A/N: Well, here's the big fic. Plan and simply, this is the way I feel Buffy really should have happened, especially after the mess ups that were seasons 6 and 7. This will basically be an AU fic, though there will be obvious similarities with the real series, as well as a lot of notable differences, as I mentioned in my profile.
This, in essence, is the way the season premiere should have gone. Therefore, a lot of the storyline will follow that, but I will have a lot of things that will change, so it's not basically a copy (or, at least, that's the hope :D)
So, here we go. Hang onto your seats, keep your hands and legs inside the ride at all times, and all those other lame theme park ride clichés that you can think of, and enjoy the show!
Spoilers: Season 1 Episode 1: Welcome To the Hellmouth and Episode 2: The Harvest. Though there will be a lot of major changes to these two episodes here, you'll still be at major spoiler risk if you haven't (somehow) seen these episodes before.
Disclaimer: I don't think Joss et al. is dumb enough to waste his time on some lowly creature having fun with his world that he so obviously messed up, so I'm not going to say anything to save me from that. However, because I respect the owners of the site, I'd just like to mention that I got a lot of the information for this chapter from www.buffyworld.com/. Thank you guys for your wonderful transcripts, even if the fight descriptions suck! :)
Legend: Completely 3rd person, so nothing of note.
As Chad broke the window and squeezed into Sunnydale High's science lab, he nearly had to drag his date through behind him.
"Are you sure this is a good idea?" Taking a look over at the black haired girl standing next to him, Chad had to groan.
"Of course, it's a great idea, now come on." He replied, dusting himself off and walking into the hall.
"Do you go to school here?" Chad's date asked, seemingly more at ease, now, though Chad had to admit that she appeared at times to be bordering on insanity.
"I used to. On top of the gym it's so cool. You can see the whole town." Chad said, growing excited.
"I don't wanna go up there. I don't like heights," Chad's date said with a tone of fear.
"Well, we can close our eyes, then, now can't we?" Chad replied, exasperated.
Almost jumping out of her skin, Chad's date spun around. "What was that?"
Chad, now bored out of his mind, and losing patience quickly, responded. "What was what?"
"I heard a noise," came the expected reply.
"It's nothing!" Chad shouted.
Whimpering rather shamefully, Chad's date hung her head, but still managed to speak, "Maybe it is something."
"Or maybe it's something," Chad taunted.
As his date continued to whimper, Chad decided to just look.
Turning the corner, he noticed exactly what he expected. Nothing.
"Hello?!" He taunted to the air. "There's nothing there." He said, hoping to satisfy the girl.
"Really?" Came the reply.
"For sure." He said.
Chad didn't have a chance to react. Feeling something sharp enter his neck, he was out before he could even scream. As his date finished up, she dumped him into the nearest locker, and started to skip out of the school.
"That'll teach the children for messing around with Dru. She's not one to be messed with." She chanted, exiting the building.
Buffy woke with a start that morning. She was having some odd nightmares the past few months, and they were beginning to get to her.
Looking at the figure in the bed next to her stir, Buffy decided to speak up. "We're up mom," she shouted, half because she knew her mom wouldn't be able to hear her from downstairs, and half to wake up her sister.
"Don't want to be late for your first day!" Their mother replied, confirming to Buffy that she heard.
"No, wouldn't want that," Buffy thought out loud.
"Huh?" Came the grunted, sleepy reply from next to her.
"Oh, first day of school. Don't want to be late." She sighed, getting a giggle from her blonde haired room mate.
"Well, the rumors are true that you're not a morning person, huh?" She said, between giggles.
"How about we get downstairs, get something to eat, and get to school before mom has a fit." Buffy replied, with a small hint of humor in her voice.
As the figure next to her began to rise in a fit of giggles, Buffy couldn't help but laugh as well.
When both were dressed, they headed downstairs to a pair of loaded plates of pancakes.
"Hey, mom. Thought I said I make the pancakes around here," Buffy's sister spoke with mock hurt.
"Well, you guy were sleeping, and I know how much you guys love being woken up, so I decided I'd do it this time."
Looking on with horror, Buffy spoke up. "Ya know what, maybe we should just get something at school," she said, hoping to get herself out of this mess. The elbow in her ribs, and glare told her otherwise.
"Fine, fine. But when I come home early from food poisoning, I'm blaming both of you," she caved in, and dug into the breakfast.
The drive to school was quiet, and surprisingly calm.
As they pulled up to the curb, Buffy's sister quickly gave her mother a kiss, and left, almost running into the school.
"She really loves school, huh?" Buffy said.
"Yes, glad there's one of those in our family." Her mother replied. "Well, don't just sit there. Get going!"
As Buffy began to exit the vehicle, her mother continued her first-day-of-school speech. "Have a good time. I know you'll make friends right away, just think positive," she grinned.
Nodding, and closing the door of her mother's 4x4, Buffy turned. "And Buffy?" Her mother said, startling Buffy and causing her to spin back around. "Try not to get kicked out."
Buffy inwardly grimaced as she remembered her previous school troubles.
"I promise," she said with the utmost sincerity. There was also a bit of hope, too.
Heading to the principles office, Buffy saw her sister exit, holding up her schedule and grinning. "Got all the courses I wanted. This is going to be great!" She spat out before running down the hall.
"Well, at least one of us got off easy," Buffy said aloud, walking into the principle's office.
As she entered the office, she noticed the semi-old looking man staring out of the window. Taking the seat in front of his desk, Buffy cleared her throat.
Spinning around, the man looked at Buffy, and then walked over to his desk.
"Hi, I'm Principle Flutie. I'm guessing you are..." He trailed off, looking through a stack of papers. "Ah, here we are. Buffy Summers, sophomore, late of Hemery High in Los Angeles. Interesting record, quite a career." He said.
The whole meeting had Buffy wondering what she did to deserve this, and as she watched him try to fumble with the sheet of paper he had ripped up just moments previous while trying to converse with her, she felt her head start to spin. Thankfully, he finally let her out.
Getting up, Buffy walked out with her head down. Opening the door, she started to look through her bag, and was bumped into by a pair of students walking by, scattering all her stuff around.
"Oh! Sorry!" Buffy panicked.
"That's ok," came the reply from the girl Buffy bumped into. As the pair walked off, Buffy began to pick up her stuff.
"Can I have you," a new voice spoke up.
Confused, and not sure if her hearing was doing her justice, Buffy looked up. In front of her was a young man with brown hair.
"Uh. Can I help you?" He tried again, chuckling.
Happy for a little bit of help, Buffy smiled up. "Thanks."
"I don't know you, do I?" the boy tried his hand at conversation.
"I'm Buffy. I'm new," Buffy introduced herself.
"Xander. Is, is me. Hi." Xander tried to reply.
"Um, thanks," Buffy said as she put the last item back into her bag. At least, what she thought was the last item.
Getting up to walk off, Xander spoke up again. "Well, uh, maybe I'll see you around. Maybe at school, since...we...both go there."
"Great. It was nice to meet you." Buffy said, walking off. She couldn't help but think how similar Xander and her sister were when they were nervous. Well, minus the stutter.
Realizing she might run into someone else if she didn't, Buffy lifted her head, and walked to her first class. "Ugh, History." Buffy didn't like anything school related, and history was no exception.
Entering the room, Buffy got ready for a long morning.
Across the hall, Buffy's sister was heading to the library. Having a first period spare was going to be fun, she hoped as she quickened her pace. Perhaps it was a Summers gene that did it, but somehow, she managed to run into someone on her way, too. Dropping her book bag, all of her stuff managed to stay in. However, it was more than she could attest for the younger girl who hit the ground with a thud and had books lying in four or five different places.
"Oh, God, I'm so s-s-sorry." She said, quickly picking up her stuff before helping the other girl up. Getting her first clear look at her, Buffy's sister noticed that the girl had long red hair and an interesting wardrobe.
