8:00 am, and the halls of Sunnydale High were slowly starting
to come to life. First period didn't start for another half hour
yet, so the only people in school were the teachers who needed
to come early for whatever administrative nightmare they were
facing, overeager students who wanted to hit the computer lab
before class, and the swim team, whose coach was the only one
in the entire school who forced them into 6:30 am practices three
times a week.
One of those overeager students, however, was not in the computer
lab, but in the least visited room in all of Sunnydale High: the
Library. Willow was still a bit keyed up from the events of the
night before, so she came in early to help Giles try to pull up
more information on the Order of Ra and the Blessed Protector
prophecy. The last name of their new Assistant Principal did not
escape her notice. [Three years of French should be good for something,]
she mused. She hoped that someone as smart as Blair was would
pick up on it as well.
She looked up from her computer to see Buffy walk in the door.
It intrigued her to see the Slayer in so early--because the girl
kept such late hours, she was usually lucky to slip into first
period before the bell rang. Besides, Buffy's mother was usually
her ride to school, so how did she talk the woman into dropping
her off so early? Before she got a chance to ask her friend these
questions, though, Giles emerged from the stacks and blurted out
her thoughts before she got the opportunity. "Why Buffy,
you're here early! Even having to face the Master didn't get you
here before eight in the morning. Did the second coming occur
while I was asleep or something?"
"Nah, I just wanted to see if you guys had anything new on
the Order of Ra." Truth be told, the whole Blessed Protector
thing had her a little wigged out. Ever since she defeated the
Master, she had come to accept her chosen role as the Slayer.
It had become normal to her to sense vampires, demons and all
the other nasty things around her as she went hunting every night.
But to know that there was an evil out there that could strike
at any time, and one that she had no idea how to hunt -- she didn't
like that concept for a minute. Every bone in her body wanted
to do something, anything to help.
As she sat down near Willow, who was still working furiously in
a detailed net search, the young hacker asked her, "and how
did you get your Mom to drive you over here this morning?"
"Easy," replied Buffy, "I told her I had an important
research paper I wanted to get a jump on and Mr. Giles was kind
enough to open the library early for me so I could do the research.
Not exactly the truth, but not a lie either. And Mom was so impressed
that she jumped in the car and drove me right here. So what do
Since Giles was still researching, Willow started to fill her
in. "I got that list of all the new people in town, along
with as much background information as I could find on them. This
is the most interesting person on the list." She handed Buffy
copies of the background information on Judas Filsdera.
As she skimmed over the information she noticed the main part
that caught Willow's eye. She thought out loud, "our newest
As Willow nodded, Buffy asked, "I don't get it. What makes
this guy such hot news?"
Giles replied, "His last name, translated from French to
English, means son of Ra."
Buffy mouthed a silent "oh" then added, "guess
I would have learned that if I stayed awake in French class, huh?"
Willow and Giles both nodded. Buffy complimented, "good work,
Willow. I'll watch this guy today, see if anything suspicious
Giles disagreed with that idea immediately. "I don't think
that would be a good idea, Buffy. You can't track him like you
normally do, so if you lose him, you could end up in serious trouble.
Willow's already faxed a copy of her list to Professor Sandburg
at their hotel, so I suggest, for once, that you let the police
handle this, all right?"
Reluctantly, Buffy nodded. Giles then patted her on the shoulder
and declared, "it's almost half past eight. Go. Your first
period teacher will probably collapse from a heart attack when
she sees you actually in class early."
Buffy smiled. "You're right, that should be fun. I'll come
back during free. See you later Will!"
As Willow was closing up her work she called out to Buffy, "all
right, I'll see you later!"
"Let the police handle it? Sure, fine, whatever..."
mumbled Buffy as she quietly tried to melt into the confusion
of the crowds in the hallway just before third period. She had
noticed Blair and Jim pull up to the school as she was staring
out the window in biology class, and was determined to eavesdrop
on their interview with the new assistant principal. She slid
behind open lockers, open doors, anything where she hoped she
could avoid the man who could know her every move if she got his
And prayed, every minute, that she wouldn't catch his attention.
In fact, she was so intent on not catching Jim's attention that
she ran head-first into Xander, who promptly (and loudly) dropped
the few books he was carrying. He looked up at the rather startled
Buffy and commented, "so, what manner of demon is this that
hath you so focused that you would be blind to me, m'lady?"
