The Crazy 88
A/N: The chapter title and subsequent mention of it is taken from Quentin Tarantino's "Kill Bill" films.
Buffy sat in front of Cain Travers and tried to keep the petulant look from her face. It wasn’t easy but she just about pulled it off. Spike had told her to dress up nice for the arrogant teen. She hadn’t been able to keep the petulant look from her face that time. Still, she had taken his instruction and made a little effort to look more presentable – like a valuable employee. Spike had decided she needed to make a good impression when Cain had summoned her for the meet. The vampire said she’d need all the help she could get. Buffy didn’t like to admit he was right.
The boy was leaning forward on the desk, not looking very impressed. “In order for me to back you 100% in this, you’re going to have to give me somethin’ in return.”
Buffy snorted, not missing his implications. “Yeah. Never gonna happen, kid.”
“Not remotely interested,” Cain sneered. “I’m talkin’ commitment. Need to know you’re loyal to us.”
“I’m here, aren’t I?”
“You’ve quit in the past. Disowned us, if you will,” he held a hand to his chest and looked at her. “That hurt.”
Buffy arched an eyebrow. “Oops?”
“Fact is; The Council doesn’t know you aren’t just goin’ to drop us like a sack of shit once we save your arse. We need your word, Summers.” He sat back comfortably in his chair, the desk separating them.
She nodded. “Sure. Which word would you like? I’ve got lots. Some of them even have more than one syllable.”
“You’re playing a game that you’re in no position to win, love.”
Buffy knew he was right and knew that if Spike was with them he’d have been saying the exact same thing. Telling her to go along with whatever Travers wanted. She needed to shake the attitude and start trying to dig herself out of this hole she’d somehow gotten stuck in. If that meant being nice to this little prick, she guessed she could do that.
“You have my word,” Buffy said simply.
Cain eyed her sceptically. “That’ll do. For now. There’s somethin’ else I need from you too.”
“Of course there is,” she replied, keeping her scowl to a minimum.
“I need to know what you can do. I’ve read the Diaries but they’re just words. I need to see it. You’re older than most Slayers,” he smiled. “You might be rusty. I need to know I’m investing in something I can actually use.”
She didn’t like the phrasing. Didn’t like the suggestion that she was just something he owned, a tool to do his bidding. Except really, that’s all she was. Just another weapon. Still – she could go along with it, for a little while at least. She knew when to be defiant and when to feign allegiance. He had said before that he’d support her in the trial but if she really wanted him to help all he possibly could she’d have to do as he asked and prove her worth.
“What do you want me to do?”
Cain’s smile widened. “I’m glad you asked.”
+ + +
Cain took her to a building on the other side of town. The Council’s one floor office was obviously too small for what he had in mind. The thought didn’t fill Buffy with a lot of confidence. When they pulled up outside the large brick building in his ridiculously fast car, she took a breath and got out. Cain didn’t bother to lock the car and instead bounced up the steps to the front door, beckoning her to hurry up.
She sighed and followed at a slow pace. He pushed the door which opened readily. Buffy followed him in, wearily. As he closed the door behind her she took in the big empty space. The wooden floor was polished and marked with lots of different colour lines arching in all directions. She recognised that the place had once been used as a gym. Now it was just the shell of a gym. The place looked like it hadn’t been used in a few years, at least. The insanely huge windows kept the place brightly lit and Buffy watched dust motes fly through the beams of light streaming through the glass.
“What is this?” She asked.
Cain took a step in. “Time for your test to begin. I will be takin’ notes so behave yourself, girl.” He went to stand in one corner.
As Buffy was about to question further and possibly punch him in the face a girl appeared from a side door. She went to stand over the opposite side of the hall. She was dressed simply in sweats and a tank top, barefoot. Long chestnut hair pulled back tightly in a ponytail, her dark eyes met Buffy’s and she bowed.
Buffy wasn’t surprised. Of course it would be a fight. It always was. She shed her jacket and tossed it aside along with her boots. Tight jeans and a halter neck top weren’t the best fighting garb but she’d worn worse. She’d never forget that one time with the cat-suit.
“Begin,” Cain said.
Then he was promptly forgotten.The girl ran across the floor, which was at least the length of a basketball court, at full speed. Her gaze was focused and intent. Buffy wondered, as she approached, what she was. There was no way Cain would put a human up against her. So she must have been a vampire. Or a demon of some sort. A shifter maybe. She had no more time to think because the girl was only a few feet away now and leapt up in the air quite unexpectedly.
Buffy just managed to dodge sideways as a slender foot hit the air where her face had previously been. The Slayer rolled over the floor and up into a standing position, turning back to her attacker.
The girl had followed her movements and was on the offensive again, coming after her with several sharp punches aimed at her face and torso. Buffy blocked each one fairly easily, the impacts on her arms were hard though and she had no doubt she would bruise. The girl was strong, whatever she was.
