A/N: I promised myself no begging for reviews, and I'll keep that promise. But gentle prodding doesn't count as begging, right? No, seriously, I'm just curious to hear what your thoughts are on this one ;)
CHAPTER 23: History Lesson
The beautifully carved wooden doors of an old elevator opened slowly, revealing a skittish looking man. Benjamin Travers had many talents, and an IQ bordering on genius, but controlling his nerves was not his forte. Neither was acting, or lying. But he'd made a promise, and he was the kind of man who prided himself in always keeping his word.
He inhaled deeply then took a step forward. The basement was cool and humid, just like you'd expect it to be in a seventeenth century building in central London. The place was suitably spooky and Ben tried to avoid it as much as he could in normal circumstances. But that's where the archive of the Watchers Council was located, therefore that's where he needed to go. He wiped a bead of sweat from his eyebrow and prayed to God he didn't come across anybody, knowing that guilt was written all over his face. He was always the one to follow the rules and his loyalties to the Council were rock solid. This was highly unusual for him and he did not like it, but it was the right thing to do. Sometimes, you have to break the rules for the greater good. This was one of those times.
Ben started walking down the hallway, his steps echoing loudly against the stone walls. Apparently, no one heard his prayers because before long, he came face to face with a colleague.
"Benjamin, fancy meeting you here." The other man commented jovially. Bernard Lafond was in his early seventies. He was one of the few Watchers who'd had the honor of being responsible for a Slayer during his career. A French girl by the name of Sophie. Ben did his best to look casual and smile. "Hello, Bernard. How do you do?"
"Just fine, thank you. And you?"
"I'm good, thanks. I'm here to look up some prophecy for my uncle."
The older man chuckled. "I see Quentin is keeping you busy as usual. Pardon me for saying this, Benjamin, but you really should tell the old man to sod off."
Ben opened shocked eyes. "Mr. Lafond..."
The old watcher gestured dismissively with his hand. "At my age, I’ve earned the right to be brutally honest, young lad."
Ben couldn't help but smile at this. "I believe you did, sir."
"You're a brilliant watcher, Benjamin, but it doesn't stop Quentin from treating you like a simple secretary. It hurts me to see how he's taking advantage of you. If you ever decide to stand up to him, just know that you'll have support."
His initial reaction was to get insulted at the idea that his submissive attitude toward his uncle was so obvious to everybody else, but he swallowed his pride anyway. "Why are you telling me this now?"
The old man smiled cryptically and started walking away. All he added was: "Because someone should stand up to him before it's too late. It's happening again and it's wrong."
Ben frowned. "What? What do you mean? Mr. Lafond, what is happening?"
But the watcher was already in the elevator.
Benjamin stared for a while, then turned around and made his way to the archive room. Virginia, the woman responsible for the documents in the room, was sitting dutifully at her desk. Too many years spent in that basement made her look as old and dry as the books and parchments she looked after.
"How may I help you, Mr. Travers?" She asked, her voice flat and emotionless.
Ben gave her his friendliest smile. "I would like to consult some documents regarding the Juluria Prophecy, if you wouldn't mind."
He had to stop himself from sighing in relief when she pushed the registry toward him. "Sign here, please."
He signed his name and thanked her.
"You'll find everything about prophecies in the back section."
He nodded and waited until she pressed on a button that unlocked the door, then walked in. He had asked for the prophecy books knowing that they were out of sight, at the back of the room, and near what he really needed. He made his way through rows of dusty volumes then reached a locked door. Ben took out the keys he'd ‘borrowed’ from Quentin and unlocked the door with a shaking hand.
In the small closet sized room were a few shelves with books on them. You needed special authorization to consult these books. Ben knew that's where he would find what he was looking for.
Benjamin had advised Buffy Summers to read the Watcher's journals, but knew that some were missing. These were kept under locks at the Council's head quarters for good reasons. There were certain things the Council didn't want the active Slayer or her Watcher to know about. And that's exactly what she needed to know to protect herself. Especially now that she had William the Bloody in her life.
It didn't take him long to locate the journals. There were six in total. He put them in his bag and quickly walked out, relocking the door behind him. On his way out, he took the book of prophecies and left.
"Found it?" Virginia asked.
He showed her the book. "Yes, thank you."
She carefully wrote the name of the book down, then dismissed him by going back to her knitting.
When he was out of sight, Ben finally let out the breath he didn't know he was holding in. This had been much easier than he'd thought. Now, all he had to do was to ship the books to California.
Sunnydale, three days later
A loud knock sounded in the Summers' house. Almost a full minute passed before the second attempt. Buffy thought Willow or Dawn would answer, but when nothing happened, she came running out of the bathroom, still wet from a long soak in the tub and trying to wrap her bathrobe around herself while taking the stairs two at a time.
"Coming!" She yelled, hoping whoever was at the door would wait.
She opened the door to see a FedEx guy walking away. "Hey! Wait!"
The man turned around. "Are you Buffy Summers?" He asked.
"Yes, that's me."
He walked back to the house and handed her a package. "Sign here, please." He asked with a little smirk, eyeing her appreciatively.
She glared, but took the pen from him and signed her name.
He tried to open his mouth to say something that was more than likely going to be an attempt at flirting, but Buffy cut him off.
"Thanks." She said, before closing the door in his face.
