by Joseph Anderson

Buffy/Catwoman crossover. Buffy and company are the property of Mutant Enemy. Catwoman is owned by DC Comics. This is the Catwoman from the comics, not the awful recent movie.

No copyright infringement is intended with this fanfiction, which may not be sold and must contain all notice of copyright.

Warning for language, violence and some sexuality but nothing graphic . I'd rate it PG.

Post Buffy episodeChosen.

The plane broke through clouds and the sprawling airport came into view. After they landed at LaGuardia and debarked, Giles disappeared with lawyers almost immediately. Faith listened to Buffy and the others, rolled her eyes and took them around to do the stupid touristy stuff they wanted. She secretly enjoyed it though. Now except for Giles the surviving Scoobies felt out of place in the obscenely expensive restaurant. It wasn't trendy expensive, it was Old Money expensive, with huge chandeliers, cut crystal and deep rugs. As an elegant older man led them to a table Giles glanced at them and said, "You look fine." They nodded. None believed it but they appreciated the gesture. Buffy was her usual stoic self. Dawn wanted to disappear down a hole she was so mortified at her I Heart NY t-shirt. Faith wanted to go with her but hid it better. Besides she knew she was hot, trashy maybe but hot, and that counted for a lot.

"So what are we doing here?" Faith asked quietly.

Andrew answered eagerly, "We're gonna meet someone about reforming the Watcher's Council. Right, Mr. Giles?"

Xander said, "Could you repeat that a little louder? Some demons washing dishes in the kitchen might not have heard you."

Andrew whispered, "Sorry!" He diffidently sat down.

Buffy sat on Giles' right and Faith on his left. Andrew, Dawn, Willow and Xander completed the table. Buffy said to Giles, "That is what we're doing here though?"

Giles didn't speak as a beautifully dressed hostess poured them water from an ornate silver vessel and left. He sipped his water from a cut crystal goblet and took his glasses off to industriously clean. The young people all caught each others' eyes. He was stalling. Not a good sign. Finally when his glasses had reached the desired sheen and he replaced them on his nose he saw the expressions. "Oh for heaven's sake! It's not that bad. She knows we want to talk, presumably. Whether she shows up is another matter entirely. I'm counting on her curiosity, however."

"What, is this some retired watcher you wanna drag out of mothballs?" Xander put his elbows on the snow white linen tablecloth and munched a breadstick.

"Not exactly."

"I don't get it." Andrew opined loudly and cringed again at the looks he received.

Willow smiled. "Oooh...this is all mysteriousy. Is there a password? I like passwords."

"The lion sings tonight," Xander said.

"In the jungle." Andrew intoned.

"The quiet jungle," Willow hissed in her double agent voice.

"Giles..." Buffy said and he knew from her tone to get to the point.

"It's a slayer with even less use for the Watcher's Council than you, Buffy."

"How? There's only one. I mean there used to be." Buffy frowned.

Faith said, "Look at you and me, B. A new slayer was called but the stiff made a miraculous recovery."

Giles sighed. "Charmingly put, Faith. Later she severed her ties with the Council."

Willow said, "I bet it happened at least a couple other times considering all the wierdness a slayer deals with."

Buffy asked, "Why'd she break with the Council?"

"It was a complex situation but the immediate cause was the Council's attempt to capture her. Being a slayer, not surprisingly, it was unsuccessful.

"Was she a murderer like me?" Faith asked in a low shamed voice.

"No, nothing like that. She chafed at the discipline however and was truly impossible to manage. Their relationship deteriorated even further unfortunately."

Buffy and Faith caught each others' eyes. Faith said, "They tried to put her down when they couldn't catch her."

Giles nodded. "Ultimately. There was a breakdown of communication and a good deal of mistrust."

"I guess so!" Faith exclaimed.

"She hadn't really done anything? And they tried to kill her?" Buffy asked. "I'm surprised they didn't consider doing away with me."

"Let's order, shall we?" Giles said quickly. The waiter returned and Giles ordered for himself in French, then seeing the helpless looks on their faces he ordered for the rest as well.

"A fine choice, sir." The distinguished waiter said and left them alone.

Giles continued, "She was the active slayer for over ten years."

Faith whistled admiringly. Giles said, "She declined a mission as not worth the risk. She also disliked patrolling. That may account for her longevity."

"The world didn't end. She was right," Buffy said. "Bet the Council didn't look at it that way though."

"No. No, they didn't." Giles said, "In the Council's defence, there was a bit more to it. She supplemented her stipend from the Council with criminal activities; nothing heinous but criminal nonetheless. There were also serious questions about a mission she undertook in spite of the Council."

"Stipend?" Buffy said.

"Not that that excuses them trying to kill her, of course."

Buffy remembered the Doublemeat Palace. After her shift she still had to patrol, that greasy smell saturating her soul. She was afraid she dusted a vamp for the wrong reason when he mentioned it. "Hey, where's my stipend? I coulda used a stipend. I want my back stipends!"

Giles looked at her. "Certainly Buffy. That can be arranged. Several female watchers who joined the Council in the 1970s felt a stipend was demeaning. The Council accepted their recommendation it be stopped."

Buffy grumbled, "Damn feminists."

"Bet they were ugly too." Willow agreed and made a face. She quickly added, "Not that there's anything wrong with not fitting what society considers attractive. Everyone is attractive in their own..."

Xander interrupted her. "Yeah, yeah, yeah. There's plenty o' slayers now. What d'ya need this one for?"

A sexy low voice answered , "I know where the bodies are buried--literally. Reason they finally left me alone. Anything happened to me that smelled and the Council's pasty limey mugs would be on every TV and front page in the world. No offence, Jeeves."

"None taken. And the name is Rupert Giles, actually."

"I know who you are, Ripper."

A woman in a slinky black dress slid into the chair between Andrew and Dawn. Buffy studied her: medium height, shoulder-length dark hair, green eyes with arching eyebrows, wide dark red lips, and a well-endowed chestal area. Her makeup looked professional. Buffy thought of old movie stars: Marlene Dietrich, Claudette Colbert, maybe Lauren Bacall--femme fatales. Buffy glanced at Giles; his face was red; so was Xander's. Andrew was just looking at her curiously which figured. She saw Willow blushing too. Buffy felt betrayed. Dawn's eyes were huge.

The waiter reappeared and placed a champagne glass in front of the woman and a plate with a lone sardine. "Always an honor, madam."

"Thank you, Raoul. Perfect." She drew the last word out.

Faith was enthralled. That's what she wanted to be when she grew up. "Bet you drove your watcher wild back in the day."

The woman picked the sardine up and bit its head off before taking the rest in a bite. She licked her lips and sipped her champagne. "Watchers, plural. I had six of 'em."

"Why so many?" Faith asked.

"Well, one was killed by a ghoul...ugh. Council pulled another off because he was a pillhead. I liked my first watcher but that's why the Council didn't. Other two couldn't keep their mind on business. Nobody owns this pussy."

Xander spit his water out choking. The woman cast a langorous look at him. "Careful there, big boy. I might have to perform mouth to mouth on you."

Xander turned bright red. The woman laughed and reached over to dry his chin with a napkin. She winked at Buffy's scowl.

"Miss Guretsky, if we may discuss the matter at hand." Giles spoke pompously.

"Call me Selina, Jeeves." She rested her cheek on her hand. "Why should I help? You know how the Council treated me."

Giles chose his words carefully. "That is not the only reason I desired this meeting. The secrets you know would be helpful but are not indispensable. I've studied your career as a slayer. You were unorthodox but effective. It was incredibly shortsighted for the Council to act as they did."

"Shortsighted? They tried to kill me!"

"Quite unprofessional, I must say."

"Oh, you'd say that, huh? A sniper picked me off the roof of the friggin Frick. For all I know you pulled the trigger."

"Holy National Endowment of the Arts!" Andrew exclaimed breathlessly.

Willow said, "Giles would never do anything like that!"

The woman got a slow smile. "Ripper here? Sorry to disillusion you, but he's done things exactly like that. Haven't you, Rupert? Now keep quiet before I drop a house on you."

Willow was too insulted to respond.

Giles said, "Think who you are, Selina. It's your duty...."

A long nailed hand flicked out and left three scratches on Giles' cheek. He indicated for Buffy to stay out of it.

Selina sarcastically said, "Wrong argument, Jeeves. I did my duty and all it got me was a slug in the back."

Giles dabbed at his cheek with his napkin. "You have a right to feel that way. But hear me out. There are hundreds perhaps thousands of young slayers out there now, confused, frightened, afraid they're going mad. No one but the Watchers Council can possibly teach them what they need, or protect society from them if it comes to that. I'm not telling you anything you don't know."

"Get to the point, Ripper."

"With an army of slayers, the Council will be a thousand times as powerful as before. And, as you say, look how they treated you."

Buffy hadn't thought of that. Glancing at Selina, she had no idea what the woman was thinking. Her beautiful enigmatic face betrayed nothing.

Giles said sincerely, "Selina, you can make it what it should be. I want you to head the new Watchers Council."

"What?" Buffy exclaimed.

"Way to go, Giles!" Faith said.

"G-man!" Xander said appreciatively.

Selina Guretsky stood up and flipped her hair back. "I'll think about it." She spoke haughtily, turned and strode away, every eye in the room following her long legs and twitching hips.

Xander looked at Giles. "Tell me she's real. Please tell me she's real."

Andrew made an ooing sound and his eyes were wide.

"Who? What? How?" Buffy was confused.

Giles dabbed his cheek again. It was a classic purloined letter strategy, hide in plain sight and force the Council to cover her tracks for their own security. Or perhaps their aggravation was its own reward. No doubt both. The Council investigated and those comic book people knew nothing. Selina had manipulated them without them even knowing it, feeding them tidbits, and charmed them into naming their new creation for her. She liked a personal touch.

Giles put a hand on the young man's shoulder. "Yes, Xander, there is a Catwoman."

Buffy came downstairs in the Central Park West townhouse. Sitting in the kitchen, Faith looked up from a glossy tattoo magazine.

"They still at it?" Buffy asked.

"Fraid so, B. Why I'm hiding out in here."

The blonde started to walk away but stopped at the picture spread out on the table: a panther climbing out of the crack in a woman's ass. "You're not..."

"I was just lookin', B. Doncha think it's kinda cool though?"

Buffy smiled and shrugged. Before she would have disapproved on the theory the Slayer should be like a big mom. But she wasn't anybody's mom, or the Chosen One anymore, not even one of the Chosen Two. There were more slayers than you could shake a stick at these days. Can't swing a cat without hitting one. "Maybe I'll get something with you."

Faith looked surprised and grinned.

Buffy entered the living room and heard Andrew's voice: "Her daring cat crimes baffled the Police. This was no common malefactor but a criminal mastermind of the highest order. Only one man (but such a man!) could hope to stop the Feline Fatale's reign of terror!"

Xander cut in: "Yet the Princess of Plunder eluded capture time and again. The Dark Knight Detective foiled her schemes but she escaped, only to return with even more brilliant feline capers."

Andrew said, "Ah, but did she really escape the Batman?"

"You don't mean...."

"Would even the Masked Manhunter forsake his duty for a pair of lovely eyes? The Boy Wonder suspected as much."

Xander resignedly said, "We can never know. Maybe it's better that way."

Andrew spoke breathlessly. "More than once Catwoman returned the favor, aiding his escape from her own partners in crime. Murder is not a feline trait. Is that a soul beyond redemption?"

"I think not!" Xander said forcefully.

Buffy spoke up. "Have you seen Giles?"

Andrew smiled. Xander turned red. "How long have you been there, Buffster?"

"Long enough. Where's Giles?"

"I'm here, Buffy." The English voice came from an overstuffed chair whose back was turned to them. "What can I do for you?"

"You've been sitting here listening to them?" Buffy was amazed.

Andrew smiled. "Mr. Giles did more than listen. He knows lots of cool stuff about the Catwoman."

Giles stood up and turned to face his slayer. "I can't deny it."

"We need to talk."

Xander put his hand on Andrew's shoulder. "That's our cue."


"Andrew, Buffy wants to talk to Giles ALONE."

"Oh...yeah...I knew that." When he didn't make any move to leave Xander steered him out of the room.

Giles waited.

"Were you serious in that offer?"

"When have you known me to be facetious about something important? Of course I was serious."

"Giles, she's been out of everything for, what, ten years?"

"Longer than that."

"That's another thing. Isn't she sorta young looking?"

