A/N: Sorry it's taking me so long, but here's the part of the series that I think everyone has been waiting for: How the heck did Eshe become Buffy, Cheerleader Extraordinaire? Well, let's explore this, shall we?
For new readers: I HIGHLY suggest reading the other stories in the series before reading this one -- it won't make sense without some background information.
Disclaimer: The only thing I gain from writing this (or any) fanfic is experience.
Betsy groaned and rolled over, pulling the blankets over her head.
“Mom?” The voice was more insistent. Closer, too. Then a hand was on her shoulder, shaking.
“Go away,” said Betsy. Or at least that’s what she tried to say. It came out closer to “Gmph.”
“Mom, my tummy hurts and I’m bleeding. I think my period started.”
Betsy was awake now. She sat up and fumbled for the bedside lamp. The soft orange light hit the pale face of her eleven year old daughter, and Betsy felt a stab of pain through her own stomach. She had thought they had at least another year, maybe even two. She resisted the overwhelming urge to burst into tears. Instead, she smiled, pulling her daughter into a tight embrace.
“Congratulations, sweetheart,” said Betsy. “You’re a woman now.”
“I don’t want to die,” said Joy, sounding lost. Betsy stiffened at the unexpected vocalization of her own fears.
“You are not going to die from this,” she said, trying to be reassuring. “Every woman gets a period.”
“But… never mind,” mumbled Joy as she buried her face in Betsy’s shoulder. Betsy pulled away to meet her daughter’s frightened gaze.
“But what?” she asked as gently as she could manage in her own heightened state of agitation and sorrow.
“Your daughters never survive their period,” whispered Joy. “They all die within a few years.”
Betsy drew a quick breath, shutting her eyes against an onslaught of memory. “Who told you that?” It came out weaker than she intended.
Betsy jerked in surprise. She hadn’t expected Darius
of all people to tell Joy about her fate.
“He didn’t mean to,” Joy added, anxious for her uncle despite her own fear. “I asked why I never heard about sisters, only brothers. Uncle Darius said it was because you only had three daughters, and they all died very young.”
“They did,” murmured Betsy, stroking Joy’s long blonde hair. “They did, but you won’t.” She didn’t know how she could accomplish that promise, but she would do it.
Eshe would not loose another baby girl to the supernatural.
Three daughters sacrificed at that altar were more than enough. The Powers could screw themselves on this one. There would be consequences, of course, but Betsy didn’t care. She had dealt with Their sick humor before and she could do it again. But she would
watch her daughter grow old and die a natural death.
“Really?” Joy was so trusting.
“Really,” said Betsy. They were silent for a minute, and then Betsy took a deep breath and pulled away. “Well,” she said, “Let’s get you all settled.” She swung her legs out of bed and slipped her feet into her house shoes. Holding her daughter’s hand, she led little Rejoice Miranda into the bathroom, chattering all the way.
It was easy to locate the current Slayer and even easier to go to her. Ever since the invention of the airplane and the Swiss Bank Account, Betsy hadn’t had to worry about getting to a Slayer in need.
She sent Joy to stay with Darius in Paris, never minding that the priest was hardly prepared to take in a child. He had told Joy about the fate of Eshe’s daughters, so he deserved to squirm a little. Besides, Betsy knew quite well that he would take good care of her little girl, prepared or not.
Joy was looking forward to the trip. It would be her first trip to Paris on her own, and she thought it was a grand adventure. She was a woman now, after all. Betsy put Joy on the plane to France, with strict instructions to the stewardess to watch out for her girl. Then she got on her own plane to California. Los Angeles, to be precise.
It was time to deal with the devil.
Gertrude Walsh was not a Council Brat.
It was rare even in this day and age that the Council would miss the future Slayer, but Betsy wasn’t about to complain because it made her job a whole lot easier. Still, she felt sorry for the girl who was forced to fight alone. If it hadn’t been for Joy, Betsy would have joined the Slayer three months ago when she was called. As it was, Betsy was impressed that the girl had made it so far without help.
And the Council still hadn’t retrieved her.
Betsy found Gertrude in an alley, taking the wallets from vampires as she dusted them.
The night air was cool enough that Trudy was comfortable in her jacket. Which was good. Her new pastime tended to leave spectacular bruises, and the last thing she needed was some cop picking her up because she looked like she was in trouble. She had to dispose of tonight’s wallets first.
Trudy was paging through the first wallet when a voice made her jump.
“Pragmatic,” said the little blonde with a cocky smile. Trudy hadn’t even heard her coming. Had she seen the action? Had she known they were vampires? She must’ve – she looked entirely too comfortable with the robbery otherwise.
“Who are you?” the Slayer snapped irritably, falling into a defensive stance.
The blonde pushed away from the wall and stood tall – or, as tall as she was able, considering how vertically challenged she was.
“Your sister,” she said with a smile.
Trudy’s face stilled. “My sister is dead,” she replied. Then she attacked.
The blonde was fast. Amazingly so. She dodged Trudy’s right hook with a lazy grace that infuriated the Slayer. Who was this girl? What
was she? Not a vampire, the Slayer knew that much. And yet she was faster than any vampire that Trudy had ever had the good fortune of dusting. Stronger, too, Trudy thought with a grunt of pain as a tiny fist buried itself deep in her stomach. The attack was followed by a knee to the chin while Trudy was still doubled over in pain. The Slayer reeled back and her opponent took advantage of her momentary disorientation to slam her up against the dumpster.
