Disclaimers in Part 1. Recap in Part 39.
Five hours later a very exhausted, and frazzled Buffy was released from the interrogations she had been put through by the four watchers. She was given instructions on how to find the dining room, and went to go get something to eat after she told them how little she had eaten since coming back in time. Alone finally she made her way through what seemed to be endless corridors until she found the right one that led to her destination. Although they were no longer serving lunch, she did manage to talk one of the cooks into a plate of what looked some sort of creamed chipped meat, potatoes, some bread, and cup of hot tea. She had the dining room almost to herself, and decided to sit close to the window so she could get a view of the still daylit outside world.
Beyond the window appeared to be gardens with all kinds of flowers, and bushes. It appeared to be only mid afternoon from the way the sun was angling through the clouds. Being indoors it was hard to tell what it was really like weather-wise outside. She wondered how one did get out in the inviting garden, or if it was even allowed, since she hadn´t seen any outside doors in her travels so far except for the front one which she, and Hyde had come in through. The four Watchers wanted her to come back for more talks about her experiences, but that was the last thing she wanted to do. What she wanted to do was hide out somewherefar, far away from Watchers, vampires, people that talked funny, and asked too many embarrassing questions that she really didn´t want to answer. Even her room didn´t seem too much of an option either because she still could be found, and that was not what she wanted.
Heavily Buffy sighed, and decided she was going to look for a way out there whether, or not it was allowed. She really needed a break, and some fresh air, as soon as she got rid of her tray she was going to do it. Then she felt him before she saw him this time. Buffy was beginning to think that Foxworth must have some kind of radar when it came to her. She had just finished her lunch, and was carrying her tray back to the kitchen when he showed up in search of her.
"Ah, Miss Summers, there you are!" he greeted, pleased to see her.
Buffy mentally said a few not so pleasant things in return, but she managed to greet him civilly. "Yeph, you found me. What´s up, Mr. Foxworth? Come to drag me off some place again" she asked as she went on to the kitchen making him follow her.
"Miss Penrose sent me to find you. They were hoping that you were coming back to finish your talk," he said as she handed one of the kitchen crew her tray.
She looked back at him and shook her head. Which clearly surprised him as she had been so cooperative earlier with their requests. "I was hoping not to´. Look, I´m feeling under a microscope here, okay? Not good. A lot of what they´ve been asking about is stuff I really wanted to forget because it wasn´t any fun the first time around. I just slay, and do my job the best I can. I know what I´m doing when I´m doing it. I just don´t sit down, and analyze it to death, or question the why I did this, or why I did that, or what I could have done different, okay? Lot of times it´s whatever works at that moment. Maybe that isn´t all standard slayer stuff, but it´s the way I do things. I get the job done. I save lives, and if it´s not proper procedureI´m sorry," she said trying to keep her anger in check.
"You seem a bit upset, Miss Summers," he commented moving back a pace or two.
"That´s a mild understatement. I really don´t like being poked, and prodded, and having all my decisions called into question. Nor do I like being stuck here out of time with no way home, and worrying how my every action is going to affect the futuremy future," she told him bluntly crossing her arms, and glaring at him. "Food didn´t help that much. I getting a massive headache. You can tell Mr. MacAlastair or whoever that I am going to my room to lay down. If that´s not acceptable, then too bad," she added then, turned, and walked off angrily, leaving Foxworth standing opened mouth at her as she headed quickly out the door to find her way back upstairs to the third floor where her room was.
Once up there she begged off talking to the girls she met as she went down the hall, and she ducked quickly into the sanctuary of her room, and closed the door. She flung herself on the bed and began crying out of her frustration, anger and sorrow at her situation. Mr. Travers and Wesley had been bad enough years ago with their questions but this bunch wouldn´t let up on her on any point. They wanted to know every thought, reaction she had had since she had been slaying, especially about her personal relationships with Angel and Spike. God, she hated the whole lot of them. If she could figure out where to run off she would, but she didn´t really know anyone, and had no money, or knew how to survive in this world. Every moment she was here she prayed that somehow things would snap back to normal, and she´d be home.
Buffy heard a knock on her door, but ignored it, wanting whoever it was to go away, and leave her alone.
"Buffy are you in there? It´s me, Becky?" came the girl´s voice pitched low.
"Yeah,´ Buffy replied sitting up and wiping her face with a corner of her bedspread. "You can come in," she told her.
"Molly said you had come back early and weren´t happy looking. I take it that they gave you a hard time?" Becky asked sitting down, next to Buffy on the bed.
