This is my favorite Four Friends story, in which Kara, Dana and the Buffybot are assigned an easy mission to dust one newbie vampire. Naturally, all does not go as planned.
Special thanks to jillyh2009, who designed the outfits for my four heroes in this story, and was disappointed I didn’t spend more time describing them.
Four Friends and a Funeral
Kara braced her back against the van's bench seat and tugged, only to be rewarded with a ripping sound. "This is impossible! We're on a mission. I can see having to wear body armor, or a utility belt, or something -- useful. But this is torture! And now it has a run."
Buffybot tossed an egg shaped plastic container to Kara. "I brought extra!" the Robot chirped happily. "Spike taught me all about how to wear lingerie."
Kara, her mind going to a bad place, raised a hand. "Say no more, Bottie. Please."
In the other seat that lined the rear of the van, Dana sat very still, staring at the sheer pantyhose draped over her hand. "This is a torture device."
"No, really it isn't," Kara assured her, as she ripped off the remains of her first pair and started over. "I mean, it was obviously designed by a man, so yeah, but it's just meant to make your legs look nice."
Dana remained unconvinced. "You taught me to shave my legs for this?"
Bottie, who had finished already and was examining herself critically in a mirror hung against the back door, wrinkled her nose. "Dana, you look much better with smooth legs. I can't believe you never shaved until you were over eighteen."
"They didn't give us razors where I was." With a long suffering sigh, Dana pulled off her sneakers and began arranging the hosiery. "So, it wasn't all bad."
A clipped British voice suddenly emerged from behind the curtain that separated them from the driver's compartment. "Ladies, are you almost finished? We are on a mission, you know."
"Almost, Giles!" Bottie did a little whirl, managing to keep from banging her head on the metal roof. "I look drop dead gorgeous!"
"Yes, you do," Kara agreed, without looking up from her chore. She had to concentrate -- Bottie couldn't have brought too many spares. Besides, she'd already seen Bottie's midnight blue silk dress on the hanger, and didn't have to imagine how great the robot would look ... compared to Kara.
Dana actually cleaned up pretty good, once they'd gotten her past her fear of curling irons, and even without pantyhose would look fine in the knee length, layered, black dress the girls chose for her. Kara had also opted for the traditional black, although she'd reluctantly agreed to a halter style that showed more skin than she was comfortable with. For some reason, her friends had made it their mission in life to completely change her wardrobe. Still, she doubted anyone would be paying attention to someone as gawky as her, with her braces and mousy brown hair, as long as she stayed close to the other two.
But staying together wasn't part of the plan, was it?
Kara stood up, finally managing to get the pantyhose into place with a minimum of wrinkles. "Giles, are you sure this is a good idea?"
"It's the only alternative, Kara. This gentleman was a girls school teacher, and had a thirty year history of coaching girl's team sports. No one is going to notice another few females, but I'm afraid I'd stand out like a --"
"Dried up old British guy?" Bottie finished helpfully, while helping Dana adjust pantyhose that had become twisted around the girl's thighs.
"That wasn't the expression I was looking for. My point is, if Andrew's new scientific method of calculations is correct, Mr. Jamison will arise sometime during the viewing tonight, and we must be there to deal with it."
"But none of us have much field experience," Seeing the other two had finished, and Dana had dropped her skirt to a more modest level, Kara pulled the curtain open to reveal Giles sitting behind the driver's seat. She could see the funeral home, with a stream of young women already entering, through the windshield. "Especially in dresses."
"Nonsense. Both you and the Buffybot have fought vampires and demons, and Dana also has ... experience. Jamison will be a new, inexperienced vampire. You have a plan in place ... all you have to do is be cautious that the vampire who turned Jamison hasn't come early to claim his offspring."
"Which is very rare," Bottie said reassuringly. "They usually keep their distance until the newly turned vampire kills off his family and friends, and the excitement's died down."
"Only this one's going to come to life during a viewing," Dana murmured. "It's much harder to be a vampire, these days."
