Short Cuts

Summary: A selection of alternate plot lines for various BTVS episodes that, while probably far less entertaining than the originals, would have saved our heroes a lot of grief.

Disclaimer: None of these characters are mine, as they remain the property of their owners/creators. . .I'm just cutting them some slack for a change.

Rating: PG-13, for violence and themes.

Time Frame: Varies, but from all three seasons. Also, each scene occurs in isolation from all of the others, so if they seem to be inconsistent with each other. . .that's the way they're supposed to be. :-)

Archiving: Please do, but e-mail me at eilandesq@aol.com because I'm interested in where stuff I write ends up, and I'll want to see what else you've got there.


SHORT CUTS

From "Prophesy Girl"


Buffy walked around the Master's lair, searching for the all-powerful vampire. A rotting corpse attracted her attention, and her nose wrinkled in disgust as she called out, "You know, for someone who's all powerful, you sure do like to hide."

The mocking voice of the Master immediately responded, "I'm waiting for you. I want this moment to last."

A chill went down Buffy's spine as she snapped, "Well, I don't!" She continued to search fruitlessly for a few moments, failing to see the pale figure sneaking up behind her until he came up directly behind her and whispered, "I understand." She whirled and attempted to level the crossbow, but he knocked it effortlessly from her hands and grabbed her throat. She knocked his hand away and attempted to run, but he effortlessly seized her with his psychic powers, and drew her back to him. He removed her jacket, baring her throat and reveled in her terror as he quietly gloated: "You tried. It was noble of you. You heard the prophecy that I was about to break free and you came to stop me. But prophecies are tricky creatures. They don't tell you everything." He leaned down and whispered, "You're the one who sets me free. If you hadn't come, I couldn't go. Think about that." A tear flowed down Buffy's cheek as the Master prepared to feed. He was already moving to bite deeply into her neck when a voice intruded: "Hey, Dead Guy. . .you might not want to do that."

The Master looked up in disbelief. Xander stood there, glaring defiantly at the powerful vampire. The Master laughed contemptuously at the boy and asked, "And what do you think you can do about it, you pathetic child?"

Xander seemed to think a moment, then replied, "Not much. . .but he might have something to say about it." He pointed over the Master's shoulder and the powerful demon turned. . .only to take a right cross in the face that knocked him free of Buffy and onto his back. The Master looked up and saw Angel with his game face on, glaring at him. The Master was preparing to use his powerful psychic abilities on his former protégé when he saw a blur of motion in a lovely dress plant a stake in his dark heart. * Now where did she hide that stake in that dress? * was his last thought before bursting into dust, leaving a skeleton.

Buffy got up and gave a mock glare to her rescuers: "What kept you?" Angel looked embarrassed, and Xander replied, "Hey, it's not easy to find your way through these tunnels. . .never would have done it without Dead Boy here." Buffy turned back to Angel, a little too late to spot the look of gratitude that crossed his face before he assumed a deadpan expression. She looked at him suspiciously for a moment, then looked down at the remains of her tormentor. "Hey, there's still a skeleton here. Never seen that before." She looked at the walls of the lair and spotted a large mace. She grabbed it and reduced the skeleton to scattered fragments, except for the skull which she picked up with the comment, "Giles might like a souvenir." She turned to her rescuers and winked before commenting, "All right, let's head up and see if there's anything for us to clean up. I'm in the mood to kick a little more vampire ass."

Angel and Xander followed just behind her as she left the lair behind, and Angel commented, "By the way, I like the dress." Buffy turned to him and smiled, replying, "Good. Then you won't mind twirling me around the dance floor in it." Musing on the events of the day, she commented, "I guess from now on you can call me the non-prophecy girl." Her friends laughed as they left the evil place.

*****

From "Surprise"

Buffy struggled against the arm that was choking her, somewhat hampered by the sheer shock that a severed limb would do such a thing. Angel moved in to help her, and they managed to wrestle it into the box between the two of them, and Giles slammed the lid shut. Buffy coughed, trying to breathe clearly as Angel looked at her with extreme concern.

