liz_marcs (liz_marcs) wrote,
liz_marcs
liz_marcs

Africander Fic: Facing the Heart In Darkness; Part 21/?

For the Scatterlings and Orphanages Africander Fiction Challenge by ludditerobot .

For all previous parts, go here.
Continued from Part 20.

Yet, Dave’s revelation — just the latest of so many I had received in the course of our conversation — caused yet another suspicious tickle in the back of mind. Why, I couldn’t say. I shoved it aside and promised myself to think more on it later.

“This I’ve got to tell you, though.” Dave leaned forward with beatific smile. “I’ve got to tell you how I met Kavitha.”

 

“Please continue,” I said quietly.

“You can actually park pretty close to Banani, because, like I said, it’s a jumping off point for tourists. We still had to get out and walk around to look for my dream girl,” Dave said. He shook her head and again his eyes were seeing a long-ago day. “I turn this corner and there she was. Standing in front of her house, all dressed in white just like in my dream. She was watching everyone that even looked vaguely like a tourist. She was staring right at them with those eagle eyes like she was looking for someone.”

“She was looking for you?” I asked.

“When she saw me,” Dave was almost talking to himself now and I doubted he heard my question, “her face…her face just lit right up. She ran over to me and — God! — did she run fast. When she got to me she just threw her arms around me and started babbling like she always does when she gets excited. I was babbling back at her. We were babbling at each other, just talking in and around each other like we’d been doing it all our lives.”

“What was Mr. Harris doing during this time?” I asked.

“Dunno,” Dave said dismissively. He looked at me, his smile not dimming at all. “Let me tell you something, Eva. When I saw Kavitha for the first time, I thought, ‘This is it. This is why God put me on this earth.’ Do you know what it’s like to realize that your entire life comes down to that one moment — this moment — and it’s wrapped up in this little girl who can leap tall buildings in a single bound, and bend steel with her bare hands, and fight of demons? It’s nothing you’ve ever felt before. It’s intense, like fire sweeping right on through your nerves and you can’t stop it. You don’t want to stop it. You know right at that moment that your life isn’t yours any more. And that girl, that girl standing right there, as strong as she is, as tough as she is, and as smart as she is, she needs you. God knows why, but she does.”

Dave’s joy in meeting Kavitha was true and honest. I could see it in his face and hear it in his voice.

Then I thought of all those Grey Ghosts that haunted the halls of the First Council; all those Watchers who had outlived their Slayers and were doing nothing more than marking time until they could join their charges in the afterlife.

I did not have the heart to tell him that such joy would turn into a lifetime of suffering if he had the misfortune to outlive the girl.

No, I didn’t know what it was like, nor would I ever know from either side of the equation. I suppose there is a certain a justice in that. Perhaps in my case it is for the best, although I say this with a little regret on my part.

Dave snapped out of his near trance. “Very long story short, Kavitha drags us back to her family and introductions are made all around. Harris asks if I want to stick around because he needs me to translate into the local dialect.” Dave snorted. “Right, like he thought I was even close to saying no. He feels the family out at first, and as soon as he gets the sense they’re open to what he’s got to say he starts giving the family Slayer 101. He tells the family that he and Ally were going to give her some tests to make sure she was a Slayer before inviting her to his new training camp outside of Djenné to get the basics. Once she got some training under he belt, he’d send her back in a month or two to start her career as a Slayer.”

“I admit that I’m curious how the families react when they’re told this news,” I remarked.

“According to Harris it kind of varies, which is why he usually sends out verbal feelers,” Dave explained. “If they seem like they’re not going to buy it at first, he tries to lead them to a conclusion. If they’re open to the idea, he just comes out and tells them. He usually runs about 50-50 between families who’ll listen right away and families who have to be lead by the hand. We’re talking about the girls who actually have families to consult, by the way. Not all of the girls around here even have that much.”

“When he has to deal with a family, it must be a bit of a minefield for him to walk through,” I remarked.

