Another Mission Accomplished
The character of Clarence Odbody is borrowed from the film It’s A Wonderful Life
; all other characters are borrowed from Buffy The Vampire Slayer
. Some dialogue from ‘Reptile Boy’, by David Greenwalt.Xander Harris, This Is Not Your Life29. Another Mission Accomplished
In the car on the way to the party, an excited Cordelia kept reminding Buffy of all the things she should and should not do (in order not to spoil the occasion for Cordelia), without noticing how little attention Buffy was paying. As soon as they’d parked, Buffy got out of the car and looked around, thinking that Angel would be lurking in shadows somewhere nearby. She waited to follow Cordelia up to the building, scoping out the layout. Nothing looked suspicious, although Buffy didn’t know what sort of suspicious thing she should be looking for anyway. There was some broken glass on the forecourt, and, when Buffy took a second look, without any sign of a drink spill. She looked up again and noticed a window on the upper floor that seemed to have been boarded up. As she followed Cordelia to the door she tried to figure the geography of getting to that room.
Cordelia hurried her along and then called out to Richard, who came up to them carrying two drinks, which he handed to them. Cordelia thanked him, so Buffy did the same, trying not to look like somebody who had no intention of tasting the drink she held in her hand.
But what about Cordelia? Thinking about Jonathan’s warning, as well as what Marcie had said, Buffy realised that even if the Delta Zeta Kappas had nothing to do with the disappearing girls, Cordelia could be in ordinary normal human danger here.
Richard was asking whether they’d seen the multi-media room.
‘Oh, the one with the cherry walnut panelling and the two forty-eight-inch televisions on satellite feed?’ said Cordelia. ‘No. Wanna show me?’
As Cordelia took hold of Richard’s arm, he looked enquiringly at Buffy, so she got in before he could speak. ‘Could you tell me where the bathroom is first, and I’ll catch up with you later?’ She felt bad about leaving Cordelia, but less bad because Cordelia was obviously pretty pleased with the idea. As Buffy thought about it, any of the girls at the party could be in danger, the ordinary normal human kind or another kind, and she couldn’t watch them all. The best she could do was to find out whether anything was
going on, and her best chance of doing that would be if she could get away from Richard for a little while.
He gave her the directions she’d asked for, and she headed off as if to find the bathroom she’d asked about. Once she was well out of sight in the crowd, she found a piece of furniture to set her drink down on unobtrusively and started on her own explorations. As she moved round the fraternity house she noticed a number of open windows, which might come in handy later. Eventually she found a staircase that would take her, if she hadn’t lost her bearings, up to where she could get to the room with the boarded window.
She was ready to break the lock on the room if necessary, but it turned out, when she got there, not to be fastened. There were no clues there, though. It looked like an ordinary bedroom. There was a window that had been broken and boarded up, but that proved nothing. There was no sign of even the smallest fragments of broken glass on the floor inside (she got down and checked). It could be that the window had been broken outwards by somebody escaping from inside—somebody like Callie Megan Anderson, for example. That would explain the glass fragments she’d seen on the forecourt. A girl running directly away from this building who managed to get over the cemetery wall before they caught up with her—that would explain the broken bracelet being where Buffy had found it.
Buffy shook herself. It was only a theory. Still, she felt like making sure nothing had happened to Cordelia.
Cordelia wasn’t easy to find, though. Buffy didn’t want to ask any of the fraternity boys about her. If there was evil going on, she didn’t want them to think she was suspicious. Instead, she attracted the attention of one of the girls at the party.
‘Excuse me, but I’m looking for my friend. Do you know where the multi-media room is?’
The girl shook her head, then turned to the boy next to her and put a hand on his arm. ‘Hey, do you know where the multi-media room is?’
‘Sure, I can show you that. It’s worth seeing. Two forty-eight-inch televisions on satellite feed.’ When they found it, this proved to be for real, along with the cherry walnut panelling, but neither Cordelia nor Richard nor anybody else was there.
‘I guess my friend must have gone somewhere else’, Buffy said. ‘Thanks, anyway.’ Leaving the two strangers behind, she figured she might as well continue her search upstairs as down—she’d be less likely to be noticed there, because there weren’t as many people around. She took a quick glance into the room with the boarded window, then moved along that hallway from one bedroom to another. Looking into one of them, she saw the top of a brunette head just visible next to the pillow on the far side. It seemed familiar. She looked up and down the hall to make sure nobody was watching, then slipped in and shut the door behind her.
