Scoobies and the New Guys, part V
A/N: This is a sequel to “The League of Extraordinary Women”. It will make a lot more sense if you read that first.
Disclaimer: None of these characters belong to me. If you want details on ownership and all that jazz, you’ll want to read the appropriate intros in “The League of Extraordinary Women”.
A/N2: This is more of the sequel to “Scoobies and a Retiree” and “Scoobies and a Reject” and “Scoobies and a Brit”.
Jack watched as Kennedy reacted to Willow walking in with a sexy brunette. There was no way Special K was going to be the understanding ex, while Willow showed off her new honey.
No, Kennedy was more likely to lose her temper and rip the girl’s hair out. Possibly by using the girl’s body like a flail.
When Kennedy got up, Jack followed immediately. He knew he was going to have to move fast, because Kennedy could probably run him into the ground if he gave her the slightest headstart.
She didn’t even notice that he was there until she had slammed her tray into the window where you bussed your trays, and she turned around to find him blocking her path. He shoved his tray after hers, and he said, “Let’s saddle up.”
“Jack, you don’t have to go with me. Everyone’d rather stick with Willow anyway. She’s the fun one. I’m the bitchy, bratty one. She’s Xander’s best friend since first grade. And guys would rather hang with perky lipstick lesbians than angry dykes like me.”
Jack looked down at the sad, sad panda who was expecting to get hurt and rejected once again. He gave her a grin. “If you were twenty-one, I’d offer to buy the beer, but I don’t think I’m up to contributing to the delinquency of a minor right now.”
“I’m almost twenty-one.” She smiled a little and elbowed him. He was expecting she was strong, but it was like getting shoved by a full-sized man. She said, “Thanks. I… I don’t really feel a lot of support around here some of the time. Willow’s one of the core Scoobies, and she’s really warm and kind and fun, and-”
“And you’re still really hung up on her, aren’t you?”
She scowled, so Jack said, “It’s okay. I’m still hung up on Sarah, and she left me years ago. I totally deserved it.”
“What’d you do?”
It still hurt to talk about it, but he admitted, “Our son Charlie got into my gunsafe.”
The horror was written all over Kennedy’s face, but he kept talking. “He shot himself… fatally. I fell apart. Sarah needed me, and I wasn’t there. Well, I was there physically, but emotionally I was a basketcase. A basket locked up inside a gunsafe so no one could touch him. After a couple years of that, she gave up and left me. I haven’t seen her in almost six years.”
Kennedy admitted, “I still have to see Willow pretty regularly. Board meetings, work… Mainly web conferences, so I don’t have to watch her want to be away from me. But we don’t talk anymore. I fucked things up totally. Willow’s previous girlfriend was this really popular Earth-mother type who everybody loved, and she was shot to death right in front of Willow. She went postal. Totally postal. That’s how much she loved Tara. And then everyone knew I was just Rebound Girl. Everyone knew I didn’t mean as much to Will as Tara did. I was too needy and too bratty and too pushy and… too damn insecure. I drove her away. And all of Will’s friends were pretty much with the ‘yay, no more Kennedy!’ when it happened.”
Jack decided he needed to give the sad panda a little wake-up call. “Umm, maybe you know these people a lot better than me, but I’m not seeing it.”
He insisted, “Xander came over to eat with you. So did Buffy. Everyone treats you the same as everyone else, at least as far as I could see. Maybe you’re being harder on yourself than they are.”
Kennedy stood there, deep in thought. She finally admitted, “Well… maybe. Xander’s a different story. He’s always there for people. I really owe him… a lot. More than you’d believe. And then his girlfriend just dumped him a couple weeks ago, and that was absolutely not his fault, except for his job, and he’s just refusing to take it out on anybody around here because that’s the kind of guy he is. If I was het, I would totally make a play for him, even though there’s some heavy competition around here. Buffy’s little sister Dawn, Vi, a couple of the secretaries, about a dozen of the minis who Xan wouldn’t ever consider touching because they’re too young… Frankly, I’m surprised Buffy hasn’t taken her shot. He was really hung up on her back when they were fifteen, and from what she says, she didn’t ever go out with him mainly because Willow was crushing on Xan and Buffy was doing the girlfriend solidarity thing.”
