Title: The Not So Charmed Witch
Disclaimer: This is a deriviative work. All characters belong to Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, Fox Television, Aaron Spelling and many others. I don't own them, just the story idea.
Summary: Buffy, a ghost, Christmas (Originally written for FFA pairing #425 - B/Prue Halliwell), This is a one-shot for now. I might continue it someday.
Spoilers: All seasons of BtVS and Angel. Charmed - Seasons 1-3
Pairings: None (mostly).
Author's Note: Occurs in the same multi-verse as my stories "Faith in Winter" and "Gone" but several years earlier (Obviously)
In a futile attempt to lessen the sun's glare, Buffy continually attempted to adjust her sunglasses. Unfortunately, driving with the sun in her eyes wasn't enough of a distraction to keep herself from thinking about the past few months. Sighing, her eyes just thin slits, she tried to put it all into perspective as she drove east. After her brief fling in Rome with the self styled Immortal had imploded Buffy had found herself being reluctantly dragged out of semi-retirement in Italy by the other senior Council Slayer. Fueled by several graphic slayer dreams and and what Buffy considered an overdeveloped sense of obligation, Faith had taken on the self appointed task of saving Angel from himself, over the protests of Giles and the rest of the new Council of Watchers.
Leaving an angry and protesting Dawn safely in Cleveland with Xander, they'd just barely managed to arrive in LA at the last possible moment. It had taken the combined efforts of Buffy and Faith, along with the small squad of newbie California slayers they'd managed to round up on such short notice, to rescue the remnants of Angel Investigations from their self inflicted apocalyptic disaster. Buffy wasn't sure she would ever get the smell of burning dragon out of her hair.
Even three exhausting months of working with Faith to clean up the LA mess hadn't helped her get over her funk. She wasn't sure when she would stop being angry at Angel, Giles, Spike, Andrew, and anyone else who'd lied to her or had neglected to let her know about what had been happening in LA since the Sunnydale collapse. Just because she'd wanted a break from slaying didn't mean she was permanently, or even mostly, retired.
After things were finally straightened out, only Faith had fully understood her need to get away on her own for a few months to recharge and regain her inner balance. Faith had stepped in and provided a distraction to give her the chance to escape from the smothering attention of two jealous vampires Buffy was sure she never wanted to see again. But once things were under control again, and before heading back to Cleveland herself, Faith had insisted that Buffy show up in the Cleveland office in time for her own birthday. If for no other reason than Dawn needing her.
She'd spent the last month slowly driving up the California coast in the shiny new red BMW convertible she'd shamelessly guilted Giles into buying her. After almost half a year in Italy, Buffy was in no hurry to get to the cooler weather of Ohio and had decided to take her time driving to Cleveland. With no definite time table to her travel plans she'd spent a lot of her time laying on whatever beach had crossed her path that day. Being by herself had helped her to regain her mental balance. But with only the beach and sun to keep her company and no one to vent her feelings on, she was still angry at them and planned to stay that way as long as possible.
But by the time she'd hit San Francisco she'd decided the trip was giving her too much time to think about her own life and past behavior. The last few years in Sunnydale hadn't exactly been examples of some of her better moments. She'd worked really hard to avoid thinking about Sunnydale since they'd defeated the First. But she'd finally run out of excuses. It was clear to her that she couldn't pretend any longer. Her destiny hadn't actually deserted her.
Cutting her meandering trip up the coast short and joining her sister in Cleveland to resume the busy kill or be killed lifestyle of a slayer was looking better and better. If she planned it correctly she might even make it there just in time for Christmas. Maybe she could even check out some of the sights along the way.
Before leaving San Francisco and heading east, she'd spent the previous evening checking out a club Willow had briefly mentioned the last time they'd talked. She wasn't sure why Willow thought there was something special about P3. Or why she'd asked her to check it out. She'd been overly vague in her request. Sure, the atmosphere in it had seemed unusually peaceful and it had been remarkably free of the kinds of evil creatures that in her experience tended to prey on the inhabitants of such places. But feeling out of place and jaded among the much younger crowd Buffy hadn't stayed long, leaving before she attracted too much attention. If Willow wanted to know more she could always ask the local slayer to check it out or even go there herself.
