DAWN IN NEW YORK
Personally, I'd always rather fly places. Business class has leg room and cocktails, and in economy no one ever notices who's sitting next to them, which has advantages if you're me.
In an ideal world, I'd even prefer to go places by boat, and spend the days reading, and get there better informed and totally rested. It would be a good way to learn another language, I've always thought.
You never know when Southern Hittite will come in handy.
Buffy, though, has Slayer immunity to jet lag and is big on not using Council funds for personal business, so, when the lawyer's letters arrived in Rome, with lots of addresses crossed out on the envelope, she made the phone calls and got Willow to teleport us straight to Manhattan.
It always makes me feel sick, but no one ever asks me what I think.
I could have asked Willow to do some extra spell so I felt OK, but hello! sleeping with her ex. Just a little awkward.
I could have done with arriving early, getting a coffee and a bagel, sitting around for half an hour and unwinding, but Buffy is all 'I have thirteen appointments in six major cities this week' and dark business suit with her hair in a bun like she's been ever since Angel and Spike died or disappeared and suddenly the Watcher/Slayer Council was all over the newspapers and she has conferences with world leaders and audiences with the Dalai Lama and, may I say, would be totally unbearable if she were not my sister.
She is so trying to be impressive and the impressive things about Buffy have nothing to do with trying.
I should be grateful, I guess, that we end up in the lobby of the Meade Corporation building instead of appearing suddenly in the board room - Willow says it's always easier to put people on the ground floor.
Apparently, we had this aunt that we never heard of.
I rang Dad and he was all 'I don't want to talk about it', but in the end he said that well, he and Faye never got on, and she never wrote home when she went to New York. She changed her name to Fey Sommers, like Faye Summers wasn't good enough for her.
And she never showed for Grandma's funeral or visited Grandad in the nursing home. And she was rich and famous and dead to him.
I've noticed that Dad is very judgemental for someone who ran off with his secretary.
That's why I haven't talked to him about Kennedy, or Celeste.
And now Fey is dead, and we never met her.
Her lawyers want to meet us, though.
Which is always nice, as long as they're not evil lawyers.
I didn't know people actually wrote that thing about hearing something to your advantage. Not for real.
What else are they going to say, though?
We get in the elevator.
'Which floor is it?' I ask. 'I can't remember.'
Buffy looks flustered.
'It's in the letter,' she says, 'which is in my briefcase...'
'Which, don't tell me,' I say, 'You put down on the hall table just before Willow zapped us here.'
If Buffy is going to aspire to being a World Leader, she really does need to remember not to forget things.
There was this woman already in the elevator who is even shorter than my sister. She grins at us with a lot of metal in her mouth.
'Hi,' she says. 'Where are you trying to go?'
'It's some magazine called Mode,' I say.
'Oh,' she says. 'I work there. I'm Betty. We'll be going to the same floor.'
She looks more closely at Buffy.
'I saw you on CNN,' she says 'You were talking about the LA Doomsday thing.'
I love how flustered Buffy gets when she remembers that she is famous as well as important and ordinary people talk to her about it.
'Why are you coming to Mode?' Betty says. 'I'd have thought you'd be going to New York Woman. You're serious people' - she includes me in this, on no evidence- ' and we're just a fashion magazine.'
'Though we are the best fashion magazine,' she hastily adds.
'We have to talk to some lawyers,' I say. 'We had this aunt.'
'Oh,' Betty says, 'you're here for the Reading of the Will.'
I always envy people who can put capitals in when they speak.
'So,' I say, 'what was she like?'
'Fey?' Betty says. 'You'll have to ask someone else. I came here after she was killed.'
'Killed?' Buffy says, with that sudden brightening that comes when she has to deal with blood and violent death.
'Oh, you know,' Betty says. 'Someone cut her brakes and they arrested her lover, and then they let him go, and arrested his wife, and then she escaped from jail, and went on the lam. I work for their son. It's been all over the tabloids for months.'
