The Vampire of Steel
By the time he had the last syllable out of his mouth, Zol-Am had the holy medallion of Rao pressed to his forehead by Supergirl. It made him scream, which made him very angry. There was no excuse for showing him up in front of his troops like that. With a ferocious blow, he smashed Supergirl away. She couldn’t come to a stop before she’d torn up several yards of asphalt on the street below her.
The Kryptonian felt as though someone had stuck a triple-thread burner against his brow. But he forced himself to smile.
“Is that the best the enemy can do? Put youself in the casualty list already, Kara Zor-El!”
“Kara!” Buffy cried out, started after her. The Girl of Steel was picking herself up from the street, looking woozy.
Giles stopped Buffy, grabbing her arm. “Just a moment, Buffy. A show of weakness is...not what we can afford right now. Give her a chance.”
“Giles, she’s hurt!”
“He’s right, Buffy,” said Angel, seriously. “Supergirl is our biggest weapon right now. If she doesn’t come up to scratch, we’ve got our heads in a potful of garlic.”
Supergirl got back on her feet and shook her head. The Zoner was, indeed, stronger than she was, just as a normal vampire was stronger than a normal human. But she was the only one anywhere near his power level. She really should have called in the Justice League, all things considered.
But that was Monday morning quarterbacking. Provided, of course, she lived till Monday morning.
Zol-Am was already landing in front of her. With a motion borne of super-speed, he grabbed the medallion by its chain, not touching the disk itself, ripped it from her neck, and threw it away. “What now, girl? Any other weapons in your armory?”
“Could try this,” said Kara, and hit him with an uppercut that knocked him into the air.
“Good lord,” exclaimed Cordelia, watching the Zol-Am-shaped missile soar higher and higher.
“Yeah,” said Xander. “That’s a woman you seriously do not want to leave the toilet seat up on.”
Willow drew in a deep breath. She and Giles were both wearing backpacks. Giles had the box with the Kryptonite in his. She had the Phantom Zone projector. Hopefully, the spell she’d cast would make the objects undetectable to the enemy. But if Supergirl’s latest gambit didn’t put some points on the board, they’d have to use the weapons Kara had gave them.
She prayed to whoever she thought was listening that it wouldn’t come to that.
Kara was wiping blood off her mouth. Buffy was charging full tilt boogie into the street, stake upraised. “You want to open the Hellmouth? Make my day, punks!”
Cordelia babbled, “She watches them too? She watches Clint Eastwood, too?”
One of the flappy-eared demons turned to Bill Goodwin. “Orders, sir?”
“You’ve got your freakin’ orders, soldier!” snapped Goodwin, hoping he sounded enough like his old sergeant. “Kick their butts!”
“Affirmative, sir!” shouted Flappy Ears.
Goodwin told himself he really didn’t hear him say that.
The Scoobies and the vampire / demon army began to rumble. Supergirl flew into action against the enemy troops, acting at super-speed to knock the lot of them down, rendering as many unconscious as she could. Then she paused, staggered, by something unknown.
And something bit her on the hand. Despite herself, she cried out in pain.
A female vampire was biting her on the hand.
In an instant, Buffy Summers was on the back of the vamp, yanking her head back with one hand and staking her with the other. The vampire collapsed into dust. “Kara,” Buffy said with sincerity, “watch your ass around here.”
“I’ll remember that,” said Supergirl. Clenching her teeth, she trained her heat vision on her hand and cauterized the wound. Then she whacked a demon coming up behind her in the labonza with her good arm, without turning around. He sprawled on the street, clutching his gut and groaning.
“Make sure you do,” said Buffy, and staked a vamp in the chest who had been similarly coming up from behind her, also without turning around. She’d wanted to try that, she reflected, ever since seeing something like it in an old Sabata movie with Lee Van Cleef.
Angel, Giles and company were fighting, staking, trying to turn the tide. Kara’s maneuver had given them plenty of help. The ensouled vampire was bashing demons’ heads together with both hands, dodging wooden weaponry, kicking out in grandest streetfighting fashion. Willow was doing her Dr. Strange number as well as she could manage, bowling over and blasting vamps with spells from her outstretched hand.
Xander and Cordy were standing back to back, stakes raised, wondering when the main action was going to find them. “Why aren’t we doing anything?” asked Cordelia.
“Sometimes,” said Xander, “they also serve who only stand and shiver.”
Then everything was pretty much put on hold when Zol-Am fell from the sky and landed on his feet not far from Supergirl and Buffy.
