Visitors (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)

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9780671026288: Visitors (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)

The paranormal forces centered in Sunnydale attract the vilest kinds of evil: vamps, demons

"Sinopsis" puede pertenecer a otra edición de este libro.

About the Author:

Josepha Sherman is an author and folklorist whose novels include The Shattered Oath and Forging the Runes. She lives in New York City.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

CHAPTER 1

"Good heavens." Rupert Giles, a folded airmail letter still clutched in one hand, stopped short in the doorway of his sanctuary -- Sunnydale High School's library -- so suddenly that Buffy nearly crashed into him.

"Giles -- "

He was looking about him in dismay. "The library is full of people."

"It is a library," Buffy pointed out. "People are allowed in here. If they want."

"Well, yes, of course. But normally, it is, uh, strikingly empty."

Which, Buffy suspected, was how Giles liked it. Empty meant that he didn't have to go through the motions of being a high school librarian and could instead focus on his true reason for being in Sunnydale. That reason, of course, was to be the Watcher to the current Slayer of vampires, and to keep an eye on anything else that happened to come visiting the Hellmouth.

Said Slayer being, duh, herself.

But today, the long low table at which the Slayer and her Slayerettes -- Will, Xander, and Cordelia -- usually sat, was filled with strangers: five chattering, gesturing fems and one guy, all a little on the old side to be your typical Sunnydale students.

Then again, Buffy thought, what's typical around here? Werewolves, witches, invisible girls, Cordelia...

The strangers' books and belongings were spread out across the table's polished surface as though they owned it. Not exactly full of people, but she saw Giles's point. They had definitely made themselves at home. A sight which did not give her warm and fuzzy feelings. Her library. Her librarian.

"Ah, may I help you?" Giles asked them all, shoving the letter he was still clutching into his pocket and doing a pretty good impersonation of a stuffy British librarian.

He doesn't have to act real hard.

"No, we're cool."

The young woman who'd spoken was striking, Buffy admitted, if one liked the snooty sort. A brunette, with a real I-am-the-leader 'tude. But natural, like she was used to taking charge, and people were used to letting her do it.

"Student teachers," Giles said suddenly, oblivious to the fact that he was standing there in front of them. "Of course. Principal Snyder was muttering about them all last week."

Buffy remembered now. Some new program from the local community college. One of those "real-life experiences" her mom was always so hot on, that usually involved extra credit and weekends.

Great. Just what we all need, more teachers. At least the invasion would only be for a few weeks.

"Hey Giles, Buffy says -- "

Willow Rosenberg burst through the library doors and skidded to a stop as she took in the sight of the other occupants. Her face raced through surprise, dismay, calculation, and then a pleasant blandness settled over it like a mask.

Buffy had to give her redheaded bud credit -- Willow was really getting the hang of that expression. Much more, and she'd be recruited by the CIA, as well as one of those take-over-the-world software companies.

Making an obvious effort to ignore the strangers, Willow added in a quieter voice, "Buffy says -- oh. Hi, Buffy. You're there. I mean, here. Okay. I guess you can tell him yourself."

"I told you I was going to stop by and see him before seventh. You just forgot. She," Buffy said to Giles, "is obsessed."

"I am not!"

"Are."

"Not! Maybe...a little."

"Could someone perhaps, ah, clue me in?" Giles asked.

"The Battle of the Bands, you know?" No, the man clearly didn't, so Buffy tried the brief version. "Oz's band is going to be in a contest -- lots of bands from all over the area -- and that's all she's thinking about."

"I am not!" Willow protested again, more feebly this time.

"Are too. Trust me on this, Will. Your brain has turned into happy gray mush. And what I was going to tell you," Buffy continued to Giles, "is that I won't be able to make it this afternoon. It's, you know, Quality Time with Mom Day."

Once Joyce Summers had gotten over the understandable shock of learning that her only daughter was destined to spend her nights chasing down demons and turning them into dust, she had, Buffy thought, managed to deal well enough. For a cardcarrying member of the mom union, anyway. The whole idea of a curfew for Buffy had gone out the window, which was a Good Thing, but a sit-down dinner at least once a week, complete with actual conversation, had been put into place with an iron fist.