Giles said, "When she was still the active slayer Selina investigated a series of killings in Scotland. She presented a theory which the Council found farfetched, at which point she ignored a direct order and pursued a vampire from Glasgow to Lisbon. For over three years the Council had to fight the day to day menace of demon activity with nothing but vague reports, diplomatic incidents, and requests for money, visas, and the like from the slayer herself. When a new slayer was called, the Council assumed the obvious. Eighteen months later she came walking into council headquarters at the stroke of midnight. Selina Guretsky's appearance has remained unchanged since that time."

Buffy stared. "And just when was this, Giles?"

"She resurfaced in 1947."

"He sired her! She's a vampire!"

"Buffy, while nocturnal the illustrious Miss Guretsky has no qualms about sunlight. She also has a reflection and is known to frequent churches despite being a lapsed Catholic. So she is most definitley not a vampire. The Council investigated all of this thoroughly."

"I'm listening."

"Keep in mind, Buffy, these were the years of world war two. There were rumored sightings of Selina as well as Oshkaras, the vampire she was hunting, throughout the Eastern and Western theater of operations. On a number of occasions she assisted partisans in flagrant disregard of Slayer protocol. Later investigators pieced together the final chapter. She chased Oshkaras from Rio di Janiero to Lagos and subsequently Dakar in West Africa. Eventually Selina followed him to Casabanca in Morocco where a nightclub was burned down, then to Egypt where the Suez Canal had to be closed for repairs. It is unclear what happened next but a series of murders consistent with a vampire plagued the lower Nile Delta region. Selina was seen. A disturbance was reported in Bubastis and the vampiric activity ended abruptly." He stopped as if that explained everything.

Why hadn't she heard any of this? It was epic. She knew why. It was all against Council orders. "And?"

Giles looked up "Oh, you want more details, naturally. Quite right. Learn from the past. Selina claimed the vampire was a devotee of Set the Egyptian god of Evil. She requested information about Set and two other Egyptian deities, the cat goddess Bast, and Sekhmet, a lion-headed goddess of divine retribution. The Research Department complied and were subsequently reprimanded."

"Explains the cat stuff. Is that one god with two names?"

"Buffy! Good question!"

"You don't have to be so surprised, Giles."

"Of course, Buffy. Both were solar deities with feline attributes so it certainly seems plausible. Bast stood for the nurturing sun and Sekhmet the sun's destructive power."

"Handy for vamp fighting," Buffy commented.

"Indeed. Some sources describe one primeval goddess who split into two parts or that they were sisters. However, the oldest references indicate two completely unrelated goddesses. Sekhmet was actually an aspect of Hathor, one of the most important deities in the Egyptian pantheon. Bast was a merciful goddess of domesticity, love and sexual pleasure. Although Bubastis was sacred to Bast, Sekhmet, the avenging Eye of Ra, may have been more pertinent to Selina's immediate situation."

"Oh." Buffy was trying to keep her eyes from glazing over.

Giles continued, warming to his subject. "As for Selina Guretsky's 'cat stuff' her watchers noted her affected mannerisms long before Bubastis. Her sanity had been a topic of discussion because of it. For myself, I believe she chose a feline persona as an act of self creation."

"So a Big Giant Cat Head liked what it saw and worked a mojo."

"Only Selina Guretsky knows for certain what happened."

Buffy smiled and said teasingly, "You've been a cat groupie since the old days. I saw how you looked at her."

"I can't deny it."

The slayer frowned. "That was too easy. Way too easy."

Giles waited.

Buffy said, "She was right about you wasn't she? You pulled the trigger."

"Would you like a drink?" Giles asked.


Giles prepared a scotch and soda for himself and Buffy. He handed it to her and sat down. They sipped the drinks and Buffy looked in Giles' eyes.

"A marksman was brought in. I pointed her out for him."

"Like Judas."

"Why yes, that similarity never occurred to me before."

"Now you're being facetious?"

"Indeed." Giles smiled. "After her reappearance, the Council assumed the worst. She would never voluntarily undergo testing so they lured her to a meeting. Selina emptied a tureen of gazpacho soup onto the head of the Watcher's Council and made her escape. After several years, when it was clear she wasn't aging normally, the authorization to terminate her was given. There were three attempts on her life. I took part in the second. The Council was hardly unaminous on the subject."

Buffy sipped her drink. "I can almost see their point. Why'd she even meet us? It mighta been another setup."

"Curiosity. Selina Guretsky is fearless. And she is aware of the situation with the new slayers. Over the years she aided slayers on several occasions despite the Council's wishes. She stopped being so helpful after she was shot. It was my first important assignment."

"You were just following orders," Buffy said.

Giles smirked and took a deep drink of his scotch.

"So you've had a guilty conscience all these years. You think making her head of the new council will make up for that?"

Giles snorted making Buffy jump. "Hardly! Buffy, what happened to the last head of the council?"

"Quentin? Blowed up." She spoke lightly and shrugged.

"Buffy, while I realize you had reason to dislike him, Quentin Travers dedicated his life to fighting evil and died doing it."

"He was a dickhead."

Giles gave up and continued, "Leading the Watchers Council is inherently dangerous. In Selina Guretsky's case, she also has enemies of the non-demon variety. Organized crime figures and foreign dictators are both favorite targets for her light fingered exploits. Maintaining a low profile is conducive to her health. I may get to finish what I started if she accepts, and I expect she will. She's a hero Buffy. Like you. Like Faith. Like all slayers."

"Just sexier."

"Well, yes, I suppose."

"Giles! You're not supposed to agree!"

"Oh right, of course. I wasn't thinking. She's no more attractive than you, Buffy."

"It's a little late, Jeeves!"

Selina stepped out of the alleyway behind her apartment building. "What are you doing here?"

"I told you this wasn't a good idea, B. I didn't wanna ambush you this way." Faith spoke in a rush.

"Thank you for your support," Buffy said ironically. Willow waved and smiled halfheartedly. Xander and Andrew kept their mouths shut. "Let's patrol."

"I don't do that. I never did that if you wanna know. One of the things my watchers were always on my case for."

"What's with the work clothes then?" Buffy asked. The woman wore a tight-fitting dark sweatshirt and jeans, gloves, a streamlined toolbelt and a black rope wrapped around her waist.

"You know what's with the work clothes. Ripper gave you the lowdown on me. He also tell you he fingered me for the shooter?"

"You knew it was him?"

Selina smiled, "Now I do."

"B..." Faith groaned.

"Relax. Quentin sent 'em and I let that go."

"Why?" Andrew asked.

"Because I'm friggin Mother Teresa in disguise," she said bitterly and pushed past the five young people.

Andrew exclaimed, "You're Mother Teresa?! That's incred...Oh, you're joking. I knew that."

"Because he was a good head of the council." Buffy spoke with certainty.

Selina stopped and turned, beautiful pale face floating in darkness. "He wasn't running the Council then but I knew he would be. Quentin made Ripper look like fruitloops here." She gestured at Andrew.

"Hey!" Andrew said but quieted at a look from Xander.

"After I was shot he sent me a big chocolate mouse. Course I had it tested." She looked back at Buffy. "Quentin was ruthless. It can be an attractive quality. You'd know all about that though. I never did a bloodsucker. They're animated corpses." Selina wrinkled her nose in an expression of finicky distaste.

"It's your fight too," Buffy said, ignoring Selina's attempt to provoke her.

"I've got a nice scar that says different." Selina looked at Faith. "What about you?"

Faith shrugged. "You're gonna do what you want."

"But you think it's a good idea."

"Yeah, I do."

Selina pointed at Buffy. "She doesn't want me, not really. Doesn't trust me. Doesn't like me. She's jealous. But she's trying to talk me into it cuz her watcher said to."

"I'm not...! Giles doesn't tell me what to do anymore," Buffy said angrily.

"He's so deep in your head he doesn't even have to be there. That's part of their game. They have watcher classes on how to make their slayers dependent, guilt trip 'em, screw with their heads. They drug you and throw you in to fight a vampire?"

Buffy nodded.

"Well, that's just the tip of the iceberg. All that training, the eastern philosophy; you don't need it. The fighting comes naturally. It's conditioning you to take orders, turn you into a little puppet."

"I don't believe that," Buffy said, her mind flashing over her years with Giles.

"I do," Faith said. "So run the Council like it should be."

"Why don't I paint a target on my ass while I'm at it?" None of the Scoobies answered. Selina looked irritated and said, "I have something to do now. Meet me back here in four hours. Don't wait for me if I don't show." She loped away without a sound.

Andrew said, "Hey, that went really great. Cool."

Buffy glanced at Faith. "Yep, we gave her the old one-two. Worked just like Giles said it would."

Faith smiled, "Watcher mind games. I didn't know about the classes."

"Neither did I," Buffy said quietly.

"She knows what you were doing," Willow spoke for the first time.

Xander said disgustedly, "That's the beauty of it. It'll work anyway."

"I thought you wanted Catwoman to dominate you, Xander? The Pantherish Princess standing over you with her cat o' nine tails, black leather gleaming off her rounded haunches." Andrew was wide eyed.

The women all looked at Xander. "That is not the point! Not the point!" He calmed down. "I didn't know the whole story before. She's done enough."

Faith said, "The mission is what matters."

"Wanna get a pizza and watch a video while we wait?" Andrew asked. "Batman Returns?"

"Sounds scrumptiously delicious to me," Willow said. "Faith? Buffy?"

The slayers mumbled, "Sure."

"Whatever," Xander muttered.

The Scoobies went in search of nourishment while the Countess of Crime prowled the night for glittering prey.

Faith loved this. The woman met them and said, "Let's go." When the others started to follow she said, "Not you." Then there wasn't time to make nice with the wannabes. They barely managed to follow through dark streets and alleys, over walls, fences and rooftops. After twenty minutes her and B came up on top of an office building where Selina waited on a ledge, moonlight playing over her dark form and billowing glossy hair. It wasn't a rope wrapped around her waist now; it was a whip. And Selena's gloves had a liquid black sheen. Xander would cream himself. So would Willow. Faith glanced at Buffy. B was impressed but trying to hide it.

"So where's the cat mask?" Buffy asked sarcastically.

Selina smiled and took something from a pocket; a black ski mask, just another burglar tool. She slipped the mask on and gestured with her chin. Faith and B looked behind them. Six vamps came out of a stairwell with a struggling terrified young couple.

"Way to go, C.W.!" Faith said with a grin.

"Not bad," Buffy admitted grudgingly as she reached for a stake.

The masked woman lightly jumped down from the ledge and unwrapped the whip in one smooth motion. The vamps saw them and snarled. Suddenly the vamp holding the man released him and grabbed at the whip that wrapped around his head. Selina yanked back on the plaited leather. He dissolved into dust.

"Shit!" The vamp with the woman yelled, releasing her. Before he could run the whip twisted his head off as well. The rest attacked.

Buffy and Faith took the four remaining vamps. They glimpsed Selina go to the victims. The woman was hysterical and the man pale and shaking. Selina reassured them and sent them back down the stairwell, then came strolling over as Faith killed two vamps with a tricky move she'd seen in a Jet Li movie and Buffy dusted one. The last vamp turned to run and Selina made a he's mine gesture to Buffy. He nearly reached the ledge when the whip snaked out, wrapping around his knees. Selina yanked back making him fall on his face. She laughed with a low guttural sound.

"Does he know something?" Buffy asked but Selina flung a hand up with a HSST! Just as the vamp got untangled from the whip Selina's left hand flashed out. Faith and Buffy saw the glint of claws as four deep gashes rent his chest and he yelled. Selina skipped away smiling. He glared at her and made another leap for the ledge. This time the whip wrapped around one ankle and he precariously held his balance on the ledge. Selina wedged the grip into a heavy heating vent.

Selina pushed the ski mask up to reveal her face. "Got any Holy Water?"

"He's almost ready to talk," Faith said as she handed a bottle to the woman.

Selina glanced at her and smiled. "But he's got nothing to say, dahling." She poured Holy Water on his shoe, The vampire yelled and hopped until he lost his balance and went over the edge. The whip went taut. Selina made that guttural sound again and sprinkled Holy Water down on the screaming thrashing vampire. Buffy pushed her aside, grabbed the bottle and emptied it. The vamp turned to dust.

"What the hell is wrong with you?" Buffy demanded furiously. Maybe this was a friggin demon! Selina yawned and shrugged. Faith stared at her.

