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Lonely Souls

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This story is No. 2 in the series "Waifs and strays". You may wish to read the series introduction and the preceeding stories first.

Summary: The second (much longer) installment in the Waifs and Strays AU. Covers season 1. Please READ THE SERIES INTRODUCTION!

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Multiple Crossings > Joyce-Centered(Current Donor)vidiconFR1598780,1331581494399,13528 May 115 Jul 14No

NOTE: This chapter is rated FR13

A game of Thrones

Author’s note:

 

And chapter 41. It was recently pointed out to me that it is difficult to read my stories due to the distance between paragraphs. I’ve noticed this myself. I convert/save my word files as webpages to post them and they all turn out that way, can anyone give tips on how to change it?

 

Thanks for the latest to recommend me: Mordare and Traveller.

 

Reviews are most welcome, as always.

 

Chapter 41: A game of thrones

 

Giles looked up from his plans for the next evening and saw a petite but strong and fit woman.Her hair was a deep glossy auburn and her large eyes were deep grey green. Her heavily lidded eyes reminded him of Simon yet the shape of the face and nose was more like Joyce’s, down to the fine eyebrows and pale skin. Her face was delicate oval and her chin firm and with a tiny cleft.

 

“Ah…can I help you?”

 

“I’m Special Agent Clarice Starling. I’m here to help locate my niece.”

 

Giles blinked. He’d heard about the woman, obviously, but here she was and she was well…different from what he expected.

 

“Agent Starling. I’m Rupert Giles.” He extended his hand and she shook it firmly.



“Buffy’s Watcher. You realize that if you hurt her, I will destroy you and your whole bloody Council?”

 

Giles opened his mouth to reply but felt there was very little he could say. “So noted…errr. How may I help you?”

 

“Do you have any information on Marcie?”

 

“Yes…I made a small file on her, what we know. It’s only a few pages of notes…”

 

Clarice smiled. “Can I read them?”

 

“Certainly.” He strode into his office and grabbed the slim folder, walked back and handed it over. “There you are.”

 

“Thank you.” Agent Starling sat down, pulled a pad and pen from her purse and started reading and making notes.

 

Arlene was moving silently through the school, searching for hiding places, followed closely by Buffy. Both women tried to pinpoint the location, the source, of the soft flute music that could be heard throughout the school. They had so far failed to do so and were getting frustrated. They had circled through the school once so far and were now once again at the library. Arlene threw open the double doors with considerable irritation.

 

Clarice and Giles looked up from their theatre notes and the file on Marcie respectively and both smiled. Arlene walked up to the table and Clarice rose and hugged her. “Hey little sister.”

 

“Clarice? What are you doing here?”

 

“Helping. And mom wants to see Kit and see if she can help find Marcie as well. And Simon called her about some sort of mind affecting spell or something. Where have you searched so far?”

 

“Everywhere!” Buffy groaned.

 

“I see. The band room?”

 

“Band room? What’s so special about that?” Buffy asked curiously.

 

“It seems to be about the only place she got any attention. She was the second flutist until the death of the old band leader, the new one though she lacked presence and relegated her to fifth.”

 

Arlene held in a sob. “My poor baby…”

 

“We’ll find her ‘Lene, I promise.”

 

“We’ll go look at the band room.” Buffy said decisively.

 

Arlene looked pointedly at the clock. “I don’t think so young lady. Class first. ‘Ris and I are more than capable of finding Marcie, or her hiding place.”

 

“I have all these neat Slayer powers, like hearing and smell!.” Buffy rolled her eyes.

 

“Firstly you don’t know what Marcie smells like. Secondly you’re looking at America’s foremost profiler. I think we have a chance without you.” Arlene crossed her arms and nodded towards Clarice.

 

“B-But…I want to help!” Buffy looked between her aunts who both smiled.

 

“You have helped Buffy…and if we need you, we know where you are. Science classroom One.”

 

Buffy scowled. “Has everybody memorized my schedule?”

