John Bates arrived at the train station. He was eager to meet Miss Smith. The rule stated that only one slayer was called and with her only one watcher. It meant that Mr Bates had never been a slayer's watcher before. He was trained but the training at the Watcher's Council was quite theoretical. He didn't know how it really was, he just knew how hard those young women - teenagers most of the time - fought thanks to his reading of the Watchers' chronicles and admired them for that. He wondered what kind of woman was his slayer, Miss Smith - Anna, they said she was called -.
When he arrived at the manor where he was to reside, he knocked at the door and Grimes, the butler, opened the door.
"Hello" Mr Bates said with the kindest smile he could. He was a quiet, reserved man. "I'm John Bates, the New Watcher".
"The new Watcher ?" the butler questioned as he stared at the new watcher's disabled leg and his cane.
"Yes I've been sent by the Watcher's Council to look after Miss Anna Smith"
Grimes was perplexed by the sight of that disabled man. He didn't know much about what his late employer's job was about but he figured out that any job wasn't suited for someone like Mr Bates.
Despite his disapproval, the butler let him in and disappeared to fetch Anna. The new watcher looked around, his hat in his hands. It was a pretty house, indeed. He felt slightly awkward as he wasn't used to that kind of house. He had lived in a rather simple house back in London. He guessed this house was the privilege of being a watcher looking after a slayer.
A moment later, Grimes reappeared with a young woman wearing a pale blue dress whose bright blonde hair was tied in a braided bun. He assumed she was the so-called Anna. Then his eyes met her deep blue eyes. She is beautiful ! he thought as he looked at the small blonde girl before him. She smiled kindly at him. He moved closer and offered his hand as a greeting "I'm John Bates, your new watcher. I'm deeply sorry for Mr Thompson. I hope we'll get along well" She shook her hand back "I'm Anna Smith, pleased to meet you Sir".
The young woman didn't look discomfited by his cane as the butler had been before. She wasn't showing pity like everybody else, her smile to him and her greetings were genuine.
Grimes gave Bates another repulsed look and opened his mouth to talk. "Should I show you your room Sir ?" Bates only nodded, following him. He threw a last look at Anna before heading upstairs, her lips curled into a smile when she met his eyes. He smiled back.
Anna was in her room, sat on her bed thinking about the new Watcher. She had been told he was an old crippled man. She had already been bored thinking of how dull he might be. She had met other Watchers before and they all had been. But Mr. Bates didn't seem dull, he looked quite interesting in fact. He didn't look old either, he was older, yes, but not old. As for being a cripple, she wondered how he got that injury. Was it from a demon ? Has he fought a dangerous creature ? Or perhaps he had been a soldier in some war… were Watchers allowed to do anything other than…watch ? She didn't know, Mr Thompson never told her how he had become one. She couldn't bring herself to ask Mr Bates during dinner later. They would have the time to ask private questions later…so she hoped. Her former watcher's death seemed far away now but she was still sad about it. Anna really hoped that this time no frightful episode would bring an end to the only human interaction she had. But the Slayer's fate was to face death…literally.
After dinner, they went back to their room to prepare themselves for the night. Mr Bates' room was across the hall. Anna was sitting before her window where she could see the sunset. She knew she had to go to the cemetery to accomplish her Slayer duty but here she was, deep in her thoughts. She couldn't help but to wonder how the patrol would go for Mr Bates. She wasn't the kind of person to doubt people's strength. She knew he could manage perfectly. "Of course, you can manage" she had told him when the butler was questioning his ability to carry his luggage upstairs. Nevertheless, she was worried. She knew how the battlefield was. It was silly, Mr Bates looked perfectly able to care for himself.
"Mrs Smith ?" a voice called. It was him. Anna jumped out of her reverie, took some stakes, holy water and crosses in a bag and headed downstairs.
"Here you are, shall we go patrol ?" He asked in a sweet voice. Mr Thompson had been kind to her but had never spoken so softly to her. Anna was sure that her new watcher was a fine gentleman. She nodded "Yes" to him. They went through the door and started to make their way to the cemetery.
"So, how long have you been a slayer ?"
"Haven't they told you that already, the Council ?"
"No they told me nothing, I would really like to know Mrs Smith" She blushed. He seemed genuinely interested. It warmed her heart. Her former watcher had never been curious about her and never cared to share something about her either. She felt like they would be really good friends.
"Well, it's been 10 years. The last slayer died during the Boxer Revolution in China"
"A vampire ?" he felt stupid for asking this. Slayers mainly died at the hands of vampires…well at their fangs.
"Well, yeah" she chuckled a little, hoping he wouldn't take offense.
"Yeah, that was a dumb thing to ask" he smiled, looking a little ashamed. She was glad he didn't take offense.
"It's okay…you've never been to the battlefield, right ?"
"Never been, yes, how is it ?"
"Dangerous…and somewhat frightening…" she looked down. She has been near death so many times at first. With her 10 years experience, she was less frightened than before, but she couldn't lie about sometimes wondering why it was her fate and why she had accepted it. She looked up to see that he was looking at her with fear and pity in his eyes. She decided to ignore the pity and said playfully "I hope I haven't scared you Mr Bates".
"No, not at all. I just feel so-" she hushed him as they arrived at the cemetery gate.
She helped him climb over the little wall surrounding the graveyard. They blushed as their hands touched. He suddenly felt awkward. John has been used to carrying on with his disability alone. He felt like an old man but the younger woman's hand on his made him swallow his pride. Her skin was soft. He wished they could have stayed like this forever.
It has been a good hour since they arrived here yet no vampires in sight. John's knee started to feel sore and his face cringed with pain. The slayer noticed and looked at him with worry.
"What is the matter Mr Bates ? Are you quite alright ?"
"It's just that" he felt once again ashamed by his weakness "my knee is sore"
"Oh…I'm sorry. I should have told you that 90% of the slayering consists of waiting" she chuckled. Her laugh was a nice sound to hear. She looked at him with so much kindness and asked "Is there anything I could do to make you feel better ?"
John tried to suppress the urge to blush at her offer. She didn't mean it like that, obviously, but there was something quite risqué in her sentence. He tried to put himself together.
"No, I don't think there's much to be done unfortunately", He tried not to sound too uneasy. Anna didn't notice it and he was glad of that.
After a few minutes, Anna took her courage and asked him "I'm sorry if it's impertinent but … I was wondering…" she couldn't finish her question. She played with her fingers, looking to the ground.
"You want to know how I injured myself ?" She looked up at him. His lips curled into a small smile. She nodded.
"Well, it was" he began but soon cut himself mid-sentence "VAMPIRE!" he screamed, grabbing her by the shoulders so she would turn to see the fearful creature who had risen from its grave behind her.