Friends, Family, Destiny
Los Angeles, Alan Eppes’ home, Tuesday, December 24, 8 PM
Buffy and Dawn had been brought, in a helicopter first, then in an Oldsmobile, to Alan Eppes’ home. They had of course donned clothes brought to Desdichados by Terry and Kate, who knew that most probably no one had kept Dawn’s clothes and Buffy had arrived half naked. They were greeted by Mr. Eppes and the whole gang, but Buffy tried to stay around the ladies and Dawn – well, Dawn was hanging to Buffy. No one made any remark, knowing full well, through Terry’s and Kate’s phone reports, what they had endured. But the men, although friendly and smiling, kept their distances. No ice beyond the one between them and Terry and Kate would be broken tonight.
It was nonetheless a pleasant evening. Mister Eppes was the only one who made Dawn laugh, with his inimitable style for telling a story, but Buffy was more liberal in her laughter, as she was trying to forget that she would be separated from Dawn in a few days and did so by forcing herself to find enjoyment.
What both enjoyed thoroughly was the food. They looked at the table, looked at each other. They had never seen so much food in a single room ever. Not even at Don Silva’s orgies had there ever been so much food on display. Of course, the old coot was afraid that Buffy would want to eat and so made it sure that she never came close to the kitchen or the dining room. But still, on Mr. Eppes’ table was a quantity of beautiful, so good-smelling, so appetizing food that the girls drooled. Literally. And they ate! They did not eat that much, because their stomachs couldn’t take it after all the privations they had endured, but they ate as much as they could, and it rejoiced, not only them, but everyone around them.
But that was not all! The next morning, after a good night sleeping in a bed
, a warm
bed, a cozy
bed, in which they slept until the sun was up, they were invited to a breakfast, and then... presented with big, colorful boxes with a bow and an envelope. They looked at each other, not knowing what to do. Terry, who had read their files so many times that she knew them by heart, realized that they didn’t know what was happening. And indeed, for both girls, it was the first time anyone presented them with a Christmas gift.
“They’re for you, ladies! Open them.”
Buffy went forward, started opening the box with her name. Dawn came closer and started imitating the one she had long ago started considering as her big sister. They found clothes inside: undergarments, girls’ shoes, boots for outside, a dress, trousers for outside, a coat, and several more clothing accessories to their size, along with suitcases of course. Mister Eppes had looked at them enough to determine, thanks to Kate and Terry, what their sizes were, and had woken up at 6 AM a friend owning a clothes store. The friend was not extraordinarily happy, but he was a friend, so...
Actually there would have been a lot more gifts if the gang had been given the green light by Aunt Lolly, but she had told them in a phone conversation the afternoon before that she was planning to clean out every damn relevant shop in Boston so her niece and her friend would have the most wonderful celebration money and love could buy, especially for Buffy, who had to leave a few days later, as she had explained from the helicopter, although it was a damn shame to force a poor fifteen year old girl to work for the government when she should go to school, well not during the holidays of course, but during the school times, and enjoy her youth the rest of the time, and if she was in charge of the secret service, some people would get her foot so deep in their ass that it would require a general surgeon to take it out, and she didn’t care because she was not afraid of the government, Buffy was her niece, damn it, and she was entitled to some childhood before she was forty and she was so dry that she had forgotten how to smile, but anyway she would give Buffy an unforgettable Christmas, and Dawn of course too, and she would show her what the love of a mother truly is, since it seemed that the female who had given her birth had completely neglected her until that time when she had died, and of course one should not talk wrongly about the dead but still it was a shame that the poor child had been thrown in jail before she was even ten, although it was not much better that Buffy had been too at fifteen and... Was she blabbering again?
===Boston, Logan International Airport, Wednesday, December 25, 4 PM
In the plane, Buffy and Dawn had talked. Buffy had explained to Dawn why she would have to leave for a while after the holidays, but she would come back, and she had talked on the phone with Aunt Lolly, that is between the long blabber sessions her aunt seemed to be fond of, but everything she said, she said with such love that Buffy would have listened to her for days. She was her aunt. She was her beloved mother’s sister. The only person in the world closer to her was sitting at her side, Dawn, the one who had agreed to let her adopt her in her heart as her kid sister...
