A/N: I have no rights or ownership to any characters from Buffy the Vampire Slayers, or any of the characters, locations, or such from the works of Simon Green. I am a college student, with no money or income. This story is just a bunny that came to me at the Subway [which I also have no rights to] yesterday. This takes place before 'The Good, the Bad, and the Uncanny'.
I entered Strangefellow's, the oldest bar in the world. It was hopping like usual. There were some girls joshing with a vampire by the bar, one of the knights of Sinister Albion was sitting at a booth gazing around the room, and I thought I saw a couple bears in the shadows at the back. It wouldn't surprise me. There were a couple twenty-something guys, and one girl, apparently trying to pick up Betty and Lucy. The guys would definitely have no luck - but if the girl was lucky, the bouncers might take her home.
I sat at my usual booth, after grabbing a beer at the bar, from Alex, looking as gloomy as ever. He had barely had a chance to take a drink, before a man sat down across from him. John inspected the man carefully. Late fifties, maybe early sixties. Wore glasses, in an older style, nothing stylish. He was wearing tweed, but John would bet he hadn't always, despite the sterotype he was trying to present.
"That's me." I took a drink.
"I would like to retain your services, if I may."
"That's what I do. Who do you want to find?"
"A young girl, my, ah, my ward. Her name is Dawn. And she was kidnapped a couple hours ago from a nightclub on the edge of the Nightside. Brought in here."
"Are you sure she was kidnapped, and didn't hear about this and come here herself?"
"She would not have. She knows better. Besides, her boyfriend will be back in town in a day and a half. And, she has a slight case of drawing kidnappers after her. If I understand right, you have a Gift. You are able to find things."
"That's true, but it brings the price up. And I'll need something to look for."
"Price isn't a problem. And all you'll need to look for is green. Look for the greenest thing in the Nightside. Can you give me an idea how quickly it will take you to do this, to find her?"
"Well, it might take a while, but-"
"Ah, I'm sorry, I wasn't clear. This has to be solved as soon as possible. Sooner, if possible." The man interrupted me, in his own stuttering way.
"Ah, yes. Um, have you, by any chance, heard of the Slayer?"
"Yes." I took another drink.
"Dawn's sister is the Slayer."
"So? There have been Slayers coming into the Nightside before. They don't tend to last very long."
"Individually, no - though they still do a lot of damage. If I remember correctly, the last one managed to take down the Voice of the Authorities, yes? In any case, that's not a problem. It seems you are a little behind."
"Really?" I took another sip. What had happened out in the world?
"A few years ago, to face a great evil, the First Evil in fact, a spell was performed. It activated all potential Slayers. And they still are. And there are going to be three waves coming in here, if you can't find Dawn before them."
"Three waves?" 'How many Slayers were there?'
"First, the Dark Slayer, Faith LeHane, and her squad, and a couple others. They were the ones that were with her when she disappeared. The 16 of them are currently arming up. They'll be a while finding an entrance here, but once they do, how well will the Nightside deal with 16 slayers invading and asking questions?"
"16 Slayers! Well, that'll be a challenge, they'll do some damage, but . . . I doubt they'll last too long."
"Oh, that's only the first wave. In about 12 hours, when Dawn doesn't make contact with her sister, Buffy will know she is missing-"
"I didn't name her. And, yes, Buffy. Anyways, if she misses the check in, it won't take Buffy long to arm up, and then the second wave will come."
"Another 16 slayers?" 'Was he serious? 32 slayers?'
The man shook his head. "Oh, no! She wouldn't bring 16 Slayers. She would bring 160, or maybe more!"
"Are you serious! 160 Slayers?"
"Oh, yes. There were over 1500 activated in May of 2003." I looked at him in shock.
"Okay, I'll admit, that's an incentive to work on this. It still might take longer, depending on where she is."
"Oh, I do hope not. Because, the final wave, the worrying one, is about," he checked his watch "34 hours from now. If we haven't found her by then, I can't guarantee that the Nightside will survive."
"Please. Do you know anything about the Nightside?"
"Oh, yes. My friends and I visited, several times, when I was in my early twenties. Purchased a few demon summoning spells. Ran around. Never got too deep into it, but, I did the tourist things a couple times."