“He’s really good at figuring out the score pretty early in the game,” Dave said with a shrug. “Don’t ask me how he knows when it’s safe to be honest and when it’s not, because I can’t really figure it out. Usually he goes in and assumes the family will need convincing, so at worst he might put off coming out with the truth longer than he has to.”

I wondered if there were any cases where Mr. Harris spoke out of turn before the family was ready to accept his news. I suspected I would never hear about such cases, least of all from Mr. Harris himself.

“In Kavitha’s case, it turns out the family knew there was something up with her even before she was born,” Dave said. “When Kavitha’s mom was pregnant she went to talk to the white fox.”

“‘Talk to the white fox?’” I asked.

“It’s this thing with some of the Dogons,” Dave settled into a very professor-like tone. “The Dogon believe that the white fox is descended from one of the twin sons of the goddess that created this world and who had the gift of prophecy. This son committed sacrilege — and that’s a long story, so I won’t get into here — and as punishment he was turned into the Pale Fox and lost the power of speech, but retained the gift of prophecy. The shaman’s job is to ‘talk’ to the white fox to find out the future or answer people’s questions.”

“How does he do this?”

“The shaman chooses a sandy area that’s some distance from the village and he plants sticks around the edge,” Dave answered. “Each stick has a symbol drawn in the dirt at its base. The shaman then plants peanuts or some other food in the ground in front of each stick to tempt the fox to come out and sniff around. The fox comes out at night, and, if the shaman is lucky, he’ll come into the sandy area looking for food. He walks around, digs up his nuts, eats, and leaves. The shaman reads the tracks in the morning to find out what the fox had to say about the question at hand.”

“Are you trying to tell me that your Kavitha’s family fully expected she would be a Slayer because of animal tracks?” I asked.

“Not a Slayer, per se,” Dave answered. “They were told that Kavitha was special and that she was only ‘on loan.’ That her destiny was out there in the wider world beyond Banani. She was to stay unbetrothed, pure, and uncircumcised. He said her destiny would arrive during a hot season, but she would be forced to wait before she could embrace it. She would fully understand her purpose when three guides came to collect her. One would be a ‘true sister,’ one would be a ‘guardian,’ and one would be a ‘man who sees.’”

“‘Man who sees?’” I asked.

“Does it mean something to you?” Dave asked.

I shook my head no.

“Hunh,” Dave said thoughtfully.

“What?” I asked.

He shook his head. “Nothing.”

“You’re a very bad liar, Dr. Johnson,” I said primly.

Dr. Johnson,” Dave laughed. “I guess I better behave, then.”

“Well?” I impatiently asked.

“It’s just when Harris heard ‘man who sees,’ he went white as a sheet,” Dave explained.

“Did he explain why?” I asked.

“Not right away. He told me much later — after I agreed to become Kavitha’s Watcher — that he reacted because he was taken by surprise. He’d heard some prophesies about a couple of other Slayers, but he hadn’t heard one that was so accurate before,” Dave said. “According to him, ‘one who sees’ probably meant Watcher, the ‘true sister’ probably meant Slayer, and I was probably the ‘guardian.’”

“That does make sense,” I allowed.

“Anyway, there was more,” Dave said.

“More?”

“According to the white fox, Kavitha would return home, battle in triumph, and then she would have to take flight and seek her true place in the universe as a protector of men,” Dave finished.

“A hungry white fox told them all that, did it?” I asked skeptically.

Dave shrugged with a smile.

“So, how did Mr. Harris bring you the rest of the way into this,” I waved my hand around the village, “since he didn’t bother to interpret this prophecy for you until much later.”

“Mostly Harris just let me hang with them. First I did the translating while he laid the whole deal on Kavitha’s family, then he invited me to watch Ally run Kavitha through her paces. All and all, it was a pretty full day,” Dave said. “Mostly, I sat around and grinned like a fool because I was riding a high. I didn’t even think too much about it beyond enjoying it.” Dave frowned. “That night though, that’s when it all came tumbling down.”