Giles shook his head. "This all assumes Andrew is correct, and there are many variables that effect when a dead person will turn. You may have nothing to deal with but boredom and sticking to your cover stories."
"I can deal with that," Kara declared with feigned confidence, before checking herself in the mirror. Crap, another pimple, dead center in her forehead. She dabbed a little makeup on it, and wondered if slayers past spent much time looking after their appearance. If Buffy and Faith were any indication, she'd have to guess yes.
"Off with you then, and remember, I'll be right here and available by cell phone. If all goes well, I'll buy you an ice cream on the way back to the airport."
Rolling her eyes, Kara stepped into the humid Miami evening. "Giles should have to wear pantyhose," she muttered as soon as the van's back door clicked shut. "Then at least we'd be walking in there with slacks on." She waited for Bottie to take the lead, then she and Dana flanked the robot, heading toward the funeral home.
"How would we know if Mr. Giles was wearing pantyhose?" Dana asked, casting a sidelong glance at Kara. "He always wears long pants. Imagine seeing him in shorts."
"Oh my God."
They stopped at the entrance, and waited while two other girls went in. "Okay, let's review," Bottie said, glancing around to make sure they had a moment alone. "Dana will stay close to the coffin, while Kara and I split up and mix in with the crowd. If Mr. Jamison tries to get out, Dana will stake him while we provide a distraction."
"Head, heart." Dana nodded. "But what distraction?"
"I'll stay close to whatever boys are in there," the robot told her, "and pretend one made a rude comment to me."
"I'll faint," Kara suggested. "Um, loudly."
Bottie clapped her hands in glee. "It's a plan! I'm after the hot guys, yay!"
Great. Kara followed them in, then paused again at the guest register. "Should we --" She looked up, and saw the wide double doors to the viewing room were open, with dozens of people milling around in plain sight. "It'll look suspicious if we don't."
"Right!" Bottie signed "Buffy Summers II" with a flourish, then handed the pen to Dana. The other girl concentrated much harder on scratching out her signature, before passing the pen on to Kara. Kara signed, then glanced at the other names on the list. She dropped the pen and stared hard at a name several lines above theirs: "Tara McClay".
"Hey. Do you guys --" But the other two had already made their way into the viewing room. Seeing a line had formed behind her, Kara hurried on, and wondered how many Tara McClays there were in the world. Even if their Tara was here, she wouldn't have signed her name. Or would she? After all, Tara had been working hard on interacting with the real world, and she'd always been one to do the polite thing.
The room was bigger than any funeral home Kara had been in, and packed. A low murmur of conversation almost drowned out the sad tinkling of a classical music piece, while the shag carpeting and thickly draped walls tended to absorb all sound. Unfortunately, it was brighter than Kara had expected. But then, no normal amount of dimming would likely hide the deceased leaping out of his coffin.
As Giles predicted, almost all the occupants of the room were female, and all the females were dressed in similar fashion: dresses, mostly knee length, ranging from somber pastel colors to black. The girls ranged greatly in age, but most seemed to have the hard, slim bodies of high school athletes. Leave it to the Head Watcher to have everything scoped out before they even arrived.
She spotted a way too animated blonde head, bobbing its way toward a few boys huddled in one corner. In the other direction, Dana weaved her way toward the coffin, trying to avoid contact with anyone else as she single mindedly pursued her assignment.
Then Kara's view was blocked by a broad, black clad, very male chest. She looked up to see it was connected to an equally male head, with a shock of blonde hair and alert, bright blue eyes. Eyes that were focused directly on her.
Wow. Hottie. Say something, stupid. "Um," Kara said.
"Hi." His gaze sweeping past her, the hot guy smoothly glided past, headed in the general direction of the Buffybot -- just like every other male in the room.
Kara sighed, and pasted herself against the nearest wall. This all reminded her of the high school dances she'd attended. She hadn't had much fun at those, either.
"Oh, hi!" Kara twisted around, and almost collided with a girl a few years older than her, who was holding a cup of punch and scoping out the room. "Big sendoff, huh?"