Jack smiled, “Your Willow? Who’s gay? Sounds like quite the ladies’ man.”
Kennedy told him, “He’s anything but. He still sees himself as the dorky loser who couldn’t get the girl he wanted back when he was in high school.”
Jack changed the subject a little. “So… Xander likes you, and Buffy likes you. And I like you, and we all know that’s what really matters in life.”
“Right.” But she did look better. In fact, she looked like she was thinking something over. “You’re gonna want to be on your guard tonight.”
He just nodded. “Yeah, I didn’t think this ‘night expedition’ in Cleveland would be a donut run.”
Kennedy snorted with amusement. “After tonight, tell Xan you said that.”
He figured there was at least one juicy story in there.
Kennedy led him straight to… an armory? It was a freaking armory! An armory for… the black knight of Falworth? He had a sudden impulse to pick up one of the swords and point it at a wall and say ‘yonda lies da castle of my fadda’. There was no way Special K would get the joke, though.
He had seen shields with crossed sabers on the walls in a couple places, but… Crap, what if those things weren’t silly ornaments? What if they were working weapons that were being kept in plain view in case of… something?
Because this place had an armory with a metric crapton of stuff you normally only saw in museums. Classic European swords. Battleaxes and war hammers and spears. Crossbows and horse pistols and even a couple longbows. And polearms, which pretty much went out of style when armored knights on armored horses stopped being the height of weapons technology. Japanese and Chinese and Okinawan weapons. Quarterstaffs and bos and escrima sticks. Every kind of combat knife and throwing knife and fighting knife he’d ever seen, including what looked like several genuine Bowie knives. A big box of what looked like short wooden sticks, even if he couldn’t see into the box from where he was standing. And, stuck off in one corner, was a gunsafe. He headed for that.
It was locked, naturally. Good for them. Really well secured, too. He gave them an ‘A’ for that, even if they left razor-sharp swords and knives lying around. Kennedy put her thumb on the biometric reader, and it popped open for her. He figured there had to be at least a dozen people the safe would open for, although not any of the teens who were running around here.
Inside the gunsafe was a hodgepodge of weapons in different calibers. He wondered if all the different calibers meant these were accidentally acquired, instead of deliberately planned. He looked over his options, and…
Oh, perfect! It looked like a genuine AK-103. Granted, Russia wasn’t the only country that made the things. He asked, “Where’d this one come from? The Middle East?”
Kennedy said, “It’s one of my contributions. I picked it up in South America. We’ve got some ammo for it, but I don’t use it.”
He said, “I can teach you, if you want. It’s not the most accurate long-range weapon ever, but it’s durable and reliable.”
She shrugged, “You can bring it tonight, but you’ll see. Guns just don’t cut it in our line of work.”
He didn’t believe that. “Then you’re using the wrong gun, or the wrong ammo, or you need a bigger gun.”
She told him, “Maybe. Maybe not. But you’re the expert. After tonight, you’ll have a way better idea about what you can’t do with a gun.”
He didn’t buy that, either. “I’ll take this baby.” There was a stack of thirty-round magazines in the bottom of the gunsafe, and all of them were at least partially loaded. He took four, just in case. “Where can I field-strip and test-fire this little guy?”
She said, “You can field-strip it right here on the work table. Test firing? I need to ask Xander. We’ve never had to test-fire any of these things.”
Okay, that was important. He’d been considering ‘school for assassins’ and ‘school for spies’ as some of the possibilities, but if they had never even test-fired a firearm, those options seemed pretty unrealistic. So what was going on around here?
He went to work while Special K rushed off to consult with Mister Big. He also took another look in the gunsafe. It would have been cool if they had some of the standard AK toys, like a night vision scope, or a suppressor, or the grenade launcher that went under the barrel. Maybe a GP-25 or a GP-30.