Buffy rolled her eyes at the bad attempt at humor and tried to
get past him. When he wouldn't let her past, she whispered, "if
you _don't_mind_, I'm trying to follow those cops and find out
what they know." It took every ounce of self-control she
had to not send him flying into one of the banks of lockers and
out of his way.
A deep voice echoed behind her, "Buffy, I know you're trying
to help, but maybe this time you should let us handle things?"
She turned around to see the rather imposing figure of Jim Ellison
standing behind her. Before she could try to make up an excuse
for what she was doing he commented, "don't even try it,
Summers. I heard the entire conversation from the moment Xander
dropped his books." As she shot dagger looks at Xander, he
continued quietly, "Buffy, I know that you're not normally
used to the police understanding exactly what's going on, but
I do, so just let us handle this one, okay?" He knew that
he was trying to fight a distrust of the police that she had lived
with ever since she became the Slayer in L.A., but he refused
to let her get in the way of the investigation. Even if she'd
make one hell of a cop someday. He assured her, "I promise
I'll let all of you know what we find out after school today,
As the bell for third period rang and the crowd of students dispersed
to their classes, a commanding voice echoed, "excuse me,
gentlemen, but is there something I can help you with?"
Jim, Buffy and Blair looked over to see a tall, dark man with
a deep booming voice and powerful presence approaching them. Buffy
could almost feel the strength of the presence radiating from
him, setting her 'spider-sense' on edge.
The unmistakable smell that Jim had come to recognize as a vampire
became stronger as the stranger approached, although it was unbelievably
faint, like the lingering scent of Blair that hung in his room
even after the anthropologist had been gone several days. It seemed
clouded, too, and almost sweeter than the pungent odor that Angel
had practically reeked of the night before. This had to be their
man. He flashed his badge and asked the stranger, "I'm Detective
Jim Ellison, and this is my partner, Blair Sandburg. We're here
investigating the murder of Michelle Chen, and I was hoping to
find Assistant Principal Filsdera and ask him a few questions."
In a condescending tone, the stranger turned to Xander and Buffy
and directed them, "children, why don't you run along to
As the Slayer and Slayerette headed to the library, Jim heard
Xander mutter under his breath, " 'run along'? 'run along'?
What does he think we are, six-year-olds? I'd like to see Buffy
knock him into next week and _then_ see who's telling us to 'run
Jim almost laughed before he caught himself and turned his attention
to the stranger who was now introducing himself, declaring, "I'm
sorry. I didn't want the children exposed to any of this unpleasant
business. Now then, I'm Judas Filsdera. I assume that Ms. Chen
was a student here at Sunnydale?"
Jim eyed the man suspiciously. By now Michelle's death had been
public knowledge in the community, and, according to Buffy, the
talk of the school for days now. But Mr. Filsdera, apparently,
had never heard of the girl. Jim quickly focused in on the man's
heartbeat, respiration and body temperature. This man was literally
as cool as a cucumber -- he showed no signs of lying or even being
nervous that he was being interviewed by the police, a fact with
struck Jim as quite odd. That meant that either Mr. Filsdera was
either deaf, dumb and blind to the world around him
or he was very good at hiding something. After all, from
the time he had spent in Sunnydale, he realized that people had
become very good at hiding secrets in this town. From what he
could tell, it was more likely to be the latter suggestion than
the former. But if this guy was a vampire, then why was the smell
so weak? And what was that buzzing sound? He would have to ask
Giles about that. He pushed that thought to the back of his mind.
He needed to find a way to draw the guy out, get him to slip and
say something that he would rather not have mentioned to a couple
Luckily, Blair was already working on the man, slowly trying to
draw him out of his shell. "Yes, she was, Mr. Filsdera. I'm
surprised you hadn't heard about it. From what the students have
been telling us, it's been the talk of the school."
Abruptly, Judas commented, "yes, yes, well, I've only been
in town for a couple of weeks, so I haven't exactly had the time
to listen to hallway gossip."
Blair raised his eyebrows in well-faked surprise. "Really?
And what were you doing before that, Mr. Filsdera?"
Judas replied flippantly, "oh, I was teaching at an all-boys
school in LA."
