Disclaimer: I do not own any characters relating to either Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Stargate SG-1. This story is intended for entertainment purposes only and does not provide any financial compensation.Far Beyond NormalChapter Three
Having a corporate picnic was an idiotic idea, something only the left-wing nutbars in Commie-fornia would appreciate. Gregory Denneck was not a big fan of the most populous state in the union, or its retarded politics and institutions. Unfortunately he owned a company with branches out on the left coast, he was there checking out the books when the damned picnic was scheduled, and he couldn’t really get out of attending without coming across at a total prick. Which he proudly was, but there was no reason to rub people’s noses in it, even when they were Godless fornicating left-coast heathens. Naturally he was also footing the bill for the entire fugging thing, which didn’t do a whole lot to improve his appreciation for the event. The only potential item of interest it held for him would be the first appearance of the Summers’ spawn, the psycho terrorist chick who had been soaking up about half of the entire insurance premiums of the entire LA branch for a big chunk of the past decade.
It really burned his ass that one whacked-out nutcase should cause his premiums to skyrocket, and there wasn’t a damned thing he could do about it due to the stupid socialist corporate regulations out here in Commie-fornia. It wasn’t his fault the hose-beast had gone mental, and paying for her ‘treatment’ shouldn’t have been his responsibility either. He’d tried to make Summers quit, but there were strict legal limits on how far he could go in encouraging the guy to move elsewhere before it would be considered ‘harassment’ and cost him far more in court than it would save by getting rid of the dead weight his loony runt imposed on the corporate bottom line.
What also burned his ass was that he had yet to see any so-called ‘psychiatrist’ cure anyone of anything. It would have been cheaper and probably just as effective to get the bitch an exorcism! It was ridiculous that a proudly secular –hell, openly sacrilegious
!—state like Commie-fornia didn’t take its proudly Darwinian ethos to its logical extreme, and put the genetically-defective out of their misery before they could procreate and dilute the gene pool. They had no problem slaughtering the unborn --whom were innocent-- in untold millions, but they lacked the courage of their own convictions when it came to those who had demonstrated their unfitness for survival, and whose removal from their own miserable existence would not incidentally have saved him some serious coin in terms of insurance costs.
But somehow a miracle had occurred –even the shrinks, who couldn’t cure a damned thing, acknowledged that it must have been the Divine intervention of the Almighty God who had truly returned the girl to lucidity—and she was out of hospital and soon would be out of his hair. Considering what she had cost him over the previous six years –not just the direct costs, but the impact on his bottom line, which affected stock market value—he figured he’d take the opportunity to inspect the runt at least once. Obviously a lot of other people felt the same way, because pretty much everyone from the Burbank office, and even from some of the branches, had showed up for the picnic. He would have gone seriously nuclear if, after all that, the Summers clan hadn’t bothered to put in an appearance, but finally there was a subtle excitement in the gathered throng as it was whispered that Hank’s Chevrolet had been spotted pulling into the parking lot.
The girl was a surprise. She was definitely a looker. Tiny, blonde, seemingly shy or maybe just nervous; but damn, she was gorgeous. Everyone was watching her, although in deference to her condition the crowd tried not to swarm too close. Hank first introduced her to his friends, and Denneck was reminded that he had a lot of them, which had been another reason not to fire the man. She certainly didn’t act like a zombie, or even like he would have expected of someone just awakened from what had been effectively a five-year-long coma. Her walk was confident, her eyes unafraid to meet those of anyone she was introduced to. Whatever he was expecting, she wasn’t it.
After about a half hour of introductions and well-wishes they finally arrived at the barbeque where Denneck stood flipping burgers. Hank looked nervous, and the wife was making a serious effort not to show any expression, as introductions were made. The spawn looked up at him –Denneck was more than a foot taller than she was—meeting his eyes, manifestly unafraid. “So you’re the little lady who has cost me so much money.”
It probably wasn’t the most diplomatic statement ever made, but she intrigued him, and he wanted to see how she would react. She did not disappoint. Her eyes –a lovely hazel, almost green color—hardened, but otherwise she appeared more amused than upset. “Gotta love them labor laws.”
