UPDATE 11/2019: IMPORTANT NOTICE THIS STORY IS DISCONTINUED IN ITS CURRENT FORM! FEEL FREE TO READ, BUT TO SEE THE CURRENTLY ACTIVE REBOOT, PLEASE FOLLOW THIS LINK s/13429610/1/Against-the-Sun OR GO TO MY PROFILE TO FIND THE STORY.
UPDATE 12/2016: I first started writing this story four years ago, while going through it again I realized I had a very serious issue with commas (it's still bad, but oh my god I'm not sure if it was real English before). I'm going to be going through and editing the first nine chapters for grammar and syntax issues.
Hey everyone, so this is a repost of a fic from an old account. My author's notes will be pretty sparse until I start posting new material for this. However, I hope you enjoy, and feel more than free to give me feedback constructive or otherwise.
Chapter One - Alone
"Are you sure you're going to be okay?" Joyce asked, shoving another tray of lasagna into the freezer. If there was a woman who could pack eight trays into a freezer and still close it, it was Joyce. I had months of casseroles, lasagna, and at least three pies to last me. The pies were probably going to be the first to go.
"I could feed the whole gang 'til Christmas, I think I'm going to be fine," I said with a laugh as she struggled to drag her suitcases through the door.
"Well, that's when I'll be back so I guess you'll be okay." Joyce had finally manage to drag the last bag out onto the porch. Everything had been in a frenzy the past few days with Buffy moving into university, and Joyce packing for Italy, and me...well, staying right here. I'd spent the last couple of years living with the Summers', and for the first time I was going to have the entire house to myself. I was actually kind of looking forward to it - my very own bathroom, imagine that.
"Thank you, for everything. I don't think I'm even going to have to do laundry while you're gone." I popped a grape into my mouth and slid off my barstool.
"Oh, I hope you wash your clothes more than that, Marley."
"Don't worry, I will," I said reaching for a banana.
"You're going to have to go out to the store tomorrow if you keep eating like that."
"But, banana," I said with a pout, lifting up the fruit, "Oh! You're going to be late! Have you called a cab?"
"That eager to get rid of me are we?" She asked, and I grinned sheepishly, "The cab is on the way. Speaking of which, I need to go finish packing. There's a shepherd's pie in the oven that will be ready in a few minutes. I know it's your favorite, there should be enough to last you the week," she glanced at me as I shoved the rest of the banana down, "or a few days."
"Hey," I grumbled through a full mouth.
"No, it's probably true," I sighed. Joyce laughed, and headed for her room. The edge of the counter dug into my back as I listened to the stairs creak.
All mine. I hadn't had a place to myself since the hell hole of an apartment I'd found when I first came here. That place wasn't really a treat to live in. Now, don't get me wrong, I love living here, but back on the East Coast with my real parents I had had my own bathroom. There are just some things a girl needs.
I don't really know how I ended up in Sunnydale exactly. When you get kicked out you're normally a bit too pissed to think about where you're going except far away, and I didn't have enough for the bus fare to Los Angeles. Oddly, the tiny little town ended up being a hell of a lot more interesting than L.A., and I really mean the hell part. I touched down in the land of monsters and freaks. Fitting really.
I had to admit it was going to be kind of weird. No Buffy, no Joyce, Willow was going to be over at the University too, and Xander was road-tripping or something. What was I going to do with the time I was supposed to be studying instead of saving the world in some sort of adjacent role? Homework?
That sounded excessive.
There was a sharp buzz, and I jumped. Ooh, the shepherd's pie was done. The oven squeaked as I opened it and a wave of meaty, potatoey, buttery, goodness rushed out. Buffy hated shepherd's pie so we didn't have it for dinner that often, but I was going to have Joyce's cooking skills all to myself now.
"Marley! Did you get the pie?!" Joyce called from upstairs.
"Yeah, I got it!" I yelled back, digging around for a spoon. Time to get my pie on. A car horn blared from the driveway, "Joyce! Cab's here!"
A few seconds later Joyce clattered down the stairs, bags dangling over her arms and a suitcase thudding behind her. Just a few more minutes and that big, beautiful bathroom would be all mine. Bubble baths, and naps in the shower, and no one pounding on the door because they're going to be late or were covered in blood again.
"You got the pie?" She asked again, shuffling with her bags so they weren't hanging from her wrists.
"Yes, we already went over this." I smiled, helping her rearrange her stuff.
"And remember school starts tomorrow. You have the address?"
"Yes, I do. All the way on the other side of town," I said. I was practically going to have to bike to Giles' apartment every day for school. It was like five miles.
"My girls are getting so grown up. Buffy at college, and you're starting your senior year." The taxi honked again.
"You should get going," I said, "I'm gonna miss you."
"I'll miss you too, Marley. I love you, and remember to tell Buffy that too."
