Potential parts 1 to 3
contains discussion of violence and adult emotional situations. There may be romantic elements later - hetrosexual, if you're curious.
main characters: Rupert Giles, Natalie Lambert
Pairings: Tracy/Vachon, Natalie/Giles
disclaimer: I do not hold any legal rights to any characters from either Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Forever Knight.
distribution: TNL, Twisting, Paula, Cat if she wants it.
note: set after the finale of season 5, going promptly AU for the BtVS aspects, AU from before 'Last Knight' (the series finale) for the FK side.
note 2 :words in colons: are the other speaker in a telephone conversation.
Rupert Giles was staring at his wall, empty teacup in hand. Buffy was dead, his purpose for being in Sunnydale... shattered on the concrete. He felt lost, floundering for purpose, for focus. He was supposed to be the organized one, not... not some broken man staring into space.
The telephone rang, and he was dimmly aware of Willow answering it. The sound of her voice grew more agitated, and she came over to him, her eyes sparkling with unshed tears, fierce with conflicting emotions. "It's somebody named Martin Sommersby from the Council of Watchers. He's demanding to talk to you. I could hang up on him if you want..."
He shook his head, knowing that he would eventually have to deal with them. Even if... even if Buffy had only been gone for a few painfully short weeks. "Pass it over, I can't put off talking to them forever."
:Rupert Giles? I've been asked to... there is a slight concern among a section of the council. It appears that there may have been a potential Slayer in Toronto... and if so, she's entirely slipped through our system.: The voice on the other end had the accent of home, of academia, and carefully protected abstract knowledge.
He felt something inside of him go cold. "You can't possibly be suggesting that I assume the duty of Watching over someone else?"
:No, no! Nothing like that. We just... to put it bluntly, if this girl... woman... We don't know anything about her beyond the fact that we don't know. That means that if there's a potential Slayer, she most likely has no idea of the supernatural, and little chance of becoming active, considering that Toronto is pretty quiet on the demon front. But if there is a potential, we thought it would be good to know. The potential is passed in families, you know.:
"You want me to go to Toronto, seeking an unknown female of undetemined age who isn't a Slayer, most likely will never be a Slayer, and find out who she is so that the council might spy on her future hypothetical daughters?" He began to feel a burning outrage.
:That depends on who you ask. Some people are a bit curious what sort of a career a potential Slayer would choose if left on their own. And some people think that having you leave Sunnydale might help you heal.: There was a tone that was supposed to be soothing in Martin Sommersby's voice.
For several long moments, Giles was silent, his mind turning over Martin's words. On the one hand, his mind came up with vivid, horrible images of a young woman, confused about strange things, desperately seeking answers. But... "The Council fired me over the Crucinominum. Therefore, why should I do anything for the council?"
:There are steps in place to get you reinstated.: Martin's voice was low, almost dull. :Quenton Travers has lost his position as Head of the Council over that and a few other... judgements calls that went badly. The new head has fond memories of you, and made the remark that if we don't change a bit with the times, we won't be able to functiion anymore. He's even... ugghh, even demanded that the non-mystical texts be scanned onto the computer system.:
Conflicting emotions surged through Giles. "I'll... consider your words very carefully. Thank you and have a good day."
Hanging up the phone, he sighed, attempting to take a sip of tea. "My tea... Willow, is there any more tea? My cup seems to be empty."
With a small smile, she handed him a fresh cup. "What was all of that about? I gathered that the Council wants you to do something, and something about a not the Slayer? I'm feeling a bit confused."
"Apparently, there might be or might have been a potential Slayer in Toronto. They aren't sure and want me to go find out. To find her, find out what she does, how old she is... If she's over a certain age, the liklihood of her ever being called is so slim as to be practically non-existant. But... the potential can be passed to any children that she might have." Giles sighed, sipping at the tea.
Willow sighed, dropping into the chair across from him. "You're thinking about it, aren't you? Finding her. Making sure that she's okay."
"Yes. But... I have duties here..." Giles felt his voice trail away. His duties... Anya would be more than delighted to take over the store. He had no Slayer to guide. And he hadn't been Watching very well over the past few weeks.
Willow touched his hand, her eyes full of compassion. "Maybe it would do you a bit of good to have a bit of time away from Sunnydale? It's... it's still raw for you, for all of us. If you go try to figure out who she is... maybe it would give you a start on healing? And the council of the stuffy doesn't have to hear anything back from you."
