Interlude 13B – Amy Vs Interruptions:
-Sunnydale High Parking Lot : Friday Morning Before School-
Willow turns around and her shoulders slump. "Jerk... we don't feel like dealing with you right now. Can you just... go away?"
Jack twitches, fire erupting from under his shirt. Then he vanishes. Not burns up. Vanishes, with a soft clap of air rushing in to fill the void he left behind.
What the fuck just happened? Willow doesn't seem like she knows either.
Did Willow seriously just banish my vampire by fucking accident!?
While I'm still processing what happened Faith starts yelling and darts forward. "WHAT DID YOU DO TO HIM!?" She grabs Willow by the shoulder and cocks back her fist.
"Faith!" Buffy tries to grab Faith, but they both move just as obnoxiously fast when they're keyed up. "Calm down. She didn't-" Faith's fist connects with Willow's face. I can hear the sickening crack of bone. No way was that sound just her nose breaking. "No!" An instant later Buffy has her on the ground and they start rolling around fighting like angry toddlers. Their yelling even blends together into angry gibberish. I think I make out 'Brother,' 'Willow,' and 'no' a few times each though.
I glance down at Willow's broken face. Damn. As tempting as it is to leave Willow to her fate, I might need her to get my vampire back. Besides, if she set my vampire on fire or banished him I want her to be awake and alert when I share my feelings on the matter anyway.
Pulling out my emergency kit, I shoot a dose of green goop into what used to be her nose.
Okay... That... is more than a little gross. I stop watching Willow's face try to unflatten itself and focus on Faith and Buffy wrestling around on the ground instead while my stomach settles.
Damn it. Buffy looks like she's winning. Stupid two extra years of being a Slayer. Come on Faith you can- What am I doing?
I start chanting the invocation for my clothes animating spell. Urgh, longer chants are such a pain in the ass.
Buffy almost manages to pin Faith twice before I'm able to make her own clothes attack her. As Buffy's shoelaces wrap themselves around her legs and ruin her mobility, Faith rolls her into a headlock.
YES! We win! Errr... no... they just both randomly stopped fight and are staring behind me...
Now what? I turn around with a sigh.
What the hell? "Harmony? Why are you dragging a girl along by the hair." Is that... Anya?
Harmony opens her mouth to answer me but Cordelia walking along behind them beats her to it. "She just freaked out all of a sudden and then started attacking Anya while rambling about family. She's-"
"Hey!" Harmony's outraged cry cuts her off. Willow starts coming to at my feet. I start my chanting anew to bind her in place. "I did not freak out! I made a stupid wish, then Anya went all demon girl and said 'done,' and... and suddenly- Suddenly everything was horrible! Jack was gone-"
"WHAT!?" Faith shouts. I almost abandon my spell to join her but I force myself to focus.
"-you guys were all dead-"
"WHAT!?" I think that was all of us except the very groggy Willow who's being attacked by her sweater since I thankfully managed to just barely finish my spell before Harmony dropped that bombshell on us.
"-Cordelia was Willow's vampire love slave-"
"WHAT!?" Willow spasms at my feet as she tries and fails to join Cordelia on that shout, the collar of her sweater stuffing itself into her mouth.
"And-" This is getting us nowhere.
"Harmony! Back up! You said you made a wish and then Jack was gone?" Goddess, is this why Jack was so insistent on adding no wishing to the house rules?
"Yeah. You were all either dead or gone. It was horrible, the only person left was Xander-"
"Stop! What happened? Tell me exactly, from the beginning. Start with what you wished for?"
"Okay... so I wished that Xander never liked Willow because-"
Willow interrupts her. "Oh my god! Why would you-" She cuts back out as her sweater bunches even more of itself into her mouth.
"Because he cheated on me!" Cordelia yells over all of us. Lord and Lady, she's loud.
"ENOUGH!" Goddess, even at full volume I can't match Cordelia. I try for my best 'Jack is annoyed by the idiotic villagers' smile when everyone turns to stare at me. "You wished. She said done. The world changed so-" I'm clearly not dead. I try to remain calm. "So we were all dead?"
