Make With The 'Splainy
Inside the building which housed Cutting Edge Investigations was a young, impossibly attractive young man with a smile that leapt right off his face and into the bedroom.
“Well, hello, Cutie.” Faith’s body posture changed from wary to prowling. The young man’s smile grew wicked.
“Hello to you, too.”
The young man blinked at looked at Jim. “Why not?”
“It’s not the time and, technically, you’re underage.”
“No one’s ever complained before?”
“I don’t mind them young.”
Buffy gave Faith the same look she used on the mini-slayers. “No.”
“C’mon, B. You know I get horny after a fight.”
“I can help with that.”
Jim gave the boy menacing glare, but it was the higher pitched voice of a woman who stopped him from getting closer to Faith. “Ascanio!
Keep. Your pants. On.”
Ascanio flinched and looked towards the stairs at a blond woman who was about the same size and build as Buffy. “Yes, Beta.” He
lowered his eyes to the floor.
She didn’t have the same effect on Faith, but the dark haired slayer knew her potential play mate was derailed. “Buzz kill.” She crossed her arms over her chest petulantly.
“Sorry, but he’s still in trouble after having the threesome on the steps of the city morgue. The only reason he’s not in more trouble was that it was with a pair of female cops, so getting arrested wasn’t a concern.
“Public displays.” Faith returned her appraising gaze to Ascanio. “Kinky.”
“Don’t encourage him.” The woman looked at Jim. “What’s going on?”
“Andrea, these people were displaced by the Flare. Possibly pre-Shift. They say the date on today’s paper is about thirty years from when they should be.”
“Thirty years? As in the about the same time that the tech fell?” Andrea looked at the gang. “What day is it supposed to be? For you, I mean.”
Giles was peering curiously around the room. “Fourteenth of May, 2010.” The future dwellers did not make a sound. He looked back to them. “Is that significant?”
Jim nodded slowly. “You’re not pre-Shift. You’re Shift. That’s the day the tech fell. The day Magic returned to the world.”
“Well, that might explain a few things.”
“Yeah, very interesting, but is there someplace comfy I can put Oz? Not that he’s heavy, but it’s kind of weird to be holding your best friend’s naked boyfriend.”
Andrea blinked and looked over as though seeing the woman and the naked man for the first time. She arched a brow at Jim, who shrugged. “Werewolf.”
“A pre-shift wolf?”
“And knew about it.”
“Kept his shit together even with the rush?”
“And pitched in with the fight. Curran led a group against a pack of Loups who tried to get out of Unicorn Lane. He said the kid is good.
Told me to bring them here to rest and recharge.”
“Well, you set us up for that. Ascanio, take him into the room where we set up the cots. And where’s Julie?”
“In the kitchen.” Ascanio was careful as he took Oz off Buffy’s hands. “She’s been making up sandwiches so there’d be some when as people came in from the Flare.
“Good. After you get him settled, get us some. Drinks, too.” Andrea looked over the scoobies. “You got any injuries? We got set up real good with the med supplies. Got even more after what Jim sent us, which is a good indication we can be expecting our Chief Surgeon any moment now.” She gave a fierce smile to the other shape shifter. “Thanks for that.”
“Not my doing. He probably figures he might as well be on hand for whenever Kate comes back half-dead.”
“True. Well, everyone claim a seat. Make yourselves at home. The bathroom’s up the stairs and to the left. Plumbing is rather simplistic so it usually works during Magic, with the exception of most hot water heaters. We use a wood fire boiler, so you’re good there, too. If any of you need a shower, you’re welcome to it. We have pack sweats in multiple sizes and colors, so we can find you something clean and comfy to wear afterwards.”
“Uhm… thanks.” Buffy had been standing by Willow for support as Ascanio took off with her boyfriend. It was obvious the witch wanted to follow, but also didn’t want to abandon her friends. “I don’t think we got around to the full introductions. I’m Buffy. This is my watcher and father-figure, Giles. And these are my friends Willow, Faith and Xander… and why do you look like you’re going to pass out?”
Andrea was gaping at them all. She had gone very pale. It made Jim tense. “Andrea?”
“You’re…. you…. What’s your last name?”
“Oh, God.” The woman reached for the bannister for balance. “Buffy Summers. THE Buffy Summers.” Her eyes went from Buffy to the others. “Rupert Giles. Alexander Harris. Willow Rosenberg. Faith Lehanne. Oh, God! Willow and Faith!”
