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Ripple Effect

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Summary: ripple effect - a spreading series of effects or consequences caused by a single event. But seriously, did Buffy really expect anything different?

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Literature > Vampire/Supernatural > Mercedes Thompson Series(Past Donor)akatFR15512,2434607,4341 Jan 1126 Jan 13No

Chapter Four

A/N: I know it’s been an incredibly long time since my last update, but... I made this chapter really long. That’s got to count for something, right? Please?


+++

Buffy was running late. For church, of all things. The first time she would meet the residents of Aspen Creek.

It was not a good omen.

Grabbing her coat, she raced for the door. As she passed by the mirror, however, she stopped to take one last look in the mirror, smoothing down her sweater a little self-consciously.

She couldn’t remember the last time she had been to church; at least, not to actual services, because relic hunting and slaying definitely didn’t count. Therefore, she had no idea what was appropriate clothing-wise, and she really didn’t want to start off her time here in Aspen Creek with a major fashion faux pas.

It was the main reason why she was running late, as the pile of rejected clothes on her bed could attest to.

Then she shook her head. She looked fine. No one would expect her to put on a dress in this weather, and it was going to start soon. And even though she hadn’t been to church in forever, she knew it would be way worse to show up late than underdressed.

Resolutely ignoring her reflection and the way it was taunting her, Buffy headed toward the door, pulling on her hat, scarf, and mittens as she walked. Then she took a deep breath and pulled the door open.

She was immediately hit with a wintry blast of cold air. She ignored it, though, simply pulling her coat closer as she began making her way toward the church.

And honestly? She was pretty darn proud of herself.

Who cared if she was practically jogging? Or if driving was simply a non-option, seeing as she and her car were still having some serious trust issues? She was so making progress.

Just then, there was a particularly vicious gust of wind, the kind that took your breath away, and it effectively putting an end to all back patting.

Buffy turned her head to the side, trying to shield herself from the brunt of it. That was when she saw it – a flicker of a shadow that quickly melted into the treeline off to her left.

Without thinking, she immediately headed toward it, carefully skirting over the snow and ice until she was standing at the spot. The trees were too dense to see anything, though.

After the briefest hesitation, and a quick look around to make sure no one was watching, Buffy plunged into the thicket, her hand reaching for the stake she had hidden under all the layers of her clothing.

Only to find more trees. And snow, completely untouched except for little, tiny footprints in it; and while one night in the middle of Montana hardly made Buffy Queen of the Wild Frontier, they were clearly too small to be human or wolf-made.

Even more tellingly, her spidey sense was quiet. In fact, now that she thought about it, it hadn’t so much as twitched, even when she first thought she had seen something lurking over here – which meant she had gotten herself worked up over a squirrel or some other small woodland creature.

Then, because clearly enough insult hadn’t been added to injury, the church bell began to ring.

“Crap,” she muttered.

There was almost no way she would get there in time now – not unless she ran.

Sprinting as much as her tractionless boots allowed, Buffy raced for the church. When she finally reached the church’s doors, she forced herself to pause a minute to catch her breath. Then she pulled one side open as quietly as she could so that she could creep inside unnoticed.

That was the idea anyway.

As she opened the door, she was met with a rush of warm air on her face, and it felt heavenly. Almost involuntarily, she let out a small sigh – and found herself looking at half the congregation.

Of course. She had just walked into a room of werewolves, who had even better hearing than slayers.

With a weak smile of apology, she ducked her head and began walking down the aisle, looking for an open seat, all the while making a mental note to keep all extraneous noises to a minimum. The place was packed, though, and open seats looked non-existent. The whole town must’ve been there – all dressed in their Sunday best, incidentally.

“Psst! Buffy!”

Buffy looked over and saw Rona sitting in the back rows, motioning to the empty spot right next to her.

She immediately slid into the vacant spot.

"I didn't think you were going to make it," Rona whispered, a look of obvious relief on her face.