Oh, she was good! He smiled thinly, impressed by how quickly she had zeroed in not only on his meaning, but his weakness. It amazed him that Hank Summers, an ass-kissing schmoozer of legendary renown, had spawned a pretty, tough bitch like this one. Out of the corner of his eye, he could see ole’ Hank fidgeting nervously, but the daughter wasn’t backing down an inch. How someone could spend nearly six years in a loony bin and come out like her was a question he would have to explore further. She wasn’t in the slightest bit impressed with his position, his wealth, or his size. All aspects of psychological dominance he brought to bear simply bounced off her like a gentle breeze, perceived but ignored. Definitely not the way most people reacted to his dominating presence. After five seconds in her presence, Denneck knew that this kid already had balls ten times the size good ole’ Hank would ever grow.
“So what are your plans now that you’re out of my hair?”
She just smiled at him, a pretty smile showing the usual results of Commie-fornia dental skill, but her eyes were still hard as emerald. “Wealth. Fame. Happiness. Whatever.”
He tried to keep his eyes just as hard, but she amused him. Denneck was 54 years old, had been married four times, would be ditching the most recent Mrs. Denneck once the lawyers figured out how to keep the bitch from soaking him. Under other circumstances he’d be considering this one for the position of Mrs. Denneck Number Five, if only for the pleasure of breaking her to his will. “Heard you did pretty good on the GED. Fairly impressive considering you’ve been vegetating with the other loons for so long.”
Yup, she was finding him amusing too. But not in a ‘flirting with a wealthy not-unattractive older man’ way, but in a ‘screw you, loser; I’m pretty and tiny and will leech onto someone much younger and easier to manipulate than you’ manner. “Isn’t it amazing how much you can learn just by reading ‘Passing the GED for Dummies’ manual?” Her amusement was growing just as Denneck was rapidly losing his patience. She owed him gratitude, or at least respect, and he did not like it when people who hadn’t accomplished anything in their pathetic lives treated him with distain. She seemed to realize that he was getting angry, and pulled back a bit, not out of fear but simply because she didn’t think causing a scene was worth the price of having to back down a little. “The doctors are suggesting that I assimilated a lot of information just by overhearing random conversations going on around me. That would explain why my skill set is somewhat… eclectic.” She turned to her mother, who was watching them, showing a bit of nervousness. “I think I’d like a hamburger. Did you want one?”
All of them were aware she was trying to diffuse a situation which had escalated far beyond what had been intended by any of them. Denneck knew he had an issue with his ego, and privately would bet heavy money that so did little Miss High and Mighty. But he was a businessman, his livelihood depended on knowing when to push and when to give way, and he could already read what the headlines would say if he lost it with the tiny, pretty, just-recovered nut case standing before him, at a social function, when she was willing to back off. So he just gave her a hard look, and with an obviously-insincere half-smile, passed out the grub. But he would remember her, and intended to have his people investigate further. There was just something a bit too far off kilter with this girl, something that just didn’t ring true. He wanted to know what it was.
Hank was furious. “What the hell
was that all about?!” The past few months had been increasingly stressful for him. His marriage was rapidly deteriorating. Fights were now a daily occurrence, and Hank got the feeling that his daughter was standing firmly in Joyce’s corner. He tried to explain things to her, tried to rebuild some of the warmth that he remembered of their relationship, but Elizabeth had changed so very much. She was increasingly emotionally closed off to him, he couldn’t tell what she was thinking most of the time, and it seemed that everything he did to try to win her over only pushed her further away.
The fault lines in his marriage, obvious for years, had widened into gaping chasms as neither could use their shared concern for their daughter as an excuse to paper over the growing strains. Instead of completing their family, Elizabeth’s return, so long and euphorically imagined, had instead exposed growing differences in attitude and ambition. Joyce wanted to open her own antique shop, no longer willing to work under a boss she had cordially despised for years. Elizabeth was legally obligated to remain in their custody until she turned 21, but that was less than a month away now, and she had started giving strong hints that she wanted to move out afterwards, to live on her own.
Her independence frustrated Hank as much as it confused him. Elizabeth had always
gone for the easy route, had always been the type to seek out someone to take care of her. She didn’t like to be on her own, she didn’t like to work. She wanted pretty things, and someone to reassure her that she was even prettier than the prettiest thing bought for her. The doctors had tried to explain that the radical personality change in his daughter were due to a change in brain chemistry, a direct result of her mental illness. The change wasn’t just due to a difference in age, but was, at least in part, due to a permanent physical change in the brain itself. He would simply have to adapt to it, because the change was almost certainly permanent, and there was nothing anybody could do about it.