"I love you too, and I will," I said, hugging her around the plethora of bags. With a few more goodbyes, she rushed out the door and into the cab and then she was gone.
The shepherd's pie was waiting for me in the kitchen. Still steaming, but quite a bit cooler now. My dinner plopped into the bowl, the beefy smell getting stronger as I stirred it up. It was so quiet in the house now, no one left but me. I sat down, warm bowl of mushy pie in hand. No you know what, I was alone, I could eat on the couch now.
It'd been almost a week now, and I was starting to realize exactly how bored I was. I'd been excited to do my physics homework, excited. This was ridiculous. A few days without Buffy, and I had nothing better to do with myself than study. Here's another thing I figured out when I got back to school, all of my friends graduated. Blow up my school, abandon me to senioritis and mediocrity, it's all okay. I'll just be here eating your mother's lasagna and stealing your fancy conditioner…so ha!
My mouth pulled down into a frown, I was just in one of those moods where you feel itchy. Not physically (well maybe physically too), but like itchy in your soul and you just can't fucking scratch it. Everything was pissing me off: the canned laughter on the sitcom, the way my shirt kept riding up on my back, the pieces of hair that kept tickling my neck. Slamming my pencil down I pulled the blonde, curly, inherently evil mass into a bun.
This was going to be a really boring year wasn't it? Last year was full of patrols, and rogue slayers, and huge ass snakes. Now it was just going to be me and my text books. All right, problem number three of…twenty. Twenty. I was going to go insa - the phone rang, and I leapt up, books clattering to the floor.
"Hello, Summers Residence. Marley speaking."
"Hey, graveyard, ten minutes?"
"Buffy! Oh my God, yes. I'll see you there." I grinned into the phone and hung up. Oh thank God, I wasn't going to be alone until Christmas. I swung around and stared at the books and pencils that had been scattered across the floor. Physics could wait.
My feet hit the ground before the bike had even stopped moving. I wasn't really good at the whole slaying thing, that was usually left up to Buffy. I was morale support and extra stakes...or books, of course most of us were books. Buffy was the hero.
It was relatively cool out, and for the first time in months I actually needed a jacket. It was nice, I've always liked jackets they're cozy. Buffy was already there slightly hunched on top of a headstone, feet dangling a few inches above the ground. Four years ago a cemetery would have been a no go at night. Shoot, it would have been a no go during the day if I was alone, but now graves and corpses felt kinda homey.
"So, any vamps yet?" I asked, scooching up next to her.
"Nah, nothing's biting tonight," she said, not looking at me, watching the graves instead.
"So how's college?"
"Kind of like high school, but a bit harder and a bit less evil." She laughed and turned her attention to me, "How's senior year?"
"It's a glorified trailer park, also a bit less evil," I said and leaned my head against her shoulder, "You know once the novelty of hour long bubble baths wore off, I've kind of started to miss you guys."
"Marl, it's been less than a week," she said letting her head rest on top of mine, "How are you supposed to last till Christmas?"
"I don't know, can you hide me in your dorm?" I asked, and suddenly Buffy sat up straight. We got real quiet, and she jumped from the gravestone. Behind us there was a feral snarl, and the sound of footsteps.
"Down!" Buffy ordered and I quickly complied, throwing myself down from my perch. The grass around here was pretty soft; it smelled fresh and dewy. I rolled over to watch Buffy konk the opponent of the night on the head with a well placed roundhouse kick. The vamp was dressed all fancy, fresh from the grave and not much of a threat.
"You could keep me in the closet," I decided to continue, "I'm very good at fitting into small spaces."
"I don't think you would want to," she said as she threw one punch after another, the vampire stumbling back, "My roommate listens to Celine Dion," she blocked a strike and then kicked him squarely in the chest, "constantly. You know, you can only hear one song over and over again so many times before you want to throw yourself in a hellmouth," she concluded as she thrust her stake into his heart, and the surprised look on his face crumbled into dust.
"Oh gosh, that sounds terrible," I said climbing back on top of the grave, a Mr. Clarkson's.
"It is. I had to get out of that dorm before I strangled her with her radio's power cord," she sighed, sitting next to me.
"So other than the roommate problem, there's got to be an upside," I said, "maybe a boy? A cute one. Maybe two, three if you're feeling generous and want to share."
Buffy laughed, "Yeah, yeah I think their might be."
"Ooh, what's his name?" I asked, poking her in the side getting a giggle out of her.
"Parker," she said, emphasizing each syllable and finishing it out with a smile. I was proud of her, jumping back on the horse after Angel left. I had been kind of worried about her, the last time Angel went AWOL she did too - for an entire summer. I was back at home with Joyce, trying to do cleanup duty. "He's kind of cute. I might just have to keep him all to myself."
