Disclaimer: I own nothing. All Buffy the Vampire Slayer characters and Garry Trudeau characters are the property of their original owners.
Flinching a little when his surroundings abruptly changed from an indoor conference room into a quadrangle outside under a late afternoon sun, Xander recoiled even more at Kennedy lunging forward to yank out of his hands the small book he’d been holding. The one-eyed man quickly recovered from his start, frowning at the Slayer glaring back at him. Only to have her begin snapping irritably at him first, “What the hell were you thinking, doing that right off without even warning me?”
Xander felt his teeth clamp together, jaw muscles flexing in annoyance all the while. He gritted back at the fuming woman standing in front of him in their argument, “Wils said there’s a time limit, and we have to beat the others! Pardon me for trying to outrun them!”
“Outrun everybody to…” angrily began Kennedy, only to trail off in her sudden puzzlement. She looked around while delivered a baffled, “…where?”
Her game partner’s antagonism suddenly evaporated in his own confusion. He joined Kennedy in their hasty examination of where they’d been transported into, which was likely another dimension. Both of the New Council members saw on all four sides of them a set of fairly old brick buildings. These one- and two-story structures with numerous windows gave off a vaguely institutional air. Not like any kind of factory or industrial area, but rather an office or some educational center. These buildings overlooked a small, park-like plaza currently deserted save for Xander and Kennedy.
This pair continued to glance around at the tastefully landscaped location having mature trees, flowerbeds, some benches, and concrete sidewalks connecting the opposite buildings across a lush central lawn. At length, the Slayer absently mentioned to Xander at her side, “You got any idea yet? I sure don’t.”
A former Sunnydale resident just shrugged. His remaining eye watchfully scanned the peaceful environs, so unlike his now-gone hometown. Xander finally pointed out, “Wils sprung her little scavenger hunt on me without any warning at all, like everyone else at the castle. Didn’t you
pick up anything from her, earlier?”
Kennedy sharply glanced at the man besides her, trying to figure out if this was some kind of crack about her long-term relationship with a redheaded witch. Deciding for now to accept the question as perfectly innocent, the lesbian impatiently shook her head. “She never mentioned it to me. Though, I was away for the last week, doing a complete patrol sweep of Edinburgh with the Slayer House there. That must’ve been when she was setting it up.”
Xander nodded in reluctant acceptance, until in the middle of this, he excitedly snapped his fingers. Whirling around, he pointed at Kennedy--
No, the Slayer realized, at the book she’d taken away from Xander a moment ago and was still gripping in her right hand. Glancing down at this small tome, she heard her companion triumphantly declare, “Check that! Wils told us she put in there what we were supposed to do, remember?”
“Right,” grudgingly acknowledged Kennedy. She flipped open this magical book, and brought it up at face level to read in there:Your mission, should you chose to accept it, is to search the campus and find Uncle Duke from Garry Trudeau’s Doonesbury comic strip. He’s there as a guest speaker, and once you locate him, you both need to have your picture taken with this incorrigible scoundrel by the other. Have fun!
Xander waited for Kennedy to react to whatever she’d just perused, but he didn’t expect this Slayer to abruptly guffaw, and then continue whooping with laughter while wrapping a pair of arms around herself in sheer delight. Now truly curious, the man edged nearer the warrior woman, until he got close enough to risk a grab at the book pressed against Kennedy’s upper left arm.
He really should’ve known better, what with being around Slayers ever since Sunnydale High. An instant later, Kennedy landed lightly on her feet several yards away from Xander, after leaping away from his utterly ineffective attempt to snatch the book back. Instead, she teasingly held it out at arm-level straight at him, a wicked smirk on her face. Glowering at the taunting woman, Xander trudged over, fully expecting another round of keep-away.
Oddly enough, this didn’t happen. Kennedy allowed Xander to take the book from her fingers, though she maintained on her beautiful features an impish grin all the while. This mischievous expression shortly shifted into a disbelieving gape at Xander then immediately doing his
own loud roar of mirth. She continued to watch in astonishment at Xander still chortling after reading what they were supposed to do in this dimension. Which, from the sounds of things, apparently contained the real-life cast of Doonesbury, a newspaper comic strip which had been wryly skewering American social and political life for decades.
Finally giving into her curiosity, Kennedy reached out to prod Xander’s chest to get his attention. She made sure to add a little extra Slayer strength in this. Staggering back a few steps, the man wearing an eyepatch didn’t seem to mind all that much, grinning at an exasperated lesbian. Kennedy then demanded of him, “What’s so funny? You better not be dissing my favorite character from that strip!”