He had the weapon stripped, cleaned up, and ready to test-fire before Ken Doll was back with Xander. He smiled, “Hey X-man, got anything I can use as a test range for this baby here?”
Xander shrugged, “Sure. We’ve got an outdoor range we use for the crossbows. Kennedy can show you.” He looked over at Kennedy and smirked, “Take Two-L out there and let him test-fire your toy. Try not to fire off too many rounds. We don’t have a lot of ammo for it, and we don’t want the neighbors calling the cops on us.”
Kennedy smiled, “Two-L?”
Jack told her, “Come on, we’ll leave ‘X the Unknown’ here and I’ll show you how to fire one of these babies, and I’ll even explain the nickname.”
As they walked out, Kennedy suddenly laughed. Jack looked at her and she explained, “Xander talking under his breath. He said he couldn’t wait until Faith met you and started calling you The Big O.”
It was a couple hours later. Jack was confident his AK was in working order and wouldn’t jam unnecessarily. And the ammo was good. If he shot anything, it was going to stay shot. He had the stock folded, so he could put it on a sling over his shoulder and hide it under his coat. He was wearing a pair of combat boots, and he had a combat knife strapped to his calf but under his pants leg so it wasn’t showing.
But he was really wondering who he was going to run into. Was the Cleveland City Council an armed militia? He and Danny were going out with Kennedy and a teenager named Hannah. They were taking two other four-person teams, both of which were a guy in his twenties or thirties, and three excited teenaged girls. Eileen was in one of the threesomes, and she stopped to say hi.
The rest of the group took… crossbows? Swords and axes? Wooden stakes? Wow, Danny freaked when he saw the stakes. What was with that? Oh wait, Dannyboy believed in vampires. Jack snorted in amusement but kept it to himself.
Daniel Jackson wasn’t a fool. The swords and axes could be explained. But hand-carved wooden stakes with sharp points? There really was only one reason why each of the girls was taking at least three wooden stakes.
He had a sudden urge to go to the bathroom again. The wooden stakes had to mean vampires. Vampires who hadn’t died out hundreds or thousands of years ago, like he had been assuming. Vampires who were the things out of legend, or at least so close to the things of legends that staking them through the heart was an acceptable way of killing them.
Oh God, if each girl was taking at least three, how many vampires were they expecting to run into?
He nudged his roommate. “Jack? Jack? Those are stakes.”
Jack sarcastically said, “No, really? I thought they were more of a roast. Maybe ground chuck.”
“Ja-ack!” He wasn’t whining. Really.
“Dan-ny!” Jack copied. Honestly, the man was acting like an eight year old, and he was the oldest person on the whole campus, not counting a couple researchers.
“Jack, what do you think wooden stakes mean? At night?”
“Maybe nighttime surveying? That’s a thing, isn’t it? Anybody carrying a theodolite?”
Daniel took a deep breath and counted to ten in his head. Jack didn’t believe. After what had happened to Daniel’s academic career, he shouldn’t have been surprised. He gave up and just muttered, “I look forward to the moment when I get to say ‘I told you so’.”
Kennedy let Hannah drive their ‘patrol car’. It was a piece of junk. All the patrol cars were. That was what made them patrol cars. This one was a fifty year old Buick. It burned oil like a bitch, but it ran. The trunk was held shut with duct tape. But you could haul ass in it if you needed to. And if you abandoned it, or crashed it into a Hankala demon and had to ditch the wreckage, the thing was no big loss.
Xan and Andrew had hatched this idea over too much eggnog the Christmas before last. They got their hands on over a dozen junkers that cost them about fifty bucks each. Then they got one of the mages to do some kind of mojo so forensic evidence evaporated off the things. And they found a guy who was a ‘shade tree mechanic’ who loved the challenge of keeping these old wrecks running. If a Slay team wrecked one, they could ditch it and get a ride home, and no one would trace it back to the school. So far, the school had lost four patrol cars since then, for a grand total cost of about three hundred bucks and change.
