Learning as I Go
March 1, 2005 8:05 PM
Willow didn't look up when Kasie entered her office. She knew she'd been looking for Mac for the last day. She would not find her in the Council. Mac had run away. Willow knew where, and she would not keep the little Scotswoman from her family. How could she? Nessa MacDougal was scary.
"Something I can help you with, Kasie?"
"I know you can probably already know what I'm going to ask," Kasie began, fiddling with her shirt hem and not meeting Willow's eyes. "I know you know where we are all the time, so I want to know where she is because I have to apologize because our new Watcher scared me and pissed me off when he asked for something he had no right to and then I said something that pissed Mac
off and now I need to apologize because she's the only person in this damn place that treats me like a human but I can't find her and that makes me angry and I don't like being angry
Kasie took a few deep breaths and tried to pull herself together. It was killing her that she couldn't find Mac. She was a thief, and it was her job to find things. But Mac was different and Kasie didn't have the knowledge to find her. Of course, she knew if she even attempted to leave, she would be hunted down and that would just be a waste of time.
"I'm only going to say one thing before I tell you how to find Mac," Willow said quietly. "I know you don't trust anyone, but I would not have given you a watcher you could not trust. I trust Oz with my life, have trusted him with my life. He's never let me down."
Now her heart is a different story.
"She's in Scotland with her brother."
It made sense now that she thought about it. If she had family to go to, Kasie would run to them when she was upset. She nodded, shifting nervously. "Right. Do I get to go after her or am I chained here?"
Willow wondered at her not making a comment about Oz.
"You can go by the floo. I'm sure her brother will put you up for the night. I'll be around to get both of you tomorrow. Please try to have it worked out by then."
Kasie didn't know how to work things out. She'd never done this before; she'd never gone after somebody. It went along with that whole trusting people thing that she just didn't do.
Her brow furrowed. "What the hell is a floo? Can't I just drive?"
"Scotland. Bit far from here. This is faster. You'll be there in a few minutes."
Willow got up and tossed some floo powder into her fire. The flames glowed green.
"Just step in and shout Three Broomsticks Hogsmeade. It's easy."
Kasie blinked at her and slowly shook her head. "I don't care how long it is. I'll drive. There is no way I'm stepping into a fire
Willow stuck her hand in it. "It's not going to burn you. This is your only option. There's not a car here for you to take. How bad do you want to mend things with Mac?"
Kasie narrowed her eyes as she crossed her arms. "Oh fine! But if I end up with third degree burns everywhere, I'm sending someone after you."
She gingerly stepped up to the fire, not feeling the heat. Maybe it wasn't so bad after all. With a wince, she closed her eyes and jumped into the fire. "Three Broomsticks Hogsmeade!"
Brody MacDougal looked up when his floo spit out a little blonde woman. His cousin Cullen gave him a look. Brody set down the glass he'd been drying and flipped the towel onto his shoulder before walking around and grabbing her arm to help her to her feet.
Kasie blinked before giggling hysterically. She was a bit disoriented by all the sparkling lights and flashing colors, but it was well worth it. Spots danced before her eyes as she tried to get her footing. "Holy crap, that was awesome!" She turned to the man helping her up. "Can we do it again?!"
"Never seen anyone tha' excited 'bout the floo a'fore."
Cullen approached slowly. "Did ya hit yer head, lass?"
"More important," Brody said. "Who are ya then? Only family floos are activated during non-business hours and we're closed up early for th'night."
Kasie quickly shook her head, but that only made the bright lights brighter. "Yeah, I'm just here to talk to Mac. And follow the pretty lights," she added, giggling.
"Ya one of them then," Brody asked.
Cullen frowned. "Ya think she hit her head?"
"Kasie," Mac said from half way down the stairs.
The lights quickly disappeared and all the glee was suddenly gone from her. Kasie turned around and stared at Mac. She'd been prepared to drive or even hitchhike to wherever Mac had been, and was going to work on her speech then. She wasn't counting on instant access. "Mac. Hi."
"She one of them?" Brody asked Mac.