Now, it was Xander’s turn to be startled. He gawked at the annoyed woman, only to incredulously declare in return, “No, I’m not! Hey, I really like it too, and Uncle Duke’s the one I enjoy the most!”
Both Kennedy and Xander gazed at each other in surprise. Which, after several moments of this shared astonishment, slowly changed into growing suspicion. Xander was the first to speak, warily mentioning, “Wils knows I’m an Uncle Duke fan, ever since junior high. How about you?”
Her eyes narrowing in remembrance over a certain bedtime discussion, Kennedy curtly nodded, adding, “Ever since the Reagan years, that strip pissed off my parents, and I couldn’t resist checking out anything which made them so mad. I didn’t understand a lot of it to start with, but Uncle Duke grew on me. He’s a real survivor, and someone who just doesn’t care what everybody thinks about him. I could get into that, growing up.”
“And Wils found this out, right?” mused Xander, pensively eyeing the Slayer.
Beginning to feel a little uncomfortable under the man’s unwavering stare, Kennedy admitted, “Yeah, if only to explain why I have my subscribed hometown paper air-mailed to me at the castle. She never mentioned it again…the little brat!”
Instead of being offended at hearing his lifelong friend described in such an unflattering way, Xander merely gave Kennedy a tight smile. He then held up the small book containing this same witch’s instructions, to remark, “Well, I guess we’ll both have something to say to her when we get back. For now, let’s do what Wils told us. One thing I know, anything she put down has to be important.”
“That’s true,” agreed Kennedy, tilting her head in thought. She pursed her lips, before suggesting, “The book doesn’t say exactly where Uncle Duke is. Just that we’re on a college or university campus, and he’s going to speak here. I think I remember some strips about that. Anyway, let’s look for some kind of auditorium or lecture hall. The guy might be there already, or maybe someone knows where he is. Or, we can just wait until Duke gets there, and finish up quick our challenge by having our pictures taken with him right away.”
“Good plan,” praised Xander. He next asked, “You got the camera?”
In response, Kennedy tapped the lump in her front pants pocket where she’d shoved the recorder just after arriving here. A sudden thought occurred to her, causing the Slayer to hand over the book to Xander. She told the startled man, “Keep this. Okay, any ideas where to go first?”
Tucking away the book into his own pocket, Xander glanced again around the quadrangle with its school buildings. Shrugging, he mentioned, “One direction’s as good as any. There’ll probably be a sign with a map somewhere to help guide visitors; let’s find it.”
Fifteen minutes later, Xander and Kennedy peered through the locked main glass doors of the located auditorium into an empty foyer beyond the shut entrance. Standing together outside the large building, the Slayer glanced to her left. With her superhuman eyesight, she easily saw the handwritten sign taped inside the window of the closed ticket office. Reading out loud to her game partner, Kennedy recited, “Today at seven p.m., former Ambassador Duke will appear on his tour giving details of his experiences in China. Open to all.”
She glanced at Xander trying the door again. “What do you think? Wait here for it to start, or find somewhere to eat?”
“The clock tower we passed said four-twenty,” absently remarked Xander, stepping away from the door to eye Kennedy. “That’ll take a good chunk of game time. Why don’t we check the back? Maybe there’s somebody there, or possibly an open door or window…” A very evil smile lifted the corners of the man’s mouth.
Kennedy had her own fiendish grin going, as she contributed, “Yeah, we can’t be blamed if someone a lot stronger than normal accidentally jumps up two stories or finds some other way to get in…”
Soon enough, after their successful break-in, they were again at the glass doors, only this time on the other side. In the lower floor of the auditorium, Kennedy looked up at the ceiling of the foyer, and she quietly whispered to her companion, “There’s people there. Two of ’em, I think. Can’t hear anything else.”
Xander looked around, and he spotted against a side wall a staircase to the second floor. Heading at once to this, Kennedy was right behind him. Trotting upwards, the pair paused at the head of the stairs, with the Slayer pointing over the man’s shoulder at the door marked ‘Private - No Admittance.’
Naturally, that didn’t stop either of them from slipping through this luckily unlocked door, with Kennedy carefully closing it behind herself. Rejoining Xander waiting for her, the game partners then walked down the inside corridor having several doors along this hallway. Just after Kennedy hissed warningly under her breath, one of these doors opened. A mature woman with half-spectacles, grey hair, and a drab dress bustled out of the guest lounge leading off the corridor. Possessing a supremely harassed expression, this stranger who couldn’t be anything but a faculty administrative assistant saw from the corner of her eye the other two people in the hallway.