"Yeah. It was horrible! I was all by myself and I couldn't find any of you to help me fix it. But then Jack's beacon went off even though no one had ever heard of him. So I followed it but I didn't find Jack, I found Faith's old watcher Diana Dor-"
"Double-D was there?" Faith torn between shocked disbelief, hope, and sadness. I glance back to see Buffy take advantage of her distraction to escape the headlock. I start working up the force of will to shove her telekinetically, but after glancing at Willow and seeing she's fine, Buffy just puts a hand on Faith's shoulder and squeezes it comfortingly while Harmony continues.
"Yeah. She was very nice, even if the hospital gown and blood loss didn't-"
"Hospital gown!?" Faith interrupts again. Damn it people. Let her fucking talk!
"Yeah apparently she got stabbed or something? She was all pale and stuff." I glare at Faith before she can interrupt again. "But even still, she was able to help me fix everything just like a girl Giles should!" Harmony nods happily and then starts checking her pockets. "Oh! She gave me a note to give you... oh no! It's gone." Harmony pouts for a brief moment, but continues right before I start to prompt her. "She said that would probably happen when everything fixed itself, but I really wanted you to have it. It's okay though. I made sure to memorize the whole thing just in-"
"BUFFY! You're alive!" I turn back around in time to see a Dawn shaped missile slam into Buffy, hard enough to almost knock her over, and then latch on. "Oh my god." ThankYouThankYouThankYou..." She buries her head against the crook of Buffy's neck and continues talking at warp speed. Damn it. I'm never going to sort out what happened with all these interruptions. I catch a few words here and there. Dead. Jail. Jack. Killed. Err-
"Whoa. Whoa. WHOA! Hold up! Dawn! What was that last part!?" Even Buffy looks as confused as I do as she stares at... is that soot all over Dawn? I hold up my hand as Dawn draws in a clearly needed breath and looks like she's about to spew out words again. "Maybe you should start over? Maybe slower this time?" I need all the details if I'm going to get my vampire back.
"Okay. I was at school and then suddenly everything flickered green and then Janice and Missy had no idea who I was. Mrs. Pope sent me to Principal Greenblatt because she didn't know who I was either and said I was interrupting her class trying to get Angela to give me back my assigned seat. Mom didn't answer the phone so I was told to go home and then..." She trails off sniffling. "Everything was different! There were all these pictures of other people on the walls and then cops came and arrested me for breaking in even though I had my key and so I didn't break ANYTHING. They were so mean about it. They put me in jail and kept telling me I didn't exist. They said Buffy died! And- And... mom moved away and no one would answer their phones when I tried to call them-"
Harmony interrupts her excitedly. "Oh my god! Did you get some old lady when you called Faith too?" She bounds over to Dawn.
"Yeah! How did you know? Wait 'too'? did you-"
"YES! That happened to me too! I was so upset!"
"Yeah! And like everything sucked there! It sucked more than Lilian Mc-"
Buffy's shocked sounding, "DAWN!" cuts her off but Harmony responds anyway.
"Oh my god, yes! Everything totally sucked! When I called Amy or Jack I got this number is not in service message and then Amy's mom answered her dad's phone and said Amy was dead and yelled at me like I was some sort of crank call!"
"My mom what!?" Of course they ignore it when I ask a question.
"Oh my gawd! She was so mean about it too! I just wanted to talk to Amy! How was I supposed to know she died in Suck-Land." Must we keep talking about me being dead? The whole reason I got... let's go with involved... with Jack was to avoid being murdered in this psychotic hell town, by my mother no less. I'm just not going to think about that any more.
"Oh. Goddess!" This is like herding fucking cats. "Harmony, Dawn, I love you both, but I can feel the migraine coming on. So, can we please get back to the story?" Even Buffy looks like she agrees with me which is ra- "HEY! None of that! You stay right where you are!" Anya stops trying to back away slowly as soon as I point at her and everyone turns to stare at her. "Somebody... grab her, please?" I rub my temples. This is going to be a long day.
Faith just points at Anya and then the ground in front of her. When Anya doesn't immediately hop to it, she cracks her knuckles menacingly and points again. Apparently her sister having been dragged along for whatever ride she sent Harmony on has Buffy looking at her with an eye twitch as well. I allow myself a small amount of pleasure at watching Anya practically wilt under the combined stares.
