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"…But What We Make For Ourselves"

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This story is No. 2 in the series "Retroactive Justice". You may wish to read the series introduction and the preceeding stories first.

Summary: Buffy wakes up from an incredibly disturbing dream and decides what she's not going to let it come true.

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Harry Potter > Buffy-CenteredGreywizardFR1828,99157022,58013 Feb 0921 Feb 09Yes

2

July 12, 1996
5:40 A.M.


The exterior of Hemery High School looked just the same as it had for the past twenty years, Buffy decided as she carefully surveyed the grounds for any signs of life – or, more specifically, unlife.

Bland, uninspiring, plebian and most certainly not looking like it was home to a nest of bloodsucking demons who would most happily eviscerate anyone unfortunate enough to cross paths with them if they hadn't first decided to drain every drop of blood from their body.

Unfortunately for Buffy the Vampire Slayer, however, Lothos and his entourage were indeed holed up in the basement of the school, and she needed to make sure that there weren't any bloodsuckers left to chow down on any of the unsuspecting idiots living in the area, once she left for Sunnydale and what she hoped would be a much better future than her alternate self had had looming ahead of her.

Perched atop one of the lower limbs of one of the school's venerable oak trees, the petite blonde waited with the timeless patience of an experienced predator for her prey to reveal itself to her. The non-slip soles of her steel-toed black Doc Martins balanced easily on the thick branch she'd chosen and she ran her hands in a final last-minute check across her equipment.

The black-epoxy coated Tatang knife in its nylon sheath was strapped to her left thigh next to the sheath holding four hand-carved stakes (which matched the ones strapped to her right thigh), the twenty-four inch short sword Merrick had provided her during their second meeting was strapped across her back, while the extra supplies she'd picked up earlier in the week and which she'd been practicing with over the course of the past few days were safely stowed in the pouches hanging on the web belt buckled around her waist, so she was ready, willing and looking to party. And after combining her urban camouflage fatigues with a Disillusionment charm, she was as close to invisible as she could hope to get without possessing an actual, and very expensive, invisibility cloak, so now the only thing that was delaying the surprise Buffy had planned for Lothos and his merry band of bloodsuckers was waiting for the last invitees to this little party to show up.

According to the National Weather Service, the sun would be rising at 5:52 A.M., so the timing looked like it was going to work out just right. If she was going to ensure that Lothos and his minions were nothing but dust in the wind behind her, Buffy knew she had to stay focused on what she needed to do and not get distracted by irrelevancies. That was something she'd proved to herself beyond any shadow of a doubt over the course of the past week.

She'd spent the past three days and nights hitting all of the other vampire lairs she could locate throughout the city and destroying them and their inhabitants in a quick and meticulously planned and executed series of blitzkrieg attacks that had left nothing but dust in her wake, and once she'd finished up with this last little chore she had scheduled here at the school, she'd be free to proceed with her own carefully developed plans.

Ones that she was quite certain the Council wouldn't approve of in the least, she smiled to herself, giving the Council a mental 'Neener, neener, neener.'

She made one final check and ensured that everything she needed was prepared and ready to go, and found things exactly as they should be, so all she needed to do now was make sure that there weren't any last minute stragglers coming in and possibly ruining the surprise aspect of her visit.

***

Lothos, self-appointed future master vampire of the city of Los Angeles, settled back onto his throne with a satisfied smile and considered just how well his plans to assume control over the city were proceeding. Tall, pale and with physical and mental abilities far beyond the norm, he was definitely no one to be trifled with; not even by the lawyers of Wolfram & Hart.

He'd yet to find any sign of the Slayer, despite the fact that one of his allies' pet seers had warned of her Awakening in 'The City of Angels' and that he had his minions scouring the city for her.

Of course, that fact that said seer had, several hours later, allegedly grabbed hold of their head and screamed, "No! There's only supposed to be one!" and had then apparently succumbed to some sort of seizure and died almost instantly did make him wonder about the accuracy of their prediction.

It was so hard to find good help this century.

Oh well, if and when his minions found the girl, Lothos knew he'd make sure that she wouldn't be around long to cause any problems. While Slayers were, without any question, gifted with skills and abilities that made them formidable opponents in combat, in the first few hours and days after being Called, they lacked the wisdom and experience necessary to allow them to take full advantage of their newly received gifts.

