“If you could use one word to describe Buffy Summers, what would it be?”
It was pretty much the same question Lucy Porter had asked one of the witnesses to Buffy’s slay.
Except this time it was asked by her own lawyer, Norman, to one of her best friends. She hoped she would come off sounding a little better this time.
Xander sat across the room from her looking nervous but still dignified. He was dressed in a crisp new shirt and tie, his long hair combed back and his face freshly shaven. Buffy thought he looked very handsome and probably trustworthy. Which was good.
He paused to consider his answer. “Brave.”
“Brave,” Norman repeated, shifting from foot to foot where he stood by Buffy.
“Yeah,” Xander nodded. “I mean yes.”
Norman stepped away from the table and towards him. “How so?”
“She’s it. I mean…what I’m trying to say is…people talk about champions, talk about protectors of all that’s good and merry, well, Buffy is it. Being the Slayer gave her strength and speed, sure, but I think…no, I know that even if she had none of that, none of that power, she’d still be doing what she’s always done. Helping people. Saving the world,” Xander gestured to the courtroom around him widely. “There’s no one braver than her.”
She’d kind of always known she was Xander’s hero but it still tugged at her heart to hear him say it. He’d always thought of her as invincible, powerful, the whole Amazonian package. Despite the shortness. And the many flaws in her character he often seemed to choose to ignore. He’d liked the ideal and, sometimes, she liked being that for him.
It made her uncomfortable to be put on such a pedestal now though. Especially when she knew she wasn’t “it”. Whatever it was.
Norman was smiling. “You’re a good friend of Buffy’s?”
“Best. Best friends,” Xander nodded, looking at her.
“How long have you known her?”
He shifted. “Seven…nearly eight years.”
“She a good person?”
“Yes,” he said simply.
Buffy wasn’t sure he was right there either but she was glad to have such a supportive person on her side. She needed all the help she was going to get. Especially since Spike hadn’t shown up at court today. She’d tried not to take it personally but then realised that was ridiculous since today was all about her and her wickedness and he hadn’t turned up.
She refused to believe something bad had happened and settled on the fact that he had found something more important to do. He’d certainly seemed quick to get rid of her last night on the phone. Maybe he had finally decided to sever all ties. She wouldn’t blame him but it didn’t mean it didn’t hurt.
Buffy was trying not to dwell on his absence but it niggled at her more than she would admit. She needed her friends behind her, needed her team, and Spike was part of that team. At least she’d thought he was.
God, she was so self-involved. She just hoped he was alright. And not on holiday in Bermuda or something. That would make her mad in a primal slayer way.
“Buffy’s saved my life a bunch of times,” Xander was saying enthusiastically, “Which, I guess, isn’t that great for humanity because I’ve never done too much to progress the world and all…but I really appreciated it.”
Buffy almost smiled through her melancholy. Almost.
Norman did smile politely. “Saved your life from what?”
“Vampires, mostly,” he said. “And I know we’re not supposed to use that term now but, back then, that’s what they were called.”
Her lawyer nodded. “Your life was often put in danger by Humanoids?”
“Only every day. Or night, I guess.”
Norman turned to the court. “This would have, of course, been before the fully synthetic blood was developed that tamed Humanoids appetite for blood.”
As he turned back to Xander to continue to quiz him on Buffy’s fine moral character, the Slayer looked around the courtroom. There were more people in attendance today. As if the word had got out. She recognised no one in the crowd and kind of resented them coming to watch her hang herself.
Hopefully not literally.
Buffy felt Willow’s hand pat her on the shoulder. The redhead was sitting behind her, waiting her turn to blow Buffy’s trumpet. Buffy figured that if she was thinking of things in those terms then she’d surely spent too much time around Faith.
“He’ll be here,” Willow whispered.
Buffy did not turn around, content to pretend she simply did not know who the woman meant.
“Before these murder charges were brought against Buffy, when was the last time you saw her?”
Xander looked down. “About thirty years. I couldn’t say exactly.”
“Did you miss your friend?” Norman asked.
Buffy wondered what in hell this had to do with her moral upstanding-ness but decided Norman at least appeared to know what he was doing. Sometimes.
“Every day,” Xander replied.
“Thank you, Mr. Harris.”
And that was that. Xander nodded and went to sit back behind Buffy and beside Willow. They were given a few minutes to compose themselves before Willow was called to sit in front of the audience and talk about Buffy. The Slayer figured it must be a pretty hard subject. Not one she’d have picked for her mastermind question round, that’s for sure.
Buffy drifted in and out of listening, knowing she really should be paying more attention but found she couldn’t. She remained detached and silent and solitary and no doubt painted an unsympathetic picture to those around her. She wished she cared.
She was vaguely aware of the sound of the courtroom door creaking open and footsteps on the floor, some late gawker she decided. Buffy fixed her gaze upon her fingers which rested on the table in front of her. She needed a manicure.
A chair squeaked behind her and Xander let out a little choked cough – even Buffy could smell the stench of cigarette smoke now permeating through the room, so she didn’t blame her friend. Some people just needed a new addiction. A less stinky one.
“Does Buffy hate humanoids? Or ‘vampires’?”
The question drew her attention back to Willow and Norman. The redhead’s face crinkled in a frown of mild confusion.
“No, not hate…”
Norman frowned this time. “But she kills them.”
Willow sat up straighter. “They killed first. She only killed vampires when they killed or attacked other people. It was her job. It was how she was told to be.”
He crossed his arms. “So she doesn’t have a personal vendetta against them?”
“In your opinion, Ms. Rosenberg, could Buffy conceivably live amongst humans and humanoids without ever taking the law into her own hands again?” Norman leaned forward.
Willow nodded. “Totally! Um, yes. She knows the laws have changed and she respects that. Buffy would not attack a humanoid unprovoked. Hey, she’s dated them!”
Buffy cringed inside. She just had to bring that up. Willow locked eyes with her then blushed and gave an apologetic look.
Norman stroked his chin, all intellectual. “Dated them. Buffy Summers has been intimate with humanoids?”
“Yeah. A lot! Oh, no, not a lot of humanoids. No, she’s not loose or anything! Just the two guys. I think,” Willow flushed.
Buffy’s eyes widened, she thinks?!
Norman gave the court an amused little smile. “I think we get the point, Ms. Rosenberg.”
There was a slight chorus of laughter and Buffy sank deeper in her chair.
“So, Buffy Summers has cared for humanoids? Has, perhaps, even loved them. Hardly the feelings of someone who might, say, have a prejudiced or racist attitude to one aspect of our culture,” Norman nodded finally. “Thank you, Willow. That’s all.”
The witch gratefully stood and walked back over to Buffy. She hesitated a little for a moment and then sat down. Buffy didn’t have to question why because Heaton was putting the call out for Buffy’s third and final character witness.
“William Pratt,” he called, looking down at the papers spread out in front of him.
Buffy was expecting an audible silence so she was more than a little surprised when a voice piped up right behind her.
She turned to look over her shoulder. Spike rose slowly from the chair, black duster unfurling around him. Buffy’s mouth may have gaped a little. He didn’t look at her as he stepped out and walked around to the front of the court. Buffy’s eyes automatically followed his progress and she heard when Lucy Porter let out a little choke of surprise.
Spike sat on the chair, slouched, a pleased little smirk on his face.
He was dressed all in black and his hair was dyed white in stark contrast. And he was Spike.
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