Buffy studied Rona out of the corner of her eye as she pulled off all her outerwear. She was unhappy to see that the weary look on Rona’s face hadn’t gone away. In fact, it looked worse.

Because she didn’t want to let on just how concerned she was, Buffy just waved her hand in the air dismissively.

“And miss this? Perish the thought.”

Instead of razzing her like she normally would, Rona just gave her a small smile and turned toward the front of the church.

Buffy frowned. Before she could do anything, however, organ music began filtering through the room.

Everyone stood as the minister entered the room. Still looking at Rona, it took Buffy a second longer before she followed suit. When she finally swung her gaze to the front of the room, she immediately noticed a girl looking back at her.

She was young, probably just a few years younger than Buffy, with a friendly if somewhat tired look on her face.

“That’s Shawna,” Rona noted, her voice still in a whisper. “She’s a friend.”

The girl, Shawna, gave a small wave.

Buffy managed a quick wave back before Shawna had to turn back around as the service got underway.

Though she knew she probably should have paid attention as well, Buffy decided to use the opportunity to take a look around.

She immediately spotted Bran and Charles up in the very front row. Well, she spotted Charles anyway. Between his huge frame and incredibly long, almost unfairly gorgeous hair, he was pretty hard to miss. Then she saw Bran to his right, looking as nondescript as ever.

On Bran’s other side was a blonde woman. Other than that, the row was empty, even though there was plenty of space.

Guess it pays to be king, Buffy thought to herself as she swung her gaze around to the rest of the congregation.

It was a mish mash of people, not at all what she would expect for the middle of Montana. But then, Aspen Creek obviously wasn’t an ordinary town.

She wondered how many were werewolves. At the moment, it was difficult to tell with everyone’s back to her. Not to mention the fact that everyone in the place was studiously avoiding looking at her in a way that told her they were watching her every move.

Seriously, it was almost comical.

Suddenly, an idea struck her. She knew exactly how to tell who was a werewolf and who was a civilian.

With eyes on the entire congregation, Buffy took a sharp intake of breath – and watched as every third person in the place stiffened without ever turning to look at her. She even thought that she saw Bran and Charles way up in the front give a little twitch.

“How old are you?” Rona mouthed, so quietly only Buffy could hear.

Buffy made a face, though inwardly she was glad to get a reaction from Rona. Still, she didn’t want to embarrass anyone or worse, damage slayer-werewolf relations, so she stopped, going back to studying everyone as unobtrusively as possible.

The whole thing was amazing to her, really. It was just so… normal; the way they all gathered for Sunday services, the way the mothers tried to quiet their fidgety toddlers, the way someone would give a nod of hello when they caught a friend’s eye… the way various people in the congregation would send a dark look in Bran’s direction.

Buffy sat up straight at this last part, wondering if she was seeing things again. After a few more minutes of observation, however, there was no denying it. Many of the people were not happy with the Marrok.

Maybe this wasn’t wolftopia after all.

Buffy sat through the rest of the service as quietly as she could, though she was brimming with curiosity. As soon as it was over with, she jumped to her feet, hoping to get Rona alone for a few minutes to ask her some questions. Unfortunately, everyone began chatting with one another, clearly in no rush to leave.

“They all gather downstairs for some coffee and doughnuts afterward,” Rona cut in quietly.
Buffy raised her eyebrow as she turned toward the younger slayer. “Not a fan?”

Rona shrugged. “It’s okay,” she admitted. “I’m getting used to it. It beats Andrew’s Sunday roundtables anyway. Come on. I’ll introduce you to some people.”

Buffy followed Rona as she made her way toward a stairway that headed down toward the basement. As they made their way into a small gathering space underneath, a few people said hello, but for the most part, they kept to themselves, like they didn’t want to be rude and stare. Well, except for one person.

Part of her had the urge to turn toward Charles Cornick and give him her best California wave, but Giles had pretty hammered in her head the importance of not offending the Marrok or his people.