He had just begun musing about whether he'd give this newest Slayer the honor of making her one of his own when he heard Amilyn and several of his lesser children begin screaming in panic and was beginning to rise from his throne when one of the newest minions – Robert Berman or Barman or something, he thought he remembered Amilyn introducing him as – burst into the room, his shirt scorched and the smell of burning flesh around him.

"The building's on fire, Master!" he yelled, his eyes wide with terror. "And the sun's begun rising above the horizon! We're doomed!"

"No, only you are!" Lothos corrected him as he strode past and casually ripped the fledgling's head from his shoulders.

"I never could abide fools or cowards," he muttered in annoyance as the Master vampire went rushing up the basement stairs, only to find to his dismay that the idiot hadn't been exaggerating the seriousness of their situation in the least.

"Amilyn! Calm down and follow me," he ordered his chief lieutenant as he quickly evaluated the condition of the building and the extent of the flames that threatened them.

His eyes narrowed as he realized that the location of the fires were effectively forcing them to use the rear emergency doors of the gymnasium to escape, an area which he had noted, when he had first decided to occupy the school building, exited onto a relatively small and narrow area that could easily be controlled by a relatively small number of people.

{ No matter, } Lothos thought to himself as he tore the steel reinforced door from its hinges and tossed it aside. { It's not as though this were a deliberate attack on my person. None of the demon clans who are aware of my presence here in the city would dare to even consider betraying me, for fear of what my retaliation would entail. }

The first rays of the sun were just beginning to reflect off the windows of the buildings across the street, he noted as he lead the way out of the school, a moment before a sheet of raging flames mysteriously sprang up at the very end of the small alcove the fire exit opened upon to match those already spreading across the building’s roof, forcing him to halt in his tracks for a handful of seconds as he looked around and tried to determine the best alternate path to freedom.

So intent was he upon locating a suitable escape route for himself (and any minions smart and quick enough to follow him) that Lothos didn't notice the veritable flock of thin, arrow-like projectiles that seemed to suddenly explode from a patch of darkness situated several yards beyond the suddenly appearing flames.

A staccato series of thumps and cracks sounded through the early morning air but was easily drowned out by the snapping and crackling of the fires gutting the main building filling the Hemery High School campus, and the splintered remains of the wooden missiles that had reduced nearly a dozen vampires to dust would be rapidly consumed by the inferno now totally engulfing the gymnasium, their ashes mixing with and obscuring the few remaining traces of dust that marked the previous existence of the blood demon, Lothos, and his minions.

***

Buffy smiled to herself with satisfaction from her hiding place near the janitor's shed at seeing the successful completion of her first (at least in *this* life) sortie against a notably superior demonic force.

{ Who would have thought that Stapes would end up being my preferred source of supply when it came to vampire-slaying equipment? } she thought with a smirk. { Three dozen number two pencils cost me less than two bucks and when they're combined with a simple, if powerful, Banishing charm, they do a just as successful, not to mention a much safer, if less satisfying, job of dusting vamps than going hand to hand with even one bloodsucker, let alone a dozen or so. }