The door opened and a new woman, a bit taller than most with dark hair and a slightly exotic slant to her eyes came in. The Beast Lord
was close on her heels. “You didn’t have to follow me back to the office. I can make it across the city without getting killed.”
“Your past track record would indicate otherwise.”
“Oh, very funny.” She looked over the assembled group. “Hi there. You must be the lost lambs the Beast Lord has been telling me about.” She looked up. “Andy? What’s wrong?”
“Kate!” Andrea pointed at Buffy with a shaking hand. “That’s Buffy Summers.”
‘Kate’ paused, her expression somewhat cautious. “Buffy Summers? Are you serious?”
“I’m going to guess that you’ve heard of us.” Buffy looked between the two women, then at the two men who weren’t freaking out. “Is that good or bad?”
“She’s heard of all of us, B.” Faith waved at the new arrivals. “Hi, I’m Faith.”
Kate blinked. “You’re Faith.” Her eyes went around the rest of the Scoobies. “And if I remember my senior classes at the Academy, Buffy Summers’ red-headed friend was Willow Rosenberg, the witch.”
Andrea shook her head. “Holy Shit. The Order.”
Jim arched a brow. “You want us to call the Order?”
“NO!” Both Kate and Andrea shouted it at the same time. Jim backed up a step with his hands raised.
“The Order is the last group we want to call about this. We need to keep them in the dark until we can establish safe harbors for everyone.” Kate’s eyes moved around the room. “You said that they had a wolf with them. That would be Daniel Osborne?”
Willow nodded. “Yeah, that’s his name. Uhm… what exactly is going on?”
“And why do you want to keep the Order in the dark?” Curran folded his arms across his chest. He leveled a stare at Kate, who seemed to ignore it for the most part.
“Danger to Humanity Clause.”
“They would consider them a Danger to Humanity?”
“Willow and Faith, definitely. According to the records, Willow nearly ended the world once and Faith has done time for murder.”
“Lots of people do time for murder.”
“Yes, but not all of them can bench press a bus.” Kate ran a hand over her hair. “Well, this explains what the fuck happened outside of Pittsburgh the day of the Shift. There were a lot of people who went missing, but from what was pieced together it was assumed that you all died taking out that nest of Hitarka demons.”
“No, we totally wiped the floor up with them.” Faith cast a look back towards an open door as Ascanio returned carrying two platters ladened with sandwiches. “We were on our way out of town when there was a bright flash of light and, next we knew, we were in an alley
off of that Unicorn Lane place.”
“The Shift must have grabbed you.”
“Kate.” Curran kept up the glare. “Care to fill in the rest of the class?”
“I’m for that.” Buffy raised a hand. “I’m all for filling in. With the info, that is.”
Kate sighed. “Everyone sit down. This is going to take a while. It mostly deals with ancient history and things the Order only tells you if you make it to your final year of classes.”~***~
“Okay, what we know as The Order, is actually an organization that just sort of took the place of another group called The International atcher’s Council. That group had been around for centuries in one form or another and had accumulated a wealth of knowledge throughout all that time. The Order has actually rewritten part of its history to say it was formed in 2007 with the Academy, but the original Academy belonged to the Watcher’s.”
“Why were they called ‘watchers’?” Jim was seated in a corner, the better to keep an eye on the rest of the room. The Scoobies were helping themselves to sandwiches and iced tea. Kate was seated behind her desk with her Sugar Woogums standing behind her.
“Because that’s mostly what they did. That, and they were in charge of The Slayer.” She took a breath. “Here’s where what I know of history and what our guests know of history is likely to differ. Very few people know that the man now called Roland actually created the first vampire. It’s not something that is common knowledge. And what vampires were pre-Shift isn’t what we know as vampires today, just as they aren’t what vampires were before Magic fell the first time, giving way to tech.
During the reign of technology vampires were entirely different. They looked more human and, instead of being piloted by necromancers, they were essentially flesh suits for demons. With that combination they could walk and talk and pretend to be normal, which also gave rise to the romantic idea of the dark, tortured lover that was so popular in that era. They also had some drawbacks, such as a bad reaction to holy water or objects and the inability to enter a person’s home without an invitation.”
“Ah, so that’s why they got upset when I disagreed with the idea that vampires can’t enter a home.”