 

“Well someone has to do it.” Arlene said blandly. “You have class. You ready ‘Ris?”

 

“Yeah. Let’s go find her.”

 

Giles looked after the two musingly. “Remind me never to do anything to annoy those two.”

 

“Heh. Well you might want to add Aunt Charlotte to that as well, and Mom.”

 

Giles shuddered. “That lesson I learned some time ago.”

 

“But the ones you really have to be afraid of are my grandmother and Aunt Penny. All of them…including mom…” She gestured at the doors through which her aunts had disappeared. “Are definitely less dangerous. And scared of them too, I think. Nana Moritz might fit that category too…Simon is definitely somewhat scared of Nana…”

 

Giles gulped and took off his glasses. “Dear lord…”

 

“Yeah. Well, I gotta book. I’ve got some class in Science room one apparently.” She picked up her bag and left, leaving Giles to clean his glasses and studying the plans for that afternoon’s general rehearsal.

 

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The two sisters moved through the school silently, their flat, sensible shoes making almost no noise on the linoleum covered floors and their faces set in professionally neutral expressions. Numbers of young men looked after them for a while after their passage, lustful and yearning looks on their faces. The boys were ignored by the two women and they swiftly reached the band practice room.

 

Arlene quartered the room while Clarice studied the furniture. She studied the ceiling tiles, and then she jumped up on a stool and then a cupboard and lifted one of the tiles, rising through the ceiling. “Bingo.”

 

Arlene was by her side like a shot. “What did you find?”

 

“Where’s she’s been staying.” Clarice lifted herself into the space above the ceiling and pulled Arlene up after her.

 

“She’s been here a while.” Clarice studied the space and the nest of fire blankets. A small pile of books lay beside it and a battered school concert flute was on top of them.

 

Arlene swallowed heavily as she looked at the sparse things that were all that her daughter owned.

 

Clarice carefully moved to the nest and opened the top book, the previous year’s Yearbook. She leafed through it and then moved back to the open ceiling tile. Arlene followed. Once back in the band room Clarice quickly but thoroughly checked the pages. A piece of partially burned paper fell from the back and she studied it quickly.

 

“Arlene…” Clarice handed the paper to Arlene who stiffened as she read it. The letters birth certi… and Evelyn Phil were visible. A childish hand had written upon one of the few remaining white spots, the words. “Nobody loves you, not even your mother.”

 

“Little bastards!” Arlene hissed.

 

“General rehearsal is this afternoon, right?”

 

“Yeah?”

 

“We got to find her before then.” She showed Arlene the book, where a standing portrait of Cordelia Chase had been torn with nails and sharp objects. On the opposite page a collage of her face had been similarly destroyed. Arlene shuddered.

 

“Yes…Yes we do.”

 

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Rupert Giles stood at the table in the library and groaned. Jenny Calendar, standing beside him, did the same. “Think we can get out of rehearsing in front of the pupils?”

 

“We are the producer and director Jenny…we do have some latitude.”

 

“We’re going to be the laughing stock of the school, you know that don’t you, English?”

 

 “I’m completely aware of that unfortunate fact.”

 

“Stupid Joyce Summers!”  Jenny groused.

 

“Indeed? And what has my daughter done to deserve that epithet?” A deceptively mild voice spoke from near the door. The two turned round and saw a petite blonde woman in her late fifties, her hair greying and her hazel eyes flinty.

 

“Ahhh…Mrs. Ellis I presume?” Giles saw the family resemblance between this woman and her daughters.

 

“Yes…you would be Mr. Giles?”

 

“I am…err…might I inquire why you are here?”

 

“My grandchildren, including one I’ve never met, are running around this place hunting each other and you ask that question?”

 

“Ah…yes of course.”

 

“And I came to threaten you of course.” She said coldly. “You see…I know what happened to the last…” She looked at Jenny. “You have power, dear…how much do you know?”

 

“Know? Know about what?”

