"How many ways in and out?" she asked once they were at the location the other attacks had occurred at or near. No one seemed to pay attention to the blonde woman bearing a crossbow or the three very scary looking men walking through the park with her. "I should have asked this earlier but you haven't balked so far. If any of you have a problem taking orders from a woman now's the time to go back to the car. Because while we asked for your help I am not giving up control of this situation. You didn't question me on bringing in the cops, so I'm guessing this isn't going to be a problem but just in case."
"Okay, good," she said when none of them turned to leave. "I don't want you showing yourselves unless I indicate you should. I don't want to scare this girl off and you," she said glancing at each of them. She could not help but prolong her glance at Ranger just a touch longer than necessary. She realized it was probably just her hormones out of control. He was an attractive man and she had not been with a man in a long time. "Are scary boys. So, let me do the work and you can help me get her back to the truck if I need you to."
"What happens if she doesn't show tonight?" Hal asked.
"She'll show, maybe not tonight but she'll show. The time between the last one and the one before that was only a day or two apart. That was two days ago."
"You've done your homework," Tank said, Buffy saw a flicker of being impressed in his eyes before it was gone.
"Okay, boys, go hide without scaring away our bait." She was not used to using bait that was not cooperative or did not know they were being used. From the looks of the guys in the park right now and the things she had read about, she did not feel so bad about it. Rapes, drug deals, fights, shootings, knives, it happened in this area with frightening frequency.
She really could not blame this slayer for wanting to clean the area up, get rid of the scum that preyed on kids. She might have been tempted to do the same if the vampires and the demons and the apocalypses had not kept her busy.
She was too far away to hear any actual conversation going on between the guys standing around. They were drinking beer, smoking what looked like pot and were loud enough to draw the attention of passersby. She wondered why the police did not crack down. Maybe it was like Sunnydale with the vampires. They just turned their back on it, pretending the problem did not exist, hoping it would go away on its own.
She was nodding off when she saw her. Buffy did not know how she knew this girl was the one she was looking for, she just did like she had with every retrieval so far. She liked to think it was some sort of connection to them. Willow said she felt them when she had done the spell and Buffy knew she was connected as well.
She was tall, over six feet Buffy guessed, and slender. And as she strode confidently toward the gang bangers in the park, Buffy was taken aback by her ethereal beauty even though she still had yet to see the girl's face. She was not black but was not white either, a mix of different races maybe. Her dark hair was worn past her butt and straight. Buffy felt the power and strength roll off the girl as she approached the group that was well on their way to being drunk by now.
She never grew tired of this, getting her first glimpse of the slayer she had been sent to retrieve. She had felt so clumsy at first, she could not believe she looked as graceful as the girls she had retrieved so far did. They embraced their newfound strength and power. Of course they had not been required to pick up the stakes and crossbows that went with their calling right away.
It was not until she flipped her hair back and let one of the guys light a cigarette that Buffy realized this girl was far from perfect. The side of her face was full of scars. She was lulling the group into complacency, letting them think she was on their side. Buffy knew she had to act now or if there was bloodshed it would be her fault.
She hated doing it, but had to given the circumstances. She was not going to jump into the middle of a group of gang bangers without having the upper hand from the moment she made her presence known. She got her crossbow readied and stealthily made her way to the group.
Buffy found it interesting that the slayers she had retrieved so far could not sense her like she could them. She assumed it was because she was the one connected to them by way of the spell not the other way around. It usually worked to her advantage, though, because she could sneak up on them.
"Hey," she called out once she had the weapon trained on the girl. "You look like you're having so much fun, so I'm sorry to ruin it. But you boys need to run on home now. You," she said gesturing to the crossbow to the slayer, "you need to stay put." Buffy's eyes met dark brown ones through the crossbow's site.
"You don't really know how to use that," one of the guys said.
Buffy drew a knife from under the leather jacket and with barely a glance in the guy's direction tossed the knife so it landed just in front of his feet. "I wasn't even really trying. So do you really want to test that theory?" she asked. "I've also got three fellas out there just itching for some violence. And believe me when I tell you they're a lot scarier looking than I am and probably have no qualms about taking out a human or two. Now my business isn't with any of you, so just get out of here."
The girl did not make any effort to run nor did she give any indication that she was giving herself up either. Now that she was closer the scars were even harsher, even her lip on that half of her face was scarred. The other side of her face had tattoos on it, gang tattoos if Buffy were to take a guess.
Buffy had every confidence in the three men covering her back. She knew that they would ensure the gang bangers stayed away until her business with the slayer was done. It was nice to work with professionals. "What's your name?"
"I'm Buffy. I'm here to help you."
She laughed at that. "You can't help me. No one can."
"I'm sure you think that. I'm sorry no one was here to help you when you needed it. But I can now if you let me. You've been given a great gift and I can teach you how to use it."
"You know why this happened to me?"
Buffy was not sure what she was asking about. "The strength?" April nodded. "Yes, I know and I can help you use it to do good things. Save the world type stuff. It's dangerous, you could die."
"I died a long time ago," April said.
"Me, too," Buffy agreed. She did not have the physical scars April bore from her life's journey, but she had scars of her own. "But hurting humans won't make it go away. Nothing will make it go away, April."
"You don't know that."
"I do know. Has it helped you? Have you gotten back at him yet?"
"Whoever did that to you?" Buffy realized she was probably treading on iffy ground.
"Let me help you. I'll show you here in Trenton what you can do. If you want to come with me and learn more about our mission and who you've become then you can come back to Cleveland with me and never look back at this place again."
"You mean that?"
"I do." Buffy could tell the girl was thinking. She really was not a girl. She was probably closer to eighteen or nineteen. She was still striking to look at despite the scars. She understood why the girl chose to keep her hair long, though, she could use it to frame her face like a curtain and keep curious onlookers at bay.
"You don't know me."
"I don't know you personally, no, but I know what you are. You don't. Let me help you at least that much."
"I could really get out of here?"
"You could be on your way to Cleveland with me tomorrow if you want to."
"I've got a baby."
"The baby can come too," Buffy said simply. "In fact, I would hope for the baby's sake you'll come with me. You'll end up in jail if you keep this up and never see your baby again."
"She'd end up in foster care."
"Probably," Buffy agreed. "Can I put this down now?" Buffy asked with a wiggle of the crossbow.
"Where are you going to take me?"
"You'll just have to wait and see," she said letting the crossbow fall to her side. "I'm Buffy, by the way. Buffy Summers."
"Nice to meet you, April Sanchez. Let's go see what you can do."
"Do you really have others with you?"
She had almost forgotten about Ranger and the other two. "Yep," she said as the first of the men emerged from his hiding spot.
"This your girl?" Ranger asked.
"Yes," Buffy replied simply.
"Let's go then."
"Can you drop us some place and come back after you get these two where they need to go?" Ranger regarded her for a moment and nodded simply. She gestured for him to follow her to the back of the SUV where she rummaged through her duffle bag. She took out the obituaries section of the newspaper she had brought along. "I need to know where these two would have been buried."
"Easy as pie, Bunny," he said with a wink before he walked to the driver's side of the SUV.
"Thanks," she said with a shake of her head. She never would have imagined him to be the teasing type.
Story ©Susan Falk/APCKRFAN/PhantomRoses.com