Once Anya is seated on the ground by Faith, I turn to Dawn and motion for her to continue.
"Right. So the cops were all being such assholes-"
"Really, B? She's had a bad day. Just let her talk."
"The cops were all being butt-munchers. Is that better, mom?" She sticks her tongue out at Buffy who throws her arms up in the air but then just groans resignedly. "They kept trying to make me confess to stealing a key and breaking into our own house to steal stuff for, like, hours and hours." I try to motion for her to hurry up but she ignores me. I resist the urge to use fire as a motivational tool, and just smile at the thought instead. Oddly enough, my expression seems to do the trick. "Right! So Jack showed up."
"You found Jack!? All I got was his distress beacon."
"Jack found me... but... he wasn't Jack. Not really... I mean he at least knew who I was, but he was laughing like a lunatic and-"
Faith laughs, and I can't help but join her for a moment. "That's just J, I swear he must practice it or some shit-"
"No! He was like an actual crazy person. He was making, like, zero sense, asking me about wishes-" I wave off Harmony before she can interrupt. "-and then he killed the detective just for yell-"
"WHAT!?" Everyone yells. Fuck, even I interrupted this time. Jack killed someone in front of Dawn? Damn it, that's going to take forever to explain away.
Dawn glares at all of us. "I told you he went crazy! They started shooting him and he just laughed while he killed everyone in the station! When he was done he dragged me out from under the desk I was hiding under and..." She trails off, taking deep breaths and clearly psyches herself up for a moment before resuming her story in a rush as though she'd break down if she stopped. "He looked at me like Angel did." Buffy and I suddenly find ourselves competing for 'most surprised and horrified' expression. "Only then he started chanting 'My Dawn' over and over again while backing away from me. He gave me a cross and a flare gun and told me to hide in a house with a threshold while he 'fixed' himself so he could get us home. But there was this pack of vampires like right outside the station. They said they worked for someone called The Master-"...and... Buffy suddenly wins the surprised and horrified expression contest by a wide margin. That can't be a good sign, why does that name sound familiar? "-and that Jack shouldn't have hogged all the cops to himself. So they said they wanted to eat me but Jack told them I was his and he then he bit me-"
"He what!?" I wrap Buffy in my privacy spell as quickly as I can so the rest of her interruption becomes static. Jack being erratic and saying he needs to fix himself? Pack of Vampires working for someone they call The Master? That doesn't sound good. Biting Dawn seems even worse somehow. Goddess, is that why he didn't come back?
"-on the arm." Ah... like he does with Harmony then? "He still had to shoot a few of them in the face when they asked him to share me around..." She shudders. I shudder as well, and we don't look to be alone. Being passed around like- Nope! Not going there! "But he did get them to drop that idea... Umm... After that he got kind of growly again-" Wait, again? "-when told me to head along home now, but I could hear him thinking in my head to run and hide in a house as soon as he got the other vampires to follow him away from me. So I did, but a few of the ones he shot found me later and were trying to burn down the house when everything went green again and I was back at school like it never happened. Only it did because I still have the bite mark on my arm." Finally done telling her story, Dawn slumps down and starts crying, Faith and Buffy hugging her between them.
...Buffy is glaring at me..? Oh! I cancel the privacy spell and mouth 'sorry' at her. I also drop the clothing animation spell a second later when I realize why she's still glaring at me.
"Wait... If Harmony and Dawn both reset back to where they started... then... where did Jack go?" I ask.
"What do you mean?" Harmony asks me.
"Jack disappeared in a flash of fire a moment before you came out here with... her." I turn to Anya who has wisely chosen to remain rooted to her spot even though Faith is occupied.
"It wasn't me! It can't have been! The magic doesn't work like that! He should have been right where he started. Plus, I didn't do anything that involves fire at all." Damn, she even sounds honestly confused.
I look down at Willow who's trying to shake her head no and then whimpers through her sweater gag. Oh come on, it's not- Oh... She probably has a concussion. Those suck...
I'll hold off deciding if she deserves the concussion or if I feel bad for her until I find out if she's the one that made Jack disappear. "Well one of you has to have done it."