 

Cecilia let out a sigh. “I’ll talk with Buffy first…we will be continuing this conversation later Mr. Giles…”  She gave the two a piercing look and was about to speak when the doors flew open and her two eldest daughters ran in.

 

Rupert Giles had never seen two adult, powerful and yes, quite frightening women pull to such a sudden, embarrassed halt, as those currently facing their mother. Cecilia had barely moved yet her disapproval seemed to radiate off of her in waves.

 

“Running in the halls?”

 

“Sorry mom!” The women chorused.

 

Jenny giggled but shut up and paled when Cecilia turned her eyes upon her. 

 

“I assume from your enthusiasm you’ve discovered something?”

 

“Where’s she’s been staying. And this.” Clarice put the Yearbook on the table and opened it at the page where the pictures of Cordelia had been defaced.

 

Cecilia’s eyebrows rose. “That does not look good. Anyone you two are familiar with?” She directed her gaze at Jenny and Giles.

 

“T-That would be Cordelia Chase…a so called cool girl.”

 

Cecilia pursed her lips. “One of the girls who heaped abuse on my granddaughter?”

 

“Apparently. She is not…the nicest person around.” Giles answered.

 

“She’s an egotistical, shallow, annoying bitch.” Jenny added.

 

“And she sings like a crow. “ Arlene said, while wincing.

 

“I see. Well, no matter how annoying the girl is we can’t let Evelyn kill her, it would destroy her eventually. I dare say her attacks upon the other girls haven’t helped her sanity much.” Cecilia sadly concluded.

 

Jenny looked at her in confusion. “Sorry? I mean, I can imagine that the loneliness would drive her to insanity, and the attacks, well I’ll admit they aren’t the sanest thing, but…”

 

Cecilia held up a hand. “This town seems to encourage babbling. Evelyn is going mad because she’s using her powers, not just for her own gain, but to harm others. The special abilities granted to our line come at a cost. And though we can choose not to use them…if we use them for what I’ll loosely describe as ‘evil’…We start down path that ends in insanity, where our ability to use our powers disappears.”

 

Jenny rolled her eyes. “Oh, come on! Even I know that only the Great Spirit lines have that sort of…” She fell silent as the three women crossed their arms and looked at her, amusement on their faces.

 

“Oh…shit.”

 

Giles took of his glasses and cleaned them with a handkerchief he pulled from his pocket. “I-I always wondered if that was true...The Council only has very limited information on the Great Spirit Lines.”

 

“Considering how often you’ve wanted to burn us, can you really blame us?” Cecilia said severely. “Now we need to save two girls, my granddaughter and this vain thing that she wants to kill.”

 

Jenny sat down at the computer and called up the pupils’ class schedule. “Cordelia is in the same class as Buffy and Willow, in Science Room 1.”

 

Arlene and Clarice smirked and Giles grinned. “How convenient.”

 

“Isn’t it just?” Clarice said.

 

Jenny blinked. “Am I missing something?”

 

Giles shrugged. “Just a little materteral action regarding Buffy.”

 

Jenny gave him a look. “Mater what? Is that an actual word?”

 

“Materteral. Pertaining to aunts, the female version of avuncular if you will. It’s obvious you didn’t study languages.” Giles smirked.

 

“English…” Jenny’s voice was threatening.

 

“Yes, Miss Calendar?” Giles’ voice was suave but teasing.

 

“I can make your life hell…”

 

“Miss Calendar, tomorrow we must perform…that song in front of most of the school…Hell has already risen to devour me.” He told her dryly.

 

Cecilia smiled. “Oh yes, your act. I’m looking forward to that. Especially the costumes. Arlene, Clarice, shall we go find Evelyn?” She led her grinning daughters out of the room, trailed by a blushing and mortified Giles and Jenny.

 

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Buffy grinned as Dave and Willow sat in class, their hands hanging between them, fingers intertwined. It was a good thing that Dave was ambidextrous since it allowed him to take notes even while holding hands. The modesty panel happily shielded the two from the attention of the teacher.

