"Mary who?" Giles stopped in the middle of the corridor, staring down at the printed list Andrew had thrust into his hands.
"Heller," Andrew said, helpfully. "Do you know her? She co-owns a place in London called Carfax Antiquities. We haven't sent anyone out to talk to her yet, a lot of the other names on the list have showed up in hospitals and police stations and stuff over the last few weeks so we've been concentrating on getting to them first. Plus, we figured you might want to deal with her yourself."
"Carfax," Giles said softly, still staring at the list. "Yes, it would have to be... I wonder why she kept the place? I thought she and her father... but then again... Who is the other owner, Andrew?"
"A guy named Simon Shepherd," Andrew said, cheerfully. "I looked him up, he was an assistant to the previous owner of the place-- get this, the guy's name was Van Helsing!-- and when he died, Simon inherited half of it. I'm guessing Mary was related to Van Helsing somehow, since all her records before five years ago or so list her in America; there was no other reason for her to have been in the old guy's will."
Giles sighed and closed his eyes for a moment, recalling the details of a strange file he'd uncovered when the Scoobies had located the Watchers' backup archive. The Council had been tracking the man for more than a hundred years, since he had borne the name Abraham, hoping that he would eventually reveal the location of the original Dracula's corpse, but nothing had happened until the year 2000. Reports from that event had been sketchy, but a few details stood out: Dracula had somehow escaped the trap Van Helsing had confined him in for over a century, then had tried to confront the man's estranged daughter; fortunately, the girl had proved to be her father's child and had managed to contain him once more.
It was a little known fact that there was more than one strain of vampire in existence. The most common sort, who turned to dust when killed and were not allergic to silver, were the ones the Slayers had the most contact with; the others tended to keep to themselves or in some cases had already been hunted to extinction. Dracula's childer had belonged to the latter group after their Master's capture in 1897.
Dracula's very existence had always been a sticky point for the Watcher's Council; they had welcomed the rise of the imposter Buffy had faced when he had decided to capitalize on the name-recognition factor. The fact that the first Dracula had once borne the name Judas Iscariot, that he had been cursed to walk the earth forever not because he'd been bitten but because he'd betrayed Jesus Christ, and that religious items had only begun to work as weapons against common vampires after Judas' turning, were all uncomfortable complications that they did not want cluttering up their field agents' decision-making process. Bringing religion into what they did would be a recipe for disaster, the sort that let to witch trials and Inquisitions.
Suggesting that not all vampires were completely soulless-- for Judas' punishment clearly would not be justice of any kind if his soul were already beyond the veil-- would also be an invitation to chaos, for pausing to verify what type of vampire a Slayer faced could easily cost her her life. The Council could brush aside Angelus' conversion, or even Spike's, as isolated examples of magic bringing limited redemption to a ravenous beast, but a whole class of beings who had never lost their souls to begin with posed a bit of a quandary.
Mary Heller's inclusion in the wave of Slayers awakened by Willow's spell was just the latest sign of many that someone-- or Someone-- in a position of power seemed to be taking advantage of the change in Council leadership to bring the disparate supernatural-fighting forces of the world into contact with one another. Giles was not sure yet what to make of it all-- he could think of several famous individuals involved with other vampiric groups whose acquaintance he most definitely did not want to make-- but complete aversion could no longer be an option after this latest news.
"Uh, Giles, are you okay?" Andrew's voice broke through Giles' thoughts, startling the older man.
"Yes, yes, I'm fine," he answered, pulling his attention back to the present, and rubbed a thumb over the printed name he'd been scrutinizing so carefully. "I'd like you to move her name up the list-- the sooner, the better. And try to include her partner in the meeting. I think you'll be surprised at how well-informed Miss Heller and Mr. Shepherd already are."
Buffy stopped in the middle of the corridor, transfixed, the moment she caught sight of the couple entering the main Council conference room. It wasn't so much what her eyes were telling her-- the woman looked older than the typical Slayer and the man younger than the average Watcher, but weren't most of them these days? No, it was what she felt that had the hair on her neck standing on end.
She'd never met a turned Slayer-- not that it never happened, but since a Slayer's soul tended to be stickier than other people's, they usually Slayed their killers and then themselves immediately after rising. If Buffy did ever meet one, though, she'd imagined it would be something like this: dual sensations of vampire and Slayer energy radiating from the woman in waves, hunter and hunted warring in the same skin.
The stranger paused in the doorway, ignoring the murmurs of the man at her elbow to turn and glance briefly in Buffy's direction. Her eyes flashed electric blue-- not yellow? no bumpies?-- before the vampire energy in her suddenly subsided, subdued. Then she went on into the conference room.
Buffy made a mental note to interrogate Giles later.