Xander looked at the box with concern and commented bitingly, "Well, clearly the Hellmouth's answer to 'what do you get the Slayer who has everything?" Giles ignored the comment and moved over to his Slayer, asking, "Good heavens. Buffy, are you all right?"

The others also expressed concern for their friend, only to be interrupted by Angel distractedly commenting, "It can't be. . .she wouldn't."

Xander cracked, "What, uh, vamp's version of 'snakes in a can', or do you care to share?" Buffy looked at Angel with concern and tried to nudge an answer out of him: "Angel?"

With a sigh, Angel (with Giles' help) told the story of the demon, known as the Judge, who had been brought forth to burn the righteous down and thereby rid the Earth of humanity. The others recoiled in horror as Giles noted that the Judge had been dismembered, but could not be killed by any weapons.

Jenny interrupted by noting quietly, "So all of these parts are being brought here." Buffy nodded and commented, "By Drusilla. The vamps outside were Spike's men."

Angel scowled and whispered, "She's just crazy enough to do it." Willow paled and asked, "Do what, reassemble the Judge?" Angel nodded and replied, "And bring forth Armageddon." Cordelia interrupted at this point by asking if anyone else was going to have cake, but no one took the opportunity to laugh as a release of the tension in the room.

Giles frowned and commented, "We need to get this out of town." Jenny nodded and turned, saying "Angel." Buffy whirled and asked, "What?" Jenny ignored her and commented to the vampire, "You have to do it. You're the only one that can protect this thing."

Xander watched as Buffy, Jenny, and Angel argued about whether Dead Boy would have to skip town for a few months to deal with the Arm from Hell. Abruptly, a possible solution entered his mind, and his first inclination was to suppress it. . .but he knew that it wouldn't be right, not to mention that Buffy would seriously kick his ass if she ever found out he was holding out on a way to keep Angel in town. He cleared his throat, and everyone turned to him as he commented, "I can't believe I'm arguing against a way of getting Dead Boy out of town, but I think I may have a solution here. . .if they don't get the arm, the Judge can't get back?" Angel and Giles nodded, and Xander continued, "Then I have a plan." He explained for a few minutes, and by the time he was finished, everyone was staring at him. . .he was enjoying this, big time. Buffy stared at him and asked, "Uh, Xander, since when do you know how to do stuff like that?" Xander grinned and replied, "Since Halloween. . .good costume choice, huh?"

Willow gave him a suspicious look and commented, "Yeah, and you probably remember all that hyena stuff, too." Xander blushed and considered another diplomatic lie, then decided instead to throw himself on the mercy of the court: "Uh, yeah. . .can we wait for later for my groveling apology, Will?. . .I gather that this is serious business." Willow nodded, and Xander called out, "Come on, Cordelia. I need your help for a little procurement. . ."

It was the next night, and Angel, Xander, and Buffy sat at the edge of a construction site, staring at a point about a hundred yards away. They could see the group of vampires creeping towards the box, responding to the tip that they planted with that sleazy bastard Willy. They had just reached it when Buffy nodded at Xander. Xander pushed the button on the device in his hand and a huge explosion lit up the night. Buffy and Angel's sharp eyes saw seven vampires immediately blown to pieces, and five others were in flames as they ran forward to see the results of their plan. No vampires were left, and the three friends quickly gathered the fragments of what had been the Judge's arm, planning to dispose of them down the nearest toilet. The three were laughing about how ticked off Dru would be when they encountered Jenny who looked agitated. She took a deep breath, and spoke intensely: "Buffy, Angel. . .there's something I have to tell you. . .about who I am, and about Angel's curse. . ."

*****

From "Becoming, Part I"

The friends sat in a circle, and chanted the syllables from the lost language of the Calderash people. Willow sat in the place of honor, chanting the mystic words in a clear, calm tone until the Orb of Thessalah glowed brightly, then dimmed. After that, they waited for two endless hours until they heard a knock at the door of Willow's room. They opened it and saw Angel, looking ashamed and hesitant. Buffy looked at him for a long moment, and asked hesitatingly, "What do you remember, Angel?"

