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Ghost in My Machine

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Summary: Buffy was sure she was going crazy. Or being haunted by some demented ghost. Either explanation would be acceptable for what was going on in her life right now.

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Marvel Universe > ThorkerrykhatFR711,206082,5061 Nov 111 Nov 11Yes
Disclaimer: Joss Whedon owns "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and all related characters; Marvel and Disney own "Thor" and all related characters; I own nothing.

Author's Notes: Written for the Halloween challenge over at The Rooftop. Happy belated Halloween!

~*~*~
Buffy was sure she was going crazy. Or being haunted by some demented ghost. Either of them would be an acceptable explanation for what was going on in her life right now. For the last week or so, she kept getting glimpses of something out of the corner of her eye whenever she passed by a piece of glass, almost everywhere she went. It wasn’t much: just a tall, thin, semi-transparent figure that melted into the shadows whenever she turned her head around to get a better look. She didn’t do that any more after the second time somebody asked her if she was OK, instead trying to focus on the shape out of her peripheral vision, but it was just as useless.

The situation was getting to the point where she was avoiding shiny materials on principle now, feeling ridiculous while she did so.

The only place she hadn’t seen her mysterious shadow so far was within the confines of the Slayer compound in Cleveland. Right now, she was trying to decide whether it would be worth it to move back in with all the pain in the assness living with the minis would entail or begging Willow to enact the same levels of enchantments around her house. Of course, doing either would only raise suspicions and questions, which was something she wanted to avoid until she figured out what exactly was going on with her. So until then, it was just her and her annoying shadow.

Buffy was thinking over this problem as she walked among the shelves of one of Cleveland’s more reliable magic stores. While it was no Magic Box (really, what place could be?), it was well stocked, and, most importantly, was having a Halloween sale that Buffy was using to get a number of things Willow had asked to be sent to her. Apparently magic stores in South America weren’t up snuff and she hated having to teleport back and forth when it was easier to have what she needed sent down in bulk. Buffy had volunteered for the job, partly to clear her head from the latest argument she’d been having with that new government agency that wanted a piece of the Slayer pie and partly to find something to bribe Willow with so that she could get the security spells on her house with the minimum number of questions asked.

Needless to say, she was having shitty luck with one of her objectives, and from the relatively bare shelves, she might be striking out on the other.

Who the hell does Fury think he is? Buffy thought angrily to herself as she checked her list to make sure she was getting the right type of dried herbs, so as not to repeat the fiasco of 2004 when Willow had blown off her eyebrows while making a potion. Just because he’s in charge of some hush-hush government organization with a witty acronym doesn’t mean he gets to try and nationalize the Slayers or whatever it is he’s trying to shove down our throats.

Grabbing the salvia from the shelf and somehow managing not to toss it in her bag, Buffy stalked down the aisle, almost too distracted to notice the flicker out of the corner of her left eye.

Stopping, she continued to look straight ahead while desperately trying to make out what exactly the figure was. Closer, closer...

“Excuse me, miss.”

Buffy jumped at the hand on her shoulder, and although she would deny it, might have made a small noise in surprise. She hadn’t heard anybody walk up behind her, she had been so focused on possibly cornering her mysterious flicker in the corner of her eye. Cursing herself, she turned around and looked up--and up-- a thin, suit-clad body to meet a pair of concerned green eyes in a pale, angular face.

“I didn’t mean to startle you,” he apologized in a soft voice that only enhanced his smooth British accent. “I was just going to ask if you well.”

Buffy gave a weak laugh and shrugged. “Just a lot on my mind with my job, I guess,” she answered, with a surprising degree of truthfulness. “And no worries about startling me. It’s Halloween, you know? I think everyone’s entitled to one good scare.” She smiled, trying to make light of the situation that he had no idea about.

He returned her smile and she found herself being drawn into his earnest gaze, a calm, content feeling washing over her. She felt like she could trust him, open up to him. It was like... She blinked, realization flooding through her. It was almost like that time Dracula had tried to put her under his thrall back in Sunnydale all those years ago.

“Well, everything’s peachy, and I have a lot to get done, so I need to get going,” Buffy said, trying to keep her voice light and hide her sudden wariness. “Happy Halloween!” she added as she started walking towards the register, even though she didn’t have nearly half of of what was on Willow’s list. She heard the man return her season’s greetings behind her, but didn’t turn around to look. Fortunately, the line wasn’t long, and she was out of the store like a shot and headed towards her car.

Carefully setting the bag of witch-y supplies next to her in the passenger’s seat, Buffy took a deep breath and tried to calm herself. She needed to ignore the adrenaline that had started pumping through her veins and demanded a fight rather than flight, however stupid that would be right now against an unknown opponent in a store full of civilians.

Even after everything Buffy had seen and done during her years as being the Slayer, she still didn’t believe in two basic things: leprechauns and coincidences. A dark, attractive stranger with hypnotic-like eyes showing up just when she’d caught a flash of her oh-so-mysterious shadow was just the kind of thing that put her on her guard.

“And Halloween is supposed to be the one night I get off,” Buffy muttered to herself as she finally started the car and backed out of her parking space to head back to headquarters. Turning her head to make sure the coast was clear, she froze when she saw the man standing in front of the store in her peripheral vision, looking up at the sky. For a brief moment, instead of the suit he had been wearing while inside, she could have sworn he was wearing some sort of unfamiliar armor in gold, green, and black, with a strange helmet topped with cow-like horns on his head.

She blinked and the image was gone as suddenly as it appeared, leaving just the man standing there before he turned around and walked away. Buffy tried to follow where he was going, but it was impossible without turning her head, and she was afraid he would simply vanish if she did that.

Screw them thinking I’m losing it, I’m getting those spells done tonight, Buffy thought to herself, putting car into drive and did her best not to floor it back to the relative safety of Slayer Central.

The End

You have reached the end of "Ghost in My Machine". This story is complete.

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