"Are you sure that... You and the others will be alright?" He felt hopeful. Willow had made a lot of sense, and the idea of being away from the Hellmouth sounded so tempting.
Willow gave a small, weak smile. "Go to Toronto. We will be just as alright as if you stayed here being miserable with us. We'll have the books if anything comes up, but... everything's been quiet."
"Alright. Toronto it is then." A decision made, Giles felt oddly better. Finishing his tea, he went upstairs, already debating what to pack.
end part 1.
Rupert Giles began his travel plans, and also decided that since the Council wanted him to do this as a favor for them, they should be willing to provide any possibly useful information that they might have on this. After all, Toronto was a large city, a place that almost two and a half million people called home. If all the Council had was 'a potential Slayer, presumably too old to be called' that still left easily a million people, a task far too daunting for him to volunteer to saddle himself with.
After a rather lengthy and expensive phone call, he'd been promised that copies of the 'limited information' that the Council had would be shipped to him. That should help reduce his task from a Herculean effort to merely a task of great difficulty. He was hoping that there might be something, a listing of families, a handful of names, possibly even photographs. Something to make his task a bit less of a wild goose chase.
When the packet of information arrived, there was in some cases both more and less than he'd hoped for. There were extensive descriptions and histories of some of the bloodlines, including pictures of previous Slayers and Potentials, families that had Watchers in their ancestry, families that carried certain gifts and talents. But how was this going to help him find who it was? Did he just...
"Willow? Can you do a search on the computer to determine if there are any females of several families say... over fifteen and under forty? The Council has narrowed the possibilities from one and a quarter million to someone from one of a dozen families, but if I can narrow that a little more..." Hopefully, Willow wouldn't tell him that he was on his own. Her assistance had been invaluable on numerous occasions. While he was getting better, he still wouldn't know where or how to start to create such a listing of names.
She looked at him, her face still pale, her eyes still red from too many hours crying, and gave him a tiny smile. Compared to the expressions from before, it was a bare ghost of a smile, but it was far better than they'd seen recently. "I can start looking if you leave me the list of names. It might take me a while, and your flight has a deadline. If I find any names after you have to go, I'll send them to your email account. I can also try to get a little more information of some of them, addresses, phone numbers..."
"I'm not asking for any illegal information, Willow." A thread of alarm passed though him. He didn't want Willow to risk trouble helping him.
There was a small chuckle. "No, silly. Address and phone number from the phonebook. Illegal would be getting their medical history. I just figured that if I could get some idea where they live, it could help you find them."
"oh... well, that would certainly be useful. And I am capable of checking my email, even if it is a rather... well, electronic and imprecise means of communication." He smiled a bit, hoping that his joke would lighten the mood a little bit, knowing that humor wasn't his strong point.
There was a hint of laughter in her eyes as she looked up at him, her expression mock-serious. "But it's so much faster than sending a letter. And yeah, maybe less elegant, but... you could even read one from B... Xander if it's email."
"ohh..." With a slow sigh and a slight sniffle, Willow's eyes teared up. She'd reminded herself, reminded both of them of Buffy, who would never again send anyone a messily written letter. They both missed her, and it was this grief and the tears it inspired that had her eyes red and swollen.
Giles put his hand on her shoulder, an awkward gesture of support. "I miss her as well. But... we can not cry forever. She will always be with us, a fragment of her lives on in each of us, as long as we remember her."
"Yeah... but I'm still in the middle of the pain right now. Maybe you doing this thing for the council will help me, because then I can focus on that instead of the fact that she's gone, if that makes any sense." Willow's words were low, occasionally quavering with half suppressed sobs.
"Are you sure that you'll be alright if I go to Toronto?" Giles couldn't help having second thoughts. As much as the idea of time away from this pit of death and disaster appealed, Willow was like a daughter to him.
She looked up, her eyes sparkling just a bit with amusement. "Giles, I already told you I'd be... well, as okay with you there trying to muddle through the pain as with you here wallowing in it with us. I promise to do my absolute best to keep the Hellmouth safe, to stay close to sane, and to keep Xander, Anya, and Dawn as safe as I can. I will not give up. Tara will help me. Everything will... get better eventually. It has too."
"Right then, it's just... hard to see you in so much pain." He wasn't quite sure what to say.