"Here, let me help you," she offered.
"Oh, thanks. Umm...I'm Willow," the redhead responded.
"Tara. Pleasure to meet you," Tara replied.
"Same here," Willow replied. "Umm, not that I like to meet people like this. I don't, like, go around and run into people that I want to meet," Willow babbled on.
Laughing, Tara was quick to reassure the girl. "That's ok; I was the one that wasn't paying attention."
"N-no, it was me. I was so excited to get to the library. They've got this new shipment of books in. 'Ancient Artifacts of Egypt'." Willow looked over, and then continued her ramble. "And I'm the dullest person alive, huh?"
Shaking her head, Tara smiled. "You have a first spare? I do, too. Maybe you could show me around? I'm new," she told Willow. "I was heading to the library, too. Of course, caught up in my excitement of having a first period spare, I forgot to find out where it was. Oh, and to look up." She explained.
As they reached the library, Willow whispered to Tara. "They've got a new librarian. He's British, but nice," she filled her in as they walked in. "If you don't mind, I'd like to quickly get a couple of books from up there," Willow said, heading for the stairs.
As Tara tried to find something that interested her, she noticed a newspaper on the front desk. Always liking an early read, she picked it up. As she began to read, she felt a light tap on her shoulder.
Spinning around, she saw a man that was probably around 45 years' old wearing glasses. "Hello," Tara squeaked, still trying to find her breath.
"Can I help you?" He asked with an English accent. Deciding he was probably the librarian, Tara quickly got out her timetable.
"Well, I could use some books. I'm new." Tara replied.
"Miss Summers?" He asked.
"Good call. Guess we're the only new guys," Tara whispered to herself, surprised. The librarian failed to hear her, though. "Uh, yes, that'd be me."
"I'm Mr. Giles. The, uh, librarian," he replied nervously. "I was told you were coming."
"Oh. Well, I'm going to need 'Geometry and Integers...'"
Giles cut her off. "I know what you're after..." he said, grabbing a book from under the table, and throwing in onto the top of the desk. The cover read 'VAMPYR'.
Startled, Tara quickly back peddled. "Oh, no. T-t-that's not me. Uh, you want my, uh, s-s-sister. Uh, then again, she said she's not going to, uh, do that anymore, so, uh, that might be an even funnier story," she finally breathed, flashing a small smile.
"Oh, well, in that case," Giles replied, quickly replied, putting the book away quickly. "What was it you were looking for, then?"
As Tara got ready to read them out again, Giles did a double take.
"Did you say 'she's not going to do that anymore?'" He inquired.
"Uh, sort of," Tara replied.
Quickly escorting her into his office, Giles motioned for her to sit down. "I'm guessing you already know your sister, umm, Buffy, is the slayer, right?" He began. Surprised that he knew her sister's name, Tara couldn't help but wonder why he didn't get some photos or at least a description of her. Realizing he hadn't received an answer yet, she quickly nodded her head.
"And I'm guessing you know about everything she does?" He continued his interrogation.
"Well, yeah. I d-d-do some magicks. I was doing them before she was c-c-called, so she f-f-figured she could tell me. Our mom and dad don't know, though." She clarified.
"Could you be more specific as to what you said?" Giles asked.
"Well, umm, don't tell her I said it, then," she bargained.
When he nodded, she continued. "Well, after she burned down the school gym. Well, I helped a little. Wet matches don't light as well as a little fire spell. Anyway, afterwards, she was expelled, so she decided to quit slaying. I tried to talk her out of it, but she wouldn't budge. I told mom that we could move so that Buffy could get into another school, and here we are." She finished.
"Interesting. We've heard of rogue slayers before, but not one that just abandon's her duty." Giles thought out loud. "This is going to be difficult."
Getting up, Tara headed out. "Yes, I do think so. Good luck!" She said, hurrying out. Noticing Willow looking slightly worried, she walked over.
"Sorry, Mr. Giles said he had a book I needed in his office," she fibbed. Nodding, Willow led them both over to the table in the middle of the room.
They spent the rest of the period reading and talking idly before heading out to their first classes of the day.
As Buffy left history with Cordelia, she was feeling confident that she would fit in here. Cordelia was helping a lot, too.
"Well, you'll be ok here. If you hang with me and mine, you'll be accepted in no time. Of course, we do have to test your coolness factor. You're from L.A., so you can skip the written. Let's see...Vamp nail polish?" Cordelia spat out.
Almost knocked over by the first question, Buffy had to struggle to answer. "Umm, over?"
"So over," Cordelia said to her relief. "James Spader?"
"He so needs to call me," Buffy replied dreamily.
"Frappaccinos?" Cordelia asked.
"Trendy, but tasty," Buffy recalled.
"The Devil!" Buffy exclaimed.
"That was pretty much a gimme, but, you passed!"
Breathing a sigh of relief, Buffy let out an, "Oh goody," as they reached the water fountain.
"Willow! Nice dress! Good to know you've seen the softer side of Sears." Cordelia taunted.
As Buffy walked up, she noticed Willow, and thought there was something about her that reminded her of Tara.
"Oh, uh, well, my m-m-mom picked it out," she responded.
Buffy couldn't help but laugh. However, it wasn't for the reason that Willow thought. Buffy really thought that she talked just like Tara. It was also starting to creep her out a little. Two people had already had similar speech patterns as her sister.
"No wonder you're such a guy magnet. Are you done?" Cordelia asked harshly.
Giving Willow a sympathetic look, Buffy watched her go.
"You wanna fit in here; the first rule is: know your losers. Once you can identify them all by sight, they're a lot easier to avoid." Cordelia said.
Continuing their walk, Cordelia continued to fill Buffy in on life in Sunnydale.
"And if you're not too swamped tonight, you should head to the Bronze tonight," she said.
"The who?" Buffy asked, confused.
"The Bronze. It's the only club in town worth going to around here. They let anybody in, but it's still the scene. It's in the bad part of town."
Interested, despite herself, Buffy asked, "Where's that?"
"About a half a block from the good part of town. We don't have a lot of town here. But, um, you should show." Cordelia explained, as only she could.
"Well. I'll try." Buffy said, "Uh, thanks," she continued, noticing that she was at the library.
Heading into the library, Buffy felt spooked.
"Hello? Is anybody here?" She questioned.
Noticing the same paper that Tara had earlier, she was drawn to the headline. Not hearing the person walk in behind her, she was startled when he tapped her shoulder.
"Ooh, anybody's here," she tried to joke.
"Can I help you?" Giles decided to try the same approach as earlier.
"I was looking for some, well, books. I'm new."
"Ah, yes. Buffy Summers?" Giles wanted to be absolutely sure it was her this time.
"Yeah, that's me." She replied, slightly confused. Who was this guy that seemed to know her so well?
"I'm Mr. Giles, the librarian," He replied, a little quicker than before. "I was, err, told you would be coming."
"Great! So, um, I'm gonna need 'Perspectives on 20th Century...'" Buffy was cut off.
"You'll need no such things. Here's what you want." Giles said, pulling out the same book as earlier.
"Uh, that's not what I came here for," Buffy replied, now on edge.
"Are you sure?" Giles asked, confused. Even with the earlier warning, he still was shocked.
"I'm way sure," Buffy replied. As she saw Giles move to put the book back, she decided to use it to her advantage and get out of the place.
As Giles stood up, he saw the door swing close. "Damn, this is going to harder than I though."
Walking fast to get out of the place, Buffy once again didn't look where she was going. As Buffy landed hard on her tailbone, she looked up, ready to apologies. "I'm---Tara, what are the chances?" She giggled, before realizing that she might be hurt. "Are you alright?"
Literally running into her sister had been common place before, but never in school. "Well, I've gotten used to it, but not with the crowd," she muttered.
"So, how's day one gone for you?" Buffy tried, rather bored. She figured any conversation would be a welcome relief.