Selina retrieved her whip shaking the vamp dust off before wrapping it around her waist again. "I'm done. Gotta get some sleep. Had a big day, and I don't mean this. Cemeteries are that way if you wanna keep patrolling."

"You tortured him..." Faith was at a loss for words. It was a vamp but still.

"Yeah, that was fun. Helped me wind down. Don't be all about work. Keeps me young."

"I thought Sekhmet and/or Bast kept you young," Buffy said.

"Don't be so literal." The woman reached into a pouch and came out with a wallet. She extracted cash and tossed the billfold over the side of the building. She counted bills and held some out. "Here's your share."

"You picked his pocket? The guy we saved?" Buffy was stunned.

"You see his suit? Don't you think we earned it?" Selina examined a gleaming Rolex. "They'll think the vamps took it all. They're grateful to be alive and they should be."

Faith felt torn and hesitated. Selina was waiting. Buffy was watching. "What about the woman?" Faith accepted the money and made a gesture that she'd take care of Buffy. Selina smiled and held up a pair of pearl earrings and a necklace.

"Five by five," Faith said.

Buffy exploded. "It's not five by five, whatever the hell that is! We can't do that!"

Faith asked "Why not? That's not why we helped 'em."

"Listen, Faith, this is just wrong. After all your work, don't throw it away now!"

"I'm not throwing anything away. Selina's not the Mayor. We just saved those people, B. Lighten the fuck up! You're not the senior slayer here. Maybe you can learn something."

Selina slipped her arm around the younger woman's waist. "Mmrrow..." Selina licked Faith's cheek. The young woman was taken aback then smiled. The beautiful cat burglar rested her chin on Faith's shoulder and eyed Buffy enigmatically.

Buffy tried to calm down. They were teaming up against her. "We'll talk about this later. Let's do more patrolling."

"Ah, B..." Faith started to say, not in the mood anymore. She glanced at Selina, not sure what the woman had in mind.

Selina slipped away without a word, leapt on the ledge and jumped off. Buffy and Faith ran and looked down but didn't see her. Faith turned to Buffy. "Yeah, okay. Let's go dust some more vamps."

"Okay, good," Buffy said.

Later as they were walking side by side among headstones, Faith said, "Jesus Christ, B!"

Buffy said, "We gotta talk to Giles."

"Fuck! Everything seemed so right for once."

Andrew secretly watched Selina in the living room from behind the kitchen door. She sipped a saucer of milk and intently paged through the latest UK ELLE. Giles and the two slayers were having a heated discussion in another room.

Xander entered the kitchen from the other side. "What's up, A-Man?"

"I'm gonna do it."

Xander saw the stunning woman in the other room. An orange cat leapt up on the couch and helped her look at the fashion magazine.

"Don't," Xander said. "It's fun to imagine, God knows. But don't. Besides you don't even like..."

"What? I don't even like what?" Andrew stood up straighter.

"Milk. You don't even like milk. And look at her. Slurping it up every minute."

Andrew said, "I'll overlook it." He squared his shoulders. "Carpe Diem." He marched out of the kitchen and over to the woman. "May I join you, Miss Guretsky?"

Xander lightly beat his head against the wall. "I can't watch."

Selina got a slight smile. "I can never say no to good looking tom." The cat settled calmly.

Xander stopped beating his head. "Huh?"

Andrew sat beside her and put his hands on his knees. Selina lounged back in her sheer black and white designer dress watching him through slitted eyes.

"Very funny. I know you don't see me in that sense...yet. However, we do have areas of commonality you may find surprising."

"Yeah? Like what?"

"I used to be a supervillain myself. Like Dr. No or Skeletor. I was part of the Trio! Then I was reformed, much like yourself."

" that is purr-fectly fascinating."

Andrew got a superior smile. "Ah, my dear Miss Guretsky. There is more. Much much more."

"Such as?"

"For instance I possess quite a formidable collection of Star Wars memoribilia."

Xander returned to beating his head against the door. "Andrew, for the love of God."

She moved closer and laid a long nailed paw over his own delicate hands with their chewed nail stubs.

Selina said, "Supervillain? I'm just a poor girl trying to get by in a man's world. You don't know what it was like in those days; the discrimination against a woman on her own. Is it any wonder I took a few shortcuts?" She slid her hand up Andrew's thigh.

"Ahh, I had no idea you had such a ...YIKES!"

"What's wrong, Andrew?" Selina asked.

"Nuh...nuh...nothing's wrong!"

Xander came out of the kitchen. "Leave him alone."

"Excuse me?"

"I said leave him alone. He's not a toy. He has feelings."

Andrew exclaimed, "No I don't!"

Selina daintily removed her hand. "Go beat off in the bathroom."

"Yes, mam." Andrew hurried out of the room. Xander approached Selina and looked down at her.

She studied him. "He's gonna hold that against you the rest of his life now."

"Maybe he will, but that's better than letting him be used for a joke."

"His own good, huh?"

"That's right."

"You didn't want him out of the way for you then?"

Xander sneered. "Me? Not a chance. I'm the Zeppo."

She smiled and laughed. "I knew Zeppo. Wanna hear about him?"

"You're cruel."

"Sometimes." She called out, "You done yet, Andy?"

"In a second, Miss Guretsky."

"Well hurry up. I want you to get me some sushi."

"Yes, mam!"

Xander should walk away now. He'd made his point. But he didn't move. Selina raised her eyebrows. "Well?"

He tried to salvage some dignity. "I'm not a mouse for you to bat around." Now move, Xander. MOVE! Christ, turn around and walk away!

She laid back with a smile. "Did I call you a mouse?"

"Uh, no," he confessed.

"Sit down, it makes me nervous you looming over me that way."

Don't! Don't! Xander sat down in the spot warm from Andrew's behind. Selina casually swung her legs into his lap. Xander saw her smile as she felt his erection.

"I think I pulled something the other night. Can you rub my legs, honey?"

Mechanically Xander obeyed. His head was swimming and Selina made a contented sound.

"Miss Guretsky, I'm ready to..."

Xander looked up at Andrew's shocked face. "Andrew, this isn't what it looks like!"

"It's not?" Selina asked puzzled.

"You just wanted her for yourself! You...You...Jerk!"

Xander leapt up. Selina smoothly swung her legs out of his way as the fluffy cat jumped off the couch.

"No, A-man. I'd never do that!"

Selina yawned. "You're just too much a hypocrite to realize it."

"Shut up, you bi.."

"You shut up, Xander!" Andrew cut him off. "It's always about you and nobody else matters. Like when you left Anya at the altar."

"Don't talk about Anya!" Xander growled.

"Oh my. Did you really do that?" Selina asked with wide eyes.

Andrew said with dignity, "I'll get your sushi, Miss Guretsky. What kind do you want?"

"Use your judgment, Andy," Selina said. "I trust you."

Andrew turned and left. Xander glared furiously at Selina then hurried after Andrew. "Wait up, we have to talk! I'll go with you."

The orange fluffy cat jumped back up beside Selina who stroked his throat and returned to her fashion magazine.

Giles was on the phone to a coven in Derby, England, making notes and consulting a thick tome. The remainder of the Scoobies were scattered about the large gleaming state-of-the-art kitchen eating Chinese take-out. Selina stepped inside carrying a small gray kitten. They were still wary of her but getting somewhat used to her presence as she came and went under her arrangement with Giles. She hadn't made a decision about heading the Council but she was answering questions and making suggestions. She had a room she used at all hours of the day or night, and several cats seemed to have moved in. Andrew smiled broadly and waved; Buffy and Faith nodded; Willow gave her a fake smile and Xander pretended she wasn't there. Dawn was silent with big eyes like always around the woman, in some combination of admiration and terror. Giles raised his eyebrows. Selina indicated for him to finish his phone call and walked to the refrigerator where Xander moved out of her way. Barefoot, she wore a local high school's gym shorts and an oversized zoo t-shirt with a tiger cub on it. A rubberband held her dark hair in a ponytail. She set the kitten down which stayed at her feet, looking curiously at everyone. Ducking into the refrigerator she came out with a jar of pickled herring. She tried to open it and then handed it to Xander who twisted the lid off and handed it back.

"Yum!" Selina said and smacked her lips after quickly devouring one of the fish pieces. "What?" The entire room was staring at her.

"We'll have to finish this later," Giles said and hung up the phone.

Xander said, "You need help opening a jar?"

"Oh, that." She extracted another herring bit and savored this one, eating it in nibbles.

"You have slayer strength," Willow said. "Don't you?"

"I never said I was still a slayer."

Giles said, "My god."

"Don't make a big deal out of it."

Faith said, "That's why you didn't get in close with those vamps."

"Holy self actualization!" Andrew exclaimed.

Selina replaced the lid on the jar and put it back in the refrigerator.

Giles asked, "Was that why you defied the Council? Was killing Oshkaras and surrendering your slayerhood the price for immortality?"

"You're so impressed by the mumbo jumbo. You oughta watch Jack Lalanne. Now there's a man!" She was amused. "First I'm not immortal. I just age slowly. And I didn't go looking for it. I disobeyed the Council for the same reason I always did. Their heads were up their butts. They wanted me to risk my life when it wasn't worth it. This time it was and they wouldn't believe me. Oshkaras was gonna destroy the world. The Council didn't want me to help in the war either. Selina mimicked a pompous upper class English voice, "'You simply do not understand, my dear. Leave the decisions to us. We must remain neutral to maintain the integrity of the Watchers Council.' Neutral! Against Hitler, Mussolini and Tojo! That's their integrity!" The kitten was alarmed and she calmed it. "I did what I could while I was chasing down Oshkaras. I wish I'd gone to Spain in '36 but I let'em talk me out of it then. Oshkaras is the only reason I didn't try to take out Der Furher. Afterwards I was in no shape for a mission like that. "

"What happened in the necropolis of Bubastis?" Giles asked. He certainly didn't intend to defend Watcher Council policy during world war two. They were as bad as the Vatican. Quentin Travers had felt the same. Quentin was instrumental in sweeping away many of the elder watchers who practically had barnacles attached to their posteriors. Giles admired those days.

Selina went back into the refrigerator. "I cut Oshkaras's head off with a sword from Sekhmet's priests but his body kept fighting. Fucking Set!" She emerged with a milk carton, poured herself a glass and continued as she picked the kitten back up. "Bastard's head was laughing at me. His body stuck a spear through me just as I kicked it into a magic bottomless pit courtesy of Bast. I was hurt bad but I could still break his head open with the pommel of the sword. He wasn't laughing then! Last thing I remember is laying on the temple floor feeling cold and everything getting dark. I woke up in a private clinic in Geneva under a fake name." She sipped her milk and offered some to the kitten. "Took me months to heal up so something was different. Then I heard a new slayer was out there."

"Why didn't you just explain this to the Council?" Willow asked.

"Quentin Senior warned me not to let'em take me. I'll always owe him for that, Laurel."



Faith grinned and said admiringly, "So you learned to deal: got the gloves, got the whip."

Selina nodded. "Catwoman technology has made huge strides in the last decade or so. Get new gloves once a year now to stay current."

Andrew exclaimed, "Warren would've loved that! I wish he was..." Andrew stopped at Willow's face. Buffy glared at him. Xander was looking at the ceiling. "Sorry..."

Selina saw the tension. Since nobody offered to explain she said, "As long as they thought I was a slayer they weren't gonna risk their new girl. I'd have been S.O.L. if the slayer came after me those first couple years."

Buffy tried to get Warren out of her head: his angry face when he pointed the gun at her; Tara dead on the floor watched by Dawn; Willow flaying him alive. She looked at Selina. "What about now?"

"We'll just have to see won't we?" Selina met Giles's eyes. "Well?" The kitten glared balefully at him.

"I want you to lead the Council more than ever."

Selina looked resigned. The kitten hissed.

Leaning against the balcony, Selina looked at the full moon. At a whisper on her ankle, she found a graceful old Siamese winding round her. The kitten galloped up to careen into him. Selina swooped up the cat before he could swat the kitten, ignoring his outraged expression. Buffy and Faith came out the glass doors to join her. Buffy tried to pet the kitten but it ran to Faith instead who laughed and held it against her cheek before setting it down. "Good taste." Buffy pressed her lips together.

Selina saw Giles look worriedly out at them, then head back to his books while the others settled in front of the TV. She scratched the Siamese's throat and looked at the young women. "What now?"

Buffy said, "Let's talk about the Council. You say you don't want the job. And like you said, I don't want you either. Giles just has all this ...stuff...about you. He's not thinking straight."

