It was just a word. Didn’t mean much without any context. In this case the context was; “If you could describe Buffy Summers in one word what would that word be?” It was hard not to take that personally. The evildoer in question just blinked and remained silent.
The woman who sat across from her several feet away had a quiet kind of rage in her eyes. She didn’t look at Buffy, kept her gaze on the person who had asked the question.
“Evil,” Lucy said, drawing the word out. “Why?”
The woman almost snorted at that but didn’t. “She’s a murderer. Moved quick but easily, like it was nothing at all. Used bare hands to just tear…she killed him. And it was nothing to her.”
Well, that wasn’t strictly true, Buffy thought. A slay was just a slay but it always meant something to her. This woman was seeing things from the view of an outsider, which she was. She’d merely witnessed the event, she didn’t understand the context. Again, it was all about the context.
This was the third witness testimony they’d sat through and all the accounts were pretty much identical. This woman held a little more venom but she had nothing new to add.
Norman shifted on his chair next to her and Buffy glanced at him, seeing a barely suppressed trembling of his hands. She wondered if he was nervous for himself and his big day, or nervous for her. She hoped it was the former.
Lucy tilted her head, sympathetic eyes on the witness. “And, in your opinion, on the day of the incident was Joseph Dawson doing anything to warrant such a violent attack?”
“Not a thing,” the woman shook her head slowly. “Playing with his kid, far as I could see. Just normal.”
Lucy nodded. “Thank you. That is all.”
Heaton nodded back from his position at the head of the long table and scribbled something down on his notepad. Buffy wondered if it was something good, something bad, or just a note to remind himself to pick up milk on the way home. She’d probably never know. Especially if it was about milk.
“Cross-examination?” was all he said, without looking up.
Norman cleared his dry throat. “No.”
Buffy looked down at her hands. They were slightly tanned, nails long but not tacky, fingers slender. Hardly the hands of a brutal killer. She didn’t know why that occurred to her at that moment but it did, and it was made all the more ridiculous because that’s what she was. A killer. A killer of evil things.
Heaton tented his fingers together, looking at the lawyer. “Do you have any points to make on any of the statements made, Mr. Wagner?”
“We, the defence, do not dispute that Miss. Summers killed Mr. Dawson,” Norman said, voice steady. “There were many witnesses and Miss. Summers has confirmed the act. It is not our main focus.”
Heaton arched a wry eyebrow. “Perhaps Mr. Dawson’s family would disagree.”
“I simply meant we do not dispute the manner of his death,” Norman’s cheeks flamed but he continued. “Our argument is that Miss. Summers cannot lawfully be held accountable for a crime she didn’t know was a crime.”
A soft murmur ran through the room. This was new information to the small audience who sat at the back of the room. Heaton already knew the case they intended to lay out, as did Lucy Porter. Buffy looked at her and caught her rolling her eyes. They locked gazes for a moment and both looked away.
Heaton nodded once. “Okay. Let’s proceed then. Would the defence like to call someone to speak?”
“We would,” Norman stood. “Cain Travers.”
The head of The Council stood and walked around the table to sit in the seat the female witness had just vacated. The hot seat. The young man had actually arrived on time to court this day and was dressed in a smart and expensive looking suit, face shaven and hair freshly cut. Buffy was impressed but he had yet to open his mouth and still had time to mess things up.
“Proceed.” Heaton leaned back comfortably in this seat.
The lawyer was focused on Cain. “Tell me, had you ever heard of Buffy Summers before you met her?”
Cain’s gaze flicked to the Slayer. “She’d been mentioned to me. Her name bandied about when I was a child.”
“A child? What age would you say?”
Cain shrugged. “Seven? Eight?”
“And how old are you now, Mr. Travers?”
Norman frowned. “So, why on earth would you have heard of Buffy Summers when she herself, now a woman of age twenty two, would have been…what…twelve?”
Cain shrugged again. “She was talked about in past tense. Written about in the Watcher’s Diaries from the past.”
“How far in the past?”
“Decades. Thirty years, to be precise,” he smiled a little.
Norman scratched his chin. “Thirty years ago? How can that be possible if Buffy is only twenty two?”
Cain leaned forward on his elbows. “That is the question.”
Heaton cleared his throat. “Do you have any of these Watcher Diaries to present to us?”
Norman reached down and picked up five battered black books with dark red spines. Buffy vaguely recognised them. They must have been Giles’. He handed the books to someone who walked them down to Heaton. The man took the books but did not look through them, just motioned for them to continue.
“So, we can only assume that the Buffy Summers we have here today is the same Buffy Summers of yesteryear,” Norman gestured towards her then looked back to Cain. “But is there any way to prove it?”
Cain nodded. “We have photographs –”
“Hardly conclusive,” Lucy interjected.
“- and then there’s the DNA sample,” Cain beamed as the woman’s face fell.
Buffy looked up and felt her brow pinch together. DNA? The Council had her DNA? Why did that make her feel dirty and wrong? She shouldn’t have been surprised but she was. Still, if it could get her out of this she’d deal with her issues later.
