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Objects in Mirror

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This story is No. 1 in the series "Closer Than They Appear". You may wish to read the series introduction first.

Summary: Cheerleaders, Slayers, and Witches. Oh My! Buffy's in Lima, Ohio. She's not alone. And it's not for the weather.

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Television > Glee(Moderator)acsFR18516,75835713,7964 Feb 1131 Dec 11No

Planning Stage

Disclaimer Update: Panzer Kunst? Not mine. Belongs to whatever Japanese media conglomerate owns Gunnm.
Chapter Summary: As the coincidences pile higher and deeper, Kennedy makes plans to open her own martial arts school.
Continuity: Set between Parts 3 and 4 of "Are We There Yet."
Word Count: 3,471



Relaxing back against the soft leather couch in the Berry's living room, Buffy decided that dinner had gone much better than she'd expected it to, especially with Kennedy in tow as her plus one. But she wasn't going to complain. The two Mr. Berry's were entertaining and their daughter wasn't afraid to participate in the wide ranging discussions, though, from her strained expression, Buffy suspected she'd been told some subjects were off limits.

The food had been wonderful, even to her rough slayer palette. And they'd seemed to accept that she and Kennedy were just friends.

"Now, business," Leroy, the older of the Berry's said, as they settled down with coffee. "You're purchasing the old Hansen building," he stated, looking at Kennedy. "What are your plans for it?" he asked.

"How'd you hear about that?" Kennedy asked, ignoring Rachel's surprised gasp, though it was clear to Buffy, from the hand her other father placed on her shoulder that she really wanted to say something.

"Miss Miriam is a client of mine," Hiram said. "And Rachel is a student in her dance studio. She called me this afternoon after your visit with her."

Kennedy nodded, apparently not overly surprised that she had called a lawyer for legal advice. She'd told Buffy that the dance studio owner renting one of the spaces in her building seemed to have her things together business wise. "Yes, I've bought it. The paperwork should be completed tomorrow morning."

"You work fast," he said, giving both of them an intent look that Kennedy couldn't decipher.

"Didn't see any reason to wait," Kennedy said.

"Have you talked with an architect yet?" Leroy asked her.

"Next on my list, after the paperwork goes through," she said.

"I'm familiar with the building," Leroy said, nodding at his daughter. "If you want a professional opinion."

"If it isn't a conflict of interest, since Hiram represents Madame Miriam?" Kennedy asked.

"No," Hiram said. "I don't see any conflict at this point."

"When would be a good time?" Kennedy asked.

"Give my office a call in the morning. We can meet tomorrow to discuss details," Leroy said, "but why don't you give me a rough idea of your plans now?"

"We'll need to talk with Madame Miriam about her studio and what she thinks it needs," Kennedy said. "At the very least it should be spruced up a bit as part of the remodel."

"What do you plan to do with the rest of the space?" Leroy asked.

"An apartment and office for myself on the top floor," Kennedy said. "At some point Buffy is going to get tired of having me camped out in her guest room."

"You know you're welcome to stay as long as you need to," Buffy said. "If Dawn shows up she can sleep on the couch. Anyone else planning to stay overnight can find a hotel."

Ignoring Buffy's comment and non-mention of Willow, Kennedy continued, "And a smaller apartment for visitors."

"And the ground floor and basement?"

"A martial arts studio," Kennedy said. "There's already one of those old Kung Fu studios we can use as a starting point. The basement? I haven't actually looked down there but secure storage?"

"What kind of martial arts?" Rachel asked eagerly. "I've been trying to convince my dads that capoeira would be a good addition to my repertoire."

"There isn't anyone in Ohio qualified to teach capoeira," Hiram said firmly.

"Someone I know in Cleveland has started teaching it," Buffy said, "though I don't think that's what Kennedy has in mind."

"Cleveland is too far," Hiram said to Rachel.

"My cousin knows it," Kennedy said, "It's something my mother's side of the family practices, but it isn't something I know myself. I'm not sure if she's qualified to teach it though. You'd have to ask her."

"Your cousin?" Rachel asked, pulling out her phone, appearing ready to get her number.

"Santana Lopez," Kennedy said.

"Oh," Rachel said, visibly deflating and putting away her phone. "She's already said no."

"Which martial art do you plan to teach?" Leroy asked.

"Panzer Kunst," Kennedy said. "It combines judo and several other disciplines in a style designed to allow practitioners, primarily women, to succeed against larger opponents."

Rachel's parents nodded, though Kennedy could tell they'd never heard of it.

"Now that is out of the way, what about this extra activity Sue Sylvester insists that Rachel participate in?" Hiram asked, directing his question to Buffy.

"You're aware of the power struggle between Coach Sylvester and what's his name, the Glee advisor?" Buffy asked.

"Mr. Scheuster," Rachel inserted.