The downside was that when she was on patrol, she was in a piece-of-shit car she was ashamed to be seen in. The extra upside was that none of the minis ever got to take her car out on patrol and accidentally turn it into scrap while chasing down a dozen vamps. Or something even dumber.
Jack was sitting in the back with her and watching her. She finally admitted, “These are great as disposable transportation, but I hate ‘em.”
Hannah said from the driver’s seat, as she cut between two trucks and made Dannyboy grab his ‘oh shit’ bar convulsively, “Tell him.”
“I drive a new Lexus GS. This car is a disgrace.”
Jack kidded, “Not a Bugatti or a Jag?”
She scowled, “Jaguars? They’re a nightmare. My dad had one. It spent more time in the shop than in our driveway, until it had about sixty thousand miles on it and it was ‘broken in’. If you’re going to buy a Jag, find someone who drove one for maybe five years, took really good care of it, and just hates how much time it spent in the shop, and buy it off him cheap. It’s just about ready to turn into a really good car.”
Hannah said, “Kennedy’s fam has major bucks. And she won’t let anyone else drive her Lexus, which is totally not fair.”
Kennedy really didn’t like it when people talked about her money or her attitude, but she’d found that telling people she didn’t like it just made the problem worse.
Jackson said, “I don’t know, after riding around with you girls today, I think thaAAAAAGH!” Hannah changed lanes like a hummingbird and took a corner so sharply Jack wasn’t sure how she avoided rolling the car. Danny gulped hard and finished, “Never mind.”
Kennedy just said, “We’re nearly there.” She hadn’t said where ‘there’ was going to be yet. The first stop was a cemetery. She had a fiver on Jackson pissing himself. She also had a twenty on Jack not. She didn’t usually bet for the noobs, but she had a good feeling about Jack. Even if he still thought guns were the answer.
The lead Slay team had the gates to the cemetery open before they got off the street, so they drove right in with the second Slay team behind them. Standard operating procedure was to make sure the gates looked right, in case the cops drove by. The Cleveland cops weren’t incompetent creeps like the Sunnydalers, even if they still hadn’t grasped what was causing their jump in unsolved violent felonies since May of 2003. If the gates were open when Slay teams got there, they put a high-tensile-strength black mesh net across the gap and poured holy water over it to slow down any vamps trying to run away. If the gates were closed when they got there, they unlocked them – Xander had come up with keys for every cemetery in town, and she wasn’t asking how – and put a Council-clamp on the gate instead of relocking it with the cemetery’s lock and chain. She didn’t know who had invented the Council-clamps – her money was on Xander because it was such a James Bond kind of idea – but they looked like a regular chain holding a gate closed, but you could blow up the thing with a remote control if you had to, and if you had the clamp set properly the blast would slam the gates open. Then you could drive out of the cemetery at high speed without ever stopping.
Sure enough, when Jackson saw where they were going, he just about came unglued.
She said, “Relax, Dr. Jackson. Hannah and I are more than enough protection. And we have two teams who are going to be patrolling all around us. You’re safer than in your home shower.”
He nervously insisted, “There are roughly a hundred fifty thousand injuries in the tub or shower in America every year, so you’ll pardon me if that doesn’t cheer me up too much.”
Jack said, “I think I’ll just avoid that tub.” But she noticed that Jack was studying the area. He was casing the place while moving his head very little. She figured that was a military-spy thing.
Kennedy waited until the two Slay teams were out of their cars and moving to search the cemetery for surprises. Whenever they had a newbie about to rise in one of the metropolitan area cemeteries, they routinely checked the area for a sire. Not that they had that many newbies in the cemeteries anymore. Vi had made friends with the county coroner’s assistant, who was young and male and easily impressed by a hot, nerdy redhead. Now the county coroner’s office had a new rule that for any felony death, the heart had to be removed from the corpse and weighed and then bagged for the CDC. Not that the CDC got the hearts. But with the heart removed from the body, the vamp wasn’t going to rise again. Unfortunately, the master vamps had caught on reasonably quickly, so now when they did their siring, they kept the bodies in their basement or buried in the garden or wherever, so nobody got to cut up their childer before they rose. It was sort of an arms race. With real arms.