"I see," Giles said. He left the newcomers to their own devices with only a single, worried glance, as though he was afraid they were going to start playing catch with his precious books. "Quite understandable. Despite the knowledge that the more people who know of your, ah, other responsibilities, the more dangers arise, I can't help but think that this is a good thing. Contrary to everything I've been taught as a Watcher, of course, but nonetheless, a good thing. You, um, will be, that is, you do still plan to study this evening?"

"Study?" Willow looked downright puzzled.

"Told you all she can think about is Oz and his band," Buffy murmured.

Red-faced, Willow said, "Oh. Right. Study. Lots of studying. After dinner. With her mom." Trying to change the subject, she added, "So, any new books come in?"

"No. Willow, I've told you already, I am not going to let you read any of the..." Giles looked over his shoulder at the student teachers, who were apparently immersed in their own paperwork -- "the older books in the collection."

"You don't trust me," Willow said sadly. "He doesn't trust me, Buffy."

"It is not a question of trust," Giles cut in. "Not exactly. Ah, could we perhaps finish this conversation another time? I have...paperwork that I need to complete before Principal Snyder comes looking for me."

"Snyder? Here?" Willow squeaked. "Oh. I have class. Or something. Soon. Gotta go."

"Me, too," Buffy added, and hurried after her friend, catching up with her at the doors.

A low snort from the table in the wake of the two girls' exit indicated that a) the student teachers had not been as oblivious as it had seemed, and that b) they already shared the prevailing opinion of the principal after only a few days' exposure to him.

Giving them a quick, wary smile, Giles turned and all but dove into his office, closing the door firmly behind him.

Once safely alone, the Watcher sank into his broken-down chair, looking once again at the letter he'd retrieved from his pocket. And once again, a pang of alarm shot through him.

A member of the Council was coming here.

"Why?" Giles muttered. "Haven't we proven ourselves already? Over and over again, in fact?"

He glanced at the time...good enough. He could call England, demanding an answer --

No. If the Council is testing us in some way, panicking like that would send the wrong message. Better to treat this visit as a normal occurrence. A routine annoyance. No need to worry Buffy about it, either. She has enough problems right now.

Such as that dinner with her mother.

Giles snorted. He wasn't sure who to feel more sympathy for: his Slayer, or her mother.


"Buffy, it's not as though I'm asking you to devote your entire life to helping me out. Just one evening."

Buffy pushed the food around on her plate a little, not wanting to look up at her mother's face. It had been a really nice dinner up until this point. Well, okay, it had only been ten minutes. But setting the table had been fun. They'd even been singing along to the radio together, the way they used to.

"Mom, it's not that I don't want to. I know how much this opening means to you -- "

"How can you know that? Tell me, Buffy. How many opening nights of exhibits have you attended? No, scratch that. How many shows have you attended, period?"

Buffy looked up at that, indignant. "Three. There was the really cool fabric thing from Japan, the African masks exhibit, and the West Indian whatsis that had the really weird food. Xander thought he was going to need his stomach pumped."

She sat back, triumphant. But the triumph didn't last long.

"The first one you attended because Willow wanted to go, and the second one your art teacher strongly suggested you all attend, for extra credit you needed to keep from flunking. And you all thought that the West Indies exhibit would have something to do with sun and sand and tanned guys in tiny swimsuits."

Buffy shrugged, contemplating the bit of chicken on her fork. "We had hopes. Your ads were false advertising."

"Buffy, all I want is for you to give me one evening of your time. An evening, mind you, that I'm telling you about two weeks in advance. I don't think that's at all cruel and unusual of me."

"I know, I know." Buffy wanted to help her mom out. Just not like that. The thought of standing around for hours, handing out canapés and refilling the punch bowl and making polite chitchat to art critics and newspaper reporters and people like Cordelia's mom, who was always anywhere there was Important Art being discussed -- plus a few cameramen to take her picture, natch -- made school look appealing.

"It's just that we had made plans to go to the movies that night, all of us" -- no need to tell her that it would be Oz's last night of freedom before he went into the doghouse -- "and I was really looking forward to it."

The Little-Old-Overworked-and-Highly-Responsible-Me thing was always a good bet. Her mother looked like she was relenting, just a little, and Buffy moved in for the kill. "It's not like I'm slacking off, or anything. Really. It's just that I need this break. It's not like I don't hold down a full-time job already. One, I might add, with horrible hours, no health benefits whatsoever, and absolutely no pay."