What she did in the name of preserving slayer-werewolf relations.

Before she could get too cranky about it, she felt Rona grab her arm.

“Oh!” Rona exclaimed, her face lighting up with a smile. “Wait here a sec. I’ll be right back.”
And then she was gone.

For one very long minute, Buffy stood there, all by herself, feeling really uncomfortable. Then she spotted the table with the coffee, and her eyes lit up.

If she was going to be a social pariah, then she might as well be a well-caffeinated one.

She quickly walked over to the table and helped herself to a cup. After taking a sip, savoring the way the hot liquid felt in her still somewhat chilled body, she headed toward an empty space against the back wall to relax.

Sadly, it was not to be. Just as she reached her destination, someone jumped in front of her.

“Hi! You—”

Buffy jerked to a stop, her slayer instincts the only thing keeping her from spilling the hot coffee all over the person in front of her. Instead, it splattered all over the floor.

“Oh my gosh! I’m so sorry!” Shawna exclaimed, looking completely horrified.

Buffy shook her head. “No, that was all me. Shawna, right? I’m Buffy,” she said. Then she looked down at the mess on the floor and grimaced. “Sorry, I should get something clean this up. I’m sure it’s a sin or something.”

Wanting to keep the drippage to a minimum, she put her cup down on a small ledge and headed back toward the table where the coffee was.

As she reached for a stack of napkins, however, she was waylaid by Reverend Mitchell, who wanted to welcome her to Aspen Creek and introduce to several others. By the time she got back to the scene of the coffee crime, Shawna was gone. With a sigh, Buffy knelt down and tried to clean up the mess as best she could.

She had just finished when she heard Rona come back.

“Buffy! Finally!”

Buffy tossed the wet napkins in the closest trash can as quickly as she could. Then she turned around, only to see Rona practically dragging this bear of a man toward them. Seriously, the guy looked like a walking tree.

“Buffy, this is Tag,” Rona announced, a small grin on her face.

Tag was also smiling. As soon as his eyes met Buffy’s, however, it faltered. Noticeably.

“Colin Taggart, but I usually go by Tag,” he introduced himself, the faint traces of a Scottish lilt in his voice. “Nice to finally meet you. Rona’s talked about you a lot.”

Buffy gave Rona an arch look. “Oh, really? Should I be worried?”

Tag let out a laugh, and the tension eased a little bit. “It was all good things,” he promised.

Grinning Buffy looked back at him – and suddenly it was awkward again.

Tag gave her another smile, this one even more strained than the first. “Well, if you need anything, just let me know. But I, ah, I have to talk to Hank about something…”

Then he practically ran off.

“Nice to meet you, too,” Buffy frowned.

Rona also looked puzzled. “That’s weird. Usually you stick your foot in your mouth before they run away screaming.”

Buffy made a face. Before she could retort back, however, she caught something out of the corner of her eye.

Charles. Heading straight for her, looking as serious as serious could be.

“My father would like to speak with you.”

Buffy stifled a sigh. She was hoping to get some alone time with Rona, but it looked like it would have to wait a little longer.

She turned back toward Rona.

“Looks like I—”

The words died in her throat as she watched a myriad of emotions pass over Rona’s face.
If Buffy didn’t know any better, she would’ve sworn that the slayer in Rona wanted to glare at Charles; the wolf in her, however, was telling her that it wouldn’t be her best decision ever. It looked like the wolf won out, because Rona kept her eyes downcast, though her fists were clenched at her side.

Yeah, Buffy wanted to have a talk with the Marrok, too.

She turned around to face Charles Cornick. “Lead on, McDuff.”


+++

Charles watched the Slayer out of the corner of his eye as they made their way out of the church. He could see the troubled look on her face, which grew deeper as she passed by Tag once again.

He said nothing, though, and simply continued to walk until they were outside. Even then, he just pointed to his green pickup in the parking lot and said, “We can go in my truck.”