It was Cordelia. She was sitting on the floor, eyes closed, slumped against the wall and the side of the bed, and she didn’t answer when Buffy whispered her name. Buffy crouched down and hissed Cordelia’s name more urgently. Still nothing. Buffy took Cordelia by the shoulders and gave her a careful shake, repeating her name again, but Cordelia just hung limp.
Then Buffy heard somebody at the door. Without stopping to think, she got down on the floor and started to slide under the bed.
‘Is she here?’ said a voice. It was Tom Warner.
‘Just a minute’, said another voice, Richard Anderson’s.
Buffy heard footsteps. She was completely hidden now, so long as nobody looked under the bed. The footsteps echoed around her, then stopped.
‘This one’s still out cold. The other one’s not here.’
‘Then where is she, Richard?’
‘I don’t know. You were the one who insisted on inviting her.’
‘You know she’s perfect. Besides, if she’s disappeared, why? We can’t have anything go wrong tonight.’ There was a tone in Tom’s voice that Buffy knew she hadn’t heard when he talked to her before.
‘We did okay last year with just two offerings.’ Richard said the word ‘offerings’ as if it meant something completely normal, but that didn’t make Buffy feel any better. ‘We can manage without a third.’
‘We will organise a search for her.’ Tom’s voice sounded as if Richard wasn’t getting a vote. It sounded even creepier as he added, ‘In his name.’
‘In his name’, echoed Richard. After a pause, he added, ‘What about her?’
‘Nothing’s changed. We can’t take her down to the basement until everybody’s left the party. Maybe we have to speed that up a little.’
Richard made a noise as if he wasn’t happy about that idea, but he didn’t say anything. Then Buffy heard the sounds of the two of them leaving the room.
Buffy started thinking about plans. She could get out the window—even if it was locked she could get it open—and then jump down to the forecourt. But that could attract attention, not friendly attention, while Cordelia and the other girl, Callie, were still inside the frat house. She could carry Cordelia, but that might make the jumping down part unsafe, for Cordelia if not for herself, and would definitely attract the wrong kind of attention, still leaving Callie somewhere in the house.
She needed back-up. She had back-up, not far away.
She slid out from under the bed and tried again to wake Cordelia. No luck. Those drugs were strong. Too bad Cordelia hadn’t heard Jonathan’s advice.
The door to the room was open. Buffy could hear the sounds of people approaching outside. She hurried round the bed and hid behind the door.
From the hall she heard a male voice saying, ‘It’s the other one that’s in here. Let’s keep moving.’ Then she heard the searchers going past.
She peeked out round the door, to check the coast was clear, then made her way quickly along the corridor and round the corner into another one. She popped open the first window she came to and looked down. Nobody around on that side of the building. Thinking that there was no time to waste, she leaped down to the ground. She still had a little time up her sleeve: they weren’t going to do anything until all the party guests had left. But that might not take long.
She scooted off to find Angel. He was expecting her, so that shouldn’t take long either.***
‘I think if we go in through that window, we can turn right and find the stairs going down’, Buffy whispered to Angel. ‘If not, it’s still the basement we have to find.’
‘It’s open’, he whispered back.
Buffy nodded and moved forward. She pushed the window all the way up and climbed in. Before she could do anything except notice the door on her right, one of the fraternity brothers walked in on her.
‘Hey’, he said, ‘what are you doing here? We were looking for you!’
She took a step towards him. ‘Sorry, I got lost.’ He came up to her just as Angel climbed through the window behind her.
The fraternity brother started to turn on Angel and got as far as saying ‘Wha—?’ before Angel flattened him with one punch. Buffy sprang at the door and burst through it and on to a landing at the top of an old stone spiral staircase like something out of a castle in a movie.
In one moment, she took in the scene. The basement below her was filled with fraternity brothers all wearing robes for some reason. Chained to one wall were Cordelia and another girl—Callie Megan Anderson, if Buffy didn’t miss her guess.
And stretching halfway to the ceiling was the monster, the upper part of a scale-covered human body changing from the waist down into a giant snake.
People started shouting and screaming, but Buffy ignored them. She was halfway down the staircase before robe-wearing freaks started up it to stop her. She kicked a couple of them over the side and reached the ground. One of the crazy cultists stood out from the others in a differently coloured robe. It was Tom, he was giving the orders, and he was holding a sword.
