...
Buffy breathed a sigh of relief as she pushed up the window. It was unlocked. She hadn't seen any reason it wouldn't be, but people did odd things sometimes, including locking a window on the fourth floor. Even when the window in question had been open just a few days ago to take advantage of one of a handful of beautiful, cool Fall days. As it had turned out, it was probably the last day like that until Spring.
Buffy eased over the top of the window, and slid into the room. Carefully, she closed the blinds on the window before turning on the light. With their room being at the back of Vandenberg Hall, it was unlikely anyone would spot the light being on, but Buffy wasn't taking any chances.
Buffy surveyed the room. Like most cadets', it was fairly immaculate. Of course, as Firsties, Sher and Lloyd had a TV. And a mini-fridge. Buffy stared with frank envy at the twenty-five inch TV sitting on top of their mini-fridge. She didn't have time to watch television, but still, it was the principle of the thing. Determinedly turning away from temptation, Buffy tried to figure out where they would hide contraband.
She had already decided against planting any evidence against the two cadets. First, she didn't know if it would be enough. The Air Force's unfortunate desire to cover their ass tended to outweigh the desire for full disclosure more often than not. The police's “Blue Wall” had nothing on the Air Force's. So if she wanted to get those bastards expelled, Buffy was going to need solid evidence. Which, hopefully, she'd find. The other reason was simpler. Planting manufactured evidence wasn't the right thing to do. Buffy was there to try to get both Sheridan and Merryman expelled. The last thing she needed to do was do violate her own ethics to do so.
Fifteen minutes later, Buffy was getting frustrated. She'd checked the fridge first, and envied its contents. No contraband in, behind, or under it. The dressers were out of the question, although Buffy checked them anyway. The beds had also gotten her a big goose egg. She'd unscrewed the two air vents to check behind them, but again, found nada. Now she slowly double-checked all of the things she'd checked before, looking for something taped to the bottom of a drawer, anything really.
After a moment, her eyes fell on the desktop computers, one each belonging to Sher and Lloyd. Quickly, Buffy booted them up to the password screen. There, she was stuck. Then Buffy remembered something Willow had shown her, how lazy users who couldn't remember their own passwords would hide them in some convenient spot. Quickly, Buffy flipped over the keyboards. On Merryman's computer, there was a piece of paper with two passwords written on it taped to the back of the keyboard. Quickly, Buffy entered the first of the passwords. The computer finished its boot up and Buffy was able to peruse Merryman's files. Looking for anything out of the ordinary, Buffy didn't see anything.
After a moment's thought, Buffy checked inside the Windows folder. Willow had once said that no one looked for stuff that was mixed with the system files. Scanning as fast as she could, Buffy almost went right past the questionable file.
It was named 'System2.” Buffy wasn't sure that made sense. Quickly, she tried to open the file. No such luck since the folder was password protected as well. Buffy tried the first password and it didn't work. However, the second one did. There were two Word files inside. The first file contained a list of names along with letters and numbers next to them. “Gerald Kimball – 8 CC”. Customers and amounts, Buffy wondered? Beneath the names was a shorter list of what could be amounts and weekly dates. Buffy thought those might be inventories, but she wasn't sure. It wasn't like how her mother did inventory, but then Joyce's products were for the most part unique. If it was an inventory, where was the product?
The second file was a list of female names with asterisks next to them. Some of the names had as many as five asterisks next to them. Feeling ill, Buffy didn't go any further. She didn't want
to know what they meant, although she had a sinking feeling that she already knew.
Turning off Merryman's computer, Buffy turned to Sheridan's. No passwords under the keyboard. Buffy realized that she hadn't checked the cases for contraband, so she opened it and looked inside. No contraband, but the passwords were right there, taped to the inside of the case.
Buffy quickly entered the first password, accessing the system. Checking the same location, Buffy found the same file. So they shared tips on hiding files, but not passwords, she thought absently as she opened the sole file that was inside of Sheridan's folder.
