“Rupert. What can I help you with?” the blue clad figure asked, watching him intently through the video link.
Giles smiled. Betty Director could be ruthless at times but she was his kind of ruthless. Her first priority was the survival of mankind and she wielded her troops with an amazing finesse in pursuit of that goal. And, though he would never admit it out loud, he found her more than pleasant to look at.
“I need to invoke the employment clause in our current agreement,” he told her, getting straight to business.
“Really? I don't believe there are any slayers on our payroll nor do we have any plans to hire one.” Betty said, frowning in thought.
“It has come to our attention that you are actively recruiting a slayer,” Giles said, shrugging as if it weren't a big deal. He knew she wasn't going to be happy with the news but there wasn't much she could do about it. She was well aware of the drawbacks of hiring a slayer. Her Psych-Ops team had been the ones to finally convince her that slayers were mentally unfit for any of the roles she had in mind. The political ramifications if any of the governments with close ties to the Council had found out were secondary, something he knew she would have eventually worked around. But he suspected that losing this one, someone she'd been nurturing for years, would set her plans for Global Justice back years, if not decades.
“Not that I'm aware of.” Betty said. “Just a second.” His screen went blank for a minute. “There doesn't seem to be any record of that. Do you have a name for me?” she asked when she returned.
“Kim Possible.” Giles told her with only a small amount of relish. The relationship between them was built on such seemingly minor wins. He would win one point one day, she one another day.
“Kim Possible?” Betty stared at him in undisguised shock. “How did that happen?”
“In the normal fashion.” Giles said. She didn't need to know that this had shocked the Council seers also. Given the quality of person that was Kim Possible, according to their predictions she should have been activated as a slayer back during the final battle in Sunnydale. Even now they were madly digging through the Council archives looking for an explanation.
“Rupert! That isn't what I meant,” Betty told him with a slight growl. “Did you lose anyone important?”
“They are all important,” he said. Betty's position didn't allow her to become as attached to her agents as he did to his people but her slight nod was enough to tell him she understood. “No one you would recognize. Several of our European slayers disappeared without a trace during a trip last January. We believe it was one of them. We're still searching for them so we can't be sure which one it was.”
Betty nodded somberly at him. “Has she already been assigned a Watcher?”
“No. Not yet.” With a push of a button he sent her the publicly consumable report on Kim Possible that Dawn had prepared for him. “It is the general opinion here that she would make an outstanding slayer. In some ways she is much better trained than a number of our active slayers; she can think on her feet and improvise under the most stressful situations; and she thinks of others first. All traits we look for.”
“However?” Betty prompted when he paused.
“It is felt by some that it would set a bad precedent if we attempted to integrate her into the Council at this point.” Giles said.
“One of your people objected? Why?” she asked.
He could almost see wheels turning in her head at the glimpse he was giving her into the decision making processes of the current Council's inner circle. He frowned for a moment, hoping to give her the impression that he was reluctant to part with the information. She didn't need to know that the Inner Council had decided to use the Kim Possible situation to test the feasibility of forging a deeper relationship with Global Justice.
Even Buffy had seen the necessity of sharing some of their secrets with Global Justice as part of the test. After years of dealing with Buffy's refusal to plan ahead, preferring to rely on serendipity, he was impressed with how she now seemed to be developing the long view of history necessary for the Council's survival.
“We have certain rules that apply to all slayers,” he told her. “We can't ignore them just because we could use the skills of one of them. There would be a revolt.”
“And one of these rules applies here?” she asked.
“Several actually. The one that primarily concerned our evaluators is the negative value rule,” Giles said.
“Negative value?” Betty leaned back in her chair, the camera following her movement.
“It can best be stated as - Would the world benefit if a new slayer left their current occupation and took a full time position in the Council. They felt she is already providing a valuable service to the community and couldn't be easily replaced. At this point we have an adequate number of experienced slayers. Her uniqueness would be wasted in their ranks.” Giles said.
“Wouldn't more slayers be better?” She asked. “You would have a better chance of completely wiping out your opponents.”
