Junior Year Blues
A/N- A few short scenes from the 'verse. Eventual Xander/Willow/Buffy. Someday.
Buffy hummed under her breath as she sat on the floor of her bedroom, hair up in a pony tail, and grease smearing her left cheek, fiddling with what had at one time been a toaster oven. She appropriated the heating coils: sweet beautiful heating coils of toasty goodness that would one day become sweet beautiful coils of hot burning death!
"Mwahahahaha!" Buffy gave a booming evil laugh. She could see them now, running in fear, as her Re-Death Ray made them rue the day they challenged her, for she was Dr.-
The blonde shook her head with a much softer laugh as her screwdriver pried up some casing. Halloween had been an Eye Opener. She still had a handful of demons that bowed respectfully when she saw them at Willy's bar or out and about, though the Vampires seemed to have developed an even bigger grudge against her. If she was still Billy she would have blamed Dead Bride for spreading rumors. As it was she passed all math and science related courses with flying colors and though the nightmares were disturbing... her mother had been quick to point out that Willow was not dead.
Non-dead friends were always of the good. And her Xander-shaped friend was still Xander-shaped, not Hammer-shaped, and his little extras from the night of not-themselves had left him way more hardy than before. Since he didn't seem to be trying to eat anyone she figured all was as well as it was going to get.
There was a tap on her window. "Buffy?"
The girl in question brightened as she stood up and skipped over to the window. "Angel."
"Thank god you're okay." He said as he stepped into her room and Buffy muffled a snort. He looked at her, eyebrows furrowed.
"Sorry, it's just. Vampire. Thanking God." She gestured vaguely and Angel's look melted, though he was still eyeing her oddly. "So."
He sighed and ran a hand through his thoroughly gelled hair. "I just, needed to check up on you. I heard there was a new evil on the Hellmouth, and thought you should know. After Halloween... I came by the house, but no one was here, and then I ran into Cordelia..." He shrugged. "It was a tough night."
"...You spent the night with Cordelia." Buffy was a female, and at one time held the position of Hemery High Social Queen with an iron fist, the position that Cordelia held at Sunnydale High, and the two often clashed. Truth be told, Buffy was a tiny bit jealous. Learning about vampires had woken her up, had shook her world down to the foundations and forced to build anew while burning down a gym and leaving that outlook and life behind.
Cordelia had integrated it like a new, special, secret accessory. Like a can of mace painted a fashionable baby-blue in her purse.
"Well, yeah. She had this big dog thing chasing her." Angel gave her a soft grin. "I ended up luring it into someone's backyard and drowning it in the pool."
"R-really?" Her boyfriend didn't seem to notice the stutter. He was poking at her dismantled toaster, lamp, alarm clock, and electric toothbrushes. Buffy felt her eyes drift to the school paper. The front page advertised try-outs for this years school play, Romeo and Juliet, and lining the left side were the obituaries. Larry Larsons: drowned Halloween night: Must have been some Party, read the Epitaph.
Death happens. Accidents happen. She knew this, knew better than anyone and the memory of a red haired woman speared by jagged chunks of metal flashed through her mind.
Angel was up and walking over. His eyes reflected concern. "Hey, are you okay? Did something happen?" He reached out to touch her face, and she jerked back. The slayer turned the motion into a step and took a deep breath. "You wanna go on a patrol and beat some demons?"
Was that what she did? Go around acting like... like... yes
that was exactly
what she did. Because she was the Slayer
and that was what heros did. She'd... he'd... someone
had been on the receiving end of hero brutality enough to recognize it.
By Bad Horse, was she really that two-dimensional? Filling the role of 'Slayer' like she had filled the role of 'Cheerleader'? She had tried to get out of it, when she moved, but then Angel had come along with the Harvest and the prophecies and... She waved him off, put a hand to her head and rubbed her temples. "Angel, I'm sorry, but I have a lot of work to do."
He looked at the mess spread on the rubber grounding mat she placed on the rug to prevent static from interfering with her components. "I didn't know you were taking metal-shop."
"It's a pri-," She paused. "It's a thing. Required elective, and I thought wood shop was just soo cliche. I mean, slayer making stakes? Please."
He nodded, hands in pockets, and froze in the window looking back. Buffy felt her lips twitch into a smirk as she leaned into him, pressed her lips to his, and enjoyed the moment. Within seconds he was gone, and Buffy touched her lips, frowning. Angel wasn't warm
. He wasn't cold, per say, but he wasn't hot
. And the way he grinned when he left reminded her of a little kid that had just successfully stolen cookies from the cookie jar.