Buffy nodded. "I knew they would, but it was worse than I thought it was going to be. They questioned everything I have done over the years to the point I began questioning myself. Miss Penrose and Mr. Abby were the worse. They just wouldn´t let up while Mr. Swanson just sat there and nodded and wrote things down. They let me go get something to eat, then Mr. Foxworth came to find me and wanted me to go back. I told him off and came up here to get away from them all. Am I bad?´ she asked the red head.
"You´re braver than me, but yes, I would have tried to do the same thing. Miss Penrose is the worse. She makes you think she´s friendly, then pounces like a cat with claws. I have her for my mythology classes. Mr. Abby gives me the creeps. He´s in charge of artifacts and other magical stuff. Mr. Swanson is okay. He does say much as he´s from Sweden and has a heavy accent. Were they the only ones there?" she asked.
"There was a Mr. Davis. He said he was from Kansas City in America. He was the only one I liked much, and even he was questioning me hard about Angel. The only part of this day I´ve enjoyed so far has been when I showed them what I can do in the gym. I think Mr. MacAlastair was impressed. I´m supposed to go hunting´ tonight on the grounds. Maybe I´ll stake Watchers instead," she told the other girl who giggled.
"I´ve only been on a real hunt once, then I did do that well. I missed the vampire and almost got bit if Mr. McDonnell hadn´t been there. He pulled the vampire off and staked him. I had nightmare for a week afterwards," Becky admitted.
"I wasn´t too much better myself when I started. I freaked when my first one poofed into dust all over my clothes. Took forever to the vampire dust out my hair. Then my biggest problem was trying to keep my secret life from my parents as my first Watcher never told them what was going on and I had to sneak out the house to meet him and go on patrol. He was good guy really," Buffy told her.
"I take it he died?"
"Yeah, Lomas did in a surprise attack on us. Meredith told me to run, and held the vampire off while I escaped. That was like ages ago. Giles, my current Watcher, he´s cool now. We´ve been through a lot of stuff together and he´s always been there for me whenever I needed him for anything. He´s more like my Dad than my dad ever was. Even for my Mom and my sister too. For a while I was kind of hoping that my Mom and him would get together but at least they´re friends now. I miss everyone so much. I just hope they are all okay and Glory isn´t trying anything. Hope I can find how to fight her while I´m here. That´ll at least make all of this mess worth it, I hope," Buffy told her. "I´m probably a real downer, aren´t I?"
"If downer, you mean you depress me with your storiesno. Like we told you, you´re the first real slayer we´ve met. And you really look like you could use a friend. I know how I felt when I first got here," Becky told her, her gray eyes meeting Buffy´s in understanding of what she was going through.
"Thanks, I appreciate it, I really do. And I hope we can be friends, I´d like that. You remind me at lot of my friend, Willow, who´s got red hair too, and is studying to be a witch along with her girlfriend, Tara. My other friend is Xander, he´s a guy, but we´re just good buddies. Then there´s Anya, his girlfriend. She used to be a vengeance demon for over a thousand years but lost her powers and her job, now she´s stuck on Xander and she works for Giles in the Magic Box, his bookstore. We meet there for research and I have a place in the back to train in. At home I have my mom, and my sister, Dawn, she´s fifteen and everyone keeps and eye on her."
"So who is this Glory you´re worried about?" Becky asked.
"She´s some sort of goddess, but we don´t know all that much about her. But outside of being super strong and fast she hasn´t been any big deal so far. She just wants to get back to her world but when she does it not too great for ours," Buffy explained.
"Do you have a boyfriend?" Becky asked with a grin.
Buffy smiled and then looked down. "Yeah, I do and I miss him. But he doesn´t exactly meet Watcher approval so I´m not going to talk about him too much, sorry," she explained.
Becky looked surprised but didn´t say anything. "I guess if you can´t, you can´t. Dinner´s going to be in an hour, do you want to go down, and see the gardens?" she asked.
"I´d love to. I was trying to figure out how to go out earlier and gave up," Buffy smiled.
"Let´s go then, before Mrs. Bennett finds us something to do instead. I´ll grab the others too and we´ll have a fine old time," Becky said getting up and Buffy followed her.
Becky quickly got some of the other older girls and they all went down the back steps near Buffy´s door. They were all quiet and kept looking around them for Watchers or other people, and avoiding them if they did see any coming their way. They went in through the dining room, through the kitchen, and came to the back door and slipped out.
Once they were all out Buffy had to ask, "I guess we´re in trouble?" she grinned, as she ran like the wind following them.
"Only if they catch us," Freda said with an answering grin. "We´re not supposed to be out her alone because there are supposedly bad things´ wandering around guarding this place. In summertime its worse because we all want to get out and enjoy the sun and the air," she told her.
"Come on, let´s hurry before someone sees us," Josephine told them, motioning with her hand to have them hurry and catch up with them.