“We seem to have reached a balance, or as Willow calls it - a ‘steady state’ in the last year. At any moment in time we have a third of the known slayers in training, a third on our active duty roster, and a third in reserve,” Giles said. “As much as we would like to do as you suggest, all we would accomplish would be to bring about the true ‘End of Days’ and none of us are in any hurry for that to happen.”
“How does this ‘steady state’ affect Kim Possible?” Betty asked.
“We hope she'll agree to join our reserves at some point, but we won't push the issue,” he said.
“What would she gain from that?” Betty asked. “I've been working on her for two years now to join Global Justice after college but haven't had much luck. She's become extremely skilled at avoiding any commitments to us.”
“We believe it is in our best interest at this point that she maintain her independence and operate as she sees fit, but slayers on reserve do have access to Council resources when necessary,” Giles told her. “Which I believe she cannot get from Global Justice unless she becomes a full time agent. Something we would prefer not to see happen.”
“I see,” she said. “Would you object if we continued to make use of her services, as we do now?”
“No. That's really her decision.” Giles watched her closely “Is she aware that a large portion of the requests for her services are really planted by Global Justice?” His curiosity was satisfied when she visibly flinched. “That's what we thought. We will expect you to either cut back on those types of missions or to be honest with her about their source.”
“So, business more or less as usual?” Betty asked, nodding. “Except now she's your problem, not ours?”
“Yes.” Giles said. “We'll let the lawyers hammer out the details.”
“That'll be fine,” Betty said.
“One last thing,” Giles added. “Whatever agreement we eventual make with Kim Possible, we expect it to apply to her cohorts. One of her strengths is her team.”
“Anything else that you want?” Betty asked. “We're having a sale on mad scientists and their associates this month. Shego would make an excellent training partner for some of your slayers.”
“Shego? You don't like her?” Giles asked, puzzled at how much delight Betty seemed to get from the idea. The name sounded familiar but Dawn's briefing hadn't gone into any real detail.
“She's an interesting character. I suspect that her motivation for the crimes she commits has something to do with Kim Possible, but there's no concrete proof. And she doesn't stay locked up long enough for us to ask her.” Betty laughed, an oddly husky sound that Giles found endearing, though he would never tell her. “If you ever convince Kim to join the Council, expect to see a lot of Shego. I'll let our lawyers know the Council will be contacting them.” Betty said, ending their conversation. “Have a good evening Rupert.” Before he could reply, the screen went blank.
“All done?” Giles looked up in surprise at the question. Just out of camera range, Willow, Buffy, and Dawn sat smirking at him.
“So, you didn't tell her that we have future plans for her Kim.” Willow said.
“Our Kim now,” Buffy reminded her. Dawn nodded in agreement.
“I didn't believe it was necessary. She'll find out when she needs to. And anything can happen in a decade.” Giles said, joining them away from the camera.
“But you do agree with Dawn's assessment?” Buffy asked.
“That Kim Possible would be a valuable asset for the Council in a capacity other than just as a slayer? Yes.” Giles said. “We'll have to be careful, to say nothing of subtle, to guide her in that direction. I don't want to scare her or her team away like Betty appears to have done.”
“Giles, I've been thinking about the best way to approach this.” Dawn said, handing him a deep green folder. “I've outlined a few ideas for you to look at.”
“On paper?” Buffy said, clearly indicating her disbelief that her geeky sister would use an actual pen.
“Definitely. We're going to need to be extremely careful with what we put in the Council records concerning her.” Dawn said.
“Her geek?” Buffy asked.
“Yup. Wade.” Dawn looked at Willow. “He's very good. If he could use magic he'd be at least as good as you are.”
“Better.” Willow told them. “His role as part of Team Possible has given him a breadth of knowledge in areas I have barely even heard of.”
“You'll see some notes on Wade also.” Dawn said. “Even without Kim Possible I think we should cultivate him. Assuming we can cure him of his hermit tendencies.”
“And this Ron Stoppable?” Giles asked curiously, looking through the folder. “I see he's spent some time at Yamanouchi.”
“He's her Xander, more or less.” Dawn said. “They've known each other forever. There's currently some friction between them for some reason but he seems to instinctively know how to deal with her personal issues.”
“Ex issues.” Buffy added. “According to Bonnie they were a couple for a few months. I won't repeat her explanation for their break-up. She seemed a bit biased and was probably exaggerating.”