Stopping dead in her tracks, the older woman turned her head to stare in surprise at the young pair who’d also halted a few feet away. “What’re you doing here?” frowned this lady at whom she presumed were trespassing college students. “The lecture isn’t until later--”
“We need to meet Mr. Duke,” broke in Kennedy, trying and failing to peek past the other lady standing in front of the lounge doorway. Even if she couldn’t directly catch a glimpse of anyone else inside, her Slayer senses were telling Kennedy a guy was definitely occupying that room. Her heightened ears and nose also helpfully contributed the information this unknown person was staying put, slowly breathing, and judging from the smells wafting from there, he had on him enough pharmaceuticals to stock his own drugstore.
A rather apprehensive air was immediately developed by the college assistant over hearing that, but then she distractedly declared, “Mr. Duke is not…available, I’m afraid. You’ll just have to wait until after the lecture, like anyone else…” The mature woman trailed off, with another anxious look taking its place on her face, as if she was having serious doubts this would actually happen.
Before Kennedy could argue further, Xander contributed his own assertion on the need to hold an immediate discussion with a former U.S. Ambassador to China. In true Scooby Gang fashion, as a matter of fact.
Basically, the one-eyed man’s left arm was unexpectedly draped around Kennedy’s shoulders, and he pulled the stunned Slayer against his left side in a caring hug. All while glaring at the older lady as he loudly threatened, “I wanna see that sonofabitch right now,
so he can tell me straight to my face what he’s gonna do about getting my sister here pregnant!”
The nervous smile presently flitting upon the college assistant’s countenance congealed into real horror. Her mouth opening and closing with shock, this paling female finally blurted out, “Uh, excuse me! I have to…to…powder my nose! Don’t let me bother you…”
Avoiding the eyes of the pair of young people standing before her, the assistant frantically edged past them. Once in the clear, she sprinted down the corridor to the door leading to the staircase. Hopefully, by the time it was safe to come back (which was as long as she could manage to hide in the downstairs restroom), the unpleasant scene about to happen in Mr. Duke’s room would be over and done with, and no further business of hers.
For a few moments more after the corridor door slammed shut, Xander continued to sadistically snicker. His giggles abruptly changed into a whimper of authentic agony at his wrist feeling as if it’d just been clamped into a bone-crushing vise. The man then dropped to his knees on the hallway linoleum, tears appearing in his remaining eye while he looked up into a terrifying visage.
This was all due to Kennedy still in Xander’s brotherly embrace reaching up and across her body to daintily pinch her right thumb and forefinger around the sides of her companion’s wrist resting on her left shoulder. Exerting just a fraction of her Slayer strength with these slim digits which could effortlessly bend in half a quarter coin, Kennedy smoothly extricated herself. Turning around in a half circle during her continuous grip onto Xander’s wrist, she watched this idiot collapse onto the floor. When Xander stared into Kennedy’s thunderous face, she snarled down at him, “You really like living dangerously, don’t you?”
Even in actual pain, Xander had to rise to the occasion. Smirking through his tears at the warrior woman appearing as if she was about to render him into his component parts any second now, he managed, “Nah, dangerous would’ve been saying you were my underage
The world held its breath.
Kennedy blinked once at what Xander had just said, with an air of absolute calm next descending upon her. Standing there frozen for an endless moment, the Slayer then had the corner of her tightly-compressed lips…twitch.
Xander let his own mouth widen into a triumphant grin. “Yeah, that
word would’ve made the lady just here leave ten times faster! Maybe with a sonic boom too--”
“Oh, shut up, Xander,” amiably stated Kennedy, letting go of his wrist. Taking a step back, she watched her insane game partner get back up on his feet, nonchalantly rubbing at his wrist, and then wiping at his sole eye to rub away the bit of moisture there. When Xander finished off this performance by giving her his most hangdog look in an evident play for sympathy, Kennedy merely rolled her own eyes and jerked a thumb in the direction of the open doorway. This was followed by a brisk feminine, “Now that you got rid of her, let’s see if Uncle Duke’s really in there, and get done with our business. If we can.”
Cocking an eyebrow, Xander followed Kennedy into the lounge, asking a bit bemusedly along the way, “Why would that be a probl-- Oh.”
Seated in an armchair facing the lounge’s second story front window showing an Ivy League college landscape, Raoul Duke, former Governor of American Samoa, former China ambassador, former Biafran mercenary (“It was just for the summer”) was at present seriously comatose. Slumped back in his chair, this man had definitely made sure of this. It was all due to his last college lecture appearance a week ago at another university. A slight error during his normal consumption of a staggering level of illegal substances had resulted in his pill-taking producing severe hallucinations. Like, for instance, seeing everyone around him as a sheep.