He did not look happy about the turn of affairs and his fangs were bared. Buffy started for him out of reflex, as much as anything. Kara held her back with one arm. “Stay,” she said.
Zol-Am stopped and pointed dramatically at Supergirl. “With your death, the new era begins. Soldiers, destroy the guerillas. We’ll see which of us gets finished first.” He started forward.
Supergirl held up her hand. “Hold! Zol-Am...Personal Combat Challenge.”
One of the demons, who sported a nose that hung way below his chin, offered, “Say what?”
“What’re you talking about?” asked Buffy. But Zol-Am’s jaw was hanging open.
“Giles, what’s going on?” asked Willow, tensely. “What’s she doing?”
The Englishman, squatting on top of a vampire and pressing a cross into its face, looked up. “My word. I’ve no way of telling, but this may be, well, their equivalent of David and Goliath.”
“And her without a sling,” said Willow.
“Hey, will you watch it?” snarled the vampire under Giles. “That hurts!”
“Sorry,” said Giles, apologetically, and staked him to dust.
One of the vampire troops was running forward with a stake aimed at Angel’s back. Zol-Am caught sight of him, adjusted his eyes, and blasted a hole in his back with heat vision. He collapsed to dust on the spot, the stake clacking down on the street in front of him. Even Angel was impressed.
“No combat till we have this sorted out,” declared Zol-Am. “It is our law.”
Bill Goodwin gaped. “Sir, beggin’ your pardon, but is this really a decision you wanna go through with? I mean, that’s just not the way things are done down here.”
Supergirl addressed the crowd of demons. “Let me explain, for those of you who weren’t born where we were. The Personal Combat Challenge is a form of military conduct that was implemented on Krypton. It allows a soldier to make a challenge to another soldier, regarding personal battle. If the challenge is accepted, nobody else can interfere in the fight. I’m challenging Zol-Am right here, right now. The rest of you, back off. Nobody on my side or your side will fight till we’re done.”
Then she put her hands on her hips. “If your commander is too scared to face me one-on-one, I’ll understand.”
A gasp and a sort of watermelon-cantaloupe buzz went up from the crowd. The Scoobies looked at each other. Buffy clutched her stake more tightly. “Kara, I hope you know what the hell you’re doing,” she muttered.
Zol-Am didn’t trust himself to speak for a moment. When he did, he said, “You forget yourself, woman. Don’t you know that the Challenge can only be made by one soldier to another?”
Supergirl smiled. She reached inside her belt and pulled out a metal object. “Take a look at this, Zol. Can you tell everyone what it is?”
He took it from her, looked at it, and glared at her. “A registration. In the Defense Corps.”
“I enlisted when I was in Rokyn yesterday,” said Kara. “Thought it might come in handy. Ordinary Soldier Kara Zor-El reporting for duty, sir.”
Silence for a moment. Then Zol-Am grated, “R** damn you!”, and struck.
Buffy cried out as she saw the Argonian girl go down. She hurtled forward, stake in hand. Angel tackled her from the left and brought her to the street, for which maneuver she showed little gratitude. “Get off me, dammit!” she yelled.
“No, Buffy,” said Angel, pinning her arms to the asphalt. “Weren’t you listening, for Pete’s sake? This is a duel. If either of us, any of us, interferes, that violates the terms. Their army will be free to attack again.”
“Oh, I am so concerned about that!”
“You’d better be, Buff. If Kara wins this one, we win the entire enchilada. If she loses...”
“Yes?” Buffy looked up at him, defiantly.
“Let’s not think about that,” said Angel.
“Get off me,” groused Buffy.
Angel complied, but stood by warily. Giles and the others were also scrutinizing her. The Slayer brushed off the back of her begrimed blouse and the seat of her pants. She still held her stake in the other hand. But she didn’t move to attack Zol-Am.
Supergirl was back up, but Zol hit her again, driving her before him. The demonites watching the fray had to give way before her passage. She was showing the effects of his blows, especially on her face, which was starting to bruise...Sheol, starting to bleed. But as the vampiric Zoner closed to deliver another smash, Kara, who had been crouching, straightened up, grabbed his descending arm, wrenched it powerfully, and smashed it across her knee. Zol-Am cried out.
“Score one,” said Kara, and, using her flight power to help, kicked him hard in the face.
“Wooow!” shouted Xander, pumping a fist in the air. “Go, Kara! Go, Kara! Smackdown on Supervamp!”
“Yeah, Xan,” said Cordelia, tensely. “But it’s still not good enough. Take a look.”