"Oh, well, first period was a spare, and I've somehow managed to still be late for second period. Go figure," came the reply.
"Seen anyone yet? I'm dying to meet someone that's not an annoying spoiled brat," Buffy muttered, recalling her earlier encounter with Cordelia.
"Actually, yes. Bumped into a girl on my way to the library. She's nice. Smart, too. You might want to meet her. Knowing you, you'll probably need all the help you can get," Tara muttered the last part, but it was still loud enough for Buffy to hear, as the soft punch to her shoulder let her know. Well, at least soft compared to Buffy's usual punches.
Moving in closer, Buffy got a slight glint in her eyes. "Was she cute?" She whispered.
Despite the shock in Tara's face, she did manage to nod. "What does she look like?" Buffy continued.
"Oh, w-w-well, red hair, green eyes, about your height. Err, interesting fashion sense." Tara described.
"Oh! The girl with the stutter. I saw her!" Buffy nearly shrieked.
"You met her?" Tara asked, shocked.
"Well, not really met, met. More like ran into and, umm, laughed at. Umm, not in the, uh, teasing way. More like, 'she's so much like Tara' way," Buffy said. "Maybe I should stop digging that hole, huh?" She stopped herself.
"Well, um, I'd better get to class before the sun goes down," Tara said, desperate to get out of there.
"Oh, yeah. I'd better do the same. See you later!" Buffy waived, and ran down to her next class. "Drama, fun," she muttered bitterly.
As her last morning class ended, and Buffy headed out for lunch, she wandered around until she found herself outside in the quad. "Looks like the best place," she muttered.
Walking towards the centre of the place, Buffy noticed the girl she saw earlier. "Well, Tara did say I should meet her. What a better time then now?" She whispered to herself, walking over.
"Uh, hi! Willow, right?" Buffy tried to recall.
"Why? I mean hi. Uhh, d-did you want me to move?" Willow once again stuttered, ready to get up.
Deciding to go to square one, Buffy was quick to stop her. "Why don't we start with 'Hi, I'm Buffy' and then let's segue directly into me asking you for a favour. It doesn't involve moving, but it does involve hanging out with me for a while." As Buffy reminded herself to breath, she noticed an unbelieving look on the redhead's face.
"But aren't you hanging out with Cordelia?" She asked.
"Can't I do both?" Buffy responded with her own question.
"Not legally," Willow responded.
Thinking that she should explain herself more clearly, Buffy replied. "Well, I really want to get by here, new school, and, Cordelia's been really nice. Err, to me, anyway, but, umm, I kinda have this burning desire not to flunk all my classes, and I heard a rumour that you were the person to talk to if I wanted to get caught up."
"Oh, I can totally help you out! Uh, whenever you have a period free, I can meet you in the library," Willow responded.
"Or not," Buffy quickly replied. Seeing Willow's confused expression, she continued hurriedly. "Or we could meet somewhere quieter. Uh, louder. Uh, that place just gives me the wiggins," Buffy tried to explain.
"Oh, it has that effect on most kids," Willow responded, understanding. "I love it, though. It's a great collection, and the new librarian is really cool."
"He's new?" Buffy repeated, disbelieving.
"Yeah, he just started. He was the curator as some British museum, or the British museum, I'm not sure. But he knows everything, and he brought all these historical volumes and biographies, and am I the single dullest person alive?" Willow rambled on.
"Not at all," Buffy reassured her. Looking up, Buffy saw Xander jump up in between them, and another person she hadn't seen before walk up in front.
"Hey," the stranger spoke up.
"You guys busy? Are we interrupting? We're interrupting," Xander spoke quickly.
"Hey," Buffy and Willow both replied.
"Hey, there," the stranger acknowledged Buffy.
"Buffy, this is Jesse and that's Xander," Willow introduced.
"Oh, me and Buffy go way back. Old friends, very close. Then there's that period of estrangement where I think we were both growing as people, but now here we are, like old times, I'm quite moved," Xander fibbed, almost causing Buffy to laugh.
"Is it me, or are you turning into a bibbling idiot?" Jesse spoke up.
"No, it's...it's not you," Xander replied quietly.
"Well, it's nice to meet you guys, I think," Buffy replied, unsure of herself.
Continuing their conversation, Buffy was enjoying the company of these strangers, despite the slight awkwardness when Xander revealed the stake she accidentally left behind, even if she didn't make it obvious. The last person she wanted to see at that moment decided to make her life a living hell at that moment, though.
"Are these guys bothering you," Cordelia asked.
"Oh, no," Buffy quickly reassured.
"She's not hanging out with us," Willow replied, much to Buffy's disappointment.
"Well, I don't mean to interrupt your downward mobility, but I just wanted to tell you that you won't be meeting Coach Foster, the woman with the chest hair, because gym was cancelled due to the extreme dead guy in the locker." Cordelia rambled, as if it was a normal occurrence.
"What?" Buffy almost shouted, feeling a slight sense of déjà vu.
"What are you talking about," Willow supplied.
"Some guy was stuffed in Aura's locker," Cordelia tried again.
"Dead?" Buffy asked, wanting to make sure.
"Totally dead. Way dead," Cordelia replied, hoping to get her point across.
"It's not just a little dead, then?" Xander remarked sarcastically.
"Don't you have an elsewhere to be?" Cordelia retorted.
"How did he die?" Buffy asked out of the blue, surprising even herself.
"I don't know," Cordelia replied.
"Well, were there any marks?" Buffy tried again.
"Morbid much? I didn't ask," Cordelia said, exasperated.
"Um, I gotta book. I'll see you guys later," Buffy said, standing up and beginning to walk off. As she entered the school she broke off into a slight run.
Not surprisingly, the door to the gym locker room was locked. With a little effort, Buffy was able to force it open. Not stopping to inspect the damage, she walked in quickly, noticing the covered body sitting in the middle of the room.
Lifting the blanket, she found what she feared most. Vampire marks. "Oh, great!" Buffy remarked.
After a long, lengthy, and in the end, futile attempt to make Buffy face her destiny, Giles was spending the next period his office, drinking some tea and reading a new book.
The knock at the door startled him, and as he walked over to see who was there, he was surprised to see the Slayer's sister standing before him.
"Sorry, I forgot something here. Mind if I come in?" Tara asked, squeezing through.
"Sure," Giles replied to himself, mostly, as he watched Tara rummage through a few things. "I wasn't wrong when I said Buffy was going to be difficult," he continued, mostly to himself.
"She dropped by? Well, that's surprising in itself. I was wondering what the Council was thinking putting a watcher in a school library," Tara replied absentmindedly.
"She dropped by twice. The first time, she ran out just as quickly as she came in, and the second time, she seemed rather confused. Don't know if she knows what fate is, exactly," Giles supplied, trying to formulate a plan in his mind.
"She'll be at the Bronze tonight," Tara let out unconsciously. "Ah, here it is," she said as she picked up what looked like a necklace from Giles' desk.
"What?" Giles finally responded, missing what Tara had said.
"Oh. It's an old charm that I found back in LA. Can be used for some pretty useful spells..." Tara was cut of in the middle of her explanation.
"No, before that," Giles said, impatiently.
"Oh. Uh, Buffy'll be at the Bronze tonight with Cordelia," Tara repeated.
"Of course!" Giles exclaimed, almost knocking Tara down with the force of his voice.
"Umm, of course?" Tara asked, confused.
"Well, where else would she go to get away from fate than a normal social gathering? The place will probably be filled with vampires, though. It's the perfect situation," Giles thought, not noticing the wrong impression he gave.
"Perfect, huh?" Tara said, surprised.
"Well, I guess not. I mean..." Giles tried to recover.
"Well, in any case, I've got a class to get to. Good luck with that mission tonight," Tara said with a slight chuckle as she bounded out of the room.