But for special visitors like Jack and Danny, the Council was happy to let one vamp rise in a cemetery.
Kennedy knew that in the bad old days of Sunnydale, they couldn’t stop the vamps from rising, and they just had to hope Willow could target every one of them with illegal hacking of the city coroner’s office and the police computer network. Now they had a different ‘bad old days’ problem where lots of vampires all over the planet were learning that there were too many Slayers to do the old ‘vampire rising from his grave’ routine. Andrew had come up with some ‘worst case scenario’ situations that they were watching for, but frankly Andrew was too damn good at being an evil mastermind. If he ever got turned, this city was screwed.
Plus she really didn’t want to know what he’d cook if he was a vamp. Klingon Blood Pie (with real blood) came to mind.
She let Hannah lead the guys to the designated gravesite. She followed behind with her videocamera. Xander claimed it was for review and research, but she figured it was for everyone else to watch and give the newbies a lot of shit.
She wasn’t surprised that O’Neill paced around and studied the whole area around the grave like he was planning some kind of op. And she wasn’t surprised that Dr. Jackson, despite a major case of nerves, got bored after waiting for maybe forty minutes.
But she felt it in the pit of her stomach when the vamp woke up and started clawing his way out of his coffin. She saw by Hannah’s reaction that Hannah knew too. And she spotted that Jack noticed Hannah reacting.
She said, “Yeah, we’re about to have a visitor.”
Jack smirked, “Well, I’ve heard of gaydar…”
The soil over the center of the grave bulged, then writhed, then jutted upward. She was pretty sure Dr. Jackson was frantically whispering part of the Catholic liturgy in Latin, even though he wasn’t Catholic. She was pretty surprised he hadn’t peed himself yet.
A dead-white hand broke through the soil and its fingers writhed hungrily. Jackson whimpered.
Jack just yawned, “Pretty good special effects. I’ve seen better, but only in movies.”
Hannah insisted, “It’s not special effects.”
Kennedy didn’t bother arguing. Jack wasn’t going to be convinced by something a Hollywood SFX shop could fake.
The hand was followed by an arm, then the other arm, and the vamp dragged itself out of its grave.
The vamp was an ordinary-looking twenty-ish guy who had been living on the streets and got turned for his troubles. The guy’s fam had buried him in a cheap suit that hadn’t fared all that well as he dug himself out of his grave. Kennedy had really been hoping the guy would wait to vamp out when he was facing Jack and Danny, because there was nothing that said ‘supernatural horror’ like seeing that transformation. She was a kickass Slayer and she still remembered the first transformation she’d ever seen.
Jack ignored the vamp’s snarl and smirked at the guy, “Hey, sweet special effects there. Stan Winston would be proud.”
The vamp focused in on Jack’s neck and growled, “Blood…”
Jack just rolled his eyes. “Man, these method actors just don’t quit, do they?”
Kennedy calmly said, “He’s gonna rush you.”
And that was when the vamp moved. He sprinted right at Jack at a speed that Olympians couldn’t hope to match, with his arms out and his fangs bared.
She thought Jack would just get steamrollered, but the guy was good. Back in his heyday, he must have been fucking awe-inspiring. Jack fell backward, grabbing the guy’s suit jacket and tossing the guy in a smooth jujitsu move that Kennedy was making mental notes on.
The vamp was going fast enough that he went sailing and crashed hard on his back right across a tombstone. It was a landing that would have broken a human’s back.
Jack leapt up, looking horrified. “Oh crap, is your actor okay?”
The vamp leapt to his feet and snarled, “I’ll rip your throat out for that!”
