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Chapter Thirteen - What Makes You Different
'Who are you?' Riley asked. He had positioned himself so that he was blocking the corridor. If there was trouble then at least Xander and Spike should be able to get away.
'Didn't Rupert tell you about me?' asked the woman at the window.
'Elisabeth Bennett, I presume,' Riley deduced.
'Call me Liz,' she suggested.
'Giles never said anything about your companion,' Riley pointed out.
'Meet Suzi Mendez,' Liz explained, 'my slayer-in-waiting.'
Suzi sat up a little straighter. She was dressed in a black tanktop and skirt with knee-high boots. A silver crucifix hung from a chain around her neck. She had large, mournful eyes and her hair was an unruly mop that looked as if someone had attacked it with a pair of sheers. One half had been dyed cherry red, the other a bright green.
'Nice to meet you,' Riley said to her.
'I'll bet,' she replied.
'So she's like the girl who gets to take over when Buffy, um, dies?' Xander asked.
'When Faith dies,' Liz informed him. 'Your friend is no longer the active slayer, current events notwithstanding. And the answer to your question is maybe. The Council is able to pinpoint dozens of potential slayers worldwide, but which of these will become active is impossible to say. In the meantime, all we can to is ensure that they are fully trained in case such an event arises.
'You know,' Spike said from the doorway, 'you don't look much like any Watcher I've ever met.'
'What, you think we all wear tweed and polish our glasses every five minutes?' Liz joked. 'Do come in, by the way.'
'About time somebody said it,' Spike muttered as he stepped inside the room.
Liz was not dressed in tweed. She was wearing a pair of faded blue jeans and a cream roll-neck sweater. Long, straight auburn hair cascaded like a waterfall down her back.
'You do realise I'll need a way to confirm your story,' Riley told her.
'Rupert said you'd say something like that,' she said. 'He told me to tell you that he still wants to know why you do what you do.'
Riley grinned and offered a hand, which Liz took firmly.
'Welcome to the team,' he said.
Xander slumped into the only chair in the room.
'Hey, if you're a Watcher,' he began, 'does that mean the Council knows what we're up to.'
'Not from me,' Liz assured him. 'Rupert was very particular on that point. Officially, Suzi and I are still on the south coast tracking down a Vampire Count by the name of Ravencroft.'
'I staked him on Saturday,' Suzi remarked in a bored voice.
'We've neglected to report back yet,' Liz explained. 'We both felt we could use some time off. Then Rupert phoned.'
'Sorry to spoil your vacation,' Spike commented sarcastically.
He sat down on the edge of the bed and Suzi shuffled away from him.
'Don't fret, little bit,' he told her, 'I won't bite.'
'Can't bite,' Suzi amended. 'You're the toothless vampire. A bit of a joke really.'
'Hey!' Spike protested.
He leaned forward and suddenly found the points of two knives beneath his chin.
'Doesn't mean I won't still kill you,' Suzi said.
'Not with those you won't,' Spike pointed out.
Suzi spun the knives in her hands. The hilts we wooden and had been sharpened into wicked-looking stakes.
'This better?' she asked.
'Ah.' Spike slowly moved away.
'Is she always this charming?' he asked Liz.
'I think she likes you,' Liz told him.
'Could have fooled me.'
'You're still alive, aren't you?' Liz pointed out. 'Suzi's whole family was killed by vampires while she was at school. She then had to stake them all when they rose three days later. She doesn't have a lot of love for your kind.'
'Liz, has Giles explained the situation to you?' Riley asked.
'I know that you plan on breaching the gate at Glastonbury to retrieve the Grail,' Liz replied.
'That's about the size of it,' Riley said.
'Good luck,' Liz said.
Riley offered her a wry smile.
'I hear that the Council hasn't had much luck getting in there,' he said.
'That's one way of putting it. What makes you think you'll do any better?'
'I'm guessing that the Council are missing something,' Riley explained.
'What, like a key?' Xander asked.
'I was thinking more along the lines of intel, but, yeah, why not a key,' Riley agreed. 'There's something they should have been doing that they weren't. If we can figure it out that I don't think we'll have any more problems.'
'Ever the optimist,' Spike said. 'And how, pray, are the five of us supposed to figure out something a whole gang of Watchers couldn't come up with in centuries?'
'I don't know, okay, Spike!' Riley snapped. 'All I know is that Dawn's missing and this may be our only way to get her back in one piece. I thought, in your own sick and twisted way, you might actually care about her. Guess I was wrong.'
'You want me to stake him now?' Suzi asked.
Riley considered the offer.
'No,' he said at last. 'But thanks.'
'I do care about the munchkin,' Spike insisted quietly. 'I just don't see what good we're going to be to her if we all end up dying on some foolish quest.'
'Dying's something we're hoping to avoid too,' Xander pointed out.
Liz lifted the curtains slightly and peered out of the window.
'Looking for someone?' Riley asked.
Liz let the curtain fall.
'Sorry,' she said, 'force of habit.'
'Don't apologise,' Riley responded. 'It always pays to watch your back.'
'Oh great,' Spike drawled, 'military-man's going off on one again.'
'You sure you don't want me to stake him?' Suzi asked hopefully.
'Don't tempt me,' Riley returned.
'There is someone who might be able to help,' Liz announced. 'A Professor Crozier who works at the British Museum. Outside of the Council, he's the world's leading authority on Arthurian legend. He might know something.'
'Well, what are we waiting for then,' Spike said, bounding to his feet. 'Let's go see him.'
'In the morning,' Riley insisted. 'Normal people do this thing we like to call sleeping.'
'Guess you'll be staying behind, Spikey,' Xander remarked, 'unless you fancy working on that tan of yours.'
'At least this place has got a bar,' Spike muttered darkly.
'I'll stay with the vampire,' Suzi offered.
'Good idea,' Riley agreed.
'Oh no, bad idea,' Spike replied. 'You're not seriously planning on leaving me alone with psycho here, are you?'
'I've already told Suzi that she can't stake you,' Liz explained.
'That's real reassuring,' Spike said. 'And what about beheading or burning?'
Liz sighed and turned to her charge.
'Suzi, do you promise not to kill Spike,' she said, 'at least until we get back?'
'If I must,' Suzi agreed.
'There now, all settled,' Liz told Spike.
'Way I see it, Suzi's here more for your protection than anything else,' Xander commented.
'And how exactly does that work?' Spike demanded.
'You can't hurt humans,' Riley explained. 'Seems to me if things turn nasty, Suzi could be the only thing keeping you alive. Or undead. Or whatever.'
Spike cast his eyes heavenwards.
'Stake me now,' he pleaded.
'Really?' Suzi asked.
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