Supergirl had grabbed a stake from where she had stashed three of them, under her belt. But Zol-Am had her by the arm, twisted it, and forced her to drop the weapon. His strength was undeniably beyond her own. While he did so, his eyes blazed, and Supergirl cried out. He was burning her face with heat-vision. She reciprocated with heat-blasts of her own, and thrust her free hand at his Adam’s apple. He blocked the blow, but she managed to pull free. The two separated.
Kara looked to be breathing heavier than the vampire.
“Go get her, General,” opined Bill Goodwin, loudly.
“Clam up, or I’ll turn you into K-rations,” snapped Angel.
Supergirl said something in Kryptonese. It was apparently insulting. Zol-Am closed with her. The two grappled, flew into the air, began fighting so rapidly that the eyes of both human and demon could not register their forms.
Buffy grabbed Giles by the shirtsleeve. “Over here,” she demanded.
“Buffy, what?” asked Giles, tensely.
“We need to talk. Us and Willow.” She dragged him over to the girl-witch, whose face was registering fear. Once they were near her, Buffy had the three of them huddle.
“Kara isn’t going to win this without help of some kind,” said Buffy. “If you’re not going to hit the Vampire From Outer Space with a spell, Will, I have something in mind. Literally.”
“What?” asked Willow.
The Slayer dropped her voice. “Can you do a Vulcan mind meld?”
“Buffy, exactly what are you suggesting?” asked Giles. “Explain, quickly.”
“What I mean is, Supergirl has a helluva lot less experience in fighting vamps than I do,” said Buffy. “Can you put my mind inside of hers?”
Willow’s eyes widened again. “I, I don’t know, Buffy. I’ve never tried something like that before. I mean, theoretically, it’s possible. But I don’t have my, uh, my equipment at hand here. And if they saw me, y’know, making patterns with chalk on the street, they might call off the truce. Which is, like, totally fine by me if it’s fine by you. Trusts with vamps are pie-crust. Lousy pie-crust at that. Not Betty Crocker.”
Giles stepped in. “But we may not require that, Willow. A spoken spell and, well, focus may be enough. Either of us by ourselves might not be able to complete the process, but the two of us, under my guidance, might accomplish it. However, Buffy, what do you intend to do once you’re in contact with Kara?”
“Try to use my skills to help her kill this guy,” said the Slayer. “We don’t have that much time. We try, or we die. And she dies. Well?”
“I think we had better give it a try,” said Giles.
Bill Goodwin caught sight of the small huddle. “Hey,” he said. “Just what are those guys doing back there?”
Angel smiled. “You ever heard of a prayer group, friend?”
Zol-Am’s lieutenant wasn’t mollified. “I’m gonna go over there and see just what–“
The vampire in the black duster stepped in front of him and put a hand gently but firmly in his chest. “One more step and you’ll be violating the truce,” Angel said. “If you do, you’ll get a chance to test your military skills out on me. Care to engage?”
Goodwin took a good look at Angel’s unmoving countenance and stepped back. “Won’t forget this, buddy,” he said.
“Nobody will,” answered Angel.
Giles and Willow were crouched with Buffy, each holding one of her arms. All three had their eyes shut, and the two mages were chanting. Buffy had learned long ago not to listen too closely. There were some things that she figured she could do without in her brain. Except, of course, when this was, hopefully, going to thrust her into somebody else’s brain. It all seemed too X-Men to believe.
Worse yet, she realized that, if she made contact with Kara, she might very well feel what the Girl of Steel felt. Especially whatever Zol-Am did to her.
Conceivably, they might die together.
But it wasn’t like she hadn’t done that before.
For a long moment she was just checking out the insides of her eyelids, which was a comfortable enough thing to do. Then...
...she opened her eyes and there was blood in them, and a Kryptonian’s face beyond her, snarling at her. And she felt pain.
A lot of it.
She spoke through her mind. Buffy didn’t know it was possible, and she had done it before even, well, thinking about it. Did it work? Could it work?
The “voice” that answered was, reassuringly, Kara’s. But it was weaker than she’d have wanted it to be, and she could feel the bruises, the burns, the hurting in Kara’s body. The Girl of Steel was in defense mode. The Vampire of Steel was conceivably not that far from killing her.
<This is Buffy,> she sent. <Don’t ask. I’ve got a telepathic hookup.>
<What are you doing here?> This was punctuated by the sight of Kara putting her foot against Zol-Am’s chest to prevent him drawing her close enough to sink his fangs into her neck.