“Oh?” I urged.

“At the time I thought this was weird,” Dave said. “The family invited all of us to stay the night, but Harris insisted that he and I had to stay somewhere else. I forget what he told them, exactly. He gave them some story that he and I had to consult on Kavitha and determine some kind of training schedule. I think. That was part of it, anyway. The point was that he said we would stay the next night, but the first night he and I had to be sleeping somewhere else. He told Ally to stay with Kavitha and give her the Slayer-to-Slayer talk. She wasn’t happy about the fact that Harris was leaving her there alone, but after she and Harris went off into a corner and argued about it a little, she finally agreed.”

“That is odd,” I commented.

“Turned out he made the right move,” Dave said.

“How so?”

Dave released a breath through his nose. “Because I freaked out. Again.”

“About what?”

“Getting to that. Harris and I left the village and found a guesthouse in a neighboring community. He was pretty particular about it, too. He wanted a place where no one had booked the roof yet and then he paid the people a lot of extra CFAs to make sure that we’d be alone up there.”

I frowned and nodded at Dave to continue.

“I was expecting some kind of talk, you know? Something like, ‘How long can you stay on as a translator?’ or ‘When this is over, you have to keep this a secret.’ Something like that,” Dave said. “So I’m waiting for it, but instead Harris is just chatting away with me about places we’d been, countries we’ve seen, things like that. Nothing heavy at all. Slayers and vampires didn’t even come up.”

“Why isolate you?” I asked.

“Because he knew that I was going to freak out on him once everything hit me,” Dave said.

“He must be a very good judge of character if he guessed that you were going to ‘freak out,’” I remarked.

“He didn’t guess, Eva. He knew,” Dave said. “He’d been right where I was and he knew what was coming. He wanted to make sure that I was far, far away from Kavitha so I’d have room to fall apart without losing face or shaking her trust in me.”

I admit that I was utterly mystified by this statement, but I kept my silence.

“We ate, we talked, we drank some millet beer, then I went to bed. Harris said he was going to stay up and write down his field notes for the day by the light of his battery-powered lantern, so he was still awake when I drifted off to sleep,” Dave said. “Then, in the middle of the night, I woke up screaming. I just couldn’t stop. I don’t remember any dreams or nightmares or anything like that. All I felt was this feeling of failure, like I was going to lose Kavitha and there was nothing I could do about it.”

“The helplessness of a Watcher,” I muttered.

“Exactly,” Dave said.

His response caused me to frown. “I was under the impression that Mr. Harris had not yet recruited you.”

“He hadn’t. Like I said, he knew what was coming,” Dave said.

“Knew what?” I asked with frustration.

Dave frowned at me. “Maybe you don’t know because you don’t work directly with Slayers.”

“I’d be able to tell you if you’d just explain what Mr. Harris knew,” I sharply answered.

A look of doubt crossed Dave’s face, although I wasn’t sure if he doubted Mr. Harris or me. For a moment, I thought he would refuse to answer.

“I don’t think he even went to bed, you know,” Dave said. “Hell with that. I don’t think he even wrote anything in his field journal, because the second I woke up, he was right there trying to get me to calm down. Took a lot of doing on his part. I had pretty much curled up into a whimpering little ball after the screaming was over.” Dave suddenly laughed. “You probably think I’m a wimp! Running all over the countryside to escape vampires, giving up, crying, freaking out, and now whimpering.”

“Hardly,” I assured him. “It seems to me that you had to come to grips with quite a lot in a short amount of time. You survived and are now admirably serving as a Watcher to a Slayer. There are people who’ve known all their lives about this reality and have never properly faced it, nor have they done what you have done.”

I could feel myself blushing furiously as I spoke this reassurance.

Dave had the good manners — or rather the good sense — to pretend he didn’t see. “That means a lot to me,” he said.

“It’s also the truth,” I said as I picked up my bowl again and picked at the stew.

