2.The road between Fort Drum and Grandview.
“Are you sure there’s no discomfort, Mrs Finn,” the paramedic shone a light in Buffy’s eyes as he spoke.
“No I’m fine,” Buffy glanced down at the medic’s name badge, “Jim, and the baby’s fine too, I’d know if it wasn’t.”
“You don’t know the sex?” Jim Clancy asked as he stopped shining lights in Buffy’s eyes and checked her pulse one last time.
“No,” Buffy smiled, the medic was quite handsome and if she hadn’t been happily married and eight months pregnant she might have asked him out. “The sonograms are never totally clear about that.”
“Odd,” the medic frowned as he let go of Buffy’s wrist.
“Funny, that’s what everyone says,” Buffy agreed.
“Well Mrs Finn,” Jim started to pack away his medical equipment, “you don’t appear to be any the worse for your adventure. But I’d check in with your doctor if I were you just to be sure.” Jim noticed Buffy’s face form into a frown, “Something wrong?”
“Sort of,” Buffy admitted, “my husband’s in the army and I’ve been sorta going to the clinic at Fort Drum, we’ve only recently moved to Grandview so I’ve not got a doctor around here yet.”
“That’s okay,” Jim smiled, “drop into Mercy Hospital for a check up, tell them Jim Clancy sent you, okay?”
“Thanks,” Buffy waved as the medic walked back towards his ambulance.0=0=0=0
“So, Ms Rosenberg,” the patrolman had to glance down at his notebook to remind himself of Willow’s name, “You didn’t see any of these ninja’s
faces and you didn’t get a look at the van’s licence plate.”
“Sorry no,” Willow felt useless, try as she might she couldn’t remember any details about the van or the ninjas; it didn’t matter how often she ran over the events in her mind she just couldn’t remember anything useful.
“Are you sure this wasn’t some kind of a prank,” the officer asked as he put away his notebook and pen.
“Look officer,” Willow knew there wasn’t any point in being cross at the policeman, she realised what this must look like to him, “my friend is the wife of an officer in the US Army, he’s been to Iraq and everything. It’s not out of the realms of possibility that someone is trying to get to him through Buffy.”
Nodding his head Officer Conrad had to admit that the young woman had a point, just as he was about to say something his radio squawked at him. He listened carefully to the message before looking down at Willow again.
“Listen,” he said quietly, “that was one of my colleagues, they found what looks like blood on the road about were you say these ninjas stopped you but there’s no sign of any van.” Officer Conrad held up his hand to forestall any outburst from Willow. “I think what’d be best is for you to drive your friend home and call her husband as soon as possible. I’ll come along with you and check out the house, y’know just to be sure there’s no one there.”
“Thank-you officer,” Willow acknowledged.0=0=0=0The Finn residence, Grandview.
After their little adventure, Willow drove them back to Buffy’s house complete with a police escort. Once outside the house Willow and Buffy watched as Officer Conrad and his partner checked out the building to make sure there were no ninjas lying in wait. When the house proved to be free of any black clad kidnappers, the two police officers retreated to their car and took up position outside Buffy’s house. After thanking the police officers for their help, Willow helped Buffy into the house before calling Riley.
About half-an-hour later the police car drove away from in front of Buffy and Riley’s house just as half a dozen Humvees pulled up outside. They disgorged a swarm of troops who took up positions around the house. Only moments later Riley burst in through the front door knocking Willow flying as she went to open it.
“Sorry Willow,” Riley helped her up and Willow noticed the pistol in its holster on his hip, “where’s Buffy?”
“Upstairs, resting,” Willow replied as she dusted herself down and watched as Riley ran up the stairs; Willow couldn’t help thinking that for a man who only had one real leg he could move pretty fast when he wanted to. “She’s fine!” she called out after the fast moving soldier. “Oh well,” Willow told herself, “he’s just worried,” she turned to look at all the soldiers in the front yard and around the house before starting towards the kitchen, “Better start making sandwiches and coffee for the troops.”0=0=0=0
“Buffy!” Riley stood in the doorway to their bedroom for a moment before crossing the room; he was by Buffy’s side in two steps, “Are you alright?” He laid his hand gently on her stomach as he kissed her on the lips, “The baby?”
“We’re both fine,” Buffy smiled up from the bed where she lay resting, she had the distinct feeling that she was dealing with this better than her husband was.
“Okay,” Riley started to calm down now he’d found that his wife and unborn child were unharmed, he wanted to know what had happened, “what sort of demons were they?”
“Not demons,” Buffy replied quietly, “humans.”
“Humans?” Riley was just about to ask a whole string of questions when Buffy put a finger across his lips silencing him for a moment.
“And before you ask;” Buffy began, “no, I didn’t recognise any of them and no, I’ve no idea why anyone would want to kidnap me…and what’s all that noise outside?”
“Nothing,” Riley looked away from his wife as he tried to get a handle on why anyone would try to kidnap Buffy; far too many scenarios popped into his mind, “I just brought a few of the guys along to help keep an eye on you.”