“You're holding out on us!” Willow said, pouting.
“What about this so called ‘Mystical Monkey Power’ you mentioned?” Giles asked, ignoring their interruption.
“It's another one of those legendary mystical martial arts.” Dawn explained. “We don't have any useful information on it in our archives. We do know it gives him some abilities he wouldn't otherwise have.”
“The Yamanouchi School wouldn't take him just on the basis of that.” Buffy said. “There must be something special about him. I have a few ideas for things I want to try when he comes to Cleveland this summer with Kim.”
“Ew…” Dawn shivered in an exaggerated manner. Giles struggled to keep a straight face at her antics. “He's just a kid.”
“Not like that!” Buffy protested. “Even if he was old enough he's so not my type. Though you seemed to have him eating out of the palm of your hand when we were in Middleton.”
“No, that was Rufus.” Dawn said.
“What kind of demon is he?” Giles asked, leafing through the folder.
“Not really sure. A hybrid of some sort. Very intelligent.” Dawn looked at Buffy. “But definitely some demonic ancestry.”
“It's very faint. If it hadn't been for Willow's crystal I wouldn't have known.” Buffy said. “You'd have to touch him to feel it.”
“Have we already invited them for one of our summer sessions?” Giles asked. “I'm assuming we want all of them here at the same time.”
“No, we were waiting until you'd talked with Betty.” Willow said. “Speaking of which…”
“Have you asked her out yet?” Dawn asked.
“I'm not sure what you mean.” Giles said, successfully suppressing a blush that would have been very embarrassing at his age.
“Not fooling us, Giles,” Buffy said, shaking her head. “Not sure what you see in her but the sparkage is obvious.”
“I don't know.” Willow murmured. “There's something about a woman in uniform. And that eye patch is kind of sexy.”
“Better watch out Giles or Willow will snap her up when you aren't looking.” Dawn giggled. He shook his head at their behavior but stayed silent, not foolish enough to give them any more ammunition.
Standing up, Buffy pointed at her sister. “Come on Jolly, as much fun as this is we have a plane to catch. You have classes tomorrow.”
“Jolly?” Dawn mumbled, as she followed her sister out of Giles’ office.
“They're getting along much better now.” Giles said, helping Willow to her feet.
“In small doses.” Willow said, agreeing with him. “They seem to have found a formula that works.”
Lying in the middle of the football field, Kim stared up the stars, the smell of the damp evening grass flooding her nose in the slight breeze. This was the one place that almost no one thought to look for her. Wade could find her if he really needed to but he never seemed to bother her here. It was a good place to just think. And she had a lot to think about.
A month from graduation and she wasn't any closer to deciding what to do about the newest twist in her life. She and Ron were off to Go University in the fall, attending part time so they could keep Team Possible a going concern. Kim admitted freely to being addicted to the rush she got helping people. She wasn't ready to give it all up in pursuit of an education she wasn't sure she was going to really need.
The Council of Watchers had been extremely helpful so far. With the assistance of their lawyers, Team Possible was now registered as a non-profit corporation, with Kim, Ron, and Wade as permanent employees. They still needed to appoint a Board of Directors but this first step would protect them from attempts by any of their foes to sideline them legally, now that they were considered adults. Even Jim and Tim had approved of the agreement between Team Possible and Global Justice that the Council lawyers had helped them with, claiming it was a work of legal art. It left them with enough freedom to continue working with Global Justice without being at their beck and call.
Team Possible's future relationship with the Council, on the other hand, was still extremely vague, something she and Wade hoped to fix during her summer trip to Cleveland. For now, having their support with no visible strings attached was good enough.
Wade was going to spend the summer looking around Go City for a place he could use to run their new operation from. Ron had begun calling it the Kim-lair as a joke and to Kim's annoyance it had stuck. She just hoped Shego didn't hear about it.
Closing her eyes, Kim thought back to the day her parents had been told about slayers, magic, and her inclusion in one of the oldest existing organizations on the planet. They hadn't been immediately convinced but it hadn't been a complete disaster. She could imagine other things she could have told them that would have gone over a lot worse, running off with one of her arch foes being high on the list.
