“I want to visit some old friends and we've got the time.” Buffy got out of the car. “Besides, you wanted to find out about the Initiative. I'll introduce you some of its members.”
“They like to hang out in cemeteries?” Jack asked as they left the parking lot.
“It's part of the job description,” she replied. “Vampires in particular like to hang out in them so if you're hunting vamps it pays to check out the local cemeteries.”
At least it was a nice day to play hooky Jack thought, even if he was stuck with a lunatic for a companion. After all, he was under orders to be cooperative so he couldn't be blamed for missing his 5, 6 and 7 o'clock meetings today.
For the next twenty minutes they walked through grounds in silence before stopping in front of a cross bearing the name of Riley Finn.
Buffy spoke quietly. “Riley was from Iowa. He believed in mom, apple pie, and the American flag. Dr. Walsh recruited him right out of ranger school. He had no idea what he was getting into.”
“If he made it through ranger school he was hardly a naïve kid.”
“By most standards he wasn't. But he was a good soldier, taught to follow orders and not ask too many questions, perfect for the Initiative. He believed in the stated mission to eliminate the subterrestrial threat. When the Initiative set up shop at UCSunnydale, Riley and the rest of his unit posed as grad students. Dr. Walsh was my pysch professor, Riley was her teaching assistant. I eventually crossed paths with 'commando' Riley and wound up being recruited into the program.”
“Why would they recruit, what a college freshman, into a top secret program?”
“Supposedly because of my background in things weird and/or demonic but mostly Walsh was looking for another lab rat. It didn't work out. I'm not one for blindly following orders so she sent me into an ambush with a defective weapon. I think she was looking for body parts to play with. I disappointed her by surviving. Anyway, I quit the program and Riley started to question the mission. He went AWOL after watching the 'scientists' experiment someone he knew. They used a cattle prod.”
Now that brought back unpleasant memories. Jack's mind drifted back to Iraq for a moment before he processed the first part of Buffy's explanation. “Wait a sec. Body parts to play with?”
“She wanted to build a better soldier, literally. To do that, she needed parts. She started with cadavers and worked her way up to special orders. Anyway, her creation killed her and eventally took out most of the Sunnydale complex. Her project was deemed a failure. A few months later, Riley rejoined the Initiative which had gone back to its old mission statement.”
Buffy walked a few feet south and stopped in front a cross for Samantha Finn. Jack followed and commented on the surnames.
“Married. He met Sam on a mission in South or Central America, I forget which. They were killed last year while trying to clear out a nest of S'vagara demons.”
Buffy began walking again. Fifteen minutes later, they stopped at yet another grave.
“Meet Colonel Kibble, not that there is much of him here.”
The cross was for a Colonel M. McNamara, US Army.
“He was in charge of the Sunnydale complex when things went to hell. He had the proof that I'm going to show you but he didn't believe. I hope you're smarter.”
Buffy checked the progress of the sun in the sky. “It's time to head back. Do you keep any casual type clothes at your office or do you need to go home to change?Washington, DC
The trip back to Washington was mostly silent as Buffy declined to answer most of the general's questions. When they arrived at the Pentagon, Buffy had stayed with the car while he went to change since there was no way was she going to voluntarily enter a military facility again. She was pleasantly surprised when the general returned. She wasn't quite sure what she had expected but this wasn't it. The uniform had given way to a blck t-shirt, a pair of slightly baggy jeans, and denim jacket. Non-conformity and self-confidence, maybe this general would “get it.”
O'Neill didn't bother talking to Buffy on the way to her hotel. He headed into the hotel restaurant with the driver for a quick cup of coffee while she went to her room to change. Buffy stopped him.
“You're coming up with me. I'm not taking you out on patrol unarmed. And no, the gun you're carrying doesn't count. Bullets just piss off vamps.”
He trailed after her as she crossed the lobby to the elevator. “So what type of weapons?”
“Stakes, crosses, some holy water. Clichéd, but the stuff works. Just a warning though, crosses and holy water won't kill them. They will slow most of the minions down but if we meet a master vampire they don't do much.”
They arrived at her room and Buffy grabbed some clothes out of the closet. She kicked off her shoes and went into the bathroom to change.
A couple of minutes later, California Buffy exited the bathroom wearing a pair of tight black jeans and a green blouse. She grabbed her overnight bag and put it on the bed. After removing the top layers of clothes from the bag, she pulled out a cloth sack. She emptied the sack, a jumble of wooden stakes, crosses, small bottles, a couple of knives and a small crossbow fell out onto the bedspread.
“How the hell did you get all of that past security?”
“They only examine carry on closely so I checked it at the baggage counter.” She refrained from mentioning the masking spell on the weapons bag.
She put on a cross and handed on to him. “Humor me.”
He reluctantly put in on.
She pulled her hair back and twisted into a knot. She took two of the thinnest stakes and used them to secure the knot. Two substantially thicker stakes disappeared under her shirt, as did the daggers. She passed a stake and one of the bottles to O'Neill. He placed them in his jacket.
She put the rest of the weapons, except for the crossbow, back into the bag.
“You know how to use one of these?”
When he shook his head, she placed it back in the bag.