They both continue protesting their innocence. Of course they do.
Well okay then, interrogation time it is! Hmmm... this is hardly the place for it... "Now, seeing as we're already missing first period..." Kind of weird that Snyder hasn't come out to yell at us yet. Maybe he's busy? I snort. Or maybe he saw Buffy losing a fight and opted to hold off, who knows. "I guess we're all playing hooky today. Everyone either get in the truck, or Harmony's car." Following my own instructions I head back over towards the driver's side door.
"Excuse me, but who the hell made you the Queen?" Cordelia demands. I glance back. Buffy looks like she might want to protest too for a second, but Dawn tugs on her sleeve and they stares at other for a moment. I can't see her expression, but it gets Buffy to relent quick enough.
"Oh! Amy is in charge when Jack's not around." Harmony supplies while nodding happily as she grabs Anya to keep her from bolting until Faith can scoop her up. "She's going to fix this for us." Gee Harmony, no pressure or anything. "We just need to help!" No offense Harmony, but I'm not sure I'd expect you and Cordelia to be able to help someone out of a wet paper bag. Then again, she did apparently find her way home all by herself. Granted, that was after accidentally wishing herself to what or wherever Suck-Land is. "Come on, you can ride with me in my car." Harmony walks off towards her car with a confused Cordelia and amused looking Faith, as Anya tries fruitlessly to squirm out of her grip, in tow.
Damn it. That leaves me alone with Buffy in the truck. Well, okay, not alone, but a concussed Willow and shaken Dawn isn't going to make things much better. On the plus side, there are no grenades for her to find and if she complains about the tranquilizer gun I'll just shoot her with it.
Buffy starts to help Willow up but then frowns and bends down to look at her. Oh, fine... I release the spell on her clothing too. Spoilsport. I start to turn around when again when Buffy grabs my arm. "What did you do to her? I mean..." She takes a deep breath. "She's still not okay."
Oh come on. "I just used the same spell I-"
"No, I mean before that... The orange needle that woke her up."
"Oh. That was just green goop to un-crack her skull."
Buffy's eyes go wide. "Un-crack her skull?"
"She did get punched by a Slayer... Oh! Right... She probably still has a concussion. I've never needed to use it on someone's face before." I shrug. "Jack would know how to fix it, but somebody banished him."
"Willow didn't banish him! If she knew how to do that we would have done it days- I mean. Oh, you know what I mean. But... Can we move her? I want to know what Anya did to my baby sister -"
"Excuse you! I am not a baby!" Dawn whines.
I roll my eyes at both of them and try to ward off another angry toddler fight. "Yeah. Let's go. Willow will probably be fine. I mean, Giles survives concussions almost daily, right?"
"Good point." Buffy nods. She still looks worried.
"I'll open the back door for you two. You can carry her until we get her home and we can look up what to do. Don't let her go to sleep."
"Hey now. Even I know that's bad."
"Okay then." I leave the doors open as climb into the driver's seat and start Jack's truck.
I'm going to get him back.
He's going to be no more crazy than usual when I do.
He's going to go right back to eating anything scary that looks at me funny, laughing the entire time. Then I can go right back to not having to worry about surviving, and focus on living again.
I've gotten through plenty of this town's shit already. I can do this. I just need to keep everything together for a little while longer.
I refuse to allow for anything less.
He is most definitely not stuck in suck-land.
The universe had damned well better have been listening when Harmony said I was in charge!
Lord and Lady, Jack can't have been gone for no more than 15-20 minutes and I'm already sick of being in charge. He's supposed to be the one that fixes these messes. I hope this one is in that binder at home.
Or Harmony's backup copy. However that works. I don't know. I never thought we'd need to actually use the damn thing.
A hand squeezes mine. I look over and see Dawn giving me a halfhearted smile. I squeeze her hand back. I can do this.
Once everyone's situated and I've got the truck heading out of the parking lot I turn to Buffy to try and distract myself. "So... who's this 'The Master' guy and why does he seem to alarm you even more than his ominous title already does me?"
Moments into Buffy's horrifying explanation I regret asking. Didn't Jack teach me not ask questions I don't want to know the answer to?
Jack, I really hope you knew what you're doing.