It had been a difficult night. For once she hadn't had any dreams, but thinking about how she would tell her parents had made sleeping even more difficult than normal. Not even a long midnight run had helped. She had no idea how they would react. She'd tied herself in knots trying to predict their reaction but nothing she'd done before came close to becoming a slayer. About the only thing she was sure of was that they would eventually be supportive.
“Mom? Dad?” She said, sitting down with a bowl and a box of her favorite sugary cereal.
Her father looked up from his paper, giving her his fullest attention as she filled her bowl with cereal. “Yes, Kimmie-cub?”
“Kim?” Her mother put down the medical journal she was reading and looked at her curiously.
“I need to talk with both of you,” she said, nervously pouring milk into her bowl. “Tonight, please.”
“About what?” her mother asked, giving her father a concerned glance that Kim intercepted.
“Do you remember when I was in that lair explosion last January with Shego?” Kim asked. “And, Mom, remember I asked you to run those extra tests, but you didn't find anything?”
“Yes. Shego escaped before we could examine her.” Her mother said. Both of her parents stared at her intently, waiting for her to continue.
“I found some things out yesterday. Things that I think you need to know about.” Scooping up a spoonful of cereal, Kim watched the milk dribble back into her bowl.
“What, exactly?” Her father asked.
“Things.” Kim said. “Can it wait until tonight?”
“Okay.” Her father said, her mother nodding in agreement.
“Thanks.” Kim said, once more scooping up a spoonful of cereal. This time it ended up in her mouth and not back in the bowl.
“You have our undivided attention, Kimmie.” Her father said after dinner that night. “What did you need to talk with us about?”
“Umm…” Kim stood in front of them, her back to the tv. “Well… you know how I accidentally broke that broom, and the doorknob to the Tweebs room? And you remember all those knives and spoons that looked a little bent a couple months ago?”
“Yes…” her father said, frowning in thought.
“And Mom? Do you remember all those blouses I had? The ones that needed to have their buttons replaced?”
“Kim?” Her mother replied, matching her father's frown.
“I really didn't mean for all those things to happen.” Kim said. “But I couldn't really help it.”
“What do you mean?” her mother asked.
Looking around, Kim spotted a poker next to the fireplace. Picking it up she showed it to both of them. With a hand on each end, she started to bend the poker, not stopping until it was folded in half. “I've sort of been having strength problems,” she told them. “I'm not super strong like Spiderman or Superman but I am a lot stronger than I used to be.”
“Oh, Kim, why didn't you tell us?” her mother asked.
“I thought it would wear off. But it hasn't.” Kim shrugged. “And since you and Wade didn't find anything wrong with me I kept it to myself.”
“There are experts we could call.” Kim's mother said. “Why didn't you say something sooner?”
“I don't know.” Kim admitted. “It wasn't hurting anything and it made missions easier. And I didn't want to become a lab rat. If anyone could figure it out Wade or you could.”
“I'm glad you have such confidence in your mother but I don't think you should ignore this.” Her father said. “You don't know what that increase in strength will do to you in the long run. Your bones aren't designed for those kinds of changes.”
“Doesn't seem to have hurt Bonnie.” Kim mumbled before she could help it.
“What does Bonnie have to do with this?” Kim's mother asked.
The doorbell rang before Kim could answer her.
“Kim! It's for you!” Tim's voice reached them from the front door.
“I'll be right back. Don't go anywhere.” Kim said, hurrying out of the room.
“Hi Kim.” Buffy said. “Are we too early?” she asked, looking around curiously.
As Kim hung up their jackets, she noticed that they were both dressed in expensive, hand tailored suits, a detail that her mother wasn't going to miss.
“No, you're just in time.” Kim said gratefully. “I've done the strength display like you suggested but haven't had a chance to explain.”
“Your brothers are cute.” Dawn whispered to her.
“Careful Dawn. We don't have room for them at home.” Buffy winked at Kim as she ushered them into the living room. “If I didn't keep an eye on her she would have us drowning in cute kids and animals.”
“She can have them.” Kim said. “I can have them packed and out the door in five minutes.”