"Yeah," Mac replied. "Tha's Kasie Jade. She's a slayer like me. This is m'brother Brody and m'cousin Cullen."
Mac wasn't moving. She was keeping herself guarded.
"Ya alright, Mac?"
She looked at her brother. He had such a look of concern for her. It made Mac smile slightly. No matter what, Brody always cared about her. No matter what she did.
Kasie realized she was still standing a little bit too close for comfort to Mac's brother and cousin and stepped away. It hit her hard; this was Mac's family. She didn't do well around families. "As touching as these family things are, can we go somewhere in private?"
"Do I smell bad or somethin'?"
Mac almost laughed at her brother.
"This isn't even all of us," Cullen said. "Wait til Mac takes ya to meet our Nana."
"I suppose ya can come up to m'room," Mac offered, ignoring her cousin and brother.
Nana? Oh hell, she did not do well with family matriarchs at all. She'd stolen from too many old widows to be comfortable around any female over the age of 50. Kasie quickly dashed to the stairs and followed Mac, trying to motion her forward when she didn't move fast enough for her liking.
Mac led her to a room that was full of books more than anything, and Kasie stood in the middle feeling a bit lost. She had no idea what to say now. The fact that Mac didn't look too pleased with her didn't help things."So... that's your brother."
"One of them," Mac said.
She grabbed a picture off of the desk and tossed it. Kasie caught it easily. It was of her, Brody and Connor the summer before she started her sixth year at Hogwarts.
"I'm th'youngest of three. Our oldest brother Connor were killed."
"Sorry," she said quickly. Mac had told her that before, but she just hadn't remembered. Granted, she did remember drinking vodka at the time, so it wasn't really her fault. Taking a deep breath, Kasie decided to dive right in. "Right, so when are you coming back?"
"Dunno," Mac said. "I told Willow I needed a break, needed to see m'brother. He's real clever, helps me figure stuff a lot. Mayhap I won't come back. He needs help in the pub. Mayhap I belong here."
Kasie blinked in surprise. "That's it? You're not coming back? That doesn't make any sense. I thought you loved fighting. You were all over the research and the hellhound and breaking up fights and all that. I remember that! I listened! You can't leave!"
Mac looked at her. "Why should I stay? I'm no' the only slayer. Tis no' like I'm needed. I do research all the time. Ya listened. Tha's nice. Dinna make a difference did it, though? Dinna make a dent."
"Of course it did!" Kasie snapped. "I'm here, aren't I? I'm apologizing for what I said! You took it the wrong way and didn't let me explain; you just had a tantrum and left me there!"
"So tis yer turn? Yer going to have a tantrum now. Ya said ya dinna trust me, tha' ya trust no one. How were I supposed to take it? So yer here. Ya just need someone to distract the hellhound so ya can get yer trinkets. It doesna have to be me, so long as ya get yer stuff."
She put on her angry face and stomped her foot. "No, damn it! You don't get it! I trust you to watch my back. You were the one who helped me before and we work well together. Why did you have to go and screw it up?"
"My fault then, is it? How 'bout I throw ya out this window," she thumbed over her shoulder. "On yer head? Yer th'one who canna let yer guard down even for me. I know ya dinna know Oz, and he were askin' a lot, but ya have to trust someone. Dinna go blamin' yer issues on me. I'll hit yer face. Hard."
"Screw that, I'll jump!" Kasie snapped, finally hitting the edge of her angry fuse. She didn't care that there were people all around them and that they could probably hear. "Here's some news: I don't let my guard down around anyone! I never have! It's not how I function. I can work with someone and trust them but not with me, okay? That's mine! I take care of myself because God knows no one else has!"
"Well, tha's no' how I work! I take care of those who let me in," Mac shouted, advancing on her. "Tha's my way! I thought we were friends! Guess I were stupid to think it. Ya need to leave a'fore I get violent."
She stood her ground even though Kasie knew Mac could very well take her in a fight. They'd been training, but Mac had a better knowledge of fighting than she had. "I didn't know we were friends!"