Once out of the plane, accompanied by a stewardess, Buffy and Dawn had reached a vast waiting hall, where people were, well, waiting. Buffy had no idea who to look for. All she had for a clue was a picture of her mom, given to her by Don with an enigmatic smile. Hopefully it would help.
Dawn was looking at Buffy and the stewardess, a charming little woman, black as a night without stars, who smiled to them and held Dawn by one hand, Buffy holding Dawn’s other hand. She was also looking around, as she had never seen so big and clean a place with so many people – fully clothed that is – at the same time. Neither had Buffy actually, but she was focusing on her search.
Suddenly her jaw fell to the floor.
She looked at the picture. That was her mom, a few months before she died. She looked at the woman. She looked at the picture again. She looked at the woman again. Uncanny didn’t even start describing the resemblance. That woman was looking exactly like her mom while she was pregnant with her. She could only be...
“Aunt Lolly?” she asked in such a little voice, one would have given her no more than three years of age just by hearing it.
The woman looked at her. She had been trying, from her five feet nine inches, to find her niece and her friend. And there she was... She looked first at the blonde, so petite
girl who had just spoken, then to the even shorter brunette holding her hand and the hand of that little stewardess. That was so incredible. She had at home all kinds of pictures of Joyce, and that young lady looked almost exactly like Joyce’s pictures around sixteen, around the time she was born.
“Buffy?” she said with a wide smile and a loving voice, as tears of joy came to her eyes.
Buffy nodded. She couldn’t talk. She opened her arms and ran to her aunt.
“Buffy, is that you? Is that really you? Oh I’m so happy! And you”, she added while looking at Dawn, “you must be Dawn! Come, my sweet, my arms are long enough to hug you together! And please call me Aunt Lolly, I don’t ever want you to call me ‘ma’am’ or anything of that kind!”
Dawn let the stewardess’ hand go and joined the already tearful hug. She joined her tears to the other two women. After a few long minutes, they sat on a bench. Lolly began:
“So, Buffy, Dawn, how do you like Boston? Oh I’m so dumb, you haven’t seen anything yet, it’s one of the most beautiful cities in the world, there are good schools, good restaurants, good stores of all kinds, the temperature is not too extreme, and our home is a big house, and I promise we’ll have a phone and a TV, right now I don’t have any but we can go get some tomorrow afternoon, I don’t want the two of you to be bored, I will show you the whole city, I’ll introduce you to a lot of young people you will like to know, I’m going to take so good a care of the two of you, I love you, you have no idea... Am I talking too much? I’m sorry, I tend to do that, I’ll work on it. Oh Buffy, Dawn, I’m so happy!”
Lolly again hugged the two girls. “OH MY GOD! I have to start putting some meat on those bones! Young ladies, we’re going home, a feast is waiting for you, I’m only telling you that! But there’s more, a lot more! Now I’ll stop talking and give you a chance to say something. Oh, Buffy, your friend is sorry that she can’t be here tonight, but she has obligations which will keep her away for a while. A little like yours, maybe, I don’t know, but...”
“Which friend, Aunt Lolly?” Buffy interrupted her.
“Your friend Lisa! Lisa Bernard, that very nice, very polite black girl, not much older than you are...”
“You met Lisa?”
“She came to Boston and told me all about you. That’s how I knew that I had one niece in trouble, and thanks to her I did my best to help you!”
Buffy smiled. So Lisa, not only had not forgotten her, but had actually gone out of her way to help her. Now that was a true friend! Someday she had to find her and thank her properly.
“Now come, young ladies. Food is waiting!” Aunt Lolly said, standing up.
Buffy and Dawn both drooled. To Buffy, the idea of “putting some meat on her bones” was actually quite appealing, and spending a few days at least in a real family, a family that was truly hers, was a joy she had never really known. Buffy loved the idea, and she already loved her aunt. Besides-“MISS SUMMERS!”