“Who is this?” Kim's mother asked. “And you cannot give away Jim and Tim. Even if they shouldn't be listening to this.”
“Awh, Mom!” the Tweebs grumbled, popping up from behind the couch. Kim's mother glared at them, pointing at the door until they left.
“This is Buffy Summers, and her sister Dawn.” Kim said. “My parents, the Dr's Possible.” she said, introducing them.
“And your brothers?” Dawn asked, winking mischievously at them.
“The Tweebs.” Kim muttered.
“I'm Jim.” “I'm Tim.” they said, smirking at her from the doorway.
“Nice to meet you.” Buffy said, Dawn nodding to them before they disappeared.
“They can explain the strength thing.” Kim told her parents.
“We run a school in Cleveland for women and girls with Kim's abilities.” Buffy said, idly straightening the poker and putting it back down on the coffee table she'd picked it up from. Kim's mother frowned at the casual demonstration of strength.
“We're funded by the Council of Watchers. It provides funding and scholarships for those we invite to attend.” Dawn said.
“What is the ‘Council of Watchers’? Kim's mother asked.
“It's a fraternal order involved in a number of areas of research.” Dawn said. “It received its first Royal charter in 1579 from Queen Elizabeth. It has also provided assistance to the American government since 1865. But it's much older than that.”
“We would like Kim to attend one of our summer camps this year.” Buffy told them.
“Why?” her mother asked. “And what does this have to do with her strength problem?”
“We believe we can provide her with an opportunity to hone her new abilities.” Buffy said.
“Kim's a Possible, and anything is possible for a Possible.” Her father said. “There are a lot of schools she could go to with her abilities.”
“We're rather unique.” Dawn told him.
“Can you return her strength to what it should be?” Kim's mother asked. “That can't be normal.”
“It is what it should be.” Buffy told them. “It's perfectly normal.”
“Normal for what, exactly?”
“The official term is ‘vampire slayer'” Dawn said. “And Kim is one.”
“Vampires aren't real.” Her father objected.
“Vampires are real, magic is real, all sorts of things in fairy tales are real.” Dawn told him bluntly. “The Council of Watchers, which has existed for millennia, has chronicled their existence extensively.”
Kim sighed as her mother's face took on the expression she reserved for quacks and faith healers. “Why did you tell my daughter such nonsense?” she asked.
“It isn't nonsense, Mom.” Kim protested. “I saw a real vampire.”
“Kim? Maybe you were imagining it?” Her father suggested.
“No.” Kim said. Pulling out her kimmunicator, she contacted Wade. “Hey Wade.”
“Doing the big reveal?” He asked.
“Yup. Need a little backup.” Kim said. “Do you have a recording of that vampire I ran into?”
“Not a problem. If you can hook your kimmunicator to the tv…”
“Got it.” Walking over to the tv, Kim pulled a cord out of her kimmunicator and plugged it in. A large image of the creature Kim had run into appeared on the screen for several seconds before disappearing in a cloud of dust.
“That was quick.” Dawn commented. “Hey, Wade?”
“Can we have a copy of that for our archives?” she asked.
“That doesn't prove anything.” Kim's mother said stubbornly.
“Wade?” Dawn asked again. “Do you have access to our London archives yet?”
“I might have decrypted them this morning.” Wade said, his smiling face briefly filling the screen. “The Red Witch has some amazing security.”
“She does.” Dawn said. “She must like you. Are you sure you don't want to work for us?”
“Nah, I'm happy working with Kim and Ron.” Wade said.
“Red Witch?” Kim asked, puzzled.
“That's what hackers call Willow, our head witch.” Dawn said. “You'll like her. She has red hair also.”
“And a temper to go with it, like our Kimmie?” Kim's father asked, grinning.
“James!” Kim's mother protested faintly. Kim relaxed slightly. With few exceptions, her mother eventually followed her father's lead. From her tone she was close to giving in. “That isn't enough proof.”
With a loud beep that captured everyone's attention, a graveyard appeared on the screen. In the silvery light, a large number of tombstones were clearly visible.
“That doesn't look familiar.” Dawn said, in a whisper that only Kim and Buffy heard.
“It's in Bath.” Buffy said. “A lot of old watchers are buried there. Even their tombstones are stuffy.”