Kasie knew that was the wrong thing to say, because Mac's face darkened. "I didn't know, okay? I've never had one! I don't know what to do with someone who likes me! We got along but I didn't know what to do after that. I just snapped, okay? I didn't like the questions he was asking and it brought up bad stuff and I said stuff I didn't mean and you left and I didn't know what the hell to do!" she yelled in a rush.
Her heart was racing faster than it had in a long time and she took a few deep breaths, staring at the floor. "I've never had a friend so I'm sorry I did something to upset you. I'm sorry. I'm kind of learning as I go here."
"Do I need to separate anyone," Brody called through the door.
"Fock off a'fore yer th'one I hit!"
It was silent.
Mac glared at Kasie for a long time. "Alright. Will ya try to start trustin' me then? I'm on yer side. We're th'same... sort of. Tis hard for me to trust as well, ya know. I've had m'face spit in a'fore. I've had m'heart broken by someone I gave m'soul to, but I still found a way to trust people again."
She still couldn't look up at Mac. "I've only ever trusted one person in my life. He taught me everything I know. He's the only person who knows my real name, knows where I came from. He disappeared when I was sixteen, and I haven't let anyone in since." Kasie sighed. "But I guess I'm willing to try since we're kind of stuck together."
"Oh tis so nice tha' ya will deal wit me cause yer stuck wit me. Did he disappear on purpose or were he made to disappear? Or do ya even know?"
"You think I like being the only person willing to be around the lit dynamite known as you? I like living dangerously, but you push it sometimes," Kasie said with a pout. "And I don't know. He's alive, because I've heard of jobs he did and other stuff, but he won't ever contact me. I've left messages, but they haven't been returned. It's not a big deal."
Kasie looked up at Mac, finally. "Are you coming back?"
"Mayhap we can find him," Mac offered. "There are two thin's I'm good at - research and brawlin'. Tha' actually makes me a good slayer, I suppose. I dinna really want to tend bar. Ya know wha' they have me do when I'm here? Bust up th'fights. I really should go back."
The possibility of finding her mentor was exciting, but Kasie was realistic. If Mac wanted to try, then she'd help. "I need someone to keep me out of trouble. I still want to meet my psychotic predecessor. Plus, if you stayed here, I'd have to visit and ogle your rather nice cousin in his man skirt. I don't think you'd like that very much."
Mac made a face. "Cullen?"
"I'm prettier than he is," Brody said through the door.
Mac moved quickly and opened the door. She lunged, headbutting her brother. He howled in surprise and stumbled back. She slammed the door and held it shut as he tried to get in and get back at her.
Kasie stared wide eyed at the door that was rattling, very glad she no longer had to deal with sibling-figures like she had in foster care. "I don't think he'll want to be around me much after he finds out about this." She pulled out the wand she'd slipped up her sleeve. "I'm sorry that I took it, but I told you, it's a habit. I felt it when he helped me up and my hand just grabbed for it."
Mac's eyes went wide. She lunged forward and snatched the wand from Kasie.
"Ya dinna... no' ever. Ya dinna steal from m'family, and dinna ever take a wizard's wand."
Brody had made it through the door. He snatched his wand from Mac and lunged for Kasie. Mac grabbed her brother and pulled him back. It was no easy task since he was near twice as big as she was.
"Stop! She dinna know! She isna like we were raised! She willna take it from ya again!"
Mac could feel her brother shaking.
"She's m'friend, Bro. She's sorry."
Kasie had jumped the moment the door slammed open and scrambled back, eventually jumping on Mac's desk and reaching for a weapon, coming up with only a... quill? She threw the quill away and was fully prepared to do as she said earlier and jump out the window.
"Geez! I'm sorry! I didn't know what kind of bid deal it was!"
In her mind, she made sure never to steal long, pointy pieces of wood from the magic types. The only wizards and witches she'd worked with hadn't had wands. They were slightly scarier.
"I'm fine," Mac said. "Can ya leave us be, please? She dinna mean to hurt yer feelin's by thinkin' Cullen is prettier."
Brody glared at Kasie. Mac rolled her eyes. He was usually all about anyone female, but the wand theft had put him all ill-tempered.