Behind her she heard Angel following down the stairs, knocking down more of the bad guys. As he covered her back she punched her way through the crowd to Tom.
‘You bitch!’ he shouted. ‘I’ll serve you to him in pieces!’
He took a swing at her, but she’d practised for exactly this situation in her latest drill with Giles. She kicked the sword out of his hands, and before he could recover from the surprise shoved him hard into a table. He fell across it and then slid over to fall on the other side, while she snatched up the sword before one of Tom’s buddies could get hold of it.
Behind her Cordelia screamed again for help. When Buffy turned, she saw that the giant snake-demon had hold of her.
Its tail coiled down behind it into something like a huge well, with a wall around its lip. Somebody tried to get between her and it, but Angel knocked him down before turning to face another opponent coming up behind him. In that clear moment, Buffy seized her chance and brought the sword down as hard as she could, cutting right through the demon-snake’s body.
The thing screamed in pain, let go of Cordelia, and fell to the floor with a loud squelching thud. A trickle of something Buffy didn’t want to think about came from the open wounds on the two separated parts. She screwed her face up.
‘I guess this ritual’s over’, Angel said. Buffy looked around the room and saw that all the fight had gone out of the demon’s worshippers. She handed the sword to Angel as she crossed to the two chained girls.
‘Thanks for inviting me here, Cordelia’, she said, as she started to release her. ‘I hope my behaviour didn’t disappoint you too much.’
‘They were going to feed us to that—that thing!’
Buffy looked across to the other girl. ‘You must be Callie, right? Callie Megan Anderson? From Kent Preparatory? Are you hurt? Have you been here all week?’
The girl nodded, and then nodded again. ‘They—they didn’t … They said the offerings had to be pure.’
Buffy finished releasing Cordelia and moved to Callie. ‘Nothing worse than a little bit of dirt and a great big lot of fear, then? We’ll be out of here in a minute and we can call for help.’
‘Thank you. I don’t know who you people are, but thank you.’
‘I guess you met Cordelia’—Buffy gave a nod in that direction—‘but maybe you didn’t have time for proper introductions. Cordelia and I go to Sunnydale High together. And over there’—Buffy had finished releasing Callie by this point, so she could gesture with her hand—‘is Angel, making himself useful. He’ll keep all these Delta Zeta Kappas here while we make a couple of phone calls. Come on.’ She ushered Cordelia and Callie to the staircase. From the landing, she looked down at Angel again and asked him whether he could keep everything under control. When he nodded, she looked at the Delta Zeta Kappas and said, ‘Don’t make him angry. You wouldn’t like him when he’s angry.’ Then she took the other two girls through the door to find a telephone.
Her first call was to Ms Calendar, who said she’d call the police and send them round. Next Buffy called Willow to reassure her and to ask her to pass the news on to Giles. After that she passed the phone to Callie.
While Callie was reassuring her family, Buffy asked Cordelia whether her drink had been drugged.
‘What? Yes, that must have been it. Didn’t you drink yours?’
Buffy shook her head. ‘Somebody gave me some good advice about that. Don’t drink from a glass that’s been out of your sight.’
‘Buffy—you saved my life. And—that’s the second time. So—thank you.’***
‘We all showed up there that night’, Xander said to Clarence, ‘I mean Giles and Willow and me, as well as Angel.’ He paused, working it out. ‘When we showed up there, Buffy was chained to the wall. But she got loose by herself. We gave her help, but I don’t know how much she needed that. More than what I just saw, where she never got chained up in the first place. She fetched Angel for back-up, but I don’t know that she needed it.’— ‘Perhaps not that night. How can we say?’
‘We did the right thing showing up, whether we were actually needed or not.’ Xander thought of something else. ‘I suppose the aftermath will be unchanged. The police finding all the bones under the frat house, all the Delta Zeta Kappas going to jail forever, disasters for the former Delta Zeta Kappas …’— ‘I can tell you one difference.’
For the first time Xander noticed a tone in Clarence’s voice that was less like lecturing him, more personal, as if Xander wasn’t just a case Clarence was working on, as if he cared about Xander the way he’d cared about George Bailey in the movie. — ‘Jonathan Levinson won’t be going on any dates with Cordelia Chase.’