“Harris spent a lot of time talking me down. He wanted me to be very clear that there was nothing wrong with me and that I wasn’t going crazy,” Dave said. “Once I could kind of focus on where I was, he worked like hell to get me talking about normal things. Mostly he got me talking about myself. He asked me about my research. He asked me about my family. He asked me about Fairfield, that’s my hometown in Connecticut. He pretty much made me walk through my life.” Dave shook his head. “Truth to tell, I kind of needed that reminder that I was still me and still alive. We talked like that until dawn.”

I knew what was coming. “And then?” I asked.

“Once he was pretty sure I’d stabilized out, he laid the real whammy on me. He asked me what I thought about being Kavitha’s Watcher,” Dave said.

I bit my tongue. If some members of the Council were not already aware of Dave’s position as an acting Watcher, Mr. Harris’s head would’ve rolled. I wondered what story Mr. Harris, in collusion Mr. Giles no doubt, gave to the Council to explain this predicament.

“While I’m still stuttering because, I’ve got to tell you, it seemed to me like that offer came out of the blue, Harris explained that he had a feeling about me right at the start,” Dave explained. “It turns out that when I ranted and raved about my dreams the first night we met, he realized right away that I was probably dreaming about Kavitha.”

“Why would he reach that conclusion?” I frowned.

“Same thing happened to him,” Dave said. “I guess it’s kind of a Watcher thing.”

I doubled my concentration on my food. This was entering unfamiliar territory. I had never heard of such a thing before, and I was absolutely certain that I would have. I may have avoided the field, and my parents may have never been given the honor to serve a Slayer in the field, but if this sort of thing were normal I would have known.

“He didn’t know for sure. Just because I was dreaming about a girl, it still didn’t mean I was dreaming about a Slayer. He figured the best thing he could do was extend the invitation for me to tag along,” Dave continued. “If I said no, that settled it. He was wrong. If I said yes, he’d take me to the girl and would watch to see what happened. When Kavitha recognized me, even though she’d never seen me in the flesh before that very day, he knew that somehow I got chosen.”

“Chosen? By whom?” I asked.

“He didn’t say,” Dave shook his head. “I got from him that what happened to me was unusual since I had no prior connection to the Council or to Slayers, so I’m not sure he really knows.”

Let me pause here and say, yes, dear reader, I know that you are already well aware of how this sort of thing works. Before you think me thick for questioning Dave’s situation, allow me to explain. Under the First Council, situations such as those faced by Dave and Mr. Harris had never arisen for a variety of reasons, and so they were as ignorant as the rest of us and were left with only blind instinct to guide their steps.

The primary reason for this startling ignorance on all our parts is because it’s much easier to control access to a Slayer when there’s only One Girl in All the World and to bury the truth so deeply in the earth that history itself forgets. Make no mistake, dear reader, the First Council excelled at control and keeping secrets. In such an environment, there was no opportunity for nature to take its course.

However, when there are many Slayers all over the world, especially at a time when the Watcher’s Council was short on both resources and personnel, it was simply impossible for the Reformed Council to follow the pattern of its predecessor, even if Mr. Giles in his capacity as First Watcher wished to do so.

Suffice to say that at the time, Dave’s story was puzzling in the extreme to me. All I knew was that his claims were an utter impossibility. It simply bore no resemblance to the familiar rituals the First Council employed to choose the Watcher who would be sent to train and guide the Slayer.

The hows and whys and wherefores of Dave’s dreams and his connection with Kavitha would remain a mystery for some months to come. You see, dear reader, the answers had been lost for almost 1,700 years and so thoroughly forgotten by Watchers in the modern age that even those select individuals who had a notion early on that something significant had changed couldn’t even begin to search for the truth.

By the time the situation related to me by Dave — and others like it — had become common knowledge in the Reformed Council at large, it was far too late for anyone to do anything about it, not that certain parties didn’t try until the last. Truthfully, I don’t believe that the Reformed Council could have stopped what was happening even if they knew the truth from the beginning.