“You what!?” Buffy pushed herself up from her pillows and looked out of the window to see the road in front of her house full of military vehicles. “Oh-my-god Riley!”
“What’s wrong?” Kidnappers forgotten Riley turned to look at his wife.
“You’ve got the house surrounded by troops?” Buffy looked horrified, “What will the neighbours think?”
“The neighbours?” to say Riley was confused would be an understatement, “Who cares what the neighbours think?”
“I do!,” cried Buffy, “I have to live here, they’ll think I’m that awful Mrs Finn who gets her house surrounded by the army, that’s what they’ll think,” she wailed, “I’ll never live it down,” Buffy grabbed hold of her husband’s arm and looked him in the eye, “we’ll have to move!”
“But,” Riley did goldfish impressions for a moment before speaking again, “someone tried to kidnap you, remember?”
“But that’s no reason to stage the Normandy landings in our front yard,” Buffy snapped back angrily.
“I think it is!” Riley replied with some feeling.
“Don’t you yell at me Riley Finn!” Buffy said sharply before catching herself and calming down, “Because…because I‘m all pregnanty and delicate and over reacting to my husband’s perfectly legitimate concerns…sorry.”
“Yeah, I’m sorry too,” Riley replied taking hold of Buffy’s hand, “I understand how you must feel.” He didn’t really but he thought it was the best thing to say, “But you need to be looked after until we find out what’s going on here.”
“But I don’t want the house full of troops, we’ve only just finished painting,” Buffy pouted.
“You do know the guys are house trained, don’t you?” Riley pointed out with a smile.
“Look, we’ll be perfectly safe with just you to guard us,” Buffy stroked her tummy as she spoke, “and we’ve got Willow here and…”
“Ah,” Riley said quietly.
“Ah?” Buffy repeated suspiciously.
“Look,” Riley edged out of range of Buffy’s fists; he didn’t think she was going to like what he was going to say. “The reason I brought all the guys was I’m not going to be around for a few days…fate of the world stuff you know?”
“Sometimes, Riley Finn, I think you love the world more than you do me,” Buffy sulked. “Never mind,” she brightened slightly, “I’ll just get in a couple of slayers to guard me while you’re off saving the world…oh!” Buffy remembered something, “Darn,” she sighed, “humans.”
“So,” Riley moved closer to his wife again, “you don’t want the place full up with troops, right?”
“Darn straight!” Buffy nodded emphatically, not that she had anything against Riley’s guys; it was the principle of the thing.
“But you can’t use slayers,” Riley pointed out as an idea surfaced in his mind.
“So what do we do?” Buffy said slowly, “And before you ask, moving back on post is not an option.”
“If I’d known you were going to be so stubborn,” Riley observed with a grin, “I’d never have married you.”
“That’s us Summers women,” agreed Buffy with another nod, “stubborn as mules.”
“Would one soldier be acceptable to your mulishness?” Riley smiled, he had, as the saying went, a cunning plan. “Sort of like a body guard?”
“Well,” Buffy thought about this, “if you’re not available to guard my body…which by-the-way I still think is pretty poor planning. I suppose one soldier wouldn’t be too bad…as long as he doesn’t go around stamping his feet and saluting me all the time and calling me ‘ma’am’.”
“I promise this soldier won’t call you ‘Ma’am’,” Riley reassured Buffy as he stood up, “now I better make some phone calls.”
“Then you’ll come back and see me?” Buffy asked urgently.
“Of course,” Riley got up and headed for the door, “I’ll make some calls then send the guys back to Drum. I’ll have them leave a Hummer so I can drive back tomorrow. Under the circumstances I think I can get away with staying one more night with my wife.”
“Goody!” Buffy grinned, “You know we can still make love, if we’re careful.”
“You sure?” Riley asked uncertainly, “You still want to?”
“If I didn’t I wouldn’t have said anything, but of course if you don’t want to…” Buffy left the implied threat of terrible consequences unsaid.
“Whatever,” Riley gave up, he knew he was going to lose, “I’ll be back later,” he called as he headed out into the hall.0=0=0=0
Snuggling up to Riley, Buffy sighed contentedly.
“I always knew there was a use for slayer strength and agility other than for killing vamps,” she smiled into the night as she luxuriated in the feel of her husband’s body against her own. “Now what did you arrange when you were talking on the phone for so long,” she felt Riley’s body stiffen, but not in a fun way. “Riley,” she said warningly, “what have you done?”
“Look, Buffy,” Riley started to explain, “it was very difficult to find someone suitable and then get them released from their present duties.”
“And?” Buffy noticed that her husband seemed to be bending over backwards not to mention her prospective bodyguard’s sex, an ominous thought entered her mind.
“I’ve,” Riley steeled himself for Buffy’s reaction, “arranged to have Faith assigned as your bodyguard, she’ll be here tomorrow.”
“Faith!” Buffy was so shocked that she nearly lost the power of speech; killer, psycho, rogue, slayer Faith who’d…Buffy started to calm down as she began to think rationally.
“Look,” Riley continued hopefully, “it’s perfect, Willow’s already here, she’s already insisted that she’s staying until we know what’s going on, so Faith and Willow can share a room, what would look more normal?”