It was an Excel file with three unnamed tabs. On the first tab, under the heading “Customers,” there was a long list of names, along with classifications. On the second tab, under the heading “Acquired,” there was a long list of classes, organized by year. On the third tab, under the heading “Need”, there was another long list of classes. It was fairly obvious what the lists were. Buffy sat a moment and fumed, then turned off Sheridan's computer, closing up the case.
It pissed Buffy off thinking that so many cadets were cheating, taking shortcuts. While it seemed minor compared to Merryman's rape ring, it still spit on the traditions of the Zoo. Traditions that Buffy hadn't realized she took so seriously, until she saw the fruits of Sher's dishonesty. Her anger, so hot just moments before, grew harder, colder, and more ruthless as she considered what to do about the situation. Buffy felt a chill in the pit of her stomach.
So she had the documentation, but where was the actual evidence? She'd already checked the entire room. If the two cadets kept their products somewhere else, she was out of luck. Thinking for a moment, Buffy tried to decide if she'd missed anything.
After a couple of minutes, Buffy's eyes fell on the foot lockers that stood at the foot of both cadets' bunks. It couldn't be that easy, surely. Buffy had ignored them up to now, knowing that they were both items that were certainly checked every inspection. The idea that either cadet would keep anything there was beyond insane. Still, it was the only place she hadn't looked. And, she considered thoughtfully, Buffy herself had used one with a false bottom to conceal things from her parents for years. Hers had been a gift from Merrick, but that didn't mean someone else couldn't get one like it somewhere else.
Buffy opened up a locker and examined it. Yucky, she thought absently, as she recognized Merryman's belongings. Bingo! Buffy checked the bottom and sure enough, there was a discrepancy between what where the bottom was and where it should be. No one but a Slayer would have noticed, she thought, feeling the small discrepancy. It would only allow for at most, three quarters of an inch for storage, unlike her old footlocker. But that might be enough.
Carefully, Buffy removed everything from Merryman's footlocker, carefully noting the standardized layout. Basically, it was set up just like hers, so she could put it back together in her sleep. Once that was done, she set about opening the false bottom. She tugged and pressed to no avail. Buffy focused her entire attention to the item in front of her. Closing her eyes, she let herself extend her senses. Lightly shaking the locker, she heard the faintest clink of glass. Allowing fingers that could effortlessly tell the face of one coin from another just by how worn it was to ghost over the footlocker, Buffy felt for any clue. There it was. Buffy pressed and with a faint click, the footlocker revealed its secrets.
Through cold, angry eyes, Buffy stared at more than fifty small vials that lined the bottom of the locker along with several small stacks of bills. Each vial couldn't hold more than half a fluid ounce at most, but with a sickening certainty, Buffy knew they contained GHB. Deciding to make sure, Buffy picked up a vial and unscrewing the top, lightly touched it to her tongue.
Yep, definitely GHB, Buffy thought. While supposedly tasteless, that wasn't exactly true when it came to the taste buds of a Slayer. Especially a Slayer who had been exposed to the substance once before. As a junior in high school, Buffy had gone with Cordelia to a party given by Delta Zeta Kappa Fraternity, only to nearly be sacrificed to a big snake. The GHB that had been administered in her drink shouldn't have affected her substantially, but because it was mixed with the mystical venom from the Snake Boy's poison glands, it had hit Buffy like a ton of bricks.
It had been embarrassing that Cordelia
of all people had woken before her. And Cordelia had made sure to rub that fact in. But Giles had come to Buffy's rescue. Giles had explained that because the venom was mystical in nature, she had been just as vulnerable as any other girl. Less than tactfully, he had added that because Buffy was so much smaller and more slender than Cordelia, she'd actually been out a bit longer. It had taken weeks before Cordelia had forgiven Giles his faux pas, but it had earned him a Buffy-hug.
The best thing about the experience, at least as far as Buffy was concerned, was that Giles had also informed her that because she'd been exposed to the drug and the venom already, it was unlikely to affect her again. Slayers were already tremendously resistant to most toxins and drugs, one reason Giles had given her so many shots of the Cruciamentum drug before it had finally robbed her of her abilities. But even better, once a Slayer was exposed to a toxin or drug, they built up even more immunity. That was probably why Quentin had taken off so quickly after Buffy's Cruciamentum. If he had stayed around, she probably would have kicked his ass, especially since her abilities came back within days of the drug no longer being administered. Giles had confirmed her idea that it would be almost impossible to use the drug on her again, although he had cautioned her that if something happened that required the use of it, the Council was far more likely to send a wetworks squad to deal with her.