"Hard for you to reach that point wasn't it?" Selina nuzzled the cat.

"Giles didn't brainwash me. He broke with the Council himself. I respect him. So yeah, I'm surprised he's so blind. He's ashamed of the Council, how it operated. He sees you as the answer."

"But not you?"

"Selina, you're not a slayer who moonlights as a criminal. You're a criminal who moonlights as a slayer. Giles doesn't get that."

Selina softly asked, "What if I took it?" The Siamese made a suspicious meow.

Buffy answered, "You'll make the Council a lean mean demon killing machine like never before. It won't happen all at once, just more and more things like that guy whose pocket you picked. Then one day it won't be the Watchers Council anymore. It'll be SPECTRE. That's why you don't want the job. You wanna do the right thing. Giles is making it hard to pass up though. You're only so strong."

Selina smiled sardonically. "Moi? How 'bout you?" She caught Faith's eyes and pursed her lips in a kiss. The cat blinked his eyes slowly.

Faith answered, "I think you're fuckin' awesome and B's seen too many Bond flicks. But yeah, for the big chair you want somebody with a nice thick stick planted firmly up their ass. That aint you. I'd go with Giles if he ever gets over being pussywhipped. What the hell do you have on him? There's gotta be more to it."

Selina let the Siamese jump off her and stretched. "I always knew Ripper wasn't the shooter. I figured he might be involved though. He was Quentin's protege. They were close in a stiff upper lip, repressed homo, English boarding school way. Me and Quentin had been screwing on the sly for years. Met him when his dad was my watcher. He was a strapping young stable boy and I was Lady Chatterly."

"Eeww!" Buffy's entire body shook.

Faith rolled her eyes at Buffy and looked back at Selina. "So that's it. An up-and-comer tries to help his boss whack his mistress. Sweet. And it's been eating at him all these years."

Selina said tiredly, "That's not how it was. I guess Ripper turned it into that with his brooding though. Quentin had orders just like Rupert. He tried to warn me: maybe I needed a long vacation, a permanent change of scenery. I wasn't listening. They'd already tried to kill me once. I just hadn't known it was the Council."

Buffy asked, "What happened to the sniper? Let that go too?"

"Not up to me. I hit the pavement and that woulda been it. But I've always been lucky; and a call girl on her way back from a date saw me. I helped her out of a tight spot once. She called somebody. I was protected. I never even knew that."


"No, independent but the Outfit respected him. They'd wanna see how he handled this now. In the rackets, sister, respect is everything. The shooter must've been watching the whole time. He should've killed the girl and driver then made sure of me. But he didn't have that in him or maybe he thought I was dead. So my friend gets there same time as the ambulance and goes looking. Nothing between us. He just liked me and he didn't like many people."

Faith commented, "Sounds like a good friend."

"Depends I guess. He wanted to know who ordered the hit. I gave him the name of a boss who'd roughed up some girls." Selina said defensively, "I had to give him somebody believable. Case you haven't noticed, most demons and vampires are pretty goddamn stupid. The Council wouldn't be ready for this guy."

"What happened?" Faith asked.

Selina closed her eyes as she stroked the Siamese. "He took over the operation. Killed the whole crew, twelve guys. The Outfit went along with it. That asshole must've pissed off important people somewhere. I was always lucky." She gazed out into the night.

"The Council tried to kill you. Why protect 'em?" Buffy asked suspiciously.

"All the fuckin' vampires! Why d'ya think? I was the Slayer for ten years, y'know."

Buffy cringed. "Sorry."

Faith hesitantly asked, "This friend of yours?"


"I was wondering...since Catwoman was based on you..."

"I never had a Catplane or Kitty Car. Wish I did. For when things got CATastrophic."

"You know what I'm asking."

"Batman?" Selina smiled.

"Yeah," Faith said.

"There is no Batman. The guy who came closest bought it at Normandy. Dog Beach." She spoke bluntly then added, "But..."

"But?" Buffy said.

Selina looked back up at the moon. "My friend was a laugh a minute, a real joker."

St. Mary's Hospital, Manhattan, 1954

"What are you doing here?"

"Watching you sleep."

"Damnit, I got shot."

"Uh uh."

"Who called you?"

"Whore's driver. I got the door watched. Cops don't much care."

"Thanks Jack. I still aint screwing you."

"Ha ha ha ha he he ha ha ho ho ha ha he ho! You're too much, doll! God damn you're funny!"

"Can you call the nurse?"

"In a sec. Look at this."

"Who is it?"

"It's the prick who shot you.

"I've never seen him. Can't this wait?"

"No, it can't fucking wait!"

"Jack, what are you...sit down, Jack. Just calm down."

"Somebody don't care you're under my protection. They're gonna fucking care!"

"Stop it! Jack, you're hurting me!"

"Who. Sent. The. Shooter?"

"All right! All right! Jeez, Jack...don't get so worked up. I'm the one who got...Okay! Okay! Johnny Racini. That's who it musta been."

"Racini? Yeah. Thinks La Cosa Nostra will protect him. Dumb fuck. Why'd he wanna kill ya?"

"Couple things. Thinks I oughta pay him a cut. When we met to talk he wanted a blowjob. I threw a drink in his face."

"Oh, yeah, I heard about that. Ha! A drink in the puss. It's a classic. You sure it's him?"

"Who else could it be?"

"Could be a lotta people. What about your marks?"

"Rich pansies. Wouldn't know how to hire a hit."

"Yeah, well ya never know. I heard you took some banana republic honcho for a cool million. Or some guy whose heart ya broke."

"I dunno. Sure. There's been some guys like that. Maybe it's one of them instead. I'd say Jimmy."

"You better not be playing me, Selina."

"I'm the one shot here, Jack! Why wouldn't I tell you the truth?"

"There again, baby...lotsa reasons."

"Jack! Put that away."

"Don't fuck with me, Selina. Understand?"

"Damnit Jack! I told you what you wanted. Now put that away, okay? What are doing? Don't! Jack! Please!"

"You shoulda seen your face! Think I'd really shove a gat up your twat? Ha ha ho ho! Less you asked nice that is. He he he."

"Yeah, sure Jack. That's a good one."

"I gotta see a guy about a cat. Hey, you don't look so good."

"I wonder why?"

"Ah, get outta here. Ha ha. See ya later, Selina."

"Yeah, bye Jack."

The big screen TV showed a real estate infomercial with the sound muted. It was after three A.M. and Willow stared blankly at the flickering images. She felt a body sit down beside her on the couch and looked over. "Hey," she said dully. Selina wore her black work clothes. Willow hadn't heard her come in but that was no surprise.

"Kinda late for you."

Willow shrugged in reply.

"I talked to Ripper. He told me about Warren."

"Well, he shouldn't have."

Selina leaned forward, resting her elbows on her knees, glossy black gloves looking inhuman. "Wrong. He tried to kill a slayer and I'm helping set up a new Council."

"Sure. Okay. Whatever you say."

"Thinking about Tara?"

Willow turned to stare at the woman. "Did Giles tell you about me too? Because if he did you know to listen when I say, I don't wanna talk about it."

"Aren't you with one of the new Slayers?"

The redhead tried to stare Selina down. It didn't work. She leaned back against the sofa. "Kennedy. No, we broke up. The others don't know that. It's even less your business than theirs."

"I see the way you look at me."

Willow said in a dead voice, "Is it my turn now? I heard what you did to Andrew and Xander."

The dark haired woman smiled. "I didn't hurt the boys. I just had some fun with them. They want me like that, especially your pal Harris. He'd be disappointed if I wasn't a heartless bitch."

"A girl requires a different approach, huh? More subtle? All touchy feely and concerny?"

"Fine." Selina stood up.

"No wait. I'm sorry."

"I thought you might wanna talk."

"I do!" Willow sobbed out and began crying. Selina sat down and slid an arm around her shoulders. As Willow talked in a choked voice about Tara, Selina let a claw emerge on one finger and idly played with soft red hair. She was only half listening. Don't quiz her on it later. As Willow finally reached the cried out point, Selina leaned in and licked salty tears from Willow's face. "What are you doing?" Willow asked weakly.

"Nothing." Selina licked more tears up gently and then rearranged herself so she lay with her head in Willow's lap. The redhead hesitantly reached down to stroke the glossy black hair.


"You're not a cat," Willow said but smiled and petted Selina's hair again. She was rewarded with another purr.

"Did I say you could stop?"

"Oh, okay." Willow continued. Selina fell asleep. Willow looked down at the beautiful peaceful face and continued stroking the lovely dark mane. One by one Selina's six cats found her and settled down around her and Willow. Finally Willow fell asleep herself.

July 1943 Cleveland, Ohio. Old warehouse district.

Selina left her roadster blocks away and quietly moved from shadow to shadow among the decrepit moonlit buildings. A hissing voice broke the silence.

"Hello Slayerrr! I missed you in Barcelona. I thought you'd find me. Where were you? It was so boring. I thought you'd come.... Slayerrr? Slayerrr? I know you can hear me!!! Slayerrr!"

"I had better things to do." Selina held a stake in one hand and three more were ready on her plumber's toolbelt. The .45 automatic on her hip wouldn't be any use against a vampire but you never knew what else you might find. She turned her head to locate the source of the voice but it was difficult in the echoing dark. There was more than Oshkaras as well; soft whimpers.

"Oh no!!!! Not true. I know you, sweet Slayerrr! You didn't save any of them! I just had to tell you about it! Why didn't the babiesss bring you?"

"I thought you were still in Indochina." She moved toward a dark building with an open door. Selina glanced up at the broken second floor windows.

"But you should have found me!!!! To save the teeny babiesss!!!! Maybe I stop playing!!! Maybe I do as Set wantsss. Listen now, this is important, so you don't be so lazy!!

"You got nothing to say I want to hear, Oshkaras."

"Speak up!"

"You can hear me just fine." She uncoiled a rope and threw a grappling hook up to a ledge. It missed on the first try then caught on the second.

"True! True! True! Can you hear thisss?" There were terrified high screams. "Answer me or it will be worse!" Another scream punctuated his words.

"I hear you. Who is it this time, Oshkaras?" On the last words she tested the rope and quickly climbed to a second story window.

"Children! You know how I love little children!" Screams came of agony not terror. "Here that, slayer? She looks like you!!! The scream ended abruptly. "Slayer? It's all your fault, you know. Because you didn't stop me in time. Did you like the present I left you in the Paris sewer? THEY ALL LOOKED LIKE YOU!!!

"Slayerrr? Slayerrr?"

Selina studied the innocuous looking man below her. Balding, Caucasian, early thirties maybe, work clothes: nobody you'd look twice at. She pulled a heavy Bowie knife. His nine surviving young hostages huddled against a wall. The body of one child lay on the ground and another small corpse was inside a metal drum. He held a young girl with a straight razor at her throat. Selina leapt and kicked the blade out of his hand. Her knife slashed across his face tearing his cheek open. She jammed it to the hilt in his left eye far into his brain. He stumbled back as she yanked it out spattering brain and eye tissue.

"You hurt me!" Oshkaras touched his mutilated face.

"I'm gonna do more than hurt you." Carving him up wouldn't accomplish anything. Selina grabbed a stake.

"But not this time!" Oshkaras tossed a handgrenade into the group of children.

Selina leapt behind a metal drum that knocked her over with the explosion. The body inside the drum was thrown free.

"Decisions, decisions! Me or the bleeding babiesss! Bye Slayer, see you in Kansas...or maybe Tokyo...or maybe Mexico City!!!!" The nondescript man scurried out the warehouse door. Selina prepared to follow then looked at the three surviving children. One could still stand despite her bloody chest and arms.

"Help me with the others."

The traumatized girl choked out, "He said...he said...I looked..."

Selina hugged the child and said, "Yeah, honey, you do look a little like me. That's why he took you. I'm sorry."

August 1944. Los Angeles, California.




"Oh Oshkaras. I was just thinking of you. I'm glad you called."

There was a long silence.


"Well, I was talking to somebody about you."

Another long silence followed.


"Old friend of your boss: Sekhmet. Hello...hello...Oshkaras?"

October 1944. Stockholm, Sweden.



"Hey Oshkaras. How's it hangin?"

"Slayer! Where are you?"

"Wouldn't you like to know? Maybe under your bed....Made you look!"

"I'll kill a child today for this, Slayerrr!"

"You were gonna do that anyway. I had an idea and wanted to run it by you."