I laughed and feigned hurt, placing a hand over my heart, "Oh whatever shall I do without my faithful slayer bringing home boys for me to eat?" She shoved me playfully, and I nearly came off the headstone. "So, what kind of action have I missed?"
"Oh nothing special. Just your average vamps," she said casually, swinging her feet back and forth, "I've been having some weird dreams recently." I tilted my head, "Oh you know, scorpions, blood, evil demons. The usual. I was going to go talk to Giles tonight after this."
"Well, you've already filled your quota for the night," I said, jumping up, "You should figure out what's going on. You know just in case it's serious."
"What, you getting tired of me already?" She asked, standing up too.
"I could come with you, I haven't seen much of Giles recently. There isn't really a library at school now."
"No. You have school tomorrow, and I've probably already kept you from doing homework," she said, picking up her bag and swinging it over her shoulder. My heart fell, I really didn't want to go back home. Watching Buffy kill one vamp was probably the most fun I'd had in days.
"Yeah, but that's kind of expected."
"Go home Marley, it's late. I'll call you tomorrow, okay?" She pulled me into a hug.
It had been a few days since I had gone out patrolling with Buffy, and once again I hadn't done a lot. I'd gone to school, I'd reheated entire pans of lasagna to cut out one piece and put it back in the freezer, I saw Giles once for few minutes. Xander was back though, I'd go hang with him at the Weenie Hut after school. I could eat free hot dogs as long as I didn't stand in front of the condiments.
At the moment however, I was in school. Trapped in the poorly ventilated, overcrowded French trailer, with more than its fair share of boys who were yet to understand the inner workings of deodorant. Currently said boys were joking in the back of class, rather loudly, much louder than our soft and mousey French teacher. They'd laugh and flail about, releasing yet another wave of body odor.
"I'd like to si vous outta here," I muttered under my breath, pressing my nose into my sleeve. Just five more minutes and I could go to...physics. You know, last year I at least had something to get me through seven hours of sunny hell. Usually that something was sitting at the very center of sunny hell for three hours reading about how to kill the things that crawled out of it, but at least I did that with well washed friends.
Come on Marley, focus, conjugations, verbs. Two more minutes, you can do this. Oh, two more classes, and it had already been such a long day. I wondered if Buffy and them even were in class right now, it sounded like they had a lot more free time. Well in a year I could go join them over at UCS, but for now it was more sunny hell.
The clock hit two, and there was the anticipatory rustling of paper and zipping of bags. The teacher was trying to yell out the homework over the din to no avail, and therefor at least ten students would show up tomorrow with the customary, ' you didn't assign this shit!'. The bell rang and everyone ran for the door.
Oh air, sweet fresh air. I was free from that cage of B.O. and despair. It was a nice day out, still plenty warm to be running around in shorts and tank-tops. The students all seemed to have bigger backpacks this year, probably because there wasn't much in the way of lockers now. Physics, physics, physics. The trailer was on the other side of the long rows of trailers, yet ten feet to my left, was my pretty bicycle. Physics...freedom…physics...freedom. Freedom. I turned to the racks, and within a minute I was up on my bike and pedaling away as fast as possible. I'd already come pretty close to completing the first full week of the school year. I thought that was an impressive enough of a feat to warrant...well, not finishing the first full week of school for the year.
I decided that I didn't want to go home to an empty house. Instead, I turned towards the campus. If I laid low for an hour or so before I found Buffy she wouldn't question why I wasn't in school. For having an academic attendance record worse than mine she sure got on my case about missing school a lot.
It wasn't a particularly long ride from the school to the university, maybe twenty minutes opposed to the hour it took to bike from home to school. It was actually pretty pleasant, almost completely flat or downhill with a soft breeze keeping me cool. Sure, the fifty pounds of books on my back almost took me out around a couple of those turns, but otherwise it was a nice ride.
The campus was quiet - birds chirping, sun shining - most of the students must have been in class still. I found a nice shady tree near the quad, and pulled out my French homework. As long as I was cutting class I might as well be getting a headstart.
An hour later I was almost done with my pre-calc homework, and the numbers were spinning on the page. Just two more problems, then I could take a nap or something. I was trying my hardest to actually comprehend what the next problem was saying, when I heard a familiar voice.
I glanced at my watch, school wasn't supposed to let out for another half hour. Grabbing my books I quickly dragged myself around to the other side of the tree, and prayed to God that she hadn't seen me. I did let myself peek, however, and a grin spreading across my lips when I saw who she was with. A brown haired pretty boy: Parker. I had expected her to look a bit happier with the new prospective boy, and maybe it was just the distance but she kind of looked...upset.
I was considering walking over, whether she would rag on me for skipping or not, when I spotted something skulking in the shadows. A certain bleach-blonde, leather wearing something. I had always known Spike to be brave, but hot damn being that close to sunlight was crossing the stupid line farther than I thought he was capable of. Wow, he was getting pretty close to the edge of the shade - and he's walking into - wait what the hell?
