Joss Whedon owns "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and related characters; Patricia Briggs owns "The Mercedes Thompson Series" and related characters; I own nothing.~*~*~
Pulling up at 1630 Revello Drive, Charles Cornick did his best to settle the uneasy feelings that had been plaguing him as soon as he had entered the city limits. Sunnydale was utterly devoid of the spirits Charles might normally find, even in a city. In their place was a deep, pervasive sense of wrongness, of evil, contrasting the bright mid-afternoon sun shining down on him. Brother Wolf growled, as unhappy about their current situation as Charles.
He had heard the Hellmouth mentioned once, over a century before when he had encountered his first Slayer. At first he thought she was just a demon hunter, going after the creature who had killed her father-figure. He hadn’t realized who she was until later after telling Samuel about the meeting. Until his encounter with the current Slayer while hunting the rogue, she had been the only Slayer he had met.
His initial plan had been to report to Bran about his run-in with the Slayer and leave it at that, but his da had told him to go to Sunnydale. Not to eliminate the potential threat she might pose to the weres, which had been Charles’ first thoughts on hearing the assignment. Instead, his da had instructed him to find the Slayer and warn her away from interfering with werewolf affairs in the future. Charles didn’t ask why, but he knew that his father had to have reasons he wasn’t sharing with his son, adding to Charles’ general uneasiness.
At least it hadn’t been hard to track the Slayer: he had remembered her license plate number, and it was easy to run it to locate her house.
Stepping out of his truck, he scanned the surrounding area before approaching. If he had his choice, he would have tailed the Slayer before confronting her on more neutral ground, where she didn’t have the advantage, but he didn’t have that time. He knew from experience what could happen if an animal was confronted in its home, and humans behaved no differently.
Walking up to the front door, he knocked, somewhat more sharply than intended.
“Coming!” a muffled voice called out from the other side of the door, followed by the sound of running feet. The door was flung open and the frame of a young girl, no more than sixteen. Her blue eyes widened when she saw him. “Oh. You’re not who I expected.”
“Is Buffy Summers available?” Charles asked, although he was slightly taken aback by her presence. As far as he was aware, Slayers didn’t have families. They lived alone with their Watchers from the time they were identified until they inevitably died.
“Shoulda known,” the girl muttered under her breath. “Buffy! There’s some guy for you!” she called out.
“Who is it?” a voice came from inside the house as its owner started walking towards the door.
“Some guy with really nice hair,” the girl shouted back. Turning back to Charles, she looked at him with a small frown on her face. “So, you a new boyfriend she hasn’t told me about? Because she hasn’t really been...”
“Dawn,” the second voice interrupted the girl. Charles looked past the girl to meet the eyes of the Slayer he had encountered the day before.
“Back door,” the Slayer continued, not looking away from Charles’ eyes. “Now.”
The girl looked between the werewolf and the Slayer before stepping away from the door and going towards the back of the house.
“I meant her no harm,” Charles said as soon as the sound of the back door closing reached his ears.
“You came to my home. What am I supposed to think?” the Slayer, whom he could only assume was Buffy Summers at this point, answered coldly. “You found me. Now leave.”
“I mean you no harm either,” Charles replied in an even voice. Brother Wolf stirred, unhappy with the Slayer challenging him once again, and it took more effort than Charles would have liked to calm him down.
“So make with the explaining.”
Charles could feel the sweat trickling between his shoulder blades from the heat, but decided not to push his luck by asking to enter the house. He was walking a fine line as it was between cordiality and hostility.
“I come with a message from the Marrok,” he started before the Slayer interrupted him.
“Who?” she asked, genuine confusion in her voice.
“The Marrok is the head werewolf in North America,” he explained, although he wasn’t surprised that she didn’t know. The Council had an agreement with the Grey Lords, after all, and not the weres regarding Slayer interference. “He wants to advise you to refrain from entering in werewolf affairs in the future.”
“Is this like the mob telling me to look the other way or something when a crime happens? Am I going to wake up with a dead horse in my bed?”
“This is the Marrok extending you a courtesy he rarely gives,” Charles responded coldly, letting go of Brother Wolf slightly.
“I feel so honored that his muscle has showed up on my doorstep to deliver said courtesy in a completely non-intimidating way,” she said, not bothering to hide the sarcasm. They stared at each other, neither giving any ground to the other.
Like in their previous encounter, Charles couldn’t smell any fear. Irritation, confusion, but not fear. She wasn’t like the other Slayer he had met, nor did she fit the picture that Samuel had painted when they had talked about Slayers long ago. She appeared less concerned with slaying any supernatural creature she came across, if the tranquilizer gun she carried yesterday was any sign. He wondered if that’s the reason his father had decided to contact this Slayer, when he normally gave them a wide berth. But that didn’t mean she couldn’t constitute a threat to the pack if not handled carefully.
“It’s in our best interest to avoid drawing attention to ourselves,” Charles finally explained, using a patient tone he didn’t really feel. “While we try to accommodate those who may simply lack the guidance needed to control their wolves, there are times when certain weres, such as the one that you encountered yesterday, create situations that threaten the pack.”
“Which is where you come in,” she observed flatly. “Just like yesterday.”
“Yes,” he answered quietly. “We police ourselves.”
She sighed and looked away. It did nothing to acknowledge his dominance, however, instead more a pause to regroup.
“Sometimes they can be reasoned with,” she said, breaking the brief silence, her voice heavy. She looked back up at him, and he couldn’t help but get the impression that she wasn’t only talking about the rogue from the day before. She was harder to read than most humans, although he wouldn’t be surprised to find that a trait of the Slayers in general.
“But not always,” he replied. “Sometimes killing them is the only option.”
“Trust me, I know.”
He didn’t doubt that she knew. The Slayer wasn’t all that different from what he was, after all: a policing mechanism so that certain elements didn’t get out of hand and bring unwanted exposure. But that was why it was beneficial for them to remain detached so that they inevitably didn’t come into conflict with their friends. From the way the Slayer was responding, he was receiving the impression that had happened to her fairly recently.
For the first time, he realized how young she was. Remembered how young the last Slayer he had met was.
“So, is that all that your boss wanted to pass along? Stay out of the were business if I know what’s good for me?” she asked, changing the subject back to safer ground. “And if I don’t, I can expect another oh-so pleasant visit from you.”
“Well, message received. You can go now,” the Slayer told him, her gaze becoming challenging again. Daring him to refuse.
Charles fought back the urge to assert his dominance against her. He remembered how she had reacted the day before, and that had been on neutral territory. Doing so here would be extremely foolhardy in this situation.
He nodded, and turned to walk away, even though every instinct was screaming at him not to.
“Wait,” the Slayer called out.
He stopped and looked back over his shoulder. “Yes?” he asked politely.
“You know my name. It’s only fair that I know yours.”
He considered her request for a moment before nodding curtly. “Charles Cornick,” he replied.
“Well, Charles Cornick, it’s been fun, but I hope you don’t take offense if I hope I never have to see you again.” She shut the door, leaving Charles staring at it for a moment before turning back and walking towards his truck.
He didn’t mind at all. He felt the same way about her.