“Exactly. They were also a lot easier to kill. Didn’t develop tougher hide and bony plates as they do now. Turned into dust when killed, too, so no pesky bodies to get rid of.”
“They don’t anymore?”
Kate shook her head. “Sorry, they don’t. Vamps are a lot harder to kill now. To make it even more fun, they’re property. Expensive property, at that. A vampire can cost upwards of thirty grand. Really old ones, the ones that were made before the Shift, cost even more. So, unless you have a rogue vamp or one that’s being used to attack you, you really can’t kill them wholesale.”
Faith and Buffy exchanged a look. “I don’t know about you, B, but I think that’s bullshit.”
“I agree, but that’s the law. Keep in mind what you two were doing before was actually more along the lines of getting rid of the demons rather than the vampire itself.”
Curran frowned. “What they did before? Who are they?”
Kate spread her hands to indicate the two girls. “They are Slayers, which brings us to another point of history. The ‘Ancient’ part. As we know, Roland has a tendency not to get along with his family. Especially his children. However, there have been a few times when his kids get away from him and manage to strike out on their own. Long ago, he was at war with one of his children and that child’s descendents. A very long and brutal war. Out of desperation, the child and his more powerful offspring decided to cast a little spell. They wanted a weapon that could be used against Roland’s vampires. Something or someone with the strength and speed to fight the things. To that end, they used their magic to steal bits and pieces of different dark creatures, managed to get their hands on a young girl and used a dark ritual to put all those bits and pieces into her. The result was a young girl who was stronger, faster and healed more quickly than regular people and who existed for one purpose only: to fight the monsters that prey on humanity.
“They did a good job, but it fucked the kid over. Ruined her life. No chance she’d ever marry or have kids. Even with all the bonuses they gave her, she couldn’t last long against the things she was made to fight. They saw this problem as well and had set it up so that when she died, the spell would seek out another girl who had the same potential as she and make her into Super Girl.”
“And that’s how it went for centuries.” Buffy’s voice was bitter. “One girl is chosen. She fights. She dies. The next girl gets called. Over
and over again. Most of us didn’t last but a year.”
“Yes.” Kate’s voice was gentle. “That’s how it went, until one Slayer broke the rules.” She leaned back and looked up at Curran. “The Watcher’s kept the Slayer’s isolated. They had a spell to identify potentials and would even take the girls from their families when they were very young if they could manage it. Trained them most of their lives, always waiting to see which one would get the power next. Usually it happened between the ages of twelve and sixteen. Sometimes younger. Sometimes older, there was record of one who had already had a kid of her own before she was ‘chosen’, but Buffy’s right in that they rarely lasted more than a year.”
“Agreed. It is. According to the record, Buffy here was missed. They just didn’t think she’d be picked for the power. Surprised the hell out of them when she was, but she was a teenager with a loving mother who kept tabs on her. She made friends and refused to be isolated. She actually drowned, was dead long enough for the next Slayer to be tapped, but one Alexander Harris used CPR to bring her back. First rule broken: now there were two slayers. Then, later, one Willow Rosenberg broke that rule even further. She was a powerful witch, one strong enough to take the spell that had made slayers throughout history and turn it on its ear by setting off every single potential slayer in the world.”
“Over three thousand that were old enough to pull in. At least another five that were too young.” Faith shrugged. “We started a few schools to give the girls a place to go, but no field work until they were at least seventeen. Just because the Slayers got thrown to the wolves when they were babies in the past didn’t mean we had to keep up that practice.”
“There were older slayers, too. Grown women who now had the strength to deal with super powered adolescents and had the mom-sense to go with it. We made changes, and as a result the average life span of a slayer went up. No more being on your own in a fight; you were part of squad and you could watch one another’s’ backs.”
“How come we’ve never heard of these girls? A few thousand women able to throw around vehicles and kill vampires would stand out.”
“Because they’re not here, anymore. At least not where they can be found.”
Buffy and Faith both tensed. “Why not? What happened to them?”
“No one knows for sure. You’re little sister took off with them a couple of years after the magic came back and no one has seen them since.”
“Dawn took them? How?”
“By magic. The Shift hit and she was one of the ones who woke up with a good deal more power than she’d had in the past. Apparently she had the ability to open doorways between dimensions.” Kate watched as the Scoobies exchanged glances. “You knew about that.”
