Machida Part 1
Machida, Part 1
A/N: Disclaimer's in the first chapter. This is the first alteration to the BtVS timeline as we know it, folks, though this one is for practical purposes. Exchange programs don't happen real fast, so Inca Mummy Girl and Reptile Boy are being switched.
Sunday had been almost eerily silent on the supernatural front, as if everything in Sunnydale was holding its breath, waiting to see what would happen in the wake of the warehouse being burned down. Angel was still hanging around, though he was keeping his head down for the moment. He knew he didn't have very long to remain in Sunnydale, with Spike's ultimatum, but the chaos on the fourth had extended his time to remain here by a couple of days at least.
The Scoobies got a bit of a surprise that Monday in school, when it was announced their school would be taking part in an exchange program. Students from Jamaica, Russia, Egypt, and Germany (among other countries) were evidently going to be doing a tour of the United States' schools. Sunnydale was somehow the first stop. They would be arriving in a week, and Snyder wanted people to volunteer to put them up. He further announced that there was going to be a trip to the Sunnydale Museum on Friday as part of the preparations, though how that would help them prepare, none of the Scoobies could figure out.
"It could end up being the last stop for some of them." Jon said when they met up at lunch to talk about it. "They're going to be lambs to the slaughter here. They don't even have the small measure of native caution some people around here have."
"We're going to have to step up patrols until they're gone." Buffy said, agreeing completely.
Willow and Xander nodded as well.
"I'll sign up to have one of them stay with me." Willow said. "Maybe two, if I can wrangle it. If they're at my place, they'll be that bit safer, even if it will make things slightly awkward with patrolling."
Xander nodded. "Better slightly awkwardly trying to explain late evening patrols away than dead foreigners. Somehow, I don't think their folks will fall prey to Sunnydale Syndrome, and that would get very, very messy very quickly."
"No shit." Jon agreed.
While part of Jon thought that exposing Sunnydale for what it was needed to happen, it was only a very small part. The rest of him realized that, like with the Stargate Program, ignorance was bliss where the majority of the population was concerned. It'd be a tossup as to whether Sunnydale got nuked or fenced off as a preserve for 'endangered animals', depending on who got here first.
"And it figures the troll only gave us a week's notice." Buffy said. "They did something like this at Hemery, and it was being organized for months beforehand, that I knew of. Probably a lot longer, since I sort of heard about it secondhand. It was before I started there. But Snyder'd want as many of those kids vulnerable as possible. So, week's notice. And did you see? Some of them are supposed to be coming in on the freaking bus!"
Jon nodded. "Yeah, I noticed that. Which is why we're going to be doing a lot of heavy-duty patrolling. Maybe let it be known at Willy's that anyone that touches the exchange students will be dead before they realize their error."
"Probably not worth it." Buffy said. "It might scare a few off, but I think it'd just make them a more tempting target to the rest."
Jon wrinkled his nose. "Point." He agreed.
Patrol had mostly returned to normal by Tuesday night, the demon population having recovered from the surprise of the warehouse attack. They were all keeping a very close eye out for Spike, but he was being cagey again, keeping his head down and staying out of sight.
The cemeteries had still been fairly thick with newly risen vamps until Tuesday night, as the crop sired by the vampires who had either been dusted or fled were still rising and hanging out in the cemeteries. Tonight, though, there wasn't a newly risen vamp to be found in the cemeteries.
"Masters of Courts normally reserve the right to sire new minions and childer to themselves." Giles said when the second cemetery on their route had come up empty of vamps. "While the old Aurelius Master could not exercise that right due to his situation, it would seem that Spike is."
"Which means fewer dumb cannon-fodder vamps." Buffy said. "And probably more regular demons to fill in the gap."
"Very probably." Giles agreed.
They'd just finished swinging by Miller's Woods, depending mostly on Jon's hearing to know if something was up in there, rather than trying to walk the whole thing. Sunnydale University was their next stop, and they'd just crossed the boundary between the woods' wild, unkempt stretch and the rigidly manicured lawns of the university when Jon snapped to attention.
"Someone's screaming." He said, then, after a moment's hesitation. "And running."
"That'd be our cue then." Xander said, and they headed into the campus.
It didn't take them long to find the screamer. It was a girl that Xander and Willow recognized as being a senior in high school. Her dress was askew and she was barefoot. She was also frightened enough to have foregone looking over her shoulder in favor of running as hard and fast as she could.
She gave an additional, extra-loud shriek when she nearly tumbled straight into their group. She tried to swerve around them but lost her footing and ended up on her ass on the pavement, looking up at them with wide, frightened eyes as she tried to scramble to her feet and get away from this new apparent danger.
Xander handed his most visible weapons off to Jon and then crouched down. "Hey, whoah. It's ok. Calm down. We're not going to hurt you." He soothed.
He didn't realize it, but he was instinctively slipping into a particular tone that Blair had called 'Guide Voice'. Blair had figured out fairly quickly that when Jim was distressed in one way or another, he tended to react using that tone. Thanks to their jobs, it hadn't taken much longer before Blair realized that the tone also worked to a lesser extent on the rattled victims that he and Jim had to interact with. As far as Blair had been able to tell, there was nothing actively forcing either Sentinel or victim to calm down. That particular tone just seemed to encourage it.
It took a minute, but the girl responded. She stopped scrambling to get to her feet and her breathing slowed as the visible signs of panic slowly disappeared. Once she seemed to have gotten herself pulled back together, Xander quietly offered a hand.
"Let's get you up off the ground, huh? Can't be comfortable. What's your name?" Xander asked.
"Jessica." The girl said after a few moments, accepting the hand to get to her feet and trying to smooth her dress back down. She eyed their group warily. "What are you guys doing running around with weapons?"