With a quick hug, she whispered into his ear. "We feel the same about you. You've become our father, not by blood, but by caring. I think you need this too start healing. Go, be careful, send postcards."
He'd smiled then, and gone to start packing his luggage. There had been some concern about the difficulty of traveling with weapons, but Willow had found a shrinking spell, and he'd been able to put a few things into a trunk, shrinking them to the size of a large lighter, something that he could fit on his carry-on. He almost changed his mind a dozen times, going through the 'are you sure I should go' conversation with all of them, repeatedly. They all assured him that they would manage, that he should go to start healing.
Rupert Giles just hoped that they were being truthful when they promised that they'd be alright.
By the time he'd boarded his plane, Willow had compiled a list of twenty six individuals born to the right families, within the age range of fifteen to forty. She'd found a few notes about some of them, married, divorced, some had children, some had addresses and phone listings down. Others were simply names, sometimes with a maiden name in parenthesis to reference which family she'd been born too. It was... vastly better than having approximately one and a quarter million possible candidates.
He began shuffling his papers as the plane flew, confident that there wouldn't be much else to do during this five hour flight. And then there would be his time in Toronto, as long as he chose to stay. With a small groan, he tried to imagine it. Time, stretched before him, no more focus than to identify, track down, and figure out a few things about a woman. With a shudder, he resumed looking at his papers.
There was the Lambert line, a solid family that had produced several watchers and a pair of potential slayers about seventy years ago, with two of them in the right age range, a Natalie who was some sort of doctor, and a Carol, with no other details. There were seven from the DuPuis family, a well respected and numerous family that had actually produced two Slayers in the last century, although neither had been in this area. One from the Ramirez family, long known for having affinities for magic and clairvoyance, a woman of twenty six named Clarice. The listing of names went on, with some having small biographies, and others little more than a name and family. He made a note to look a bit closer into Helene Kataloupas, with a note mentioning a history of breaking and entering and fighting.
If only there was something simple, an easy way to say 'this is the one'. But if there were something that simple, wouldn't the various demons and vampires be capable of using it as well? Perhaps there was a benefit to the whole bothersome nuisance of having to watch and guess and consult old lists to determine who had the potential and who didn't. It was still frustrating when he was the person stuck finding the potential again since the idiot who'd been watching her before hadn't bothered to send the council anything.
His first step would be to get some form of public transportation to his hotel. Closely followed by decent food and a map of the city, so that he would be able to try to find these people without getting entirely hopelessly lost. With a map, he could have a chance of finding his way out.
When he finally arrived at the hotel, he managed little more than staggering to his room, dropping his luggage to the floor, and unshrinking the trunk of weapons before he sat down on the bed, intending to rest for just a moment or two. That was right before he fell asleep.
end part 2.
Natalie slumped in the chair, staring at the figure in the hospital bed. Tracy Vetter was lucky to be alive right now. She probably wouldn't have survived the explosion if it hadn't been for the simple fact that her partner Nick was a vampire. He'd dragged her out of the flames, leaving her where the paramedics could find her. Natalie had no idea what had happened to Nick, he hadn't been at the site of the explosion anymore when the officials and paramedics had poured in. She'd even asked LaCroix, but all he'd been willing to tell her was that Nicholas was 'still among those on this side of the veil', and Natalie was hoping that he'd meant that Nick was still alive... or something fairly close. Even if she and Nick had been forced to conclude that dating was a painful experience filled with torment, longings, and frustrations, she still cared about him.
Tracy had been injured by flying debris, fortunately there had been no injuries to the spinal cord and apparently no damage to the brain, but... There had been bruising, and cuts that had been filled with slivers and splinters, burns, and there had been the possibility of some sort of chemicals in the smoke that she'd been breathing. Tracy hadn't woke up yet. Natalie kept watching, kept hoping. For Tracy's sake, for her own, for Nick's, and for Vachon. Tracy and Vachon were... well, not quite dating, but pretty close. It was obvious that they cared for each other. Every night, the quiet voiced vampire would slip into the room, his dark eyes filled with worry as he looked at Tracy, her body so still in the bed, mottled with bruises.
"Has there been any change?" His voice, faintly accented, startled Natalie.
"Don't... you could make a bit more noise, please." She tried to calm herself, feeling unhappily startled by the whole thing. "She hasn't woke up, but... her heart rate's better, and they think they might be able to take her off the respirator. Both of which are good, if a bit slow."