Broad fucking daylight, that bastard was just strolling through the sun like he was on a picnic or something. A sick grin plastered on his smug face. What the hell was happening? I glanced back at Buffy. Parker had left her now, but Spike was approaching quickly.
Shit, shit, shit, what the hell was I supposed to do?
"Buffy!" I yelled, and she looked up at me. No, no she was supposed to look the other way. I opened my mouth, about to call for her to turn around, but it was too late. Spike grabbed a fist full of her hair and yanked her down. I could hear her surprised yelp from here.
How I wished I knew how to go all glowy at will. I wasn't Buffy with her slayer strength, or Willow with her magic. I was Marley, I didn't have the fancy super powers - I was stuck with the ones that I couldn't even use ninety five percent of the time. I had to do something though. Spike's fist was coming down on her again and again, she didn't even have a chance to get up. Kicking into high gear, I sprinted towards them. Spike had his back turned, though he had to know I was there. My hand curled into a fist as I came closer, ready to swing, when suddenly he was facing me - his hands wrapped around mine.
"Well, good day, little bird," he grinned, tongue flicking over fangs, "I didn't think you'd have the guts." And with that I was flying. Not for long though, a brick wall felt like a pretty good stopping point. There had been a sharp crack when I hit, I think it was my head, or maybe I imagined it all together. I could barely think, barely see, barely hear. I could feel though….I felt like I was going to throw up. The sounds of the slayer and the vampire duking it out were muffled, and I couldn't tell who was winning.
Come on, Marley. Get up, do something, you're being a fucking bump on a log while vampires walk around in sunlight. I slowly rose to my feet, trying to ignore the sick spinning feeling that wanted to take me back down. Buffy was back on the offensive apparently, and absolutely kicking ass. Throwing punch, after kick, after jab, beating him down and then grabbing something from his finger. The vampire started to sizzle, and was down the sewers before I even had the chance to blink.
"Marley!" Buffy called, jogging over.
"Hey, um, what the hell was that?"
"So Spike has been trying to go all super vamp, and no one thought to I don't know...call?" I asked, feeling more than a bit bitter. I was sitting on Giles' couch, an ice pack on the back of my head dripping freezing water down my neck. Giles was next to me, Xander and Oz sat across. Buffy and Willow were talking about something over at the table; I wasn't sure what, I hadn't really been in the mood for asking how anyone's day had been.
"I'm - I'm sorry, I guess it just slipped our minds." Giles took his glasses off and polished them.
"Slipped your minds? He knows where I live! And quite frankly I don't live with a slayer anymore, what if he had decided to use his brain for once and didn't try to take out Buffy on round one? I would have been a sitting duck, Giles, sitting duck!" I sat back huffily, crossing my arms. I kind of regretted the sudden movement, it made the pulsing headache all the worse.
"Oh. Sitting duck, says the girl who can kill vampires with pretty glowing light." Xander said, and I glared at him.
"Hey! The last time I went all glowy was because I nearly got eviscerated! Do you think I like being eviscerated?" I snapped, God my head hurt like a bitch.
"Well, you could learn to use your powers -" Giles started.
"Yeah with what? We don't even know what I am." That was true. Three years in, and Giles still hadn't been able to figure out what I was exactly. There's an astonishing array of things out there that go all flashy when they're feeling threatened. I guess we're kind of like tropical birds that way. So far it looked like I could be immortal. Another possibility was that I could be like one of those mayflies, adn I would die after three days once I hit round two: demon puberty smackdown. That or I could end up developing horns, and a tail, and pick point teeth to suit a sudden taste for human flesh.
My parents wouldn't be of any help, because out of all the lore we'd looked through most of it said my parents probably weren't actually my birth parents. I was some sort of changeling, that or I was some sort of creepy ass parasite that strangled the real baby before birth. Yeah, I might have kicked me out too.
"Well there are basics, things we could figure out if you would just try," Giles argued.
"I don't want to just try! What if we do it wrong, and I'm actually the mayfly and I die three days later because I triggered the demon too early? It's like cow hormones in children's milk, but magic."
"Magic cow hormones?" Oz said slowly, the very first thing he'd added to the conversation.
"What're we talking about?" Willow asked, plopping down on the couch next to Oz.
"Magic cow hormones," Xander piped up.
"Magic cow hormones?" She looked kind of confused.
"Yes! Magic cow hormones!" I said, standing a bit more quickly than I should have, "You know what, I'm going home. Drop a line next apocalypse or something, give me a heads up." I grabbed my bag and stalked towards the door.
"Marley, do you really think you should bike all the way in your condition?" Giles started to stand, "I should drive you, it won't take -"
"I'm fine Giles," I growled, and stalked out of the house.