Disclaimer: Smallville, Buffy...still not mine.
“So we’re talking serious children of the corn territory here,” Xander said. “Kids killing their parents…going crazy. Doesn’t this sound a little familiar?”
At the looks the other’s gave him, he said, “It’s not like the nuthouses in Sunnydale haven’t been filling up recently. What proof do we have that this help we’re looking for isn’t worse than Glory?”
“I’m pretty sure whatever is here isn’t of the good,” Willow said. “It’s not just the death rate from murders that’s gone up. Cancer deaths have gone up a thousand percent over the past twelve years.”
Giles glanced up from the notes Willow had spread across the table. “From what you can discover, we can assume that it came during the meteor shower of 1989. This was a normal town before that, and afterwards, everything changed.”
“One hundred fifty pound tomatoes, a golden retriever giving birth to a two headed puppy, a dying woman miraculously generating…spontaneous human combustion…” Willow said.
“Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together…mass hysteria,” Xander said. At the looks from the other he said, “Ghostbusters…?”
Giles slipped his glasses off and began polishing them. Be that as it may, all of these things are traditionally signs of the presence of great evil.”
“Well, this sign pounded the town and almost wiped it out,” Buffy said. She held up one of the motel pamphlets. “It says here that they had to rebuild pretty much the entire town.”
“Finally found a research book your size, eh Slayer?”
She turned slightly and stared at him for a moment. He returned the look and then sighed, settling back against the dresser. “You were more fun before.”
“None of this is helping us find this thing, whatever it is,” Buffy said.
“There’s a spell,” Willow said. “All I need is a map of the city and it will tell us where the demons are…maybe where the big guy himself is.”
“Get what you need,” Buffy said. “I’m tired of walking all over town and seeing nothing but corn.”
“It’s weird,” Willow said. “I thought Kansas was mostly wheat and not corn.”
At Buffy’s glance, Willow scrambled to gather the materials she needed.
With the blackout curtains drawn and the lights turned out, they held their collective breaths as the last words of Willow’s spell echoed in the room.
For a moment nothing happened, and Buffy released her breath, disappointed. She’d thought Willow’s magic was much more dependable these days, but she still had occasional mishaps.
Light flared on the map, and Buffy leaned forward.
Only one spot on the map glowed, while the rest of the map was dark.
“That must be our guy!” Buffy said. “And he’s close…really close.”
“Uh, Slayer…” Spike said.
“We’ll get together in teams to find him. One group will go with Willow and the other with me. Spike will stay here with Dawn, since he doesn’t exactly have any sunscreen.”
“That little light is me,” Spike said.
Buffy opened her mouth to say something, and then felt the blood rush to her face. She’d actually forgotten in the heat of the moment.
Spike was a soulless demon. Since he’d endured torture for her and Dawn it had been getting harder to remember that.
After a moment, she said “So, no demons in the whole town?”
Spike said, “Even without a hellmouth, town this size should have had at least thirty or forty demons. Our boy may have run them all off, or killed them.”
“And he’s cloaked himself from detection,” Willow said, scowling at the map. “That means I can’t do a little locator spell to find him…and I’d have had to have known who he was in any case.”
“What about one of those snake thingies, like Glory sent for Dawn?” Xander asked. At the looks from the other he said, “What? Glory didn’t know who Dawn was and the snake headed right for her.”
“He may not have warded himself from every form of detection,” Giles admitted. “But that spell requires specialized components, most of which we left back in Sunnydale.”
“Metropolis has a magic shop,” Anya said suddenly. “I ordered a dried mummy hand from them last week. It hasn’t come in yet.”
“Don’t suppose any of you lot have thought about the message a giant snake would be sending this bloke?” Spike asked. “Somebody sent a giant attack snake after me; I wouldn’t be all friendly like.”
“We’ve got to do something,” Xander said. “No telling when Glory will be back knocking down our door.”
“We’ll gather the ingredients for the spell,” Giles said, “and hold it in reserve in the event our other options don’t pan out.”
“What other options?” Buffy asked. “There aren’t exactly any prophesies about this, and the demon underworld is a dead end…literally. It’s not like this guy has been keeping a high profile, so I’m guessing he doesn’t want to be found.”
“I plan on contacting the Council,” Giles said. “There is a coven that works with them that might be able to give us some magical hints; there are several seers among them. I’ll try to get a line of credit through the council as well.”
“You’ll have to go to Metropolis to get any money transferred,” Anya said. “I already asked…there’s only one bank in town and one ATM machine.”
“There is a local high school student who has been posting articles about the strangeness in Smallville,” Willow said. “She works for the newspaper at the local high school.”
Buffy frowned. “You’re probably the best of us at seeing patterns. You should go and ask her a few questions.”
Willow glanced over at Tara. “I can’t take Tara; she’d draw too much attention.”
“Spike can watch her,” Buffy said. “It’s daylight and he isn’t going anywhere anyhow.”
“I should totally go,” Dawn said. “Not that staying here watching passions with Spike and Tara is so bad…”
“As long as you stay close to Willow,” Buffy said. “We need to keep you close to me; Spike or Willow at all times, and so far Willow has been the only one to even make Glory blink.”