Norman held up a small metal tube and passed that to Heaton along with what looked like a lab report.
“We can verify with that sample, plus the fingerprints we have for Miss. Summers thirty years ago and up to present day that she is one and the same,” Norman turned to her full on then and smiled a slightly wolfish grin. “And I think we can all concede Miss. Summers does not look like a woman of fifty two.”
Buffy felt as though she should flutter her eyelashes and blush instead she remained sitting upright, eyes focused on Heaton.
Norman returned to Cain. “The Council, your organisation, employed Buffy when she was fifteen years of age?”
“To do what?”
Cain shifted in his chair. “To slay.”
“To slay what?”
“All manner of demons.”
Buffy shook her head slightly. He didn’t want to use the ‘v’ word. Didn’t want to seem politically incorrect. Never mind that it was her life on the line.
Norman nodded. “What was her specific job description?”
Cain sighed. “She was recruited to be a Slayer. A…Vampire Slayer.”
The very word sent more whisperings running through the room than before. Cain tugged at his collar uncomfortably. Norman straightened his notebook and pen, adjusted his tie.
“She was trained to slay?”
The Council leader inclined his head. “Yes.”
“How long was she in your employ?”
“Eight years,” Cain replied. “Until she disappeared. Now that she’s back, her contract resumes.”
Norman tapped his fingers against the tabletop. “Eight years. I think it’s fair to say that eight years of training to kill and, indeed, killing would naturally affect a person. To be told constantly that it’s your destiny to slay. Your very duty.” He picked up a piece of paper and read from it. “Into each generation a Slayer is born, one girl in all the world, a Chosen One, one born with the strength and skill to hunt the vampires.”
He let that sink in for a few dramatic moments, taking a sip from the glass of water on the table before him. Buffy watched his movements, calm, collected, confident. Was this really the same Norman? She felt oddly proud of him. Doing so well at her murder trial. Go Norman!
“That was your mission statement?” He asked.
Cain paused. “Yes. A long time ago.”
“And Buffy Summers was this one girl?”
“Yes. At that time, she was.”
Norman turned slightly to face the rest of the room. “Of course, we’re now all aware of Slayers. There are thousands of them but back in the late 90’s Miss. Summers was the only one. Only a young girl herself, she was shouldered with protecting the world. Fighting the good fight, so to speak.”
Buffy wasn’t sure he was right to paint her as the impressionable girl forced into slaying by an influential cult. Maybe it was partly true but she had never been as much of a victim as he was making her out to be. The Council had once had power over her, sure, but not any longer. She could have given up slaying and left the world vulnerable to attack but she hadn’t and that wasn’t because of the Council. No, in the end it was because of her. She couldn’t have left innocent people to fend for themselves, not when she had the power to protect them. Buffy was selfish in many ways but not when it came to risking her life for others.
However, Norman was playing on that a little, too. Making her out to be a noble, virginally pure guardian. She wasn’t that either. She was often bitter, often bad-tempered, self-righteous and spiteful.
The people in the room didn’t need to know that, though.
Her lawyer gestured widely with his hands. “In fact, I think it’s fair to say we wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for this woman. It’s very well documented in The Council and even in our Government’s records that Buffy Summers saved the world. A lot.”
People began talking quietly again as Norman handed several reports to the guard to give to Heaton. Buffy assumed they were the records he had spoken of. The Slayer didn’t like to be whispered about as though she was some kind of circus attraction. She longed to turn around and be reassured with the sight of Willow, Spike and Xander behind her. She wouldn’t though. She had to keep her attention on Heaton, on Lucy Porter, on her potential executioners.
“Miss. Summers’ moral character notwithstanding,” Heaton said suddenly and the room hushed. “She killed a man – her past deeds are, indeed, honourable – but nothing changes that. Why should she not be held accountable?”
Norman blushed a little. “For one simple reason, sir.”
“Buffy Summers did not know the law had changed. Did not know that slaying humanoids was murder.”
Heaton tilted his head. “And how is that possible?”
“Because, sir, Buffy disappeared from our world thirty years ago.”
“Disappeared?” Heaton’s eyebrows rose, voice amused. “Where did she vanish to?”
Norman shifted from foot to foot. “Another dimension.”
Lucy Porter barked a laugh. “Another dimension? Let me guess; The Twilight Zone?”
A ripple of laughter. Buffy felt her fists clench. These people could believe vampires were human but they couldn’t believe in dimensions. She bit her tongue and tasted blood.
“How do you propose to prove this, Mr. Wagner?” Heaton sat forward.
Norman stood ramrod straight. “With your permission, we’d like to open a portal to another world.”
The room erupted into loud protestations and curious questions, excitement and dread filling the air.
Lucy snorted. “Yeah, right, as if –”
“Granted.” Heaton said simply.
Lucy blinked, lips parted. “But…”
“We will adjourn for a short break,” Heaton stood. “And then Mr. Wagner will take us to another world.”
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