Prue stared out across the crowded club from her perch on the corner of the bar. Becoming a ghost hadn't quite turned out the way she'd always envisioned it. When she'd thought about dying she hadn't thought she'd be trapped in her sister's club, unable to go outside or to even interact with the people that frequented it. It certainly wasn't what she'd thought she was agreeing to when she was given the choice to continue helping innocents or to go to Heaven.
The voices she'd heard after dying hadn't been very specific but she'd thought it would either be something like being a white lighter like Leo, or a dispenser of wisdom to other witches like her Gran and mother. Instead, she seemed to spend most of her time sitting in a dark club with the feeling that she was waiting. For what she wasn't really sure. But the perpetual sense of anticipation wasn't exactly a pleasant feeling to deal with. And it was adding to her growing anger at whomever had put her in that position.
And part of that waiting seemed to include the hell of observing the bad soap opera that her sisters lives had become. Watching them find a half-sister to replace her as one of the Charmed Ones only weeks after her death defied explanation but she had no way to express her displeasure. And stranger things continued to happen after that.
There were times she was just glad that she only saw the parts of their lives that occurred in the club. Even while eavesdropping on their conversations, she couldn't imagine what the rest of their lives were like. She was just an astounded and often amused bystander. Having an outlet for her frustration with her situation would have been welcome but she couldn't even talk to Leo in her current insubstantial state. And she knew he'd seen her in the club more than once. He would just shake his head at her whenever she tried to talk to him.
The evening had gone like so many since she'd died. Nothing remotely exciting had happened. She was ready to give up for the evening. Ready to go up on the roof and spend the rest of the night just staring out at the city streets she could no longer walk. Taking one last look around the club before she left the room, Prue's attention was caught by a sight that when she was alive would have had her running for her camera.
Sitting at the bar, seemingly alone, was a small woman with short blonde hair. Something about her appearance seemed to overshadow everyone who came near her. In Prue's experience, she wasn't the most beautiful woman to ever grace P3 with her presence, but there was a rare elegance and apparent innocence to her that would have set hordes of professional photographers drooling in anticipation of the money they could potentially make from her face.
Even dead, Prue wasn't immune to her lure. She tried to follow her out of the door when she left, unconsciously going through the people who blocked her path instead of around them as she normally would. But, like every other time she'd tried to leave the building, something, some kind of invisible wall, stopped her.
Buffy didn't notice her invisible hitchhiker at first. As a slayer she expected some weirdness. She'd come to expect it as a normal part of her life. Something about being a slayer attracted the weird to her. She was a hundred miles east of San Francisco when things started happening in the car. Things even she thought was strange. Objects seemed to move around on their own. Things she was sure she'd put in the trunk would suddenly be sitting in the front seat. The glove-box would occasionally open and close on its own. The radio would randomly change stations as if hunting for a song.
The only conclusion she could come to was that the car was now haunted. At least she thought it was a ghost, but she wasn't completely sure about it. A friendly ghost in the car with her was definitely be something new in her experience. And while it didn't feel evil, she could sense a definite presence of some sort. It didn't seem to be trying to hurt her but it was certainly getting to be annoying. It was almost like traveling with her sister. Her only break was when she stopped to eat. It didn't seem to be able to follow her out of the car.
Prue wasn't sure what was going on. One minute she was staring wistfully at the last patrons leaving P3 for the night, wishing she could go with them, and the next it was morning and she was sitting in a fancy red convertible with no idea how she'd gotten there. Her surprise was compounded by the appearance of the vehicle's driver, the blonde haired woman from the night before. And just like in the club, Prue couldn't seem to leave. She was now stuck in the car with no way to communicate with the other occupant.
It wasn't until several hours later, after she'd gotten bored with the music her oblivious companion insisted playing on the radio and had somehow managed to change the station, that she realized that she was now able to interact with objects around her. Even if she still couldn't communicate directly, it was a start. She spent the rest of the day figuring out how to move things around. She knew she was annoying the blonde but she couldn't help herself. It had been so long since she'd been able to do more than watch that she wasn't about to ignore the chance to do something.