There was also a hard knot in her stomach, and she couldn't help but think that if Angel was supposedly Irish once upon a time he was supposed to have red hair. Willow had red hair...
Carefully shunting those thoughts to the back of her mind, Buffy plopped back on the floor and checked her soldering iron. Yup, it was heated, and she was ready to start making the basic framework for the Re-Death Ray.
Stupid. Stupid. A thousand times stupid! Buffy felt her fists clench in anger as she went down the stairs. It was all a trap, and one she should have seen coming. "There's got to be another way out of here." She muttered to herself as she headed to a wall. Buffy against vampire, she would bet on herself. Buffy against army of vampire?
She was a slayer. Not stupid.
"This is a bomb shelter, Buffy. I knew I wasn't going to be able to overpower you, but this is three feet of solid concrete." Ford gloated in a subdued manner. She had to give him props. When it came to evil plans, there was an art to the simplicity, and it wasn't even him that would finish her off. He'd never get his cancer-ridden hands dirty.
Buffy's hands pressed against the wall and her head hung down. "At least let the others go."
"Why are you fighting this?" A blonde in a form-fitting red and lace dress asked.
"It's our chance for immortality."
"This is a beautiful day, can't you see that?"
She was so earnest it made Buffy sick. The slayer raised her head, and glared at her once friend. "Beautiful day? Beautiful? Do you have ANY idea of what you're asking?" She shook her head, marching forward, mind whirling. "Suppose, just suppose, the vampires don't slaughter you all. Add on to that the chance that they do decide to turn you, do you know what that means? You call them lonely ones. Everyone you ever knew will die, assuming you aren't the one that kills them in bloodlust after the turning. Every other vampire you meet will either want to beat the shit out of you, kill you, or own you. Vampires are DEMONS. Not fluffy bunnies!"
"...I think we should gag her. She's tainting us!"
Her nostrils flared at the comment, stoking an inner fire that burned cold. Weapon. She needed a weapon, and there wasn't a single piece of wood in the whole damn place. Everything was fucking plastic or metal. Buffy glanced around and headed back up the stairs. Everyone in this building was a certified dumbass. Even Ford, evil genius that he apparently was, had the survival skills of a lemming. And wasn't this one of the reasons Billy wanted to join the ELE? Something like it.
"You don't give up, do you?" Ford asked, following her, while checking his watch. "6:27. Sunset. They'll be here-" Buffy shook out her fist as he went tumbling to the ground, clutching his bleeding nose and mouth. Downstairs teenagers hissed. One screamed. "Bith!"
"Ford," Buffy lowered her goggles and ripped a lamp fixture out of the wall. "Shut up, or I'll shut you up." As she worked, she started humming a familiar tune as the words spilled out in a whisper. "Any dolt with half a brain, would know that human kind has gone insane, to the point that I don't know if I'll upset the status quo, if I throw poison in the water main..."
"Wait. Hold up. Rewind.... Giles is an evil demon summoning druggie?" Xander asked in confusion. "But he wears tweed!"
"And he says things like, like 'Dear Lord' and 'Bloody Hell', and 'To the books!'" Willow added with a smear of Jelly filling on her cheek. She looked rather cute like that, with her hair ironed straight, and sugar powder on her fingers Buffy mused as she popped a donut hole in her mouth. The girl had changed her style recently, too, accenting her figure instead of hiding behind sweaters and jeans.
"I know, I know. And we are NOT judging him, I mean, we all do stupid things as teenagers. Some people summon demons, some people wander graveyards at night looking for them. What I need to know is how to stop this Egg-On thing." The slayer arched an eyebrow at her two best friends, and was it her or had Xander been beefing up? Course it was hard to tell under all that Hawaiian print... "If only I had my freeze ray..."
"What was that?" Xander glanced away from Willow, who was searching the internet.
Buffy waved her hand dismissively. "Nothing, nothing... don't have a viable power-source anyway..."
"Oh! Hey!" Willow bounced on her bed and flipped the screen around. "It only possesses the dead or the unconscious, and the bodies of the dead then start to degrade ridiculously fast."
"So it will probably be looking for a new host."
Xander blinked. "What happens when the body liquefies, and it doesn't have a new host?"
There was some tapping as the red head posed the question to the chat room full of techo-pagans and modern-age wiccans. "Looks like the consensus is it'll return to the 'plane from whence it came' until someone tries to summon it again."
"So I'm thinking a box." Xander tossed out. "We put it in a box, then that box in another box, then that box in another box, followed by a bigger box, and then... SMASH IT WITH THE HAMMER!" By the end of it Xander was standing, eyes gleaming, with one fist in the air and the other on his hip in a pose that left both girls blinking the sparkles from their eyes.