For the briefest second, she hesitated before she started to head toward his truck, obviously uneasy with that suggestion.

Normally, Charles would expect that reaction, that someone would be noticeably uncomfortable at the thought of being in the confined space of a car with him. He had that effect on human and werewolf alike.

He hadn’t expected it from the Slayer, though. It was… surprising, and possibly a little disappointing.

He briefly considered suggesting that they walk to his father’s house. They wanted the slayer’s cooperation, after all. Between her already reddening nose and cheeks, her many layers of clothing, and her dubious choice in footwear, however, that idea was quickly nixed.
She would just have to manage.

Charles stalked over to the passenger side door and yanked it open with more force than necessary, making it groan in protest. Then he waited for the Slayer to get in, but she just stopped and stared at him, a slightly startled look on her face.

For a second, Charles wondered if he’d offended her. Then her lips quirked up into a genuinely pleased smile.

It was gone a second later, though – right as she looked at his truck.

That was when he realized what the real source of her discomfort was. It was hard to miss. He had never seen anyone look at a vehicle with such an expression of complete and utter mistrust on her face. Well, aside from himself.

Suppressing his amusement, Charles closed the door after she had gotten in and walked over to the driver’s side.

As he got behind the wheel, he could hear some people exit the church behind them, Tag’s muffled but unmistakable voice among them.

Beside him, the Slayer winced.

"It's not you," Charles said, wanting her to understand what was going on, for her safety as well as everyone else’s.

She raised her eyebrow at this. “I’m not sure the whole ‘it’s not you, it’s me’ speech is going to work here.”

Charles smothered his smile, though by the look on her face, he hadn’t been completely successful.

“It’s not who you are, just what you are,” he amended as he began to pull out of the church’s parking lot. “And it unsettles him.”

This did not make the Slayer happy, the corners of her mouth dipping down into a frown.

“How is that possible?” she asked. “Part of the whole slayer deal is that we fly under the supernatural radar.”

“It has nothing to do with the supernatural,” Charles explained. “A wolf can recognize another predator.”

After a shocked pause, she let out a snort of laughter at this. “So you mean I can pretend to be Little Red Riding Hood with everyone< i>except the Big, Bad Wolf?” she exclaimed incredulously. “Of course, this is going to make it a lot more difficult to keep who I am under wraps, especially if they continue to run away whenever I come within 10 feet.”

Charles frowned. Another wolf would have taken offense at the slight, however unintentional it was on her part, as he believed it was. He didn’t care about that; he had more important concerns.

“Not all will react that way,” he warned her.

She must have heard something in his tone, because she looked at him then, a thoughtful look on her face as she weighed his words.

“Is that a promise or a threat?” she asked.

“Advice,” he countered immediately.

She grinned at this, and the mood lightened again. He was beginning to realize that it was a talent of hers.

They continued the drive in silence, the Slayer content to look out the window at the scenery. They were close to his father’s house when she finally spoke again.

“It’s impressive. Aspen Creek, I mean, and what you’ve built here,” she said. Then she gave him a sly look out of the corner of her eye. “Even if some of the people at church were sending glares at your father that would even put Dawn to shame.”

Charles stiffened, both because people were still upset over what had happened and because the Slayer had noticed it.

Still, he was not about to explain the situation with Doc Wallace, how the gentle veterinarian had not been able to accept the wolf inside him, how his father had done everything in his power to help him until he’d had no other choice; so he simply gave her a look, one that clearly said he did not wish to elaborate and one that often sent the receiver running for the hills.

She completely ignored it and continued to look at him expectantly.

Brother Wolf licked his chops at the challenge, and Charles had to push the wolf back.

And to think, just minutes ago, he had thought she was worried about being in an enclosed space with him. Little did he know, he was the one who should have been concerned.

Thankfully, before either Buffy or Brother Wolf could question him, they arrived at his father’s house.

Charles quickly threw the truck in park and got out, turning a deaf ear to the slayer’s pointed harrumphing.

