Buffy was running late for what could be the most important day of her life and it was all Faith’s fault. The vampire had pressed snooze on the alarm clock and Buffy had snoozed. Being a Slayer her sleeping patterns could be as bizarre and anti-social as the vampires she had been assigned to stake. She’d slept through most of the day, determined to look half decent and well rested for the trial that evening. Now she was too well rested and thoroughly bedraggled. Faith, of course, was far from apologetic.
She watched in a bemused state as Buffy hopped around the one-room apartment getting dressed. She didn’t seem to understand that a murder trial was kind of a big deal, even though she’d had her own.
As Buffy cursed the other woman’s name, whilst simultaneously combing her hair, there was a knock at the door. The Slayer ignored it and started to screech about the fact there was no mirror. Faith replied with some half witty retort about being a vampire as she sauntered over to the door. She was dressed in nothing much at all but that had never bothered the girl when she was alive, so it stood to reason she wouldn’t care now she was undead either.
Buffy was rooting around under the mattress looking for her earring when Spike entered the apartment. She came up empty-handed and settled her rising anger by punching the wall. A puff of plaster dust plumed up and over her black shirt. Buffy looked down at herself. The shirt was ruined. She stood up slowly and calmly, picked up one stiletto shoe and turned to face Spike and Faith. Her eyes were all for Faith.
“I am going to kill you now,” she said as though talking about the weather.
The Slayer leapt at the brunette, shoe heel poised for her heart, and would have hit her mark had Spike not bravely intervened. He caught Buffy around the waist and swung her away from the smirking woman. Setting her back down on the floor he blocked her view of the other vampire.
“I came to offer you a lift,” he said, arm still around her waist. “But I can see you’re not ready.”
Buffy gave him a look to end all looks and dropped the shoe on the floor. “It’s her fault.”
“It always is,” Faith shrugged and slumped back down on the mattress, lighting a cigarette.
Buffy stepped out of Spike’s reach. “I look like crap. I can’t go.”
“It’s your trial, Buffy. You sort of have to.”
She sighed and turned her back on him. She walked over to her bag of clothes and started sorting through them. Nothing was right for a court case. She had picked out the shirt specially. She’d even ironed it.
“Uh, I don’t mean to rush you –” Spike started.
“Fine!” Buffy stood up and unbuttoned the shirt as she strolled over to the window.
She had to push on the glass twice to get it open as she viciously shrugged the shirt from her shoulders. Both Spike and Faith watched wide-eyed and in another situation Buffy may have found it funny. Instead she held her shirt out of the window and began to wave it angrily back and forth, shaking the plaster dust from it.
“This is an omen, by the way.” Buffy informed them.
Faith arched an eyebrow. “A blonde in a bra waving her clothes around? Yeah, I’ve seen that one a few times.”
The Slayer pulled the shirt back in and slipped it around her shoulders. “Shut up, Faith.”
“It’s not an omen,” Spike came up to her as she buttoned her shirt. “You’ll do fine. And if not then the cleavage may distract Porter.”
Buffy looked down at herself and saw she had left one too many buttons undone. She promptly adjusted that and smoothed her shirt and skirt down with her hands, then combed her hair through with her fingers. “How do I look?”
“Like Buffy Summers.” Spike smiled.
Buffy picked up her bag and jacket. “Isn’t she that girl that kills Humanoids?”
“Let’s go.” He advised as he opened the door for her.
They walked swiftly in silence down the hallway and stairs and out into the open air. The sky was just turning dark and Spike could move around without his magical sunscreen. Buffy headed towards his car in the lot but Spike was dragging his heels.
“Hello, I’m late girl here,” she turned to him and grabbed his arm pulling him along. “Dillydallying is not permitted.”
Spike smiled a little. “Dillydallying.”
“Less of the mocking, more of the driving,” she reached the passenger door and let go of the vampire.
Buffy waited for him to move around to his side of the car and get with the driving. Spike just stood rooted in place; looking at her. She looked back. Vampires just didn’t seem to get the whole ‘time is of the essence’ thing. She started to tell him just this but something in his eyes made her stop.
His fingers played nervously with the car keys in his hand. “I know we’re in a rush…”
Buffy nodded but didn’t say anything.
“…and this is really the wrong time to say this.” He sighed and came to stand beside her, leaning against the car. “But I’ve got to. Never could keep my mouth shut.”
The Slayer nudged him in the ribs playfully. “You want to say something? Just say it. It’s only me.”
“Only you.” He laughed but not like it was funny. “Only you and me. Right. I’m too old for all this…dillydallying.” He looked at her and smiled wryly.
