Title: Clean Up
Author: Jedi Buttercup
Summary: Buffy arrives in Wheelsy, South Carolina, and encounters a Sheriff with a distressingly familiar face. 800 words.
Disclaimer: The words are mine; the worlds are not. I claim nothing but the plot.
Spoilers: B:tVS post-"Chosen"; "Slither" (2006)
Notes: Set immediately after the "Ten Things" drabble "Never Forgot a Face," but it isn't necessary to have read that one first. Also fits TtH100 #48, Hate.
"Not that that ain't a very pretty weapon," the man with Caleb's face said, swallowing hard, "but wouldn't a gun or high explosives be more useful in your line of work?"
Buffy narrowed her eyes at him, staring down at the unsettlingly familiar features at close range. The edge of the Scythe's blade was resting gently against the sheriff's throat, just begging for an excuse to put him out of her misery; she'd toppled him backward into the soft green of the lawn with her initial lunge, one knee planted on his chest, and if it hadn't been for Xander's dimly heard "No! Don't kill him!" in the background she might have already split him open as she had his doppelganger.
"You'd be surprised," she said flatly. It was more than just physical resemblance; his build, his voice, his expression, it was all too close to be coincidence. She kept flashing on his thumb in Xander's eye socket, his mocking voice speechifying; it was giving her the wiggins.
"Buffy!" Xander yelled again, catching up to her. "It isn't him! It isn't Caleb!"
The sherriff's eyes flicked up and away from her. "My easy-going nature is gettin' sorely fuckin' tested, here," he muttered.
Buffy pressed the edge of the Scythe a little more firmly against his neck, watching as little beads of blood welled to the surface along the line of contact. That defiant attitude, the accent, the anger in his eyes-- all of it was resonating down her spine, telling her to ignore Xander and the fact that she'd already *killed* the First's chief minion and terminate this man with extreme prejudice. There was just no way he could be such a perfect copy of Caleb without some connection, and she'd long since learned that leaving the Bens of the world behind you in hopes that they wouldn't turn back into Glorys was a good way to get someone killed.
"I admit, I kind of wanted to see the expression on her face when she met you," she heard Xander apologize breathlessly as he dropped to a crouch at her side, pulling fruitlessly at her. "But I had no idea she was going to over-react like this!"
Her victim snorted at that, a wry smile flashing briefly across his face. He was even paler now, beads of sweat springing up along his browline, but Buffy just couldn't make herself back off; he was too... too...
"If she's really met Caleb," the sheriff continued warily, "then I ain't all that surprised. He tends to inspire violence in all sorts of people. I ain't heard from him in years, though, and I'd really hate to have to arrest your friend here for tryin' to kill me on his behalf."
Beside Buffy, Xander went very still. "How do you know Caleb?" he asked, his voice suddenly tense.
"Kind of hard not to know your own brother," the man said. "Look, could you get her off me now? Not that I don't normally appreciate bein' pressed all up against a beautiful blonde, but this ain't exactly my idea of fun."
"Brother," Buffy repeated, staring. Was it possible? They'd have to be identical twins, Xerox copies in body... but maybe not in spirit? She lifted the Scythe away slowly, studying him again with that possibility in mind, and this time the differences began leaping out at her. His haircut, his badge, a slightly different pattern of lines on his face; a callus on his gun-hand, currently pressed up against the Scythe-blade in an attempt to fend the weapon away from him. And more than that: he pinged as human on her Slayer senses, nothing at all like the well of darkness Caleb had been.
"Brother," the sheriff echoed, watching her carefully as she began pulling away from him. "And the way you're lookin' at me, I'm not sure I even want to know what he's gone and done this time."
Buffy glanced up at Xander, then shook her head slowly and climbed to her feet. "It's a long story," she said. "If you really haven't heard from him in years..."
"I really, really haven't," he replied, sitting slowly up and patting at his abdomen with a grimace. White bandaging peeked through several of the buttonholes.
"I'm sorry," she said, wincing. "I really am. Look, maybe we could start this conversation over? I'm Buffy Summers, from Supernatural Creatures and Other Odd Beasties Investigation and Extermination. You can call us SCOOBIE, for short."
She held out a hand, and he took it gingerly. "Sheriff Bill Pardy," he said, then climbed carefully to his feet and gestured at the bodies around them. "I think I already got the extermination part taken care of for y'all, but I'd appreciate any help you could give us with the clean up."