Joss Whedon owns "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and related characters; Patricia Briggs owns "The Mercedes Thompson Series" and related characters; I own nothing.~*~*~
Paying bills is not my favorite thing to do. I think I’d rank it almost as low as going to visit the vampire seethe and having to call my customers to tell them that their beloved car has gone to the junkyard in the sky. So when the phone rang, loud in my otherwise silent trailer, I picked it up without looking at the caller ID, grateful for any break in my monthly torture session.
“Hello?” I answered, glaring at my dwindling balance sheet.
“Mercy. Is my son there?” I don’t know how exactly he did it, but Bran Cornick had this uncanny ability to call whenever there might be something wrong. In the five months Samuel had been living with me, Bran had called at other times, supposedly to “check in on me”, but this was the first time he had specifically asked for his son from the getgo.
“He’s working a late shift at the hospital,” I answered, straightening slightly even though Bran wasn’t actually in the room with me. The Marrok had that affect on people. “I’m doing fine, thanks for asking.”
There was a pause, and I could almost hear Bran’s smile. Almost. My hearing’s not that good.
“I’m glad to hear that you’re doing well, Mercy. Are things still running smoothly between you and Samuel?” I paused, wondering how to answer that. While it could get awkward between Samuel and I--sometimes living with the man you fell in love with as a teenager could lead to that--for the most part, things were fine. But then there was that incident at the garage this afternoon that had been bugging me all day. Who was the Slayer? What was she to Samuel? Did Bran know about her?
“Things are going OK, other than him being too fond of the AC,” I finally answered. “But compared to what it could be, it’s not that bad.”
“What aren’t you telling me, Mercy?”
I winced, although I knew it was coming. Bran had probably heard the hesitation in my voice and known that something else was going on. I paused, trying to figure out how exactly I wanted to approach this to get the answers I wanted.
“What do you know about the Slayer?” I asked carefully, shifting in my seat. Sometimes it was best to go with the direct approach, I decided.
“Why are you asking, Mercy? What happened?” Bran demanded, his voice going from concerned parental figure to leader of the North American weres in an instant. I cringed. OK, maybe had needed to take a different approach to this. Too late now.
“A woman came in to get her car fixed,” I started, hoping that I hadn’t just called down Bran’s wrath on her. She seemed like a nice person, all things considered. “Nothing out of the ordinary, just an older BMW in need of a few engine repairs.”
“What was her name?”
“She put down Buffy Summers when she signed the paperwork. That was right before Samuel came in and called her ‘The Slayer’ and it turned into a staring contest between them,” I told Bran, replaying the confrontation in my office in my head. There had been an undercurrent of something between them that I was still having problems placing, and it was bugging the hell out of me. “He asked her what she was doing here, she didn’t give him a straight answer, and then she left.”
“So she didn’t give any indication why she might be in the Tri-Cities?” Bran’s voice was calm, but I could detect a hint of worry in it.
“She said she was traveling for her job when I asked her about what she did before Samuel came in, but she was a little evasive about it.” I paused before deciding to take the plunge. I wouldn’t get the answers I wanted if I didn’t ask, right? “Bran, what is ‘The Slayer’? I don’t remember anyone talking about her when I was living in Aspen Creek.”
“The Slayer, for most weres, is a story we tell to keep the wolves in line,” Bran started carefully, his voice giving nothing away. “She’s a monster story, the person who hunts out of control weres and vampires. Always a young woman, always alone.”
“I’m guessing by your and Samuel’s reaction she’s less of a myth and more of a reality than most people suspect.”
“She may be real, but very little is actually known about her and how she came to be,” Bran answered. “She keeps to herself for the most part, and when she does appear, she normally leaves as quickly as she came so not to draw unwanted attention to herself.”
“Are you saying she’s immortal? Like a were?” I asked, wondering if I was adding two and two together and getting four or was completely off the mark.
“That’s my suspicion, yes. After the second time that Charles met her, he said that it was the same woman, just with her hair dyed a different color. We have records of several aliases she may have used in the past to keep humans from noticing she doesn’t age.” I was getting the feeling that there was more to this story than what Bran was telling me, but there was little I could do about that right now. I had a starting point and there was nothing stopping me from looking into the Slayer on my own time.
“If you want more information on her, I suggest you talk to Warren,” Bran told me, almost causing me to fall out of my chair. He keeps telling me that he’s not psychic, but when he pulls stuff like this, it becomes hard to believe. He has to have something other than an unofficial degree in psychology to be this accurate about what people are thinking all the time. “He’s an old acquaintance of hers.”
“In a good way or in a bad way?” I asked, feeling like this was an important distinction to make.
“Would I tell you to talk to him about the Slayer if there were bad memories on his side?”
“Possibly, if only to teach me to stop digging in places where I’ll get my nose bit off,” I answered, only half-joking. This was Bran we were talking about, after all.
“Just talk to Warren, and you should get some of the answers you’re looking for, Mercy,” Bran said, and I finally detected some humor in his voice for the first time since we had started talking about the Slayer. I opened my mouth to ask about Samuel’s relationship with Buffy Summers before stopping myself. Even if Bran knew, he probably wouldn’t tell me anything. He would tell me to ask Samuel myself if I wanted answers, and I liked my head a little too much to go that route.
“I’ll do that then,” I promised Bran, writing a note to myself to call Warren some time tomorrow.
“And Mercy? Be careful around her,” Bran warned me. “As far as we know, she only goes after weres and vampires who cross a line, but if she sees you as a threat...”
“I’ll be as careful as I always am, Bran,” I told him. “I’ll talk to you later. Bills to pay, a mouth to feed. I’ll let Samuel know you called.”
“Take care, Mercy.”
Hanging up the phone, I looked at it for a second, sorting out what little Bran had told me about Buffy Summers, aka the Slayer. Instead of answering the questions that I had, it had only brought to light several new ones, like if she was truly immortal, why was she hunting weres and vampires, and how exactly did she stay under the radar? Maybe that conversation that Bran recommended that I have with Warren should happen sooner rather than later.