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Brave New World by JamesMFan
The Verdict
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“This has not been an easy case,” Heaton said sombrely, as he sat at the end of his big important table.

Buffy decided the man was a master of the understatement. It was hot in the courtroom, almost stifling, but she wasn’t sure if that was because of the intense heat outside or because of the importance of the situation she was now finding herself in. Today was everything. Today would decide the rest of her life in one way or another.

She sat at her usual place at the table with Norman beside her. Willow, Xander and Spike all sat behind in the ‘audience’ seating behind her. Mya had wanted to come to show her support but Spike had said no. He’d never wanted her in court for obvious reasons but especially not today. Not if things didn’t go their way. It was a sobering thought.

The courtroom was absolutely packed. It made sense. Everyone wanted to know what was going to happen. Buffy certainly did. For better or worse. She was ready to know. Even if her trembling hands and sweaty brow disagreed with her.

Heaton paused momentarily before continuing in that scarily level voice that was unreadable, “Unfortunately, it is not the first case we have had to deal with in which a Slayer has perpetrated a crime. I doubt it will be the last. I’ve spent some time thinking about this issue as a whole. I’ve come to realise that some of the fault, not all but some, lies with us.”

Buffy glanced at Norman. He was watching the speaker with rapt attention. He didn’t look nervous but he didn’t look like he was sure of anything either. Buffy, for her part, wasn’t sure where Heaton was going with this line of reasoning but she was prepared not to think the worst of it.

Buffy wondered when it was she became somewhat of an optimist. She wondered it but then almost as quickly she knew exactly when she started hoping for the best. She wanted to turn in her seat to look at Spike. He always had a calming presence on her. Even before all this, she had trusted him.
She resisted the urge, knowing he was there would have to be enough, and turned her attention back to the judge.

“We, as a society, train these girls from an early age to be our protectors and our heroines,” Heaton noted, eyes fixated on his own hands, “And though we rarely need protection from Humanoids now, Miss. Summers comes from a different time entirely. We have DNA evidence that is irrefutable. She is the same Buffy Summers from 2003. I don’t pretend to know about time travel but this case has had me researching various matters. We would be remiss to just throw the notion of different dimensions out of the window. There are things in our world we still do not understand.”

Heaton looked up, glancing into the audience, “But I’m being sidetracked. The point I intend to make is this – the Watcher’s Council and their Slayer were the first and last line of defence against Humanoid and other supposedly ‘mystical’ threats in the past. Miss. Summers was the Slayer and she was raised to protect first and think later. Rupert Giles was her Watcher but I don’t intend to dwell on that. As Buffy said; she is her own woman. While I believe that Mr. Giles may have influenced her in some way I am more than able to believe she is not led by anyone. I’ve seen her Watcher’s diaries in full – and it seems our Miss. Summers was somewhat of a rogue. Not one to be blindly told what to do by anyone, least of all the Council.”

Buffy glanced out of the corner of her eye at Cain Travers. He was sat in the stand looking far more mature than he actually was. He hadn’t shown his face in court since he’d taken the stand. No doubt he was a busy teenager and Buffy hadn’t missed his presence anyway. Still, it was interesting he was here. She would be ignorant if she thought it was purely to support her. The way the Council had always looked at it was that she was their possession, so of course he’d want to know the outcome first hand.

Heaton sat up straighter in his chair, it squeaked underneath him. “Now, does this apparent insolence make Buffy Summers a dangerous woman? No doubt. The fact remains that Slayers are imbued with an incredible amount of strength. They are difficult to control, they are trained to kill. Buffy Summers killed Joseph Dawson. This is fact.”

The Slayer looked up and inadvertently locked eyes with Heaton. His face was as blank as usual. It was a face that she found she could not look away from and he didn’t flinch under her gaze.

He cleared his throat. “Do I think Miss. Summers is remorseful for her ‘slay’? Honestly, I do not.”

Buffy kept her face as blank as his.

