Plans of Action
Chapter Three: Plans of Action
Buffy’s plan was simple, but risky. She was banking on the fact that none of the vampires had ever seen her before and, therefore, would not know she was the Slayer. She ran through it again in her head. She had to keep both Jesse and Willow from being taken, but still make sure that Willow saw the vampires. Xander would have heard her and Giles talking in the library, but if neither of them actually saw vampires for themselves, Buffy might well have a hard time convincing them that they were real.
It was a good plan. Buffy just hoped it would go without a hitch. She may have the knowledge, but Luke was still stronger than she was. Still, she considered optimistically that she was armed better than before and had the element of surprise.
As she made her way to the Bronze, she could hear Angel’s echoing footsteps behind her. When she reached an alleyway, she knocked him down and pinned him to the ground as before.
“Is there a problem, ma’am?” he asked.
“Yeah, there’s a problem.” Buffy paused. She hadn’t planned for this moment as much as she had planned the rest of the evening. But it was probably better to get it done now. “You want to help me stop the Hellmouth from opening, you better tell me what you know and quit stalking me.”
Angel looked surprised, which made a change. “How did you know?”
Buffy released him. “I know who you are. I also know that you don’t kill any more, and why.”
“How do you know all of that? Your Watcher -”
“Is not my only source of supernatural information. Look, buddy, let’s get one thing straight here. You give me information without the riddles, and you stop following me around. Got it?”
“Got it,” Angel assured her. “Can I give you this now?”
Buffy accepted the cross in the jewellery box gracefully, although she was now starting to feel awkward at how hard she had been on him. Before she could think of how to set things right, he took off.
She sighed. She had probably been so hard on him because she was still afraid of how he might make her feel. But like before, there was nothing. She just felt fondness for him as an old friend and annoyance at his following her. At least the message from her heart was still clear.
Buffy put the cross on and continued towards the Bronze. It occurred to her that Angel hadn’t actually told her any information at all – maybe she had scared him off. *Oh well. Least I know what he would have said anyway.*
“It’s probably easy for you,” Willow said in a wistful tone. She and Buffy had been talking for a couple of minutes, Buffy keeping to her “script” based on what they had said before.
“Oh yeah.” Buffy nodded a little forlornly. “Real easy.”
“I mean, you don’t seem too shy.”
Buffy smiled as the conversation reached its turning point. “That’s sort of my problem, really. See, I have this unfortunate tendency to get talked into going off with complete strangers. Trust me, it’s got me into all kinds of trouble.”
“What, like getting mugged?” Willow asked.
“Yeah,” Buffy said slowly. “Something like that. Anyway, by all means, chat with a guy here in the club – life is short, you know? Seize the moment - just don’t go off with anyone you’ve just met. Okay? Oh, and if I do, please come after me and kick my ass till I see sense.”
Willow laughed. “Okay, it’s a deal.”
“Look, I’ll be back in a minute, okay?”
“Oh, it’s okay, you don’t have to -”
“I’ll be back in a minute,” Buffy assured her friend, smiling, and took off towards where she knew Giles would be. “Hey, Giles.”
He gave her a quizzical look. “How did you know I was here?”
“I’m psychic,” Buffy joked. “Look, Giles, I want to ask a favour, okay?”
“In a couple of minutes, I want you to let Willow know I’ve gone off with a strange guy. Okay? I’ll explain later.”
Before Giles could answer, she hurried off in the direction of the vampire who had his eye on Willow, as Jesse and Darla made their way out of the club.
The vampire introduced himself as Thomas, and it took less than half a minute of flirting with him to convince him to take her as an offering to the Master. Buffy played at being the innocent victim, pretending to believe his story of taking her for ice cream and letting him lead her hand-in-hand out of the club and towards the cemetery.
“Hey, Will,” Xander said, sliding into the seat next to her. “You seen Buffy?”
She frowned. “Actually, Xander, I was just wondering where she was myself. She said she was coming back.” Willow couldn’t help but feel disappointed. Buffy had seemed so nice. “What did you want with her?”
Xander grinned. “You might want to watch it round her, Willow. She’s nuts, I tell you. Heard her and Giles talking about all sorts of weird stuff in the library earlier.”
“What kind of weird stuff?” Willow asked.
“Oh, hello, Willow.” Giles’ voice sounded from just behind them and they looked round. The surprise sounded insincere.
“Oh, hi, Giles. What on earth are *you* doing here?” Xander asked.
Giles decided to ignore the incredulity of Xander’s question. “Delivering a message from Buffy. She says she’s gone off with a strange guy. I hope that means more to you than it does to me.”
“Sure does.” Xander whistled. “Buffy’s scored on her first night here. Good on her.”
Alarmed, Willow shook her head and stood up suddenly. “No, not good. I said I wouldn’t let her go off with any strangers.”
“Why not?” Xander and Giles asked simultaneously.
