AN: I have to apologize for waiting so long to update. This is a story I'm still trying to write, and I don't want to give up on it, but life and lack of motivation gets in the way. Thank you for sticking with me this far.

Chapter 25: The Prevailing Past

Shana sat on the couch; legs positioned Indian-style, the man's head cradled in her lap. She stroked his hair, now free of dirt and grime. He shifted, laying on his back, and opened his eyes. She looked down at him.

"Hi, Babs," he said.

She laughed, eyes tearing, and said, "Hi, Buster." She smiled at the old nickname. She leaned down and kissed his forehead, then leaned her forehead against his. "I have so many questions."

"I have one myself."


"Got anything to eat?"

She chuckled, and shook her head. "Human garbage disposal. Some things never change." He lifted his head and she uncrossed her legs and stood up. He laid back down. "You're lucky I took over grocery shopping, cuz Brits eat weird." She smiled at him over her shoulder.

"You know me; I eat anything."

She snorted. "I remember." She pulled out bread, sliced ham, Miracle Whip, Bac'n Bits, and cheese from the fridge. She made two sandwiches apiece, ham and cheese for him, ham and Bac'n Bits for herself. She put the sandwiches on a plate and put the remaining food back and grabbed two bottle of water. She brought the food and water over to the couch.

He sat up and took the plate from her, placed it on the table and picked a sandwich. She put the bottles down and sat next to him, watching him eat.

He finished his sandwich, and looked at her. "What?"

"What are you doing here, Hunter? How did you get here? I can't even begin to think of all the questions I have."

"I couldn't stay over there."


"Why? Why the hell would I stay after you left?"

"I left to help Buffy and the others. You know that!"

"Yeah, but I thought you'd come back!" He ran his hands through his hair and stood up, walking away from the couch. "A year went by, and you didn't come back. I realized that you ran, and I had to find you."

"And what exactly did I run from?" She stood up, and crossed her arms.

"You couldn't handle the fact that you weren't saving the world every day. You couldn't take it, that for so long, you led the charge, the bout for freedom, and after we got it, they didn't need you anymore. So you came here to fix things, when nothing's really broken."

"You saw what was done to these people and you say they don't need help!"

"They're writers. It's their job to entertain the masses. Just because you don't agree, doesn't give you the right to meddle. You wouldn't change history in our world."

"That's different."


"Because here I know how thing would turn out if I did nothing. I know who dies, the repercussions. I'm changing one life."

"Butterfly effect, Babs. Don't kid yourself about how much you can change."

Shana sat down and put her head in her hands, then looked back up at him. "Did you come here to stop me? Is that it?"

He moved to the couch and sat next to her. He wrapped his arms around her and laid his head against hers. "I came here to be with you. There's no one over there I can deal with. Besides, watching you kick ass is hot." He smiled, kissing her on the temple.

She smiled in return. "Down, boy. Dating me makes you a cradle robber."

He laughed. "I'm not the only one, sweetie."

Their combined laughter echoed around the house.



The growl shook Shana from her musings, making her look up. Buffy flopped into the chair across from her, arms akimbo.

Shana sighed. "What did the Nazi midget do now?"

Buffy snorted, partially in amusement at the name, mostly in frustration of its owner. "Since I'm one of his best students," sarcasm dripping from her words, "I've been put in charge of Parent-Teacher Night. Weasel. Why does that guy have it in for me?"

"Because he's evil incarnate." Willow joined them followed by Xander.

"No argument here," the Slayer groused. "I'm going to go get some food. It'll probably be the last time I eat lunch this week." She got up and made her way to the lunch line.

"So," Xander unsubtly tried to change the subject, "who's the naked guy?"

Shana rolled her eyes. "First off, he isn't naked anymore, just when Angel found him. Second, I'm going to explain once and only once, where everyone can hear me. So this is neither the time nor place. Third, your subtle segues, not so subtle." Anything else she was going to say was cut off by the arrival of Shana's third least favorite person, Cordelia Chase, beaten out by Snyder and Angelus, in that order. Cordy had the look of a predator spotting weak prey until her eyes fell on Shana. Her eyes narrowed and she crossed her arms.

"Michaels." The venom in that one word would have been fatal to a human.

"Chase." Shana crossed her arms, raised an eyebrow and tilted her chair back.

Willow and Xander shared a look, thinking about the previous school year and the first "meeting" of the two young women.