"Always the good luck. Of course, she couldn't just go and actually give me luck," Giles said under his breath as he watched the figure disappear.
"We can't get out of here fast enough."
The familiar voice startled Tara out of her wits as she accidentally slammed her book shut, effectively losing her spot. Looking up at offending party, she gave a slight nod at Buffy.
"Have fun at school as always?" She replied sarcastically, winning her a glare from Buffy.
"Well, sometime between math and drama, I decided that school sucks, but that'll probably change tomorrow," Buffy replied in the same tone.
"And I'd bet that librarian isn't helping things, either," Tara replied.
"Well, yeah, he is really going to put a damper on this school year..." Buffy trailed off. "How did you know that?" She asked, accusingly.
"Umm. I s-s-saw him during my f-first period spare. Pretty obvious that h-he's a watcher. I mean, they all are about the s-same age, with that same hairstyle and I t-t-think the glasses are always from the same place," Tara tried to cover, though her stutter was likely going to arouse some suspicion from her sister.
"Yeah. Why do they want to follow me, anyway? I thought I made it clear already what my intentions are for the rest of my life. Finish school and spend the rest of my life manning a drive-thru at some local McDonald's," Buffy said, trying to keep her voice even and serious.
"You're not that bad. I see prison guard better. I mean, you have the muscle for it," Tara retorted, laughing.
"Muscle, huh?" Buffy replied, with a mock look of hurt on her face.
As Buffy began to advance, they both heard the familiar honk of their mother's vehicle, which caused Tara to let out a sigh of relief.
"Perfect timing, as always," Tara said, getting in while giving a grin to her mother. Upon the look, she continued. "Buffy was about to get even with me. Knowing her, I'd hate to have found out what exactly it was."
"Oh, well, glad to be of help. I'll have to remember this when I get into a tight situation with you," their mother replied with a smile. "So, how were your days?"
"It was great!"
"It was horrible!"
Both girls replied at the same time, causing their mother to look at them both.
"Well, can't say I'm surprised," she supplied.
They spent the rest of the dive home talking, or maybe more like arguing, about how great or horrible the new school was.
"I need a new wardrobe!" Buffy shouted to herself angrily.
"Hey, keep in down in there. Me and that invisible person you're talking to might go deaf soon," Tara replied, seriously.
"Oh. Sorry, it's just, everyone from around here is supposed to be there, and I want to look normal," Buffy replied, eying a couple more dresses disgustedly. "I forgot I don't really own anything casual anymore. Everything is black in here."
"Just find something simple. White shirt, black pants. Those always look good," Tara tried to help.
Huffing, Buffy moved over to the next box. Opening it, she lifted out a blue jacket quickly. "I haven't seen this in ages."
"You haven't touched that since homecoming. Weren't those times?" Tara thought aloud.
"Yeah, although I still am insulted that you thought I needed that spell to win. I think I would have swept the votes anyway," Buffy replied.
"Hey. I just got that book, and the spell just happened to be on the first page. Besides, you wouldn't have swept. I voted for Rachel. She was much prettier, and had better fashion sense," Tara said, careful not to over-provoke Buffy.
"You're pure evil, you know that? I should slay you right here, right now," Buffy cackled, pretending to reach into her jacket. She suddenly pulled the hand back out. "Actually, I've got a better way to get back at you, your evilness. I'm sure there'd be a certain redhead you've got the hots for at the Bronze. Perhaps I should try to play matchmaker."
"You wouldn't! I mean, I don't even know...A-and besides, we b-b-barely know each other," Tara struggled.
"Well, why don't you come along and make sure I don't," Buffy replied. She knew she had her cornered. Blackmail sure was fun.
"W-well. You know how I hate bars. J-just don't say anything too stupid," Tara said, defeated.
"Fine, have it your way. I'll try to keep things civilized," Buffy said as Tara slouched out of the room. Looking down, she noticed a magazine on the floor.
"Oh, you forgot your..." Buffy stopped as her mother walked in, slipping the magazine behind her back. Despite being very open to each other, they held quite a few secrets each from their mother.
"Forgot your what?" She asked.
"Umm..." Buffy stalled, looking for something else that might have been left behind on the floor. A toothbrush, socks...Bingo! Buffy walked over and picked up Tara's old yearbook. "Her freshman yearbook," she remarked triumphantly.
"Isn't that the one she hates? She always complains about that picture from it," her mother commented.
"Yeah. I'd never let her forget it, though. Maybe in a couple years, she may look at it and say, 'hey, I actually looked kinda good back then'," Buffy replied. Walking next door, she delivered the package quietly before returning to her own room. Picking up the dresses she had rummaged through earlier in the evening, she put them into her closet.
"Are you, uh, going out tonight?" Her mother asked, noticing the articles of clothing lying on Buffy's bed.
"Yeah, I'm going to a club," Buffy replied, thinking of how many times she had used that excuse to do, well, other things.
"Oh. Will there be boys there?" Her mother replied, rather dumbly.
"No, Mom. It's a nun club," Buffy replied sarcastically. She never understood her mother's burning desire to keep her from boys. Perhaps she'd be open to Tara's situation despite her cautiousness.
"Well, just be careful."
"I will," Buffy replied. They'd had similar conversations in the past, but this was the first time Buffy actually believed that she would be careful.
"You know, I think we can make it work here," Buffy's mom continued, enthusiastically. "I've got my positive energy flowing... I'm gonna get the Gallery on its feet. Oh, uh, we may have found a space today."
"That's great," Buffy replied, not really paying attention anymore. She was actually rather busy trying to remember where the Bronze was, exactly. Was it 125 or 251?
"Oh, and that school is a, a very nurturing environment, which is just what you need," her mother continued
"Well, actually..." Buffy started, thinking mostly about the librarian.
"Oh, not too nurturing. I know, you're sixteen, I've read all about the dangers of over-nurturing. It's hard. New town and everything. It is for me, too. I'm trying to make it work. I'm going to make it work," her mother said forcefully.
"We are," Buffy nodded. "Umm, but we can make it work tomorrow. Right now, I have places to be."
"Oh. Well, can I, um, maybe drive you there?" Her mom offered.
"Sixteen, mom. I don't like being nurtured," Buffy mocked with a smile.
"Oh, right. Well, I'll go then. Have fun!" She said, walking out.
After getting dressed, Buffy walked out into the night.
The night at the Bronze was interesting. Despite ignoring it, Buffy knew in the back of her mind that it would be.
It started during the walk there, as she turned the corner off her new street (Revello, she reminded herself, was its name). Despite his obviously experience at stalking, Buffy's hearing still caught the sound of footsteps. Turning, she saw no one, so she continued on her way.
After heading into an alleyway, she decided to display her own stealth abilities, as she climbed up onto a bar.
The whole run-in with the self-proclaimed 'friend' left Buffy unsure of anything, and more than a little wigged with the information he had given. Plus, the sense of déjà vu she got when she opened the box he threw her, revealing a necklace with a metal cross, wasn't very inviting, either.
Now walking into the Bronze, Buffy was looking to ignore the whole incident and just have a good time. Running into Willow, she couldn't help but strike up a conversation about her love life, or apparent lack-thereof.
Stealing a glance above her, she managed to catch a glance of the school librarian-slash-watcher, and immediately went up to see what his story was.
After another futile attempt by Giles to knock some sense into Buffy, the pair noticed Willow leaving with what Buffy had managed to identify as an obvious vampire. Swinging into action, Buffy managed to creep out Cordelia before deciding the pair must have headed outside.
Now, walking aimlessly on a clear evening, Buffy was attempting to figure out how to go about this rescue mission. Xander's appearance gave her a good distraction.
"Xander! Have you seen Willow?" She asked simply.
"Not tonight, no," he responded, curious.
"She left with a guy," Buffy said, not realizing that the information wouldn't help much.