<Kara, don’t think, just listen. You don’t have experience fighting vampires. I do. You need to let me take over here, to guide you. If you don’t, you’re going to die, and so are all the rest of us. That wouldn’t please any of us, or Superman, very much. Do you read me?>
<Kara, shut up and let me drive!>
The Slayer still wasn’t sure how it was done. Evidently, Supergirl had a lot of trust in her. It felt like shifting gears on an old truck. A lurch, and then she was in. She felt the strain of pushing Zol-Am away, felt his greater strength drawing her nearer.
So she stopped resisting him and brought their foreheads together with a bang.
Zol-Am was as much surprised as he was hurt. Buffy wrenched free of him in that moment, awed by her newfound power, her great speed, and...
...the fact that she was several hundred feet above the ground with nothing under her.
“Oh, God,” she said aloud. “Oh, God. What do I do now?”
“Elementary, my dear,” snarled Zol-Am, game-facing her in horrific fashion. “You die.”
The sight of Zol’s vampire face broke her out of hesitation. “Sorry. Not in my appointments book.” She lashed out with a ferocious spin-kick, followed up with another and another and a bunch of others, the likes of which she abruptly lost track.
Wow!, she thought to herself. This super-speed stuff is a kick. And I thought I was Lady Dynamite with my slayer powers.
<Keep your mind on the job, for R**’s sake!>
Zol-Am, staggered, nonetheless rallied himself and swooped in for an attempted killing stroke. Supergirl / Buffy sidestepped him in midnight air and landed a double-handed smash to the back of his neck. Even the vampire was staggered by that.
How in the name of Rao had she managed a turnaround in mid-battle like that? If she was bluffing beforehand, he was damned glad he’d never been in a barracks chance game with her. She’d have taken him for a year’s salary.
An elbow strike under the chin. A knee to the groin. Another spinning kick that did damage to his ribs. This thing was getting serious.
Zol-Am slammed an uppercut into Supergirl’s jaw and, thankfully, knocked her several hundred yards away. That was enough time for him to regroup.
Inside Supergirl’s mind, Buffy reeled. That was possibly the toughest blow she’d ever taken, and she’d taken a lot in her time. Zol-Am was coming on like a locomotive without rails. Kara was yelling at her, mentally.
<Get UP! He’s coming in for the finisher!>
<Yeah, yeah. I’m kind of aware, Kara. Quit inhibiting me. We’ve got to kill this guy.>
<You don’t put vampires out for the count, Kara. You stake with extreme prejudice.>
With that, Buffy used her borrowed hand to pull Supergirl’s last Kryptonian stake from the back of her belt. But she was a little late. Zol-Am was upon her, slamming a powerful hand into her arm, knocking the weapon out of her hand. It fell, end over end, three hundred feet to the ground. It landed on the lawn of the Sunnydale High School. It was, incredibly, pointing up.
Looking at it, Cordelia said, “What does that mean?”
Xander said, “It means...watch out for falling Supergirls.”
Buffy used Supergirl’s eyes to follow the stake’s progress and its landing place. Zol-Am had his hands on her neck, and his face was coming incredibly close. “You, I’ll kill,” he said. “You, I’ll share blood with. You’ll be so much more valuable to me as a second-in-command, and whatever else I desire from you. Quit resisting, woman. Just lift your head a little more, and make it easier.”
Gritting her teeth, Buffy / Supergirl said, “Sorry. I just can’t do that. Not with a borrowed body.”
He stopped, and looked at her curiously. “What is that supposed to mean?”
She exerted all her borrowed power to put herself on top, in mid-air, with Zol-Am positioned between her and the ground. Then, with all the strength and speed left to her—and it was considerable—the Slayer in Supergirl’s body shoved both of them towards the Earth.
Zol-Am barely had time to figure out what was happening, and not nearly enough to resist.
Seeing it, Angel shouted, “Take cover!” to both allies and demons alike. The two camps didn’t have to be told twice. The soldiers of Zol-Am’s ragtag army scattered, hitting the ground. Cordy and Xander flattened out. Giles, Buffy, and Willow still remained in their trance, immobile but understanding.
A two-person meteor fell from the sky and slammed into the ground with the impact of a moderate California earthquake. It would have taken a sharp eye indeed to see the effect of a wooden stake coming up through the back of the Zoner who contacted the ground first, penetrating his heart, causing his eyes to widen to an incredible degree and his mouth to open for a curse and a shout of pain, neither of which he could manage to render.
Within an instant, Zol-Am turned to dust.
