Mercenary Hearts 6

Rupert Giles’ Home.

Giles leaned against the cushioned back of his couch, a surprised and concerned expression on his face as Buffy described tonight’s events.

Well, last night, seeing as it was now nearly two in the morning. Buffy had been dropped off by Cordelia Chase, who’d continued on to deliver the others to their respective homes.

He reached for his pad to take further notes, adding the description of the vampires; his brow lifting higher as she revealed what had been said regarding the others’ safety. Taking no pleasure in agreeing with a vampire.

As far as Giles was concerned, it was only a matter of time before one or the other ended up seriously injured. Or worse. They’d got off lightly tonight. If the two vampires hadn’t turned up when they did… He swallowed heavily. On many occasions, he had broached the subject of the dangers apparent.

Concern ending in deeply reluctant agreement with his Slayer. That ordering them not to get involved in the field work wouldn’t make the slightest difference. One teenager was more than enough to deal with, especially when -often, it came to self-preservation. But five of them? No wonder he always seemed to be on the verge of a headache.

“He had old eyes.” Buffy said. With an expression that had made her feel like a complete novice. “He reminded me of Luke,” she shuddered a little, which wasn’t that surprising to Giles, considering injuries wrought that would have been life-threatening to anyone other than a Slayer. “But way more skilled- and a lot quicker on his feet” She added, her gaze pensive. Better threads and a handsome face to boot.

Not that it mattered. Still a walking corpse. And her natural enemy. Like she’d ever forget the role that had ruined her normal life.

“The other one too,” she added. Maybe a bit younger.” Though not by much, she reckoned. “Looked like a Billy Idol Wannabe,” her nose wrinkling in mild distaste. Until recalling the stark look in the bleached blonde’s blue eyes when their gazes met.

Buffy debated whether to mention it to her mentor. Perhaps she’d imagined it?  So much angst in the air, what with her spidey senses tripping off in full alert even as she fought those demons. Almost breaking her stride. Almost. On getting closer, the buzz only got worse.

Vampires experiencing guilt? Nope. Definitely not. He’d turned away before she could figure out what she’d seen. Then the bigger one was in her face. Arrogant bastard. Her hands still itched to dust his undead ass.

Giles was still busy digesting all the information his Slayer had given, taking it apart and compartmentalizing salient pieces. He’d heard of instances where Vampires and demons had fought among themselves. Mostly over land rights – or potential victims.

But from what he’d garnered so far from Buffy, these particular Vampires had admitted to actively tracking the demons from New York in a continued attempt to eradicate them.  That was, to his mind, quite an aberration.

To leave their hunting grounds (if indeed they originated from New York?) in pursuit seemed rather odd to him. Succeeding in getting them off their territory should have been enough.

In his studies at the WC, he’d read that Vampire Clans were extremely territorial. Large numbers were involved in established Clans.  Following orders given by their Clan leader? That idea didn’t sit well. According to Buffy, they were definitely not minions. As with humans, their species did have their fair share of loners and small break-off groups.

It all led back to the very demons who’d attempted to kidnap a female victim – at a place with a history of attracting rituals of one sort or another. Which meant something was definitely afoot. Now he just needed to find out where exactly these two vampires figured into it all.

All he knew so far was that there was no love lost between them and the demons.

So… what should be his Slayer’s next move? He knew what it ought to be, although dreaded to think of the consequences of a second confrontation – with either group. Two or more against one had never been an issue for Buffy, but he’d be an utter fool to think she’d come out of either fight unscathed if, as she stated, the number of demons yet to be dealt with.

And Vampires, where at least one of them was an equivalent to Luke in both age and strength.

Granted, the vampires had averted an almost certain tragedy by interfering in their fight. They’d stated clearly that they intended to remain in Sunnydale until every last demon had been found and killed.

Although that should have brought a smidgen of relief, it really didn’t. It felt to him that they were simply replacing one threat with another.

Giles’ gaze dropped to rest on the Sword that leaned against his coffee table. Quite unusual for a vampire to use a weapon. Most relied solely on their unnatural strength, speed and, of course, their fangs.

He took in the lines of the weapon with admiration. A broad blade with two lethal cutting edges. Broadswords were used to cut rather than stab, and were capable of efficiently removing limbs. Predominantly used by Knights in Medieval times. There was no doubt in Giles’ mind that it was a genuine artifact, although he had never seen one in such fine condition. It had obviously been well cared for.

Reaching over, he grabbed the hilt, momentarily startled by the weight of it. Six pounds at least, he reckoned. Approximately 45 inches long, with a two-inch wide razor-edged blade that tapered to a point.  The strength needed to wield it with ease would put many of today’s men to shame. The hilt itself was of a practical design, adorned with rings of steel and partially wrapped with leather for a better grip. The wear marks showed frequent use rather than simply the age of it.

On carefully examining the blade, Giles noted an engraving on the base of the sword. Pulling out his ever-present handkerchief, he used it to rub away the dried blood that partially obscured it. A Stylized ‘A’ had been etched quite deeply into the fine steel. The worn edges pointed to it being added at least a few centuries ago.

“You think it’s his initial?” Buffy asked curiously; a stray thought of maybe putting her own mark on her favorite stake. It had originally belonged to Kendra, the Slayer who’d been activated when she herself had temporarily died at the hands of The Master. Tragically, Kendra had been killed by a nutzoid vamp called Drusilla a year or so back. She’d disappeared shortly afterward, but Buffy had promised herself that if ever they came face to face, the dead Slayer’s stake would be put to good use.

A short-lived thought of honoring the girl by engraving ‘Mr Pointy’ into the smooth wood died with a second thought… If ever lost, and found by a vampire… The sheer embarrassment she’d feel of that etching being found on it just didn’t bear thinking about.

“It’s a possibility,” Giles response was murmured absently as his thoughts meandered. Wondering out loud that, if this were indeed a personalized engraving, would it lead to an insight into the owner of the sword?

Instinctively knowing where this line of thought was going, Buffy sighed; bottom lip pooching out with a little self-pity.

Research was on the books tonight. Literally.

Back / Part 7

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