2 - Alarums and excursions
_Buffy the Vampire Slayer_ isn't mine. Neither is _Early Edition_. Please do not sue. Trust me, it's not worth your time.
PG-13 for violence, mild swearing
Chapter 2 - Alarums and Excursions
People were milling about, exclaiming, yelling and, in general, being of no practical help at all. Gary thought it would be a good time for him to fade into the background. Before he could make his getaway, he heard cries of "Willow, oh my God." and "Pardon, pardon us please."
A blonde teenager pushed her way through the ring of people and dashed over to them. She pulled the red haired girl off of Gary and hugged her.
"Oh God, Willow, we could see it coming, and...," the blonde noticed how pale the red haired girl, Willow was. "Come on over here and sit down." The blonde led Willow to the side of the road and sat her down on the curb.
"Buffy, I never saw it coming, and all of sudden there was this guy, and, and,"
The blonde pushed the red haired girl's head down. "Breathe, Willow, breathe."
"OK, good idea, stop babbling now." said Willow, her voice muffled.
Before Gary could get up, a man appeared before him. The guy was middle-aged, curling brown hair shot with gray. On the lapel of his jacket was a red and yellow badge that read, "Sunnydale High - Faculty." He offered a hand to Gary.
Gary grabbed it and let the man haul him to his feet. He made a face as a number of his muscles let him know that they were very unhappy about this morning's adventure. The man turned for a moment. He shrugged off his tweed jacket and tossed it to the blonde girl. In turn, she draped it around the shoulders of the red head.
"We could see the van, but we were too far away," started the stranger. His accent was educated, British. In his excitement, he also had a bit of a stammer. "It all happened so fast, and if you hadn't been there, well, well." He shied away from stating the horribly obvious. "Thank you very, very much," he concluded. He shook Gary's hand vigorously. "Oh, manners, yes. I'm Rupert Giles, and you are?"
From the curb, the blonde rewarded him with a dazzling smile. The two girls had been joined by a short teenage boy with green hair, who had his arm wrapped protectively around the red head's shoulder. "Hey," he said. "Thanks."
It was very nice to be thanked, thought Gary, but he didn't have time for formal introductions. It was time for him to get going. The police would be here soon, and he knew several members of the Chicago police department were very suspicious of his presence at so many near-disasters. No need to add another incident to their files.
"Hey, I'm just glad she's ok. If you don't mind, I really have to...," Gary started. He didn't get to finish his sentence. Behind him came the horrible sound of metal screeching on metal. The driver's side door of the van had popped open. A very large man stumbled out of the vehicle. He glowered at his van, and then at Gary.
Gary remembered the rest of the article. It has said that the driver, who had received only minor injuries, was 'allegedly' drunk. As he watched the man stagger towards them, he thought "No allegedly about it."
"Look what happened to my van." he yelled belligerently at Gary. "Why you get in my way?" The fumes of alcohol coming off the guy actually managed to overcome the traffic exhaust fumes. This was the last think Gary needed. The drunk raised one ham-like arm, obviously planning on taking his frustration out on Gary. "I really, really don't want to fight this guy," thought Gary. "I bet I could outrun him."
Before he could move, the Englishman had interposed himself between the drunk and Gary. All the warmth had gone out of his expression, and his voice was as cold as a Chicago January.
"Instead of attacking this man," said the Englishman, "you should be thanking him for saving you from a charge of vehicular homicide." Gary noticed that Mr. Gile's stutter had disappeared.
"Keep outta this," snarled the drunk. The little blonde teen (Buffy, had Gary heard the name right?) was there, glaring up at the man. "Listen you jerk," she began. Willow grabbed Buffy's arm. Despite the traffic noise, Gary could hear Willow's whispered words. "Buffy, big, big audience. Better let Giles handle this one." What in heaven's name did that tiny little blonde think she was going to do wondered Gary.