“But then,” he paused, “why would she be? To her, Mr. Dawson was just another ‘vampire’. And her job description is, by definition, to be a Vampire Slayer. I don’t say this with any kind of agreement in the ideology of the Council. I say it to bring perspective to the argument. I don’t want nor intend to belittle Mr. Dawson or his family’s suffering. He was an innocent man. He did not deserve his death. His daughter did not deserve to witness it. All of these things are indisputable.”

Heaton took a breath, letting that sink in before he continued. “From what I have researched and from what I have empirically witnessed of Miss. Summers I can say that I believe she has the capacity to change her ideals. While it is true that she has associated with unsavoury characters in the past – Riley Finn, Angelus – I am not really one to label anyone guilty by association. We are all the masters of our own choice. As Buffy said in her closing statement, her mistakes are her own.”

The Slayer gripped her hands together tightly beneath the table.

“But so are her triumphs,” Heaton said, placing his palms atop the table. “Miss. Summers is a killer. She is also a hero. Looking into her past, so many lives have been saved because of this one woman. And therein lies the conundrum, doesn’t it? Do her past heroic actions outweigh her one discrepancy? Yes, they do. Will this make a damn bit of difference to Mr. Dawson’s family? No. And it shouldn’t.”

She heard murmurings of agreement ripple throughout the courtroom and her shoulders tensed. He raised a hand to quiet the room.

“Earlier in the case Miss. Porter attempted to bring up the number of vampire’s that Miss. Summers had slayed in the past. These instances cannot be taken into account in this case. That is not fair. But, having said that, neither can her past saves. I must judge Miss. Summers based upon her actions now.”

Buffy felt her stomach drop. This wasn’t going to go her way, she could feel it. Without her past she had nothing going for her. She was just a killer in this time. She was no hero here.

Heaton continued. “Buffy Summers is not an easy woman to read. These are things I have observed about her – she killed a man, she does not show her emotions easily, she acts on instinct.”

Buffy felt her heart hammering in her chest. She didn’t want to go to prison. She didn’t want to go.

“However, only one of these things is a crime,” Heaton mused, looking out into the audience. “And that is what must be remembered. I cannot judge Miss. Summers entirely on what I see. The courtroom of a murder trial is not particularly conducive to bringing out the best in one’s personality.”

Despite the situation there were a few light chuckles emitted from the watchers in the audience.

“So, I must turn my attention to her friends – those who know her best. This is what I have learned from them; they love her. They think she is a good woman, perhaps even the best woman they know. They trust her with their lives and she has come through for each of them numerous times. This is high praise, indeed. Not many of us can say that we are that sure of our friends. I said earlier that I could not deem her guilty by association and the same applies here, I can not deem her innocent by association.”

Buffy felt physically ill. There were so many twists and turns in his reasoning that she had no idea what was going to happen.

“But as I said previously, I do believe that Miss. Summers can change her ideals. Whilst I do not believe she regrets slaying Mr. Dawson I do think that were she to be set free from this room today, that she could refrain from slaying any unauthorised ‘Humanoids’. The sad fact is that we still need Slayers. From time to time the blood substitute is not enough for some unfortunate Humanoids and there are other, much worse, things out there that we need protection from. I believe Buffy could be a productive member of the community. I believe she could be rehabilitated.”

She saw Norman look at her but she didn’t return his gaze, keeping it fixed on the man that was speaking. She knew better than to assume this was going to be as straightforward as it seemed. There was going to be a ‘but’. She could feel it.

“I would love to say that it was that easy. I would love to say that all is forgiven. But murder is not something that we can or should take lightly. Buffy Summers is brilliant at her job. She is one of the best Slayers we have ever had. I even do believe that she wasn’t aware of the change in law. I do. I believe that.”

Heaton sighed and ran a hand through his hair, looking a little unruffled in the first time since she’d met him. “A man lost his life. This…this I cannot undo. This I cannot just forget.”

And just like that any shred of optimism Buffy had left in her shrivelled up and died. She could hear the sound of her heart thudding in her ears, her nails were digging into the flesh of her palms and her breathing was uneven and shallow. Norman reached out under the table and covered one of her hands with his own. Buffy would have appreciated the gesture if she hadn’t read it as one of sad resignation. Instead it only seemed to panic her more. The muscles in her legs were shuddering, as if saying run, run, run.