She paused, sidetracked by that thought for a moment, then decided that now was definitely not a good time to bring up the question of an increase in her allowance. "This was supposed to be the one night I got to dump it all in someone else's lap for a couple of hours and just be a teenager. You know, complete and total lack of responsible behavior? Can't you hire someone to help out? There's got to be someone who's good with that kind of socializing lurking around, right?"

Joyce Summers tried to be patient. She tried to be understanding, even with the added burden of being the Slayer's mom. But she wasn't perfect. And so she fell back upon the age-old cry of parents everywhere, in every generation.

"Buffy, honey, I'm not made of money. I can't afford to hire anyone to help me out. So I'm afraid that I'm going to have to insist."

"But Mom," Buffy began again, spearing a piece of salad with unnecessary vigor.

"No, Buffy. That's final." Joyce sighed, finishing off her own salad. "Honestly, you'd think I was asking you to chop off your own head or something. I'm not asking for an entire day out of your life -- just an evening. A few hours. And you can even bring your homework with you, so after we get everything set up, you can get some studying done as well before the press arrives."

Ouch. Bringing the grades thing in is fighting dirty. Buffy took a deep breath, trying to calm herself. This was her mother. This wasn't an enemy. This wasn't a battle.

"Mom. I'm trying. I'm busting my butt, in fact. You know that. And my grades are going up, so can't we ease up on the twenty-four/seven study thing?"

"No." Joyce tried to smile. "Tell you what. How about a bribe? You come help me out this one time, and I won't say a word about your study habits all that weekend."

Buffy chewed a mouthful of chicken and considered the offer. She'd make her mom happy, suffer for an evening, miss a night out with the gang, yeah, but a weekend free of mom nag? "Make it an entire week, and you've got a deal."

"Don't bargain with me, young lady. I haggle with art dealers who're tougher than half a dozen vampires every single day."

Her mom was joking, but Buffy knew that tone of voice. It meant she'd pushed her about as far as was safe. Another whine, and the bribe would probably go the way of five-and-a-quarter disks.

Some times, even the Slayer had to back off. A little.


The moon was a pale sliver low in the sky, clouds scudding across it lazily. Buffy strode through the cemetery, Mr. Pointy swinging in a loose grip by her side. In a weird way, using the stake Kendra had given her made her feel...tougher. A little more able to deal with the weight of being the Slayer.

"Okay, none of that feeling-sorry-for-your-self stuff," she warned. But it was an easy thing to fall into. Will had promised to patrol with her, so they could do the study-talk and walk, but her best bud had bailed on her to watch the Dingoes practice yet again: the Battle of the Bands, as Willow had reminded Buffy at least five times today, would take place at the Bronze at the end of next week.

Oh no, she's not obsessed, Buffy thought. Not much.

Not that Buffy blamed her. Much. Hanging with your sweetie, even if he was totally involved in his music, beat stomping through the dead zone any night.

They're just lucky the Battle's set for a non-full-moon night. Otherwise there'd be that whole Teen Wolf thing to worry about. Gee, that would make the band really stand out, wouldn't it? Except --

She froze in midthought. There it was again -- that cold prickly thing along the back of her neck that had been tailing her the previous night. Not the feeling she got about vamps, but ooky nonetheless. Buffy waited a bit, and it faded slightly.

Great, now I'm hallucinating. "I'm sorry, Giles, couldn't stake a thing 'cause I was jumping at shadows." Not a good way to start the morning report, no.

Not that there was going to be much to say. So far, the night had been a total bust. Not a vamp in sight, not even stupid ones. Just that weird feeling of being watched. And even that got majorly old after a while.

Much more of this, and she was going to start getting not jumpy, but downright bored.

Not that this is something I would be unhappy about. Mom's right: Bored is good. In small doses.

As Buffy moved on, she had an image of her mother, waiting up like she was on a date or something. If only! The social life was definitely in dormant stage right now.

A crackle of sound off to the left made her freeze. Something was watching her! Jumping up on a low monument, Buffy scanned the surrounding tombscape. Nothing moved, not even a stray cat skulking through the underbrush.

Geez, where is everyone? The mall? Is there a sale on I didn't hear about?

Shopping reminded her of the normal, everyday world. And that made her think of her mother again. Dinner, while good in a foo...

"Sobre este título" puede pertenecer a otra edición de este libro.

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