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US Deputy Marshal Mary Shannon was not happy. Natalie Peters, formerly Natalia Ivanova, had just been assigned as one of her witnesses after testifying against a Russian mobster in upstate New York and Mary had already had a long day that started before dawn, thanks to issues with a particularly odious and problematic witness. Therefore, it was late in the day before she could brief Natalie and welcome her into the program and it was even later when she took her new witness grocery shopping and, finally, to her new apartment. They walked into Natalie's apartment and Mary had just put down the bags of groceries she was carrying for Natalie onto the kitchen's island when she heard the noise of bodies hitting the floor behind her in the living room. Mary quickly shoved Natalie behind the island and turned about, drawing her Glock to cover the two women she saw sprawled on the living room floor. No, Mary Shannon was not happy. At. All.
“I don't know where you two stumbled in from, but you'd better start telling me what you're doing in this apartment without making any sudden moves. And keep your hands out straight from your body while you're doing it, because if you move as much as a gnat's whisker out of line, you're going to the morgue after the day I've had!” Mary snarled. The two women on the floor, a blond and a redhead, both petite, hadn't been in the living room when Mary and her witness entered the latter's apartment. “Natalie, call Marshall and tell him to get his ass over here, now.”
“Uh ... Buffy?” The redhead squeaked, moving her hands, palms outward, out to the side of her body from where they had been helping to hold her up on the floor. “Don't move too fast; there's a nice US Marshal here with her gun pointed at us.” Willow continued to sit exactly where she had fallen when her teleport spell had brought her and Buffy to their destination a few feet too high. Buffy stopped trying to push herself up from where she had fallen on her face and moved her hands out to the side. She slowly craned her neck to look over her shoulder and saw a scowling blond woman with a US Marshal's Service badge clipped to her belt and holding a seemingly huge, black semi-automatic pistol pointed at them. Next to her stood the Vengeance Demon they needed to talk to for information on the apocalypse du jour.
After Natalie had called Marshall, Mary asked her. “Do you know these two?”
“No, I have never met either of them. But I have heard of someone named Buffy.” Natalie, a petite and quite pretty young brunette replied in a soft Slavic accent, and then asked. “Are you Buffy Summers?”
“I don't give a flying fig newton who she is; if she's from your old life, she shouldn't be here,” Mary stated with some heat without taking her eyes from the two young women on the floor. Then, “Keep your hands out to your sides and put your face right back on the floor, blondie,” as Buffy nodded and started to turn over.
“They are not associated with those you would worry about finding me, Mary,” Natalie stated, then continued to the two on the floor, “Ms. Summers, I have not worked for D'Hoffryn in over three years. I destroyed my own power focus and am now human again.”
Mary's mouth twisted slightly at Natalie's words, then asked, “Was this Hoffman character part of the organization?”
“No, Mary. I worked for him before I became involved with...”
“Aaah, aah...don't say his name!” Mary cautioned her witness without looking away from the two young women.
“With the organization,” Natalie continued, “and he has nothing to do with them. Nor has he anything to do with my life now,” she added in response to the somewhat disbelieving, questioning look on Willow's face.
“Actually, we're not here about anything to do with D'Hoffryn, Natalianka, we're here to find information on the Sachsenhausen Prophecies hidden within the lost volume of the Codex Aureus of Lorsch. It's vital that we locate it, for reasons I'm pretty sure you can grasp,” Willow said to Natalie, doing her best to remain absolutely still and non-threatening.
Natalie paled and came around to sit on one of the bar stools at the kitchen island as Marshall came through the front door, his own Glock drawn, and covered the two women on the floor. Natalie looked shaken, but said calmly to the women on the floor, “The last I knew of it, the monks of the abbey at Lorsch sent it with the rest of the Codex to Heidelberg in the sixteenth century, where it was stolen during the Thirty Years War by agents of the Wolf, Ram and Hart. I know that they sold all of the Codex but the volume with the prophecies, but I know nothing of it beyond that.” Natalie swallowed, then said with conviction, “You have my word on my immortal soul, Slayer.”
Marshall's eyebrows went up at hearing the word 'Slayer', said with the obvious capital 'S', and looked around. “Kendra?” He asked. He didn't see the young woman with whom he was acquainted, just his partner, her witness and two unknown women on the floor of said witness' apartment. “Is Kendra here?”
“Marshall, who the Hell is Kendra and what does she have to do with Natalie?!” Mary asked peevishly, still not taking her eyes off of the redhead and blond on the floor.
“Buffy's the Slayer,” Willow said at the same time Buffy asked, “May I please sit up and turn around now?”
“No!” Mary said and risked a glance at her partner, who looked as if someone had just run over his puppy. “And, Marshall, what the Hell? Are you into bad 80's Hair Bands now?”
Marshall sighed and holstered his Glock. “Put your gun away Mary, I don't think they're here for Natalie, unless she's a vampire. And since I've seen her out in daylight, I know she's not.”
Mary holstered her Glock and shook her head, then looked at her partner. “And again I say: what. The. Hell! Were you in an accident on your way here and hit your head, or has all of that useless information rattling around in your brain pan finally sent your mind skittering and gibbering over the edge?” Looking back at the two women on the floor, Mary added, “You two can sit up, just don't make any sudden moves.”
Before Buffy or Willow could say anything, Marshall asked, “When did Kendra die?” Then, looking at Natalie, “The Lorsch Gospels? I didn't know you were interested in Early Medieval Christianity.” He crossed his arms and leaned back against the kitchen counter, waiting for answers.
“What does any of this have to do with Natalie?! You two,” Mary said, pointing a finger at the women on the floor, “How do you know Natalie and what are you doing here? Most importantly, how did you find Natalie?”