"I'm Julie." Julie looked like a cheerleader. "I'm a cheerleader. Well, I was, but now I'm a Wal-Mart associate. Were you on one of Mr. Jamison's teams?"
Julie's perfect face crinkled. "But Mr. Jamison didn't coach gymnastics."
"I mean, gym. I had him in gym class. And volleyball."
"Oh! I played volleyball in junior high. Go Cougars!"
"Yeah, go." Despite herself, Kara felt a brief surge of annoyance. Her school's mascot had been a Knight.
"It's so terrible about what happened. I mean, how can a guy as athletic as Mr. Jamison fall onto a javelin?"
Ouch. That WOULD hurt. "Well, accidents happen."
"Yeah." For a moment Julie stared off with a vacant expression, then her eyes widened. "Hey, Cathy! Big sendoff, huh?" Without a second glance, the girl moved off.
Poor girl, Kara thought, as she looked around again. Being a high school cheerleader might end up being the highlight of Julie's life, and she hadn't even considered the possibility. Kara might not have been one of the popular girls, but none of the popular girls ever kicked a green horned demon's ass before, and nobody had ever handed Kara a blue vest and called her an associate trainee.
Dana still stood by the coffin, staring intensely into the open lid. So intensely, in fact, that several of the mourners had started casting nervous glances at her. Kara started that way, but paused when a high pitched giggle caused heads to turn toward the opposite corner, where Buffybot was now surrounded by a growing group of male admirers. She was eating it up.
"Well, at least she's happy," Kara murmured, before heading on toward the coffin.
She paused by Dana, and tapped the girl gently on the shoulder. With a start, Dana jerked around to give Kara a wide eyed look. "I think his eyes fluttered."
Unfortunately, she said it at the moment one of those uncanny silences, which sometimes fall on crowds, fell on this one. It was followed by a much more predictable shocked silence, as heads twisted toward the two slayers. Feeling her face redden, Kara leaned in closer. "Dana --"
"Twice. They almost opened."
"Dana, you're upset. It's understandable, the way you lost your favorite teacher." As she spoke, Kara allowed her voice to raise a little. "But you have to accept that he's gone, and nothing on this totally not supernatural world will bring him back."
Suddenly becoming aware of their audience, Dana clamped her mouth shut.
Oh, boy. Now what? "Um, go to the restroom and splash some water on your face. you know, to get your perspective and stuff." And to get everyone's attention off you. "Then come right back."
"Oh. Yes, I will." Casting another quick glance toward Mr. Jamison's peaceful face, Dana hurried off.
Good. Fine. The others went back to talking as if they hadn't heard the exchange, and the male voices coming from Buffy's corner of the room were getting louder as their owners competed for the robot's attention, so Kara felt safe in assuming nobody would be coming after them with big butterfly nets. She stood there for a moment, trying to be invisible, then glanced down at the body. Jamison was a little pudgier than she'd expected, and he looked incredible peaceful.
Except for his fluttering right eyelash.
Kara glanced at her watch. Yep. They'd taken more time dressing than she'd thought. She looked toward Bottie, willing the robot to turn her attention this way, like she was supposed to. Bottie was, indeed, keeping both eyes out -- on every male in the room.
Okay -- think. Maybe she could throw something across the room, diverting attention. No, everyone would look to see where the object came from. Besides, what was she supposed to throw? At each end of the coffin was a table holding flowers and an ornate, hand carved candlestick, but nothing the size of a stone, or a coin. She patted her purse, feeling two stakes, a cross, a bottle of holy water, lipstick, and a pack of Wrigley's Spearmint. Boy, with this dry mouth she could use some chewing gum right now. What was the etiquette for gum at funerals?
Come on, Kara! Focus!
That familiar wall of tall and tasty blonde male appeared before her again. Her focus changed entirely.
"Um ... are you okay?" Unlike most teenagers, he didn't look at all gawky or awkward in his black suit, and his smile made it clear he wasn't uncomfortable to be here. "You look a little ..."
Kara cleared her throat. "Um. Teach. Teacher -- him. Dead."