“She asked me. Come on, we’ve got to go after her. Giles, do you know where they went?”
As all three of them fought towards the entrance, it occurred to Willow that maybe this was a test on Buffy’s part to see if Willow was good friend material. It was a good idea if it was. Willow was definitely going to pass.
There was no sign of Buffy outside the Bronze, but Cordelia saw them and approached.
“Buffy said to tell you losers she was taking a short-cut to the ice-cream place through the cemetery. Dunno why, ‘cause there isn’t one …”
Buffy rushed over to him where he stood swaying in the doorway of the mausoleum. “Are you okay?”
Jesse looked at her groggily. “Buffy, right?”
There was blood on his fingers and blood on his throat, but Buffy knew he hadn’t been given the full treatment yet – he was going to be presented to the Master. But the wound didn’t look too minor.
“Jesse, listen to me. It’s gonna be okay. We’ll get out of here.”
“You’re not going anywhere,” Darla said, gleefully. “Till we’ve *fed!*” As she spat out the last word, she thrust her face into Buffy’s and it changed to reveal her true form. Buffy did her best to fake a dramatic flinch accompanied by a horror-movie scream. Darla and Thomas laughed just as Buffy heard her name being called from outside.
“Oh, thank goodness,” she muttered. There was only so long she could keep up the act.
Giles, Willow and Xander appeared at the entrance, the teens’ mouths open at the vampires’ faces. Buffy grabbed Jesse and thrust him in Giles’ direction as she pulled a stake out. “Get out of here! Now!”
Thomas tried to stop Giles from taking Jesse out of the crypt, but Buffy plunged the stake into his heart.
For a moment, it was just Buffy and Darla facing each other after Giles hurried the other teenagers away. Darla hesitated, but lunged at Buffy without warning. Knowing it was likely coming, Buffy was prepared and met her every blow, staking her just as she heard the door to the tunnels opening.
She counted the milliseconds and then, just before Luke had a chance to grab her from behind, she whirled around to face him and threw a bottle of holy water in his face.
He cried out in pain and stumbled backwards. Buffy took the opportunity to thrust the stake into him. Half-blinded, he had no chance.
Now to save the others.
The next morning, Buffy, Giles, Willow, Xander and Jesse were all in the library. Giles was talking about how vampires had come about, and the teenagers, save for Buffy, all looked in shock. Jesse had gauze taped over his neck, which he had taken to telling everyone was a bite from his dog.
Buffy had used the rest of the holy water on the other four vampires, the last one needing a jab in the eye from the cross as well, but she had staked them all. No food for the Master.
The problem was, even Luke and the other vampires being dead didn’t mean that the Harvest would not happen. When Giles was finished explaining vampires and slayers, Buffy told all of them about Angel. She left out the part where he was a vampire cursed with a soul, but said that she had met an ally with information, and told them what Angel had told her the last time.
“Do you have any idea how to contact this, Angel?” Giles asked.
Buffy nodded. “I think I’ll be able to find him okay if we need him.”
“Good. With the Harvest, we’re going to need all the help we can get.” Giles removed his glasses. “I think you four should go to classes. You don’t want to get into trouble.”
“How are we supposed to concentrate on class when there’s vampires out there planning a scary-sounding celebration?” Willow asked.
“I didn’t say anything about concentrating in class,” Giles corrected her. “Willow, didn’t you say you have computer class next?” She nodded. “Could you do some research?”
Buffy slid into thought as Giles and Willow talked. Tonight should be a breeze. Luke was dead, so either the Harvest was stopped anyway or another vampire – one not as strong – would be picked. All she had to do was make sure she got to the Bronze before the vampires and get everyone out before they arrived so nobody died. She knew where she was going now, and wouldn’t get grounded tonight over leaving campus, ergo early escape.
As the teenagers left the library, Giles called, “Wait, Buffy, can I have a word?”
She looked round. “Sure.”
Giles waited until the other three were completely out of earshot, then said, “Was there a particular reason why you chose to directly endanger three civilians last night?”
Buffy knew she should have seen this coming. “Yes. To save two of them.” As Giles frowned, she said, “Look, Giles, something you need to learn about me is that sometimes I make seemingly reckless actions in order to save someone’s life. It was a calculated plan and it went perfectly, okay? Just trust me. I have really good instincts.”
“And yeah, I know that now they know my secret, but maybe that’s for the better. I’m never gonna make friends here if I have to hide my secret identity from everyone.” Buffy paused. “Actually, that’s something I want to talk to you about -”
“Buffy! Will you let me get a word in edgeways, please?”
She grinned sheepishly. “Sorry. Go on.”
Giles took a deep breath. “I know slayers have good instincts, and I accept that sometimes reckless actions are necessary. *But*, I *am* your Watcher, so next time please run any calculated risks past me. Is that clear?”
“Crystal,” Buffy said.
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