That thought had momentarily crossed her mind when she had defied Wesley and the Council in saving Angel, but she hadn't let it stop her. At the time, Buffy had thought “Let them come.” She was prepared to do whatever was necessary. But of course, they hadn't come, instead ignoring her. And then the school had blown up and killed everyone.
Pulling her mind back to the present, Buffy quickly calculated that there was enough of the date rape drug to dose over a hundred women. Numbly, she decided that Merryman was the biggest bastard she had ever known personally. Or maybe not, remembering Mayor Wilkins. Still, who knows how long he had been doing things of this nature. It was probably only the attitude of the Air Force that condemned the victim of a crime like rape that caused no one to come forward. Any woman who did, knew she was jeopardizing her career. Buffy had heard that if you accused someone of rape, more often than not, you were charged with having sex with another cadet in their dorm room, a crime punishable by expulsion. That, coupled with the knowledge that too many times things of this nature had been swept under the rug, kept a lot of women from reporting them.
Checking Sher's footlocker was almost anti-climatic. Sure enough, it had copies of dozens of tests, as well as several large stacks of bills, all neatly laid out in the space available. It took Buffy a few minutes to figure out that Sher had copies of every final that he was going to be taking in about three weeks. There were even more than that and Buffy recognized more than thirty tests and answer keys from more than a dozen other First and Second Year classes. Was he selling them, Buffy wondered? Or maybe he was using them for influence? The money certainly suggested the former rather than the latter, but who knew? Idly, she counted the money. Almost, fifteen thousand dollars were in Sher's footlocker, almost as much as was in Merryman's.
Buffy shivered, truly cold for the first time tonight. Desperately, she wanted to go find both cadets and give them a beatdown so vicious it would go down in the annals of history as the worst beating anyone had every received and still survived. But she couldn't. Not and accomplish her mission for the Powers. Saving the world still had to come first. But that didn't mean she was going to let them off the hook. At least the heat was off of her now.
Buffy knew she had blackmail material enough to counter anything that either cadet tried. She could force Merryman to abandon his plans to get her expelled. She could make Sher drop to his knees and kiss her feet, although, eeewwwww... Neither plan interested Buffy in the slightest. She wanted to see them both crash and burn. Nothing less would satisfy her. Nothing less would provide justice to all of those wronged by the two men.
Making her decision, Buffy quickly packed up the two footlockers. It was easy because the standardized layout was the same for all cadets. After doing one final survey with all her Slayer senses, Buffy closed the footlockers. Buffy looked over the room, decided everything was exactly where it should be. Then she heard a key in the lock to the room!
Buffy moved in a blur, turning off the light, then moving towards, then out, the window. Even as the door was opening, Buffy was carefully closing the window, trying to be quiet. She held her breath as a shadow passed in front of the blinds, which to her eyes were still moving slightly, but nothing else happened. No one opened the window and shouted, “Intruder!” Buffy was suitably grateful to Murphy for the non-application of his law. Then her left hand slipped off a spot of ice, while her right hand was already moving towards another handhold. One that she hadn't grabbed yet. Buffy abruptly fell the thirty feet to the bottom of the wall.
Buffy stared up at lighted windows above her. Ouch. She was lying on her back and her ass ached fiercely. Screw Murphy, Buffy thought murderously, then in a mercurial change of temper, laughed softly to herself. She'd been so focused on nothing going wrong, that of course it had. Luckily she'd fallen on a relatively thick layer of snow. It was freshly fallen enough that she only had bruises, although for at least a few hours the ones on her ass were likely to be particularly vivid. Getting up, Buffy rubbed that area of her anatomy, then moved out. She had to go grab her uniform and get dressed. She had to be in her room by lights out at 2230 hours. And before lights out, she wanted to discuss with Connie exactly what she'd found...