Angel looked down at the ground and whispered, "I remember everything, Buffy. Everything." He looked at Giles, whose expression was somewhat ambivalent, "Giles, I'm so sorry. . .if you were to stake me right now, I'd have to admit you were justified." Giles looked at him for a long moment before replying, "I think that recriminations are best saved for a later occasion, Angel. The important thing is what Drusilla can do about Acathla."

Angel smiled faintly and replied, "Angelus didn't have a clue what the key was to correctly finishing the ritual. . .Dru certainly doesn't. And Spike was never on board to begin with. . .he's a nasty bastard, but he actually likes the world as it is. . .go figure. If we act tonight, we can eliminate the threat." He looked at Willow's room and smiled, "It was a good move to start the curse ritual in daylight, and to do it somewhere where vampires couldn't get in. Angelus was planning to have Dru raid the library and take you, Giles. . .he figured that you would know how to complete the ritual for restoring Acathla."

Everyone shuddered, and Buffy commented, "Well, glad we dodged that little bullet. . .now let's finish this. Kendra, you take Angel and block off the access to the mansion from the sewers, while the rest of us burn it to the ground. By morning, we'll have a hell of a lot less to worry about in this town." Her eyes flashed with utter ruthlessness before she snapped, "Let's go."


*****

From "Consequences"

Xander knocked on the door, and after a moment, Faith answered, looking rather dismissive as she spoke: "What?"

He looked at her without any hesitation and snapped, "We need to talk, Faith." She looked him up and down and replied, "Why should I, Xander? I don't need someone else dragging me down today." He glared at her and replied, "We both know that if I hadn't mowed down that Apocalypse bitch with my car, you'd have been toast. You owe me, Faith." She noticed his unwavering gaze, and she nodded briefly before stepping aside to give him entrance. He walked in and waited for her to sit down on the bed before he locked eyes with her and said, "Faith, we all know what happened. . .pinning it on Buffy was not smart. . .we all saw how she reacted when she thought she had killed someone, and this ain't it."

Faith's eyes widened in surprise, then dulled in disgust and anger as she spit out, "So Giles was playing me. . .figures. . .he was the only one who hadn't screwed me over yet." She glared at him and snapped, "So why are you here? Did you want to convince me everything was A-OK again, or did you just want to get laid?"

Xander speared her with his gaze, and-to his great surprise-she subsided while he replied, "Everything isn't okay, Faith. You killed someone, and you tried to pin in on our friend. . .that just isn't done. On the other hand, Buffy says it was an accident, and we all believe her, which means that things don't have to be that bad, if you're willing to deal with it."

Faith laughed loudly and shoved Xander hard, knocking him into the wall. She snapped back, "And all I have to do is come back and say how bad I've been, and how I'll try so hard to be more like your beloved Buffy. Strangely enough, I'm not too inclined to go along with your wonderful idea."

Xander looked at her for a long moment, and his expression softened for a moment before he replied, "Is that what you think, Faith?. . .that we think Buffy is perfect and you are a pathetic loser?" He turned away from her for a moment, then turned back, noting that he at least had her attention as he continued: "Faith, the sad fact is that for all we've done, we're all a bunch of screw-ups. Buffy nearly got all of us killed when the whole thing with Angel losing his soul came up. . .not to mention the time when she was so pissed off at life she let Willow, Jenny, Giles, and Cordelia get kidnapped and almost killed. . .did you know I threatened to kill her when that happened? Giles nearly got Buffy killed when he didn't let us in on his misspent youth. I nearly killed Buffy with my stupid love spell trying to get Cordelia back, not to mention that I really hurt my best friend in the world in the process. Oh, and there's the small matter of Willow and me almost getting Cordelia killed because we couldn't keep our hands off each other." He walked back over to Faith and looked intently at her as he finished, "If we couldn't forgive each other our screw-ups, we'd probably all be dead by now, because the fact is. . .we need each other. Even if I hated you, I'd want you on my side just because it increases the chance that we'll all live to get out of high school. . .and none of us hate you, Faith, but you have to make things right with Buffy, and you have to deal with this. We'll back you against those stuffy English bastards on the Council, but you have to trust us. . .I know that's hard for you, but please. . .we need you, and we don't want you to wander off into the darkness." He slumped visibly, drained by the intensity of his monologue, and he watched Faith for a long moment before he saw her sigh.

