parts 42 and 43
While Buffy, Jem and Ashe were on patrol, Emma and Joyce left Phillip Mooreland in a study, with some of his heavy books and a computer with internet access. Emma had also posted one of her employees who didn’t want to be called a minion near the door, to keep an eye on Mooreland. Neither of them volunteered the fact that none of Emma’s sensitive files were on that computer, or currently accessible at all.
He’d murmured something about tapping the Coroner’s office and police reports, and requested some strong tea and time to work on the computer.
They’d left him to that, retreating for a bit. Joyce had murmured “We’ll just let you look for whatever it is you’re planning to look for with that computer.”
After they’d walked a short distance down the hall, Emma winked at Joyce, “You were right. I’ll get the chocolate sauce, there’s already some feathers in my room. Why don’t you go make yourself comfortable?”
Joyce learned a few things. Emma was not ticklish behind her knees, but her upper ribs and the undersides of her breasts were incredibly ticklish. Painting chocolate sauce on a squirming, giggling woman left splatters everywhere. The brand of chocolate really did make a difference, though she thought eating any chocolate off of Emma’s body would be an improvement.
Emma learned a few things as well. Joyce didn’t just have an eye for art, she could craft the most amazing shapes with a feather and something to leave marks with. Chocolate sauce was more of an adhesive than a personal lubricant. Joyce wasn’t ticklish to the same degree, but had far more areas that were a bit ticklish than Emma did.
Emma was already well aware that the chocolate would forever stain the white lace lingerie, and the white satin sheets. But with her money, the replacement expense for lingerie and sheets were unimportant. The pleasure of the experience was more than worth it anyhow.
Neither of them offered the slightest explanation why they were freshly showered and wearing different clothing when the patrol was finished and Jem called ahead to tell them that they were almost back to the estate. If Mooreland had any ideas, he kept silent about them, and if Emma had peeked, she didn’t mention his ideas either.
The after-patrol debriefing included maps, with indication of where they encountered each vampire and demon, though tonight had been almost entirely vampires. There had been one demon-dog that had run away, and one maybe-demon maybe-scaly-mutant that had been carrying a big tray of coffee. They hadn’t fought with the scaly coffee-drinker, though they had watched him very carefully. The questions about injuries revealed that there were no more than a few scrapes and bruises, and a possible blister from new shoes.
Phillip Mooreland declared it a reasonably safe patrol, and thanked them for their report and patience with him. A few clarifying questions helped him put some more marks on the map, including a different colored one for the scaly coffee drinker, and completely different color and mark for the non-traditional religious sanctuary that Ashe had noticed.
“What are the other blue marks, they don’t look quite the same,” Emma leaned forwards, studying the map.
“Cemeteries in rust, with vampire lairs marked in red. Other confirmed demon lairs in orange or reddish orange, as well as confirmed hunting locations… these identify known danger points.” Phillip pointed to the marks as he explained. “Vampires have problems with church grounds, and more with the buildings themselves. Some demons show similar problems, though not all types. As for why… Catholic and Episcopalian churches are good locations for Holy Water, and it is always a benefit to know places where your enemies can’t follow you inside. Or they can’t follow the people that you’re trying to save.”
“Non-traditional… that’s normally not a Christian facility. Do those also keep the vampires out?” Joyce asked.
“Sometimes. Enough that it’s worth marking, but there’s enough times when the answer is ‘no’ that I use a different symbol. And sometimes the people in those locations have interesting and potentially useful skills,” he pointed to the different markings.
“What about that one?” Emma pointed at a different marking, drawn in yellow-orange.
“A museum, pawn-shop, or special supply store. All places where items might be found, hidden, or stolen from,” Phillip explained.
“And they won’t always be nice and buy it, will they?” Joyce sighed.
Phillip just shook his head. “Very, very seldom.”
“Is that due to having vastly different appearances, or due to poor manners?” Emma asked, raising one eyebrow.
“Depends on the species, but generally a mixture,” Phillip admitted. “I suspect that there might be a growing number of demons that are calling themselves mutants, and a number of mutants wondering why they seem to be getting called demons.”
For a brief, horrible moment, Joyce felt a terrible urge to laugh. It wasn’t funny to imagine demons in their array of strange and frightening shapes blinking their sometimes too many eyes in confusion at being called mutants, or to picture mutants – most of whom seemed to look fairly normal, as far as she could tell – being called demons by individuals who didn’t think they were being insulting at all. Except… except that it was a bit funny, in a completely wrong sort of way.
“And I suspect that they would be very confused from either side of that experience,” Emma murmured.
“I do suppose that they would,” Phillip agreed.
“Do you suppose that it might help? That some demons might be…” Joyce floundered for the right words for a few moments. “Do you suppose that being mistaken for mutants might let some of them try to live with a bit less violence and killing, a bit less chance that my daughter will have to go hunting them?”
Phillip looked as if he was flailing for his own right words before finally offering, “One can always hope.”
Emma was the one who added, “But prepare for the worst.”
End part 42.
In England, the news that Travers and his appointed Watchers had lost track of the Slayer had been carefully circulated through the ranks. By the time the rumors reached the influential senior Watchers, nobody could say for certain just where they’d heard the news, just that ‘everybody’ had heard it. And what kind of Council Head lost their Slayer – not lost as in fallen in combat, but lost as in we don’t know where in the world she is.
This didn’t look good for Travers. It didn’t look good for the people that Travers had appointed to watch the Slayer in Los Angeles, California or to make certain that she relocated to Sunnydale California either. Especially not since Travers had been promising that everything was going according to plan.