There was no answer.

"Okay, since you insist. Something you said got me thinking. I think you're scared to perform the ceremony because you put it off so long. A few months maybe...but years? How do you explain that to Set? Am I close?"

"Slayerrr, I am his trusted servant."

"Uh huh, a trusted servant who hasn't done the job he was given to do. At first you were just having too much fun as a vampire..."

"As I have told you many times, Slayerrr! The babiesss..."

"Yeah, yeah, yeah. You like to kill babies, but now you're just scared to face your boss."

"You know nothing, Selina Guretsky! I will grind your bones...."

"See, Oshkaras, you're between a rock and a hard place. Specifically you're between Sekhmet and Set. I mentioned Sekhmet is interested in you, right? And you stuck in a measly vampire's body, a meat suit. What can I say about Set that hasn't been said better usually between screams? God of Evil and Desolation; chopped up his brother Osiris and scattered the pieces; raped his nephew Horus and THEN claimed that's why Horus wasn't fit to rule. And that's his family! I wouldn't want to piss him off. And I've been reading up on Sekhmet. Now she's scary! Is it true Ra sent her to punish mankind and then couldn't get her to stop? Ra had to slip her a mickey in a couple million gallons of blood? Huh? I take it the answer is yes."

"Why are you warning me, Slayer?"

"I'm concerned! Maybe the next little girl you grab will really be Sekhmet. Isn't that the sort of thing she does? Wouldn't that be a kick in the pants? Bye for now."

"Slayer!!!! Don't you hang up on me! I'll...Slayerrr? Slayerrr?"

1940. Manhattan. A penthouse.

Selina smiled softly as the muscular body beside her got out of bed. She purred, "Don't go. There's plenty of time."

The man glanced at her as he pulled his pants on. "Selina, I have to. You don't know what's out there." She smirked and he asked, "What's so funny?"

Selina sat up in bed herself now not bothering to cover her full breasts. "I know better than you what's out there and there's nothing you can do about it. So come back to bed." She blew him a kiss.

"Well, go on." The man smiled as he buttoned his expensive shirt.

"What d'ya mean?"

"You can't just drop a hint like that, Selina How do you know that?"

Selina cursed herself. "Forget it, Gary. I was just yanking your chain."

The man put his tie on and carefully knotted it. "Oh, okay. I thought you were gonna tell me you're the Chosen One, the Vampire Slayer."

Every muscle in her body was taut as Selina growled. "If you breathe a word to anyone, Gary. How long have you known?"

"I checked up on you after I caught you breaking into my cousin's safe."

She frowned. "You didn't catch me."

Gary walked over to her. "Yes, I did. I just let you get away. Miriam can afford it. Way you forced the lock was pretty impressive. Inhumanly strong in fact. Wasn't hard to realize who you had to be."

Selina was ready to break his neck if she had to. "You bastard. What? You've been playing me? You rotten...."

"Selina, no! I wanted to meet you and one thing led to another. That's all. Aren't you supposed to be patrolling every night?" His voice was placating.

Mollified, she complained. "You sound like my watcher. Stop it. I've got better things to do." Selina climbed out of bed herself now. The morning light from the window played over her lithe nude body.

"Like committing burglaries?" He tried not to let her body affect him.

"That and saving the world, oh and screwing you." Selina shifted her weight so a shaft of light hit her pubic hair and she stretched langorously.

"I'm flattered."

Selina saw he was serious about leaving and wasn't going to let himself be seduced. She picked up her negligee and said. "Gary, I know what you're doing too. It's crazy. I have to do what I do. You don't. Planting evidence, beating guys up, maybe even worse. You're gonna get thrown in prison unless you're killed first."

"I'm not going to prison." He spoke surely.

"Really? How many cops and judges can you pay off? You're not that rich."

Gary explained reasonably, "Yes I am, Selina. I just don't flaunt it like my cousins. It's blood money if you wanna know the truth. The way it was made makes me sick. My grandfather was a bastard. I wanna give something back."

She said sarcastically, "It's exciting, right, Gary? It's no different than playing polo, a rich man's game."

"Maybe that's true. But some games are better than others." He wouldn't rise to her bait.

Selina spoke seriously. "Gary, there's a guy I want you to stay away from."

"Your friend Jack, I presume."

Selina took Gary's hands. "I don't want to see you hurt."

He said easily, "Me neither. Jack warned me to stay out of his business, if it weren't for you I'd already be dead. I told him to leave you out of it."

"Oh my god!"

"Tell you what, I won't tell you to patrol and you don't tell me to leave that joker alone."

Selina exclaimed in frustration, "You're crazy as Jack!"

"He likes me, Selina. Told me so."

She wanted to slap sense into him. "Gary, that won't stop Jack dunking you in a vat of acid."

"He can try."


Selina leaned against a railing and looked out at the view of the Statue of Liberty. She ignored the coin operated binoculars. She had places to be but she liked coming here at sunset sometimes. She heard a voice behind her.

"Hey doll. Heard ya was back."

He was medium height with a long bulky coat and had a round face shaded by his brown fedora. She smiled but was careful. You always had to be careful with him. "Hi Jack. Ya need a shave."

He rubbed his cheek and flashed his quick crazy grin. Then he said, "I heard about Gary." He leaned against the railing next to her.

"Not now, Jack. Please."

He craned his neck to look in her eyes. "Ya got me all wrong, honey. Ya got my sympathies."

Selina was surprised. "You're serious? Jack, he wanted to send you to the chair."

"Yeah, I know. We had some fun all right. I'm gonna miss old Gary. Shit! I always figured I'd do him sooner or later."

"Sure Jack."

Jack put a coin in the binoculars and followed a small boat heading to a tanker. Selina wondered what it carried; drugs, guns, a body? Jack muttered, "Now he's a hero. A real goddamn hero. Fuck. Aint that a kick in the pants?"

Selina said, "I got...I got a letter. It says he saved his men and took out four pillboxes."

Jack continued watching the small boat. It reached the tanker and he grunted and turned away from the binoculars. "Figures. I got my notice, y'know. 4-F. Heart murmur. I woulda gone. I'm no yellow son of a bitch. This country's been good to me! I knew some guys wanted to sell fake rubber to the War Department. Did I want in? Me! I threw the bastards in their own boiling slop!" He tried to light a cigarette but his hands shook so badly that Selina lit it for him.

"Calm down, Jack. Oughta watch your blood pressure if you've got a bad ticker. I gotta say, I don't know what kind of soldier you'd make. It aint just killing krauts and japs. You gotta follow orders."

"Ha ha ha ha ho ho! Yeah, I'd never make it outta basic training. Probably bayonet my drill instructor! He he he ho ho!"

"You'd look good in the uniform though, Jack. Good shoulders."

Jack said, "I saw him before he shipped out."

"You did?" Selina was surprised.

Jack nodded. "Yeah. Told him to cut off a kraut's dick and shove it down his throat for me."

Selina shook her head with a resigned smile. "What'd he say?"

"Said he'd do his best."

She pictured Gary. He was such a boyscout. "Yeah, he always did his best."

Jack patted her shoulder and she squeezed his hand.

Guatamala 1945

"Miss Guretsky, may I have a word with you?"

"Sure, Jeeves. You got something for me? Oshkaras is on the move again."

"The name is Abernathy, Miss Guretsky, not Jeeves. The Council sent me in person since you have refused to contact them as per instruction. Miss Guretsky, you are ordered to suspend this pursuit and return with me to London. If I may say, the Council has been more than patient with you. Yet you have persisted in this outrageous and insubordinate behavior."

"Waiter! I'll have a cerveza. What's your poison, Abernathy?"

"Miss Guretsky, did you hear what I said?"

"Bring him a scotch. Something at least twelve years old. All you English gentlemen drink scotch, right?"

"Well, as a matter of fact I do. And thank you. But that is off the subject. I am here to bring you back to London to explain your actions to the Council."

"So they didn't send me any money, huh? Okay, bet you've got traveling expenses though."

"Miss Guretsky! What are you.... Get your hands out of my pockets! The idea!"

"Stop acting like a little girl. You another boarding school queer? Council's full of 'em. Bet you like a few sharp ones with a cane on your bare bum. Eh what? Jolly good!"

"That is outrageous! Give that back to me!"

"Shhh, here's our drinks. Keep the change."

"Miss Guretsky!"

"I'm taking this, your passport and papers. I can get 'em altered. Listen to me, Abernathy. Oshkaras plans on performing the ceremony soon. I lit a fire under him. It was a calculated risk. I've played by his rules long enough."

"The Council investigated your claims and found nothing to corroborate them. There is no evidence Oshkaras is anything but a particularly vicious vampire comparable to Angelus. No one disagrees that he should be destroyed but you have neglected your other duties."

"My word should be enough. I am the goddamn Slayer! Oshkaras isn't really a vampire. He's some kind of low level deity, a servant of Set. Oshkaras is here to perform a ritual that tips the balance between good and evil. He needed a body but it didn't have to be a vampire. Oshkaras chose that because it amuses him. That tells you something."

"Miss Guretsky..."

"There's war between Horus and Set. Good versus evil. Why is that so hard for the Coucil to accept? Why do you think I've chased him all over the fucking world? For fun? Angelus wishes he could be as bad as Oshkaras. I had visions of all this."

"These dreams..."

"Not dreams. Visions. Bast and Sekhmet sent 'em."

"Of course they did. The Council will certainly continue to investigate your allegations. If you return and explain yourself a wise course of action can be determined by cooler more experienced heads."

"You definitely like having your buttocks roundly striped. Followed by a good rogering, I wager. Eh what?"

"These disgraceful insinuations are exactly why the Council distrusts you. Miss Guretsky, you are insubordinate and insulting. You are also a thief using your slayer abilities to enrich yourself..."

"Do I look like I'm enriched here? I was in the Solomons tracking Oshkaras through the jungle and dodging japs for a month. I had to shave my body for lice! Enriching myself!"

"And endangering the Council and by extension the world by your rash and selfish actions."

"Not bad beer. Tell the Council I'm gonna drive Oshkaras to Egypt. Alert operatives in South America and Africa that I'm gonna be needing papers and money."

"Miss Guretsky, I warn you..."

"You warn me?"

"Let go of my arm!"

"Don't ever warn a slayer that way, Jeeves. Be sure to tell the Council everything I said. So long."

"Miss Guretsky, Miss Guretsky! Come back here!"

The Porsche sped through the Connecticut countryside. It was mid afternoon when it pulled up before the stately ivy-covered building. As the driver got out of the car a middle aged doctor and a crisp, efficient looking young woman walked up.

"It's good to see you, Miss Guretsky," the doctor said. "This is Miss Watson. She has recently come on board as our chief administrator."

Selina shook their hands. "Doctor. Miss Watson, good to meet you."

Miss Watson said, "I was reading over our records and I confess I am surprised to see you. You have followed a regular visiting schedule for quite a number of years."

"Yeah, but something came up." She glanced toward the road. "Some others are coming. Just send 'em over."

"Certainly, Miss Guretsky," the woman said.

The doctor said, "I'll take you to him. He's by the pond."

Xander looked at Buffy. "You sure about this? Following her?"

"Yeah. Don't worry, Xander. She spotted us long ago." Buffy accelerated and passed an SUV.

"Oh, that makes me feel so much better. A supervillain with bionic claws wants us to follow her."

Buffy ignored his comment and said, "I've been reading the old watcher archives and Willow hacked into the FBI and Interpol. She's not just a burglar financing animal shelters!"

"No? What is she?"

"She's been investigated for everything from running girls to dealing drugs and contract killing. And Giles wants to hand her the Watcher's Council!"

Xander said reasonably, "You've been accused of some things yourself, Buffy."

"That's the same thing Giles said before he told me to mind my own business. Like this isn't my business! And Willow wants her now! Am I the only one who's not crazy? You agree with me don't you?" Buffy was righteously indignant.

" be honest..."

Fuming, Buffy declared, "There has to be something to convince Giles. I'm gonna find it."

Buffy accelerated again. Xander watched the gauge creep past 90. "Ease up there, leadfoot." She glanced at him in annoyance then saw she was pushing 95. She grunted and slowed to 75. Xander said, "Buffy, if you and Faith don't want her she's out, isn't she? You're the Slayers, the original Chosen Ones. Giles can't very well just make her head of the Council. Who is he to do that?" The car zoomed back up to 100.