But this was not the time for running.

She was an adult. She paid for her mistakes. This was how it had to be.

“However, I maintain that her responsibility for Joseph Dawson’s death is diminished. She is a weapon of the Council, one with free will and…indeed a headstrong weapon, yes…but one that was not informed about the new laws by the very same Council. This fault lies with them,” Heaton spoke clearly, eyes fixed on Cain. “Their incompetence, their inability to support their Slayer led to this. Buffy was the hands but they were the brain. I rule that Miss. Summers will spend a period of time seeing both a counsellor and attending a rehabilitation program for a period of no less than six months. She will also carry out two hundred hours of community service and agree to be tested and evaluated to be issued with a Slaying license. Pending her pass she will issue a monthly report thereafter of any and all of her patrolling movements and will agree to work pro bono for executions taking place in the Labyrinth as and when necessary.”

Buffy blinked, not comprehending. She was vaguely aware of Norman squeezing her hand but felt nothing beyond that.

“The Watcher’s Council will re-write Miss. Summer’s contract to take into account the new Slaying practices and also to ensure that she receives fair dispensation for her work for them, past and future,” Heaton continued. “The Council will write Mr. Dawson’s family a letter of formal apology and compensate them accordingly. The Watcher’s Council will agree to be independently evaluated on an annual basis.”

“Assuming all of these terms are satisfactory, then this trial is closed. Have a good day.” Heaton stood.

Everyone in the courtroom rose in silence. Buffy remained seated in stunned silence until Norman dragged her up to a standing position on wobbly legs. People began filing out of the doors with various degrees of muted conversation. Buffy managed to turn and look at Norman in confusion.
“Well done, Buffy.” He said softly, shaking her hand.

Buffy paused and then threw her arms around him. He seemed more than a little taken aback. She just had to hug someone and who better than Norman. Who had known he would turn out to be such a genius in the courtroom?


She broke away and turned around to face Cain.

“Well played,” he said, patting her shoulder in awkward Britishness. “Was sure the contract would make blaming us impossible but who knew Heaton had a soft spot for blondes? Nice. Typical American bureaucracy.”

Even his ire couldn’t get to her and so she just nodded and managed to utter bitter sweetly, “Love you too, Cain.”

“Oh right, I wait thirty three years to hear that and he gets it just like that. I don’t know why I bother.”

Buffy spun on her heel and came face to face with Spike. He had a playful smile on his face, his eyes sparkling as they met hers.

She bit her lip. “We did it?”

“That we did.”

Buffy smiled tentatively and he grinned, bringing her into a crushing hug. She returned it after only a second, regaining her faculties finally. Somehow they really had done it. She didn’t understand how but she wasn’t going to question it too much. Maybe this optimism thing really did work.

Xander and Willow stood behind and Buffy gestured them to get in on the action. Soon Buffy was in a group hug consisting of all her favourite people and she felt good. She felt better than good.

“Let’s go bust Mya out of school,” Spike announced, attempting to worm his way out of Xander’s arms. “This touchy feely stuff is bloody disturbing.”

Buffy kept hold of her two friends, “Check – no touchy feely for you tonight.”

“Now, wait. You know that’s not what I meant.”

The Slayer glanced at Willow and Xander, slipping an arm around each of their waists. “This isn’t supposed to happen to me. I’m not supposed to get this lucky.”

“Buffy,” Spike said softly reprimanding her.

“Yeah, buck up Buff. Let’s go get Mya and party on down before we have to hear a pun from Spike about getting lucky,” Xander gestured to the door. “I could live without hearing another one of those for the rest of my life.”

They started for the door.

Spike lagged behind as he called out, “You didn’t seem to mind that one time when you and I –”

“We agreed never to speak of that, William.”

Buffy tried to stop herself from being pulled out of the door. “Wait. What. What are we–”

“No power in this verse, Buffy.”
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