Three creatures appeared at one edge of the screen for a second before the camera focused on them directly, panning across their deformed faces, their eyes glowing with an unearthly light. Kim could hear her mother gasping in surprise as the camera pulled back to reveal a small female figure standing to their left. The small figure gestured and said something the camera didn't record. The vampires, apparently angered, yelled back.
“No sound?” Dawn asked, her disappointment clear. “How'd you manage that?”
“Ancient slayer secret.” Buffy said.
“What did you say to them?” Kim asked, the identity of the woman obvious to her.
“The usual.” Buffy said, shrugging.
“Lame quip, insult, insult, lame quip, some comment about their clothes.” Dawn added. “She's been using the same method to distract them for years.”
“Have not!” Buffy protested, before adding “If it works, why change it?”
“That's Ron's theory also.” Kim said, smirking. “They still haven't figured out that he's only pretending to be incompetent.”
The action on screen quickly degenerated into a brawl. There was nothing elegant about it. One minute there were three vampires; the next there was only one left and Buffy appeared shrouded in dust. Kim watched in amazement as Buffy blocked every blow and systematically demolished her target. The fight ended as a long pointed object appeared in her hand and was quickly plunged into the vampire's chest.
“A little more brutal than the one I would have picked but it gets the point across. No pun intended.” Buffy told Kim's shocked parents.
“You expect Kim to do that?” her mother asked. “To fight these things and kill them like someone in a horror movie?”
“Hunting demons is a time honored profession.” Buffy said.
“Not for my daughter.” Mrs. Dr. Possible said firmly. “She is going to college and doing something important with her life.”
“Mom, Ron, Wade, and I are already doing something important.” Kim said. “This is just a little more specialized.”
“Why Kim?” Her father asked, wrapping a comforting arm around her mother.
“Vampires have been around for a long time.” Buffy told them. “Someone has to protect mankind from them. Your daughter has been chosen to be one of those people.”
“Well, unchoose her!” her mother said.
“It doesn't work that way.” Dawn said. “Once someone is chosen there is no way for them to give it back.”
“What do you want from us?” Kim's father asked them. “How can we help Kim?”
“At this point? Even if she wasn't a minor, due to Kim's unique situation we aren't asking her to join our organization.” Dawn said. “But we would like your permission to stay in contact with her. We have other girls who have gone through the same thing who can provide advice and support. And this summer, before she goes to college, we would like her to attend one of our training sessions.”
“I don't know.” her mother said noncommittally. “We'll have to discuss it further.”
“We understand.” Buffy said, standing up. “Here's our contact information if you have any questions.” She held out a business card before leaving the room, with Dawn following.
“Kim, go see them out.” Her mother told her.
Walking out of the room, Kim stopped at the door, watching Buffy and Dawn put on their coats.
“I'm sorry,” she said. “They aren't too happy with this.”
“It isn't a problem. They reacted better than some parents would.” Dawn told her.
“They are familiar with strange things happening to me.” Kim said. “It's part of being in Team Possible. But vampires? They can't pretend I'm just out baby-sitting.”
“We were prepared for a worse reaction than this.” Buffy said, giving Kim a hug. “Your parents are reasonable people. They'll just need a little time to get used to the idea.”
“It could have been worse,” Dawn added, opening the door. “Our mother threw Buffy out of the house when she found out.”
“That was different, Dawn.” Buffy said. She shook her head before explaining to Kim - “There was an apocalypse going on at the time. I didn't really have time to explain to her about the vampires I killed in front of her. You have our number if you need anything. And Wade knows how to get ahold of us.”
“And there's always Bonnie and Mr. Barkin.” Dawn added. “I'm sure they would be glad to answer any questions you might have.”
“Uh-huh.” Kim muttered skeptically. “Thanks for coming.” she said with ingrained politeness, wishing she could go with them, or that Wade would call with a mission before she had to return to the living room and face her parents.
“We probably should have brought Xander. No matter what the Betty situation was.” Dawn said, stepping outside. “He has this whole charm thing going for him. Mothers can't resist him.”
“We didn't know we were going to need him.” Buffy objected, following her sister out into the night.