"He's the guy with all the Swiss bank account numbers and connections, that's who! The rest are dead. You'd think he couldn't, or at least wouldn't. But he can and will. And he's wearing Selina down. Hell, I'm tempted and I'm not a career criminal like she is!"

Xander watched the landscape blur by. He was developing an ulcer. "She was a Slayer, a great one. You said so yourself. Please slow down."

The car slowed to 95. Buffy said, "I know. She's that too. If Giles will stop holding the Council like a drink in front of a recovering alcoholic, I think she'll do the right thing." Buffy pointed. "There's her car." The car flew onto the exit and breaked so fast Xander was afraid they were going to spin out.

"Some kinda rest home?" Xander wondered, looking at the old people dotting the lawn.

"Looks like it." Buffy agreed. "And we're even expected."

Buffy and Xander followed Miss Watson. Beside a wheelchair, Selina sat on the ground tossing breadcrumbs to ducks in a pond. She glanced over her shoulder and beckoned them closer.

Xander and Buffy saw a cadaverous old man in the wheelchair. He looked up as the young man and woman approached, smirked and coughed.

Selina got up and brushed the grass off her butt. "Jack, she's looking for dirt to use against me, like known criminal associates. He's her faithful Indian companion."

"Excuse us," Buffy said embarrassed. You didn't talk to decrepit old people that way. She looked at Xander but he was staring at the old man.

"Hey blondie, nice manners. You're a cute little piece of ass. Why don't you park it on Uncle Jack's lap and give a nice spin." The old man turned to Xander. "What're you looking at?"


"That's not an answer I like. Try again. You're lucky I've got both feet in the grave."

Buffy was so revolted it took a second for her to realize something was going on.

"Go ahead," Selina said with a smile.

"You're Yakov Englestein."

"Been a while since I heard that name."

"A.K.A. Jackie English, Johnny E., Jack Engles, Mad Jack Brown," Xander said.

"And about twenty others. That's what it was like in those days. Ha ha ha! Lemme shake your hand, son!"

Xander reached out but Selina stepped between them. The old man smiled benignly as Selina turned his hand over revealing a switchblade.

"Just gonna give him a little souvenier, doll. He he he."

Selina pocketed the knife then quickly ran her hands over the frail figure. "Don't get any ideas, Jack." She discovered a small automatic, muttered, "Jesus," and slipped it into a pocket. "Who got this for you? You wanna get thrown out of this place too?"

"Hell, I won't last long enough for that."

"You've been saying that for thirty years."

"I mean it this time. Look at me!"

Selina leaned in and kissed his cheek. "I'll see you next month if you don't croak." She slapped away a hand on her ass.

"I figure it's about 50/50."

Selina laughed. "Sounds about right." She looked at Buffy and Xander. "Let's go."

As they walked back to their cars Selina looked at Xander. "Don't say I never did anything for you."

"I won't."

She looked at Buffy. "Get what you wanted?"

"That you're kind to old people?"

"There's no statute of limitations on homicide. He's a fugitive wanted in thirtyeight states and sixteen foreign countries. I'm protecting a psychopath who's personally killed at least two hundred people just since I've known him. That's not counting the hits he ordered."

"Oh yeah!!" Xander exclaimed then froze at the looks from both Selina and Buffy.

"Aren't you betraying him now?" Buffy asked.

Selina lightly said, "I ran it by him. Are they gonna execute a 98-year-old Jew with emphysema and liver cancer? Hell, he came up with Bugsy Siegel and Frank Costello. He'd be a celebrity in the joint."

Buffy said angrily, "Why show me this? Why haven't you told Giles 'no' so he believes it? You talk one way to me and another way to Giles."

Selina smiled. "Maybe I like watching you squirm. And you got me thinking. SPECTRE, huh?"

"Tell me you're joking."

"You really have no sense of humor at all do you? You'd a gotten along great with Gary."

"Who's Gary?"

"If Jack's the Joker then Gary was Batman."

"I knew it!!!" Xander exploded. The women looked at him again. "Sorry. Could you elucidate further?"

Selina got a cynical smile. "Sure, why not? He was a rich guy who figured he was above the law. Turns out he was right. Gary had half of City Hall and the Police Department in his pocket. Never spent a night in jail no matter how many times he was picked up. He had his own gang of hoodlums. I dunno what else you'd call 'em. Don't get me wrong. I'm sure anybody he planted evidence on or beat to a pulp deserved it. Gary went after some dangerous people. Like my pal, Jack, for instance. I don't know for a fact he killed anybody but it wouldn't surprise me."

"Murder?" Buffy asked. Selina shrugged.

Xander asked, "No bat stuff? None at all?"


"Robin? Alfred?"

"Sorry Harris. No ward or fatherly butler. His thugs were strictly employees."

"Was he at least avenging his murdered parents?"

Selina said pityingly, "His mother was still alive and his father died of a heart attack screwing a 15-year-old hooker."

Xander sighed. "Oh well. What about stately Wayne Manor?"

Buffy said, "Don't wallow."

Selina patiently explained, "Just a comfortable house. Gary felt guilty about his money. His grandfather was this robber baron character. Then his father made an even bigger fortune off world war I." She paused. "Sometimes I wonder what would've happened if he came home from the war."

Xander said, "There was something between you?"

Selina sighed. "Yeah, I'll give you that. We didn't work out, just like the comicbooks. Don't look so happy, Harris."

Xander looked guiltily down to hide his smile.

Buffy looked at Xander and shook her head. "Pathetic." Then she looked back to Selina. "I'll tell Giles about your friend back there but it won't change his mind. Dammit, Selina! Tell him no and stop coming around."

They reached their cars. Selina smiled as she got in her Porsche. "I really haven't made up my mind." She backed the car up and roared away.

Buffy was frustrated as she got back in Xander's car. She would let him drive on the way back. She saw Xander trying to hide his smile. "You still gloating over her dud romance?"

Xander answered with some embarrassment, "C'mon Buffy. It's not just that. Catwoman saved me from the Joker! Man!"

"Whatever, Xander."

"Selina Guretsky? Don't! What's wrong with you? Now just stop it! I said stop it!"

"You're not here to kill me?"


"Well put me down then. What d'ya want? It's Doris, right?"

"I wanted to hear your side of the story."

"I hope you didn't tell your watcher that."

"Of course I did."

"Jesus. When were you called?"

"Four months ago. A Dorminger demon killed Gladys Berkowitz."

"Bastards! At the hellmouth in Cleveland, right? That's the eighth slayer killed by a Dorminger there. They tell you that?"

"It didn't come up. That's all."

"You think so? They didn't tell me either even when I was posted there. The Dormingers have been chewing up slayers since 1870. I took my cue from the vampires and gave the Dormingers a wide berth."

"A slayer can't turn down a mission."

"According to who? Your watcher? The Council? I did and that's probably why I'm still here."

"The Dorminger demons are a menace."

"Sure they are. I'd have gone after the Dormingers with the right kind of backup. I mean ground troops, artillery, air support. But they wouldn't give me that. The Dormingers aren't THAT big a menace. No they'd rather send slayers in there one after another and hope one gets lucky. Why not? There's always another slayer in the pipe."

"You're just trying to make me distrust the Council. My watcher said you'd do that."

"I'll bet he did. You disobeyed him coming to see me."

"That's right."

"Watch your back, Doris. They don't want another me."

"My watcher says you're probably not really Selina Guretsky. She's dead. If you are who you claim they have tests to prove it. Why not come in?"

"I'm not the first slayer who had a close call and a new girl came to bat. Go to the archives but don't tell 'em why beforehand. Look up Ingrid Kierkegard and Sonya Raskovsky, Jeanne de Fonte and Elvira Maria Ramirez. There's a couple others I can't remember. And If I went in I'd never come out, not with my attitude, not with what I know. It doesn't matter I've saved the friggin world and all of their lives a dozen times. The security of the Council comes first. And by security they mean avoiding embarrassment. That's worth a few slayers' lives."

"I have to think about that."

"You do that, sister. But keep it to yourself. Don't tell your watcher. Some put their slayer first but they're the exception. That's why my first watcher was transferred to Research."

"Quentin Travers?"

"Yeah, the father not the son. He had too much heart to ever rise high in the Council. Not like junior."

"Selina, I shouldn't be able to beat you so easily. I shouldn't be able to beat you at all."

"Tell your watcher that and your next assignment will be me."

"I already have my next assignment. I'm going to Cleveland."

"Doris, listen to me. Don't go after the Dormingers. There's plenty of other action on a hellmouth. Tell 'em no. It's not the end of the world no matter what your watcher says."

"I'll think about it. Why don't you look older, Selina?"

"Just a present from somebody I met on the job."

"That's why they think you're a demon. But if you were you'd be a better fighter."

"All right, all right, you made your point. I can't fight like a slayer anymore. If I wanna pass I need an angle."

"I won't tell my watcher."

"Remember what I said about Cleveland."

"Goodbye Selina."

"Take care, Doris. Wait a minute. Here, take my number."

"You're nothing like they say. Unless you're a demon manipulating me."

"You're on the right track if you think like that."

"I'll call you from Cleveland unless I decide you're not human."

"Fair enough."

"How do I make the claws come out?"

"Wires run down the front and back. They should also provide a little more protection. Turning this extends and locks them in place. Release it this way. A spring retracts them back into the fingers."

"Feel kind of stiff."

"The leather will soften up with use."

"Hey, that's the cat's meow! Those are sharp."

"Just don't forget the claws are extended and run your hand through your hair. And don't let 'em rust."


"Here's the name of a circus guy for the whip."

"Thanks Aaron. This is for you."

"Pleasure doing business with you, Selina. How many carats is that?"

"Three. And this is four and here's a couple of twos. You need to get 'em recut before you unload 'em."

"I figured that."



"Miss Guretsky. I'm Jonathan Abernathy. Do you know who I am?"

"Abernathy...oh yeah. I remember you. Guatamala during the war. Boarding school queer."

"I am not....Leave my slayer alone."

"You're Doris's watcher?"

"That is correct."

"Gotten her killed yet?"

"Miss Guretsky! I take my duties very seriously. The welfare of my slayer is of the utmost importance to me. I would give my...."

"Yeah, Abernathy. I know. I shouldn't have said that. I apologize."

"You...apologize? Uh, well, thank you, Miss Guretsky. I accept your apology. But nevertheless, you have attempted to poison an impressionable young mind."

"I told Doris to think for herself and she had the right to say no. You call that poisoning?"

"I would not describe it quite like that. She no longer trusts me. Thanks to you."

"Abernathy, I'm sorry about that. Maybe she can trust you. But I know how the Council treated me and I warned Doris to be careful."

"Miss Guretsky, the Council had to deal with your insubordination and criminality from the moment you were called. That may have quite a deal to do with their so-called treatment of you. Doris, thankfully, is nothing like you. At least she wasn't before speaking to you against my direct orders."

"See, Abernathy, it wasn't me. She was already thinking for herself. You're just trying to scapegoat me because the Council's breathing down your neck."

"That is untrue. My only concern is Doris's development, which may have been irreverocably altered by the seeds of suspicion you planted."

"I certainly hope so. Maybe she'll live to see 25."

"That is my fondest hope. But not if she behaves in the cowardly fashion you did."

"Feel nice and safe since you're a thousand miles away? Or is it you think Doris will protect you?"

"It's my turn to apologize now, Miss Guretsky. Your pursuit of the vampire Oshkaras, ill advised as it may have been, was far from cowardly."

"Oshkaras wasn't just a vampire. Why can't any of you get that through your heads? Sure. Okay. Listen Abernathy, believe it or not I know how important the relationship between a slayer and her watcher is. I'm not trying to wreck that. But if I see something that needs to be said, I'm saying it. And, if she wants my help, she's got it."

"Why this sudden interest, Miss Guretsky? You have avoided involvement before."

"Because she came to me. You planning on sending her after the Dorminger demons?"

"She won't be ready for at least another year. What do you think I am?"

"I'm gonna let that one go. And she'll never be ready. It's a job for the military. The Council should just hand it off. But they don't wanna do that because of some bullshit turf mentality. Demonic activity is theirs period. Send the slayer in and get the new girl prepped."

"Miss Guretsky. I wa...."

"Don't say I warn you to a slayer. I told you that once already."

"Miss Guretsky....very well. I did not intend this call to be so adversarial. Meeting you had one good effect on Doris. The ease with which you subdued her made a strong impression and the Slayer has redoubled her training efforts. Thank you for not injuring her."