“Those mother goat fuckers,” Connie swore fiercely as she listened to Cali tell her tale of what she'd found. “I swear to God, Cali, those guys should be castrated. I mean, you hear stories. Someone knows someone else who's had been attacked. But to find out that those guys are doing this and making money
on it? They should be castrated. Maybe by hanging them from their balls until they are cut off? Hell, I'll pull on the rope.”
“Ewww, Connie, thanks for the visual. The less I think about either of those guys' balls, the less chance I'll barf. You know? So what do you think?”
Connie stared at her roommate. Cali looked a little less sure about herself than usual. Finding out about a ring of serial rapists and serial cheaters would take the stuffing out of anyone, Connie thought ruefully. Then she considered that Cali hadn't been phased by breaking into the Firsties' room. And exactly how had she been able to get in anyway? Maybe it was the sheer degree of their dishonesty. Or maybe not, Connie thought ruefully. She was definitely over-thinking this. Carefully, Connie stated, “Cali, I'm not sure what you're asking me. I mean I think we need to make those bastards pay. But as to how? I just don't know.”
Cali sighed. Her eyes took on a familiar look of focus and concentration as she concentrated on the task at hand. “That's been the weakest part of my plan. An anonymous tip might or might not get action. I'm thinking not. Or at least, not quickly enough to stop them from getting rid of the evidence. The Powers That Be don't want any scandals. It's the last thing they need from a public relations stand point. Screw them. I have a plan.”
Connie felt a sense of foreboding as she saw the dangerous look that appeared in Cali's eyes. Crap, she thought, Cali's going to do something crazy or dangerous. Or maybe both. “What's your plan?”
“I report what I saw to Colonel O'Neill, and then to the Zoo hierarchy.”
“Are you stoned? You can't report them. How are you going to explain being in their room?” Connie wanted to shake the smaller girl. Or would if she didn't know that Cali would put her over her knee and spank her. If she was lucky. She shivered as the dangerous smile of a tiger, who'd just made a kill, slowly curved Cali's soft lips. At times like this, Cali scared the crap out of Connie. There was something beyond dangerous about her at times like this. Partially sexual, it screamed “Predator!” A really scary predator.
Cali's eyes were hard as stone as she explained her plan. “I'm going to get into their room by hooking up with Sher.” As Connie's eyes widened in loathing, Cali's face screwed up into an expression of disgust. “Ewwww... I'm not going to sleep with him. But I need to be in their room legitimately. That's the only way to be able to report them without getting hammered flat myself. I can't let them get away with what their doing. They're shitting all over the Zoo and the Honor Code. But I'm also not going to get my career fubared to do it. So that's the only solution. Unless you have another idea?”
Connie considered what Cali had said. No, she didn't have another idea. Still, she didn't want to see Cali take risks like that. “Cali, I don't want you to take a chance like that. What if he drugs you? Then you're going to be another statistic. Or what if...”
Cali interrupted her. “Connie, I'm not going to be in any danger. Those losers don't scare me in the slightest.”
Connie hesitated. She knew that Cali probably wasn't in danger, but should she say so? Connie decided to take a chance to get closer to Cali. After a moment, she said, “Cali, look, I know that you're... different. You're special.” At the shocked look on the smaller girl's face, Connie grimaced. “Hey, I'm not stupid, you know. I have sharp eyes and a brain behind them. You do things that most people can't. The thing is, I don't care if you're a mutant or Satan's daughter. You don't have to tell me what's going on. I do hope one day that you'll trust me enough to tell me. That's all I'm asking, 'kay?”
Cali seemed lost in thought. After a moment, she said, “Connie, I can't tell you anything right now. I promise that I'll come clean one day. Although, I can promise you that I'm not a mutant or
Satan's daughter.” Cali's eyes were forthright as they met Connie's. The two girls stared into each other's eyes for a few moments, trying to read beyond the surface, then in unison both looked away. They had looked deeply into one another's souls and the vulnerabilities within had forced their disengagement. But not until they had an even stronger sense of one another than before. A deeper sense of respect and liking than before.