"We're talking about Willow, right? Scoring at the Bronze, work it girl..." Xander was interrupted in the middle of his ramblings.
"I need to find her. Where would he take her?" Buffy said, impatiently.
"Why? Oh, hey, I hope he's not a vampire, because then you might have to slay him," Xander replied teasingly, not exactly believing his own words. For Buffy, however, it was a different story.
"Was there a-a school bulletin? Was it i-in the newspaper? Is there anyone in this town who doesn't know I'm the Slayer?" Buffy replied, flabbergasted.
"All I know is you think you're the slayer. And the reason I know that is..." Xander was once again unable to finish his thought.
"Well, whatever. Just tell me, where would Willow go?" Buffy said, starting back at square one.
"You're serious," Xander said, shocked.
"If we don't find her, there's going to be one more dead body in the morning," Buffy said, hoping to get through to him.
"Well, I'd think the ice cream bar near Hamilton Street might be a good place to start," Xander said after thinking.
"Ok. I'm going to make a quick call first," Buffy said, digging in her pocket for a quarter.
Dialing the still foreign number to her house, she waited impatiently for someone to pick up. On the fourth ring, someone finally did.
"H-hello. Summers' residence," said the voice on the other end. Buffy breathed a quick sigh of relief. Her mother didn't pick up.
"Tara? It's Buffy. I need you to come here. I'm at the Bronze. You know where it is, right?" Buffy said, rather quickly.
"Yeah. What's up? This better not be another one of your practical jokes," Tara said. She had gotten used to Buffy's quick instructions, and also gotten used to doubting them.
"Vampire. He took Willow. I need all the help I can get," Buffy said, hoping Tara would believe her.
"Oh. Well, ok, I'm on my way. I've gotta leave Mom a note, though. She's out looking for a spot for the Gallery again," Tara said.
"Don't take too long," Buffy said, before hanging up.
"Give her about 5 minutes," Buffy said to Xander, walking back over to him.
"5 minutes? Do we have that long?" Xander said, his voice heavy with worry.
"We should. They usually won't just grab someone and feed. They will want a quiet, dark...Oh, I know where they'd go!" Buffy shouted.
Walking quickly to the Bronze, Tara managed to get there without any incidents, and after being quickly briefed on the situation, the group of 3 were now walking quickly towards the cemetery.
"Ok. You two, just make sure Willow gets out of here. I can take care of the guy," Buffy instructed, walking straight to the centre of the cemetery.
Walking in, Buffy noticed that there was also a woman in the building, as was Jesse.
"Well, this is nice. I-it's a little bare, but a dash of paint, a few throw pillows...call it home," Buffy mocked, hoping to buy some time.
As Buffy and the two vamps continued to shoot comments back and forth, Tara and Xander had managed to sneak in behind and were now sitting beside Willow and Jesse.
"Are you two ok?" Tara asked, whispering.
"A little woozy," Jesse replied.
Looking up, the group saw the first vampire dust. Tara silently cheered, while the other three gasped.
Getting their cue to leave, Tara and Xander helped carry the other two out. They didn't get far, though, before running into another group of vampires.
Thinking quickly, Tara said a couple words, and watched as a pair of vampires who got to close went up in flames.
"Split up," she shouted to Xander, who was still stunned and speechless after Tara's display. Putting Jesse's arm around her shoulder, she started towards a small forest.
They were quickly surrounded, however, and Tara was heavily drained, magic-wise, so she had no chance to defend herself. Within seconds, everything went black.
Meanwhile, Buffy had just gotten herself out of a tough jam against a very strong vampire, and was now looking around the cemetery for her companions.
A growl and loud scream grabbed her attention, and within seconds, Buffy had knocked a vamp off Willow.
After a short staring contest, Buffy finally gained her bearings again, and started to search for the others. Willow joined her, and soon found Xander, looking a little worse for wear while being dragged by a pair of vamps.
"Xander!" Willow shouted, diverting attention to herself. This gave Buffy the chance to strike. Kicking the first vampire away, she quickly found a small twig on a nearby tree and staked the second vampire.
Running up to the pair, Buffy saw Xander coming to. "Where's Jesse?"
"We split up. He and that girl went off that way," he responded, pointing towards the small group of trees.
Through all the panicking, Willow had yet to realize who 'that girl' was. "The girl with the odd face? My God, we've got to find them..."
"No. The other girl. Who is she, anyway? And what was it that she did there?" Xander asked.
"We can get to that later. You guys stay here. If you see anyone else, just shout," Buffy said, turning towards where Xander had pointed.
About 5 minutes later, she had decided they'd disappeared, and hurried back to help Willow and Xander out of there.
As Tara finally slid into consciousness, she was fairly aware of her surroundings.
In the darkness, she wasn't able to make out too much, but the little she did see told her she was, once again, in a sewer system.
"How often do we have to do this drill?" She whispered to herself, trying to stay as limp as possible, as to not draw the attention of whoever was dragging/carrying her.
As they were dropped into what appeared to be some sort of holding cell, Tara kept one eye slightly open, waiting for the vampire to leave. As soon as she was sure she was alone, she sat bolt-upright, and quickly tested out her limbs.
After that, she quickly realized she was actually well rested, and decided to cast a quick spell. As she noticed Jesse stirring next to her, she attempted to get his attention.
"Jesse?" The queried, not entirely sure she had the name right.
A groan was all she got in response. As the person's eyes opened, he was startled to see a person looking through bars beside him.
"Who are you? What's going on?" The questions were loud and demanding.
"Relax. Just come here, and everything will be fine," Tara replied, hoping he would let it slide for now. She didn't want to explain the whole thing. The vampires would probably do the job for her in a few minutes, anyway. Knowing them, they probably would brag about themselves.
"Why should I trust you?" Jesse shot back, staring as though Tara had 3 heads.
"Well, for one thing, I happen to be in the same predicament as you, and plus, would you rather trust me, or those disfigured people out in the hallway?" Tara said, getting a little impatient.
After a second of contemplation, Jesse hesitantly walked towards the bars, and stood, looking cautiously at Tara. "Now what?"
"Give me your hand," Tara said. After Jesse reluctantly did as he was told, Tara held it gently, and mumbled a couple words under her breath. "That will protect you from them. Anything they say, just do it. Nothing will happen to you within the next few hours, no matter what they say."
Looking at his hand, then back up at Tara, Jesse found himself at a loss of words.
"W-what are you, a witch?" He said, slowly backing up.
"We prefer the word 'wiccan', but witch is a popular one, too," Tara responded, flashing a smile.
At that moment, Jesse fainted again, and Tara could only sigh. "Buffy, please hurry. I don't think I can take this much longer."
Walking into the school library, Buffy cautiously looked around for Giles. The Watcher was not present, though, and Buffy sighed loudly, very frustrated.
"Can't anyone be around when you need them?"
Xander and Willow came in behind her a couple seconds later, looking shaken and confused, not to mention tired.
"Is this all we can do?" Xander asked for about the one hundredth time. It had become pretty obvious to Buffy in the few hours that she'd known him that Xander wasn't one for sitting around.
"Well, probably not, but this has happened many times. Tara's never failed, obviously. They should be fine. Her magic will keep them safe."
"She's your sister?" Willow said, still not sure how true that confession was. Then again, they did look alike, at least to some extent. Blonde hair, blue eyes, and perhaps if Buffy wasn't a slayer, they'd have a similar build, too.
"Blood kin. That's what she likes to call us, anyway. I've asked myself that question enough times to believe it's true, too," Buffy responded.
Buffy took a spot near the front desk, leaning against the wall. Willow and Xander took seats around the main brown table.
"Why didn't we go searching for them?" Xander asked, still a little bit angered at Buffy's insistence for waiting.
"It would have been useless. Besides, we needed to make sure we got home. It could have taken the whole night to find them," Buffy replied.
"Speaking of that, how did you explain Tara to your mother?" Willow responded, curious.