Buffy’s eyebrows rose. “And again with the mocking. You know, I don’t have to stand for this. I have feelings too!”
“Hey!” Buffy slapped him on the arm and shook her head. “If you’re just gonna pick on me I think we should go.”
“I love you.”
She blinked. “Huh?”
“Right, let’s go.” Spike made a hasty journey around to the driver’s door.
Buffy turned and looked at him over the car roof. “Hang on a second, you can’t just –”
“We’re going to be late.” He opened the car and slid in.
Buffy paused, mouth agape. Vampires! They were so sly! That was all she had time to think because Spike did something totally tacky next. He beeped the horn. At her!
“Anytime tonight, Slayer.” He called from within the car.
She scowled and got in, closing the door. “After my murder trial we are so talking about this!”
“And there’s a sentence not many get to utter,” Spike said with mirth before he peeled out of the lot at the speed of light.
+ + +
Buffy was finding it hard to concentrate. This was nothing unusual but considering she was on trial for murder she should have been making a bit more effort. It was all Spike’s fault. As usual. Telling her he loved her right before she had to go in and be interrogated by the bitch of a prosecutor was not his best move. The fact that she had been late hadn’t reflected well on her either. The smirk Lucy Porter had given her as she’d skidded into the room after sprinting down the courthouse’s corridor really sealed the deal on Buffy’s heinous mood.
She did her best not to look embarrassed and surly. She had woken up less than an hour ago and felt grimy and unkempt and totally and completely unprepared.
Lucy Porter looked like she’d just stepped off the catwalk, hair slick and clothes stylish and flattering yet still professional. Buffy wondered if it was a prerequisite that all H.U staff had to look and dress like supermodels.
Buffy had just settled herself down in the seat – the stand – when the lawyer rose from her desk and took two steps towards her and halted.
“Are you ready to proceed yet, Buffy, or do you need a few minutes?” The undercurrent of amusement and scorn was not lost on anyone in the courtroom.
Buffy sat up straight and locked eyes with her. “I’m ready. And it’s Miss. Summers.”
“Of course,” Lucy smiled easily. “I’d like to begin by asking you why you murdered Mr. Joseph Dawson in cold blood, Miss. Summers?”
Buffy felt like she’d been slapped in the face. She guessed that was the point. She showed no outward shock at the directness of the question asked; she simply blinked and took a moment. She vaguely heard Norman objecting to the question but Heaton waved his protestations away.
Buffy focused on Lucy Porter. “I killed him because I thought he was going to hurt a little girl.”
“That would be Mr. Dawson’s daughter, seven year old Jane Dawson. What gave you the impression that her father would harm her?” She asked.
Buffy knew what the lawyer was doing. Purposely using the move evocative selection of words to ask the question. She had known today was going to be tough but they had barely started and Buffy figured she was in trouble and it was going to only get worse.
“I saw him –”
“Mr. Dawson?” Lucy interrupted.
Buffy almost scowled. “Yes. I saw him lean toward her –”
“Jane Dawson, his daughter?”
“Yes,” Buffy ground her teeth. “And his features had shifted. I thought he was going to bite her.”
Lucy frowned delicately wrinkling her brow. “What gave you that impression?”
Buffy hesitated. “Well…it looked…that’s how it looked.”
“That’s how it looked to you?”
“And yet Mr. Dawson and his daughter were attending a carnival that night. A carnival with many people in attendance and none of these people thought it looked like Mr. Dawson was going to bite his daughter. So why did it look that way to you, Miss. Summers?”
The Slayer paused. “It just did.”
“It. Just. Did.” Lucy turned to the courtroom, back to Buffy. “Well, if that’s not a good enough reason to tear a man’s head from his neck in front of his seven year old daughter then I don’t know what is!”
Norman stood up abruptly, chair scraping across the floor. “The defence object!”
“Tone it down, Miss. Porter,” Heaton said calmly from the end of his table.
Lucy inclined her head. “Certainly.” She turned back to Buffy. “But that was how you killed Mr. Dawson, correct? You decapitated him?”
“Yes,” was all Buffy could say.
People in the courtroom reacted to this and Buffy tried not to hear, no to look, to focus only on the woman in front. She did not look at her friends, did not look at Spike or Norman, just kept her eyes on Lucy Porter. The lawyer looked right back, she didn’t look afraid or intimated and Buffy had to give her points for that.
Lucy held out her hands. “Would you please describe how you did that?”
“I don’t understand.”
“Tell us step by step the manoeuvres undertaken to decapitate a man.”
Buffy did glance at Heaton then, who just nodded. “I…I placed both hands on the sides of his head and…twisted.”
Again the court reacted and Buffy saw the satisfaction in Lucy’s eyes.
