Episode 3 (Faith, Hope, & Trick)
Buffy had her arms folded across her chest as she watched everyone file in. They'd all fixed their broken bonds through a mutual hatred of the murderous zombie horde that'd tried to kill them, but she was still a little self-conscious of their judgment of her leaving.
Still, that wasn't why they were all piling into Giles' apartment for a little early-morning before-school team meeting now. As she looked around at the group, which consisted of Xander and Cordelia, Willow and Oz, and Giles off to the side, she knew exactly why they were all here.
"We need to figure out what kind of demon this Vali Masters guy is so I can kill it."
There were varying expressions around the room. Giles grimaced. Xander, Willow, and Oz were all nodding in agreement, having been the first to have a run in with the man. Cordelia was the most shocking though, she actually looked… thoughtful. A moment later she spoke her mind, as she always did, "What if he's a succubus?"
Everyone just looked at her, but it was Giles who responded, "I believe you mean Incubus Cordelia. Succubi are female.. And I do not think that is the case here, Vali has not acted in any way that lines up with what I've read of Incubi."
Buffy scoffs at that, waving her hands around, "Not to mention pleasure demons don't really seem like they'd be able to survive their heart being ripped out of their chest."
There are wide eyes from everyone but Giles and Cordelia at that, as she'd told him what happened when he'd come calling, horrified by the amount of blood on the floor of his library and expecting the worst. Cordelia just looked disappointed her idea had been shot down, and a bit contemplative.
Xander swallows thickly, "Dang Buff… didn't know you had it in you."
Buffy grimaces and folds her arms over her chest again, looking away, "Neither did I. He walked me through it, told me it was the only way to save my mom. He wanted me to do it. I don't know why, I guess to make a point about how he's invincible or something."
Giles nods at that as he takes over for a moment, "Yes, his actions have been more than a little strange. He's inserted himself quite effectively into the town and more specifically our lives, and yet beyond hypnosis and biting Willow, he's done almost no real harm to us. I'd even go so far as to say that if we're keeping score, we've probably done more damage to him at this point, even if it has all been rather... pointless."
Xander scowls, "Hey! What about emotional damage?! The guy took my pants! They were my favorite pair and I still haven't gotten them back! Not to mention that I had to walk home in my underwear!"
Willow blushes at that and Oz pipes up with his usual brand of dry wit, "Yes, I'm not sure I'll ever be able to forget that image. I agree with Xander, it was traumatic. Very traumatic."
Willow smiles and Xander scowls, while Cordelia continues to be off in her own world. Buffy just frowns at the lack of any real progress. After a moment she turns to Giles, "So what are we supposed to do? I don't think this guy is going away just because he finally met me. We need to figure out what he is and how to kill him."
Giles nods even as he furrows his brow, "Of course Buffy, you know we will. I have some suspicions, but nothing close to concrete. For now though, it really might be best to just… tolerate him. He's clearly insane and that combined with his apparent power is a real concern, but he hasn't actually done anything to permanently harm any of us yet. I believe that is because he views this all as a television show for some reason."
That got a round of incredulous looks, which Xander articulated for them all with a, "Huh?"
Giles hmms even as he begins to explain, "Yes, well, it's just a theory for the moment, but going off of what he said to me, and what you say he told Joyce, I think he truly sees us as the main cast of a show based around Buffy being the Slayer. When he initially demanded I tell him where Buffy was, I told him I would not and that I could not because I didn't know where Buffy had gone. He claimed that Buffy would return soon enough because she is, in his own words… the main character."
He clears his throat and continues, "And then there's what Joyce said he spoke of. Comparing the start of the school year to the beginning of a television show season. Talking about getting the plot going and keeping viewers entertained. If I'm right, he hasn't hurt any of us, because we're entertaining him simply by existing and because we're all important to this plot he's going on about."
Xander snorts at that, "So he's keeping us around because we what, amuse him? That's real reassuring Giles."
Buffy groans and rubs her eyes with the palms of her hands, "We're not going to get anywhere with this right now. You guys have to get to school and my mom and I have a meeting with Snyder, apparently I'm being reinstated. I guess someone went over Snyder directly to the board."
Giles smiled slightly at that, having been the guilty culprit there. He didn't say anything though, even as they all filed out of his apartment and went their separate ways. On the forefront of all of their minds was Vali Masters.
Gaining an audience with the Mayor of Sunnydale wasn't difficult at all. I compelled the security guards at the front to tell me where his office was and let me pass. Soon enough I arrived before his Secretary with a smile on my face, "Hello my dear, is the Mayor busy right now?"