Deep enough for Connie to say what she felt, “Cali, I'll wait. I do trust you. More than anyone I know, other than my dad. You've been worthy of my trust and I know that's not going to change. But don't expect me to stop watching and thinking. If I figure out what's going on before you tell me...” Connie smiled as her voice trailed off. More than anything, she felt giddy with relief. She wasn't crazy. The world was a different place than it had been this morning. And, more importantly, she hadn't had her ass kicked by bringing up something that had to be as touchy a subject as there was for Cali. She felt confidant that one day soon, Cali would trust her with the truth about what was going on. Until then, she would trust her friend.
Cali's face seemed glow as she smiled in response to Connie's words. She looked absolutely stunning. For the first time, staring at that radiant face, Connie felt the faintest stir of desire for her roommate. Not that she was into women, but the attraction she felt went beyond gender to touch something deeper inside of her. Connie wouldn't act on it, even if she were gay. Not only would it be dangerous to both their careers, but ultimately she respected Cali too much to consider becoming involved with her that way. Dear friends, classmates, and ultimately, fellow officers, those would have to be enough. Decision made, Connie felt a sense of peace. Whatever happened, she would always remember this moment. The moment she truly joined her fate to Buffy Summers'.
Buffy stood near the entrance to Vandenberg Hall. It was late afternoon on the next day. Sheridan was a creature of habit and would likely be by within the next few minutes. Buffy was running a risk. She was risking being “stood to” just by being here. But if Sher saw her, Buffy figured she was safe. He was unlikely to put his chance with her in jeopardy by putting her through an inquisition. Then she saw him striding along.
As Sher grew nearer, Buffy pretended to just notice him. Buffy snapped to attention, her feet automatically finding the correct forty-five degree angle, her shoulders back, hands at her sides, her thumb along the where the crease of pants would be if she were wearing them.
“What are you doing here, smack? You know better than to be here.” Sheridan's voice was mildly scolding as he spoke to her.
“No excuse, sir!”
Sher's voice was droll as he said, “Can the Seven, Cadet Summers.” He referred to the seven basic responses that a smack was supposed to use in response to an upperclassman. He had a charming smile, which Buffy might have liked, if she didn't already have knowledge of what a scumbag he was inside.
“Sir?” Bingo! Buffy knew she had him. After all, anyone who would cheat on all of those tests, would certainly cheat on a bet even with a friend. Sher eyed her like he was thinking about where to take a nibble from.
“Surprised I know who you are? I've had my eye on you for some time. You've been very... impressive in what you've accomplished so far, Cadet. Very impressive.”
“Thank you, sir!”
Sher reached over and took Buffy's elbow, startling her. The last thing she had expected was for him to actually touch her. But then looking around, Buffy noticed they were the only two people here. The weather still sucked, so most cadets were in their rooms or at the library. That would change soon as dinner approached, but for now, they were alone.
“Uhh, sir?” Buffy decided playing the innocent would be the best way to lure the big, bad wolf and she was right.
“Let's get inside, Cadet. No need to stay out here and freeze. We can talk in private.”
By this time, they were already inside and moving towards the stairs. Sher gestured gallantly for Buffy to go first. At least it would be gallant if Buffy didn't know what Sher's real reason was for letting her go first: he wanted to stare at her ass as she walked up the steps ahead of him. Buffy made sure to put a little extra hip roll in her walk as she moved up the steps. Heels would have helped, but even without them, she was able to put on a show. It made her feel dirty and in need of a shower, but just thinking about what she'd seen in Sher's room kept her from contemplating stopping.
At the fourth floor, Sher opened the stairwell door for Buffy. Politely, he gestured for her to go ahead of him. Buffy walked down the hall. She would have walked right past his room if Sher again hadn't put his hand on her elbow, halting her. “My room's here, Cadet.”
“Your room, sir?” Buffy put a little squeak into her voice.
“Sure. It's the only place we can be alone to talk. Otherwise, we have to stick to the traditional methods of communication, when I would much rather avoid that.”
“That's fine with me, sir.” Buffy's voice was soft as she said the last. Just then someone came out of the room two doors down. Buffy saw the face of Gator, who did a double-take as he spotted them. All emotion was wiped off of his face as he stared at them a moment. Gator looked like he was about to speak, then stopped, turned around, and headed the other way down the hall.