He gave a small smile, settling himself into the other chair. When he spoke, his voice was thickened with worry. "How good are her chances? I... I don't know a lot about mortal healing."
With a sigh, she looked once more at Tracy, this time looking at her as a possible case instead of a friend. "It's a tough call. She's had a lot of injuries, but... we both know that Tracy doesn't quit. That's what she needs to get through this and wake up, to be herself again. This is one of those tricky things though, I have no idea if that smoke could have damaged her lungs permanently. It's a miracle that she survived, but since she didn't go then... she should get better. It's just going to take time."
"I was sort of hoping for something more specific." There was a tiny hint of humor in his voice as he looked at her.
Nat shrugged, wishing that she could give him something more specific. "I'm sorry, but.. most of the people that I see are a bit past this. Already dead, and very few of them get any better. On that line, how's your leg?"
"Better. But if it would help her..." His voice trailed of as he picked up Tracy's limp hand, looking at the woman who'd become such a vital part of his existence. "It's just not right to see her like this."
"I know. It's just... what more can we do?" Natalie shook her head, feeling helpless.
"You're right... it's frustrating. I don't want to try to turn her, if she didn't make the transition well... that would be worse than sitting here waiting." His voice was soft, almost to low to hear.
Remembering the fiasco that had happened when she'd convinced Nick to turn her dying brother, Natalie shivered. "That... yeah, that would be much worse."
"I'm sorry, you know." His words were directed at her, the sincerity in them obvious.
Natalie blinked, wondering what he could possibly be apologizing for. "Sorry? This... we couldn't have prevented what happened to Tracy."
He looked away, but his words were still clear. "I meant about Nick. I know that you... you care. Probably more than you should. But... I don't think he's coming back, Nat."
"Maybe that was just doomed from the start." She paused, trying not to let the painful memories return. "It just... He wants to be human again. He thinks it's the only way that he can make up for the things he's done. And I can't.... I can't make it happen. It was tearing him up inside, and every time I had to tell him a test looked bad, every time I heard that defeat in his voice when something failed... That wasn't good for either of us."
"But you tried. And maybe it will help him out that you don't look at vampires and see monsters." Vachon's voice was low, filled with too many things for Natalie to sort out.
Glancing over at Vachon, she gave a small smile. "You have met LaCroix, right?"
With a small chuckle, Vachon shook his head. "Well... not all of us, anyhow. He's... older."
"I've had to learn something, being a coroner. The world is full of monsters. I see the proof of that every time I go to work. But most of them, most of the monsters that I see the work of are human monsters. There are simple rules that will stop them." She paused, trying to put the reasons that LaCroix frightened her into words. "He's different because... He's not human, he won't die, he'll never go away. And humanity... he hasn't got it. Individual lives don't matter to him. That's what scares me about him, not the sharp teeth. Well, mostly not the sharp teeth."
"For the change to work well... there's something, a balance that has to stay. Between reason and instinct. He has the reason." Vachon's words were soft, contemplative.
Natalie looked at him, finally thinking that she had some words that could explain the ancient vampire that had been Nick's tormentor and savior for so many years. "But he doesn't have the compassion."
Vachon looked towards the window, the gleaming lights of the city lighting the sky. "There are worse out there than LaCroix. Those who don't try to control their instincts, those who loose... they loose the sort of thing that makes people care, that makes them want to connect. I think his just sort of shriveled, but... the Lost Ones, the Dark Ones... they shattered with the change. They give all of us a bad name."
"Dark Ones?" Natalie looked over, almost uncertain if she wanted to know.
"Those of us in the community... we're still people. Even the most cold and ruthless of us. But sometimes, a turning goes wrong. They're... not right inside, almost like... I was told once that the Dark ones loose their souls. That they have something else inside them, something evil and vicious." His voice was low, and his accent stronger.
"Those... they don't live here, do they?" Natalie felt something, a cold shiver inside her bones at the mention of these Lost Vampires.
"No... they don't live here. But.. they gather in places, dark evil places, and make them worse." He looked up, an almost apologetic expression on his face. "Sorry.. it's just... I see here there, and she's too still. Almost like... what makes her Tracy... isn't there. Makes me remember old stories."
"Is that all they are? Nothing more than old stories?" She didn't want to know, didn't want to ask. But the words spilled out.
"I hope so."
end part 3.