She blinks up at me, her face blank as she clearly doesn't recognize me, "Well yes, he's in a planning meeting with the Deputy Mayor right now. We can schedule something for a couple weeks from now Mister…"
I just chuckle at her naivety and make my way through the double doors without another word. The secretary makes an attempt at stopping me, and her call of "Sir you can't just go in there!" draw the attention of both the Mayor and the Deputy Mayor as I take in his office, looking around with an ever present smile on my face.
The reactions from the two politicians are interesting. The Deputy Mayor pales dramatically, eyes widening as he immediately steps back from me. He clearly knows more about me than I expected. The Mayor on the other hand just mirrors my smile as he stands and motions for his secretary to back off, "It's alright Debby, Mr. Masters is a member of our government and completely allowed to speak with me."
The secretary is cowed by that, nodding and backing out of the room even as I raise an eyebrow inquisitively, "A member of your government am I?"
Robert Wilkins keeps up his jovial smile as he sits back down in his seat and threads his hands together in front of him, "Well yes, you are the new Assistant Librarian. This makes you a member of Sunnydale High's faculty, all of which are government employees."
I grin wickedly at that, "I see." My grin has a negative effect on the Deputy Mayor, as exposing my teeth seems to cause him to grow even more pale and uncomfortable. I slide my eyes from Robert to his second finally and raise an eyebrow.
"Perhaps it would be best if we continued this conversation alone… Your subordinate does not look well."
Robert sighed and waved said subordinate off, "Go on Allan, he's right. You really do look like you need some air."
Allan took the out and beat a hasty retreat even as I stepped up to the Mayor's desk and played with one of his doodads, "You have the Library bugged don't you? That's how you and your deputy already know who I am."
Robert chuckles jovially at that, "More than that! I also have footage. So much ruckus goes on in that Library, it's good to be able to put faces and names to voices and actions. Your actions in particular have been very interesting. You're quite the enigma Mr. Masters. Though I was beginning to worry I'd have to contact you myself. I'm glad to see you aren't entirely ignorant of how things work in my town."
I smile at that and settle myself down into the chair across from him. He's looked me in the eye this entire time, and I can't help wondering at his possible overconfidence. He must know what I'm capable of by now, but it seems he believes the protections he has in place are enough. So I put them to the test, leaning forward and initiating compulsion.
"Actually, I'm more ignorant than you think. Why don't we just sit here and you tell me every little detail of your plans."
To my amusement and his shock, he proceeds to do just that. It would appear my compulsion is an out of context problem for this universe, something that they truly can't defend against, at least not through demonic pacts and black magic. I can't help but find the situation hilarious as I sit back and listen as he goes over all of his plans with me. I learn of how he came to found Sunnydale on the Hellmouth in the first place, how he made his pacts with the demons who inhabited the area hundreds of years earlier.
I learn about his decision to work towards Ascension, and how he's gone about that. He's actually quite close to his goals as he tells me about the dedication he'll be doing soon to make himself invulnerable for a hundred days and about the box of spiders that he'll have to consume for the power necessary to jumpstart the transformation.
I smile as he trails off after explaining how he plans to change right in front of the High school's Graduation ceremony, so that he can consume the senior class there to cement the transformation. The Mayor's smile has gone now as he finally looks away from my eyes, "That was… unexpected. You shouldn't have been able to do that."
I nod in sympathy, even as I do a bit of creative wordplay, "I understand how this might disturb you, but the ones you've made your pacts with, they just aren't on my level. But then, not many are at this point. I hope it sets your mind at ease to know that I won't move against you or your goals though. I'm not going to stop you from completing your Ascension, I'm not going to reveal your plans to anyone who isn't already in the know on them."
I smile pleasantly, "Truth be told, I see a bit of myself in you. I look forward to seeing you rise, seeing what you can achieve."
It's clear that the Mayor is not used to this sort of power disparity, at least not when he's speaking with someone who appears for all intents and purposes human. But it's also clear that he's a politician at heart and the smile is back on his face as he reassesses things and quickly changes tack, "Well now, that is a relief Mr. Masters. You definitely surprised me, but I'm happy to hear you have no ill will. I'm a bit curious why a being of your power is here in my quaint little town though, playing around with teenagers."
I shrug, grinning, "Boredom mostly. After countless millennia, even the most power hungry ruler should take a break. So here I am, out of my personal realm and on your earth. Right now I'm just… experimenting I suppose. You need not be worried overly much my dear Mayor, I won't make too big of a mess."
Robert raises an eyebrow and chuckles, "Tell that to the floor of the Library! And please, call me Robert!"
I chuckle back at his joke, even as I stand, "Well then Robert, call me Vali. This has been an interesting meeting. If you wish to talk again, you merely have to let me know."