“Maybe.” Buffy gave a single shoulder shrug. “She might have displayed such skills in the past. But, hey, why did she think it was a good idea to take off the with mini-Slayers?”
Andrea was seated in another chair, fidgeting with her crossbow. “No idea. That part wasn’t very clear in the lesson plans. We just know that what is now The Order of Merciful Aide kind of, took over for the Watcher’s council.”
“Unless you have the dirt from another source.” Kate smirked a bit. “To put it bluntly, there was a coup. When you guys vanished in The Shift, Dawn Summers was left to try and manage the council. Only she was young and there were some of the power hungry who took advantage of that fact. They whittled away at her power base until they thought she was ‘toothless’, then they gave birth to the Danger to Humanity Clause and tried to use it to say she was threat. They cast her in an unfavorable light as being out of control and likely to open doors to untold horrors. They tried to use it against any Slayer who wouldn’t toe the line as well. They wanted to control them. Use them as weapons to solidify their power base. And Dawn, apparently feeling that it was her responsibility to protect the girls with you lot gone, flipped the Council/Order the metaphorical bird, rounded up the Slayers and took them away.”
Buffy fell back against her chair. “Wow.” Her expression was odd. “I don’t know whether to be horrified… or proud.”
“Proud.” Kate offered her a smile. “She stood up to the bullies and got your girls out before they got trapped back into the same mire that the Slayers before them faced. If she hadn’t done it, the Slayers would again be nothing more than tools used by cowards too fearful to do the dirty work themselves.”
“Yeah, I guess she did. I don’t suppose any of the assholes who pushed her to that length are still around. I think I’d like to have a talk with them.”
“I concur with that as well.” Giles was going to polish his glasses, then remembered they were broken. “We put a lot of work into reforming and correcting the errors in the Council. The old methods got girls killed. However, we need to get our bearings in this new world. I don’t mean to be overly cautious, but Willow, you were throwing about quite a bit more magic than usual and without any obvious drain. And, Buffy and Faith, do either of you feel the least bit tired after that extended fight earlier today?”
Faith shrugged. “We’re all about the Slayer stamina and strength, Giles. You know that.”
“He’s right. Even we should be a bit tired after all that. We hardly got winded.”
“It makes sense.” Andrea shrugged and looked over at Kate. “The Slayers are essentially creatures of magic. If they were powerful before The Shift, they’d be even more so now.”
“Giles, you’re no stranger to magic. Do you feel any buffer?”
“Quite, but I’m trying not to dwell on that just now.”
“If the information we got on you is close to accurate, the Mage College will be falling all over themselves to try and get you to come work for them.” Kate reached for a sandwich. “And the Witches are going to go into collective fits of exhaltation when they find out that Willow Rosenberg has resurfaced.”
Curran studied the Scoobies. The Scoobies studied him right back. “So what do we do with them?”
“My vote is to extend the hospitality to the Pack to the whole group and not just to the werewolf. There is precedent. These guys are practically family; you don’t go through the shit they went through together and not bond. I’m not a shape shifter, but I’m part of the Pack. Same goes for Julie, and there are several Pack members who have non-shape shifter family members who are afforded Pack protection and privileges.” Kate shrugged. “The Order won’t be able to touch them if we let them claim sanctuary from the Pack, which will give them time to figure out what they want to do in this crazy new world.”
The Beast Lord didn’t look completely convinced. Neither did the Scoobies for that matter.
“Did I mention that The People are really going to pissed that this particular group of people is back? Buffy and Faith are enough of a threat to their stables by themselves, but all of them together are legendary. They faced and defeated enemies on the scale of what we faced with the last flare, and that’s not counting the multiple times they saved the world from an apocalypse.”
“You know about all of that?” Buffy stared at this ‘Kate’ who seemed to know so much.
“It’s sort of my job to know about such things. The Order doesn’t know if they should classify you as terrors or heroes, but they’ll make up
their minds real quick if they get their hands on you.”
“I trust your judgment, Kate, but if they become a threat to our people, I’ll take care of them myself.” Xander opened his mouth to deliver one of his witty comebacks but was silenced by Giles clearing his throat. “I extend the hospitality and protection of The Pack to you and
yours. Welcome to Atlanta.”
“Is there anything to eat?” Everyone turned to find Oz standing at the top of the stairs wearing nothing but a sheet wrapped around his waist. “I’m starving.”