Buffy answered her. “We were hoping that...” Buffy glanced at the woman she thought of as Natalianka, Patron Vengeance Demon of the Bullied, who had been born in Russia some time during the reign of Ivan the Terrible, “Natalie there could help us find some information we need to stop something very bad from happening. We don't know her personally, but we do know her former boss, who told us that she would be the one most likely to know where to find the information we need.” Then, looking to Marshall, “I'm sorry to tell you that Kendra died in May of 1998 while defending me and some friends.” Looking back to Mary, Buffy considered for a moment. Recalling that the Marshal's partner had already mentioned vampires, she figured 'in for a penny, in for a pound', and said, “As for how we found Natalie, Willow cast a locator spell and then a teleport spell so we could get here. We came in a little bit high and hit the floor kinda hard.”
“Right,” Mary said as she turned, walked over to Marshall and slugged him on the arm. Hard. “Not funny, asshole! And, seriously, what is with this crap about vampires and magic spells?! You could have just pulled this little practical joke and gotten back at me for your bachelor party without all of the hoodoo voodoo bullshit!”
“Ow!” Marshall gave an offended yelp, glaring at his partner and rubbing his arm. “What do you mean?! I have nothing to do with this! You called, via Natalie, and I came!”
Marshall actually sounded genuinely hurt. Mary tilted her head, still scowling and regarded him a moment. “So. You didn't have anything to do with this,” she gestured, all-inclusively, “whatsoever?” Marshall shook his head, still looking put out and hurt. “So what's with the bullshit about Natalie not being a vampire, assclown?” Mary put her hands on her hips and glared at her partner.
Marshall got an 'ah, I got it' look on his face. “That's because, apparently, the blond sitting there is the current Vampire Slayer.” Mary made a fist, ready to sock him on the same arm she had already abused. “No, Mare, really! Honest! Her predecessor, Kendra Young, saved my life from a vampire when I was on vacation in Jamaica in January of 1998!” Mary slugged him anyway, or she would have, had Buffy not caught her fist. The little blond had been sitting on the floor at least fifteen feet away, then she was there, in less time than it would take to blink, with Mary's fist in a grip that felt much more like an iron vise.
“Let me guess, your partner here has no idea about the things that go bump”, Buffy stated flatly.
“Nope.” Marshall grimaced, still rubbing his abused arm. Mary hadn't held anything back with that punch.
Mary tried to pull her fist back, but couldn't even budge her hand from Buffy's grip. “Hi, my name is Buffy Summers. I am a Vampire Slayer. Now, I'm going to let go of your fist and you're going to be a nice Marshal and keep your nice black gun in its holster while we sort this out, because I don't like guns and I will make you sorry if you even try to use it. Okay?” Buffy smiled her cheeriest smile, which did not reach her eyes; those stayed deadly serious.
Mary looked appraisingly at Buffy. “Fine.” She rubbed her bruised fist after it was released and went to lean against the wall of the kitchen. “But you need to tell me exactly what is going on here and why you tracked down this young lady,” she said, pointing at Natalie before crossing her arms.
Some hours later in the US Marshal's offices in Albuquerque....
“So, vampires, werewolves and all of that are real and little girls fight them. Damn.” Mary thought for a moment. “Does Abby know?”
“Yeah, Abby knows. Her cousin Tony, one of the guys you met at the wedding; he's a werewolf.” It was taking Marshall a bit to process the idea that now there were literally thousands of Slayers. He had started researching and reading up on whatever he could find on Slayers, vampires and other supernatural phenomena after Kendra had saved his life and he wondered exactly how much of a game changer the new status quo was and how much it would affect the world in general.
Mary got that perplexed, not quite incredulous, 'you gotta be shitting me but I know you're not' look she had been wearing the entire time Buffy, Willow and Natalie had explained what was what back on her face. “No shit? Damn, the guy wasn't exactly handsome, but I'd never have guessed he was a real dog. Well, wolf.” Mary grimaced. “Werewolf.” Mary scrunched up her face, then stood, grabbing her dark brown leather jacket from her chair and pulling her Glock out of its locked drawer in her desk and holstering it. “So. You wanna head out for some enchiladas at that little after hours place over in Old Town? I could kill for a good fishbowl sized margarita right now. I'm buying, since I owe you for the arm,” Mary gestured toward Marshall. “But you gotta play designated driver, 'cause there's no way I'll be able to drive after drinking enough tequila to process all of this,” Mary said, circling her finger to encompass the revelations of the day.
“Sure, why not,” Marshall replied, getting himself ready to leave the office for the night. “Abby's on a case that's likely to keep her out all night anyway. Think Kenny'd like to join us?”
“Nah, he's probably putting his son to bed and headed that way himself,” Mary shook her head. Then, as they waited for the elevator, “Still don't know if I'm going to tell him about all of this crap. Frankly, I'm surprised I haven't run into stuff like this before now, all things considered. Now I wonder how many people in WITSEC aren't what they seem? I guess it doesn't really matter, though, so long as they abide by the rules and don't break the law.”
“If it's any consolation, Stan doesn't know either and I've yet to run into anything hinky on the job,” Marshall replied, stepping onto the elevator with her when the door opened.
“Yeah, what is with that?” Mary said with a disgusted look and rolled her eyes. “It figures that I'd be the one to get the freakin' former demoness as my witness,” Mary shook her head as they walked out into the warmth of a Summer evening. “Here's hoping it's not a trend!”
Marshall laughed and stepped away from her, pointing at her. “You do realize that you just jinxed yourself with that, right?” He skipped backward, still grinning, as his partner reached for the pointing finger.
“Ha, ha, very ha, funny man who is my partner and soon to be boss. Just remember that, too,” Mary snarked back as they continued toward the parking lot and into the night.
At least, if Mary and Marshall are lucky.