After making one final check of the area to see if she could sense any possible fangy survivors of the conflagration she'd initiated and finding none, she carefully made her way around the various fire trucks and emergency response vehicles answering the alarms and headed home.

~~~

July 12, 1996 (Friday)
Late night


It had been a long, tiring, somewhat upsetting, but ultimately productive day, Buffy reflected to herself as she easily climbed the towering maple tree that bordered their house and made her way through her window and into her bedroom.

Everything in her life was going to be as different as she could manage this time around, she had resolved after her initial review of her alternate-self's memories (and relying a good bit on her Hermione-memories' deductive reasoning), so she might as well try and give as many other people the opportunity to make changes in their lives as she could. Or so she had decided when she had first finished reviewing the knowledge she'd received along with her Slayer abilities.

And because of that reasoning and their prior friendship and the fact that she had thought she might possibly have been starting to feel something more for him – before she'd seen how he'd tried to betray her alternate self in that future that was now never going to happen, that is – Buffy had taken the time earlier that afternoon to seek out Billy Fordham and, after locating him, cast an Imperio spell on him, ordering him to go to his doctor and complain about headaches he'd been experiencing, in the hopes that they might be able to discover his brain cancer early enough for proper treatment.

Once she had accomplished that, however, she had then mentally washed her hands of any further involvement with him because of the pain the memories of his betrayal of her in their alternate lives had caused her.

She had also decided that Fate had to have some warped sense of humor when she caught sight of the two guys, Pike and Benny, that she'd known on their cycles as they waited at a red light, laughing uproariously and looking like they didn't have a care in the world. Pike had caught her watching them and had given her a smirk and a lascivious wink a moment before the light had changed and the two of them had then zoomed off to wherever the whim might take them, and she had stared after him for a moment while silently wishing him the best of luck in whatever circumstances he might find himself in the future.

The Chosen One had then headed to Merrick’s apartment and, after casting an Obliviate spell on the grey-bearded Watcher and describing to him how she had 'died during the battle' with Lothos and his minions so he could report that to the Watchers Council, she had then cast the most powerful notice-me-not and obscurement spells on herself she could manage, in order to hide her continued presence from said Council.

The way she figured things, from the Council's point of view, her abrupt disappearance from their mystical observation, just as her predecessors had done innumerable times over the past several millennia, would have them conclude that she had died, and they would then begin their search for the new Slayer they were now expecting to find, which would keep them completely occupied for the near future.

The more time Buffy could get them to waste trying to find the hypothetical next Slayer who had ostensibly been Called at her death, the more time she had to put her other plans into effect while she headed to Sunnydale to find Xander and Willow and hopefully recruit them to her side.

Up to that point, things had been going pretty much just as she had hoped they would, without any of the glitches that might be expected to happen.

It had been her encounter with Angel, however, that had left the Slayer in her current semi-depressed and pensive mood.

It had taken her several hours of searching – under a glamour to disguise her true appearance, of course – before she had finally managed to locate the ensouled vampire's lair, if you could dignify the decrepit warehouse he was currently staying in with such a term, she thought to herself..

The Slayer had smirked to herself with a bit of satisfaction at seeing him jump with surprise when she had silently cancelled the disillusionment spell she had used to conceal her presence from him and quietly announced, "Angel, we need to talk."

"Who are you?" he had immediately demanded after whirling around and catching sight of her as she quietly stood watching him from the shadows.

"Why, I'm hurt you don't recognize me, Angel," Buffy said teasingly as she took a step forward and dispelled the glamour she wore with a tap of her wand, revealing herself to him.

"You could barely keep your eyes off me last week when Whistler first brought you around and told you about me, remember?" the blonde half-grinned at his confusion as she saw recognition light up his eyes.

"Who – Buffy Summers? What are you doing around here?" the vampire half-whispered as he stared at her with a mixture of disbelief and shock. "This isn't any kind of place for you to be."

"You're right about that," Buffy nodded her agreement as she remained where she was, looking over the guy her alternate-self had once thought could be her soul mate.

The ensouled vampire standing before her was nothing like the enigmatic and sophisticated-looking mystery man her alternate-self had first met in Sunnydale. Truthfully, he looked exactly like the bum he currently was.

He was dirty and unshaven, his clothes were worn and grubby-looking, and he undoubtedly could make extensive use of a shower and several bottles of shampoo and body wash, she decided as she caught a faint whiff of him as the wind shifted direction and frowned. { Oh my God, is he still feeding on rats? I sure as hell hope not! }

"It's not any place you should be, either, Angel. I'm telling you, you're never going to achieve the redemption you want if you keep hiding in places like this," she declared, making him start in surprise at her comment.

