Sunday had passed quietly, but the events of the previous night cast a dark shadow over the pub. Tina had spent most of the day sitting at Alice’s bedside; it was at about midday when she finally woke up.
“Hi there slug-a-bed.” Tina smiled down at her girlfriend as her eyes slowly opened.
“What happened,” Alice croaked, “Feels like someone hit me with a sledgehammer.”
Tina held a glass of water as Alice sucked up the liquid through a plastic straw. Finishing with the drink she lay back on the pillow.
“Some arsehole shot you.” Tina gave Alice the short version of the previous night events.
“What?” A puzzled frown came to Alice’s face, “Why’d they do that?”
“Probably thought you were a dangerous terrorist.” Tina noticed how the younger girl seemed to be improving even as she spoke, must be her Slayer healing coming into play. “Not content to shot you just the once they did it twice.”
“Bastards!” Muttered Alice darkly, “Now I suppose I won’t be able to wear revealing tops anymore.”
“Don’t worry,” Alice must be getting better thought Tina, if she was worried about whether she would be able to expose her midriff to the world. “I’ll teach you that glamour that Miss Willow taught me to cover up my old shotgun wound.”
“Least you only got shot with rock salt.” Alice complained.
“It bloody-well hurt!” Exclaimed Tina bitterly.
“Huh!” Alice rolled her eyes, “They shot me with proper bullets…stands to reason it hurt more than salt.”
“From what I heard you passed out,” Tina shot back, “I was awake all the time…even when Miss Willow was picking the stuff outta me!”
“Oh you big softy!” Alice stuck her tongue out and made a rude noise, “When do you think they’ll let me go home?”
Early in the afternoon Trish arrived with a big bunch of flowers and a half eaten bag of grapes to take over from Tina, telling her that she was needed back at the pub by Mrs Fitzsimons. It took Trish several minutes to convince Tina that she should go, finally convincing her by pointing out that Alice was asleep and she would likely be sent home the next day as the hospital wouldn’t want is room wreaked by a bored Slayer. Reluctantly Tina kissed Alice on the forehead and headed back to the pub to see what Mrs Fitzsimons wanted.
Later that evening, just after dark, Mrs Fitzsimons and Tina sat next to one another in the back of a Black Cab headed north towards the Kings Cross area. Although the window to the driver’s compartment was closed, the two women spoke in soft tones only another Slayer would hear.
“I’m very proud of you Tina,” Mrs Fitzsimons patted Tina on the leg, “The way you’ve dealt with this shows great maturity.” Silvia smiled at Tina’s puzzled face, “You didn’t rush off and try to kill the dickhead that shot your girlfriend for one thing.”
“Should have.” Tina replied shortly, “Should have taken his head off there and then.”
“And got yourself shot down.” Silvia explained quietly, “How do you think that would have made Alice feel?”
“Yeah,” Tina agreed after a short pause, “S’pose you’re right.”
“Of course I’m right.” Mrs Fitzsimons looked out of the cab’s window and then knocked on the driver’s partition, “You can drop us here please.”
The Slayers got out of the cab, Silvia paid the fare, and then they stood and watched as the cab drove off into the night. Tina found herself standing in one of the ‘regenerated’ areas of Kings Cross. This particular section had, until recently, been the haunt of hookers, junkies and down-n-outs. Then someone had come up with a load of cash and decided to make more by ‘gentrifying’ the area. Now it was a home to arty little shops and comfortable flats aimed at the ‘young professional’; who not so long ago would not have been seen dead anywhere near the area.
“What are we doing here?” Tina looked around, taking in all the refurbished Victorian and Edwardian town houses.
“We’ve come to visit the man who shot your Alice.” Silvia led the way along the pavement.
“WHAT!” Tina skidded to a sudden halt.
Silvia stopped and turned to look at her charge and smiled one of the most wicked smiles Tina had ever seen; “We’re going to explain the error of his ways to him.” She explained.
“But…but…!” Stuttered Tina as she ran to catch up to Mrs Fitzsimons who continued to walk briskly along the street.
“But ‘we don’t Slay humans’” Quoted Mrs F, “Silly rule.” She added.
“We can’t just…y’know…we can’t!” Tina thought about this for a moment; this was something she could imagine Kennedy doing, even so it all seemed a little cold-blooded.
“Who says we can’t?” Asked Mrs F.
“Miss Summers always said we shouldn’t…” Tina’s voice petered out, when you thought about it, it was a silly rule; hadn’t she been willing to take down the bastard right there and then after it had happened?