"Well, she didn't notice she was gone until the morning, so I just said she went early to get caught up. It always works," Buffy replied smugly.
"Hello," Giles greeted, coming in. "Willow, Xander...Buffy?"
"Yeah, hi. We've got a few MIA's. Do you know much about this town, or should I start the aimless search?" Buffy replied, getting to the point, and ignoring the warning tone in her Watcher's voice.
Moving towards Buffy, Giles kept his voice low. "Uh. Secret identity?"
"Oh. Um, well, I'd like to know how long you can stay in the shadows with a town that is this attentive," Buffy shot back, trying in vain to defend herself.
"Remember the 'never getting to tell anyone because I might endanger them' problem?" Scolded Giles.
"W-well, I didn't tell them. At least not purposely...Anyway, we've got a couple missing people. We can deal with my lack of a secret identity after the conflict is solved," Buffy said, impatiently.
"You're sitting here while there are people missing? Why aren't you out looking for them?" Giles said, agitated.
"I tried that already. She didn't listen," Xander replied.
"Tara can handle her own. Jesse will be fine, too," Buffy said, hoping to reassure them.
"You left your own sister?" Giles asked, shocked.
"How'd...Never mind. She can handle her own. She's disappeared a few times before. It always turned out that I would have been better off letting her do her thing instead of running like a chicken with her head cut off," Buffy responded, growing frustrated.
"Well, what leads do we have?" Giles said, looking for some information.
"Beyond a few vamps whose intent was to take as many kids as they could, there's nothing," Buffy replied. "By the time I started looking for them, they could have just 'voom'."
"They can fly?" Xander asked, confused.
"They can drive," Buffy clarified.
"I don't remember hearing a car," Willow offered, trying to recall the previous night's ordeal.
"Let's take an enormous intuitive leap, shall we, and say they went underground," Giles threw in sarcastically.
"Vampires really jam on sewer systems," Buffy filled in. "You can get anywhere in the entire town without catching any rays. But I didn't see any access around there."
"Well, there's an electrical tunnel that runs under the whole town," Xander informed the group.
"If we had a diagnostic of the tunnel system it might indicate a, a meeting place, it would, uh...I suppose we could go to the building commission," Giles said, hoping to come up with something useful.
"We so don't have time," Buffy said, knowing it could take a day just to get a chance to talk to someone.
"Uh, guys? There may be another way," Willow said, tentatively.
Feeling bored, Tara tried to listen to the vampires gloating, but after hearing things similar in the past couple years, it was beginning to wear thin. Jesse, on the other hand, was fascinated by what he was hearing, not to mention petrified.
"I thought you guys as nothing more than a meal. Congratulations, you've just been upgraded to bait," the one that was known as Luke said, stepping towards them dangerously.
Despite the situation, Tara couldn't help but roll her eyes. Knowing the next move, she made no move to avoid it, and tried her best to make sure Jesse did the same. A pair of vampires approached, and began draining blood from both apparent victims.
Despite the real feel to the occurrence, Tara knew it was just the spell, and started counting her lucky stars for perhaps the 20th time in her life, and she collapsed.
The vampire blood still wore on her, and she couldn't help but scream bloody murder in her mind as it was forced into her. Next to her, she heard a mumble from Jesse, who still didn't know exactly what was going on, nor did he know how lucky he was at the moment.
About 5 minutes later, both were chained, and left in open space, where the vampires knew they would be found by the slayer in due time.
As Tara felt the spell begin to wear off, her strength returned, and so did the horrible taste in her mouth. Keeping her eyes closed, she softly nudged Jesse, and whispered to him to keep still. They were still being watched, and if it was apparent that the pair were not vampires, they wouldn't be very lucky again.
"What about there?" Xander pointed for the umpteenth time in the past few minutes. Another shake by the redhead working the computer caused Xander to groan.
"There it is," Buffy said, sure of herself.
"That runs under the graveyard," Willow confirmed.
"I don't see any access," Xander added, discouraged.
"So, all the city plans are just, uh, open to the public?" Giles said, confused.
"Um, well, i-in a way. I sort of stumbled onto them when I accidentally decrypted the city council's security system," Willow said, trying to keep it inconspicuous.
"Someone's been naughty," Xander said. He'd gotten very used to saying that when he was around Willow with a computer.
"There's nothing here. This is useless," Buffy said, her frustration getting the better of her.
"I think you're being a bit hard on yourself," Giles said.
"You're the one that told me that I wasn't prepared enough. Understatement! I thought I was on top of everything, and then that monster, Luke, came out of nowhere..." Buffy paused, thinking.
"What?" Xander asked, growing impatient. Buffy had just figured out something important, he was sure, and he was still unsure about the whole vampire thing, let alone the whole underground sewer idea.
"He didn't come out of nowhere. He came from behind me," Buffy pieced it together. "I was facing the entrance, he came from behind me, and he didn't follow me out. The access to the tunnels is in the mausoleum! They must have snuck back behind us after I reached Xander. God! I am so mentally challenged!"
"So what's the plan, we saddle up?" Xander asked, eagerly.
"There's no 'we'," Buffy replied, growing a little impatient herself. "I'm the slayer. I have to do this alone."
"I get it. I'm inadequate, less than a man," Xander said, his ego given a large shot.
Relenting, Buffy decided that she could use the backup. After all, if the pair of them were any worse they were last time Tara had disappeared, she could use the extra strength.
"Oh, fine. But no fighting. Stick behind me, and don't do anything I don't tell you to," she relented.
After Willow had received her own instructions, the pair were off on their rescue mission. Task one was getting past Principal Flutie.
Once that problem was averted, mostly by Xander finding an alternate way around, and Buffy jumping over the tall fence, they continued their way off to the cemetery.
Entering the mausoleum, Buffy quickly located a door at the back, and motioned for Xander to follow. Just as they reached it, Buffy heard someone behind her.
"I don't suppose you've got a key on you," Buffy said, startling Xander beside her.
"W-well, no..." He started quietly, before realizing it wasn't him she was talking to. Spinning around, he saw a man dressed mostly in black.
"They really don't like me dropping in," he responded.
Spinning around, Buffy looked at him with annoyance. "Why not?"
"They really don't like me," the stranger replied, matter-of-factly.
"How could that possibly be?" Buffy asked, sarcastically.
"I knew you'd figure out this entryway sooner or later. Actually, I thought it was gonna be a little sooner," he said, changing the topic.
"Sorry you had to wait," Buffy shot back. "Okay. Look, if you're gonna be popping up with this Cryptic Wise Man act on a regular basis, can you at least tell me your name?"
"Angel," he replied.
"Angel? Well, it's not the most normal name, but better than 'Satan', right?" Xander finally spoke up, though Buffy really wished he hadn't.
"What's with the kid? Tag along?" Angel said, somewhat humored.
Huffing, Buffy turned towards the door again, ready to force it open.
"Don't...go down there," Angel warned half-heartedly.
"Deal with my going," Buffy retorted, turning back around.
"You shouldn't be putting yourself at risk. Tonight is the Harvest. Unless you can prevent it, the Master walks," Angel warned.
"Well, if this Harvest thing is such a suck-fest, why don't you stop it?" Buffy inquired impatiently.
"'Cause I'm afraid," Angel replied, a hint of laughter in his voice.
Spinning around again, Buffy threw all her strength into a kick that sent the door flying open, ending with a large bang as it hit the wall. Turning back around to face the apparent coward, Buffy just stared for a minute.
"They'll be expecting you," Angel warned, more serious this time.
"I've got a couple friends down there. Or at least a potential friend, and a family member. Do you know what it's like to have a friend?" Buffy replied, waiting for a wisecrack answer back. When it didn't come, she looked curiously at Angel. "That wasn't supposed to be a stumper."
Taking a glance at the pair, Angel decided to drop the warning, and give them some directions. Perhaps they could make it through this little rescue mission.
