A/N: (The following error is noted: The gang are still in high school, yet Spike has his chip)

Chapter 1

"What's your bet that the staff of this place are host bodies for some alien species?" Buffy Summers asked her best friend, Willow.

"Oh, yeah. Especially principal Snyder."

The girls were sitting under the shade of a large oak tree, in the front of their school, Sunnydale High, waiting for the first bell.

"Here comes one of them now," Buffy commented. "At least, something not considered by our species as normal."

The victim of her teasing comment approached them with a bright smile – an unusual occurrence for their friend this early on a Monday morning. Of course, even he would appreciate that put-down, as it alluded to the slight possibility of a weekend's social life. But Xander knew as well as anyone that his humble place lay with encouraging and uplifting his fellow friends in the Scooby Gang. With jokes at the most inappropriately placed times.

'Scooby Gang' was the name Buffy came up with for herself and her group of friends. Willow and Xander had been best friends since they were little, even through the traumatising event of Xander breaking Willow's Barbie. For a while Oz had been with the group, but he left to ease his worries of harming Willow, his girlfriend at the time, during his time of month that carried a little more risk than your average PMS, when for three nights a month, he transformed into a werewolf. Considered a more absurd match was Xander and Cordelia. Cordy considered the world to be beneath her – woes betide you if you caused her to break a nail. Years back, Willow and Xander had formed a We-Hate-Cordelia club. Before Xander pulled a Judas. The trusty-though-extremely-boring Rupert Giles, Sunnydale High's librarian, headed the gang.

The morning bell sounded around the students milling around and Buffy stood, straightening her skirt.

"Who are they?" Xander exclaimed with curious fascination. The girls followed his gaze to two girls they hadn't seen before, heading into the building.

"Whoever they are, if you get a crush on either of them," Buffy said pointedly, "she'll turn out to be a mantis, and ancient mummy, a dead Chinese fighting ghost, or something equally freak-worthy."

Xander frowned at Buffy's intent on bringing up his past record of girlfriends with every glance he made in any girl's direction.

"What? You don't think I'm attractive enough to get the attention of a normal girl? One who doesn't want to suck anybody's soul?"

"You can't be unattractive to everyone. Maybe you're a freak-worthy magnet." Willow reassured him. He gave her an unappreciative look. "A good one though," she said by way of explanation. "That could be a good thing. And, I'm just going to be quiet now."

Buffy interjected, "I'd better be off to class now before the authoritative host body catches me. See you at lunch." She started off.

"Buffy," called Willow. "Maybe we could talk to the new girls. Y'know, just to say hi. I mean, new kids at Sunnydale High is almost never a good thing."

Buffy shrugged. "Sure, whatever." The second bell rang, marking her as late to class, and Buffy hurried off.

Xander strolled across a lawn to join Buffy at an outside table, at lunch-hour. As he sat, and opened his bag to retrieve his lunch, Willow joined them.

"Anyone got anything more interesting than glue?" Xander asked.

He was greeted with confused expressions. "Glue?"

"Oh," he said. "It's just an alternative phrase for boysenberry yoghurt. A special dialect of XanderHarris-ese."

"Oh," said Buffy.

"Hey, there's those girls again. Better do your meet-'n'-greet thing."

"It looks like we won't have to." Buffy concluded. "They're coming over here."

On their way over, they were intercepted.

"What a surprise," Xander commented. "Cordelia-Fashion-Queen-of-Sunnydale makes it her business to know each an every newcomer – until they prove themselves not worth of her esteemed goodwill."

Buffy turned to Xander and questioningly raised an eyebrow. Xander quickly bit into a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, so he wouldn't have to answer. His relationship with Cordelia was somewhat complicated.

They couldn't hear what the newcomers were saying, but body language is universally understood. Cordelia huffily stormed away from the two girls, probably after they refused to give any credit to the conversation topic of painting their nails.

The two girls didn't make a move to come over to Buffy, so she called out.

"Hey." She accompanied the call with a wave.

The girls smiled and wandered over.

They were even prettier up close, as Xander was happy to notice. They both had long hair and shapely figures, but that was where the similarities ended.

One had fair skin, bright blue eyes, silky white-blond hair, and had a general look of purity about her. The other was what black is to white. She had black hair, was deeply tanned, dark eyes, and looked, well, not pure. Mysterious maybe, thought Xander. But they're both worth finding out more about.

"You just started here?" Buffy asked. "If so, I see it as my duty to warn you about Cordy over there, and cafeteria food." She gestured to Cordelia, who was still trying to regain her composure.

The blond girl smiled. "Thanks for the warning. We'll keep it in mind." Her eye fell on a patch of empty bench next to Buffy, across from the others. "May we sit with you for now, or would you rather us not?"

Buffy was pleasantly surprised to find that they thought of asking first instead of just making themselves at home like a typical American teen. She couldn't resist a glance at Xander, who was devoting all his energies in trying not to lasso them to the seat.

"Sure," she said, and moved her bag from beside her. The two girls sat.

The blonde extended her hand. "I'm Desupra," she said. Buffy's surprise at the unusual name prevented her from replying right away. "You were expecting 'Barbie'?"

"Uh, no, sorry," Buffy recovered. "It's just an unusual name. These are my friends Xander, and Willow," she said motioning to each in turn. "And do you talk?" She asked of the dark girl.

The dark girl leaned slowly forward, letting her hypnotic dark eyes rest of each of them. Her hair fell forward and shrouded her face in shadow. She slowly opened her mouth to speak and they all fell silent, tense.


Xander jumped, and the dark girl leaned back again, and smiled. "I love it when they do that," she said. She extended her hand to each of them in turn. "I'm Däkkah," she said. "I know you're not likely to confuse me with 'Barbie'."

"Where do you get your names from?" Buffy asked. "Are they foreign?"

Desupra and Däkkah exchanged glances. "Our parents liked them," Desupra said. "They were very imaginative."

"Obviously. Where have you guys come from? I haven't seen you around Sunnydale before." Buffy swirled her milkshake with the straw.

Däkkah glanced at Desupra, in a silent cue for her to speak. Däkkah obviously didn't do much small talk. Desupra obliged.

"Yeah, we just moved here. It's an interesting change of scenery."

"Where did you move from?" Gosh, getting information of out them is like squeezing blood out of a stone, Buffy thought. Although, perhaps Willow could do it – get blood out a stone, I mean.

"Out of state." Desupra said, and then surprised Buffy by adding, "Actually, out of country. Originally we're from New Zealand, but we've been around, since then." She tucked a lock of white-blond hair behind her ear. "It's not interesting enough to tell stories about," she added before Buffy could inquire further. Her gaze, though kind, warned Buffy not to persue the subject.

Buffy started to gather her things. "The bell will be going soon," she explained. "I'd better not be late, or Principal Snyder will have me in detention so long my grand-children will grow up there. I don't know how I could ever get that man off my back." She rummaged through her backpack, checking that the equipment for her next class was there. She didn't have time for a trip to her locker now.

"Slay him."

Buffy started – looking up, her rummaging freezing, as though time had been stopped. Willow sat with her mouth open, and Xander just continuously switched his gaze from Buffy and the newcomers, as if he were watching a tennis match.

Däkkah's eyes looked up at them, though her head remained sinisterly low. An incomprehensive look crossed her face. "Hey, I was kidding."

Buffy took a moment to register. "Oh," she finally said.

The bell sounded, and Buffy stood, to leave.