“Go on in, Cadet.”
Obediently, Buffy walked into Sher's room. She heard the door close behind her and then the lock snicked shut. She was alone in his room with John Sheridan...
Sher couldn't believe his luck. He'd spotted Cadet Summers as she'd loitered in an area where she wasn't supposed to be, probably taking advantage of the weather to not have to worry about being busted. For a moment, he'd considered giving her hell. But that wouldn't have been in line with his goal of nailing the little bitch, so he'd held off. He was damned glad he'd done so, looking at the hot little thing standing in her uniform in his room.
Watching her walk up the stairs had made him conscious of just what a tight little ass Summers had. She had to have known he was staring and had put a little extra wiggle in her walk, not an easy thing in flats. But then she was one hell of an athlete.
Sher knew all about Summers' physical abilities. That had been almost as big a lure as her looks. The idea of that little energizer bunny riding him for hours was more than a little erotic. Sher wondered what expression she would have on her face as she came...
He realized he'd missed something she had said. Oh yeah, that was it. “Please, call me Sher. And I'll call you Buffy. Or do you prefer 'Cali?'”
She smiled a sweet smile. “Call me Cali... Sher.” Without being asked, Cali sat on his bed, crossing her legs, and looking up at him with big, innocent, green eyes.
Sher fairly salivated as he stared down at her. Cali leaned back onto her elbows. Her blouse was tight across her breasts. Her nipples were hard points, faintly visible through the material. Cali's skirt had ridden up slightly and Sher could see hints of her thighs. He knew from experience that those skirts could be easily hiked up. Sher contemplated doing exactly that, but decided to test the waters a little first. Sitting down next to her, Sher allowed his hand to rest on Cali's flat, taunt stomach.
Lightly rubbing, he watched Cali's face as her pupils dilated. Gotcha, he thought smugly. And he didn't even have to break out the happy juice. Almost casually, he rolled over on top of Cali and pressed her into the mattress, grinding against her thigh. Sher covered Cali's mouth with his.
She kissed him back for a moment, then pushed lightly with both hands on his chest. Sher wasn't going anywhere, and continued to devour her mouth. He had just cupped her breast, when she got her leg braced against his body and kicked out, tossing him up and off of her. Sher almost kept his feet, but stumbled to his knees.
Angry, he started to curse the little bitch, when he stopped, arrested. Cali's lips were soft and kissable. Her eyes were drowning deep, pupils enormous. Her chest heaved as she breathed deeply in and out, the first three buttons of her uniform blouse undone, showing a hint of cleavage. Damn, she was hot.
“I'm sorry, Sher, but I don't do that on the first date. And we haven't even had a date yet.”
The little bitch had the effrontery to actually flutter her eyelashes at him. Rather than make him mad, it just made Sher more determined to nail her. He thought, the harder the pursuit, the sweeter the reward at the end, remembering the way Cali had undulated her hips against his. Just staring at that sweet little pouty mouth made him want to...
Sher got a grip on himself. “So you want to go out with me?”
“Maybe. You haven't asked me yet.”
Amazing the ways girls made you jump through hoops. Sher decided then and there that he would take Cali out. Buy her dinner and then dose her. He would then spend the rest of the night enjoying himself with that hot little body. If he got the dose just right, she wouldn't even be completely out, but instead just loose enough to enjoy herself.
“Cali, would you go out with me Saturday night?”
Cali smiled mysteriously, before answering, “I would love to, Sher.”
“It's a date. How about we continue...”
“I have to go. My roommate's expecting me to meet her for dinner, then studying after. I'll see you soon though.”
Sher watched as Cali quickly fixed her uniform blouse, fastening the three buttons. With a quick wiggle, and smoothing of her uniform skirt, she was back to being the same attractive, together smack she'd been when he first saw her. Sher grabbed her before she made it to the door, giving her a quick kiss. Her heated response thrilled him, then she was gone, so quickly that he almost thought she had supernatural powers...
