Setting: The Chosen, our Buffy virtual continuation, is a 22 "episode" series that picks up where the real thing left off. Logically speaking then, this story contains spoilers for not only every episode that aired on TV, but also all those that have come before it in the continuation. If you're interested and would like to not be spoiled, our advice is to head to episode #1 and start from there.
Notes: Episodes are posted to btvschosen-dot-com weekly, at 8pm EST on Tuesdays, all pretty and HTML'd with graphics and oo! Credits. We have credits, too. Eps will appear the following Friday or Saturday on ff-dot-net. So if you don't want to wait all that extra time (and really, how could you?), the site is the way to go.
(28 November 2004)
Episode 20: "Exchanges"
Story by: Jet Wolf & Ultrace
Written by: Jet Wolf, Novareinna & Ultrace
The sun was losing its afternoon warmth as Buffy jogged toward home. Dressed in a tracksuit, she'd obviously been working out for quite some time and seemed unable to completely shut down her engine. She continued to jog as she opened the front door and headed for the kitchen. Still running in place, she went to the refrigerator and grabbed a carton of orange juice before trotting to the cupboard to get a glass. Locked in perpetual motion, she poured out the juice and then brought the glass to her lips, resulting in much of the contents slopping onto the floor. Reluctantly, the Slayer slowed her pace sufficiently to get more of the liquid into her mouth rather than all over it. She drained the last remaining drop with a satisfied smack and then eyed a bowl of fruit sitting on the counter.
Plucking one of the apples, she tossed it into her other hand and regarded it speculatively. Turning back to the bowl, she chose another and then snatched a third. Her tongue protruded slightly as she frowned with concentration and began to juggle. The act was executed with rather more determination than skill, but at least each piece of fruit managed to stay aloft, which was something.
She had managed to keep the circling arc airborne for around thirty seconds when Willow entered the room.
"Should I make a 'playing with your food' joke or an 'apple a day' joke?" queried the redhead, raising an eyebrow at the spectacle.
With a small start, Buffy's tenuous control over the apples was broken and all three of the fruited balls tumbled to the floor. She pouted as they rolled under the counter in an impromptu game of follow the leader.
"I wanted to eat those," she complained.
"Really?" Willow questioned in an amused tone. "Cuz you looked pretty big with the juggling and less with the eating."
"I can't do both?" rejoined Buffy.
The redhead shrugged. "I have no idea. Oh, but you can try, though. Just lemme get the video camera first," she grinned mischievously.
"So I'm funny to you?" asked Buffy with a twinkle, squaring her shoulders and bearing down threateningly. "I'm a clown for your amusement?"
Less than intimidated, Willow replied, "You pretty much looked one dogface boy from a carnival a second ago."
Sticking out her tongue, Buffy straightened as her brow furrowed in thought. "You ever wonder why I can't juggle?"
Willow's mouth started to form a 'Yes', but her vocal chords responded with a "No."
"I mean with Slayer abilities and everything, you'd think I should be able to juggle."
"Maybe it's a trade-off," the redhead suggested with a sunny expression. "You got, you know ... super-strength, super-speed, and super-metabolism in exchange for ... juggling."
Buffy considered this for a moment. "I guess that's fair," she finally admitted.
"I'd take it," stated Willow firmly. She tenderly patted her stomach and pulled a grimace. "Especially super-metabolism. Ugh. I can't believe I—"
"'Ate the whole thing'?" finished the Slayer brightly. Willow narrowed her eyes and Buffy grinned. "I was waiting all night for that set-up."
"You're not wrong," Willow told her grudgingly. "I don't think I'll even be able to look a piece of junk food in the eye for a week. Not that junk food typically has eyes. Or any kind of food really. Except a potato, and what's up with that? Why do they call them eyes? It sort of gives you this image of a ... a big brown thing with a couple dozen tiny blinking eyes just staring, right at you."
Buffy's forehead creased as she followed Willow's ramblings. Clearly, she had never given it much thought before. With a shake of her head, it became apparent that she likely never would again, either.
"I don't think I'll be able to touch another baked potato," murmured Willow, ostensibly in a place all her own by this time.
Buffy was anxious to move on. "Anyway, that's not really important."
"Says you!" exclaimed the redhead. "I just gave myself enough nightmare fuel to last a month!"
"I was talking in more of a 'big picture' sense," Buffy explained. "You know, taking everything into consideration, I'm just not convinced the spuds issue ranks."
"Still worrying about Dawn, huh?" asked Willow with a knowledgeable tilt of her head.
"Oh no," Buffy was quick to deny. A glance at her friend told her that the statement wasn't exactly carrying the weight she'd hoped and she sighed. "Okay, that's a lie. But I've since added to my worry repertoire. I went to see Giles earlier."
The redhead was immediately concerned. "What did— Is everyone okay?"
"Oh, oh, yeah. No, it's fine," the Slayer firmly reassured. "Kennedy called him when they crossed the border. They've got this Keeper woman and they're on their way. They should be here—" She briefly checked the clock on the wall, "—any time now, actually. Kennedy was apparently really keen to get home. Said something about getting pixie dust all over her favorite jeans."
Buffy looked expectantly at Willow, as though hoping she could provide clarification of that last statement, but the witch simply shrugged and regarded the blonde with a blank expression. Buffy echoed the shrug before continuing.
"But he's pretty wiggy. I think he's starting to get really worried, which is making me really worried. Which he knows, so he's trying super hard to not show he's worried, which just means he's seriously worried, and it's making me even more worried." Buffy frowned as she mulled over her convoluted dissertation.
Willow rested her elbows on the counter and smiled indulgently. "Wow," she grinned, "you sounded like me just there."
"Mom always said you were a bad influence," Buffy accused with a smirk, only to be rewarded with a similar smirk, but then she exhaled heavily. "I dunno," she puffed. "I just want some answers."
"Then you're in luck," came a voice from beyond the kitchen. With a quick turn of their heads, both Buffy and Willow saw Tara standing in the doorway, still toting her bags. She dropped her luggage onto the floor with a thud and treated them to a smile.
"I think I have just what you're looking for."