The moment it clearly isn't demonic, Buffy looks bored again.
'We live in Rome,' I say. 'We don't follow the New York papers.'
She smiles some more, nervously.
Then we are on our floor and walking down this horrid round corridor like a starship flightdeck or something.
There's a round desk and another very small woman is sitting at it talking to a willowy man in a sky blue pullover.
'Oh look,' she says, ' Fresh meat. Betty's brought us some of her little friends for us to play with. Look at that hair' she points at Buffy - ' so scary French school-teacher.'
She looks at us with a carnivore smile and I look back with the same smile. Because I could so douse her in hellworld sludge if I wanted to.
Then she looks at me more closely.
'Omigod, Marc' she says. 'It's the girl from the Celeste sex tape. I didn't recognize her with her clothes on.'
Hellworld sludge comes to seem ever more likely.
'They're here to see the lawyers, Amanda' Betty said. 'They're here for the Reading of the Will. They're Fey's nieces.'
Amanda instantly changes the way she looks at us. It's like she becomes a different person and I could almost believe she is nice.
Though I don't.
'I didn't know I had cousins,' she says in a little girl voice.
'Cousins?' Buffy says.
'I found out a couple of weeks ago, just before the lawyers told me' Amanda say. 'I was adopted, but apparently Fey was my mother.'
'I'm sorry for your loss,' Buffy says.
'I don't know about that,' Amanda says. ' She got me this job, but it's not like I ever knew her. I still don't know who my father was.'
'You so do,' Marc says. ' Bradford Meade. Fey would never have cheated on Bradford.'
'No,' Amanda says. 'Ewwww.'
'So what's the deal with Bradford Meade?' I say. 'Apart from owning all this, obviously?'
Marc looks at me like I am totally clueless.
'Bradford had two sons, one of whom is now his daughter,' he says. 'But we won't go into that right now. His other daughter, obviously. The other son is Daniel, who had a thing with Amanda, who turns out to be his sister. If Daniel weren't in rehab, he'd be in therapy.'
'Daniel is not in rehab,' Betty says. 'He was in a car crash and hit his head. '
'Daniel is not my brother,' Amanda says. ' Because that would be icky. Claire must have cheated on Bradford.'
'You two are so in denial,' Marc says. 'Maybe you're long-lost sisters. I see the resemblance now.'
It is hard to say which of the two of them is more appalled by this suggestion.
This could obviously go on for hours, and normally would, but I don't have the time.
'I'm Dawn,' I say, ' and this is Buffy.'
Marc goes ' someone is actually called Buffy' and suddenly is like a cat trying to get rid of a hairball he is laughing so hard.
'Buffy's famous,' Betty says. 'She slays vampires.'
Marc is now clearly close to death from ecstatic glee.
'No, really,' Betty says. 'There was this one who was going to kill the Dalai Lama, and she was there, so she didn't put a stake through its heart out of respect, but she took it outside where it exploded. And the Dalai Lama said he supposed that was OK because it wasn't actually violence. It was in all the papers.'
Amanda and Marc look at her as if the fact that she reads papers were confirmation of the very very worst of all the suspicions they have ever had about her.
I decide that hellworld sludge would be excessive, but I think these people need to get some idea of the real world we all live in, so I snap my fingers, and there is suddenly a very large plant in a pot on Amanda's desk. It has purple flowers, which I quickly check for teeth.
'You people do fashion,' I say. 'We do other stuff. Live with it.'
There's another woman hanging round the desk whom Marc and Amanda have been studiously ignoring. She is blonde and slightly toothy, with camera cases slung everywhere on her shoulder, and a large portfolio leaning beside her against the desk.
'Hi,' she says in the sudden lull in the conversation. 'You don't know me, Dawn, but I'm Claire Fisher. My brother's boyfriend slept with your girlfriend.'
'That's nice,' I say.
Marc looks at us both pityingly.
'Oh sweet,' he says. 'You two are so very Californian. In New York, that makes you practically family.'