"When you hit the tunnels head east towards the school," he supplied. "That's where you're likely to find them."
"Gonna wish us luck?" Buffy inquired, staring intently at Angel.
After a few moments of waiting, Buffy turned, and lead the way into the tunnels.
After a few minutes of aimless walking, and slayage talk with Xander, Buffy finally noticed they were getting somewhere. "We're close."
"How can you tell," Xander asked, confused.
"No more rats," Buffy said, somewhat unnerved.
Turning the flashlight Xander had unwittingly brought with him, Xander began searching around for something.
"Jesse!" He shouted, gaining Buffy's attention. He was lying in the middle of the tunnel, with his leg chained. Behind him, she could make out Tara's figure, too.
Watching her stir, she saw Jesse stand up, and Xander quickly walk up towards him.
"You're late," Tara said, matter-of-factly.
"Well, Angel stalled us for a few minutes. Is he really on our side? I'm still not sure," Buffy replied.
"Angel?" Tara asked, curious.
"Are you ok?" Xander spoke up, not hearing, or perhaps ignoring, the conversations between the two women.
"I'm not ok on an epic scale," Jesse replied, extremely freaked.
Looking at the chains, Buffy immediately broke them both. The noise was loud, though. Too loud.
"Do you think anyone heard that?" Xander asked, stupidly.
Looking around, Buffy caught the shadows running towards them.
"Always with the brute force," Tara muttered. "Well, let's go!"
"They knew you were going to come. They said that I...we were the bait," Jesse threw in, looking at Tara.
"Oh, great, now you tell us," Xander said, sarcastically.
Running around the corner, the group ran into a couple vampires blocking the way to the tunnels.
"Is there another way out?" Buffy asked, looking between the pair.
"I-I don't remember. What about that way?" Tara tried, thinking fast.
Leading the way, Tara found herself back in the face of another vampire before they made it too far. Screeching, she turned back, trying to remember something. Coming up with blanks, she starting leading the group aimlessly around the tunnels.
Making it into a dead end, Tara decided to hope they could find some way through the chamber that lay in front of them.
"In here!" She shouted, making a quick turn.
"I don't think this is the way out," Buffy said, growing agitated, not to mention freaked.
"Just keep looking," Tara said, determined.
"We can't fight our way back through those things. What do we do?" Xander said.
Thinking fast, Tara though she'd put that theory to the test. Looking back towards the hallway, she sent a quick spell towards the approaching vampires. No luck.
"Well, so much for that," Tara supplied. Muttering a couple more words, the door slammed shut, and she was now looking around.
Xander used his flashlight, and quickly found what looked like an air duct. "What about up there?"
Buffy looked up, and decided it was the best solution. The banging on the door made her agree once again.
Within seconds, Jesse and Xander were through, while Tara attempted to join them. As soon as Buffy jumped up behind her, the door creaked open.
"Hurry up!" She shouted. She heard the manhole cover lifted, and then heard a pair of hands grasp the opening behind her, pulling their way up.
As she reached the opening, Buffy heard the vampire behind her quickly approaching, and reached up, finding Xander's hand ready to pull her up.
Just when she thought she was home free, she felt a hand grasp her leg, pulling her down again. Her screech got the attention of Tara, who moved over and grasped Buffy's other hand, effectively pulling her leg into the sun.
Falling back with Xander, Buffy looked up, and sighed. "Another productive day on the job."
"Well, I, for one, am happy to see the sun again. I'm never comfortable until I'm back in it," Tara replied.
"Well, lets get back," Buffy said after a few minutes of resting.
Walking into the library about an hour later, they were surprised to find that it had not been deserted yet.
"Did you find Jesse?" Willow asked, looking up.
"Yeah, we found him. He went home. He's a little out of it," Buffy replied.
"W-well, that's good," Willow stated.
"Anything up?" Tara asked, spotting Giles, not to mention his books.
"How about: the end of the world?" Giles said.
"Well, isn't that great," Buffy said, sighing.
"Here's what we know: some sixty years ago, a very old, very powerful vampire came to this shore, not just to feed."
"He came 'cause this town's a mystical who's it?" Buffy supplied.
"Well, yes. The Spanish that first settled here called it 'Boca del Infierno'. Roughly translated, 'Hellmouth'. It's a sort of, um, portal between this reality and the next. This vampire hopes to open it."
"Bring the demons back," Tara said before Buffy could react, shuddering at the thought.
"End of the world," Xander said, copying Tara's reaction.
"But he blew it!" Willow threw in suddenly. "Or, I mean, there was an earthquake that swallowed half the town, and him, too."
"You see," Giles started again. "Opening dimensional portals is tricky business. Odds are he got himself stuck, rather like a, uh, cork in a bottle."
"And this Harvest thing is to get him out," Xander stated, putting two-and-two together.
"It comes once in a century, on this night," Giles nodded. "The Master can draw power from one of his minions while it feeds. Enough power to break free and open the portal. The minion is called the Vessel, and he bears this symbol."
Walking up to the board he had set up, he drew what was best described as a three-pointed star.
"So, I dust anyone sporting that symbol, and no Harvest?" Buffy asked, wondering why it always sounded so easy in her head.
"Simply put, yes," Giles confirmed.
"Any ideas on a location," Tara asked.
"There...there are a number of possibilities," Giles said, unsure of himself.
"They're going to the Bronze," Xander stated.
"Are you sure?" Willow asked. She was still a bit on edge from the previous evening.
"Come on, all those tasty young morsels all over the place," Xander said, trying to make his point.
"He's right," Tara confirmed.
"I've gotta make a stop. Won't take long," Buffy said.
"Why?" Xander asked, impatient.
"Supplies," Buffy and Tara replied simultaneously.
As she walked up her driveway, Buffy cringed as she saw her mother's 4x4 sitting in it, and the lights on inside the house.
"Ok. You guys, start towards the Bronze. We'll catch up. It shouldn't take too long," Buffy ordered, taking a tentative step towards the door.
"Why can't we come in? It's cold out here," Xander complained.
"Trust me; you don't want to come in. Our mother is deadly with new friends. We want to get to the Bronze tonight, not next century," Tara responded, following Buffy.
Walking in, Buffy heard the shower running, and silently cheered.
"Hurry up. Maybe we can be out of here before she's done," Buffy said, rushing up the stairs.
"Might not be a great idea. You know the ideas she gets when we avoid her," Tara said, shaking her head.
"Well, how about you make her a note while I pack? You always seem to enjoy that," Buffy replied, walking into her room. When her sister rushed back down the stairs, she started to fulfill her end of the bargain.
Walking over to open her window slightly, she made sure her door was closed before heading out.
"Ready?" She asked as she approached the door.
"We're all set. Let's go." Tara replied.
After catching up with the rest of the gang, they hurried off to the Bronze.
Finding the back door locked, the group proceeded to split up, with Xander, Willow and Giles heading to the other door, while Buffy looked to get in from the roof and Tara looked for a way to get through the locked door.
Standing in front of the door, Tara was starting to feel exhausted, and the door still had not budged. She'd tried to move the door off its hinges, but she wasn't able to do anything more than rattle it a bit, and then tried to set it on fire, but, being a pretty strong metal, the door remained standing right in its place as the smoke cleared.
Extremely frustrated, Tara was about to charge the door when an idea came to her. She'd been looking at ways to bust through the door, when using the everyday way would probably prove successful. Staring at the doorknob, she used all the strength she had left, and forced it to turn, effectively breaking the rather cheep lock, and letting the door swing open. Luckily, none of the evil occupants in the Bronze saw or heard it, and Tara squeezed herself into the dark building.
As Tara went through her challenge with the front door, Buffy had leaped her way up to the roof and had found an upper window to crawl through.