"We were doing some target practice in the woods." Jon piped up, motioning to the visible line of trees. "Heard you screaming as we were headed home and decided to find out what the problem was."
"Oh." Jessica said. "Well, thanks for that."
"So what happened?" Willow asked.
"Some frat boys got pushy and freaked me out." Jessica said. "The DZK boys ... "
"The who boys?" Giles asked.
"Delta Zeta Kappa, one of the fraternities." Jessica explained.
"Ah. That explains things." Giles said.
Jon rolled his eyes. Frat boys. He'd never joined a fraternity himself, but he'd gone to college so he was well aware of the shenanigans that frat boys tended to get up to.
"Anyway, they were throwing a party, and I got invited. But I've got a test coming up next week, so I didn't want to stay long. I need to study. And when I went to leave ... " Jessica shuddered. "They really didn't seem to want to let me."
On the surface, it didn't really sound like something to run screaming about, but from the look on Jessica's face, the whole thing had been a lot worse than her description implied.
"I better get going. Nice to meet you." Jessica said, then headed off.
Willow frowned. "She's Sunnydaling." She said, referencing the habit Sunnydale's residents had of forgetting traumatic demon-related incidents almost as soon as they happened.
Buffy frowned as well. "I think you're right. And I think that means we need to investigate that fraternity. Might just have been a vamp, but still worth looking into."
"Agreed." Giles, Jon and Xander said, in stereo. That caused most everyone to start laughing in amusement. Even Giles smiled.
"We had best finish our patrol. We still have one cemetery to check before we head into the residential section." Giles said.
"I'll check the internet for anything on the fraternity and disappearances at the college tomorrow." Willow said as they headed off.
"I'll talk to Cordelia. She's popular enough to manage an invite to a college frat party. She ought to be able to get us in there without any problems." Buffy said. "It'd be a lot easier than trying to fight our way in, if it comes to that." Then she grinned. "Besides, she owes us one. Or maybe more than one, at this point. I don't exactly keep track."
"Quite true." Giles agreed. Jon, Xander, and Willow all snickered in amusement.
The next morning, the Scooby gang split up the moment they hit the school. Willow headed straight for the principal's office and the sign-up to have one of the exchange students. She didn't anticipate any real trouble with it, because since Joyce had given Snyder what-for over the Parent's Night thing, Snyder had been being a bit more circumspect. He still sneered at them and said awful things, but he seemed to realize that at least with this bunch of kids, he wasn't going to be allowed to go any further than that, no matter how much he hated them.
Buffy, on the other hand, had the more challenging task. Mostly because in order to talk to Cordelia, she had to separate the girl from her gaggle of minions. Given that it was commonly accepted that the so-called Cordettes were surgically attached to Cordelia, that wasn't going to be easy.
Thankfully, while Buffy wasn't in the 'ultra-popular' circle at Sunnydale (and didn't want to be), she *had* been back at Hemery. Hell, she'd more or less been Cordelia, before she had been Called. So she knew how to walk the walk and talk the talk ... she just chose not to, now, because it focused peoples' attention on you. These days, it was better if she wasn't the center of attention. It would make separating Cordelia from her minions that bit easier.
She stalked up to the gaggle of girls. As she'd expected, the Cordettes almost immediately began heckling her, mocking her less-than-cutting-edge fashion sense. She sneered at them.
"At least I know to wear what looks good on me. You lot look like ten-cent hookers. You need to learn to apply makeup with something a bit smaller than a trowel. You look like particularly colorful clowns! And that skirt with those shoes? What were you *thinking*?" She snarked, pointing at one of the girls. Then, with mock contrition, she continued. "Whoops, I'm sorry, I forgot. You can't think. You share one brain cell between you." Then she turned to another girl. "And that blouse? If it can be called that ... it mostly looks like lingerie ... you do realize everyone can see your nipples, right? And I don't mean little bumps in the cloth. I mean in living color. Pretty in pink, however you want to put it."
Hah, that one finally got the reaction she'd been looking for. While the blouse in question *was* sheer, it wasn't quite as bad as Buffy had implied, but no girl with any claim at all to a sense of decency would react to the thought that everyone could see her boobs. The Cordette in question promptly clamped her hands over her chest and raced for the nearest bathroom, the rest of the Cordettes in tow. Buffy grabbed Cordelia's arm before she could join them.
"What do you *want*?" Cordelia snapped.
"An in to the next Delta Zeta Kappa party." Buffy said.
Cordelia sneered. "Why would they want *you* there?" She wanted to know.
"They probably wouldn't." Buffy admitted. "But there's something funky going on in that fraternity. Things that go bump type funky."
Cordelia paled dramatically, and swallowed. "Things that go bump?" She repeated, clearly remembering the last time she'd had an encounter with such things. "Right. Invite. I can do that. They have a party every week. Swing by the Bronze tonight. A couple of them are always hanging out there. Wear something ... provocative."
"You got it." Buffy said. "And thanks."
Cordelia sneered again. "Whatever." Then she peered at Buffy before glancing in the direction her minions had gone. "They weren't dressed that badly." It was less a question and more a statement.
"Well, that blouse was kind of ... questionable." Buffy said. "But not as bad as I implied, no. Still, fastest way to get them to take a hike."
Cordelia let out an amused sound. "You're not quite the hopeless geek you seem to be, are you?"
Buffy gave Cordelia a toothy grin. "I was Queen Shark at Hemery." She admitted. "I just ... choose ... to be out of the limelight. Makes things a bit easier for me."
Cordelia shuddered at the cloaked reference to Buffy's 'job'. "Point." She agreed, then gave herself a shake. "Right, see you tonight." And she stalked off in the direction her minions had gone.