Buffy leaned against the wall outside Sher's room for a moment. She almost vomited right then and there. Never in her worst nightmares had she imagined how hard it was going to be to play her part. Now she knew. That knowledge curdled her stomach like acid. Buffy desperately needed a shower to wash off Sher's touch. And to get out of here before he came out of his room. Hurriedly, she stumbled away down the hall, heading for the north staircase, the one opposite where she'd come upstairs.
On her way down the stairs, Buffy almost ran into Gator. Buffy came to attention, even though she had to back up a step to the landing above her. She was aware of the angry expression that Gator wore. He did not speak however. Finally, after a long pause, Gator said, “Ca... Cadet Summers, it is against regulations for you to be fraternizing with another cadet in his room. Especially a first-class cadet. What do you have to say for yourself?”
“No excuse, sir!”
“That's not good enough, smack.” He paused, then, “Dammit, Cali! I'm only going to say this once. John Sheridan's bad news. I do not want you anywhere near him. Do. You. Understand?”
“Yes, sir! I understand, sir!”
Dark, angry eyes stared into quiet, green ones. After a moment, Gator's tension seemed to ease and his eyes softened. “Did anything happen, cadet? While you were in his room?”
“Can the Seven, Cali. Did Sheridan do anything to you?”
“No, he didn't, Ga... sir. He didn't do anything. Please don't worry. I won't be seeing him again. I promise.” Buffy somehow kept from crossing her heart, but it wasn't easy. She'd wondered at one point a couple of months ago if a certain Randolph 'Gator' Pierson liked her, as in a boy-girl way. He'd never given any overt sign of it, but at the same time, there had been something about the way he'd watched her...
Now, she was sure. If it was one thing that Buffy understood, it was boys. Just as she'd known how to play Sher, she knew that Gator was attracted to her. He had that
look on his face. Slightly sappy, slightly befuddled, it told her more about the way he felt than if he just declared it. Her life was complicated enough without adding dating an upperclassman to it, especially a Firstie. One who would graduate in a few months, entering the Air Force as an officer, while Buffy stayed in school for another three years. Still there was something about those dark blue eyes of his...
Gator stared at Cali's face. She looked flushed and embarrassed, yet she was still the prettiest girl at the Zoo. The first time he'd seen her, joining their Advanced Unarmed Combat Class, he'd been struck by just how attractive she was. Now, staring into her face just a few inches away, Gator realized she was beautiful. Without eye make up or even lipstick, Cali Summers was beautiful. There was a quality about her, an inner strength and charisma that surrounded her, that made her seem larger than life. It was that larger than life quality that made Gator do a double-take every time he realized just how small Cali was. There was a delicacy to the bones in her face and body that made look frail and dainty. Of course from sparring with Cali, Gator knew she was anything but that. Watching her toss the Captain around had been shocking, but even more so had been seeing just how good she was as she helped teach the class over the next couple of months.
Cali was the best martial artist Gator had ever seen. And he included those grainy black and white reels featuring Bruce Lee and others that he'd watched back in high school in Ft. Lauderdale. She moved like some kind of dream, elegant and graceful, power in every move. His old teacher had moved something like her, but even Master Notei hadn't Cali's perfect grace, despite teaching and practicing Shotakan Karate for over fifty years. How did an eighteen-year-old girl have so much ability? Gator knew that Captain Billings had some of the same questions, not that he would discuss them even with a Firstie. Still, it had been obvious from his puzzled expression when Gator had seen him watching Cali demonstrate some particularly difficult move to another cadet.
It wasn't just her looks and ability that Gator found attractive. It was her generosity of spirit, the way she went out of her way to help others. She'd found and corrected so many errors in his and the others students' forms, that it had been embarrassing. Or it would have been with anyone else doing it. Somehow with a quick word and a smile, Cali made her corrections painless. She'd even got through to Mr. Prickly-pants himself, Roy Williams, and gotten him to correct that damn kick. Gator considered that nothing short of a miracle.
Her match with the marine was going to be the stuff of legends. Gator had known just how good Joe Wilson was when he got his ass handed to him in the finals. He hit hard, fast, and accurately, making him a dangerous foe. Gator scored exactly no points against him, although he would have gotten a penalty point if the ref had seen Joe foul him.