There’s a certain irony in the fact that just as the Reformed Council had begun taking baby steps toward solving this most puzzling mystery that a most unlikely personage who made his home in Rome provided the answer.

I can still remember sitting in that depressing, anonymous, modern hotel bar in Algiers, huddled shoulder to shoulder with Miss Summers — yes, that Miss Summers — as a man older than recorded history blithely unleashed the hounds of truth on us and expressed joy that the Old Ways, as he put it, had at last returned.

It is strange to consider that this bit of news is what truly brought home to Miss Summers just what she had released in those final days of Sunnydale. It nearly devastated her to realize that the Slayer’s Scythe indiscriminately cut both ways and that its blade had drawn blood far closer to home than she ever thought possible.

In the end, it was this devastation that drew her out of retirement and back to her rightful place. Proof in some small way that sometimes a ground cannot become fertile until the soil is watered with tears.

As for me, my devastation came from a different source: the realization that in the veins of every Watcher flows the blood of murderers and thieves. It should be no wonder those long-dead Guardians held us responsible for all that had gone wrong in the Slayer line. History, in the end, proved them right.

But then, dear reader, you are already well aware of that horrifying fact.

Now that the source of my confusion is clear to you, I will return to Dave’s tale.

“Well, I was just reeling from all of this,” Dave said. “Not even a month before, I didn’t know any of this even existed, and here I was right in the middle of it. Here’s this guy I didn’t even know offering me the opportunity of lifetime, hell, several lifetimes.”

“An opportunity? Is that how you see this?” I demanded.

“Once an anthro, always an anthro, Eva,” Dave easily shrugged. “You have no idea what it’s like to find out that every mythology, legend, and folktale just might have some truth behind it. Okay, I’m not saying the price for admission isn’t high, but the chance to see the world as it really is, instead of just seeing the way you’re supposed to see it? That’s not an opportunity everyone gets to have.”

“It’s not an opportunity most people want,” I grumbled. I admit that Dave’s amateur enthusiasm for a most difficult life put me quite out of temper. I might have been more forgiving had he not just recounted his hair-raising introduction into my world.

“True,” Dave admitted. “Plus, the whole situation has irony written all over. I’m just twisted enough to really enjoy it.”

“Irony? How so?” I petulantly asked.

“If I spotted Harris in crowd, not just in Africa, but anywhere, I would’ve avoided him like the plague,” Dave admitted. “That eyepatch, for one thing. Like I said, it puts people off. Plus, the way he carries himself. He never leaves his back exposed. I would’ve pegged him for one of those violent guys who’s always making a buck off something illegal.”

I was honestly mystified how Dave thought Mr. Harris wasn’t a violent man. When one has fought demons for as long as Mr. Harris had done by even that point in his career, the talent for violence seemed to me to be a necessary part of his skill set.

“Then his Robin Hood introduction served as a benefit,” I muttered.

“I give Harris credit. He was honest to a fault about what he was asking me to do. He said, ‘Dr. Johnson’ — he called me Dr. Johnson back then because he didn’t know me that well — ‘Dr. Johnson, if you agree to become Kavitha’s Watcher, there’s going to be a lot of long nights. All those plans you had? Those are pretty much gone. You can’t even write a paper about any of this, because they’ll laugh you right out of your job.’

“Harris hunkers down on the roof next to me and he says it straight out, ‘There are a lot of tradeoffs if you do this, and not all of them are going to all that great. There are going to be days when all your choices suck beyond the telling of it. Most of the time, you’ll be okay with that. Most of the time, you’ll even think it’s worth it. But there are going to be days, Dr. Johnson, when you’re going to really regret you ever knew I existed. There are going to be days when you wished those vampires had killed you. There are going to be days when you’ll look at all your friends and you’re going to hate them so much that you could kill them with your bare hands because they’re the reason why you got into the mess in the first place. So, I’m just warning you right now.’”