"Yeah, him," Buffy said, nodding in agreement. "Although it might appear that this is part of that, Coach really does have the kid's best interests at heart."

"You've known Sue for a while?" Leroy asked. "Isn't she a bit unconventional?"

"She was my cheer coach at one point, so I'm familiar with her methods," Buffy said. "I expect to insulate them from her more extreme behavior, but her general approach works."

"What benefit would Rachel get from this?" Hiram asked. "She already has a well designed activity regimen that meets her post high school goals."

"I'm going to be on Broadway," Rachel said. "After Julliard, of course."

"You're in Glee? A bunch of people singing and dancing together? Right?" Buffy asked.

"Yes," Rachel muttered.

"That's a kind of teamwork. Well, this is your opportunity to learn another kind, in a reasonably safe environment," Buffy said. "It won't be quite like participating in a team sport but it'll be a good thing for her," Buffy told them. "And, as I told Rachel, she should give it a try for a few weeks as a change of pace from her current physical training. If she really dislikes it she can quit."

"And you'll take care of Coach Sylvester?" Rachel asked.

"If she doesn't, I have a few connections," Kennedy said with a fake Italian accent, causing Buffy to groan and the Berry men to laugh.



After dropping Buffy off at McKinley for her morning minion training, and promising to pick her up in time for lunch with her aunt, Kennedy headed for her new building, stopping for coffee first. Calling Leroy Berry's office, she sat down on the top step of the building entrance to wait.

"Panzer Kunst? I called a few friends last night," Leroy said, looking up at her from the sidewalk ten minutes later. "It's from some Japanese comic?"

"Yes, Gunnm," Kennedy said. "I've owned the rights to use the name 'Panzer Kunst' for my own style since I was sixteen. But it's a real style. It just isn't well known yet."

He nodded. "Shall we get started?"

Kennedy stood and opened the door. "After you," she said, waving him in.

"Is this a personal project? Or is the Council involved?" he asked her, once they were inside.

"The Council?" Kennedy asked innocently.

"Hiram occasionally handles cases for a law firm in New York that handles Council business," he said. "He recognized your friend's name."

"Ah," Kennedy murmured, wishing Buffy were there to handle this.

"Also, my father's firm built the Council's new London headquarters, and we're bidding on several buildings for the new Cleveland campus," Leroy said.

"So, this isn't just curiosity," Kennedy said, taking a sip of her coffee.

"No," he said. "If it's a Council project I'd like us to get a bid in on the remodel."

"No, it's a personal project," Kennedy said. "Sorry. Felt the need to settle down for a little while. Lima seems like a nice place and since I have family here, it seemed appropriate."

Leroy nodded again. "Well, let's take a look. I'm assuming you had it inspected?"

"Just the basics," she said, handing him a copy of the inspector's report. "I don't really want to do the work myself and I don't have the same level of funds as the Council, but I would be interested in your firm bidding on the remodeling job. Especially if you have experience with Council properties."

"The firm was started in 1850 by a member of the Council Board of Directors," Leroy said. "It's been in the family ever since. We've branched out over the years but we specialize in facilities made or upgraded to Council spec."

"So, a lot of experience," Kennedy said, nodding. "Does Rachel know?"

"No," he said. "She has no interest in such things. Eventually we'll tell her. Let's start with the basement," he added, pointing towards the stairs.



"Hey!" Buffy said, joining Kennedy and Leroy in the small office next to the old Kung Fu studio. "Nice space."

"Done early?" Kennedy asked, looking up from the floor plan Leroy had sketched out.

"No, you're late, so I walked," Buffy said.

"Sorry," Kennedy said. "We've been busy."

"Not a problem. Picked up a few strays along the way," Buffy said, waving at Rachel and Hiram Berry standing out in the lobby.

"That would be my lunch date," Leroy said, smiling. "You're welcome to join us," he said, gathering up the papers scattered on the desk.

"We have plans," Kennedy said. "My aunt is expecting us for lunch."

"I can hang out with the Berrys while you make nice with your aunt," Buffy said eagerly.

"My aunt insisted on your presence," Kennedy reminded her as she locked the office door behind them. "Not even your lawyer can get you out of that," she said, pointing at Hiram.

"My lawyer?" Buffy asked, puzzled.

"Guess who represents the Council in the non-Cleveland parts of Ohio," Kennedy said.

"Really?" Buffy gave Hiram an intent look.

"Yes," Hiram said. "My old law firm in New York represents the Council on the East Coast. They occasionally send cases my way."

"Let me take a wild guess," Buffy said, shaking her head. "This would be the same law firm that Frannie Fabray is a partner in?" she asked. She wasn't sure what it was about Lima but her coincidence-o-meter was already redlining before this.

"She was just an intern when we moved here," Hiram said. "But yes, she is a partner there now."