Buffy turned to Willow. "I don't know about the hammer part, but the box thing has potential. We would just have to wait till the host body dissolves."
Willow smiled and picked up her phone. "I'll call the self-storage agency."
Buffy was walking through one of Sunnydale's numerous cemeteries when Angel popped out of nowhere. He did one of those slide-into-screen from the shadows moves. A few weeks ago Buffy had thought it was mysterious and sexy. Angel was over two hundred years old, which was old even for a vamp, and had a lot of power. As he spiked her slay-dar Buffy spun around, and jumped in surprise and minor annoyance. "Don't dooo that."
"Okay... is there a reason I've got a space-gun pointed at my face?" Angel asked as he lightly touched the non-flaming portion of the gun barrel, and tapped it to the side.
"It's not a space-gun." Buffy blushed and pointed her latest proto-type up and out of the line of fire. The Re-Death Ray wasn't done, lack of funds and quality parts, so she had put together a little something for immediate use. Her mom hadn't been happy with the hair-spray expenses. "I call it my fire-drier, vampire and demon deterrent. I pull the trigger like so," she squeezed what had once been the gear switch of a bicycle and a gout of fire lit up the night. The slayer grinned as a few leaves turned to ash then let off the trigger. "Isn't it cool?"
Angel was staring at her while she popped the wasted can of hairspray and replaced it with a fresh one. "It's... impressive. Not exactly standard slayer gear."
"I still have my stakes, but if I run into a nest, it'll help." She smile impishly at her boyfriend. "Aren't I horrible?"
The vampire returned the smile, taking her by the arm, and ran his hand along the side of her face. "You're perfect..." And thus the smoochies began. They didn't last near as long as she was used to. She hadn't even begun to need to breath when he leaned back, holding her at arms length, and frowned. "You're different."
"I'm just twenty-first century Buffy."
He took her chin in his hands, staring into her hazel eyes, and while should have been romantic Buffy couldn't shake the feeling that he was judging her. "Maybe I'm being paranoid." Angel laughed and shook his head. "I was wondering if you wanted to go on a date. A real date."
"Dinner and a movie?"
"Ice skating. I know a thing who knows a guy who can open it up for us. Just me, you, and the ice."
Giles took off his glasses and rubbed the bridge of his nose. "And you say that Sam Zabuto is your watcher?" He asked tiredly.
"'Dat is correct, Sir." The dark skinned Jamaican native responded. She stood at parade rest by the table, classic signs of council upbringing, and gave her report. "He believes that a dark power is soon to rise in Sunnydale, and I am to stop it, if possible."
Which was typical. Giles only knew Zabuto by reputation. The man had been an eccentric and most of the family tended to have some Sight. Nothing extreme, not for generations, but Zabutos' had instincts that rivaled hardened Slayers and contributed no small amount of prophecies to the council archives. If Sam had sent his Slayer to Sunnydale it was because he thought she would be needed, and if the watcher thought she was needed she probably was.
That was life on the Hellmouth for you: never a dull moment.
"Giles! She locked Angel in a cage!" Buffy stressed the 'cage' part. "She can't be the slayer!"
Kendra flicked her eyes over to the blonde. "A slayer should be aware of her environment ta best use it 'gainst the Enemy."
"He's not the enemy. He's Angel." Buffy scolded before sitting on the table and crossing her arms. "Besides, you can't be the Slayer. I'm the Slayer."
Willow spoke up with a subdued voice. "When one slayer dies, another is called."
"Exactly! Hello, Alive here!"
"That is precisely the point." Giles slipped his glasses back on. "You died, and Kendra was called. Magic, for all the illusion and metaphor employed by today's practitioners, can be quite literal at times."
"But that's..." The watcher did not like the look on his slayer's face. It was thoughtful, and while he cared for his slayer there was something about it that worried him. "Wow. I, uh, need to think about this."
Xander grinned and raised a hand. "Can we go back to Angel being in a cage?"
"Xander!" Willow exclaimed while giving him a gentle slap.
Giles sighed. "I'll get the books." There should have been some kind of rule against multiple apocalypses in one year.
"I'll get the donuts!"
"Don't look at me like that!"
"Xan, you threw a pew. A flaming pew. Twenty yards."
"And Buffy burned down the church! No one is getting on her case."
The blonde in question was hitting her fire-drier with a spare screwdriver. The canister ejecting mechanism had jammed. Again. "Slayer's prerogative. I do school gyms, too."
Xander shoved his slightly burned hands in his pockets petulantly. "...It was getting away."