"Hey, I said I'm sorry! I didn't grow up in the land of Oz or whatever it is you guys did. I feel something, I steal it." Kasie crossed her arms. "Habit! When are people going to get that through their heads?"
"Let me explain," Mac said. "Ya took away his biggest defense against an attack. Go, Brody. Please."
Brody glared one last time before leaving.
"Tha' were part of the situation when Connor were hit. Brody's wand had been knocked away. I think ya will have to be sweet wit him a few times a'fore he forgives ya. Iffen ya even care."
Kasie didn't do sweet, but she had remind herself this was a different situation than she'd ever been in. Maybe she'd send flowers sometime. "Right. See, this is why you need to come back. Like I said, someone's gotta make sure I stay out of trouble. I don't quite think our Watcher is good to go with me yet. And that's another thing, I can't handle this dude on my own. I don't do well with Watchers, you know that."
She bit her lip. "So, please? Come back?"
"Well mayhap ya should start tryin' to trust him a bit, aye? He's no' so bad. We could have gotten worse. Could have had Andrew. I always want to snap his neck like twig. We'll work on yer makin' thin's right wit m'brother. He has certain weaknesses."
Instantly satisfied that Mac was coming back and she'd done something right, Kasie ran and jumped onto the bed, landing on her knees like she'd seen numerous girls in movies do. "We can start now since we're not leaving until tomorrow!"
Mac made a face at her. "I dinna think yer ready for Brody. Besides, he's likely already gone to his room, so unless ya plan on somethin' I dinna want to think about, we might leave it for another day. Which tha' would melt his ice nicely. He actually likes women. All women."
"Perfect. Blondes, brunettes, red heads? Short, tall? I need details so I don't send for the wrong one."
Mac rolled her eyes. "Ya canna send him a woman. I were talkin' 'bout ya battin' yer own eyes at him. A personal apology where ya approached him yerself would go a long way."
Kasie made a face. She wasn't a grifter or a conman, and couldn't act as well she liked, but she was honestly sorry about pissing off Mac's brother. "Fine. Think adding in some of that famous firewhisky you always talk about would help?"
"Him or you? He can drink a whole barrel of the stuff wit'out flinchin'. Ya get yerself drunk, he'd think it adorable. He always does. I half think tha's why he bought th'place."
The smile on her face probably wasn't that reassuring. She actually could pull off an act better when she was drunk as well. "This sounds promising. You're sure he's already left? The night's still young!"
"Left? His room's down th'hall. This is his pub. He sleeps here."
Mac was feeling slightly uncomfortable. Kasie was a little too happy about getting drunk for her brother.
"Excellent! Which one is his room?!"
Kasie said, bounding off the bed and into the hall. "You better tell me or I'll start banging on doors."
"End of the hall," Mac said, not liking this a bit. "Left. Dinna hurt m'brother."
She just waved off Mac and went to where she told her, knocking loudly on the door. When Mac's brother came to the door, Kasie put on her most charming smile. "Let's get drunk."
He frowned at her. "Why? So ya can steal m'kilt? Leave me naked?"
Kasie made a face. "I don't like clothes; I like sparkles. You naked might not be such a bad thing, but all I've heard Mac talk about is the fact that this stuff called firewhisky is supposed to be better than Russian vodka, and I don't believe her. You're going to convince me. Let's go." She motioned him into the hall. "I don't care if you come in your birthday suit, but that might make things more interesting."
Brody made a growling sound before grabbing a shirt and pulling it over his head. Cullen was across the hall in his doorway, grinning. Mac was frowning.
Kasie just smirked. "Excellent. Be prepared to get your ass kicked by a girl." She winked at Mac when she saw the other slayer looking at her.
"I'll no' fight ya," Brody said, stopping.
She sighed loudly. "At drinking, you pansy. I don't like fighting. Ironically, I didn't like violence before my life got screwed up and I became this super buff fighting machine. Right now, I just want to get drunk. You don't want to come, then I just guess I'll drink all your booze by myself."
"Like hell," he snapped. "And I'm no' a pansy. No' when it comes to firewhisky, and no' when it comes to much else."