Buffy stopped and cringed. No. That could not be her. Not already. Please, please...
“Come, Miss Summers. Work is waiting for us!”
Buffy turned around. That was her. She couldn’t have waited a few days, she couldn’t have given her a chance to rest after all those trials. No. There she was, Mrs. Bamboo-Rod-Stuck-Deep-In-The-Ass herself.
“I beg your pardon?” Lolly answered on a tone so icy that everyone shivered in the airport.
“You must be Mrs. Racicot. Where could we talk privately?”
“Who are you, and what makes you think that I am going to let you take my niece away on Christmas Day?”
Gwen, for of course it was her, replied almost in a whisper: “Gwendolyn Post, United States Secret Service. Miss Summers has been recruited for a long-term mission suffering no delay. That’s all I can tell you.”
Buffy had noticed that Gwen spoke without her usual British accent. Also that Aunt Lolly’s tone, so warm until now, had frozen in a matter of seconds.
“My niece just came out of a horrible place where she was cruelly abused and needs some rest. Besides, today is Christmas. I am certain that the Secret Service can wait until after New Year’s Day.”
“I am sorry, Mrs. Racicot, but Miss Summers will follow me now
. Lives are in danger, and one never knows when any kind of threat, like sharpshooters or other terrorists, may strike. Don’t you agree, Miss Summers?” Gwen said on a thinly veiled threatening tone.
But that did not impress Lolly. “And I am telling you
, Mrs. Post, that my niece...”
Buffy had understood the threat. She followed the watcher or her aunt and best friend might be in danger. She sighed painfully. “It’s OK, Aunt Lolly. I had hoped to have a few days rest, but our country needs me, and when you think about it, the FBI has worked so hard, I feel I owe them something too.”
“Buffy, you don’t...”
Buffy had tears in her eyes. “Please, Aunt Lolly, don’t make it harder than it already is. I love you, and Dawn, I love you too. We’ll meet again when this is all over.” She jumped forward and hugged Dawn then her aunt, leaving them there, dumbfounded, as she turned around and followed the watcher.
“You made the right decision, Miss Summers. The Council...”
“Fuck the Council, Gwen. And fuck you. I am going with you for reasons you have no need to know. And I’ll do my job, and I’ll probably die doing it, and I won’t see my family again until we are reunited after death. So spare me your speeches and tell me where we’re going.”
Gwen was outraged by Buffy’s response, but wisely decided to shut the hell up about that. She answered simply: “Cleveland, Miss Summers. There is a Hellmouth there, and there is a Master Vampire. Your mission is to find him and kill him.”
===During that time in Los Angeles...
“Have I fulfilled my part of the deal, Miss Bernard? Has the Slayer been reunited with her family?”
Lisa sighed. Of course she had been. She had seen it through the magic portal. It had not lasted long of course, but Cyvus Vail would have had no reason to use such a subterfuge. If it came to be known, no one would trust his word again, and the Circle of the Thorn would not be happy with him.
“Then strip to the waist, please. My blood dolls must be immediately available when I need them.”
Lisa took her t-shirt off. She was wearing nothing underneath.
“Two years exactly, starting now, Miss Bernard. You will be released from your obligation, assuming you have served me faithfully at all times, on December 25, 1998, at... Oh I will be generous. 4 PM exactly.”
“Thank you Master.”
Vail took the t-shirt and threw it in the burning hearth. The girl would wear no shirt for the next two years at least. She did not need it anymore.
This ends the third part of “Buffy 2.0”. The fourth part will summarize what happened to Buffy and others between the end of Book III (what you just finished reading) and the time when Buffy arrives to the skinwalkers’ lair, at the end of Book I. It will also set the scene for Buffy’s next adventures then jump right into it.
I realize the structure of Book I made it a bit hard to follow, hence the summary, which includes what happened in there and continues until the time Buffy arrives to her new battlefield. If you have read Book I to the end, you already know what that new battlefield is. So, see you there!