Running a bar gave Gary a fair amount of experience with drunks. This guy was looking for a fight, and he wasn't going to be diverted. Gary couldn't allow this over-sized idiot to slug a middle-aged school teacher. The drunk started to swing at the annoying foreigner in his way. Before Gary could move, there was a flurry of movement, and Mr. Giles had the larger man pinned face-first against the van. He had the drunk's right arm twisted up behind the drunk's back in what looked to be a very uncomfortable angle.
Mr. Gile's voice was low, hard, and his accent lost some of its polish. "You bloody pillock, I've had about enough of you."
"Ow, you're breaking my arm," yelled the drunk.
The Englishman's voice dropped even lower, so low Gary could barely hear the next words. "I assure you," he said coldly, "that if any harm had befallen Miss Rosenberg, a broken arm would be the least of your worries." He twisted the drunk's arm a little more, and the man yelped in pain.
"Move over, move over. Outta the way." Gary caught the sight of policemen pushing their way through the crowd. Buffy went over to the Englishman and said, "Giles, cops. I'd like to trash the creep too, but I bet they won't see it that way, and I don't have enough money to bail you out."
"You make an excellent point, Buffy." Mr. Giles released the drunk just as the police arrived on the scene.
The next half-hour was a round of questions. When the older policeman took his name, he said, "Oh, The Gary Hobson?", but would not elaborate. The drunk had tried to complain, but no one took much notice. Several people in the crowd affirmed that the drunk had taken a swing at the shorter man, who had been forced to defend himself. Mr. Giles asked if he could sign the complaints later, as the students he was chaperoning were already late for their college visits.
Finally, the police let them go, and Gary heaved a sigh of relief. Now, he thought, I can go home and figure out how not to get murdered tonight. He was about to slip away when he heard Willow's voice say, "Uh guys, I think you should look at this."
He heard another girl's voice say, "Yeah, look at that. The newspaper has the date wrong."
Gary blanched. He had jammed the Paper into his back pocket just before the accident. It wasn't there. He turned around, and saw the red haired girl holding a copy of the Sun Times
. Another girl, this one with long, dark hair was looking over her shoulder. "What kind of paper can't even get the date right?" asked the brunette, her voice scornful.
"Uh, I think that's mine," said Gary. "If you don't mind, I have to be somewhere else, so..."
By now the short boy with the strangely colored hair was looking at the paper. He looked up at the van, still wrapped around the support beam, and then back at the paper. "Buffy, Giles? This is a bit freaksome."
Gary made a desperate grab for the paper, and found his wrist locked in the iron grip of...the little blonde? His brain refused to accept it for a moment. He was twice her size, and it wasn't like he was some out-of-shape desk jockey. She was holding him still with less effort than if he had been a toddler.
Mr. Giles had come over, and Willow handed the newspaper over to him. He also compared the accident scene with the paper. He flipped the pages over to the front page. He stared at it, then Gary, then the paper once again. Willow gasped, and the boy raised his eyebrows slightly. The brunette studied it for a moment, and then proclaimed, "I don't believe it. Two thousand miles from Sunnydale, and the weirdness comes along for the ride. This is so unfair."
Buffy released Gary and went over to the others. She studied the newspaper, and then said in a matter-of-fact tone, "Looks like you have a problem. Need help?"
Gary stared at them, open mouthed. Only a few people knew about the Paper. How could he explain this, should he explain it? His mind refused to frame a reasonable response, or an unreasonable one, for that matter.
Gary looked down at his feet. Cat was there, rubbing up against his ankle. "Cat?" he said.
Cat walked over to the group and hopped into Buffy's arms.
"Are you saying I should trust them?" he asked, not caring how insane he sounded.
"Meow." Cat rubbed his head against Buffy's chin. "Meow."
"Oh, what a nice cat," exclaimed Willow. Cat jumped from Buffy's arms to Willow's shoulder. "He's purring," she said. Cat meowed once more, and then jumped back to the pavement and disappeared into the crowds.
