A/N: Thank you for the reviews, and thank you AllenPitt for the rec! :D And again, big thanks to kerrykhat for letting me chew her ear off with MT talk!+++
Bran and Charles sat at the corner table in the coffee shop, Bran calmly sipping his drink. Charles, on the other hand, had nothing in front of him. He simply waited. And watched.
Out of the corner of his eye, he saw the people at the table next to them leaving as a new group settled into their place.
He noticed the way they glanced over at him – right before they scooted as far away as the little square tables allowed.
He could almost hear their inner thoughts; they were wondering why the stone faced Indian was sitting with the nice looking, unassuming teenager. It made them nervous. He
made them nervous.If they only knew
, he thought wryly.
As the barista called out more orders and the smell of various kinds of coffee filled the air, Charles shifted in his chair, distinctly uncomfortable. There were too many noises and smells around him.
That was exactly why his father had chosen this very crowded, very public place, however; he was counting on it to provide both security and anonymity in their meeting with the slayers’ representative.
Charles glanced at Bran; he still wasn’t quite sure how his father knew how to contact them in order to arrange a meeting. Or more importantly, why.
Da had always avoided slayers, and he had always encouraged both him and Samuel to do the same. It wasn’t difficult; there was only one slayer at a time, and she herself had an incredibly short time on Earth, especially compared to that of werewolves. Even when they had received word over a few years ago that there were now in fact hundreds of slayers, Bran said nothing, did nothing, just went about business as usual.
Yet here he was now, calling for a meeting, out of the blue, when they were right in the middle of cleaning up this mess in Chicago.
Bran was obviously up to something, the wily old wolf.
Knowing it would be a waste of breath, Charles hadn’t tried to get any answers from his father. He would know soon enough.
That’s not to say he wasn’t irritated, though.
Just then, he felt Bran move almost imperceptibly, a slight shift in body posture no one but him would be able to sense.
She was here.
Already annoyed and uncomfortable, Charles let out a small growl at being caught off guard. It quickly dissipated, however, when his eyes met those of a tiny blonde woman walking towards them.
He felt Brother Wolf stir; for although she looked as if a stiff wind could knock her over, she was a predator, plain and simple. She just disguised it well – just as well as his da did; maybe even better, in fact, considering she didn’t have the centuries of practice the Marrok had.
Charles gave a ghost of a smile as he thought how Bran might feel about that.
It was a gesture so small that even most werewolves would miss it; she must’ve seen it, though, because a look of surprise came over her features. Quirking an eyebrow in amusement, she returned the gesture. Then she looked away – but only to focus on her surroundings.
He watched as she dodged the onslaught of people and chairs and hot coffee, looking completely at ease, as if she wasn’t about to sit down with the most powerful werewolf in North America, perhaps even the world.
As she drew closer, he smelled the burst of the cold air she brought with her from outside. Then he caught her scent. It was distinctly feminine, a mixture of vanilla and orange with an underlying spice – cinnamon – which intertwined with her own natural scent.
What was more striking to him, however, was what wasn’t
there; he didn’t pick up any fear in her, nor could he sense her on a supernatural level.
He had always thought that a slayer would immediately set off all his alarms, which were considerable. Aside from his werewolf senses, he had the skills he inherited from his Salish background; he could even perform a little magic. But they were of no use to him here. The only way he could distinguish this girl as the slayer was by the way she moved, the manner in which she acted, the look in her eye.
He supposed that’s what made slayers so effective.
She finally closed the last few steps between them and stopped. Bran rose to greet her, and Charles did the same. She looked surprised at this, pleasantly so.
“Buffy Summers,” she said, introducing herself without any signs of hesitation.
As she spoke, she both inclined her head toward them, even as she purposefully looked both of them directly in the eye.
It was an odd mix of signals, one that both gave respect and demanded it. There was a slight awkwardness about it, too; it was clearly an unfamiliar gesture for her, one that didn’t come naturally.
It was a risky thing to do around werewolves. Charles himself felt a tug at the challenge her look evoked. Then again, considering the parties involved, perhaps it was the best possible compromise.
Charles waited, curious to see what his father’s reaction would be.
If Bran took offense, he didn’t show it. He just gave her a small smile and nodded to the empty seat across from them both.
“Bran Cornick,” his father said. “And this is Charles.”
She sat down in one fluid motion, and they followed suit. There was a moment of silence as they regarded each other. Then her mouth twitched, like she was repressing a smirk. And Charles could’ve sworn she was about to roll her eyes.
Before he could find out if he was right, Bran spoke up.
“We would like to offer a truce.”
Charles hid his surprise. She didn’t bother.
“Excuse me?” she exclaimed. Then she winced, looking a little chagrined at herself – for two fleeting seconds. Charles heard her mutter “screw protocol” under her breath, before she looked Bran levelly in the eye. “Because I thought you said on the phone that you could help us find our missing girl.”
Charles tensed, uneasy at this turn of events. Suddenly, things were starting to make sense. He should’ve realized it earlier; the girl’s strength, her rapid healing – though those who would undergo the change also healed at a supernatural rate – even the dents in the door. But again, he had assumed that a slayer’s presence would hit him on a mystical level, and he had had his hands full with Leo’s dysfunctional pack.
Besides, aside from his initial contact with the girl, Bran had been the one with her, personally seeing to the her care from the moment he had arrived in Leo’s house –
Yes, he should’ve known.
Feeling more than a little irked once again, Charles watched as his father weighed his next words very carefully.
“We already found her. But not in time, not entirely,” Da admitted. “I think she may need to stay with us for a bit.”
The Slayer said nothing; she clearly understood his meaning, though, and pursed her lips, deep in thought. Though she didn’t look – or smell – particularly angry, Charles was at the ready, just in case.
“The one that attacked her has been taken care of,” Bran assured her in a mild voice.
There was only the slightest pause before she waved her hand dismissively. “I figured. I mean, we wouldn’t be discussing this over coffee, otherwise,” she reasoned. She gave Charles a dry look. “No need to raise the hackles, however impressive they may be. I’m not going to go all Godfather on the Don here.”
With a silent growl, Charles let his expression become forbidding.
This time she really did roll her eyes.
Bran politely cleared his throat, drawing attention back to himself.
She had the decency to look guilty. “So a truce, huh? I could see that, though it’s not just my decision to make,” she said slowly. Then she frowned. “But what about my girl? You werewolves aren’t exactly known to be good with the girl power. And slayers? That’s pretty much our team motto. So I’m thinking a dominant female werewolf might have issues playing nice with the other weres. Am I right?”
Bran nodded, and Charles could see his father’s appreciation for her quick mind.
“I was planning to take her to my local pack,” the Marrok revealed. “Where I’ll personally look out for her.”
There was a brief silence she thought this over. “That works,” she finally replied. Then a ghost of a smile creased her lips. “Mostly.”
“There’s a catch,” Bran said matter-of-factly.
The smile turned into a full blown smirk as she leaned toward them conspiratorially.
“Don’t you hate it when that happens?”+++