"Did anyone see what happened to Spike and Drusilla?" Angel asked, leaning on a wall for support, and eying their Jamaican backup, who had no problem at all with setting the building on fire, warily.
Oh, she couldn't believe it. Her mother was dating a very non-dad man. Her mother was kissing
a not-Buffy's-father person. It was wrong. It was terrible. It was ruining the little slice of peace she had in the world. Home was home. School was school. Cemeteries were cemeteries. Thus spoke Buffy.
"Except home is being invaded by some rotund salesman." The slayer grunted as she executed a roundhouse and sent an errant vampire flying.
"Perhaps you should-" A small, scab covered demon spoke up with a raised finger as deep in its black heart it felt the tiniest bit of sympathy for the half-breed being used as a punching bag. His companion, a loose-skinned demon, winced as they watched a particularly vicious one-two punch, and over-sensitive hearing picked up on snapped ribs.
"I mean," Buffy paused as she circled around her panicked and pained looking prey. "It isn't like I don't want her to be happy. To, to date. Every woman as the right to date and hook up with a guy. But why him?
He is a complete and total tool!" She finished with a backslap, accidentally knocking the vampire into a tree trunk and onto a broken limb. He raised his eyes to the sky in thanks just before mercifully exploding into dust as his demonic energy found itself unable to stabilize the shell. "Come on, Clem. Minion. Let's find some more vamps."
Clem looked to the smaller demon. "I've known Fyral demons less vicious than her."
The scab demon nodded. The two quickly followed their Mistress, a true champion of the little evil people, and he put forth his question. "Why not kill the Ted, if he annoys you so, oh great and horrible one?"
"Killing? There's no art to just killing
." She answered as if distracted, eyes focusing on the distant abandoned house they were quickly coming up on. "Time do some house cleaning." She cracked her knuckles, lowered her goggles, and twirled her stake between her fingers. Two floors, basement, plumbing... what more could a girl ask for? Install a generator and no one would have to know...
All she had to do first was a little pest control. "Heh. Hah. Mwahahahaha!" She kicked in the door, and her laugh echoed throughout the house turning cold, undead hearts to ice.
They all looked so happy. Mom and Ted standing side-by-side, Xander and Willow cuddling on the green and making jokes about little balls... and then here she was: The fifth wheel. She hadn't even wanted to go mini-golfing to begin with and now she was surrounded by happy couples. It wasn't like she could bring Angel to a bright sun-shiney picnic, or even honestly talk about him. Little ol' unattached Buffy stood out like the sick zebra in the herd, about to be pounced on at any moment. She swung her little golf club and winced as the ball nicked the side of the windmill, and ricochet off into the grass.
"So, little lady, do you have any young men in the picture?" Ted asked as if trying to be personable. He could tell she didn't like him, and it wasn't like Buffy had been all subtle and stuff about it. But she would try. For her mom.
"Not really. I have... school! Studies are very important to me, no time for boys." She grumbled while heading off into the grass in search of the red dot among green. Her mother watched her with a look in her eyes that said boyfriend of the week Buffy was not forgotten.
"Yeah." Willow piped up, loyally trying to back her story. "Bookcracker-Buffy, that's what they call her at school. Always hanging out in the library!"
"Well, she does spend quite a bit of after-school time there..." Her mother trailed off. "And her grades have improved..."
"As can only be expected from my daughter." Ted said confidently. "Little lady?"
Buffy froze, hand around the red golf ball in the rough. His daughter? She wasn't his
, slimy mother-stealing bastard. Buffy squeezed the handle of her club, felt the metal heat up and warp, and dumped her ball in the hole. She forced a smile to her face. "Would you look at that! Hole in two!"
"I saw that, little lady." Ted popped out from behind a plant, frowning angrily, and Buffy scowled. She hadn't sensed him. She would be the first to admit her senses weren't a hundred percent in day-light, but she could usually tell when someone was sneaking up on her. "That was cheating."
"Okay. So fine my score or whatever." Buffy stepped back, wishing she was wearing her good, dependable googles instead of a flimsy pair of sunglasses. Ted seemed to loom, growing bigger, as if the happy-go-lucky computer programmer she was coming to love to hate had suddenly gone bi-polar.
"I think you're missing the point here, little lady. Right is right, wrong is wrong. Why don't you people see that?"
The thin metal of the golf club spun in her hands like a baton. "Maybe I don't want to be right! Laws, rules... they are arbitrary codes of conduct designed by a flagging society to curb imagined problems while the real
danger is allowed to grow and fester! This," Buffy swung out with the club, narrowly missing Ted's head, and gestured to the vast mini-golf grounds. "Is a game. A stupid, valuable time consuming game."
