Chapter 1 – Powerful Positive Stimulus
THANKS: Very special thanks to MarzBar, who took time off from reading and reviewing Spuffy to help me work on this story and thanks to ProphecyGirl for the excellent story idea.
Professor Walsh placed Buffy’s first psychology paper face down on her desk right before the end of class. Buffy cautiously tipped the edge of the paper up to see what grade she received. She wasn’t expecting an A, but she was disappointed when she saw the big red “D” slashed across one corner, with a “See Me” written underneath. She didn’t understand how she could have done so poorly. She’d actually been interested in the subject of positive reinforcement for changing behaviors. She slumped in her chair while she waited for the bell to ring.
After class, she slipped behind a group of other students to avoid attracting Professor Walsh’s attention, but Walsh spotted her and called her name.
“Ms. Summers, I can see you now if you have time before your next class.”
Buffy cringed. Walsh was probably going to kick her out of class; she had no use for slackers. Buffy sighed and slunk over to Professor Walsh’s office.
Walsh’s office was typical of the University of California Sunnydale with mold green painted walls, a cheap metal and formica desk and plastic orange chairs. Buffy sank into one of the chairs.
The professor gave Buffy a stern look for sitting before invited, took a black electronic device and a wristband out of her desk and sat down in her own ergonomic chair. The professor’s chair was definitely not U of CS standard issue.
“Ms. Summers – may I call you Buffy? I’ll get right to the point. I know who you are, and, what you are.” Walsh paused to give Buffy the opportunity to make some useless evasions.
Buffy gulped. How could Walsh possibly know she was the Chosen Slayer, Sunnydale’s Stake and Break Girl? “What do you mean?”
“Don’t bother to lie, Buffy. I’ve had my eye on you for some time. I know you’re the so-called Vampire Slayer. I also know you and Willow and some of your friends are hiding Hostile 17 to keep the government from reacquiring him.”
She knows about Spike, too? Buffy felt a whiff of panic. Would the soldiers recapture Spike? Even though Spike was a nuisance, she didn’t want him to be returned to the clutches of the Initiative for more of the evil experiments it was rumored they were doing.
Buffy wondered if she’d been followed or watched lately. Who knew about her and Spike and might tell Professor Walsh?
Riley found out she was the Slayer and he saw Spike at Giles’ house, too. He must have told Walsh or one of his government buddies where Hostile 17, as Riley insisted on calling Spike, was hiding out. She didn’t much care if her identity as the Slayer was known - half the vampires in the world knew about her - but, she didn’t want Spike to get caught by the soldiers again. If Riley told someone in his unit where Spike was hiding, that made Riley a ratfink, didn’t it?
“What do you want?” Buffy asked. What could Professor Walsh have to do with vampires? Was she part of the Initiative? And how much did she know about Spike?
“You’re aware Hostile 17 has a chip implant in his brain that prevents him from attacking humans. Is the chip working?”
I guess that answers my question, Buffy thought. She knows all about Spike.
“Yes, it’s working.” Buffy didn’t have the slightest idea if Spike’s chip was working. He was perfectly capable of faking a headache if it suited him. Besides, he was chained up most of the time, so he didn’t often get an opportunity to test out his new hardware.
“He hasn’t been hunting or feeding,” she said. He couldn’t do much hunting and feeding while he was chained up in Giles’ bathtub.
“Good.” Walsh picked up a big, three-ring binder with an official looking government seal on the front and held it up for Buffy to see, but not examine. The cover read:
TOP SECRET: DNA Enhancement Program for
Hematophagous Non-Reproductive Beings
“I’m participating in a government program to improve the vampire population of Sunnydale. Implanting chips is one part of the program. The government is anxious to prevent vampires from feeding on the populace, but they are not interested in disposing of vampires in the rigorous nature adopted by yourself and the Watcher’s Council.”
Worse and worse, Buffy thought. Professor Walsh knows about the Watcher’s Council. Buffy was going to kick blabbermouth Riley’s butt the next time she saw him.
Walsh interrupted Buffy’s train of thought. “You know about one aspect of the chip program - preventing vampires from feeding on or harming humans by delivering a painful shock to the brain whenever they attempt any overt action the chip interprets as potentially dangerous. The chip is also capable of delivering a powerful positive stimulus. I believe the positive use of the chip can control and permanently improve the vampire population.”
The thought of a chip altering Spike into anything but a sharp pain in the neck seemed impossible to Buffy.
“That brings us to the subject of your paper, Buffy.”
Buffy looked down at her paper, which she was holding rolled and crumpled in her hands. She opened up the paper, glanced at the sea of red scribbling on the first page and rolled it back up again.
“What has my paper got to do with Sp…, er, Hostile 17?”
“I’m sure it has not escaped your notice the subject of your paper, however poorly explored, is on a topic similar to the positive reinforcement program for vampires we’ve been discussing. I assume you wish to salvage your grade in this class, so I have a proposal.”
Buffy nodded and shoved the mangled term paper into her backpack. “What would I have to do?”
Dr. Walsh held up the black electronic box and the wristband she’d placed on her desk earlier. “I have not been able to test the positive side of vampire population enhancement, because the vampire needs to be in a relaxed social setting instead of the clinical environment of the laboratory. You can perform a preliminary test on Hostile 17 and record the results for me. An enthusiastic effort on your part will go a long way to retrieving your grade from its current abysmal state.”
“I wouldn’t have to shock him or anything, would I?” It was all very well to give Spike a poke in the nose when he got out of line, but she didn’t want to shock him with this box. Spike being annoying - nose poking – heat of the moment - fine. Brain zapping was chill, very chill.
Professor Walsh smiled. In fact, she almost looked … amused. “Not at all.”
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