Supergirl lay there on her hands and knees, panting, the stake below her just abutting her blue-clad stomach. She put out a hand and knocked it flat. Then she collapsed, getting her face in the dirt that had been Zol-Am a few seconds ago.
<Good. I want my body back.>
<With pleasure. But I gotta tell you, you’ve got a really great setup here. Do you think, maybe, sometime...>
<All right, all right.>
The Slayer, instinctively, unlinked from Kara’s mind. Her sight, hearing, sensation, smell-sense, everything else vanished for a nanosecond. Then she saw a familiar darkness, felt a familiar form. Her own. Buffy Summers opened her eyes.
Feeling it, Giles and Willow did the same. “You both all right?” asked Buffy.
“Yes,” said Giles. “Yes, Buffy, we’re quite exquisite. How, ah, is Miss Kara?”
She looked across to the lawn where Kara was sprawled. Cordy and Xander were helping her up. Angel was talking to Bill Goodwin and the demons. None of the latter seemed intent on advancing.
“She got beaten up, Giles,” said Buffy. “Both of us took a real pounding. But we won.”
Willow said, “Buffy. What’d it feel like? Being part of Supergirl, I mean?”
She considered her response.
“Well, Will, I wouldn’t wanna do that on a permanent basis. But taken in small doses, as per the Surgeon General’s warning...it ain’t that bad. Not that bad, indeed.”
“Shall we see to Miss Kara, then?” asked Giles.
“It’s an idea,” Buffy said. The two of them helped her to her feet, and, collectively, they approached Supergirl, still lying on the lawn, being tended to by Cordelia and Xander.
To Bill Goodwin, Angel said, “Let’s discuss surrender terms. The terms are, you guys get the hell out of here and don’t pull anything like this again, and we let you live. Agreed?”
“Sounds like a plan to me,” said Goodwin. “See you around, Angel.”
“You’d better not,” warned the vampire, and turned on his heel. Behind him, the lost army of Zol-Am dispersed. Angel trudged over to the spot where the Scoobies surrounded Supergirl.
“How’s our guest?” he asked.
Tiredly, Supergirl raised herself up on one elbow and looked at him. “Outstanding, sir. Outstanding.”
Buffy Summers smiled.
“You shoulda seen it, Mrs. Summers,” said Xander, excitedly, standing behind the breakfast table. “Out of the clear, black sky, boom! She comes down with him on top of that stake, and he blows up like a Spinal Tap drummer.”
“Creative use of metaphor there, Xander,” commented Buffy, working on her scrambled eggs. “But honestly, Mom, it was all right. The good guys won again.”
Joyce Summers held her coffee mug thoughtfully. “Yes. Well...thank God for that, anyway. I certainly hope this sort of thing doesn’t happen again.”
Sitting across from her, Kara, in her civvies, said, “I’ll keep an eye out, Mrs. Summers. It won’t if I can help it.”
Willow said, “That’s the first time I’ve ever done a spell quite like that. I’m glad it managed to work as planned. I mean, you can’t take a spell back to the manufacturer if it doesn’t.”
Cordelia winced. “I’m just glad we didn’t have to use that projector thing. What does it do, turn them into a slide you show on the side of somebody’s house?”
Supergirl smiled. “Don’t worry about it, hon. I’m taking it back to the Fortress with me, along with the other stuff. I’ll resign my commission in the military once I go back to Rokyn. Soldier girl for a day, that’s me.”
Buffy eyed the box near Kara’s chair. “Too bad. Those super-stakes would really come in handy, in my line of work. But I guess I’ll have to make do with what I’ve got.”
“Seem to have been doing okay so far with ‘em,” said Xander. “Old-fashioned vampires call for old-fashioned stakes.”
“Kara,” said Willow. “Is this...well...goodbye?”
The Argonian girl ate her last forkful of French toast before replying. “Yes, Willow, I’m afraid it is. Au revoir, for awhile. But before I go, I’d like to talk with Buffy a bit.” She looked at the Slayer. “If that’s all right, of course.”
Buffy shrugged, deliberately. “Sure. Why not? Let me get a bit more dressed and we’ll go out.”
A few minutes after that, she and Kara were walking down a Sunnydale street in the early light of morning. The box of accessories from Rokyn was under Kara’s arm. “Strange, isn’t it?” commented Kara. “A nice little town like this, a few hundred miles from where I used to live...”
“You lived in California?” Buffy eyed her. “Where at?”