Big, human-sized, sheep with fluffy white wool and standing upright on their rear hooves, all of them speaking to him in an annoying, “Bleat! Bleat! Bleat!”
Well, that wouldn’t happen tonight. This time, he’d taken the yellow pill first.
His eyes tightly closed behind ever-present sunglasses, Duke heard from somewhere in his stupor a nearby masculine voice happily say, “Wow, he really does look like Hunter Thompson!”
“Got to agree with you,” came in a very wry tone, this time delivered in a feminine intonation by someone the same age as the first speaker. Whoever this young woman was, she went on to order, “Okay, I think the best angle for the camera is for you to sit by the chair. You want the right side or left side?”
Hmmm… It appeared as if somebody was about to take blackmail photos of him. They could just get in line, behind all the others. Honestly, if he’d never paid anyone else a penny, what chance did those two strangers out there think they had, anyway?
Still determinedly clinging to his tablet-induced trance, Duke nevertheless felt a faint tug on his right arm, along with the first voice announcing, “Start off with me looking like we’re best buddies, our arms over each other’s shoulders. You ready?”
“Yeah, in three. One-two-three!”
“Hi, guys! Ol’ Xander here, and guess who else? Right, nobody but the one and only Uncle Duke! Courtesy of Willow-express, me and Kennedy found him, and as you can see, we’re having a real nice visit with a guy floating around on his own personal cloud nine inside his head. That’s why we can’t have him say hello to you all, but I still have to say, it’s a honor to be in his company! So, Wils, thanks for this, and we’ll be having a little chat about the whole thing later, you betcha. Okay, Ken, you’re up.”
Duke suffered once more through another couple of minutes of incomprehensible babble, wishing they’d just go away. It soon sounded as if this would occur, until the unknown woman declared, “I don’t know, Xander. It doesn’t feel like enough, considering I’ll probably never be able to do this again.”
“So, what do you have in mind?” asked a very amused man. “Get his autograph? Even if he wakes up right now fairly sober, I’ve got a feeling he couldn’t put down anything better than ‘With briv glizk, Untjo Dyqle’, Ken doll.”
“Ha, ha,” sarcastically snickered the woman, who went on in a more thoughtful tone, “Still a souvenir couldn’t hurt…”
A vaguely alarmed Duke then felt his sunglasses being removed from his face. At this, the man out there gleefully cackled, “Thatta girl, Kennedy! In the last fifteen minutes, you’ve done breaking and entering, trespassing, lying, and now actual theft! Can’t let you outdo an original Scooby, so let me have a look around, too.”
With an enormous effort, Duke lifted his right eyelid a crack, to then observe through this slit standing before him, an…angel and a devil.
There was no possibility of a mistake, what with the angel having the usual hackneyed accouterments of a halo, glowing-bright wings spreading out from his back, and a flowing robe. True, there was the rather unusual detail of this angel’s robe differing from the standard pure white shade to instead showing off eye-searing tropical colors and designs much more common to that article of clothing known as the Hawaiian shirt.
The guy’s eyepatch was pretty strange, too.
Swiveling his gaze past the heavenly being rooting around in his opened suitcase, Duke vacantly stared at the female devil with the bright red skin, brunette hair, tiny horns at the corners of her forehead, and a long, forked tail. All of this was plain to see, since she wasn’t wearing anything but a large rainbow ribbon, looped so the top covered her breasts and the area where the cloth crossed was discreetly located at her crotch. At the moment, this demonic creature was casually twirling his sunglasses by one earpiece while she watched her counterpart whoop in delight at producing his latest discovery from the rest of Duke’s property.
Proudly waving one of the insensible man’s cigarette holders, the angel announced, “Now, this is one hell of a memento! He’s the most famous guy since Roosevelt to show off one of these! You ready to go now, Kennedy?”
The devil nodded.
“Me, too. Hold on a sec,” one of God’s anointed responded. He fumbled in among his robes, only to produce from out of there an actual set of the Ten Commandments. These inscribed stone slabs appeared to have been taken directly out of Charlton Heston’s hands. With a casual tug on the words of the Lord, both the angel and the devil then instantly vanished into thin air.
For the next several minutes, Duke simply stared straight ahead at a now-empty lounge. Finally, his dry lips opened for the newspaper comic strip character to croak out to nobody in particular:
“Tomorrow, take the blue