Buffy felt her phone vibrate in her pocket as the heel of her boot connected with a vampire’s jaw. “You know, buddy, I’ve got things to do, people to see, I can’t spend all night kicking your ass. So go down.” As he stumbled, she shoved a wooden stake into his chest.
The pile of ash that once resembled a 6 foot man with fangs fell to the cemetery grass. Buffy pushed back the wisps of blonde hair that had come loose from her ponytail during the fight. She kicked around the dust so it wouldn't be noticeable if someone came by in the morning.
She slid her stake back into the inside pocket of her leather jacket and reached for her phone. 1 Missed Call - Giles . Buffy began to walk towards the cemetery gates and pressed Call.
Giles answered right away. “Buffy, how is it tonight?”
“Slow, as usual. Just one.”
“It’s probably busy in Cleveland.”
“The others can handle it. I’m not the Chosen One anymore, remember?”
Giles sighed into the phone. “You may not be the only slayer, Buffy, but you are special.”
Doesn’t change anything. “Is that why you called?”
“Well, no. You have a visitor. He says it’s about a job offer he’d like to make.”
Buffy began to walk faster. “What do you mean a job offer? At 2am?”
Giles cleared his throat and shoved his free hand into his pocket. “Well, he says his employer is in need of your ‘unique talents’.”
“Alright, Giles, I’m almost home.” Buffy put her phone back into her pocket and jogged home.
Buffy stood in the driveway of their newly acquired farmhouse and caught her breath. She listened to the leaves rattle in the gentle winds and the creaking of the chains that held the wooden sign on the lamp post by the mailbox. It read “Welcome” in brilliant calligraphy that blended with the weaving and curling lines surrounding it. It was a protection glyph hidden in plain sight. Willow had insisted on making it. She had wondered if there was more than just protection in there because every time she looked at that sign, she breathed a little more peacefully.
Now that she was more composed, she investigated the unrecognizable car in the driveway. She cocked her head to the side when she saw the license plate. Seattle? Well that's a bit far to drive for a job offer. I guess I should go in if I want to find out who this guy is.
Buffy opened the door to find Willow sitting in the living room with the visitor. Willow sat up a little straighter and smiled with relief when she saw Buffy. “Glad you’re back. You have a guest.”
The man sitting in the living chair opposite of Willow stood. His designer boots creaked against the old, wooden floor as he stepped towards Buffy. He held out his hand, the expensive silver watch on his wrist glinted in the lamplight. “Ah, the notorious Buffy the Vampire Slayer. My name is Luke Sawyer. Pleasure to meet you.”
Buffy shook his hand. “Notorious?”
“Your name is known by a great many in certain circles, which is why I’m here.”
Giles entered from the kitchen sipping tea. “Buffy, I see you've met Mr. Sawyer.”
Luke leaned towards Buffy, “If you don’t mind, could we speak privately?”
“I do mind, so no. Anything said to me can be said in front of Giles and Willow.” Buffy sat next to Willow on the love seat while Giles sat on the arm, a smug look on his face while he took another sip.
“Well then, let’s talk.” Luke pinched the front of his slacks as he sat back down. “I’ve been sent here on behalf of my employer, Christian Grey-”
Willow interrupted, “As in the billionaire?”
“Well, yes. You’ve heard of him?”
“I didn’t until the stories about his wife. It was all over the news.” Willow shifted. “They said her blood was completely drained from her body, but there was no blood at the scene.”
And you didn't tell me that a vampire attack was on the news?! Buffy’s eyes narrowed toward Willow. “Vampire attack? On the news?”
“Well, the news ruled it out as a ritualistic murder. Vampires are usually messier so I didn't think it was anything like that.”
“But what if it was demonic?”
Willow tucked her loose hair behind her ear. “I did some digging on the internet, but nothing looked demonic and there weren't any other reports. It just kind of looked like a targeted murder someone tried covering up as something weird.” Willow looked back at Luke, “But that was more than a year ago.”
“Right. Mr. Grey has had his entire staff investigating Mrs. Grey’s murder. In doing so, we discovered an entire underworld of vampires and demons and other creatures. Some very powerful people are mixed in and keeping everything under wraps.”
Ryan… Mayor Wilkins… Buffy took a deep breath, “Oh, I am well aware. So what does this have to do with me?”