"I know all about you, Angel," she informed him. "Or should I call you Angelus?"

"No, that's not me!" Angel instantly shook his head in denial of her question. "Not anymore, at least."

"You're right; it's not," the Slayer nodded slowly. "Angelus is the asshole demon who committed all those crimes you’re feeling guilty about; you're the soul who has to live with the memories of what it did, thanks to those equally asshole gypsies," she said, drawing yet another look of surprise from the vampire.

“Like I said, I know who you are, Angel, and I know all about the gypsies’ soul curse. And I also know something else that you don’t – your soul’s not permanently attached. One moment of perfect happiness and Angelus gets unleashed on the world again – it's an escape clause in the curse that the Kalderesh used. Why it's there, I don't know. I just know that it exists," Buffy informed him.

"No! I would never let anything like that happen," Angel shook his head in horror. {Why didn’t anyone ever warn me about this?} "Angelus was a monster! I, I’d never do anything that would let him regain his freedom!"
"Not intentionally, no," Buffy agreed. "But your not knowing about the escape clause, and Whistler not telling you about it, could have made it possible, right?

"So anyway, from now on, stay away from me, since I know how you feel about me – and I can assure you, nothing is *ever* going to happen between us. And as for that whole damsel in distress thing? I don’t care what you’ve been told by that MORON calling himself Whistler, I don’t want your help. I don’t NEED it. And I don’t need you in my life either, in any way shape or form.”

Buffy paused for a moment and looked at him with a coldly analytical eye and Angel almost shivered as she did so.

“Okay, I'm wondering now, should I stake you or not? 'Cause I can already tell that you’re really not wanting to do what I asked –"

"No! No, that's not gonna be necessary," the disheveled figure in front of her looked down at his feet as he let out a sigh of mixed regret and resignation.

"I'll stay away," he promised as he turned away. "I'll leave town."

"That's probably a good idea," Buffy agreed, hardening her heart as some of the memories her alternate self had cherished of her time with Angel rose up to remind her of what would now never be.

"And just so you know, there's nothing in the curse that says that you can't do what you want to torment the demon in there with you," she called to the vampire as he started walking away. "In fact, the Kalderesh would probably like your doing that."

Seeing him look back at her in bewilderment, Buffy elaborated on her comment.

"I mean, I'm thinking that the demon who's stuck in there with you is at least a little bit happy because you're continually brooding and morose over everything it did that you're holding yourself responsible for," she said.

"So I'm thinking that if you want to start doing things to punish the demon for what it did when it was in control of our body, then maybe you could start doing things like helping the needy and helpless or volunteering at shelters, or giving orphans puppies and kittens and helping out in relief efforts – you know, stuff that would make you feel happy without being super-happy, 'cause that would probably make the demon feel awful," she suggested.

"In fact," Buffy added, grinning as other memories, of things that had happened after she'd moved to Sunnydale, suddenly occurred to her, "maybe you should wear different clothing, like pretty much anything other than black, because it’s so dark and Goth and depressing. Maybe you ought to think about getting some Hawaiian shirts or something like that, so that they can maybe make you feel a little better about yourself. And there’s also the idea that you could torture the demon with bright and cheery clothing, and maybe even burn out its demonic eyeballs or something if you pick the right kind of shirts and things.

“Anything you can do to make the demon suffer without also hurting people is okay, as far as I’m concerned,” she noted.

The vampire stared at her for a moment longer before nodding his head.

"That – actually sort of makes sense," Angel finally said, albeit a bit reluctantly.

"I'll give it some thought," he promised as he turned back and started walking away again.

When Angel turned around a moment later, to ask a question that had just occurred to him, he was only slightly surprised to see the warehouse was completely empty.

~~~

Cruising along Route 101
July 14, 1996


It was only fair of her to borrow the completely restored 1968 Mustang convertible her father had bought last year as part of his 'mid-life crisis' and use it to drive down to Sunnydale in comfort, Buffy decided as she tooled northward along I-4 at a relatively conservative seventy-five miles an hour with the top down to allow the wind to blow through her hair.

After all, it made her trip much shorter than it would have been if she had had to take the bus, the way her alternate self had done when she ran away from Sunnydale in the prior timeline, and the SUV her mother drove was a much worse gas guzzler than the Mustang was, so she was just doing her part to help conserve fuel, that was all.

Besides, if she was going to make a proper debut in town, a hot babe like herself needed an equally hot car to show herself off in, right?

She just had to make sure that her (hopefully) potential new best friends realized that there was a lot more to her than just a good-looking girl and a dazzling smile.

Because if things were gonna work out the way she wanted them to, then all of their lives were mostly going to depend on their knowing that.

And it was probably going to be someday soon.

~~~

FIN

The End

You have reached the end of ""…But What We Make For Ourselves"". This story is complete.

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