 

Cordelia was sitting by Harmony, who was at school for the first day since getting concussed and who was looking confused by the notion of artificial insemination, which the teacher was trying to explain using the example of cows. A lot of the boys were sniggering, but that was to be expected.

 

The bell rang and the teacher called out the homework. “Chapters 12 and 13; don’t forget to answer the questions at the end of the chapters in full!”

 

Buffy trailed after Dave and Willow, Xander by her side. Cordelia and Harmony hurried out of class and headed towards the theatre dressing rooms.

 

“Well Cordelia is in a hurry to humiliate herself.” Xander grinned. “Hasn’t anyone told her eye that she’s never going to win the Talent Show with that voice? The crows fall dead as they pass.”

 

“Yeah, wells she thinks she’ll coast in on her so called popularity.” Buffy sneered. “She’s in for a surprise.”

 

“A bigger one than you think.” A dry voice came from behind her and Buffy turned. “Aunt Clarice! Grandma! You’re here!”

 

“Well of course. We want to see your big moment up on stage.” Clarice winked.

 

Buffy sighed. “Well at least Aunt Charlotte won’t be here.”

 

“Ah, but Simon’s bodyguards have promised to film the proceedings from multiple angles…”

 

Xander groaned. “You know, I think we’re going to be embarrassed at dozens of family gatherings for the rest of our lives…”

 

“That’s what family’s for dear…embarrassing you. Now, Evelyn has more than a slight grudge towards Miss Chase and it behoves us to prevent her from killing or maiming her.” Cecilia continued.

 

“Awww…Do we have to?” Xander whined, rolling his eyes comically.

 

“Alexander! We do not make jokes about the safety of innocents.” Cecilia was suppressive and Xander winced.

 

“Sorry Mrs. Ellis.”

 

“It’s still Gran, Xander…but kindly remember please that there’s good in almost all people, even if you sometimes have to dig very deep. Now lets get after them before Evelyn destroys herself.”

 

“Yes, of course.”

 

They set of to the theatre but were interrupted by a dry cough from a classroom. “Ehem.” Principal Snyder looked at the group with disdain. “And what is going on here? And who are you people?”

 

Cecilia turned her icy gaze upon him. “I am Cecilia Ellis…former School Counsellor at Imperial High School and Inspector of Schools for the State of California. I will be reporting certain safety issues and issues of the qualifications of numbers of your teachers to my former superiors, purely as a concerned citizen of course.”

 

Snyder blinked. “What?”

 

“If you aren’t aware of these safety issues, you’re even lees capable of performing your job than I thought when I first entered this campus.”

 

“Errr…there are channels for this sort of thing…” Snyder tried uncertainly.

 

“Yes. Concerned citizens may deposit complaints and questions with the Inspectorate of Schools. It’s much easier now than it was when I was actually still working there.”

 

“And why are you here? What right do you have to being on this campus?” Snyder tried to regain control of the conversation.

 

“It is very clearly stated that close relatives of pupils may visit school campuses unless clear intent of harm or destructive behaviour can be shown or an official ruling to counter it is made by the School board. I happen to be aware that no such ruling exists for Sunnydale High School. The degree of my relationship to Buffy and Alexander as well as Willow is sufficiently close that no interference from overly officious busybodies will stand in a court of law. Any further useless questions?”

 

Snyder by now was looking decidedly aggravated and decided to turn his attention to a different target. “And you?” He asked venomously of Clarice.

 

“In the first place I’m Buffy’s aunt…in the second…” She took out her badge. “Just to show my Bona fides.”

 

Snyder winced. “Ah. Err…I see…” He stepped into the hallway and quickly walked away.

 

Cecilia led her own group away, Xander and Buffy grinning broadly and Giles and Jenny suppressing matching smirks. They arrived at the theatre soon after. Buffy and Xander immediately headed to the dressing rooms while Clarice and Arlene took up station on stage, with Giles and Jenny sitting in the theatre itself.