He was finding it increasingly difficult to ‘adapt,’ because the truth was, he didn’t like
the new Elizabeth. She was too tough, too sarcastic, too independent. So much of what he remembered loving most about his daughter was no longer a part of his daughter. She worked out continually, running miles in the morning, spending her evenings practicing some kind of martial arts she appeared to have invented herself, in a gymnasium she had set up in the basement. She studied
, and spent hours a day on the computer, demonstrating unexpected skills at covering her tracks, never once forgetting to delete any traces of which sites she had explored on the internet.
The longer it went on, the more Hank got to feeling like the Donald Sutherland character in that movie, the one where everyone he knew was slowly being replaced by pod people. Except that Joyce
certainly didn’t feel the same way. To her, Elizabeth was turning into the daughter she had always dreamed about; her best friend, her confidant, someone whose opinion she valued and whose judgment she trusted. One day, while they were out shopping, Elizabeth had suddenly hauled her mother into the office of a neurologist which they just happened to be passing by. Demanding that they examine her mother, and demonstrating a frightening degree of expert knowledge in the subject of aneurysms, she had through sheer force of will compelled the doctor to examine her, and her mother to subject herself to the examination.
An embarrassed Joyce had explained that her daughter had recently recovered from a long mental illness and it would be best just to placate her concerns. To everyone’s surprise it hadn’t taken long for them to find something wrong. Elizabeth had told them exactly where to look, and it was exactly where she said it would be. Discovered so early the small clot was almost certainly treatable, but the neurologists had naturally been more interested in how Elizabeth had known about it than in the blockage, which they were confident they could handle. It certainly didn’t represent nearly the challenge of explaining how her daughter had known that it existed in the first place. There were other reported instances of mental patients ‘knowing’ about such potentially fatal issues, particularly when it involved a loved one, and everyone could smell ‘research paper.’ The daughter, unfortunately, wasn’t excessively forthcoming on the source of her knowledge.
The inevitable result was their already close relationship became even closer. Joyce was certain that her daughter had come back specifically to save her life.
Hank was just as grateful. He really was! But it was becoming really hard
for him to witness the steady evolution of their
relationship, when his
were falling apart at the seams. The only thing he had left was his job, and hopefully even the career he had put on hold to accommodate the needs of his sick daughter, but instead of the slightest hint of gratitude she had gone out of her way to anger his boss!
When he looked at his daughter, temper barely held in check by the thinnest of threads, he saw the same expression he had seen a million times since she came back, the one that was driving him up the fucking wall. It was cold, assessing; the way a predator watched something it was still deciding whether to call prey. The way a Pod Person looked at a potential host for another of her kind. Her tone was just as cold when she finally answered his earlier question. “He was being a jerk.”
“He’s the boss. He’s allowed
to be a jerk.”
She just shrugged, and Hank understood exactly what it was about her that had set off Denneck. There was an arrogance about her, a self-confidence unexpected and certainly undeserved
given her history. Others might write it off as simply the self-absorbed conceit of a beautiful young woman, but Hank had known his daughter too long to accept such an explanation. He remembered her from before, when she could be described by a dispassionate observer as a vacuous, conceited airhead. A Valley Girl. Cute and perky, but obsessed with shopping, her image, boys, and not much else. The change was too much to be casually dismissed with a blithe explanation of ‘brain chemistry.’ This wasn’t Elizabeth
!! This person, this beautiful young woman who used to be his daughter, this was someone else, someone strong, and arrogant, and self-absorbed, someone…
…someone named ‘Buffy.’
He remembered the delirium. The doctors accounts of her imaginary world, where she was a superhero named ‘Buffy’ –surely the most idiotic name for a ‘superhero’ ever imagined—who fought vampires. Who saved the world. Who had ample reason to feel superior to other people, because physically she was
better than other people. He remembered the few times she had come out of her delirious state, if only for a few days, but still thought she was this ‘Buffy’ person, trapped in a different world. He remembered when she came back for good, now more than five months before, when they went to visit her, how surprised she had been to be called ‘Elizabeth.’
It was something he could no longer ignore. This person, this cold, calculating, strong young woman, was not Elizabeth Summers, returned from a mental hell. This was Buffy
Summers, Vampire Slayer, taking over a body which didn’t belong to her, possessing his daughter like one of the supernatural monsters she once fought.
The question was; what could he do about it? Who could he even talk to who would understand the situation? The first person he thought of who might actually help with was his new friend Mr. Denneck.