Shana walked out of the girls' bathroom, self-conscious about her looks. Being sixteen the first time had been a nightmare, and now she was physically the same as before. She had never been one of those teens who dressed up for school, short as that time had been, usually wearing an ensemble of t-shirts, jeans, sneakers, and hoodies until the New England weather made it too unbearably hot for hoodies. Buffy had wanted her to fit into the "California scene" as she called it, but Shana had stood her ground. She had traded her hoodie for a jean jacket, and alternated between sneakers and combat boots. She still tended towards dark colors.

Shana was knocked out of her musings when she inadvertently bumped into someone. She apologized and would have continued without incident if a voice hadn't sneered, "You should be sorry."

Shana turned and found herself face to face with Cordelia Chase. She silently groaned. She knew their paths would cross eventually, but she had hoped for at least a month of peace. She couldn't even make it through her first week.

She readjusted her stance, slightly dropping her center of gravity, crossing her arms to not give away what she was doing. Not that she thought Queen C could take her, but she knew not to underestimate anyone.

She snorted. "You know what? I am sorry. I'm sorry you're spoiled. I'm sorry you have no manners. I'm sorry you have no class. I'm sorry you're a skank. I'm sorry that you have to surround yourself with people too ignorant and stupid to think for themselves to make yourself feel more important. And I'm sorry no one in this school has had the balls to take you down a peg or two." Shana hadn't noticed the crowd gathering in the hallway. She had just put blood in the water, and they were waiting to see if she was a shark or a really dumb fish. The Scoobies were in attendance as well, watching on the peripheral.

Cordelia was shocked. Almost no one stood up to her, much less insulted her. She could almost admire the new girl for her guts, if she wasn't about to rip 'em out. "What did you just say to me?" Most people would have collapsed at the force of the glare she was now giving the darker teen.

Shana didn't even blink. "You heard me, bitch. Or are you deaf as well as dumb? Which would make you one short of the whole trifecta."

Cordelia took a step towards Shana, attempting to intimidate her. "Do you know who I am? Who my family is?"

Shana snorted again, both at the threat and the attempt to call her bluff. She had faced down entities a lot scarier than the Queen of Mean. The only reason she had wanted to avoid Cordelia was she knew she would be tempted to smash her face into the wall. "I don't give two shits about you or your family. You can't touch me."

"Oh yeah?" Cordy swung an open hand slap at her opposition to prove her wrong. Who leaned back, making her miss by a foot.

Shana narrowed her eyes.

'Bad move', Buffy thought, not relishing a little the coming smack-down she couldn't do herself.

Before the brunette cheerleader could blink, she was slammed into the lockers that had been behind her, with her arm pinned behind her back. Shana leaned in and whispered into her ear. "Don't push me, little girl. I'm going to warn you once, and only once. Leave Buffy and her friends alone. I hear you bad mouthing them, I will peel you face off and wear it as my own. Is that understood?" Considering how soon after the invisible girl incident this was, Cordy took her at her word.

Cordelia nodded. Shana let go and stepped back out of reach. She turned to walk away.


"Cunt." Everyone in the crowd winced at the vulgarity of the insult.

Shana ducked the blow from behind, turned and pinned Cordy by her throat, slamming her head against the lockers.

"Didn't we just have this discussion? Let me reiterate. I. Am. Out. Of. Your. League. Do not trifle with me unless you have a death wish. Clear?" Shana didn't bother waiting for her answer and let go, walking away.

Cordelia had had bruises around her neck for three days and it was the talk of the school for the next month. Cordelia had called in her father, who had spoken to Snyder, expecting for Shana to be expelled. But Snyder didn't even look her way, having already had a 'conversation' with the girl, which could have rivaled Giles in his best Ripper mode. Unless pressed by the Mayor, he'd leave the girl alone. But Buffy was fair game.


Cordelia decided against what she was going to say and flounced away from their table, flipping her hair as she went. She passed Buffy, glaring at the Slayer, who ignored her as she went by. She placed her tray on the table, sat down and grimaced as she looked at her food. "This stuff looks demonic. I'm tempted to take it to Giles to look at."

Shana looked at the tray. "That looks like something my grandmother made." She made a face, joining in on the collective shudder of Buffy, Xander, and Willow, having told them horror stories about her cooking. She handed over a sandwich she had in her back pack. Not trusting school food, she made lunch at Giles', and brought it to school, usually bringing extra because Xander would often beg to have some.

Buffy mouthed a 'thank you' to her and started chowing down. When she was finished, she asked, "So when's the powwow about you mystery guy?"

Shana stood up, grabbed her bag and said, "Later," and walked away smiling.

Buffy blew a breath, rested her chin on her hand and pouted. "I hate it when she does that."