Besides, he had bigger problems on his hands. Someone was standing on the front porch, waiting for them.

Leah, Bran's mate.

Typically, a mating bond was formed through a mutual attraction of both wolf and human. It wasn’t unheard of, though, for two people to choose each other, only to have their wolves reject one another, or vice versa.

His father and Leah were the latter case.

To make matters worse, though his da was a master manipulator and deceiver, Bran had never made any effort to hide the fact that Blue Jay Woman, Charles’ mother, was his one and true love. Nor did he disguise the fact that Charles and Samuel, his sons, came first in his life, with Leah a distant second.

It was hardly a surprise, then, that Leah had despised him from the first, or that she was in a perennial bad mood, seeking to make everyone around her as miserable as she was. It didn’t make her easier to deal with, though. And, although Bran himself more often than not clashed with Leah, he did not allow anyone to show his mate disrespect, no matter how unpleasant she was.

Charles cursed under his breath.

She must’ve have been waiting for them, coming out as soon as they pulled up before Bran could stop her.

Charles automatically put himself slightly in front of the Slayer as they reached his father’s mate, who was watching them through narrowed, unfriendly eyes.

"Buffy Summers, this is my father's mate, Leah Cornick," he said. “Leah, this is Buffy Summers, a friend of Rona’s—”

“Yes, I saw you in church,” Leah cut in, looking the Slayer up and down with a bored expression on her face.

Despite Leah’s obvious rudeness and hostility, the Slayer put on a friendly smile. “I meant to say hello afterward, but I didn’t see you there,” she said.

“Well, after what happened—”

Charles sent a sharp look toward Leah, who immediately stopped speaking; as much as she despised him, and despite the fact that she was technically a higher rank than he because of Bran, she was afraid of him, and he was going to use it to his full advantage.

She knew better than to speak about pack business in front of non-werewolves. He had underestimated her bitterness over recent events. Apparently, his father had, too. But Charles, at least, would not make that mistake again.

Perhaps a little chagrined at her display of weakness, Leah stepped aside with a mocking gesture of welcome.

“Please, come in,” she said in that falsely sweet voice of hers. “Would you like anything to drink? Water? Coffee?”

“Uh, coffee would be great,” the Slayer replied hesitantly.

Without another word, Leah whirled around and headed in the direction of the kitchen, leaving them standing on the front stoop with the door hanging wide open.

Charles stared after her angrily. He simply could not fathom how his father or Leah lived like this –

Charles, his father’s voice interrupted him inside his head. Leave it be. I’ll deal with her later.

With no other choice, Charles gave up the last of his anger, taking off his coat and hanging it up in the entryway as the Slayer did the same, ignoring the buzz of her cell phone as it began to right in her coat pocket. Once they were ready, he then led the Slayer to the study, where he knew his father would be.

Bran looked up from his desk upon their arrival.

“Miss Summers,” he greeted.

The Slayer wrinkled her nose in distaste. “Call me Buffy, please. ‘Miss Summers’ makes me feel like I should work in a library and own lots of cats,” she said. Then she winced. “Please tell me I didn’t just offend the town librarian.”

Bran smiled. “I can assure you that Mr. Anderson takes no offense,” he replied, gesturing toward one of the chairs opposite his desk. “Please, have a seat, Buffy.”

The Slayer sat in the chair closest to the door. Instead of taking the seat on her other side, Charles stood off to the side of his father’s desk, making sure it didn’t seem like they were boxing her in.

Still, the Slayer studied him for a moment before turning her attention back to the Marrok.

“Thank you for meeting with me today,” Bran said. “I know that you’ll probably want some time to catch up with Rona, but I thought it would be best if we spoke first.”

He paused as Leah walked in with a tray in hand, the strong smell of coffee wafting into the room with her. She placed it, and the coffee, creamer, and sugar it held, on a small table.

The Slayer barely had time to thank her and reach for the cup before Bran spoke up.