Turning around, Kim headed back to a conversation she was dreading. Her parents gave her a lot of leeway with her missions but this was completely different. She just hoped they didn't find out about the whole death thing any time soon.
Sighing, Kim stared up at the stars again, trying to forget that particular conversation. It was over and done with. Her parents weren't happy with the slayer thing but at least her mother had stopped insisting that Wade find a way to put her back to normal, although it had taken a lot of evidence from doctors and scientists who were familiar with slayers before she'd been completely convinced.
The few times Kim had run into Bonnie during her night-time wanderings she'd noticed how she seemed to make almost no noise. If it weren't for the slight tingle she now noticed in Bonnie's presence, she wouldn't have known she was there staring down at her.
“Making a habit of this, Possible?” Bonnie asked, sitting on the grass next to her.
“It's private and I can think without anyone bothering me.” Kim said defensively.
“You have a big target on your back now. Demons will be licking their lips at the chance to eat you.” Bonnie told her maliciously. “You can't be so predictable.”
“Eww!” Kim sat up to give Bonnie the full force of her glare. Finding out they had something else in common hadn't deepened their relationship, they were just more careful to keep their rivalry to themselves. They weren't even remotely friends. Kim wondered if Bonnie knew about the research Wade had discovered in the Council archives about rivalry between slayers. If one of them had been an adult, she suspected the Council would have moved them to another town in their territory.
“What did your parents think of the whole slayer thing?” Kim asked her curiously.
“My father was out of town on a business trip when Willow Rosenberg and her girlfriend Kennedy showed up. All my mother heard was ‘scholarship’ and ‘clothing allowance’ and she agreed to every thing they wanted. The training center in Cleveland wasn't finished so twenty of us spent the summer learning everything we could at someone's mansion in the Hamptons.”
“Scholarship?” Kim asked. She vaguely remembered Dawn mentioning that but with Wade's inventions over the past few years, Ron's naco money from Bueno Nacho, and a trust fund her Nana had set up for her years ago, Kim wasn't worried about paying for college.
“The Council is really big with education.” Bonnie said. “Reserve slayers get a full ride to the best school they can get into near them. The Council is paying for me to go to Go University this fall. My parents are sending my sisters to a Swiss finishing school with the money they saved.”
“Wade's been digging into Council history for the past few months.” Kim told her. “Are all the older slayers like Buffy?”
“I don't know. I only met Buffy that once and I've never met the other really old slayer, Faith.” Bonnie admitted.
“Isn't this Kennedy an old slayer?” Kim asked.
“Not in the same way.” Bonnie told her. “There are a bunch of girls who were training to become slayers before they destroyed Sunnydale. But they didn't become slayers until the very end of that.”
“At the same time as you?” Kim asked.
“Yes.” Bonnie stood up, brushing dirt from her pants. “They just have more experience and training.”
Kim looked up at her. “Is Middleton really that different from other places?”
“You mean boring?” Bonnie shrugged. “They see more vampires in Cleveland in a night than I've seen so far this year, but there are other cities with twice as many vampires and other demons as that. I don't mind. I spent a month in London last summer and this year I get to spend it in Cleveland. That's enough excitement to last me a year.”
“Oh. Will I see you while I'm there?” Kim asked.
“They keep the newbies busy while they're there.” Bonnie “You're going to be too tired to socialize. Besides…”
“Besides what…” Kim asked.
“You're forgetting we aren't friends.” Bonnie told her bluntly. “Getting stuck with a crummy fate doesn't change that.” With that parting shot Bonnie disappeared into the night, almost too fast for Kim's eyes to follow.
“Thanks for the lift, Bubba.” Kim said as she and Ron hopped down from the back of the large Harley.
“It's the least I could do after you rescued my cape,” he said, his warm smile a faint reminder of the power he'd had in his prime.
“No big. Anyone could have won that singing contest,” Kim said, smiling at him, glad that Wade hadn't gotten a recording of the event to put on her website. The world really didn't need to see her dressed up in a poodle skirt and bobby-sox.
As soon as he'd disappeared from sight, Kim followed Ron up to the large iron gate, holding back laughter at his bumbling attempt to impress the girl waiting to take them and several others up to the Council's training center.