The Vampire of Steel
Supergirl and related characters are property of DC Comics. Buffy and related characters are property of Twentieth Century Fox FilmCorporation. No money is being made from this story, no infringement is intended.
“Excuse me. Is, um, Miss Danvers there? Uh, Miss Linda Danvers?”
The woman in question arched an eyebrow just a tad. “Yes, this is she. With whom am I speaking?”
“Um, Willow Rosenberg. I was told you could like, get in touch with, uh...you know.”
Linda Danvers, in her off-white PJ’s with the brown trim, sitting on her bed barefoot with a V. C. Andrews novel open face down on it beside her, ran her left hand through her hair. “No, I don’t know. Who are you, and what do you want?”
“I’m a friend of Buffy’s.”
That, thought Linda, made things different.
“I see,” she said.
“Oh, thanks. I’m glad you do.”
“So...your friend wants me to get in touch with my friend?”
“Yeah. They need you to do it like in FedEx time, if possible.”
“Where did our friends last meet?”
“On the Sears Tower.”
Linda gave a half-smile, unknowingly. That much was true, so this Willow person had passed at least one test. She had given Buffy Linda’s name and number. A year ago, they’d shared a hellacious adventure atop the tallest building in Chicago, almost the tallest building in the world. They’d parted as friends and sisters-in-arms of a sort. But she hadn’t heard from Buffy since then.
“All right,” said Linda. “What am I supposed to tell her?”
Willow, on the other end, sucked in a deep breath. “She needs to come to Sunnydale, California, ASAP. To the address I’ll give you. It’s the home of a friend named...ah...I don’t know if I should tell you.”
“Because I don’t know who’s listening. Please, Miss Danvers, just get our message to your friend.”
“What is my friend supposed to do, Ms. Rosenberg?”
“We can’t say over the phone. Just please, please have her come here. Buffy needs her.”
The brown-haired girl sighed and took the phone away from her mouth for a moment. She had been looking forward to a little down time between incidents. Plus tomorrow was a work day, on top of that. On the other hand, this might be the sort of thing that she could wrap up in an hour or two.
Then again, was that the case a year ago?
“Miss Danvers? Are you there?”
She put the phone back to her lips. “Yes, I’m here. I’ll try and get the message to her. She’ll be there as soon as she can, I’m sure. One question, Ms. Rosenberg.”
“Is Buffy in danger?”
A sucking in of breath on the other end of the line. “We all are, Miss Danvers.”
“Can you call the police while my friend is en route?”
“It’s not that kind of thing.”
“All right,” said Linda. “Sit tight. I’ll try and get her.”
“Thank you, Miss Danvers. Uh, Miss is okay, isn’t it? Not Ms.?”
“Either Miss or Ms. or ‘Hey, Linda’ will do fine, dear. Sit tight, and I’ll hang up and call her. Okay?”
“Thank you, Miss Danvers. Ms. Danvers, too. God bless you.”
“You too, dear. Goodbye.”
Linda hung up the phone, got off the bed, stretched, and looked through the rest of the house without leaving her room. The others were all accounted for. Either in their rooms, or watching TV, or, in Mrs. Berkowitz’s case, in the kitchen (as usual, for her). She didn’t think they’d miss her, but she made sure her door was locked.
She’d lock the window after she left, too.
In the space of a second, Linda stripped out of her pajamas, found the place where a costume compressed to the size of a pea was located, expanded it, put it on, ran a special comb through her hair to change the shade from brunette to blonde and style it a different way, located the place where she’d stashed a pair of flat items that rapidly unfolded to boots, put them on, checked herself in the mirror, loaded her cape pouch with such things as she might need if she needed them (such as her i.d. card, some American money, and her own choice of lipstick in a friction-proof tube), opened the window, tripped the inside lock, exited, and shut the window before the lock had time to catch on nothingness instead of a metal catch, and, moving too fast for the unaided eye to see her, flew into the sky.
Supergirl headed southwest, to southern California.
She could have made the trip in seconds, but she wanted there to be some time-gap so that inquiring minds might think it took Linda a little time, at least, to get hold of the Girl of Steel. Also, with a leisurely, five-minute flight, it gave her time for a little reminiscing over her meeting with Buffy.
It had started late last spring, when a tall, blonde teenager had shown up at Mrs. Berkowitz’s boarding house, announced that she was Buffy Summers, and taken a temporary room there. Linda thought she made an okay first impression, even if she was a bit on the gosh-wow side. That turned out, partially, to be an act. Buffy had said she was there to do research on the Sears Tower for a class project. That was mostly an act, too.
As it turned out, Buffy had been a vampire slayer. Which was lucky, because the Tower was being occupied by a gang of vampires.
Luckily, too, Supergirl had been there to help Buffy out. The two of them teamed up to discover that the vamps, a breed of nasty that Kara Zor-El had never encountered before, were really there to raise a demon named M’nagaleh, whose intention was to consume the world. Or something like that. The vampires were successful in the raising, but Buffy and Supergirl got free—just barely—and, while Kara managed to dispose of M’nagaleh in the anti-matter universe of Qward, Buffy dusted most of the vampires. Supergirl had to admit that the sight of a young girl putting a wooden stake through people’s chests, and seeing said people explode into a puff of dust, was one of the more unsettling sights of her career. Especially when she staked the last of them against Kara’s chest.
While she was flying Buffy back to the boarding house, Supergirl learned that Miss Summers had wanted to be her favorite comic book heroine when she was a kid, and fly just like her, just like this. “Oh, really?” Kara had asked smugly. “What comic heroine was that?”
“Power Girl,” Buffy had said.
“Oh,” Supergirl had said, and changed the subject.