Blair repeated his act. "Really? Which one was that?"
"L'Ecole de Fils de la Lumiere. It was a second language
satellite school. We taught only in French."
Blair scribbled notes down furiously, knowing that anything he
gave them could either be checked out for suspicious activity
in the area or used against him later on, should that be necessary.
Jim, on the other hand, having not expected Judas to give them
such a straightforward answer, remained skeptical. He decided
to try and see if the man would slip up, give him some names of
people who could potentially be other vampires. "Have you
gotten a chance to meet many people since you've been here, sir?"
Judas looked up at the larger man with disdain and scorn. [Clumsy
pig. Who does he think he is? Does he think I'm going to slip
up that easily?] He noticed, however, the protective emotions
he had when it came to his partner, for they ran strong and deep
in the big man's character. There was something else about him,
though, something unique. He'd never seen it before, which puzzled
him, but he shrugged it off as nothing.
The younger man, though, was fascinating. Here was a man possessed
of great wisdom that he had such little comprehension of, yet
his curiosity and energy seemed almost boundless. [Yes, yes, he
would make such a fascinating addition to the family. I will bring
it before the others tonight.] He then realized the big oaf was
looking for an answer to his question, so he replied, "actually,
no, Detective. I've been so busy moving in and getting adjusted
to the new job and community I've barely had any time left after
Jim looked Judas over with renewed skepticism. He was convinced
the man was lying, but he could pick up on none of the normal
physical signs to prove it. And he did not like the way the man
was looking Blair over one bit. [Like he was sizing up a future
mate,] thought Jim, [either that, or a good T-bone steak.] Once
he realized the conversation was not going to go anywhere from
there, he stepped just a bit closer to his partner and pulled
out a Sunnydale PD business card. "Well, thank you for your
time, sir. I realize that you're a busy man, so we won't keep
you any longer. However, if you do hear something that might help
us in our case..."
Judas took the proffered card and interrupted him curtly, "...I
won't hesitate to call you. Good day, gentlemen." And with
one last look at Blair, Judas, son of Ra, quickly turned and left
in the direction of his office. Before he reached the office,
though, he hid in the recess next to a set of lockers and focused
his keen vampire hearing on the conversation the two men were
having behind him...
"Wow, Jim, this guy definitely sounds like a vampire! I wonder
how old he is? Who he's killed? Who he's known? God, what an opportunity..."
Blair sounded like he was on the verge of some sort of unbelievable
Jim could see this coming. "Chief, have you completely lost
your mind?!?!? _If_ he's a vampire, then that means that he's
_literally_ a bloodthirsty psycho killer who's not going to see
you as some great academic researcher, but as lunch!"
Confused, Blair asked, "What do you mean by if, Jim?"
Conspiratorially, he whispered, loud enough so only the Sentinel
(and the vampire) could hear him, "you mean you couldn't...?"
Jim confessed, "I'm not sure. The smell was so faint I couldn't
tell if it was him or someone he's been around recently. I didn't
hear him breathing, though, so he's most likely a vampire, but
I can't be one hundred percent certain."
Blair asked, "and your senses, they're not going haywire
or anything?" The silence told Judas the bigger man's response
was most likely nodding his head yes or shaking his head no. Judas
then assumed the answer to be no, because Blair's response was,
"well, since I'm far from being the expert on vampires, let's
go see the man who is, shall we?" He then heard the two men
walk away from the direction he had just retreated to, heading
instead toward the Library.
Judas rested his head against the cold concrete wall and pondered
the conversation in wonder. [That clumsy pig is the Blessed Protector?
Well he certainly isn't the Slayer, so who else could...] Gratefully
he shut off the tiny ozone-producing generator that his technological
wizard, Merlin, had distributed to the family last night when
they had received the news. He then thought again of the now-familiar
prophecy. [...Guided by wisdom and innocence..] He realized that
had to be a reference to that unique man Mr. Sandburg. [Perhaps
we can incapacitate the Blessed Protector in more ways than by
just throwing him off of our scent...]
After he realized that a freshmen had been staring at him for
the past couple of minutes, he shooed the boy away with a curt,
"what are you doing? Quit staring like an idiot and go to
class!" As the boy hurried away in embarrassment, he turned
and walked quickly to his office. [So many plans to be made...]
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