Part 7: Next morning

The crystal clear water rippled under a sky so blue it made Joyce’s eyes ache to look up into it. The air was a little chilly for swimsuits, it was November after all, and Cordelia was wearing a wrap. Joyce thought it was worth the goosebumps to feel the sun on her bare skin.

The others left after breakfast, off to their homes to change, collect new weapons, and get ready for the night. The two of them were going shopping in about an hour. Cordelia had successfully bullied Luz into handing over the keys to her car. Apparently students weren’t allowed to drive to school anymore by order of the new Mayor, Mr. Trick. They’ll meet up with them at the school.

“There’s a staff meeting at eleven o’clock that will run no later than one.” Giles told them while they laid waste to Luz’s eggs and frozen waffles. “By two we should have the school to ourselves.”

Buffy will be here in a few hours. She wasn’t exactly her Buffy just like she wasn’t exactly the Mom this Buffy remembered but the thought of seeing her made all her worries about how she was going to cope with no legal identity, no job, no money, melt away.

She glanced over at the beautiful young woman stretched out on the lounge beside her. After last night’s brief bout of guilt Cordelia seemed to have reverted to her old self and she seemed more than ready to fit herself into the Cordelia-shaped gap in this world. Not that much was different for her here: she was alive and popular, her parents were alive, and she still had her money – oh. She really did need to warn her about the IRS.


The clear blue November sky was a shock after Cleveland’s gray clouds. She shed her coat and unbuttoned her sweater before picking up her suitcase and walking out to the taxi stand. She’d thought about renting a car, but her driving sucked and she didn’t have a license anyway.

The boarded up windows, the trash blowing down the street, abandoned cars in the middle of what passed for downtown in this one Starbucks town painted an ugly picture. Sunnydale really had gone to hell. The few people she saw kept checking their watches. Only a few hours left till sundown. She’d always thought Merrick was exaggerating when he talked about the dire consequences of a Slayer neglecting her calling – maybe she’d apologize to him.

Yeah, right. Just as soon as he and the council apologized to her for making her life suck.

She had the taxi driver drop her off in the deserted parking lot of Sunnydale High. It looked a lot like her old high school, had that sort of fake Mission deal going on. She’d be a senior, if she were still going to school. Good thing she wasn’t because she didn’t think she’d be getting many invites to the Prom looking like the Bride of Frankenstein. It was awful quiet; she checked her watch – 1 p.m., there should be someone around. Today wasn’t a holiday was it? Then she saw the neatly lettered sign taped to the main doors: “Classes Cancelled for Monthly Memorial”.

The doors were unlocked and no-one challenged her as she walked down the deserted hallways. It reminded her of Hemery -- except for all the black crepe, the strings of garlic and the signs. ‘Daytime Dates are Fun!’ ‘Get Your Tickets for Winterbrunch’ ‘Don’t be a Fool – Respect Curfew!’ and so on. She shook her head; you knew things were bad when the civilians gave up on denial. Obviously everyone knew about the bloodsuckers, but they kept the school open, and tried to adapt instead of either fighting back or packing up their cars and leaving town as fast as they could. People were so fucking stupid. That was why she always had to keep saving their asses. She hated people.

Rupert Giles had asked her to meet him in the library. He’d sounded shocked when she called him back a couple of hours later. She’d had to sneak back after Merrick was asleep to rescue the number from his trash can, then make the call from a payphone, but there was no way he was cheating her out of what sounded like a fun gig.

It looked like there’d been a fight in the library, maybe, some chairs had been smashed and a couple of bookcases spilled onto the floor. No bodies or blood and no Watcher. He probably hadn’t expected her to get here so quickly. Buffy shrugged and made herself comfortable on top of a table with her coat for a pillow. She drifted off to sleep clutching her stake and wondering how long it would take for Merrick to catch up with her.


They woke floating weightlessly in utter and complete darkness, tangled up in each other. Xander looked questioningly at Willow but when she opened her mouth to speak, muddy water rushed in. Getting out of the trunk was easy. But the water glowed with menacing daylight. Unhappily they sank back into the mud, to wait.

<They slept till almost noon. Then explored Bored now, she mouthed at him as the angle of the filtered light at long last began to decline. Her hair waved around her face, like a cloud of blood. Xander steadies anchors one hand in the cool mud and pulls her toward him. Cool lips meet in the dappled shadows.

Friday afternoon

“What you’ve told me, about Angel… I’ll need to do some research to confirm. But if what you say is true…”

The voice had an English accent, so it must be Rupert Giles and could his name be any more British? Buffy yawned and sat up, blinking the sleep out of her eyes. Her hand hovered near her crossbow, just in case.

“There’s a woman, if she’s here, who might be able to help. Jenny Calender.” The woman’s voice seemed familiar.

“Miss Calender? Yes, I know her. She teaches computer science.” The door opened and a group of humans entered the library.

First in were two young guys, one big, one small. Then two girls, one brown haired average looking, the other much prettier and dressed like she was planning to go shopping on Rodeo drive. They froze when they saw her. She hopped off the table as the final members of the group entered: an older guy and a woman too absorbed in their conversation to notice her at first. The guy was wearing standard Watcher’s uniform of tweed. The woman…

She’d thought the voice sounded familiar.

Buffy couldn’t hide her shock as she stared at the face she hadn’t seen in three years. She closed her eyes to shut out the lie and the memories came rushing back.

The front porch was covered with a horde of blazing jack-o-lanterns, that hadn’t been there when she left. The scarecrow in the middle of the lawn was also new. She saw immediately that her father was dead, his throat had been neatly slit, staining the straw that had been stuffed into his plaid shirt before he’d been tied to the supports.

Her mother was inside, lying on the dining room table. Bright candy wrappers glittered in the sticky pools of blood. She’d been bitten everywhere, the angel costume she’d worn was red and tattered, her wings torn away, face gray under the red smears. Buffy didn’t know what to do.

“Mommy,” she whimpered.

“Buffy.” Her voice was a whisper that her daughter can never be sure she really heard.

She picked her up and ran to the hospital, but it was far too late.

“Buffy?” The creature moved toward her, false face contorted into a nervous, lying smile. The illusion was perfect, it looked and sounded exactly like her mother. She knew what she had to do. In one smooth motion Buffy brought the crossbow up, aimed and fired as someone shouted.


posted July 27, 2003

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