She’d seen her off at the airport and even flown by her plane in the air to wave to her, and that was the last she’d seen of the girl with the stakes. But she had given her Linda’s name and phone number in case of emergencies. She hoped that she’d never have to use it.
But...yeah. That was the problem with ‘but’. It always existed.
So now she was coming in over the bright lights of L.A., listening with her super-hearing and watching with her super-vision to make sure she didn’t intersect any flight paths, banking to veer off in the direction of the small town of Sunnydale. Kara thought it sounded like something out of a Sixties CBS sitcom, the kind they reran all the time on the cheap stations. When she entered its airspace a few seconds later, she decided her perceptions hadn’t been so wrong after all. It was more or less like an updated town of that sort.
But there was something bad here, on a regular basis. Buffy had hinted to her of such. Now, it was apparently bad enough for her to cry for help, through a friend. Maybe Willow Rosenberg played Robin to Buffy’s Batman.
Supergirl surveyed the town with her infra-red and X-ray vision, found a few anomalies (such as a graveyard that looked like it’d been disturbed repeatedly), but nothing more out of the order than cops stopping speeders and the occasional drunk. So she checked out the street signs with telescopic vision until she found the right one, and pointed herself downward, arms pointed before her in a V.
At a speed still too quick to be seen, the Argo City Amazon flew barely over the trees and housetops until she found the address Willow had given her. She banked her speed, whirled about to dispel her momentum, and came to a stop in the back yard. Grass felt good to walk on again, even through her boots. She stepped up to the back door and rapped on it.
Within a few seconds, a tall, dignified-looking man in glasses, shirtsleeves, pants, and shoes opened the door. He was carrying a golden cross. Kara eyed it, and then his face. He looked disturbed, even breathless, but carried himself with dignity. Thankfully, he seemed to recognize her.
“Oh,” he said, in a British brogue. “You are, that is to say, Supergirl?”
She nodded. “That’s me. Are Willow Rosenberg and Buffy Summers here? They asked me to come.”
“Yes, well, if you...that is, if you really are the, ah, Supergirl, you should be able to tell.” So she had to pass a test, too.
“They’re inside,” said Kara. “So’s a rather skinny guy with black hair. Buffy’s lying on the couch and she’s got a wet cloth on her head. There’s a brown-haired girl with her who I assume is Miss Rosenberg. Correct?”
“X-ray vision,” said the Englishman. “Just had to make certain. There are, you see, certain things that cannot get inside one’s house unless one invites them.”
Supergirl considered that. She’d read Bram Stoker’s DRACULA, like a lot of kids her age did, when she was in Midvale Orphanage. But to think that ‘enter freely, and of your own will’ had some bearing in the real world... She shuddered. Well, if vampires existed, at least they weren’t rude enough just to barge in your front door without an invite.
“Excuse me,” said Kara, and let the man step aside while she went past him. Once inside, he proferred his hand.
“I’m sorry. My name is Giles. Rupert Giles. I’m a mentor of sorts to Buffy.”
“Pleased to meet you,” she said, and shook his hand. Then she strode into the front room.
The first of the three teenagers to catch sight of her was the black-haired boy. “Holy Hannibal Lecter,” he exclaimed. “Willow. Vision check. Are you seeing the same blonde vision in blue shirt and red hotpants and long legs that I’m perceiving?”
Willow said, “Xander, please. Miss, uh, Supergirl?”
Buffy Summers, in jeans, T-shirt, and bare feet, holding the wet cloth to her forehead by one hand, raised her upper body off the couch. “Kara?” she said, her eyes widening in recognition.
“It’s me, Buffy,” Kara said with a smile. In a second, the Slayer girl and the Girl of Steel were in each other’s arms, hugging.
“Well,” said Willow, noting that Giles had just entered the room, “I guess they do know each other, after all.”
“Remarkably observant, Willow,” noted Giles.
Kara broke the hug partially to look at Buffy’s forehead. “Oh, my, Buff,” she said. “Not that it isn’t great to see you, but how’d you get that?”
“It looked a lot worse an hour ago,” Buffy assured her. “I heal fast.”
Supergirl had been referring to a large, purple bruise adorning Buffy’s brow, with a nasty scratch to the left of it. “Glad to hear it,” said Kara. “But how? Was it to do with the reason why you asked me here?”
Buffy nodded, soberly. “Believe it.”
Giles said, “The three of us found her unconscious near the major cemetery in town roughly an hour and fifteen minutes ago. She was making her, ah, rounds. We were following up to check on her. Luckily.”
“What did you run into?” Supergirl had the idea that the answer to her question bore incisors few dentists had ever treated.
“Sort of a vampire,” said Buffy. “Feeding.”
“Yeah,” said Buffy. “I tried to interrupt the feast. Have stake, will travel.”
Buffy sighed. “I gave him the old stake treatment. It...didn’t work.”
“Didn’t work?” Kara was aware that she was repeating Buffy’s words too many times, but it seemed like the only thing to say at the time.
“It splintered all to pieces on his back. Like he was made of steel. Then he turned and backhanded me. His arm felt like it was made of steel, too. I hit a tombstone and went brain-soggy till the others found me.”
“You said...he felt like steel?”
“Right,” said Buffy. “But that’s not the worst part.”
Supergirl said, “Fill in the last details, dear.”
The Slayer drew a deep breath, then went ahead. “Just before I went out, I could swear I saw something. I saw him jump into the air. He never came down.”
Then Supergirl said, “I think we have a situation here. To say the least.”
“And three-quarters,” put in Xander.
“Make with the introductions, Buffy,” said Kara. “Then let’s figure out what we’re supposed to do.”