"Well, well," said Mr. Giles. The group picked up their luggage and looked at Gary expectantly. "Coming?" said Buffy. Gary shrugged and headed after them. He needed the paper back. Maybe an explanation would come to him.
Gary found himself attached to the group. Mr. Giles introduced him as a guide, so he found himself in the front of a bus load of teenagers, giving an impromptu travelogue on Chicago. He had talked himself hoarse by the time the bus reached the University of Chicago. University officials sorted the students into tour groups and herded them off.
"Time for a cup of tea, yes?" asked Mr. Giles. They found an isolated table in a lounge and sat down. The Englishman studied the front page of the paper and said, "This is what I think it is, isn't it? Tomorrow's news?"
Gary stared at him. "Err, a, you don't seem very surprised by the idea."
"Well, I am a bit, actually, but one gets used to odd things, living in Sunnydale." Gary didn't know what to make of that, so he let it pass.
"Yes, it is, and I hope you realize why I don't want others to know."
"Oh, yes, I do. The temptation to use the certain knowledge of the future would be too much for many." He flipped back to the page that contained the information about this morning's accident. Of course, the headline had changed. "Is this what is said this morning?"
"No," said Gary. "This morning it said that a student would be killed by a drunken driver."
"So you rushed to the airport to prevent the accident?"
"You do this often?"
"Every day," Gary sighed. "Uh, could I have that back? I haven't even had time to see if there's anywhere else I need to be at today."
"You mean before this evening, when you..."
"Well, I've seen my death in the paper before. I've avoided it so far," said Gary.
"Hmm, yes." The other man tapped the paper. The problem is, the manner of the incident tonight indicates that," he stopped, seeming uncertain how to continue.
"Indicates what, besides there's going to some lunatic behind my restaurant tonight?" What the heck was this guy trying to say?
"You've trusted us with your secret, so it only seems fair to trust you with ours. I would be willing to bet that tonight's killer is not, well, human." He took a breath and plowed on. "In fact, I believe that you may have a vampire problem."
Gary blinked. "Vampires, like Dracula, bats, allergic to sunlight vampires?" Cat wanted him to trust these people?
"Yes, I know it sounds incredible, but so are newspaper deliveries from the future. Besides, you seemed to willing to trust us based on a character reference from a tabby cat."
"OK, you've got me there. Just for the sake of argument, let's say you're right. How can you help me?"
"Actually, Buffy can help you."
"Buffy? She's the little blonde, right? How can she help me?"
"She's the Slayer." He said the word like it was a title.
"What's a Slayer?" Gary was feeling more and more lost by the moment.
"Into each generation," began Mr. Giles.
"Oh, he love's this part." Buffy plopped herself down at the table.
Mr. Giles frowned. "Buffy, why aren't you with the others?"
"Ah, come on Giles, it's not like I'm going to this school I came along mostly to keep Willow company." She turned to Gary. "Did he get to the part about how I'm the Chosen one, slay the vampires, kill the demons, protect the world from the forces of darkness, yada, yada, yada?"
"No, I had not," said Mr. Giles.
"Well, I am." said the girl. She seemed annoyed. Here I was hoping for a few days off, and I'm back on the clock." She noticed Gary's confused face, and turned to him.
"Look, we saw the article. You have this freaky newspaper that tells the future, and it says you were going to get killed by something that goes for people's throats. Sounds like my line of work. I love screwing up prophecies. Right, Giles?" She laughed, and even Mr. Giles smiled.
"Well, I guess you could call them prophecies," said Gary. "I spend a lot of time making sure stuff in the paper doesn't come true. Can I have my paper back?"
Mr. Giles slid the newspaper back to him.
"The students have to visit De Paul this afternoon, and then they have the evening free. May I suggest that we meet at your place of business tonight, and we'll take care of your problem."
"Err, yeah." They exchanged information, and Gary headed off to look for a cab. What had the Paper gotten him into this time?
End part 2
Author's note: Sorry, no Xander. All Scoobies know that Xander isn't university material. As much as I love the guy, he just doesn't belong in this story. 8-(