"I would never hurt a slayer."

"I'll be sure to relay that to the Council. Good day, Miss Guretsky."

"Bye bye, Jeeves."

"What are you doing here?"

"Selina. Nice to see you too. I imagine I'm doing the same thing here as you: observing our fine young Miss Dobson."

"Quentin, don't send her after the Dormingers."

"Certainly Selina. Not until she's ready. She will kill the queen and that will end their threat."

"Quentin, A: That's just a theory. Even if they do have a queen why should killing her accomplish anything? And, B...never mind. You know and don't care."

"Ah yes, Selina. It's a job for the military. No one, not even a slayer, can hope to penetrate a Dorminger nest and reach the queen. I disagree. Demonic activity is the province of the Slayer and the Watchers Council."

"Your father's probably rolling in his grave at how you turned out."

"Selina, you used to like how different I was from your tenderhearted first watcher. You thought he was a weakling and a fool and arranged our assignations right under his nose. He never suspected a thing."

"I didn't appreciate what I had until it was too late. When I met my new watcher, then I knew how lucky I had been with your father. And I'm ashamed of that now. It never occurred to him that his slayer and his son would do such a thing."

"Well, we would and it was his job for that to occur to him. He was a fine man but he didn't have what it takes to be a good watcher. Everyone was better off with him in Research."

"You had something to do with that, didn't you, Quentin? You torpedoed your own father's career."

"I saw my duty, Selina, that's all. My affection for my father didn't negate that. Just as my affection for you won't stop me from doing whatever is necessary. You're looking exceptionally well. More lovely than ever, not a day older."

"I'm not a demon and it's not gonna happen, Quentin. Not this time."

"I've heard that before, Selina. Ah, smell that breeze. Cleveland in the autumn. Wonderful."

"You're hilarious, Quentin. What do you think you're doing? I said nothing was gonna happen this time."

"Stop me. You can if you want."


"I was just a boy when you seduced me. You made me the man I am. And here you are, looking almost identical. My god..."

"Quentin...don't....don't....Where are you staying?"

"Bannock Hotel, room 280."

"I won't be coming."

"Of course you won't, Selina."

"Well, well. Look what we have here, pet."

"It's the Slayer my darling boy! Oooo see how she shines. All bright like a new penny!"

"Just like a new penny, Dru."

"And little fairies are dancing around her head. They came down from the sky just for us! Falling like flowers with bats for eyes!"

"Uh...right. Hello...who's that? Bloody Hell! That's Selina Guretsky!"

"No fair! No fair! The man in the moon aint playing us square! Spike! Wait...can't you feel it?"


"Feel it my love! She's not a killing girl. Not no more. Just play acting she is. A dirty little liar pretending to be what she's not!"

"Oh ho. I do believe you're on to something, Dru. I like the duds though. Basic black is always in fashion."

"Look! Some boys and girls are coming to play. Oh, let's watch and see how they dance in the moonlight."

"Good idea. I wanna see how this new bint handles herself. Yeah...yeah...oh you are a bright new penny aren't you, Doris? Took a bit long there. Lucky you weren't fighting me, Slayer."

"Spike! The dirty play actor is reading her lines."

"A whip? Where's her stake? Now what is she...There's rules you bleeding bint!"

"Spike my love, claws like a cat, a hissing spitting mouser! Bad kitty! Look how she tears open the mice. Bad bad bad!"

"Ten of our team just got dusted, Dru. Five by the slayer..."

"And five by that dirty fake! Lying pretending faker! The man in the moon don't like us no more, my lovely baby boy."

"The Slayer should've sensed us by now. Right! See her looking round...but not Selina. Now there's a girl who likes to live dangerously. I'm tempted to do the Slayer but the other's acting like her bloody mother. She won't let us fight it out. Less you'd care to keep her busy for me. Eh, Dru, how bout it?"

"The play acting cat? Bad kitty! Doesn't play fair. No she doesn't! Twisting off heads like old dollies. Shedding all over my pretty gown and leaving runs in my stockings from shiny sharp claws!"

"I take it that's a no."

"Let's go home to London town, my Spike. There the meat pies are walking on two legs, and smile and welcome us home with a wink and a nod."

"I want a crack at that slayer before the Dromingers do for her. The Guretsky bint too. I'd like to know her story, before I kill her that is."

"I always thought my Spike was a man."

"What the bloody hell does that mean?!"

"Still wet behind the ears she is. Not sharing my bed with such a scoundrel! The idea!"

"Oh, for God's sake, Dru! Are you saying I shouldn't face the Slayer till she's got experience? So she can maybe bleeding kill me? Dru?"

"I feel all dirty. A coward's finger marks smudging me. Never get his hand prints off. I'm leaving this horrid place. Full of dirty foreigners it is. And dirty blackguards named Spike! Going home where I belong."

"Ah, Dru, we just got here! I can't run from the new Slayer. What'll everyone say?"

"Stay if you want. Kill the baby before she can face you. Angelus would understand. At least I knew a man once."

"Now, Dru. Don't say that."

"Goodbye my Spike. I'll always remember our love that was lost."

"Bloody Hell! Wait up. I'm coming."

"So what happened with Doris Dobson?" Buffy asked. Selina and Giles were seated at a desk going through documents. The rest of the Scoobies looked up from where they were scattered around the living room. Willow turned the TV off despite Andrew's hurt expression.

Giles asked, "Buffy, why are you.."

Selina cut him off. "Where'd you hear about Doris?"

"Jonathan Abernathy's journal. Only the first part survived though. You went to Cleveland and took his job away from him. Doris insisted you be a part of all decisions. The representative from the Council went along with it, one Quentin Travers. Abernathy has a few choice things to say about that too."

"I was sorry about that. Abernathy was okay; at least I think he was. I didn't set out to neuter him. Doris came to me and Abernathy just didn't figure into it. Council never gave him another chance."

Giles said, "Jonathan Abernathy. He was a good man. I learned a lot from him in the Academy. He was a fine researcher."

Willow said, "That's watcher-speak for loser, right?"

"Research is an absolutely vital department, vital! You should know that. But, well, I suppose there is little hope of advancement to the Council after one is assigned there."

"Loser," all of the Scoobies said together.

Selina said defensively, "I didn't trust the Council. What can I say? I'm sorry about Abernathy's career. I told him that. And I'm not responsible for him turning into a drunk."

"I never said you were," Giles said mildly.

"Quentin said I was. Not him. Me. But that was when things were getting ugly between us."

Buffy said, "Weren't things always pretty ugly between you two?"

"And here I'm supposed to be the catty one. We are who we are."

Andrew said solemnly, "Survival of the fittest. Abernathy couldn't compete with velociraptors like you and Mr. Travers. So he fell by the wayside and the great wheel of life keeps turning."

"Andrew, shut up," Xander said.

Faith grinned, "So how was old Quentin in the sack?"

"Surprisingly good for a Brit."

Buffy suppressed a shudder and repeated, "What about Doris Dobson?"

Selina answered, "What about her? She was the Slayer for a while and then she got killed like slayers do."

Giles said, "Miss Dobson was the Slayer for four and a half years, Buffy."

"That's a respectable run," Faith commented.

"I wanted her to reach 25," Selina said quietly and the room got still. "Doris never got close." Suddenly angry she demanded, "Why the hell do you care?"

Buffy sat forward. "I want to understand you. That's all. Maybe I'm wrong and you'd be a good head of the Watchers Council."

Giles interjected, "Really Buffy! I don't think..."

"Quiet, Jeeves," Selina said offhandedly and Giles' face got red.

Buffy went on. "So you went to the Cleveland hellmouth and became Doris Dobson's slayer mom. Is that about it?"

"Yeah, that's about it."

Dawn spoke up. "I bet I know what happened."

The entire room stared at her. She had never spoken a word around Selina since the woman had appeared. When asked about it she said she had nothing to say, but they all knew she was intimidated to silence by Catwoman.

Selina looked at Dawn like she was a small delicious rodent. "Why don't you tell me?"

Dawn looked suddenly terrified. But she straightened her shoulders and said, "She got tired of you telling her what to do and you argued and stuff. And you got mad too and left. And then she got killed."

Selina sat forward staring at Dawn. Buffy quickly moved beside her sister. Finally Selina said, "Yeah, that's what happened."

Everyone looked at Dawn in amazement.

Selina leaned back against the couch and said tiredly, "She said I wasn't her mother and I wasn't her watcher. What could I say? She told me to go, she had to think things through. So I did. Maybe that was my mistake. Abernathy called me a couple weeks later, said he had bad news. I've gotta hand it to him. He wasn't gloating. Abernathy was okay."

"So what happened to her?" Faith asked. "How'd she buy it?" Giles winced.

Selina looked at the ceiling. "She went into the Drominger nest to kill the queen. I'd hammered into her not to take the mission. So naturally she took it. I told her it was impossible."

Giles said, "Miss Dobson killed the hive queen. She succeeded where eight slayers had failed. But she didn't make it back out. The Dromingers withered up and died just as the Council anticipated."

"Abernathy didn't gloat. He didn't call me a coward who refused to do my duty."

Faith said, "This is bullshit."

"Huh?" Selina looked at her.

"Eight fucking slayers were killed. No nine since Doris didn't come back. Why should we go on friggin sucide missions? Huh? We aren't the only game in town. Drop a nuke on 'em! She shoulda listened to you."

"Maybe I could've done it."

"Sure maybe and maybe not. But the point is you were right."

Giles said, "Buffy, may I have a word with you?"

"Sure." Buffy looked up abstractedly as she looked through the mail. Bills. bills, junk, junk, bills. "What is it, Giles?" Junk, bills. junk junk.

"There may be a problem with Selina. Really, it's just as you envisioned. I'm...uh..."

"Giles, don't. I'm not gonna say I told you so."

"You are...certainly, you're right naturally."

"Giles, Selina?"

"I'm not certain but well she has had access to our records...all of our records including bank accounts."

"She ripped us off." Buffy spoke with finality. "How bad? Not everything?"

"No, no. Not nearly. The council's assets are in excess of eighty billion dollars. Fifty million dollars is unaccounted for. I suppose, from Selina's point of view, she may see it as just compensation considering everything."

"Giles, don't make excuses for her."

"As you say. This isn't certain yet, Buffy. There may be another explanation. I hope there is."

"Me too."

Selina came into the townhouse with a case of catfood. The entire group was waiting for her. She smiled and continued into the kitchen. The others followed her and watched her fill bowls for eager cats. Selina looked up. "Gonna make me guess?"

Buffy said, "There's fifty million dollars in Council money missing."

"It's not missing. I've got it."

"Ah, C.W., why'd you go and do that?" Faith looked distressed.

"To pay for catfood and other essentials. Some corporate CEOs make a hundred million a year. We need to make the Council competitive. How else will we attract good people?"

"Meaning you," Xander said flatly.

"Oh, I'm not good. I'm great. Fifty million is a bargain."

Giles said, "Return the money and leave. The offer is rescinded."

"Jeeves, Jeeves, can't take it back."

"I most certainly can!"

"How? I took fifty million but I control it all."

"Giles, what did you do?" Buffy demanded.

"Buffy...I...that's impossible!"

"Don't worry. This new Council is gonna be state of the art. No more musty Brits around a big table. I'm thinking something more along the lines of Microsoft. Or SPECTRE." She winked at Buffy on the last words.

"This is outrageous!" Giles sputtered.

"I have more right than you. I saved the world, not you, me. Just like Buffy here. Who are you to be telling us what to do? Don't worry. Maybe I'll even make you Head of the Council once I've got it up and running."

"What about the money you stole?" Buffy asked.

"Stole? You weren't listening. We have to be competitive in our salaries. Once the Council starts generating income I'll be making considerably more. And so will all of you. Buffy, you and Faith are getting ten million each as a bonus. You'll find it in your bank accounts. The rest of you are getting a million. I know that's a bit generous with some of you, Andrew, but I understand you really put yourself on the line at the last big fight in Sunnydale. And you've got untapped potential."

"Oh wow! This is so..."

"No, it's not! You can't do this, Selina!" Buffy was furious.

Selina picked the kitten up. "Only way to get rid of me is to kill me. And you won't do that, Buffy. Or you, Faith. Ripper, now, might try to murder me like he did Ben. Course I won't be lying there helpless begging for my life."

"Ben? Giles didn't kill Ben," Buffy said. Then she looked at him. "Oh God. Giles no."