“Oh, San Francisco. For a time. But what I meant to say is: all this niceness covering up all that evil. And when I leave here, Buffy, it’s still going to be around.”
“Yeah,” said Buffy, not knowing what else to say.
“I don’t see how I can do it, Buffy,” said Kara. “I don’t see how I can just go, and leave it here. Knowing more people may die, knowing more danger is just under the surface.”
“Kara.” Buffy stopped, forcing Kara to stop with her. “You leave, because you have to. This is our fight. We’re more equipped to fight vampires and dead, undead, semi-dead, and Grateful Dead things than you are. Just like you’re better at fighting Lex Luthor and his bunch of Backstreet Boys. It’s our responsibility.”
“It’s my responsibility to fight things of evil,” said Kara. “I’m a super-hero.”
“Yes. But you’re not a Slayer. There’s a good reason why you and your friends haven’t come across the Hellmouth, Kara. It’s...in a way, it’s too dangerous for you.”
Supergirl stared at her.
Buffy continued, “There’s forces that enable us to fight what we do, forces that make me a Slayer, that’ll choose another one if I die. I mean, if I die again. We call them the Powers That Be. They keep the evil from spreading far beyond Sunnydale. At least, they have so far. If they needed you here, they would have called you here.”
“They did call me here,” said Kara.
The Slayer nodded. “To help us. On this one case. You might be a great help to us in our regular work, Kara. You really might. But only for awhile. The Powers on the Other Side would find a way of dealing with you. Maybe even of turning you. Believe me...”
She thought, briefly, of the time when Angel had lost his soul, and shuddered. Kara looked at her with concern. Buffy went on. “...Believe me, it could happen. I know.”
“Then, what am I supposed to do? Just go, and pretend that none of this exists?”
“No,” said Buffy. “You’re supposed to go, and leave it to us. We’re the trained professionals in this thing. We know what to do, Kara. Just like...and, well, you know I hate to bring this up...just like when I was in your body.”
Kara didn’t say anything.
“I don’t know that much about super-heroing, but I’ll bet that Batman doesn’t call you up every time the Joker and he have a throwdown,” said Buffy. “You all have your spheres of influence. So do we. That’s why we’re here, Kara...and that’s why you’re there.”
Finally, Kara said, “All right. But I’ll check on things, from afar, when I can. I’ll depend on you to make good on your promise, Buffy. Because, like it or not, if you and your friends can’t keep order in Sunnydale...we’ll have to intervene. You understand?”
“Yes, Kara. I totally understand.”
Kara looked down at her feet. “You know,” she said, “I didn’t like what you had to do in my body.”
“You mean, possessing it?” said Buffy. Then she caught herself. “Oh. Oh, now I know, sorry. Miss Obtuseness, here. You mean killing Zol-Am.”
Kara nodded. “Neither I, nor Superman, take human life,” she said. “I know Zol-Am wasn’t technically alive. I know he was post-human. But still...” She held her hands up. “These hands destroyed a thinking being. I realize why it had to be done. I destroyed M’nagaleh, when we last met. But it’s not something I’m proud of.”
Buffy sighed. “I understand. Even though you might think I don’t, I understand. And you know what, Kara?”
“Sometimes, I wish I had your job. But I’ve got my own. Why don’t we leave it at that, okay? I think we’re both pretty good at what we do.”
Supergirl smiled. “I think you’re right, Buffy. I do believe you’re right. If you have any problems you can’t handle, you know how to reach me.”
“I do,” said Buffy, wistfully. “I hope...well, I hope we get to see each other again.”
“If you want to come to Chicago, let me know and I’ll show you the sights.” Supergirl grinned wryly. “In between fighting super-villains, of course.”
“And you’ll have a place to crash in Sunnydale, if you need it,” promised Buffy. “Uh...is this it?”
“I’m afraid it is, Buffy.” Supergirl reached in and hugged her with her free arm. “You take care, okay? Don’t get killed on me.”
“I’ll try not to,” said Buffy, hugging back. “You too, okay, girlfriend? Take care.”
A few seconds later, they broke the hug. Supergirl crouched, straightened, launched herself into the air. She accelerated and was lost to sight within seconds.
Buffy looked after her for a few minutes, then turned and began to walk back home. To have that kind of power on a permanent basis, to have the strength and speed she wielded for a few, never-to-be-forgotten moments...
“Yeah,” Buffy said to herself. “Me. Slayergirl. Dauntless defender of non-vamps.” Then she thought. “Nah. I really don’t go for capes.”
She straightened up, and walked in the direction of the morning sun.