“It must take an extreme amount of strength to rip a man’s head from his body with only your bare hands,” she said.
It wasn’t phrased as a question so Buffy didn’t make the mistake of trying to answer it. She knew that Lucy wanted her to trip up, to say something that would incriminate her further. So Buffy kept her mouth shut.
Lucy arched an eyebrow at her silence, perhaps a mark of respect at having underestimated her. Or maybe not. “Miss. Summers, how many Humanoids would you say you have…slayed?”
“I don’t know,” she answered truthfully.
“You didn’t keep count.”
Again Buffy said nothing.
Lucy walked over to her desk and glanced down at a piece of paper, looked up. “Well, The Council did. Somewhat. There is a total of two hundred and seventeen ‘slays’ noted by your Watcher Rupert Giles in reports to Quentin Travers – the head of The Watcher’s Council at that time. That, of course, does not count any slays undertaken after you turned your back on The Council and went mercenary for four years –”
Norman stood again. “Again, we must object at the phrasing. Buffy Summers was never a mercenary, as that implies she was paid by the highest bidder – she never received any monetary gain in her role as a Slayer.”
Heaton nodded. “Do be careful, Miss. Porter. Use your words wisely and accurately.”
She apologised and turned back to Buffy. “Two hundred and seventeen known casualties at your hand, Miss. Summers.”
Buffy looked back at her.
“How do you answer for them?”
Norman must have been getting whiplash at the speed he stood up but he was determined. “Mr. Heaton! Miss. Summers is not on trial for any of those incidents. They took place before the new laws came into effect and she cannot be held liable for any one of them, if indeed those figures are accurate at all in the first place.”
Heaton nodded his head. “Alright, Mr. Wagner. Take a seat. Miss. Porter…” he sighed as if disappointed. “We are here today to question Miss. Buffy Summers on the murder of one Mr. Joseph Dawson. Her work as a Council Operative prior to that is not up for discussion.”
“I was just trying to ascertain the scale of the defendant’s crimes –”
He held up a hand to stop her. “They were not crimes, Miss. Porter. That is the point. Focus on the matter at hand, I will not warn you again.”
The lawyer looked appropriately cowed but Buffy did not think of it as a victory. She had still managed to plant the seed in the courtroom’s mind. The figure was ridiculously lower than the actual truth, Buffy was sure, but to the suits in the room it was hideously high. She was a mass murderer and now they had a figure on which to think on. Two hundred and seventeen innocents killed. Never mind that not one of those had been innocent. Buffy was the guilty one now.
“Your main argument is that you did not know the laws on the killing of Humanoids. I do not hold with this…excuse. Ignorance is not a valid argument for murder,” Lucy said, her eyes hard and Buffy could see that behind all the bitchery she really did believe that she was doing the right thing. “You say you were in…another dimension? We have absolutely no proof of this. You disappeared from records for thirty years, this much is true. But many people go missing. Go underground. I hardly believe they’ve all been travelling dimensions.”
A few of the spectators tittered under their breath.
Lucy looked her over. “Your lack of ageing seems to partially lend credence to your admission. That is until your remember that one of your closest friends is an incredibly powerful witch. Glamour spells, anti-ageing spells, can be undertaken by a mere Level Five Witch. Willow Rosenberg’s proficiency is well above this, is this not true?”
Buffy shrugged. “I don’t know. I’ve never tested her. She always did well on Pop Quizzes, though.”
Lucy scowled at her as low laughter circled the room again. “You deny Willow Rosenberg has performed any such spells on you?”
“Then it is very telling, that that same powerful witch was unable to open the so-called portal to your alternate dimension, do you not think?”
Buffy gestured to the witch in the audience. “She’s still working on it. It’s a spell steeped in Slayer lore and one I can’t begin to comprehend. I’m no expert on Magick.”
“I think Miss. Rosenberg cannot open the portal because it simply does not exist”
Buffy nodded. “Okay. You’re entitled to think that.”
Lucy’s mouth gaped just a little. “That’s all you have to say?”
“Willow will open the portal, she just needs more time.” Buffy said much more confidently than she felt.
The lawyer regained her composure. “And yet your time is running out, Miss. Summers.”
Norman started to object but Heaton raised a hand and then stood. “And so has our time. I presume you have not finished with the defendant Miss. Porter?”
Lucy shook her head. “Not nearly.”
“Then we will reconvene tomorrow morning,” Heaton buttoned up his suit jacket and turned to the lawyers. “I would like to see Mr. Wagner and Miss. Porter in my office immediately. The rest of you are free to go.”
Buffy wondered if that statement would be true for her for much longer
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