Kennedy watched, filming the whole time. It only took Jack another attempted tackle to realize the ‘actor’ was faster and stronger than any human had a right to be, but the vamp had no fighting skills, and Jack had a ton of them.
In fact, Jack fought dirty. Really, really dirty. No Marquis of Queensbury shit here. If that vamp had been a human in a costume, he would have gone home in a bodybag. O’Neill went for every nasty and/or lethal spot Kennedy had ever heard of. Even a real vampire was having to put in a serious effort against the guy. Shit, there were minis who would have their panties melting off when they watched this fight on video, because ordinary men just did not hold up this well in hand-to-hand against a freaking vampire.
Still, Hannah had to throw the vamp off O’Neill several times. O’Neill was good, but he would have died several times already if he didn’t have two Slayers watching over him. But O’Neill would just not take a hint, until he put a couple three-shot groupings into the thing. Bullets in the chest just pissed it off. Bullets in the knees just slowed it down… temporarily. Bullets in the head just made it mad and confused and really hungry.
By then, Danny was getting a little too close and yelling, “A stake through the heart! Jack, you’ve got to drive a wooden stake through the heart!”
Kennedy finally got Jack to put a stake in its heart, and it dusted. She didn’t bother to tell him not to breathe in, because he needed to be convinced.
Jack stood there, breathing hard and feeling battered. He had gotten the shit pounded out of him by someone – maybe something – that had all the fighting skills of a rhino. But even worse than the physical pounding, which he was really going to be feeling tomorrow, he was emotionally shaken.
That wasn’t a special effect. It wasn’t human. It wasn’t anything he could think of. He wasn’t ready to jump all the way to ‘I vant to trink your blud’ but he was seeing big pieces of the puzzle now. All these girls were inhumanly strong and fast and deadly, and they fought something just as strong and fast and lethal. But it couldn’t really be real vampires, could it? After all, vampires couldn’t be real!
And Dannyboy was freaked. He finally yelled at Kennedy. “I was right? I lost my job and my career and I was a laughingstock and I was right? And they’re still out there?”
Hannah calmly said, “The Council heads had a big argument last year about your papers, because some of them wanted to jump in and help you, and some of them wanted to scoop you up right away, and some of them were afraid if they made a move in your direction, the demons would spot it and would kill you. Or something much worse.”
Jack thought Danny’s legs might give out on him right then and there.
Kennedy added, “Or Wolfram and Hart could make a play for your soul.”
Danny’s jaw dropped open. “The Wolf, the Ram and the Hart? The trifold gods of the ancients? THEY’RE REAL?!?”
Kennedy muttered, “Real as shit, guy. Wolfram and Hart is the evil law firm by which all other evil lawyers are judged. And they’ve got major offices in twelve cities worldwide. But we’ve kicked their asses on a regular basis.”
Hannah said, “They killed two of Buffy’s exes and a couple of her friends, so she’s got a real hate-on for ‘em. They get no free passes from us.”
Danny whimpered, “I need to sit down.” He aimed for a tombstone and missed by about a foot, ending up on his butt on the grass.
Jack felt bad for him. The guy had apparently been the smartest thing in his entire field in years, and he’d uncovered the big secret. Only it wasn’t unified field theory, or the lost city of Troy. It was something no scientist would believe in without a metric crapton of hard proof. Like getting bitten in the neck by Jake 2.0 back there.
Jack spit once again. The ash from that… thing was nasty. He’d swallowed ash before. It wasn’t like he’d never seen a fire. Ash did not taste like that. That tasted like… He couldn’t come up with a simile awful enough.
And he finally understood Kennedy’s point about guns. He had put fifteen bullets in that guy, and he’d just slowed it down and pissed it off.
He needed a much bigger gun with much bigger bullets.
What were the odds he could talk General West out of maybe a Barrett?
A/N: The ‘Barrett’ that Jack is considering is a Barrett M107, which is the military version of a .50 caliber anti-materiel weapon. You don’t waste a Barrett on people. You use a Barrett on cars and trucks and (stationary) planes. And the occasional building.