“It might have escaped your notice, but Buffy Summers ain’t ‘ere.” Silvia pointed out, “I’m in charge ‘ere, properly voted into office an’all.” Then in a quieter voice, “Which is more than can be said for little Miss Buffy ‘god almighty’ Summers!”
Tina had never heard anybody talk about Buffy like this, not even Faith or Kennedy and certainly not Miss Willow.
“Don’t worry we’re not going to kill anyone or injure them…well not much.” Silvia stopped and looked up at a large converted Victorian house, “But someone hurt one of my girls, so someone’s going to pay.” She led the way towards the front door.
The building had at least five floors and looked as if it had once been a block of Victorian gentlemen’s apartments. Nowadays it did duty as a block of very expensive looking flats. Mrs Fitzsimons marched up to the front door to find it was secured by an electronic lock, she pulled at the door but it would not budge.
After a few moments of fruitless effort she ripped the cover panel from the lock and pulled out all the wires she could find. There were a few ‘hisses’ and sparks as the lock shorted out. She tried the door again; but it still would not budge. Letting out an exasperated sigh she grabbed hold of the door handle and pulled…hard. With a ‘snap’ of breaking metal and the splintering wood the door gave up the unequal struggle. Walking into the lobby behind the door she took a folded piece of paper from her jeans pocket checked the address.
“Oh good,” She pointed at a fire escape, “He lives on the first floor.”
Tina followed Silvia as she sprinted up the stairs to the first floor (as it is called in England). They paused at the top of the stairs before going out onto the landing and looking for the target flat.
“Just follow my lead,” Silvia spoke quickly and quietly, “Just do what I tell you.”
The two women walked out onto the landing, then after a short pause to get their bearings they headed towards one particular door. Mrs Fitzsimons studied the door for a moment then stepped back and lifted her leg; she gave it a hefty kick and watched as the door flew off its hinges to land on the floor inside the flat.
Tina giggled to herself as she remembered Kennedy’s oft repeated cry of ‘Knock-knock, Slayer calling!’ Remembering where and why she here she wiped the smile off her face and set her lips in a grim line. The door opened onto the flat’s main living area, there was a small open plan kitchen to the left; and in the far corner on the left a short flight of stairs leading to a corridor and the rest of the flat.
Adam Carter was sitting on a sofa with his arm around the shoulder of an attractive young woman. He stood up in shock as the two women burst into his home.
“JENNY! GET…!” He shouted but was quickly silenced as Mrs Fitzsimons crossed the room and threw him against the far wall. The girl, Jenny, struck out at Silvia who easily blocked the clumsy blow. She held Jenny tightly by the arms and pushed her towards Tina.
“Lock her in the bedroom or something.” Silvia held Carter against the wall.
Tina quickly put the girl into an arm-lock and pushed her towards the corridor at the back of the room. As she bundled the struggling woman along a small boy aged about nine made an unexpected appearance.
“And the kid!” Silvia threw Carter against the opposite wall.
Tina continued to hold the woman with one hand and grabbed the boy with the other. She was beginning not to like this, she hadn’t expected there to be any children. She’d not considered that the man who had shot Alice might have a family. But Alice was her family and she wasn’t much more than a child herself despite all the Slayer bravado. Tina pushed these thoughts aside and continued to drag the woman and the boy kicking and screaming into the master bedroom.
After pushing them roughly into the bedroom and quickly checking for phones Tina shut the door. Finding the door had no lock she pulled on the handle and heard the frame splinter. Pushing against the now jammed door she turned and went to rejoin Mrs F in the living room.
After several painful minutes Adam Carter found himself being held up against the wall of his now wrecked flat; fighting for breath as the woman held him by the throat with one hand.
“Do you believe I could have killed you?” Asked Mrs Fitzsimons.
Carter nodded his head weakly. “Why?” He croaked.
“You nearly killed one of my girls,” Explained Silvia, “That can’t go unanswered…it sorta ‘transgresses the unwritten law’ see?”
Carter did not see but he nodded his head in agreement anyway.
“This is your first an’ final warning.” Silvia put a little more pressure on Carter’s throat, “Come near me or mine again and you’re dead, understand?”
This Carter could understand so he nodded again.
“I don’t know what rules you work under that give’s you the right to think you can go ‘round shootin’ teenage girls, when they’re just doing their job. But let me tell you,” Mrs Fitzsimons brought her face up to Carter’s as he dangled six inches off the floor, “You’re working under my rules now! Get it? My rules…big girl’s rules.” She laughed mirthlessly.
