Buffy watched Lucy Porter stride across the courtroom confidently. The Slayer had made an effort today to listen and absorb what was being said and what it would mean for her. She’d also made an effort to look like an upstanding member of the community. She was wearing heels, a skirt and a neat blouse and had applied just enough make-up to resemble a ‘respectable kindergarten teacher’. Xander had informed her of the resemblance. He seemed to think it was a good thing. Willow and Spike had said nothing but had nodded their approvals.
She just wished she’d had a pair of glasses to complete the look. She’s always wanted glasses, damn it.
“While it is true that a Slayer is – or was – primarily instructed by The Council, in the past when Buffy Summers was allegedly in her slaying peak, a Slayer always had a Watcher.” Lucy stopped by her desk.
Buffy could see where this was going. She steeled herself against it. It would do no good to show the lawyer how much this was going to hurt her.
“Buffy Summers’ Watcher was none other than Rupert Giles,” she said an octave louder, letting the courtroom digest this with predictable shock. “A name which we are all, unfortunately, familiar with.”
Buffy’s fist clenched involuntarily and she forced herself to relax it. Norman had tried to prepare her for this. Giles’ name would be dragged through the mud and she just had to deal with it. Having an outburst would not do her any favours.
Lucy gestured with her hand towards the Slayer. “Miss. Summers was mentored by Rupert Giles for seven years. As her Watcher his responsibility would have been to train and guide her. I don’t think it’s too much of a leap to say that she would have been influenced by him –”
“Objection,” Norman stood. “How can the prosecution possibly know what will and won’t influence my client?”
Heaton arched an eyebrow at Lucy.
“It’s a reasonable assumption,” she argued. “And I would like to read a few passages from Mr. Giles’ diaries to back it up, if I may?”
Heaton nodded slowly. “Proceed.”
The lawyer nodded in reply and picked up a tattered leather-bound book. Buffy remember it vaguely, remembered Giles’ scribbling in it, forehead creased in concentration.
Lucy cleared her throat. “‘Buffy shows great potential. She is able to dispatch vampires with veritable ease, using her surroundings to her advantage. Unfortunately she shows a streak of recklessness and unpredictability also. I fear she could stray. Such strength in such a young girl has the power to corrupt and distort a person.’”
Buffy frowned. She had never read Giles’ diaries because they were private and, though largely about her, she supposed she’d never really wanted to know what he truly felt about her.
“And on another occasion Mr. Giles writes, ‘She is so angry. She kills with such vigour and violence and rage. She has suffered much and I hope this is just a phase, for her sake and ours.’” Lucy looked up and let that soak in.
Buffy shifted in her seat, uncomfortable and irritable. These writings had to be taken out of context.
She looked back down at the book. “‘Today Buffy set fire to a vampire nest. It was done coldly and her face was untroubled, calm. I still do not know why.’”
Buffy’s nails dug into the palm of her hand.
“‘I fear for her sanity. She is so angry all of the time. She pushes away people who love her and instead chooses to spend her time with monsters. She goes out slaying every night, alone, coming back with that expression on her face. An expression of controlled loathing. I wonder, is it them she loathes? Or is it us?’”
Lucy turned to her as she said that. Buffy returned her gaze. The lawyer walked closer to her, still holding the book, she read again. “‘The end of days approaches. Buffy doesn’t trust her friends, her family, even me. She accused us today of not watching her back. Instead she chooses to align herself with a vampire! A dangerous and unpredictable one at that. I don’t know how it has come to this.’”
Lucy set the book down and turned to Heaton. “So, it would seem that having a Watcher with such strong anti-humanoid views turned Miss. Summers from a normal girl to a bitter and angry killing machine.”
“Objection!” Norman’s bolted up. “The accounts of a personal diary does not necessarily represent the full – or even a fraction – of the picture.”
Heaton inclined his head. “You are correct, Mr. Wagner. Miss. Porter – do be careful.”
“Of course,” she smiled slightly.
Buffy hated her. The Slayer sat up straighter as the lawyers returned to their seats. Lucy Porter remained seated only briefly as she straightened up some papers on her desk, then she stood, a sheet in hand.
“In the past, Buffy Summers was associated with Rupert Giles. Rupert Giles was a known racist. It’s well documented, as we all know. Now, it was noted in an earlier testimony that Miss. Summers had ‘dated’ humanoids,” Lucy stood in the centre of the room. “We know one of those was William Pratt. The other humanoid she dated, however, was not disclosed.”
Buffy looked at Norman, eyebrows raised. He looked back at her unsure. They had pretty much known Giles would be used against her but neither had considered Angel.
“His name is Liam, surname unknown. He is better known as Angel. Or Angelus.” Lucy held up a picture of a young looking Angel. “Some of you may know him. He has killed hundreds, maybe thousands, of humanoids and humans. Even after the laws were passed instating equal rights he continued to ‘slay’ law abiding humanoids. He is currently serving multiple life sentences in a high security prison for murder and hate crimes.”
She picked up another sheet from her desk and Buffy watched her cross back to the middle of the room with a sense of dread.
“Another little side note about Miss. Summers? It’s not only humanoids she has dated. I have a photo here dated just a couple of weeks ago of Miss. Summers and another one of her ex-boyfriends,” Lucy lifted the picture.