The evil, bitch, killer, Faith had long since gone and been replaced by decorated, soldier Faith who’d found Riley in the Iraqi desert, carried him on her back for five miles before turning around and wiping out the insurgents that had been following them. If it hadn’t been for Faith, Riley wouldn’t be here now and she wouldn’t be married and pregnant. Buffy was loath to admit it but she owed Faith a big debt of gratitude.
The world also owed Faith a vote of gratitude for saving it from a nuclear holocaust and alien big-game hunters and any number of nasty things that could have had so many really bad consequences. In fact, after a little thought, Buffy thought it would be an honour to have Faith come and guard her. Faith was famous, she was a war hero she’d had her picture in the papers…in fact it was just about at this point Buffy started to feel jealous of her one time rival.
“You’ll be okay with this?” Riley asked.
“Yeah,” Buffy nodded her head slowly, “I think I can deal, but what if being near me all the time makes her start to remember stuff…like, you know, from before?
“You think that’s a danger?” Riley was beginning to think that this might not be such a good idea after all.
“To be honest,” Buffy paused for a moment, “I don’t know, this’ll take some careful handling; you know Willow thinks there’s something blocking her memories? I don’t want anything to happen that might bring them to the surface,” Buffy sighed heavily, “I suppose I could get Willow to keep a little ‘forgetting’ spell handy just in case.”
“I can cancel this if you want?” Riley explained, “If you’re not happy with the idea, we can always think of something else.”
“Are you happy with the idea?” Buffy asked then answered her own question, “You must be happy with it or you wouldn’t have suggested it, right?”
“Faith Lehane is an honourable and highly motivated young woman,” Riley explained, “nothing like the Faith you told me about.”
“Okay then,” Buffy turned so she could see her husbands face, “bring her on, I’ll work something out.”0=0=0=0
Outside the Finn residence one of the ghosts that seemed to haunt every corner of Grandview wandered aimlessly along the road. It stopped when it saw what looked like a black hole surrounded by blue flame open in the middle of the road. The ghost floated over to take a closer look; it saw three figures dressed in black step out of the hole; pause to look around and then climb over a fence into the garden of one of the street’s houses. 0=0=0=0
Lying on her back in her lonely bed Willow gave up trying to get to sleep. The events of the day had been so disturbing in so many ways. But looking on the bright side Faith would be here soon, she was out on some mission at the moment, nothing too dangerous and not too far away. The thought of her girlfriend made Willow frown a little; just lately Faith had been acting a little, distractedly? Like she’d something on her mind or she was coming to some sort of important decision. Perhaps, Willow hoped against hope, Faith was thinking about leaving the army. As Willow didn’t want to appear to be pushing her in any particular direction she’d not said anything one way or another, Faith would make up her own mind.
Sighing, Willow gave up any thoughts of getting any sleep just yet; she always had trouble sleeping in a strange bed without Faith to keep her company. Pushing back the covers she swung her legs out onto the floor, got up and put on her robe before heading down stairs to the kitchen. Perhaps if she had a soothing cup of herbal tea and read for awhile she’d get sleepy. Padding on silent feet that even a slayer wouldn’t hear, Willow made her way downstairs to the kitchen. Closing the door to the rest of the house she switched on the lights.
Turning she found herself coming face to face with three guys in black who where standing in a little cluster around the back door; they looked almost as surprised as Willow felt. One of them lifted a weapon, pointed it at Willow and fired. Bullets stitched a line of holes through the door and through the space where Willow had been a fraction of a second earlier. Cups and plates were smashed as wood splinters flew into the air from the door and its frame.
Lying on her side on the floor where she’d landed, Willow’s eyes went dark as she sent a stream of magical energy towards the gunman. The black clad commando firing the weapon screamed hideously as he was literally turned inside out by Willow’s magic. Panicking as one of their number was turned into a particularly bloody biology display the other two commandoes started to fire. But it was too late, Willow had recovered from her earlier surprise and now had a magical shield in place between herself and the bullets.
Rounds ricocheted off the shield to burry themselves in the walls and ceilings, with one final effort (Willow found this sort of combat magic very tiring if she hadn’t had time to prepare herself) she sent a solid wall of magic at her assailants. The commandoes were lifted off their feet and hurled into the wall of the kitchen, the force of the impact was enough to break their backs and fracture their skulls.
Sliding to the floor the two commandoes lay dead in the blood from Willow’s first victim. When Riley got down stairs, pistol in hand and false leg roughly strapped on he found Willow breathing deeply and trying to calm herself down after using so much lethal magic on actual humans.
“It’s okay Willow,” Riley said calmingly, “you got them all.”
Limping across the room Riley checked that the commandoes were in fact dead. As he stood up and before he could get back to Willow’s side, Buffy appeared through what remained of the door. Standing frozen in the doorway, Buffy looked around her mouth and eyes opened wide in shock.
“Oh, my lovely kitchen!” Buffy wailed just as Willow threw up on the floor.0=0=0=0