“Thank you, Leah.”

It was an obvious sign of dismissal, and Leah took it as such, storming out the door and slamming it shut behind her.

Unfazed, Bran turned toward the Slayer. “So I trust that you’re settling in?”

“Uh, yes,” she said slowly, glancing uncomfortably at the now closed door. Then she straightened up in her seat. “About Rona—”

Bran interrupted her. “Before we get into that, first let me ask you this. What do you think of the fae coming out to the public?”

There were many ways to interpret that question, no doubt something his father had done intentionally.

From the look on her face, the Slayer knew it as well. Her lips twitched ever so slightly before she took a long moment to drink some of her coffee, using the cup to mask her face. When she finally brought it down, her expression was carefully neutral.

“I think they must have had a really good reason to do it.”

“Indeed,” Bran agreed. He gave the Slayer a steady look. “A very good one.”

There was a moment of silence, the Slayer cocking her head to the side as she worked Bran’s words over in her head. Then her eyes widened as she finally understood.

“You’re going to come out, too,” she breathed.

Bran nodded. ““It’s becoming increasingly difficult to keep our existence a secret with today’s advances in science and technology. Therefore, the werewolves of North America have decided to come out on our own terms,” he said. “I gather that the slayers don’t have any intentions of doing so?”

“God, no,” she replied almost immediately. Then she caught herself. “I mean, it’s different for us. Our sole purpose is to take out baddies. Announcing who we are would be like outing CIA agents mid-mission. We’d have big, red targets on our backs for any demon or fae. Not to mention the potential backlash from people. And honestly? My girls have enough to deal with.”

Bran nodded. “I understand. Like I said, we are only revealing ourselves only out of necessity,” he said. “Because of this and the risk it brings with it, it is the utmost importance that any and all matters involving werewolves be brought to us immediately for us to handle.”

The Slayer’s eyes narrowed at this. “This isn’t going to be like the Vatican, is it? Where any problem wolf will be 'reassigned' and become someone else's problem?”

It was so slight, most people would have missed it. Charles himself almost didn’t see it; the slight twinkle of amusement in his father’s eyes, though the rest of his expression remained stern.

“I can assure you that any wolf breaking the rules will be punished. We cannot risk any negative exposure on this. Too many lives depend on it,” Bran said firmly. “Can you agree to that?”

The Slayer thought about this as she took another sip of coffee, most likely to buy herself some time.

“I think so,” she finally said. “If, in return, you keep our secret, and if this rule of yours doesn’t apply to Rona.”

This was a lot to ask. She was essentially asking Bran to relinquish absolute control over one of his wolves. And yet, Charles really didn’t see his father having a choice.

Before Bran could decide one way or the other, his phone rang. With an apologetic look at the Slayer, he picked it up.

“Hello, David... Alright, can you hold on for just a minute, please? Thank you.”

Charles immediately recognized the voice on the other end. It was David Christensen, the werewolf mercenary who recently helped Samuel and Mercy take down Gerry Wallace, Doc Wallace’s son, who had been plotting Bran’s overthrow in desperate attempt to force his father to embrace the wolf within.

With Gerry now taken care of, Bran had asked David to go through all of Gerry’s belongings to make sure there were no loose ends to tie up. If he was calling, then something had to be wrong.

"I'm sorry, but I have to take this call," Bran apologized.

The Slayer looked like she was going to object, but at the last second, she changed her mind.

"That's okay," she said. "We'll pick this up later."

Charles pushed himself off the bookshelf, thinking that he would drive her back to the motel, but she immediately waved him off as she headed for the door.

“Don’t worry, I can see myself out,” she said. Then she was off down the hallway without a backwards glance.

Chagrined, Charles went after her – though not before seeing a bemused expression on his father’s face.

She was quick, he would give her that. By the time he had caught up to her in the front hall, she was all bundled up and ready to leave. And maybe it was his imagination, but she also looked a little pale.

Still, she smirked when she saw him.