"And you think the Nightside will fall?" I finished my drink, and waved at Alex for another.
"Oh, yes. I told you that in 12 hours, Dawn's sister would be aware of her being missing. Buffy is the longest living Slayer in recorded history. And that's with being dead for 3 months. She has defeated Master Vampires, multiple, a demon cyborg, a True Demon, the Judge, the First Evil. Even a physical manifestation of a god. Not one of the ones you find on the Street of Gods here, a real one, exiled to our plane by two others, from a Hell Dimension. She has defeated all of them, and she's not the one you need to worry about."
Okay, sounded like a hardcase. I'd heard a little bit about Slayers, and if he was right, if there were hundreds, they would do some damage to the Nightside. Not enough to destroy it, but, yes, the Nightside wasn't at full strength. After the Angel War, and the Lilith War, they would get further than I thought they might. And I had heard of the Judge - if this man wasn't lying, the Judge had been brought back, and taken out again. Which was pretty impressive, considering how many it took to take it down the last time.
"And the third wave is worse than that? What, the rest of the Slayers will show up?"
"No, only her boyfriend."
"God! What is he, a dhampir or something?" I'd heard one of them was walking the Earth again.
"No, no. Not a dhampir. Only a regular person."
"And you're worried about a regular person coming here?"
"Ah, do you, perhaps, know of a person I've heard of here, a woman called 'Shotgun Suzie'? Also known as 'Oh, God, it's her! Run!'? Do you think she could do some major damage here?"
I knew Suzie well - I lived with her, after all. And, yes, she could do some serious damage. Not as much as he was talking, but yes, some.
"Yes, I know of Suzie. But even as dangerous as she is, she wouldn't be able to take down the Nightside."
"Oh, I know. But, if I understood the stories I have heard about the Nightside, it is a place that is between Heaven and Hell, not part of either. And Suzie showed up here when she was about 15 or so?"
"Yes, both of those are true."
"Do you know what a Hellmouth is?"
"Not off the top of my head." A Hellmouth? That sounded bad. Hey, even I can't know about everything! My education had mostly focused on things I was likely to encounter here in London and the Nightside.
"They are weak points between Earth and, well, Hell. Now, as bad as the Nightside is, there is a, well, a cleanness to the atmosphere here. While many are corrupted here, they choose it. Nothing forces them to be corrupted. But, on a Hellmouth the atmosphere, the psychic atmosphere, is polluted, dark, cloudy. It is bad enough for those of us open to it's effects, but even normal humans are affected by it, growing weary, dark, grey. Corrupting."
"And her boyfriend grew up in that atmosphere. And, to this day, is still refered to as 'white'. I have spoken to those that can see auras. All of them say his is bright and unvarnished. He has also been fighting since he was fifteen. He is now 25. Ten years of near constant fighting. Others who have fought by him have been Slayers, witches, seers, a werewolf. He has gained no powers, no special abilities."
"And you're worried for the Nightside?" Was this man insane?
"Let me repeat myself. He has been fighting the Dark, by the side of the Slayer, against Vampires, demons, Bringers, a God. With no abilities. A normal human. Do you remember why the Supernatural keeps to the shadows, to locations like the Nightside, or the like? Because of regular, normal humans. And they are kept ignorant of what the truth is."
I was beginning to see his point.
"Now, imagine a human in the know. Just a regular, normal human. Who isn't ignorant. Who knows how to do damage. Who figured out how to take out the Judge. Who organized other regular humans to fight Vampires. Who survived and never gave up, in ten years. Who took on Africa, and was more successful at finding Slayers there, and taking out even more Demons there, than anyone before or since. Imagine such a person coming to the Nightside. He has received training in how to research Demons he doesn't know, and to kill them. He has not only fought beside Slayers, but trained them."
He took a long drink from his own beer. "I only have two more questions for you. First, with all that, I'm not wondering why you think the Nightside will be handle him. I'm wondering why you aren't more worried about the Nightside."
I could, barely, follow that. And, I followed his argument. He was right. I wasn't as worried as I should be.
"And, second, I'm wondering how long do you think it will take to find Dawn?"