She tried to push past him, back to the group, but his hand shot out impossibly fast and grabbed her arm in a too-tight grip. Hazel eyes went wide as he leaned close, anger evident. "Right. it's just a game. Life is just a game. Do your own thing, well, I'm not wired that way. And I'm here to tell you, it is NOT a game. There is Right and there is Wrong, and I won't stand for this kind of malarkey in my house!"
"Then it's a good thing I'm not IN your house."
"Buffy, Ted!" Joyce cried, scandalized. "What's going on?"
"Nothing, dearest." Boyfriend Ted 1.0 said with a pleasant expression. "The little lady just tripped on the curb, that's all."
"Cookie?" Xander offered with a goofy grin while Buffy rubbed her arm, scowling. The slayer glanced from Ted to the cookie, mind racing and finding connections at a speed she wasn't used to. Buffy hadn't been slow before, but her attentions tended to race in different directions. Now though, she had a focus. A problem. Ted. Ted who cooked, and immediately won friends and influenced people. Who bribed his way into her life.
Evil genius recognized evil genius.
"You know, I think I will." She plucked the confectionery from Xander's fingers and spun around, sneakily sliding it into her pocket as she did so.
Xander ducked a punch and didn't know what to do next. Sure, he could punch the freshman back, and then probably crack a rib or two in the process. Willow was right to be worried about the boost. Sometimes extra strength was annoying. Course, it was his own fault. After Halloween he'd started hitting the gym.
Captain Hammer had sooo not be naturally like that. Liar.
"Buffy!" Xander screamed as he held off an English teacher armed with a brick. "Are you done yet?!"
"Working on it!" Buffy assured him as she aimed some weird taser at the eye in the ground. It hummed to life, Xander briefly wondered where she had gotten the parts for it, and glowed a soft blue.
"Xander!" Willow epped and the brunette looked up, eyes widening, seeing his girlfriend held hostage by a cowboy. "Switch?"
"Now just what in tarnation is going on here?!" The vampire cowboy demanded before Xander vaulted over the milling drones and put his fist through the cowboy's head. Tried to, at any rate. The southern boy's head snapped back, and he released Willow only to clutch as his bleeding nose before recovering, and lunging for Xander.
"One fried primordian, coming right up!" Buffy screamed, her weapon charging. Lightening flashed from the gun to hit the single eye visible through the cement. A loud, shrieking wail sounded as the room shook, and then filled with the smell of cooked bacon. Little pink scorpion like things fell to the ground, dead.
"What is that?" Willow asked as she wandered over to the strange gun through a crowd of confused students and faculty.
"Prototype." Buffy grimaced and waved her hand at the smoking machinery. "I'm pretty sure that hit overloaded the circuits. I didn't get around to installing the cooling system. Not that they were the best to begin with. Second hand and all."
The red head gasped. "Ted! You cannibalized Ted!" Buffy blushed and shrugged. Green eyes glinted. The other girl poked the slayer in the chest. "Next time you do something fun like that, Missy, you call me!"
"How did you two avoid the egg-hatching anyway?" The blonde asked in an attempt to distract her best female friend.
"Xander hard-boiled Jimmy-the-Egg. To build character."
"Yeah." The boy said while dusting himself off. "Just because all the other kids are hatching and taking over their parents, doesn't mean he has to."
"Now I feel bad about mine. Maybe if I had been a better foster parent..."
The three friends stood over the bacon-scented corpse. Did they need to pour lye on it? Would it dissolve into ectoplasm like lots of demons did? Was it edible? She sighed and felt one arm wrap around her shoulders and another, slimmer, arm circle her waist. "So, I'm thinking a shower and then the Bronze?"
Buffy looked up into Xander's eyes. He was strangely appealing covered in Vamp Dust, and he was warm. His arm around her shoulders was like a protective blanket as Willow squeezed her in a half-hug. She really should have invited her nerd over for the Ted deconstruction. If was just that once she started, she got carried away, lost track of time, and before she knew it the evil robot boyfriend was neatly categorized in separate boxes. "I suppose. You guys haven't seen my new lair yet, have you?"
"Uh. I mean, hide-out!"
Xander frowned. "Only villains and psychotic vigilantes have lairs and hideouts."
"Fortress of Solitude!"
"Oh. Okay. So long as you keep it stocked with Twinkies."
Xander snagged the uber-taser as they headed back out into the night leaving Giles to try and sort things out. It sounded like they were going with gas-leak on the explanation front, but what kind of gas smelled like bacon?