Faith watched him for a long moment, then replied, "All right, I'll listen, but no guarantees, Xander. If I don't like what I hear, I jump on the nearest freighter. Got me?" Xander nodded, and she smiled briefly before commenting, "That got me worked up. . .I'd better take a shower before we head over to the library." She looked at him seductively and asked, "Care to join me?"

Xander blushed and replied, "Ah, Faith, under the circumstances. . .I think we'd better put that off until we clear this whole thing up." He swallowed, hard, and began backing out of the door, commenting, "I'll wait outside. . .take your time." He left the room and walked about twenty feet away, visibly calming himself, before calling out, "All right, Dead Boy, you can come out now."

There was an exclamation of surprise from the shadows, and Angel moved into view, carrying a Louisville Slugger. He looked at the teenager and asked quietly, "How did you know I was out here?"

Xander grinned and replied, "Military training includes spotting surveillance. . .I can't tell you how glad I was to pick up that little talent. . .you're just too damned good at lurking for me to be without it." He shook his head and asked, "I guess you heard. . .what do you think about Faith?"

Angel frowned and commented, "No way to know until we talk to her at length. . .still, she sounded like she wanted to listen. What made you take that approach, Xander. . .I thought you'd just rely on the wonderful connection you had the night we closed the Hellmouth again."

Xander winced at the sarcasm and replied, "I trust Buffy to read Faith reasonably well. . .a little mattress dancing wasn't going to command any loyalty. . .I just thought that I admitted to her that none of us were perfect, she might at least be willing to listen before she took off. . .besides, I figured that you'd probably burst in if she started dismantling me. . .right?"

Angel grinned evilly and replied, "Maybe. . .you know, it's times like this that make me realize that you're not just a hopeless pain in the ass, Xander."

Xander grimaced and replied, "Uh, thanks, I think. Don't tell anyone, all right? I've got an Angel-hating rep to keep up." The vampire nodded gravely, and they settled down to wait for the wayward Slayer.

*****

From "Enemies"

Faith splashed the blood on Angel's chest and waited for that soul sucking dude to come out of the shadows. Angel glared at her and shouted, "Faith!" She ignored him and searched the shadows for the figure she knew would come out. . .abruptly, a person walked out, and Faith gasped in utter shock: "Buffy?"

The older Slayer smiled coldly and advanced on Faith, explaining, "The soul-sucking guy couldn't make it, Faith. He sends his best." Caught off guard and genuinely afraid, Faith began backing off, only to run into an obstacle. She whirled to see Angel with his game face on and only had a moment to contemplate the deep trouble she was in before his fist struck her with the sound of breaking bone. She dropped to the ground, unconscious.

Buffy looked at Angel somewhat reproachfully before checking Faith out. She looked up at him and shook her head before commenting, "You broke her jaw, Angel. Bit much, don't you think?"

Angel glared at the unconscious Slayer for a moment before his face returned to normal. He snorted and commented, "If someone ever tries to steal your soul, you can decide how to deal with them. Besides, she's a Slayer. . .she'll be good as new in a week." He picked Faith up in a fireman's carry and looked at Buffy intently for a long moment before saying, "Come on, Buffy. We need to get to the library and pump her full of sodium pentathol before she has a chance to regain her bearings." After a moment, Buffy nodded, and they left the mansion, leaving it empty and quiet.


As always, comments are welcomed and desired