“That was fun,” the blonde grinned. She stepped back and tucked her hair behind her ears. Trudy stared, struggling to catch her breath. The blonde wasn’t even winded.
“Fun?” Trudy repeated, hiding her fear behind a bad attitude.
“Yep,” chirped the blonde as she rubbed at an imaginary dirt spot on her pink sweater. “It’s been awhile since I’ve done anything more strenuous than teach my daughter self defense. Woefully rusty, I’m afraid. I apologize that I’m not in better shape,” she added with what sounded like genuine regret.
“Right,” sneered Trudy. She was almost recovered from that last attack, and was currently debating whether or not she should run for it. On the one hand, she probably
wouldn’t get far if the blonde really wanted to catch her. On the other, she definitely
couldn’t take the blonde in a fair fight.
The blonde’s smile was annoying in its warmth. “Grab those wallets,” she said, finally satisfied that she looked fit to be seen in public. “Collect your winnings, and then we’re heading to dinner. My treat.”
Trudy put effort into looking nonchalant, but at the word ‘dinner,’ her stomach tossed in its strong – loud – opinion in favor of trusting the blonde. She blushed, but continued to scowl.
“I eat a lot,” she said.
Trudy’s foster parents gave her a hard time about her suddenly increased calorie intake. They didn’t want to pay for the extra food, and her foster father continually made comments about being careful about her weight – that she couldn’t afford any extra pounds. Trudy was extremely self-conscious about how much she ate, and yet, ever since she started eating a lot and killing vampires, she had been in the best shape of her life.
“I know,” the blonde shrugged, calling Trudy back to the present. “I do too. Come on, there’s a place nearby that sells steak. I’ve heard they’re good.”
A burger, Trudy might have turned down. A steak dinner, on the other hand…
Ten minutes later, they were seated at a table with their menus spread wide. Trudy kept glancing over at the little blonde who had finally introduced herself as “Elisabeth, but you can call me Betsy.” She looked about Trudy’s age, though she was a good foot shorter and definitely didn’t dress like a teenager. She was wearing pearls and a starched floral skirt, for goodness sake!
“Order whatever you’d like,” Betsy invited, glancing up from her menu. “Money isn’t an issue. I’m trying to buy your trust – it’s practically your duty to extort me.”
Trudy gaped at the blunt admission, but Betsy had refocused her attention on the menu with startling intensity. After another second of open mouth staring, Trudy turned her attention back to her own menu. After all, Betsy was absolutely right: it was Gertrude’s duty to get as much as possible from this woman while giving away as little as possible.
“So, Trudy – may I call you Trudy?” asked Betsy as she snapped her menu shut.
“I prefer Gertrude,” said Trudy. And how did the blonde know her name? She definitely hadn’t given that part away.
“Ok,” said Betsy with a warm smile. “So, Gertrude, you are 16. You live on the streets – alone, not part of a gang – and you survive by robbing the dead.” Trudy opened her mouth to protest, but Betsy waved her away. “Living dead, granted. And it isn’t like dusted corpses can actually use the money. They probably stole it in the first place.”
Trudy nodded at this vocalization of her own rationalization. She usually took it one step further, justifying her actions as a way to help keep the economy going, but Betsy had covered the gist of it.
“And it’s not like the Slayer gets a paycheck.”
Trudy’s eyes narrowed. While she wasn’t at all surprised that this demon savvy person knew she was the Slayer, it still raised the question how the blonde even knew about the supernatural in the first place – not to mention how she knew the particulars of Trudy’s life. Trudy could only assume that Betsy was some kind of demon, especially given her earlier display of strength. But what kind of demon revealed itself – knowingly
– to the Slayer? And then took its natural enemy out to dinner?
“Are you on drugs?” asked Trudy, frowning in confusion. “Demons and drugs don’t mix well, you know.”
Betsy smiled. “I’m not on drugs. Nor am I a demon.”
“Are you sure? Because no self respecting demon—”
“I’m not a demon. Hello,” Betsy added to the waiter, who was eyeing them both oddly. “I’ll take the 24 oz rib steak with mashed potatoes, and an 8 oz prime rib with the house marinade. What kind of soup do you have?”
“French onion, beef noodle, vegetable curry, clam—”
“I’ll take the vegetable curry soup as my appetizer, and a coke. Diet,” she added as an afterthought.
“I’ll have the same,” said Trudy, “except I want a 16 oz prime rib and beef noodle soup instead of vegie.”
The waiter stared. “Er,” he said, “two
24 oz rib steaks and two
“Is that a problem?” asked Betsy, quirking an eyebrow.
“Er, no. No, of course not. I’ll be right back with your drinks.”
Trudy watched him go, then turned to face Betsy. “Alright, now what? You say you’re not a demon – not that I believe you, mind – but you know a fucking lot about me. So what the hell do you want?”
“I want you to live for another 30 years.”
“Excuse me?” Trudy was taken aback. Whatever she had expected, that definitely wasn’t it.
“I want you to live,” Betsy repeated slowly and intensely. “I want you to graduate, have kids, get old.”
“You do realize that Slayers don’t get to do that stuff, right?”
A shadow passed across Betsy’s face and for the first time, Trudy recognized that this woman wore her cheerfulness like a well-made disguise. Underneath the exterior attitude was a woman as cold and dangerous as anything Trudy had ever come across.
“I know,” said Betsy in a voice like cold steel. “Trust me, I know.” And then the shadow passed, and a sunny smile spread across the painted pink lips. “But we’re going to fix that, you and me.”
And Trudy couldn't help but believe her.