“That’s a rather gloomy pronouncement,” I remarked.

“Maybe,” Dave said. “I think he was overstating the cons against me taking on the job of Watcher for Kavitha, but that’s just him. He just wanted to be clear that I was making one hell of a life-changing decision and that if I did this it wasn’t going to be a bed of roses.”

“Fair enough, I suppose,” I grumbled.

“Before I can get a word in edgewise, he holds up his hand and says that he didn’t want an answer right that second. Instead, he wanted me to hold off giving him an answer until the next morning, to give me a chance to think about it and sleep on it,” Dave said. “If I decided to go for it, he’d take me and Kavitha down to Djenné so we could start training together. If I didn’t want to do it, I could say no and he’d call it no harm, no foul.”

“You’re going to tell me that he knew from the start you’d say yes, aren’t you?” I could barely keep the accusing tone out of my voice.

“Well, yeah. I think he pretty much knew what my answer was going to be, but that’s Harris for you,” Dave shrugged. “He’s going to give you the choice and make you decide on your own. What’s more, he’s going to make damn sure that you know that it’s your choice and if that means waiting until the heat of the moment is past, he’ll wait for it. I think he tends to go overboard to make sure people know he’s not twisting any their arms, but that’s me.”

“Yet somehow, people end up doing exactly what he wants them to do, if you noticed,” I said. “Perhaps he’s not twisting arms, but I don’t doubt that he’s above employing manipulation.”

Dave shrugged, as if it truly didn’t matter to him. “Around here? Manipulation can sometimes be the best weapon you’ve got. Manipulative? Harris? Like I said, Harris is practical to a frightening degree and if manipulation is what it takes, that’s what it takes. We’re don’t fight using the Marquis of Queensbury rules as our guide by night, why should he have to do it by day?”

“Seems to me that it opens the way for unethical behavior,” I pointed out.

“I see your point, but when it comes to making sure this village, the Slayers, and all the people who live in it get what they need, there’s almost nothing Harris won’t do,” Dave said. “I’m not even going to try to tell you that he hasn’t pulled some unethical things to get things done. Hell, I’ll do you one better and say that he’s done illegal things to get things done.”

“You’re sure about this,” I sharply said.

“Doc and Sue have the license to practice medicine in Mali because Harris bribed the right people. No matter which way you slice it, that’s illegal,” Dave pointed out. “But, it’s not unethical. Doc and Sue needed the license because the village health clinic was going to have problems if word got out that it was being run by people who didn’t have the right pieces of paper saying they could. Because Doc and Sue got the right papers, they could deal honestly with the hospital in Djenné and get a small salary from the government for the work they’re doing out here. Part of that deal meant that Doc and Sue had to promise to serve the locals — which they were doing anyway — but part of the deal meant he and Sue could get medical supplies from the hospital in broad daylight and in view of everyone in town instead of Sue keeping the jeep’s motor running at one of the service entrances while Doc and his sympathetic colleagues stole the supplies during the night. And that means Doc can be pretty sure that whatever medicines he’s got are good and are going to work the way they’re supposed to, something he wouldn’t be able to do if he had to completely rely on the five-fingered discount or the black market to get the same things.”

I had to admit that he had me there.

“The point I’m trying to make is that Harris has done his share of stepping over the line, but he doesn’t do it just because he can. He does it because he has to and that makes a world of difference in my book,” Dave said with finality.

“Fine and good,” I said icily. “I’m just curious as to why you think he hasn’t manipulated you.”

“About Kavitha? No. Not in a million years,” Dave said. “If you’re worried about him crossing lines like that, I can guarantee that Harris would shoot himself in the head before he’d do anything that would put any of the Slayers or the village in jeopardy.”

With that statement I knew that whatever doubt I might have planted in Dave’s head, he still had a bedrock belief that Mr. Harris was, at heart, a good man.