Looking around at her surroundings, she could hear the screams coming from just beyond the edge of the floor, and then noticed the vampire standing guard at its edge. Catching him by surprise from behind, the vampire hit the ground hard, getting the attention of everyone below.
"Oh, I'm sorry. Were you in the middle of something?" Buffy remarked sarcastically.
"You!" Was the response she got.
"You didn't think I'd miss this, did you?" She replied to the rather simple comment.
"I hoped you'd come," the vampire, Luke, replied.
"Be right down," Buffy warned, moving back a bit.
As Tara listened to the exchange between the two on the stage, she walked over to the other entrance, effectively flaming a couple vampires on her way before opening the door.
As the group got the patrons out of the bar, Tara couldn't help but steal a glance at the stage, and found herself caught up in the battle taking place. This got her mind off the scenery around her, and feeling the vampire lunge at her from behind, she could only make a small 'umph' sound as she was dragged to the ground.
Using all the strength she had left trying to keep the vampire above her so as to keep her neck scratch-free, Tara felt herself losing the battle quickly. Despite her strong abilities with magic, one thing she never mastered was keeping her strength throughout it all.
"Get off of her!" The voice startled Tara, though in her current predicament, it was equally surprising to her that she could have been freaked out more.
She felt the figure on top of her turn towards the voice, and then felt the coolness of water on her cheek. Opening her eyes slightly, she could make out the white smoke coming from the vampire's head, not to mention the screams that had basically made her go deaf on the spot.
Shakily getting to her feet with the help of her rescuer, she finally got a clear look to see it was Willow. Her new hero, Tara thought.
Quickly regaining her composure, she looked back to the stage just in time to see Buffy raise something metal over her head. Watching with utmost interest, Tara watched it as it made its way right over the vessel's head and through the glass that was behind it, revealing a light fixture.
Thankful for Buffy's resourcefulness and wit, Tara looked next to the stage to see Xander grabbed up by a couple vampires who thought they'd just stumbled upon a good hostage. However, as Tara expected, they ended up reaching the stage just as Luke dusted, causing them to stand stunned before running off.
Mentally dusting her hands off, Tara walked up towards the stage, meeting up with the rest of the group.
"Did we win?" Willow spoke up, unsure, and perhaps a little freaked.
"We averted the apocalypse," Buffy replied. "Give us points for that."
"Well, one thing's for sure. Nothing's ever gonna be the same," Xander replied.
Tara couldn't resist a chuckle, before a couple strange looks caused her to switch to a soft cough just before she spoke, "Just wait until tomorrow."
That night, Buffy and Tara had their first good sleep in Sunnydale.
Waking up in the morning and completing her normal routine, Buffy made her way downstairs for breakfast, hoping she wouldn't be forced to suffer the same fate as she had the past couple mornings: Mom-cooking.
Thankfully, she found an egg omelet that had 'Tara-cooking' written all over it. Sitting down and quickly digging into the treat, she failed to notice the other two figures in the room.
"I'm saying two minutes before she finishes. How about you?" Her mom spoke up, straight-faced and serious. The sound startled Buffy out of her wits as she looked up.
"Definitely two minutes," Tara replied, grinning.
Groaning at the pair, Buffy resumed her eating while her mother walked out of the room. As she returned, she had with her the morning's newspaper, and was curiously looking at the front page.
"What is it?" Tara spoke up, coming over to read over her mother's shoulder.
"'A young, unidentified girl was seen last night at the Bronze in the middle of what has been described as a gang war by local police. The police have labeled her as the hero in what was otherwise considered to be an extremely ruthless attack on patrons in the bar,'" their mother read. "You guys were there last night, weren't you? Are you ok?"
"We're fine," Buffy reassured, not looking up. "We got out right away. They weren't good at blocking the back doors."
"Good. That's good. I never like that place from the minute I heard about it. Is this a normal occurrence for that place?" Their mother continued, her expression slightly distressed.
"I'm not sure," Buffy replied, knowing that it probably was. "But I heard they were going to put extra security up somewhere. I'm sure it's safe."
"Well, ok," their mother relented. "Well, we'd better get off to school. You don't want to be late for your second day..."
"Or our third day, or our fourth. Let's just go," Tara cut off, rolling her eyes.
As the bell rang, Buffy ran out of her history classroom and hurried outside.
"I can't get far away enough from that place," she whispered to herself, shuddering. Add to the fact that her next class was at the other side of the school, and she was barely able to contain herself from running across the field outside at full speed.
Stopping as she heard a familiar voice, she turned her head slightly in its direction.
"Well, I heard it was rival gangs," Cordelia said. "You know, fighting for turf? But all I can tell you is they were an ugly way of looking. And Buffy, like, knew them! Which is just too weird. I mean, I don't even remember that much, but I'm telling you, it was a freak show!"
"Oh, I wish I'd been there," the girl next to her replied, her voice lined with regret.
"You should have been there. It was so creepy!" Cordelia replied, turning back towards the school.
Continuing her long, torturous walk, Buffy saw Xander was staring where the pair of girls were just a few moments before.
"What exactly were you expecting?" She asked him, as he regained his composure and followed her lead.
"I don't know," he replied honestly. "Something. The dead rose, we should have at least had an assembly," he continued, although it was pretty obvious he had an ulterior motive for wanting an assembly.
As they reached the other side of the school, they found Willow, Tara and Giles standing there.
"People have a tendency to rationalize what they can and forget what they can't," Giles filled in, as he walked beside Xander.
"Believe me, I've seen it happen," Buffy nodded.
"Well, I'll never forget it," Willow exclaimed, slightly perturbed by what she was just told. "Any of it."
"Good! Next time you'll be prepared," Giles replied.
"Next time?" Xander repeated with a slight bit of excitement in his voice.
"Next time is why?" Willow asked, more on the side of disbelieving.
"Well, we've stopped the Master from freeing himself and opening the Mouth of Hell. That's not to say he's going to stop trying," Giles explained, getting a glint in his eye. "I'd say the fun is just beginning."
"More vampires?" Willow squeaked, unsure as to whether she could handle all this, even with her thirst for knowledge dripping.
"Not just vampires," Giles said, a large pocket of excitement in his voice. "The next threat we face may be quite different."
"Maybe witches?" Xander replied, sharing in Giles' enthusiasm.
"Witches aren't evil," Buffy shot back, quickly. She then looked at Tara who shrugged.
"W-well, I've heard of s-some that have, um, taken to using dark powers. I-It's not impossible," she said, looking down.
"I can hardly wait," Buffy replied, trying to force the sarcasm into her voice. However, try as she might, she couldn't keep her own excitement from bubbling to the surface. She wanted to get into it with something...
"We're at the centre of a mystical convergence here," Giles replied, suddenly lecturing the group. "We may, in fact, stand between the Earth and its total destruction."
"Well, I've got to look at the bright side. Maybe I can still get kicked out of school," Buffy replied, hoping to find some idea to grasp a hold off as they walked towards class.
"Oh, yeah, that's a plan. Cause lots of schools aren't on Hellmouths," Xander shot back.
"Maybe you could blow something up. They're really strict about that," Willow said, trying to come up with ideas.
"Already did that. I think we need something new, don't you?" Tara replied, looking over at Buffy.
"But, then again, why mess with the classics?" Xander replied, looking at them.
"Well, I was thinking a more subtle approach," Buffy said, thinking. "Like, 'excessive not studying'"
Nodding to each other, they turned the corner and entered the school.
A/N: Well, that was, well, interesting. And kind of fun. I must have watched Eps 1 & 2 a hundred times while writing this, trying to find the perfect spots to insert Tara. Not sure how it turned out, really, but I'm happy with it, and isn't that all that matters? :)
For the next installment, I'm going to make a whole episode from scratch. There will be little things in it that will follow the real show, but the story itself will be fresh and new. I've just got a thing for altering a story that was already made, so I want to jump off that bandwagon before I go insane with it.
That's about all. Happy reading!