Somewhere along the line, something had clearly broken his plan.
Now Quentin Travers was desperately trying to hold on to his political power. He was so busy with his frantic efforts that he was actually permitting other people to access some of his private records to handle the ‘mundane tedium’ of administration, and tracking of various threats. Someone else handled the assignment of new Watchers to areas with probable potential Slayers, and the assignment of junior Watchers as assistants and students to Field Watchers. Several promising but poorly connected individuals were accepted into advanced training. Seventeen useful magical artifacts that had been decorating Travers’ office were sent out to Field Watchers.
Instructions for a rather disturbing drug that would weaken a Slayer to something rather less impressive than an ordinary athletic young woman were carefully filed in a locked archive under the description of ‘artificial weakening poison.’ Rumors of the so-called test that had been described with the drug began to circulate as well. As rumors tend to do, it began to twist. From facing a similarly weakened vampire, the story became facing a newly risen vampire over their grave. Then it became facing a pack of feral vampires, possibly in an arena to mimic the old Roman gladiatorial sports. No, not vampires, but a demon. Several demons. Locked in a large house with demons. With vampires. With a Master Vampire. Drugged and handed over to vampires.
Power and position were slipping through the fingers of Quentin Travers at an increasing speed. Soon, the Council would be choosing a new leader. Someone better informed and organized. Someone who could find the Slayer.
In Sunnydale, a Watcher named Rupert Giles studied the local high school student records. He had been sent here, to this very different place, this California town, because Travers had insisted that the Slayer would be here soon. That she would need the guidance of an experienced, knowledgeable Watcher. That his would be the vital task of guiding her in her destiny.
That sounded all well and good, except for one little problem. He couldn’t find the Slayer. He was still at the school, looking at records that he as the school librarian wasn’t actually supposed to be accessing, in the hopes that the Slayer was simply avoiding the library. As far as he knew, he was the only person still in the building.
“I’m starting to wonder if perhaps I’m at the wrong school,” he muttered.
“Actually, the problem is that the Slayer isn’t in Sunnydale at all.”
Rupert jumped at the voice, one hand raising towards his chest as the stack of papers fell to the floor in a mess. There was a man in the doorway, a little pale, with dark hair, and somehow familiar, clad in dark clothing that would have been entirely unremarkable at home in London, but seemed a little formal and perhaps a bit too warm for California.
But this was California, there were very few pale complexioned people here…
Rupert tried to keep his voice from quavering as he asked, “Who are you, and how do you know that?”
The pale man gave a small smile, “My name isn’t important right now. Someone who claimed to be a messenger from some very important people showed me a girl. Buffy Summers. I was told that she would soon be the Slayer, she should be the Slayer now. I was also told that she would be going to Sunnydale, and I should be here to help her.”
“Who told you that?” Rupert demanded. As far as he knew, nobody could tell in advance who would be the next Slayer, only who had the potential.
“He claimed to be a messenger from the Powers that Be.” The man shrugged. “I can’t tell you if he was being honest or not. He said she’d be here. That she’d need help. That it was very important that the Hellmouth not be opened.”
Before he could stop himself, Rupert found himself admitting, “The current Slayer is Buffy Summers, and the Hellmouth opening would be disastrous.”
The pale man nodded. “I know the Hellmouth opening would be a disaster.”
“You said that you saw her? Before she was Called?” Rupert couldn’t curb his curiosity.
The man pulled a sheet of thick paper from his jacket and handed it to Rupert. The page turned out to be a drawing of a teenage girl in a red and white cheerleader’s uniform, with blonde hair falling around her face. “This is her.”
Rupert blinked, looking at the picture. It certainly resembled the small picture that he’d been sent of Buffy Summers, and it did connect to the information that she’d been a cheerleader at her previous school. The picture was actually quite well done. “Yes, this is indeed Miss Summers.”
“She isn’t in Sunnydale.” The words weren’t a question.
“Then where is she?” Rupert looked at him, forgetting his nervousness. “How am I supposed to protect... to prevent… I was assured that the Slayer would be here as there were signs that the hellmouth was becoming more active.”
The pale man shrugged, “I have no idea where she is, but she isn’t in Sunnydale. At all. As for the Hellmouth… you won’t be working alone. At least, you don’t have to.”
“And whom am I to expect will be aiding me?” Rupert snorted. He doubted that he’d be very effective on his own, as educated as he was, and as many useful skills as he’d picked up, he was still only human.
“Me.” The pale man gave a remarkably unsettling smile, “I had a remarkably mis-spent youth by any set of standards. This is my penance.”
It was the smile that made the final connection in his mind. Rupert felt his knees go weak as the name escaped his lips “Angelus.”
The vampire shook his head, “Not exactly. There was a little matter of a nasty Gypsy vengeance spell, and I’m not quite the vampire I used to be.”
“Do you expect me to accept such an unusual story that easily?” Rupert asked, wondering if he was about to die in a horribly gruesome manner.
With a chuckle, the vampire replied, “No, I’d expect you to doubt, and consult your books as soon as I’m gone. But I don’t want the Hellmouth to open either. And I’m a bit nastier in a fight than you are.”
Rupert blinked, trying to wrap his mind around a few things. This vampire was claiming that a messenger from the Powers That Be had sent him to help the Slayer? That he wanted to help? That the Slayer wasn’t here? It all seemed very unbelievable… except that the Slayer didn’t seem to be here. And he’d only said that the messenger had claimed to be from… oh, this was all very confusing!
And now the blasted vampire was gone. At least he wasn’t being slowly tortured to death by Angelus. Tea wasn’t going to be enough for this one.
End part 43.