Selina continued blithely on, "I'll just keep my eyes on him. Unlike him I'm not a murderer. I only want to bring the Council into the 21th century."

"It doesn't belong in the 21st century!" Giles thundered and stopped. "Obviously I didn't mean that the way it sounded." He looked around embarrassed.

"Doncha think I understand? I used to go see Billy Holiday and Benny Goodman, Duke Ellington, Artie Shaw. I loved vaudeville. Sure hope I don't age all at once. Fraid I'll fracture my skull when my boobs hit the floor."

Xander snorted and Dawn giggled. "Good one," Faith smirked

"Jeeves, you liked the Council the way it was: English good old boys sitting around drinking tea and deciding the fate of the world. Never mind how racist and eurocentric it all was. You want slayers treated less like expendable commodities. Well, that's not the only thing that needs changing."

"This is unacceptable," Giles said grimly.

"Oh Faith," Selina said. "I'd like you to go to LA and see Angel for me."


"He's got the LA office of Wolfram & Hart now. We need to keep on top of that. Their resources would be valuable too if we can swing it without being corrupted."

"You got it."

"Why not me?" Buffy asked.

"Conflict of interest. You can tag along but Faith calls the shots."

"Miss Guretsky?"

"Yeah, Andy?"

"Have you ever considered shoulder pads?"

After Selina went to her room Giles said to Buffy and Faith, "We have to decide upon our plan of attack."

The slayers caught each other's eyes.

Faith said, "There aint gonna be one, G. We're just gonna see if it works out. What she said made sense."

"I'm disappointed in you, Faith. Buffy we need to discuss this."

"Nothing to discuss, Giles. We're gonna give Selina a chance. And, Giles, don't murder her like you did Ben."

"Buffy! I did what had to be done!"

"So why keep it secret? You tried to off Spike too. I'm seeing a pattern here, Giles."

"Yeah, G. Fucking watch it! We're the good guys, remember?"

"Xander, may I have a word?"

"Sure, Giles."

"I wish to discuss this current development with you. I feel very strongly that Buffy and Faith are not thinking clearly."

"And you're saying this to me because?"

"You have always acted in what you felt was Buffy's best interests."

"Making Selina head of the council was your idea."

"I was mistaken. Badly mistaken. Buffy was right. Unfortunately now she has fallen under the same spell as I."

"Spell! There's a spell?"

"No. No. I was speaking metaphorically."

"Well don't."

"Quite right, yes, the situation being what it is."


"Selina, the Catwoman if you will, is seductive and dangerous. You know that as well as I."

"Uh huh."

"She humiliated you, played with your feelings like a cat with a mouse, in fact."

"Well, Giles. I was really asking for it."

"I see. Has she seduced you as well?"

"No. I just know the opportunity was too good for Selina to pass up. Andrew took a shot like a man. I was just this...never mind."

"Xander! I don't care about any of that! Don't you understand how important this is?"

"Sure I do."

"We have to stop her. She's unfit and must be stopped! None of the others can know; especially Buffy and Faith. Selina can't rule the council. The things she said were completely unacceptable. We must stop her permanently! And secretly. This is for the best. Do you understand?"

"Yeah, Giles. I do. I do understand. What do you want me to do?"

Giles glanced at the antique grandfather clock. They had purchased an old office building and he was recreating the London headquarters as well as he could. Ultimately of course they would return to England and rebuild there. This was a terrible thing he was doing. But he knew it was right. Just as killing Ben was right. He pushed away thoughts of Spike. He was not mistaken now about Selina and this entire mess was his doing, so it was his responsibility to correct. He had brought Selina Guretsky into their confidence, had insisted on offering her the leadership of the Council against Buffy's wishes. He should have listened to his slayer. Now she had been seduced by Selina but at least his eyes were open. Selina would desecrate the Council, everything he'd given his life to, turn it into a criminal enterprise just as Buffy warned. Now their positions were reversed. She would understand. He remembered how Buffy looked at him when she learned about Ben. They hadn't spoken of it. Perhaps they would never speak of this as well. That was all right. Very English in fact.

Giles provided Xander with the amulet. Selina would never allow Giles to plant anything but wouldn't watch Xander closely, he hoped. She would take ill and die of natural causes. None of the others ever need know.

It should be soon. The boy was watcher material. He really was. Giles sighed and looked at the clock again. The doorbell rang. Giles hurried to the frontdoor. He couldn't see anything through the peephole.

"Take your hand off of the peephole."

"Sure bud. Ha ha." Giles saw a very old man with a walker. He wore a beautiful suit years out of fashion and a wide fedora. Giles opened the door.

"Can I help you?"

"Well now, bud, that depends. You Ripper Giles?"

What was this? "I'm Rupert Giles."

"He he he. Rupert! Ha ha. I'd never admit to a pansy name like that. But what the hell? That's just me."

"What can I do for you?" Giles spoke coldly.

"I got something for you, Ripper. Lemme see. Wait a sec. Takes me a while to do anything. Ha ha. Never figured I'd get old. Fucked. It really is." The old man spoke and reached inside his breast pocket with his right hand. Giles gasped and looked down at the bloody switchblade in the old man's gnarled left hand.

"Selina's under my protection, asswipe!"

Giles looked up at the contorted old face as the knife slid into his heart.

Jack took a snow-white handkerchief and wiped the blade off. He studied the crumpled body in the doorway, then slid the switchblade into a pocket and slowly turned around using the walker. He saw the kid watching from across the street. Jack touched the brim of his hat with a flick of his finger. Xander nodded and disappeared. Reaching into his breast pocket again Jack withdrew a cellphone and punched 911.

"Hey, I wanna report a murder. Nah, I did it. The address is 2526 Argenta Drive. I'll be waiting. Oh, send a couple ambulances, one for the stiff and one for me. I have liver cancer and a lot of other shit. I'll be waiting. Hey, you got a sexy voice. Bet you suck good cock. He he he."

Faith sat on one end of the couch watching cartoons and Buffy was at the other end reading a People Magazine. Andrew and Willow sat at a table, a pencil levitating in front of them, Andrew concentrating as Willow watched critically. Dawn sat off by herself with her arms crossed, a sulky look on her face.

Xander quietly entered the room. Faith looked up and caught his eyes. He nodded. Faith turned a roadrunner cartoon off.

"Buffster," Xander said.

"Yeah, what?" Buffy didn't look up from the article about Freddie Prinz, Jr.

"This is important."

At his tone Buffy closed the magazine and looked at him. "What is it, Xander?"

Xander felt big and awkward. He wondered if she was gonna kick his ass. Maybe badly. He hoped she did. "Buffy, Giles tried to kill Selina."

"What!? We have to..."

"She's okay."

Buffy was quiet and looked at him.

"What's going on? What are you telling me?"

"Giles is dead."

Willow exclaimed, "Oh God!" The pencil fell. Andrew's face was pale and Dawn began quietly crying.

Buffy leapt up. "How? Selina?" Faith stood up and edged closer to Buffy.

Xander said, "Selina didn't have anything to do with it. I killed Giles."

"Xander? What?" Willow said in disbelief.

Buffy looked stunned. "You killed Giles?"

"I arranged it. You saw what he was like. Giles killed Ben, he tried to kill Spike, now Selina. Who would be next? You want a psycho running the Council?"

Buffy's muscles twitched involuntarily. "You should've come to me. It wasn't your decision."

"He came to me, B. I called Wesley." Faith spoke levelly. Buffy whipped around. "This way you had nothing to do with it."

With an incoherent cry, Buffy slugged Faith who didn't try to defend herself. "Get up! Fight me!"

"Nah, B. I don't feel like fighting."

Buffy kicked Faith sending her crashing into a wall. "Fight me!"

Xander rushed up and Buffy hit him with a backhanded blow that broke his jaw. Xander lay on the ground moaning. Faith ran over to him. "Call an ambulance!" She stared at Buffy. "Finished B?"

"Oh God!" Buffy knelt beside Xander.

Outside an Avenue of the Americas cafe, Selina picked at her tuna salad and thought of Buffy. Everything was so black and white for the little Barbie doll. Ripper was a lunatic. Being exposed to so much evil magic for so long affects you. It would've been better if he died fighting like Quentin. Giles' slayer and her crew worshipped him and wouldn't see what was happening until it was too late. Yes, she was tempted but Selina was prepared to walk away from that. Something in Ripper's eyes made her put it off. By their third private meeting she knew she had to do something. If she was a killer she'd have whacked him that night. That's what Quentin or Ripper himself would've done. Rupert Giles was so full of denial and bullshit she was amazed there was any room for tea. She took the money to make Rupert reveal himself. Selina hoped she wasn't wrong about the kids.

Selina noticed a little boy watching her and smiled at him. The boy grinned back and headed her way. Selina looked for an adult with him but didn't see one. The child was lovely with dark hair the color of Selina's own and wore shorts and a t-shirt with a purple dinosaur.

"Well hi there. What's your name?"

He looked shy and didn't answer.

"Where's your mommy, sweetheart?"

The child made a show of looking carefully around to be sure no one could hear them, and Selina smiled. The boy looked in her eyes.

"My mother was slain eons ago by Horus who spared me at the urging of Isis. Fools."


"Missed me, Slayer? I've missed you."

"Set gave you another chance, huh? He must be pretty hard up for help." Selina watched the boy. They were in the sunlight so Oshkaras wasn't a vampire this time.

"The Serpent forgave my earlier weakness...after suitable punishment." The child closed his eyes and weaved slightly. Then he reopened them and brightened up. "Terrible about that fire, isn't it? Tragic waste. All those babiesss!"

"What fire?"

"I haven't decided yet!"

"I beat you before. I'll do it again."

The child grabbed a fork from Selina's plate. He jammed it through his cheek, yanked it out and the wound sealed without a trace. "Not so easy this time, Slayer! Oh, but you aren't even really a slayer anymore are you? And look at me!"

Selina considered splitting his head open where he stood. It wouldn't kill him but it might gain some time. Of course, she'd be hauled off to jail. That might be his plan. It took her years to figure him out. Buffy and Faith would have to start from scratch. And she'd be in prison feeling guilty as the atrocities mounted. The beautiful little boy smirked at her. She hoped he couldn't read her mind.

"So there you are!"

The child spun around and Selina saw a teenage girl with long dishwater blonde hair come toward them. She wore a blue blazer monogrammed with a lion, a wrinkled white shirt, a red plaid skirt, white knee socks and frayed sneakers.

"No!" The child looked terrified. "I won't go with you!"

The schoolgirl marched up and firmly took the child's hand. "Don't be stubborn." She had pretty blue eyes and a wide moble mouth that quirked up ironically.

"You can't take me. Set won't allow it!"

The girl smiled revealing braces. "Who d'ya think told me where you were, Ozzie?"

"Great Set pretended mercy to punish me further! Forgive me, Serpent!"

The girl looked at Selina. "I hope Ozzie wasn't being too much of a nuisance." She knelt down. "I hate to say it but I think he needs to be spanked. Nothing else works with him." The boy let out a blood curdling scream that made everyone on the street stop. The girl looked around sheepishly as she held tightly to the struggling boy. "He's my cousin. I'm his babysitter." Selina made hand gestures to indicate it was all right.

"No she's not! It's Sekhmet, the Eye of Ra! Hathor's dark face! She tried to destroy you all! Ra himself barely stopped her! Slay her!"

"Now Ozzie, that's enough." The girl spoke firmly. The other patrons with small children smiled knowingly.

"Sekky, you were supposed to wait for me!" Another schoolgirl walked up, this one with a freckled cherubic face and red pigtails. Her white shirt was starched and black saddle shoes gleamed. The monogram on her blazer was a house cat. She looked at Selina. "Hi!" The girl reached out a hand.

"Hey." Selina shook her hand which felt slightly moist.

The child interrupted them to frantically exclaim, "Generous Bast! Please! Have mercy, Celestial One! Save me from the Mistress of Dread!"

"Ozzie, you won't mind me. We tried that before, remember?"

"I'll return Bubastis to its former glory! A great city in your honor! Save me, Exalted Bast, and I will sacrifice a thousand virgins on your altar!"

"Oh, you are such a little fibber. You say that NOW. Try your stories on Sekky." The little boy shrieked and vainly tried to escape. The redhaired girl took hold of his free hand and both girls hauled the hysterical child to a waiting Volvo. Selina glimpsed the driver and thought she saw a dog's head for a moment. The schoolgirls forced the child inside and waved. Selina watched the car drive away and sipped her capuccino.