“During our research, we learned of a woman granted superhuman powers by the essence of a pure demon, The Slayer. We searched for her and we found you.”
“Well I guess your research didn't tell you everything. I'm not The Slayer anymore, just a slayer.”
Luke sat forward, his dark eyes forcing her to keep eye contact. “Your story is not secret in these underworld channels, Miss Summers. The demons that hear the word ”slayer” scoff, but when they hear your name, they cower.” Luke leaned back into a more comfortable sitting position, the collar of his polo shirt resting against the sides of his neck. “Now Mr. Grey is adamant that her killer is still out there and in Seattle. There were reports kept secret of other women who experienced Mrs. Grey’s same fate. And after learning about you, he’s certain that you're the only one the can solve this case.”
She leaned back and crossed her legs. “I'm not really the kind of girl that goes around solving year old murders. I'm the kind of girl that defends a town from being overrun by demons and closes Hellmouths.”
Giles cleared his throat. “I'm surprised you didn't come across this in your investigation. A Hellmouth on layman's terms is a gate to Hell. It's a little more complicated than that considering there are actually numerous dimensions to Hell, but these Hellmouths attract the supernatural. If you know Buffy’s story, you know that she closed one.”
“Ah, yes. The sinkhole that was once Sunnydale, California. I hadn't heard the term “Hellmouth”, but portals and gateway had been thrown around.”
“But I didn’t do it alone.”
Luke rested his hands on the arms of the chair. “Perhaps, but it couldn’t have been done without you. You were the key then and Mr. Grey believes you’re the key now. But I'm not here to ask you to help with this investigation out of the kindness of your heart; I’ve come prepared with an offer.” Luke leaned forward and reached for the small black binder on the coffee table that Buffy hadn't noticed. “Mr. Grey would like you to come to Seattle to do the investigation. He is willing to pay you a total of $250,000.” He noticed the slight change in posture of the others as he opened the binder. “$100,000 will be paid up front as a non-refundable, non-negotiable deposit via check and the remaining $150,000 upon completion also via check. You will be labeled on the books as ‘Personal Security’; however, if you are in public together, you will be under the guise of ‘significant other’.”
Buffy chuckled. “You mean I'm supposed to pretend to be his girlfriend? I can't just be his bodyguard?”
Luke looked up from the binder. “Correct. This was a decision by the security staff, not Mr. Grey. The idea is we don't want it known that someone else has been hired to look into Mrs. Grey’s death, we don't want it to scare off any possible leads.”
Super weird. This is all weird. But $250,000!? I could pay off this house so Willow and Giles wouldn’t have to worry so much about bills. It’d be easier to feed all these mouths and send money to the girls that went to Cleveland. I’d be stupid not to take it. “ That’s asking a lot. If you’ve been working on this and it’s been over a year, chances are it's going to take me more than my week’s vacation; I’ll have to quit my job.”
“Mr. Grey is a well-connected man in the business world; when the job is complete, he can guarantee you a much better job here in Oregon, wherever you want. A work from home job even.”
This sounds too good to be true.
“Additionally, Miss Summers, transportation, housing, food, all of the necessities will be provided.”
Buffy forced herself to keep her relaxed posture. “Can I have the night to think about it?”
Luke nodded, “Of course.” He reached across the coffee table and handed her a business card. “Call me when you’re ready.” He sat up and nodded towards Willow and Giles before taking his leave.
Willow adjusted to face Buffy, “What are you thinking?”
“I don't know.”
Giles placed a hand on Buffy’s shoulder. Her heart ached every time he displayed fatherly affection. I wonder what my own dad would say if he knew any of this was going on. “You’re already stretched thin, Buffy: working full-time and still slaying at night. Plus, the girls that stayed are a handful to take care of between high school and training.”
“Yeah. Maybe that’s why I should do it. I could finish paying off the house.”
“Buffy, if you want to go, we’ll make it work.” Willow toyed with the charm of her necklace nervously, but kept her voice soft and steady. “We’ll support you either way.”
“I need a minute.” Buffy retreated up the stairs to her room.
She took off her leather jacket and tossed it on the bed. Maybe a hot bath will clear my head. Buffy pulled Who am I kidding? I’m going to go. I love Willow and Giles, but I need to get away from them and the girls, just for a bit.