"The girls in New York all seem to like her," Buffy said.

Hiram nodded. "She's one of the youngest partners in the firm's history. Very sharp and personable. And her girlfriend Mike is one of the nicest people you'll ever meet."

"Oh yeah, Sister Mike is great," Buffy said. "Quinn's sister must be something special for them to be together."

"Sister Mike?" Rachel asked, giving them a curious look.

"I met her when I was your age," Buffy said. "She was a nun back then."

"What's the Council?" Rachel asked, following them out of the building.

"That, Baby Girl, is a story for another day," Leroy said. "But Miss Summers here worked for them for years, and her friend still does."

"Well, Kennedy is on sabbatical, and I'm semi-retired, but it isn't an organization you ever really leave," Buffy said.

"I'm on sabbatical?" Kennedy said, surprised. At Buffy's subtle nod, she said "Right. On sabbatical."

"Not even a clue?" Rachel asked them, pouting. "Please?"

Buffy raised an eyebrow at the two men, wondering if they were aware of Rachel's status as a Potential. At the way they not so subtly protectively moved closer to her, it was clear they knew something. Yet another Lima mystery, though probably not the last, Buffy thought. "I suspect I need to have a long discussion with your fathers first," Buffy said to her.

The Berry men nodded. "This afternoon while Rachel is in dance?" Hiram asked. "I can clear my schedule."

"Sounds good," Buffy said, pretending not to see Rachel's disappointed look.



"I feel like I missed something," Buffy said, reluctantly letting Kennedy drive.

"Yes," Kennedy said, concentrating on her driving.

"Well?" Buffy asked as they pulled into a small strip mall on the outskirts of Lima.

"Leroy Berry has Council connections also," Kennedy said.

"Why is it starting to feel like Lima is a secret Council resort?" Buffy asked. "What's his connection to the Council? Besides the Potential daughter and Council lawyer husband?"

"Family architecture firm was founded by a member of the Council Board of Directors back in the 1850's," Kennedy said.

"Didn't we use them for the London rebuild?" Buffy asked.

"And they are bidding on some Cleveland work," Kennedy said.

"Great!" Buffy shook her head. "Rachel doesn't appear to know what the Council is."

"Or does," Kennedy said. "I don't envy you talking with them this afternoon."

"If I have to do the whole 'Your daughter is gonna be a slayer' speech, you are going to be there too," Buffy said, shaking her head. "So where is your aunt?"

"Over there," Kennedy said, pointing at what looked like a storefront fortune teller.

"Really?" Buffy stared at her companion. "For real?"

"There's a strain of the Sight in the family," Kennedy said.

"Which means?" Buffy asked, getting out of her car.

"Tell the truth when she asks questions?" Kennedy said. "And hope she isn't in a prophetic mood?"

"Ah…" Buffy sighed and followed Kennedy.



"Well, that was interesting," Buffy said, as they returned to the car an hour later. "Good food, but scary aunt."

"Yes," Kennedy said, pouting. Her aunt had read her the riot act, in a combination of Portuguese and the family's private language, for not staying in contact with her mother's side of the family after Sunnydale.

"I can see where you get it," Buffy said. "She would have had Quentin Travers quaking in his boots."

"You impressed her," Kennedy admitted. She found Buffy's blush at the praise amusing.

"So we now have permission to let her niece know she's a potential," Buffy said. "Who does that leave out of our happy little Sue Sylvester hit squad?"

Kennedy shrugged.

"You're no help," Buffy said, poking her. "Right. We have Quinn Fabray. She knows about slayers but doesn't know she's a potential yet. According to your aunt, Santana and her girl know about demons but not about slayers. Rachel Berry doesn't know anything but her fathers apparently know something. And then there's the boy, Kurt. We'll have to assume he doesn't know anything but since he's not a potential that isn't a big deal yet."

"Sounds like fun," Kennedy said sarcastically, prodding the radio in an attempt to find a decent radio station. "You're going to need a map to keep them straight."

"You know I'm going to want to use your dojo, right?" Buffy said.

"Who's going to pay?" Kennedy asked.

"Pay?"

"It is a business," Kennedy said. "If I'm going to teach them Panzer Kunst, someone needs to pay."

"Don't you have a promotional budget?" Buffy asked. "It can come out of that. Students will be lining up down the street once they find out you've got those four girls in one of your classes."

"Not yet," Kennedy said. "It'll be at least a month before it's usable. You'll have to find somewhere else until it's done. Pool house?"

"Pool house," Buffy agreed, reluctantly. "How much do you want to charge us?" she asked.

"Us?" Kennedy frowned.

"Council project, not that they'll know that. We'll get Giles to give them scholarships."

"That has possibilities," Kennedy said, grinning.

"Within reason," Buffy said, frowning at her. "Think of a good number, that covers expenses and your time, and I'll squeeze it out of him at the next Board meeting."