"What´s the rush?´ Buffy asked joining in as the six girls raced across the wide open space of the still green lawn into the trees.
"Someone can still see us from inside and tell on us. We have a place by the stream where we go. We have a swing and when it´s warm we take off ours shoes and wade in the water. And sometimes we bring a ball and play catch in the meadow on the other side. This is the only time we´re really free to be ourselves," Becky told her catching up to her.
Buffy could understand that as she followed the girls through the thick woods until they came to a small sunlit stream. They fell down to the leaf covered ground beside it glad to rest from their run. Above them the trees were ablaze in all their fall glory in reds, golds, and oranges. The sunlight flithering down made her sign in awe. It wasn´t yet winter here like it was for her back home. Her surroundings reminded her more of pictures from the East coast that what she was familiar with. It was very peaceful, yet she also felt very watched too. Her slayer senses began to tingle, and she looked around trying to see the source of her discomfort, but couldn´t see anything in the surrounding trees and brush to be afraid of. Yet the feeling of hungry eyes persisted. It bothered her that none of the laughing, wrestling girls seemed to have noticed what she was feeling.
"Guys, I hate to be a party pooper, but are you sure it´s safe here?" she had to ask, her senses now on full alert, still looking around at the trees, and above them in the thickly woven branches as well. Feeling that whatever it was had moved closer to them she casually picked up a long, thick, heavy branch from the ground near the stream, then snapped off one end to make it have a sharp pointed end.
"Why? We´ve never had any problems before?" Freda said stopping her match with Josephine and frowning up at her.
"Something is watching us, and it´s not good. I can´t tell whether it´s a demon, or not, but it´s hungry," she told the girls in a low voice, feeling the waves of hunger assault her mind. She continued walking in a wide circle around them, protecting them while she scanned their surrounding still seeing nothing and hoping that it wasn't invisible on top of everything else.
"I think we'd better get back in case it has friends," she added, seeing that the girls had sprung to their feet worriedly. "Just act normal, if you panic it´ll be worse," she warned them.
The girls did just that quickly but carefully walking back along the path they had come, trying not to act nervous, but their eyes were scouring the thick underbrush, and they jumped at every sound they heard. Whatever had been stalking them never made an appearance until they were almost out of the forest. Then it struck, jumping down on top of Hellena, a tiny dark haired girl that Buffy hadn´t gotten to know yet. She let out a shrill scream before it tore out her throat. The beast then went to attack Becky who was standing frozen in horror. Whatever it was, it was man size, naked, blue scaled with tuffs of reddish brown fur on it´s misshapen head, feet and arms. Buffy knocked it upside it´s head with her stick which staggered the thing to the ground but unfortunately shattered the wood leaving her weaponless.
"Run! Run for your lives," Buffy ordered the girls pushing them to make them go as she stood before the thing that was glaring with her with red rimmed black eyes and dripping fangs. "Go! Get out of here!" she yelled as they still hesitated. Finally the four remaining girls did go, even though Becky tried to stay, Freda grabbed her, and pulled her forcibly along out of harms way knowing that only Buffy had a chance against the monster.
"Mmm, Slayer," the beast smirked. "Not as tasty as the others, but you´ll do," he grinned circling her his talons extended.
"Ohh joy, you´re a talker," Buffy smirked, and rolled her eyes bored with him already. "Okay, let´s get this over, blue and repulsive," she told him waiting for an opening.
He rushed her thinking she would be easy. Despite her skirts Buffy sprang over his head to land lightly on a large fallen log behind him. She tore off her outer skirt to reveal she was wearing the pantaloon pants underneath. Now that she could move she began kicking serious demon ass. Within five minutes she had him down, and had snapped his neck. She collapsed tiredly on the ground on her knees when she heard the sound on running footsteps.
"My word!" exclaimed Mr. Foxworth as he burst into view along with some other Watchers carrying weapons. "Miss Summers are you all right?" he asked coming up to her to help her up if she needed it.
"Just peachy. It jumped us before I realized it was above us. It killed that girl. I should have been quicker to know what it was going to do," Buffy said feeling like she had failed.
"But you did kill it bare handed I might add, and saved the others. You did remarkably well as the Tossnaw are not easy to kill," he told her.
"But no one should have died. That´s the point! If this was a test it was a bad one! Because of my mistake someone got killed," she said angrily getting up by herself, ignoring his offered hand. She dusted the dirt off of her rear, and walked over to retrieve her discarded skirt, shaking it out before she put it back on.
"The girls and you shouldn´t have been out here in these woods to begin with. They all have been warned before of how dangerous these woods are. They will be watched more carefully now, and disciplined for disobeying the standing rules," he told her levelly.