“You’re relieved of hosting duties. I can make it back myself, I promise,” she said.

Despite his misgivings, Charles didn’t argue. But he didn’t leave the door, either, watching her, waiting until she disappeared from sight. Even then, he waited an extra minute or two. When he was finally convinced that she wasn’t going to change her mind on the ride, he closed the door and headed back into the study.

He immediately saw that father was no longer on the phone, having moved to sit cross-legged in front of the fireplace. It was a place he often sat when deep in thought.

By the expression on his Bran’s face, the news was far from good.

Charles walked over to his father and waited. After a few minutes, Bran began to talk.

“David found a disposable cell phone among Gerry’s belongings them. The log shows a flurry of phone calls between him and Leo, as well as a few calls overseas to Britain and France,” he said lightly.”

Charles grimaced. “Arthur Madden and Jean Chastel.”

The two most powerful Alphas overseas, both of whom would jump at the chance to get rid of his father.

Bran nodded. “Though we can’t prove it. The phone numbers are not ones connected to either Alpha.”

Charles shook his head in disgust. “What was Gerry thinking?” he asked angrily. Then he pinched the bridge of his nose as something occurred to him. “Do you think he knew about Rona? And if he did, would he tell them?”

Bran stared at the fireplace for another beat before glancing over at Charles. “I hope not, for all our sakes.”


+++

Buffy set a brisk pace back to the center of town, partly because of the cold and partly because she could feel Charles’ eyes on her. But when knew she was out of his sight – and out of earshot – she stopped to pull out her cell and see who had called.

It was Rona, and she had left a voicemail.

“Hey, Buffy. I’m so sorry to do this, but I have to bail today. Shawna’s going through some stuff right now, and I think I should be here for her... I'll explain later, I promise.”

Buffy hit the disconnect button on her phone and stuffed it back into her pocket.

Well, that went part of her plans for the day. Calling Giles it was, though first she had to grab something to eat. So far, all she had in her stomach was two strong cups of coffee, and they were starting to give her some major jelly belly.

As she started to walk again, she thought about the implications of what she had just learned.

Werewolves coming out was big; maybe even bigger than when the fae had come out, though the latter definitely scored higher in shock value. Of course, that was because Buffy and the others had no idea they existed.

Though they wanted humans to believe otherwise, the fae were powerful; so powerful that the Council had either been happy to live in willful ignorance of their existence or hocus pocused into forgetting it. It was difficult to tell from the texts that survived Caleb's attack.

But… the fae were fae. There were otherworldly. Werewolves, on the other hand, were people; people who would be a bellweather for slayers, people who could blow the whistle on them, people who could be powerful allies if everything hit the fan with the fae, like she was inclined to believe it would.

Yep, there was no getting around it. This relationship with the werewolves had to work out for many, many reasons—

“Can I help you?”

Buffy gave a start. She was so deep in thought, she hadn’t noticed that she had reached the town store.

The person behind the cash register looked at her worriedly.

Embarrassed, Buffy grabbed the first thing she saw; one of those hot breakfast sandwiches under a heat lamp. Then, after thinking it over, she grabbed another one. It was practically lunch time now, and she was feeling really wonky from hunger.

She quickly paid for them and left, scarfing down both sandwiches as she walked back to her motel room.

Boy, did she make a mistake.

By the time she was settled in, warmed up, and ready to call Giles, the grease had hit the bottom of her stomach and decided to revolt. She just managed to make it to the bathroom in time.

Two hours later, she was still there, hugging the porcelain for dear life.

Yep, it looked like this day was shaping up to be one for the record books.


+++

A/N: I’m trying to avoid doing info dumps and explain the werewolf hierarchy in bits and pieces for readers who may not be too familiar with the Mercedes Thompson series. If this is too confusing, though, please let me know!

The End?

You have reached the end of "Ripple Effect" – so far. This story is incomplete and the last chapter was posted on 26 Jan 13.

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