 

“Heya Wills.” Buffy entered the dressing room and looked around. Willow was changing into the dress and wig of her witch costume, but was foregoing the make up. There was no sign of Cordelia. 

 

“Hey Buffy.”

 

“Did you see Cordelia?”

 

“I think she and Harmony went to the rest room, she said she wasn’t going to change into her dress so as to keep it a surprise.”

 

“Damn.” The Slayer ran out and back into the school proper, back to the rest room the Cordettes favoured.

 

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Cordelia and Harmony entered the restroom together, taking up position in front of the mirror.

 

“I gotta go. Be right back.” Harmony stepped into one of the cubicles and closed the door. Cordelia stood in front of the mirror, studying her reflection when she felt a cloth pushed against her face and nose by a strong if small hand.  She struggled for a moment and then collapsed as the chloroform took hold. She was quickly dragged away through the empty hallway and down to the cellars.  

 

Buffy flew into the restroom just as Harmony came out of the cubicle.

 

“Harmony? Where’s Cordelia?”

 

Harmony blinked in confusion. “She should be here.” The taller girl looked around as if by the very act her friend would reappear.

 

Buffy swore softly under her breath and then studied the restroom with all her senses, sniffing and feeling. There was a scent here…she knew it. The same scent had hung in the entrance of the Rosenberg home the night Willow had been kidnapped by Fritz. Chloroform. Buffy turned and ran out of the restroom, sniffing the air as she went. She arrived at the basement door within minutes and ran down the stairs. She followed the scent into a back room and looked around. The room was filled with the detritus of school life, old desks, chairs, sun curtains, parasols and banners used for PTA meetings of days gone buy. Garden lights and other larger pieces were set in one corner. Cordelia was tied, unconscious, to a chair in the middle of the room, a throne like one that Buffy herself had used when she was May Queen. Another was set beside it, for the May king.

 

Buffy stealthily moved into the room, towards Cordelia, looking for ways to cut the thick ropes. A bag was thrown over her head and she kicked back and heard an ‘oof’ of expelled breath and pain. Whoever she hit with her kick drew on the string at the bag’s opening and tightened it around Buffy’s neck. The scent was much stronger inside the plastic lined canvas bag and she felt herself starting to lose consciousness. She pulled at the bag and held her breath. She did not see the heavy wrench coming as it hit her and she collapsed.

 

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Arlene looked into the girl’s dressing room and saw none but Willow and Amy. “Hey you two. Where’s Buffy and Cordelia?”

 

“Ummm…Cordelia and Harmony went to the toilet…Buffy went there too…is something wrong?”

 

“Shit! Yeah, we think Marcie is after Cordelia. Clarice! Mom!”

 

Arlene ran towards the exit of the theatre when she suddenly staggered and almost fell.

 

#A large damp room, filled with school desks, lit by fluorescent tubes, no windows, obviously dank and dark, two girls, tied to two separate chairs, a table with rusted biological and surgical items between them, an invisible hand propelling one of them to the dark haired girl.#

 

“Basement.” She gasped. “They’re in the basement.”

 

“We’ll take you there.” Giles immediately said.

 

Cecilia and Clarice nodded and Rupert and Jenny quickly led the way. 

 

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Buffy regained consciousness to the sound of humming. “Oooh. You’re awake. That’s a lot faster than Cordelia. But then you’re a real special girl aren’t you Buffy? Everybody notices you.” The voice was shrill and tense, with a ripple of madness running through it.

 

“Marcie…you have to let us go. You can’t hold us here.”

 

“Who says I want to? I’m just gonna make sure that you’re both noticed for what you are, for the darkness and ugliness within as well as the one I’m gonna make outside.” She drew a tattered cloth aside and revealed a desk with a tray heaped with rusted dissection tools taken from the science labs.

 

“And I’ll learn something doing it too!” The invisible girl started humming again and threw a bucket of dirty water over Cordelia, who woke up, spluttering.