"Oh." He put a firm, comforting hand on her shoulder. "I know, it's terrible. I'm Jack."
"Hi, Jack. Hijack! Hah." Oh my God, stake me now.
His smile widened, while Kara mentally kicked herself with her black patent leather flats. "Yeah, it's a nickname for John. No one knows why. So, do you have a name?"
"Oh. Um, Kara. I have a last name, too." She stopped, trying to remember what her last name was, and moaned at how totally lame she was.
No, wait. That wasn't HER moaning.
Her peripheral vision revealed the corpse's arms starting to move -- think time was most definitely over. With one quick motion, Kara grabbed the lid of the coffin and slammed it shut. All noise in the room stopped. Hordes of people stared at her in shock, but Kara mostly noticed Jack, who seemed only mildly surprised, but took a step back. "Kara?"
"I -- I miss him SO MUCH!" Sobbing theatrically, she threw herself over the coffin, hoping nobody noticed it was starting to shudder from an internal force. A few people in her audience murmured consolations, but otherwise they continued to stare at her. Where the crap were her friends?
"It's all right." Jack's cool hand stroked her cheek, soothing some of the heat rising to her face. "We're all here to show how we felt. But why don't we open the lid back up -- poor Mr. Jamison could probably use the air." He smiled again, still wider.
Hey. Wait a minute. Kara examined Mr. Hottie more closely. Charming, smooth, piercing eyes, cool friggin' skin ...
"I BET you want to let him out," she hissed.
Jack's smile faded. "What?"
At that moment, someone shouted from the doorway, "He was my LOVER!"
Tara McClay -- Kara's friend Tara, accept no substitutes -- stood there, looking completely alive. She appeared stunning in an ankle length, spaghetti strap, burgundy dress -- did ghosts have wardrobes? Where did they keep them? In any case, diverting attention didn't turn out to be a problem when Tara stabbed a hand theatrically at the coffin. With all eyes on her, Tara faltered for a moment, then forged on. "Mr. Jamison was my lover. We were going to be married after I graduated from college, but somebody killed him!"
Total silence engulfed the room, except for an experimental tapping noise from inside the coffin. Jack, eyes narrowed, turned toward the sound. "Hey, wait a minute --"
At that moment, Buffybot vaulted onto a chair in the far corner, and announced, "He was MY LOVER TOO. We were going to move to his cabin --"
"Condo," Tara put in quickly.
"-- Condo, and live happily there after I graduated."
Well, okay, Kara thought, as she reached for her purse. That should keep everyone preoccupied, especially if Tara and Bottie could get into the parking lot and start a catfight. Kara doubted very much if she could accomplish her mission without making some noise, so they had to get these people out --
The room erupted. At least a dozen girls leaped forward, waving their arms in a frenzy.
"That's what he told me!"
"He said I was the only one!"
"He promised we'd get married after graduation!"
"He was going to pay my college tuition!"
"He couldn't wait to meet my family after it was legal!"
Tara and Bottie stood there open mouthed, looking dazed.
Behind Kara, barely audible over the roar, Mr. Jamison pounded on the coffin lid. She pulled a stake from her purse and turned on Jack. "Well. Looks like you sired somebody who's been spending a lot of time doing his own reproducing."
Mr. Jamison slammed into the coffin so hard that it jumped, and the lid squealed in protest, but the chaos in the viewing room was so overwhelming only Kara and Jack heard it. As he gaped at the coffin, Jack's eyes suddenly widened so much he resembled an anime character. "He's alive!" Jack screamed. "He's ALIVE!" Arms flailing, the suave Jack climbed over the backs of the nearest girls in a terrified dash that took him right through Tara without him even realizing it. The crowd, busy arguing over who Jamison loved the most, didn't notice.
"Oh," Kara said.
Kara looked up to see Cheerleader Julie standing before her, a curious look on her face. "What happened to Jack?" Julie repeated. "He always thought he was the bravest guy in the neighborhood."
"Um ... a bee."