She looked curiously at the package, and when she saw the sender was Benjamin Travers, she took it upstairs to open it in the privacy of her bedroom. She might be alone in the house for now, but didn't know for how long. She knew exactly what was in the package and didn't want to be interrupted.
Two days ago, she had broke into Giles' apartment while he was at the Magic shop, and gone through the Watchers' journals. After noticing that some where missing, she'd called Ben to ask him about it. That's when he'd told her that he had already sent her the missing ones.
Buffy went downstairs and made herself a cup of coffee, then went back to her room. She closed the door and went to sit in her armchair with the journals.
She started with the oldest one. It dated of 1678. It began the same way the other ones she'd read did. Nothing noticeable. A Slayer had just died and another was called in Russia. Her name was Catarina and she lived in St. Petersburg. A Watcher was sent to train her and guide her.
Buffy skimmed through Catarina's first couple of years as the Slayer. Then something caught her attention. The emotionless tone of the watcher's writing had changed abruptly. Anger and outrage permeated the pages. The watcher, Joseph Williams, had noticed a change in his charge. The normally obedient and subdued eighteen year-old girl was more confident and argumentative. She started making her own decisions, using unconventional methods, and possessed information about the demon world that he had not provided her with. So he started following her and made the shocking discovery that his Slayer had a relationship with a demon. A vampire.
As she read, Buffy started understanding why Benjamin wanted her to know this.
Catarina was claimed by a vampire. Her watcher notified the Council. The Slayer was put on a train and sent to London supposedly to be taken away from the influence of the vampire who had put her under his ‘thrall‘. A week later, a new Slayer was called.
Almost frenetic, Buffy dropped the journal and grabbed the next one. She read the first few pages. 1725, country side near Toulouse, France. Marguerite Golon was the Slayer, a French man by the name of Louis Delamont was her watcher. Marguerite kept the region of Toulouse safe from demons for four years before things went to hell. That's when she met Frederick. A vampire who did not want to kill her.
May the 12th, 1729
Marguerite has lost her mind. She came to me today with the ridiculous notion that not all creatures of the night are evil. She says that her life has been saved by one of these animals last night. The foolish girl has not killed the beast, choosing instead to let him roam free. I am afraid she might not be fit to do her job properly. I will have to address this issue, and contact the Council for advice on how to handle the situation.
As the months passed, the watcher sounded increasingly agitated by his Slayer’s refusal to slay Frederick. One of the last entries had Louis horrified and disgusted: Marguerite Golon had been claimed by the vampire. The next entry was dated two weeks later. It only said this: My Slayer is dead. I failed as a Watcher.
The very last page of the journal was Louis Delamont’s confession.
October the 20th, 1729
I hope God forgives me. Knowing I did what needed to be done does not lessen the guilt weighing down my soul. Marguerite might have been under the demon’s thrall, but she was still a child and no child should die in this way. Perhaps I could have achieved the same goal in a kinder way. Telling the village that she was a witch and lived with a demon ensured her a violent death. I will forever have nightmares of a mob walking up to my Slayer’s home and setting it on fire. What troubles me is the memory of the demon trying to get her out of the burning house, the action resulting in his own demise when he caught fire. Demons have no souls, they cannot feel love. Why did this one sacrifice himself for the woman? Could we possibly be wrong?
Buffy didn’t even bother brushing off the tears running down her face. Her coffee was cold and she hadn’t even touched it. She had a sinking feeling that she knew how all of these journals would end. Morbid curiosity made her pick up the next one.
1898, Romania. Slayer fell in love with a vampire. Slayer disappeared a week later.
1912, Boston. Slayer was claimed by a vampire. She died.
The next Slayer unfortunate enough to let a vampire into her life was called in 1963, in Seattle. She was a Slayer for five years. She was even less lucky than the other ones. Her watcher never mentioned anything about her being in love with a demon, or being claimed by one. He never let things get this far. All he said was that Mary Jane had come to rely on a vampire for help during her nightly patrols. Her watcher did not approve. She died in the hospital, poisoned. The watcher did not accuse himself, but he did sound relieved.
There was another entry after the one announcing the Slayer‘s death. The watcher said the vampire had relentlessly tried to kill him. Buffy hoped he succeeded. Spike‘s face flashed before her eyes. Would he avenge her if something happened to her? Would he risk the chip liquefying his brain in order to kill her murderer? She had no doubt that he would.
She didn’t know why she was torturing herself, but Buffy picked up the last journal despite knowing how it would end.
This one happened just a little before her time. The fact that she was alive and in waiting to be chosen while this took place made it that much more difficult for her to read.
Sophie Lemieux was a sixteen year-old French Canadian girl. She lived in Quebec City in 1985. Buffy could easily imagine the girl walking through cemeteries, singing some Madonna tune and twirling a stake in her hand. As she read her story as seen through Sophie’s watcher’s eyes, her heart hurt. She sounded so much like herself, it was scary.
In fact, Sophie’s watcher, Bernard Lafond, was the only watcher so far who sounded like he loved his Slayer. He described her as “an unpredictable spitfire with a dry sense of humor”. But it didn’t change the ending of Sophie’s story. The French Slayer was sent into a trap with her vampire lover. She died. There was no mention of the vampire‘s fate.
Buffy stared at the last page of the journal for the longest time, seeing nothing. She finally looked up when she heard someone clearing their throat noisily.
Giles was standing in the doorway.
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