Buffy groaned inwardly. It was a grainy, but nevertheless clear, picture of herself and Riley Finn. The prosecution had hired someone to follow her? It shouldn’t have surprised her but it did and it annoyed her that she hadn’t been aware of it. Norman turned to her sharply, clearly caught unawares. She had failed to mention her little chat with Riley to him and he clearly wanted to know what was about to happen. He didn’t have to wait long.
Lucy pointed to Riley. “The man in this photo seen talking with Miss. Summers is one Riley Finn. He is ex-military and currently a prominent member of Humans For Humans.”
Several utterances of disgust and curses rose from the spectators behind her and Buffy looked at Norman apologetically. He wasn’t prepared for this.
The lawyer showed the pictures again to the court before placing them in front of Heaton and walking back towards her desk as she spoke. “So, Buffy Summers was mentored by a tyrannical anti-humanoid Watcher and was involved with two murdering vigilantes. Both of whom she is still in contact with. I think it’s fair to say Miss. Summers has a type.”
Norman started to object but Lucy made a gesture and withdrew the statement, but it had already been said and that was the whole point. The lawyer sat back at her desk, content.
Heaton paused a moment, looking at the photos of the men. “Mr. Wagner, do you have anything to add?”
“No, sir.” He said.
+ + +
“Well, I’m screwed.” Buffy pushed her lunch around her plate. “I’m Buffy the Screwed Slayer. McBuffy the McScrewed.”
Willow shook her head. “No, you’re so not.”
“You never mentioned Riley,” Xander pointed out.
Buffy shrugged. “It didn’t seem important. It was like a five minute conversation. Norman hates me now.”
“He doesn’t hate you. He’s your lawyer,” Willow replied.
“Exactly. I’d hate me if I was my lawyer.” Buffy sighed and put her fork down, looking around the diner. “Where’d Spike go?”
Xander pulled a face. “He split.”
“He said he’d be back,” Willow added.
The Slayer nodded but didn’t know what to think about that. So she moved on, thinking about her friends who were actually around. “I know this is a weird time to say it – over a frankly disgusting plate of hummus – but I want to thank you. Both of you. For still caring.”
Willow smiled. “Of course we still care, Buffy.”
“We’re caring types,” Xander confirmed.
“I mean it. Thank you.”
They both smiled and Buffy spontaneously gave in to the urge to lean across the table and double hug them. She sat back in her seat just as a huge leather bag was slammed down on the table. Right on her plate of hummus. Buffy looked up at Spike, annoyed.
His attention was on Willow. “Slayer’s kit. Faith wrangled it off Wood. Think this might help with the portal?”
“It couldn’t hurt!” Willow opened the bag and started digging through it. “I think I can still remember how…”
Spike smiled. “Good. We could do with some good news about now.”
Buffy couldn’t help but notice the way he said ‘we’. It surprised her how much she was starting to like it. As though they were all in this together. She guessed they were. She felt an overwhelming love for her friends right then.
Willow was still rooting through the bag and she placed a book down on the table and left it there. Buffy picked it up, casually. It said nothing on the front. She opened it and on the first page it said “The Slayer’s Handbook”. Buffy was surprised. She had heard about it but had never read it. Buffy figured maybe now was the time so she kept it aside. Spike noticed but said nothing.
“That lawyer woman is pretty scary,” Xander noted, eating his fries absently.
Spike dropped down into the seat beside Buffy. “Porter’s all mouth and no trousers.”
“She wears a skirt very well though,” Xander observed.
“Looks good out of it, too,” Spike agreed.
Buffy turned to him, eyebrows raised. “Oh, really?”
“Great legs,” Spike replied easily.
Spike finally seemed to realise she was a bit irate. “What?”
The Slayer scowled and slumped back in her chair. Men were so stupid.
Xander cleared his throat. “Um, anyway, Norman’s gonna be able to counter all her arguments, right?”
“Oh yeah, no doubt,” Spike murmured. “She’s got some key weaknesses as a lawyer. I’ll help him find them.”
“I’m sure you will.” Buffy grumbled looking out of the window.
Spike started to say something before Willow interjected. “So, I’m going to go and see if I can do a dry run for the portal spell! The sooner I get it up and running the better!”
“Okay. Be careful,” Buffy said.
Willow nodded, standing and picking up the hummus-stained bag. She carried it awkwardly, waddling down the aisle and out of the diner. Xander finished off his fries.
“She’s under a lot of pressure to get this right,” he told the Slayer. “If she can’t do it…”
Buffy shook her head. “If she can’t it doesn’t matter. I don’t want Willow to feel like she’s my only hope. Even if she is.”
Xander leaned forward on the counter. “She’s getting older, Buff. She wants to get this right; she doesn’t want to let you down. Don’t get me wrong, I want her to help you but…not at the expense of her health. I won’t let her hurt herself for this. Magick tends to take its toll on her these days.”
“I understand.” Buffy said. “If it gets too much then she stops. That’s all there is to it.”
“I know. But you’ll stop her.”
Buffy nodded. “I wouldn’t expect any less.”
Xander smiled softly and Buffy returned it.
Spike looked between them. “So…what’s wrong with saying a woman has great legs?”
“Oh god!” Buffy stood and edged past him to get out. “I’ll see you later, Xander.”
Spike watched her go, confused, then turned back to the man. “I was just asking!”
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