Julie cocked her head, then glanced around at the milling girls, some of whom were now having at each other with fists and nails. "A bee, huh? Well, I guess that makes this the liveliest death I've ever seen." Then she smiled. "Although it's about to get much livelier -- slayer." The other girl's face morphed, taking on the all too familiar ridged forehead and sharp fangs.
"Huh," Kara said.
"You're not getting Mr. Jamison," Julie announced. "He promised we'd be together, and we will ... for all eternity." And before Kara could react, Julie used one of those patented cheerleader kicks to knock the stake out of Kara's hand.
"That old guy must have been quite a stud." Kara held her purse by the handle and spun around, letting it slam into Julie's face. The coffin had just begun to open, but Julie was thrown into it, jamming the lid back down.
"Ow! Hey!" Jamison yelled.
"He was younger then. I was his first, all those years ago. He told me so." Using the coffin for leverage, Julie propelled herself forward, but Kara stepped to one side. Julie managed to grab hold of her opponent's arms, and the two girls spun around. "It took me a long time to get back, but I finally did, and I'm claiming him."
"It's time to grow up, Barbie." Kara slammed her knee into the other girl's chin, making her let go, then reached a hand into her purse. "Your teacher moved on to other favorite students, didn't he?"
"He belongs to me!" The vampire moved quickly, pinning Kara's arms so firmly that the slayer was only able to grasp the top object in the purse. In desperation, Kara brought one hand up enough to smack Julie in the face with it.
"Ew! What --"
"Cherry truffle lipgloss, blondie. All over your cheek."
Releasing Kara, Julie stepped back and scrubbed at her face with both hands. "Ohmygod! That doesn't go with my complexion at all!"
"Try this." Julie looked up, just as Kara slammed the second stake into her chest. "Only the popular girl would drop her guard to fix her makeup. Rah rah, Julie." The vampire looked highly pissed for an instant, then exploded into dust.
Realizing she still faced a threat behind her, Kara spun around.
But the coffin was still. Dana stood behind it, a look of triumph on her face. In the middle of the coffin lid, at chest level, a piece of wood had been jammed down until its base was even with the wood of the coffin itself. It was a moment before Kara realized she was looking at the bottom of one of those ornate candle holders, which had rested on a table at the coffin's end.
"Heart," Dana announced with a grin.
Tara was already waiting in the van when the two slayers and the robot clambered inside. The spirit must have clued Giles in that things had not gone entirely as planned, because as soon as the door slammed shut he hit the gas, leaving the three girls jumbled in a pile.
"Move your foot," Kara grumbled to someone. "You're tearing my pantyhose."
"Oh, please." Gaining her footing, Bottie helped the other two up and fell into a seat. "Like anybody was paying attention to your pantyhose." Throwing her hands out, Bottie dramatically intoned, "I miss him SO MUCH!"
Grinning despite herself, Kara pointed an accusing finger at the robot. "You can talk. 'He was MY LOVER!'"
"Tara started it." The girls dissolved into giggles, while Giles got them safely out of the area, then turned into a Dairy Queen.
He put the van into park before turning to look back at them. "I promised you an ice cream if all went well." Then he turned forward again, because Dana had hiked her skirt to tear off the pantyhose.
"Define well," Kara said.
"Two vamps dusted," Tara told her, "Nobody hurt except for our pride, and we got away without being ID'd. I think all went well."
"Indeed," Giles agreed with a small cough. "Quite likely the coffin won't be reopened except by funeral home employees, and people in those positions have learned there's a time not to ask questions."
"So ..." Bottie grinned. "Ice cream!"
Tara gave the robot a gentle smile. "But Bottie, you and I don't eat ice cream."
"No, but we can enjoy watching other people eat it."
So the robot led the way, holding the restaurant door open for the others to get in. But, just as she was about to enter, Kara stumbled to a halt and cried out. "Oh, no!"
The others turned to her with concern. "What is it, Kara?" Giles demanded. "Did we forget something?"
"We sure did," Kara moaned. "A phone number. Jack LIKED ME!"