“Besides, I know he wasn’t playing me because Harris pretty much opened the whole village up to my inspection.” Dave shook his head with a grin. “Not that there was a village to even see. I came into the picture two weeks after they got this plot of land. Back then, Harris and Sister Ig were rotating the Slayers between the Tapama and some sad little tents with mosquito nets out here. I guess they thought if the Slayers had a real roof over their heads on at least an occasional basis, it would keep morale up. Before they got the mud huts built, you always had three or four girls staying at the Tapama while the rest of the crew were out here making do and waiting for their turn for three nights in paradise.”

“Not an ideal situation,” I remarked.

“Nope. Didn’t say it was,” Dave said. “Good thing I came along because I could help out Sister Ig for six weeks while Kavitha got the basics from the other girls. Bunmi wasn’t in the village at the time, so the training wasn’t as organized or as formal. It was more peer-to-peer training. No Doc and Sue, either, so it was me and Sister Ig on First Aid patrol. Not to mention we had to supervise the guys who came in to build the mud huts.”

“Why wasn’t Mr. Harris overseeing everything?” I asked.

“Harris was around a lot more back then, so he usually was here,” Dave responded. “But if he got a call to go collect a Slayer, he had to go no matter what. The guy has a lot of talents, but cloning just doesn’t happen to be one of them.”

“So you’ve been with Mr. Harris for almost a year,” I said.

“It’ll be a year near the end of next month,” Dave said with a nod.

“Why did it take you so long to apply to the Council if—”

“He knew the Council would have a collective heart attack if I came out of nowhere,” Dave interrupted. “He needed to work out how he could get me in with the Council without causing a tidal wave. During the weeks I was here, Harris just evaluated how Kavitha and I were with each other. Before he sent her back home, with me as Sanchez to her Quixote, he got Mr. Giles on the phone and told him about me. Between the two of them, they worked out a schedule. Once I was in the field for about six or seven months and had a track record, and if I still wanted to be a Watcher, they’d start the process. Most of the hang-up has been on the other end. I guess Mr. Giles has had to do a lot of backroom dealing to get me even this far, but the moment of truth has arrived. I got news about my application getting sent up to the full Council last week and I should hear next week if Kavitha and I have landed an interview to make our relationship official.”

The timing laid out by Dave caused me to frown. Once more, something in the back of my mind demanded my attention. I didn’t believe Dave was lying, but something simply sounded off. I felt like I had been handed pieces of a jigsaw puzzle and had been told to assemble them without anyone giving me a picture of what the puzzle was supposed to show me.

Before I could put my finger on the source of my discomfort, however, Radar interrupted us.

“Dave! Miss Swithin!” he yelled as he barreled the village to get to us.

Dave was immediately on his feet. “What is it?” he asked.

Radar skidded to a stop. “Xander says he wants to talk to Miss Swithin first before he talks to you.”

Dave slapped a hand over his heart. “Don’t scare me like that! I thought we had another crisis on our hands.”

“Nope. Nothing like that,” Radar grinned. “I’m supposed to take Miss Swithin to Xander now so she’ll have time to talk to Doc. When I get back from taking her, you’ll tell me all about last night, yeah?”

“Sure thing, kid,” Dave said with a chuckle.

“I would think that Mr. Harris would want to talk to Dave first, since he will be traveling this evening,” I remarked.

Dave waved a hand to indicate that he was perfectly fine with the order. “Harris and I will probably be talking awhile since we’ve got to plan everything out. It’s faster to talk to you first.”

“If you say so,” I responded doubtfully as I got to my feet.

“I’ll take care of the bowls,” Dave said. “Better leave the damp cloth on wrapped around your wrist for awhile.”

I looked down at my wrist in surprise. I had utterly forgotten that the cloth was there.

 

TBC... 

Tags: character: ensemble, character: oc, character: xander, fanfiction: 2006, fanfiction: buffy the vampire slayer, fanfiction: facing the heart in darkness, fanfiction: fic-a-thon
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