Then Cali had gone after him. For a moment, watching her pound Joe, Gator hadn't even been worried. He knew
just how good Cali was. But then she'd slipped and Joe had hurt her, at first Gator had thought badly, although it had turned out to be just bruised ribs. He'd been worried as she got back up and closed with the jarhead. Cali had gone on to school Wilson in why messing with her was such a bad idea. She'd kicked his ass big time. The Air Force might have come in second in the overall standings to the Marines, but they'd won a moral victory by having their winner in the Female 105 lb Class kick Wilson's ass.
Afterwards, watching Cali standing around in her sports bra getting checked out by Captain Billings, Joe had felt powerfully attracted to her. He felt vaguely ashamed that the sight of her dressed skimpily could cause him to feel that way. She was hurt after all. The last thing she needed was to have him lusting after her when she really needed to see a doctor. It had caused him to avoid her for a little while right after the match, but eventually he'd gotten over it.
Gator had even imagined asking her out. It was against regs for a first-class cadet to date a smack, but as long as they didn't make it too obvious, it would get overlooked. It would have been different if she were a grade higher, since that was allowed. However, it was fortunate they weren't in the same squadron or it would have been even harder since they would have been looked at more closely. Being in different squadrons, they could pretend to be just friends while secretly dating.
Thinking about what he'd seen made Gator angry all over again. John Sheridan was a low-life shit-heel. Gator couldn't prove it, but he'd heard too many rumors of the things he had done to other female cadets, many of them smacks, like Cali. Sher's accomplice, Lloyd Merryman was even worse. Gator thought both of them should be kicked out of the Zoo, but that wasn't his call.
Seeing Buffy about to go into Sher's room with him, watching him with his hands on her, had almost made Gator head over and beat the crap out of Sheridan. The only thing that had stopped him was that Cali, out of all the girls he knew, was most able to take care of herself. If Sheridan tried anything unwelcome, she would bounce him around the room like a rubber ball. The thing that really caused his guts to clench was the idea that maybe if Sheridan tried anything, it wouldn't be unwelcome.
Staring down into her gorgeous face, meeting those big, green eyes, Gator was convinced that Cali wouldn't spend any more time with Sheridan. She had looked slightly nauseous when he'd first seen her just now and worriedly, Gator had wondered if she'd drank anything while she was in Sheridan's room. He wouldn't put it past the bastard to...
Flushing, he realized that he had been staring directly into Cali's eyes for a while now. She was on the landing, two steps above him, which put them at exactly eye level. And she'd said something else, but he had no idea what. Amusement had crept into her eyes.
Dammit! She was still a smack and he couldn't allow her to be amused at his expense. But at the same time, Gator had no patience right now with the games the Zoo played on its inhabitants. He didn't feel like busting Cali's chops. So he did the next best thing. Looking to make sure no one was around, Gator pulled Cali to him and kissed her.
Ooookayyy, she hadn't expected that. Being kissed by Gator was light years better than being kissed by Sher. Instead of disgust, Buffy felt desire. Instead of dirty, Buffy felt heat burning through her. God, he was a good kisser. His tongue lightly teased her bottom lip and helplessly Buffy opened her mouth fully. She never even contemplated pushing him back. When Gator finally stepped back, a smug expression on his face, Buffy had to grab the railing to stay upright. She hadn't been that weak-kneed from a kiss since the first time she'd kissed Angel. Not even thinking about her dead lover could dim this moment, though. Buffy tried to gather her thoughts, failed, and then finally got out, “What was that all about?”
“I've been wanting to kiss you for a while now. I was just looking for the right time.”
Gator's simple statement shocked Buffy into speechlessness. She stared at his calm, contented expression. After a moment of her staring, Gator said, “Get to your room, Cali. We'll talk about this later. And no hanging around John Sheridan. Got it?”
With that, Gator moved past Buffy up the steps, leaving her alone. Wow, Buffy thought. That was some kiss. I wonder if I should tell Connie? Then Buffy realized that she needed to get back to her task at hand, namely talking to Colonel O'Neill and then the Powers That Be here at the Zoo. Buffy hoped that everything went as planned...