She was also fast because she’d dropped down and swept the legs out from Buffy before she’d had time to react. The Slayer tumbled ungraciously to the floor and the girl was on her before she had even recovered. She straddled Buffy and landed a hard punch to her cheekbone that Buffy didn’t appreciate. When she tried again Buffy sat up and head butted her with as much force as she could muster.
The girl toppled off her and hit the floor with a thud. Buffy sat up and rubbed her own forehead – it hurt like a bitch. Head butting will do that to you. She stood up and then reached down and grabbed the girl by the front of her top, pulling her up she spun her around and let go. She hit the wall bodily and slumped down onto the floor, unconscious.
She took a deep breath, letting her heartbeat slow. Her head was throbbing. Without looking at him she said. “We done?”
“Hardly,” Cain replied.
“Figures,” Buffy pulled her hair up into a tight ponytail with the band around her wrist.
She waited for her next opponent whilst looking at the girl she had already defeated. For some reason she seemed familiar…or similar, if that even made sense. She couldn’t place it, so she didn’t even try.
From the same door the first test had come from came the second test. This time there were two. Both female, again. Both dressed like they were ready for a fight. Both faces cold and without hate, just ready. Like any good fighter.
One girl had long red hair, the other blonde. The redhead stepped forward and motioned her to come and get them. Buffy smiled and shook her head, returned the motion. You come get me.
It all just felt so stupid. She shouldn’t have to do this kind of thing anymore. She’d proven herself a long time ago. Still, she readied herself in a defensive stance and kept her focus. It wouldn’t do to get arrogant.
The redhead’s lips quirked in a smile and she nodded. The two of them approached slowly, cautiously. Good for them. Buffy watched them like a caged tiger. She was the predator here, not the prey. As she expected, they split up and walked around her in a circle, one always in front of her and the other always behind. It was a rookie move. Or a classic, depending on how you looked at it.
Buffy remained patient. Making the first attack would be a mistake. It was what they wanted and Buffy didn’t like to give people what they wanted. Just ask Spike, she thought.
As she knew they would, they got impatient. They were young. Had to learn that timing is everything. Red jumped her first. Of course. Buffy let the girl land on her back but instead of falling to the floor as planned; she simply used the girl’s weight to toss her over her shoulders. She collided painfully with Blonde, taking them both down.
As they scrambled to untangle themselves and get up, Buffy waited. Red looked embarrassed, her skin flushed. Blonde looked pissed. Buffy remained expressionless. The redhead took a step towards her so they were less than two feet apart.
“Show us what you can do,” she taunted.
Buffy tilted her head. “I think I just did.”
She didn’t like that. The girl lashed out at her and Buffy jumped backwards out of reach. The girl didn’t give up easily though. She followed her with a quick succession of jabs. A couple caught Buffy in awkward places such as her shoulder and ear. The ear hit actually hurt quite a bit. Buffy had had enough of Red. She reached up and simply shoved her in the chest backwards. Red stumbled back, shocked at the straightforward manoeuvre. Buffy took that opportunity to slam her foot right into her stomach. The force sent her flying several feet through the air before gravity took effect and she impacted with the hard floor, skidding across it.
Buffy didn’t have a chance to see if that had floored her for good because Blonde’s fist was suddenly in her face making her see stars. She couldn’t see for several moments and so blindly ducked the next blow that was coming, hearing the air whistle over her head as the fist missed. Buffy ran forwards and rammed her head into the girl’s midriff, continuing forward and taking the girl for the ride. She slammed her back into the wall as hard as she could and Blonde screamed out in pain. Buffy figured that’d be the end of her but instead she got a double fisted punch to the spine for her trouble.
The Slayer grunted as her legs fell out from under her in the pain of the hit. She landed on the floor on her knees, wheezing. Blonde, still half screaming, swept her foot up and kicked Buffy underneath the chin. The force of the blow snapped Buffy’s head back sickeningly and her body followed the momentum, arching backwards until her back struck the floor. Her neck felt like it had cracked. She fought back the bile rising up her throat and managed to roll onto her front.
She was met with the sight of two pale feet with toenails painted blue. She rolled her eyes up and saw Red had recovered. Oh, joy.
Buffy rolled sideways out of the way just as the foot slammed down on where she had been. Shaking aside the rising nausea and the minor issue of a possible broken neck, Buffy dragged herself to her feet and stood to face them. Blonde was scowling, Red smiling. She guessed that summed them up.
Buffy wanted to hate them but found she couldn’t. So she settled on breaking their faces. It was only right. They rushed her together this time. Teamwork at it’s best. Buffy lashed out both fists simultaneously with pinpoint precision at the last moment. Both hit their target - the girls’ noses.
As they comically tumbled to the ground in unison Buffy noted that she’d never had that move actually work before. Cool.
She stepped forward and placed a foot on Red’s chest as she tried unsteadily to sit up, wheezing through her broken nose.