 

“Hello Cordelia…I don’t think you remember me…but don’t worry…from now on you’ll never forget me…every time someone gasps at your face…you’ll remember me…”

 

“Marcie…you can’t do this…you have to stop…” Buffy pleaded as a rusty scalpel turned invisible in Marcie’s hand.

 

“I’m not Marcie…I’m nobody. No one knows who I am, no one cares what I do…so I’ll make you all notice me and remember me. I will. I WILL!!” Marcie started to laugh, shrill and incoherent.

 

“Where shall I cut first Cordy? Your nose? You eye?” Marcie trailed the invisible knife down Cordelia’s shirt and the sharp blade cut the cloth. “Or lower down?”

 

Cordelia whimpered. “Please…what did I ever do to you?”

 

“What did you do to me? You want me to tell you what did to me? You ignored me. You made others ignore me. Miss ‘I’m so popular!, I’m so rich.’ You got your friends and they all fawn over you, but you think they’ll still do so when you don’t have a face left?” Marcie shrieked and a thin line of blood appeared on Cordelia’s upper arm.

 

“If every last bit of you is scar?” Marcie leaned forward, breathing into Cordelia’s face. Cordelia flinched back as far as she could and looked at Buffy.

 

“Help! Buffy, help! Please!”

 

“Oh, little Miss Buffy will be next, don’t worry…you’ll both be equally ugly…”

 

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The door to the basement room was closed and Clarice eyed it. “Metal sheathed wood. Simple lock.” She tried the handle and it was obvious the door was locked. Cecilia reached into her purse and came out with a plastic bag. Clarice looked at her questioningly and Cecilia just nodded at the door.

 

Clarice nodded. “Stand back.” She drew herself up and kicked as near to the lock as she could manage, twice, as hard as she could. The lock gave way on the second kick. Arlene was the first into the room, closely followed by Giles, then by Clarice and then Cecilia.

 

Buffy was straining against her bonds with all of her considerable strength and felt the old ropes give just as the door opened with a crash and the rescue party stormed in.

 

A shrill voice sounded from between the two chairs. “No! I’m not done yet!”

 

Arlene stepped forward. “Stop this! Stop this now!”

 

“Never! I’ll get them. I’ll get them all! The three brats and the bastards who called themselves my parents and the slut of a bitch who gave birth to me and abandoned me! I am no one! I am alone!”

 

Buffy had grasped the ropes and with a sudden heave ripped them loose, taking the left hand armrest with her and used the piece of wood to conk Marcie on the head. There was an ‘oof’ and a thud.

 

Cecilia rushed to Buffy’s side and thrust her hand into the bag and drew out a handful of flour which she threw at the sound. The settling flour landed and in the split second it took for the girl’s power to turn the powder invisible, Buffy struck the girl who was struggling to her feet firmly on the jaw. Marcie collapsed in a heap but did not become visible. Arlene knelt by where her daughter should be and carefully felt her jaw and neck.

 

Clarice hurried to Cordelia and untied her. Jenny joined her and placed a tissue on the bleeding wound.

 

“Wha- what was that?”

 

“Just a hallucination dear…you can hardly have been attacked by an invisible girl who hates your guts for being a total bitch now can you?” Cecilia said sweetly.

 

“Huh?’

 

“Exactly. Come on, lets get out of here. Buffy? Could you?” She gestured at the empty space between the thrones and Buffy nodded and lifted up the girl carefully. She noted that Arlene stayed very close and kept a hand on the girl all the time.

 

“I’ll take Cordelia to the Nurse’s office. Why don’t you go and oversee the rehearsal Rupert?” Jenny artfully suggested.

 

Giles glared. “Have you no mercy woman?”

 

“You’ll live. Get going. Buffy, don’t forget to come back. You still have class after we time your act.”

 

“Okay.” Buffy nodded and carried Marcie to the car park, loading her into Arlene’s car. Clarice took the wheel after handing Arlene a set of handcuffs. Cecilia and Arlene sat on the back seat, with an unconsious Marcie held between them.

 
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