By the time she'd hit Iowa, after several days of travel, Buffy had gotten used to the strange antics of her invisible traveling companion. She'd given up trying to change the radio station even though their tastes in music obviously didn't mesh. She preferred happy, danceable music from her childhood while her companion seemed intent on keeping the radio tuned to the kind of music that had seemed to inundate the San Francisco air waves while she was there. While she could live with it she wasn't thrilled to be forced to listen to it the entire trip. The only break had been while driving through mountains where there was no radio reception at all.
Buffy had decided that having someone to talk to, even if they were invisible and didn't talk back, was much better than talking to herself on the long boring stretches of road. While she wasn't sure if the ghost actually understood or even listened to her venting about her life as she drove, Buffy detected enough of a response to amuse herself by assuming that she was occasionally receiving the ghostly equivalent of a nod whenever she made a point.
She wasn't cold. Temperature, weather, hunger, nothing seemed to disturb the invisible cocoon Prue existed in. But, sitting in the passenger seat of the small convertible as it pulled up in front of a large old mansion on the eastern edge of Cleveland just before noon, she shivered in sympathy. Her companion was obviously not used to the cooler temperatures. Even with the heat turned all the way up she seemed to be miserable.
Expecting another long evening by herself in the car until they moved on, it hadn't occurred to her that this might be the end of the journey. Relieved to get out of the car even if she couldn't get more than a foot away from it, she perched herself on the warm hood and prepared herself for a long night. Until the red head who answered the door noticed her presence.
"Hi Buffy! You made it!" The red head excitedly spoke to Prue's traveling companion.
"Of course I made it!" Buffy muttered, shaking in the cold. "Willow? Can we go in? It's freezing out here."
"Why don't you invite your friend in?"
"What friend?" Buffy looked around, obviously confused. Prue looked at the red head in surprise, apparently this was the Willow that Buffy had rambled on about during their trip. The witch, who seemed to be able to see her. Though why her sisters hadn't been able to see her was something she would think about later.
"The woman sitting on the hood of your car?" Frowning, she looked at Buffy and then over at the car.
Prue just shrugged her shoulders at her puzzled glance before speaking loudly. "She can't see me. I'm Prue Halliwell. And I can't come in. I'm stuck with the car."
"Prue? Halliwell" Willow looked at Buffy again. "You can't see her?"
"You can see my car's ghost? And it has a name?" Buffy looked over at her car, obviously still not seeing anything. "And you can hear it? Why can't I do that?"
"She has a name." Prue was amused at this Willow coming to her defense without even knowing her. "Sounds kind of familiar actually. She's your ghost. You need to invite her in."
"And if I don't? She doesn't like my music!" Buffy pouted.
"Buffy!" Willow chastised her, to Prue's continued amusement. "Be nice! If you don't I think she's stuck out here in the cold."
"Okay." Buffy looked over towards her car before mumbling. "You can come in, Prue."
After hearing the invitation, Prue suddenly found herself standing just outside the door to the old mansion.
"Wow! That was amazing!" Willow blurted out.
"What?" Buffy asked.
"As soon as you said she could come in...poof!" Willow said with a wide gesture and wide eyes.
"Poof! She's standing in front of the door now."
"So we now have a haunted house for our Council office?" Buffy groaned. "You need to do something! She's annoying."
"What? Buffy! That was rude!" Willow spouted in surprise before dragging Buffy towards her car and subtly motioning for Prue to go inside. "Let's get your stuff inside. We can talk about this once we have you settled in."
"And this Prue ghost?" Buffy asked, concerned.
"I'm sure she's here for a reason. We just need to figure it out." Willow gave her a hug. "I'm just glad you're finally here. I missed you."
"Are you sure you don't just want me around to keep Faith out of your hair?" Buffy asked with a raised eyebrow.
"Not at all!" Willow protested. "Well, maybe!" she reluctantly corrected herself.