“I wouldn’t do that,” Buffy said, panting. “Stay down. Live. Whatever you are.”
The girl laughed bitterly at that but didn’t try and rise again. Blonde had already given some signal that she’d surrendered.
Cain clapped and brought attention to himself. “Nice. I’m seeing potential.”
“Potential?” Buffy growled. “How about you come over here and I kick your ass?”
“No,” he said simply. “But I do have another fight for you.”
Buffy instinctively walked to the end of the hall furthest from the doors her other opponents had come from. She had her back to the wall to keep her eyes on the door. Her neck obviously wasn’t broken but her head was throbbing and her vision was a little cloudy in one eye. She spat on the floor and it came out bloody, with what looked like a fragment of tooth. Not good.
“What’s next? Three?” She said, not caring about appearing petulant anymore. She’d earned it.
Cain smiled. “Not quite.”
Buffy watched as the doors open and girls emerged. Lots of girls. All filing out in a row one by one and all ready to kick her ass. As the other half of the hall started to look a lot more crowded Buffy began to feel like Uma Thurman against the Crazy 88.
Finally the door swung shut which a swish.
Buffy didn’t count them exactly but she was guessing there were at least fifteen maybe twenty girls down there, all different heights, different ethnicities and probably different shoe sizes. They all looked remarkably toned and ready for battle though. And as she looked down at these girls she realised what she had been feeling all through the fights. The familiarity, the similarity. They were all like her.
They were Slayers.
She stopped. “How?”
“Took you long enough,” Cain rolled his eyes. “Your Rosenberg, that’s how. Her and your old gang, that is. Who’d have thought all it would take was a spell to give us a real army?”
Willow. So…this was how they’d won against The First. The Potentials had become the Actuals. It all made sense and at the same time didn’t. There was supposed to be only one. Buffy thought of Faith. Obviously it was possible for there to be more than one but…this many? She couldn’t get her head around it.
Cain cleared his throat calling her attention back to him again. “Question is; are you ready to take on this lot?”
Buffy looked away from him and into the eyes of the girls in front. They didn’t know her, didn’t care to know her. They’d been given orders to destroy her. Orders they would follow because they knew no better. Buffy didn’t want to fight them but she would, if it meant living.
“Can we get on with this?” She scowled, readying her fists and running through strategies in her head.
Cain nodded. “As you wish.”
The girls took that as their signal. A hum of energy filled the gym and then it happened. Twenty Vampire Slayers ran towards her and Buffy watched them come. As with all dramatic moments in her life it happened in slow motion. She could tell these girls were young and none too experienced but they were still Slayers and they outnumbered her greatly. Her outlook on this situation wasn’t exactly sunny.
She took a few deep breaths and didn’t even flinch as they approached. In a second they’d be only a couple of feet away. She tried to think something profound but her mind went blank and all she could hear were their feet pounding on the floor and her own breathing.
They all came to a sudden and unnatural stop. From the way they all seemed to turn around Buffy guessed something must have happened. She blinked and everything seemed to pop into real time again. She heard voices and confusion. And then she realised what she’d heard in her peripheral hearing a moment ago. She’d heard the word “Enough!” shouted loudly and violently. Shouted by Spike.
The sea of girls parted and she saw him there, standing in front of the door of the gym as it swung shut. To say he looked angry wouldn’t have done it justice. He looked like anger.
“I was just about to say that,” Cain protested.
Buffy’s fists were still raised in a Judo pose and only then did she lower them slowly.
Spike moved so fast he actually blurred and Cain was up against the wall with the vampire’s hand around his throat. Gasps slipped out from the Slayer’s mouths but none of them rushed to stop him. Buffy didn’t blame them but she needed the asshole. As she pushed through the girls towards the vampire and the boy she heard Cain gargle “I was about to stop them! Get off me, you knob!”
Spike’s only reply was to squeeze his windpipe harder.
“Spike,” Buffy placed her hand on his neck-choking-arm (her theory about him being a neck grabber now firmly enforced). “You probably should let him go now. His face is turning purple.”
He glanced at her and dropped the teen who promptly sat on the floor, holding his neck and coughing. The vampire turned to her and reached up. Buffy was wary of any choking but instead he held her face in his hands and looked her over, concerned.
“I’m okay,” she said.
Spike nodded and let her go, looking back to Cain. “I take it she passed your moronic tests?”
“With flying colours,” Cain narrowed his eyes at the man. “We’ll do all we can for her. I’ll personally see to it.”
Buffy breathed a sigh of something resembling relief.
“You had bloody better,” Spike growled then turned to Buffy. “Let’s go and get you patched up.”
Buffy picked up her jacket and boots. “Can there be ice cream?”
“And explanations as to how there is an army of Slayers now?”
“Bloody hell, exposition again?!”
The door swung shut behind them, cutting off the sound of Cain’s ragged breathing and the Slayer’s gossiping.
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