"All they wanted was some fresh air and sunshine. I get the impression they are stuck inside a lot. No wonder they snuck out if you try to keep them in all the time. They are still growing girls not hot house flowers. And what about me? Am I going to be punished as well?" she asked walking back to him, and watching the one of the men pick up the dead girl to carry her back to the mansion, while three others drug the creature off in different direction.
He met her glare with one of his own, his mouth set in a firm line. "That is not for me to say. I was informed to tell you that Mr. MacAlastair wishes to see you for dinner, after you have freshened up," he told her. He then headed for the mansion, and left her to follow him back.
Once inside he followed her up to the girls rooms then left her as she went into her room, neither saying a word to the other. On her bed was laid a dark blue satin evening gown with matching shoes. On her dresser was a full pitcher of hot water, a large bowl and some towels evidently for her to use to wash off with. She got the hint, and stripped out of her clothes to her underwear, then rinsed off, and washed her dirty, blood spattered face. Feeling semi-clean again she put the dress on amazed that the necklines was lower than what she had seen here so far and that it showed so much of her bust. The small puffed sleeves came off her shoulders too, leaving them exposed. She raised her eyebrow in surprise wondering what was up with the outfit. On the dresser were dark navy matching ribbons for her hair. There was a thicker velvet one from which a large blue tinged pearl dangled that had a clasp she supposed for wearing around her neck plus matching pearl earrings. Buffy refixed her hair and braided the ribbons into it hoping she was getting close to the hair styles she remembered seeing in her history books. She put the choker on and the earrings, and surveyed the results in the mirror still wishing for some makeup to highlight her features.
She almost knocked the small black jewelry case to the floor from beside the washbowl before she recognized what it was and opened it to see the missing engagement ring. Hoping it would be the key to getting her back she put it on but nothing happened. Zipnodda. Whatever freak accident had caused her to switch with Elizabeth was not happening for the moment. Buffy grimaced in disgust, but kept the ring on anyway.
Slipping the low heeled shoes on, and grabbing up the lace shawl she saw on the bed and draping it on Buffy was ready and opened the door. Mr. Foxworth was down the hall talking with Mrs. Bennett when she stepped out. He noticed her and looked at her very appreciatively, before he caught himself and put his business as usual face back on. Her skirt rustled as she walked down the carpeted hall. This definitely wasn´t an outfit to go sneaking up on anyone in, she thought as she came up to them.
"You look very nice, my dear," Mrs. Bennett told her.
"Thank you," Buffy replied. "How bad of trouble are Becky, and the others in? I´m sorry I couldn´t save Hellena. The demon took us all by surprise before we could get out of the woods," she apologized, still upset that she had failed to save all the girls.
"The other girls told me that you knew something was stalking you all, and were trying to get them all out. You did a brave thing fighting that beast bare handed and you did save the others," Mrs. Bennett told the slayer, hoping to make her feel better. She had learned over the years not to get too emotionally attached to her girls as even accidents happened to them before they were even called.
"I´ve fought similar demons before, it wasn´t any biggy. But Becky, and the others are they okay?" Buffy asked again worried about her friends she had been making.
"Very shaken as they should be. They are grounded to their rooms for the rest of the week, and will have additional chores to do," Mrs. Bennett finally replied soberly.
"I feel like I should be grounded too since I was with them," Buffy added.
"You? Don´t be ridiculous, my dear, you´re the Slayer, and much too old for grounding," she smiled at her, letting Buffy know she was being silly for thinking so. "Now you go on, they´re waiting for you downstairs. Have a good evening," she added and motioned them both to go.
"Miss Summers?" Foxworth asked, and indicated that they should be on their way.
"Coming," she said, and followed him. Though she wished she had gotten grounded instead of having to go to this evidently formal dinner with the Watchers, and whomever else might be there. She really hated being on display like this, and she did know that she was going to be shown off in some way.
Instead of heading in the direction of the dining room she had been eating in they instead went into a room couple of doors down from it. Foxworth opened the doors for her, and she gasped at the richness of this formal dining room. The room was richly paneled half way up in dark wood with red and black patterned wallpaper. It sported a fantastic gallery of world wide art, and sculpture on its walls, and on display stands scattered about. Above her hanging down from the high ceiling were six cut crystal chandlers ablaze with lights. The long white linen clad table sported golden candelabras with thick white candles, settings of fresh flowers, and a variety of foods were already in place while more was being brought in by silent black uniformed servants.
But it was the young man dressed in a dark suit that had his back towards them talking to Mr. MacAlastair that drew her attention, and held it. She´d know that profile, and wild mass of sandy colored hair anywhere. It was William. They had found him, and dragged him into this mess after all, Buffy thought grimly as Mr. Foxworth urged her to move forward into the room as other guests started to arrive behind them.
End part 40
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