"Gotcha, boss," Kennedy said, grinning. Creative bookkeeping to fool Council accountants had been one of the things her first Watcher taught her.



"You both know about the Council and what it does," Buffy said, after they'd settled down with coffee in Hiram Berry's office. "How much do you really know about slayers?"

"Too much," Leroy said, grimacing. "We know that after you destroyed Sunnydale that it isn't just one slayer at a time. That they have a better, longer life. Quentin Travers must be spinning in his grave," he said with fierce satisfaction.

"Not a fan?" Buffy asked, curious.

"My father refused to work with him after Kendra Young died," Leroy said.

"Kendra? You knew her?" Buffy asked.

"Sam Zabuto was married to one of my aunts," Leroy said. "I only know what she told me but my father was fond of her and blamed Travers' slayer training program for her death."

"And Rachel? You know she's a potential slayer?" Buffy asked. Hiram remained silent but grabbed one of Leroy's hands.

"There was a prophecy, I don't remember the exact wording," Leroy said. "But my father suspected it referred to her."

"Of course there was," Buffy said, shaking her head in resignation. "And?"

"My father resigned from the Board when Travers was elected Head of the Council after Kendra's death. When Rachel was born he remembered the prophecy and asked a friend to perform the ritual to detect newborn potential slayers," Leroy said. "It said she was going to be the slayer but he didn't tell us until the old Council was destroyed. He'd been able to keep her name off the potential rolls but he wasn't sure what affect your changes would have on her."

"When he told us, we panicked," Hiram said. "So we ran."

"Why here?" Kennedy asked.

"We were living in New York," Leroy said, "when my father heard through the grapevine that there was a town where potentials never became slayers."

"Lima, of course," Buffy said. "Any more coincidences and my head is going to explode. But let's get back to Rachel."

"Can you promise she won't die young?" Hiram asked. "She has plans, and she's really talented. Is becoming a slayer going to affect them?"

"Hiram is the 'stage mother' in the family," Leroy said, looking at his husband fondly. "She gets her stubbornness and drive from him."

"We can't make any promises," Buffy said. "But we can make sure her and the other girls are prepared when it does happen."

"She's not the only one," Leroy said, nodding. "So it really is true. About the Lima immunity?"

"Yes," Buffy said. "If I could spare them, I would. But we don't know why and we don't know how long this immunity will last. How well do either of you know Sue Sylvester? "

"I met her years ago, at a party," Leroy said. "But I didn't know she was still working for the Council."

"She was old Council," Buffy said. "She moved to Lima years ago to study this no-slayer zone. She thinks she has it solved."

"She seems like a loose canon from what Rachel's told us," Hiram said.

"Well, she's been on her own since the old Council was destroyed, but we're reeling her in," Buffy said optimistically.

"What can we do to help?" Hiram asked. "We want her to fulfill her dreams."

"Right now? Support her. Don't let her forget her dreams, but let us train her," Buffy said. "The morning sessions with the others should help, and Kennedy's Panzer Kunst training, once that starts, will be important. And she needs to know about the dangers out there. Keeping her in the dark for much longer is too dangerous. There have been too many coincidences since I moved here. It might not happen this year, or next, but Lima is looking like ground zero for something big."

"How do we tell her?" Hiram asked.

"Team effort," Buffy said, waving her hand to indicate all four of them. "I have some of the material we usually use to convince parents, and we can do some show-n-tell tonight."

"Why do I get the feeling I'm going to be the 'show' part of this?" Kennedy asked with a grimace.

Buffy gave her her best 'innocent' look, though she could tell Kennedy wasn't buying it.

Kennedy groaned and looked down at her watch. "Hey Boss? We have to meet my cousin at the park in a few minutes."

"Okay," Buffy said, standing up. "Are you going to be okay with this?" she asked the silent Berry men.

"Not really," Hiram said, speaking for both of them. "But we will do everything in our power to help her."

"Good!" Buffy said, impulsively giving them both hugs before leading Kennedy outside.

"They took it better than I expected," Kennedy said, waiting for Buffy to unlock the car.

"They aren't happy but Leroy's old Council and Hiram knows the score," Buffy reminded her. "The rest is up to us."

"What are you going to do about my cousin's girl, and that Kurt kid?" Kennedy asked.

"No idea," Buffy said, adjusting her seat.

"Ah, the traditional Scooby 'Let's Wing It!' plan," Kennedy said, nodding sagely, trying not to laugh at Buffy's reaction. "Those always go well."

"You can always walk," Buffy said.

Kennedy held up her hands in surrender, "Yes, Boss!" she said, bursting into laughter, unable to contain it any longer.

The End?

You have reached the end of "Objects in Mirror" – so far. This story is incomplete and the last chapter was posted on 31 Dec 11.

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