She let Carter fall to the floor where he lay in a heap gasping for air and rubbing his throat.
“Come on luv,” Silvia turned towards the ruined front door, “We’re going.”
Tina walked over to where Carter lay and kicked him in the ribs, twice, once for each time Alice had been shot, she smiled as she heard the bone break. Turning she jogged over to join Mrs Fitzsimons by the door. Before they left Silvia looked down to where Carter lay groaning on the floor.
“Remember,” She said pointing at the man, “ My rules now.”
Silvia walked briskly away from the flats with Tina following a couple of paces behind her, she stopped for a moment to let Tina catch up.
“I know it doesn’t make up for what happened to your Alice,” Silvia started to walk again as Tina drew level with her, “But a message had to be sent. These Government types with their guns an’ stuff need to be more careful who they shoot. You alright with that?”
Tina thought for a moment before answering, she nodded her head. Was she alright with it? Had her world got to a point where she had to fight the people she was supposed to be protecting as well as the monsters that preyed on them? If it had why should she even bother anymore. Why not just take Alice and disappear? Let everyone fight it out by themselves and forget about it all.
“Yeah…I think so.” Tina replied eventually, “I need to think about everything, y’know?”
Mrs Fitzsimons didn’t appear to be listening, she seemed to have drifted off to some other time and place
“It was how I was brought up. Now if Bert was still alive…” Silvia smiled at the memory of what her husband would have done. “ ‘e’s dead now of course…maybe one day I’ll tell you all about ‘im.”
Tina knew when to shut up, which is what she did now; the two women walked along in companionable silence for a minute or two.
“Pizza?” Asked Mrs F.
“Yeah,” Tina admitted to herself that she did feel hungry, “Why not?”
“My treat.” Replied Silvia.
“I can’t condone what you did,” Giles sat across the room from Silvia in the Staff Lounge at the Slaughtered Lamb, “But I can understand why you did it.” He looked down and studied the contents of his tea cup.
“It had to be done.” Silvia replied simply, “Y’know I don’t actually like doing things like that? It just had to be done.”
Giles nodded his head, somehow he didn’t truly believe the woman. It was a pity, he really hoped there would be no repeat of this sort of behaviour. He could ignore it once, but if he found out that this sort of thing was a regular occurrence he’d have to take official notice.
He didn’t like the way Silvia Fitzsimons was so ‘cosy’ with the authorities. They were planning on moving the entire Slayer organisation back to Britain now the political situation in the States was likely to interfere with their work. He didn’t like the idea that any government had influence over the Slayers. It would all have to wait for now, the situation would need to be watched closely. He wondered who he could entrust with the job…maybe he should bring Faith and Xander over.
“Well, anyway,” Giles sipped his tea, “I’ve decided to stay over here for awhile.” He noted the look of dismay that passed fleetingly across Mrs Fitzsimons face, he pretended to misunderstand its reason, “Don’t worry I’ll be moving out of the pub,” He smiled disarmingly, “Rachael can have her room back in a couple of days…I found a flat that was owned by the old Council. It’s been locked up for a few years but I should be able to make it comfortable.”
“And-and what will you be doing while you’re over here?” Silvia tried to keep the desperation from her voice, this could ruin everything.
“Oh most of the time I’ll be looking for a new headquarters,” Giles replied nonchalantly, “And there’s still things that need clearing up from the old days.” Giles smiled again, “And you’ve been saying how you need Guardians and Watchers.”
“Yes,” Silvia groaned inwardly, “Yes I have haven’t I?”
That night as Silvia slept she dreamed again. This was her ‘Being Hit by a Bus’ dream, she always got it when things weren’t going as she had planned them. It had been her own silly fault she admitted, she should have looked both ways before crossing the road.
She had started to cross at the junction, and then looked up to see the huge red bus bearing down on her. She felt the bones in her arm break, and then she was flying through the air as she bounced off the front of the bus. Landing on the road she broke her collar bone, and then skidded along the pavement until her head hit the metal post of a road sign which fractured her skull driving pieces of bone into her brain. She was dead, she’d been sure of it this time. She always woke up from her dream just as she’d woken up in the ward at the hospital.
“Sixteen again,” She muttered, “Always sixteen.”
After looking at her bedside clock Silvia Fitzsimons turned over and went back to sleep, this time she dreamt of stabbing vampires and killing demons.