He smiled and nodded and I moved to leave, stopping only at the door to turn back and grin at the Mayor, "You and I both know I cannot be killed, but you may be considering how to remove me from this world temporarily with your magic and your pacts. I do so hate to threaten you, so consider this more of a warning than a threat."
"Finding my way to this Earth was not difficult. It was as simple as walking through a portal and appearing in a graveyard. Banishing me away would not stop me from coming back, and I would be very cross with the ones who tried it."
Robert Wilkins just smiles jovially at me as he sits back in his chair, "Wouldn't think of it!"
I just smile at that, he and I both know he was thinking of it. Then I turn and leave.
The Bronze (Later that Night)
I was at the local hangout of Sunnydale's youth hunting for a meal. Buffy and her friends were here, and I know they'd noticed me since Buffy could barely keep her eyes off me for longer than a few seconds. I pretended not to see any of them, as my eyes roamed over the crowd looking for someone who fit my tastes. I was going to take someone right out from under Buffy's nose, the first in a long string of actions as I showed her just how little she could do to stop me from doing whatever I wanted.
Before I could make a decision, it was made for me by a beautiful brunette with the strangest fashion sense. As she gave me a sultry smile and pulled me out onto the dance floor, I had to remind myself that I was in the 90s… horrible fashion sense was pretty much ingrained in society for this decade. I allowed myself to fall into the wild and vibrant dancing the brunette was getting into, enjoying the way she pressed against me, grinding as we danced for several minutes.
I was about to make a move to get her out of the club when she once again preempted me, grabbing my hand and giving me the most blatant 'come-hither' look I'd ever seen. She pulled me out of the club and I followed after her, knowing Buffy and her friends would probably follow shortly but intending to be gone before they showed up.
Stopping caused the brunette to stop too and I smiled as I stepped into her personal space and looked into her eyes, brushing a hand through her hair, "Before we go further, I'd love to know your name sweetheart. Seems only right."
She looked incredulous at that, "Playing with your food? Gross."
And then she tried to cold cock me in the face and I only dodged because of reflexes, blinking as she followed up with a kick to my left leg that I was forced to sidestep away from, bringing us a few steps apart. She was unnerved by my speed but covered it up with a smirk as she got into a stance and raised her fists, "And you can call me Slayer."
I frown and consider for a long moment, "So… Faith right?"
She pauses abruptly at that, before grinning even wider, "Huh, so my reputation precedes me. Nice, but not gonna make me spare ya."
That's when Buffy and the others finally got their act together and showed up, running up behind Faith. Buffy looked confused by Faith's stance but it didn't stop her from getting in front of her and raising her own fists as she defended what she thought was a helpless young girl in over her head, "Stay away from her Vali."
"Dibs!" I immediately call it out even as the others are now trying to get Faith to run off with them while Buffy tries to hold me off. My single word freezes everyone up and gets them all to look at me with incredulity. Funnily enough, it's Xander who speaks up first with a, "Huh?"
I gesture at Faith, "I'm calling dibs. I saw her first, she's mine. I promise to bring her back in one piece, but I am leaving with her."
Faith scoffs at that and shakes off Willow's hands as she steps up to Buffy's side, "I ain't anyone's anything asshole. Certainly not some low life vamp's. B, you got an extra stake there? Let's take this one together and we can compare notes afterwards."
Buffy is clearly very confused as she looks at Faith, trying to figure out what's going on here. I sigh and roll my eyes before calling out, "She's the other Slayer! Duh!"
Buffy's eyes widen at that as she looks at me, and then realizes what I've already said I'll do… and how high her chances of stopping me really are. She immediately turns to Faith, "You need to run, now! This isn't a vampire!"
Faith just looks at Buffy in confusion, "You scared B? We may be Vampire Slayers, but we can kill other creepy crawlies just as easily."
I roll my eyes and in an instant I'm in front of the two of them, addressing Buffy, "This is ridiculous. I called dibs. Stop trying to steal my meal."
The two Slayers may have been confused, but my threatening proximity hardened their resolve quite quickly. In an instant, both of them were throwing synchronized punches my way. They missed of course, as I was behind them before either had fully thrown their punch, grabbing Buffy by the collar of her shirt and tossing her with enough force to send her careening into her friends.
Faith spins around, but my eyes are already locked with hers before she can react and I smile as I put a finger to my lips, "Shhh, sleep."
I catch the unconscious slayer as she begins to fall to the ground, and pick her up Bridal Style before turning back to the others, who are just recovering from Buffy's tumble. Buffy gets to her feet and I can see her game face is still on as she sees Faith in my arms. I grin in response, "We'll come by the Library tomorrow my dear."
Buffy's eyes widen and she tries to move forward, tries to stop me from disappearing but I'm already gone, zipping out of the alleyway with Faith in my arms.
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