She sat down on the bed and put her shoes on. He couldn't believe that she was going to wear a pair of high heeled pumps.
“Okay, let's head out.”
“Where are we going?”
“First stop, an abandoned warehouse that is suspected of housing a small nest of vampires.” She turned out the lights and they left the room.
- - -
Buffy dismissed the embassy car once they reached the back of the warehouse. A look of relief crossed the driver's face as he pulled away.
“Just getting the civilian out of line of fire,” Buffy said at O'Neill's questioning look. “It's not that far a walk and you like you're in pretty good shape.”
At the back entrance, Buffy closed her eyes and reached out with her senses. Yep, Connie was right, this was a vamp nest. She opened her eyese and grabbed the door knob. It turned easily.
“Follow me and have your stake ready. Remember, if you use the holy water it will only slow them down.”
The pair entered the building. At first, it seemed deserted. As they moved further in, they began to smell something decaying.
“Guess they don't take out the trash to often,” O'Neill quipped.
“Maybe we'll make an exception with you two,” a figure detached itself from the shadows. Four others followed.
“I don't know, do you boys think you're up to it?”
“You think you're a challenge little girl? You and the old man?”
“Actually, I don't think you're up to taking us both on.” Her hand slid into her blouse and pulled out a stake.
“Ooh, I'm scared. We know what the slayer looks like and you ain't her.”
“Then this should be easy. So, do we talk or dance?”
He put on his game face and lunged towards her. She twisted out of the way and shoved the stake into his heart. He burst into dust.
O'Neill watched as the other four charged Buffy. She staked one as she kicked another in the chest, sending it sprawling towards him. O'Neill took one look at its distorted face and staked it. The dust cloud had him sneezing as if there was no tomorrow.
“Guess I forgot to tell you not to lean in when you stake them.” Buffy was surrounded by dust piles. “So, do you believe in vampires yet?”
“Very fun...” O'Neill let loose with another violent sneeze.
“No giggling, miss. That's an...” He sneezed again.
“Come on, let's get out of here before you sneeze the building down.”
A couple of minutes later, O'Neill finally stopped sneezing.
“Okay, vampires are real. How does this tie into the Iniative? Since they go poof when you kill them, I'm guessing that they aren't of much use as body parts.”
“No, but they did make good test subjects for behavior modification chips. She put an anti-violence chip into one vampire.”
“Well, that actually sounds like a good idea.”
“Just because you can't physically hurt people doesn't mean that you still can't do a lot of damage. Besides, it's one thing to stake a vamp, but to starve it to death, that's just cruel.”
“So, if they weren't using vampires for body parts...”
“Demons and human cadavers. You ready for the next lesson?”
“Nope, a demon bar over on the next block.” She started walking.
“Demon bar. Of course,” he muttered as he hurried to catch up with her. She walked pretty fast for somebody with such short legs.
The establishment was fairly noisy when they entered it. Most of the patrons looked human but a few were most definitely not. The orange one with horns looked like an escapee from the cantina scene in Star Wars.
Buffy was walking over to the bar when the bartender looked up. O'Neill watched as the man's face went dead white.
“Listen, I don't want any trouble.”
“Not here to cause trouble. Just doing a little sightseeing with my friend.” She indicated O'Neill with a shrug.
“Didn't know you were back in the states.”
“Moved back a couple of months ago.” She took a seat. “We'll have coffee. I'll have mine black. O'Neill, how do you like yours?”
“Black will be fine.”
Willie poured some into a couple of mugs and placed them on the bar.
“Have you been in Washington long?”
“Moved here a couple of months after Sunnydale. I thought about going to LA but decided it was better for my health out here. Sorry to hear about Angel and Spike though.”
“They made their choices.”
“Yeah, guess they did.”
The conversation ended as a disturbance erupted in the background.
Buffy turned to O'Neill. “Duty calls. Stay here. Willie, if anything happens to him...”
“I'll get him out of here if it goes bad.”
Buffy got off her chair and moved towards a mountain of a man. O'Neill got up to follow her.
“There's no need. The Slayer can take Ornag.”
The bar started to clear out.
“Guess your not the new watcher then. She's a vampire slayer. Until a few years ago, she was The Slayer, the Chosen One. The witch activated all of the others at the battle of Sunnydale. Now she's one of many. But she's the oldest and the best.”
They hear a loud crash from the back.
“The oldest? She's twenty-four.”
“Most slayers die before they turn twenty. Of course, Buffy's died a couple of times that I know of. She just doesn't stay dead. So, you two dating?”
O'Neill had been watching Buffy pummel the mountain but Willie's non-sequitor caused him to look at the bartender.
“Don't you think I'm a bit old to be dating her?”
“Other than Riley, Buffy likes older guys. Shoot, Spike was a least twice your age and as for Angel...” Willie stuttered to a halt.
“I've given up dating older men.” Buffy's voice came from behind O'Neill. “Willie, you've got a mess to clean up.”
“Is he dead?”
“No, just really, really bloody. Might attract vampires.”
Willie grabbed a towel and a mop left the bar.
“Ready to go?”
“Sure, Slayer. So, you do this often?”