“She’s the right age,” Willow said. “She might be able to get something out of the kids while she flirts with the boys.”
Dawn flushed a little, but grinned as Buffy slowly nodded.
“So Willow and Dawn are going to the school, Spike is staying here with Tara and Xander, and Anya and I are going with Giles to Metropolis.”
“What will you be doing?” Xander asked, glancing at Spike and Tara.
“Shopping,” she said. “We haven’t exactly had a chance to stop off and get a change of clothes,” Buffy said. “I didn’t bring anything with me other than a troll hammer and that orb thingy. How about the rest of you?”
Giles looked suddenly alarmed. “I’m not sure how much of an allowance I’ll be able to get from the water’s council, if I’m able to get one at all.”
“He’s worried you’ll put him in the poorhouse,” Anya said. “He’s seen the price tags on some of the clothes that you buy.”
Giles pulled his glasses off and began polishing them. “Be that as it may, I’m not entirely comfortable splitting our forces up this much.”
“It’s not exactly like the three of us together have been able to slow Glory down much,” Buffy said. “And this way each group will have at least one person strong enough to slow her down in time for the others to get away.”
“All she’d have to do is throw me out in the sun,” Spike said. “No sewer access here like in dear old Sunnyhell.”
“That’s why you’re guarding Xander and Tara. We love them, but they aren’t the ones she has a mad on for. She wants Dawn, and she probably wouldn’t mind stomping me or Willow into the ground.”
“I told her she had a lop-sided arse,” Spike said. “Bad perm, too.”
“Xander can get Tara away,” Buffy said, “and maybe bring Willow in time to save you.”
“Fine,” he said, his arms crossed.
“Perhaps it would be for the best if you were to go with Willow,” Giles said. “Anya can do any required purchasing, and should Glory show up, you’ll be able to reinforce Spike or further protect Dawn.”
Buffy was silent for a moment, and then scowled. “Fine.”
“It feels like old times,” Willow said. “The books, the hormones, the teen angst.”
“The acne, the pimples, the teenage boys,” Buffy said irritably. “Why do you think Giles really had me come here?”
“For the reasons he said?” Willow asked, checking her small map.
“He didn’t want you buying five hundred dollar shoes,” Dawn said from behind them. “Anya on the other hand can smell a deal from a mile away.”
“We’ll all end up wearing Wal-Mart rejects,” Buffy said. “Am I supposed to fight the forces of darkness in polyester?”
“Here we are!” Willow said hurriedly, gesturing to a small sign above the door. “The Smallville Torch.”
Taking a deep breath, she opened the door and stepped inside, followed by the two squabbling sisters.
The floor was a yellow and brown tile checkerboard, with a large table in the middle. A corkboard on one wall was covered with newspaper clippings and magazine articles. No one seemed to be in the room.
Willow stepped toward the wall and then grinned. “This is what we were looking for.”
Buffy stared at the wall. Article after article was pasted to the wall, each talking about some weird event that had happened in Smallville.
“She didn’t post half this stuff online,” Willow said.
“Can I help you?”
The voice from behind them was carefully neutral. A young blonde girl, approximately Willow’s height stood at the doorway.
Dawn turned and smiled brightly. “Hi. We’re looking for Chloe Sullivan.”
“You’ve found her,” the girl said, stepping into the doorway and setting her backpack behind the counter.
“This is my sister Buffy and her roommate Willow. They’re in college, and Willow is doing a paper on spooky places. We’re on a road trip anyway, and she read your blog, so we thought we’d stop by and talk to you in person.”
Buffy had to fight to keep her mouth from dropping open. She hadn’t realized that Dawn was such an accomplished liar.
She was obviously spending way too much time with Spike.
“I doubt you’ll find much spooky in this town,” Chloe said. “Weird, yes. Spooky, no.”
“No haunted houses, unexplained lights, old Indian legends?” Willow asked.
“There are supposedly some cave paintings over in the Indian caves to the southwest, but until the meteor storm of eighty nine, pretty much nothing ever happened here.” Chloe switched her computer on and said, “Which school did you say you were from?”
“UC Sunnydale,” Willow said, and then grimaced.
Obviously Willow wasn’t as used to this lying thing as Dawn.
Chloe looked up, surprised. “That explains it then. You come from the second weirdest town in America.”
Willow smiled uneasily.
Of course, Buffy reflected, the mayor had kept most of Sunnydale’s weirdness out of the papers and magazines, and even now, most things were never talked about. It surprised her a little seeing a town with this much media scrutiny.
“Lots of ghost stories in Sunnydale, all right,” Willow said.
“Nothing but mutants here,” Chloe said.
As the three of them froze, Chloe’s face broke out into a smile. It transformed her face, turning her from a pretty blonde into a beautiful one.
“Clark!” she said.
“Chloe, I just needed to ask…”
Standing in the doorway was a dark haired man, a little taller and broader than Angel. He was a handsome man, and at the sight of the three girls in front of him, he smiled.
Her slayer sense screaming, Buffy forced herself to smile back.