Fic: The Chosen Ones, Part 1
Pairings: Buffy/Giles/Sam, Sam/Al (friendship)
Disclaimer: Buffy and her Sunnydale friends are owned by the Mighty Joss, Fox, WB, Kuzui, ME, UPN, Sandollar, and doubtless many others. Sam and Al belong to Donald P. Bellisario and Universal. I own nothing, except a 1999 Chrysler Intrepid and an overactive imagination.
Spoilers: Season 6 of Buffy, and Season 4 (or thereabouts) of Quantum Leap.
Theorizing that one could time travel within his own lifetime, Doctor Sam Beckett stepped into the Quantum Leap accelerator and vanished. He awoke to find himself trapped in the past, facing mirror images that were not his own and driven by an unknown force to change history for the better. His only guide on this journey is Al, an observer from his own time, who appears in the form of a hologram that only Sam can see and hear. And so Dr. Beckett finds himself leaping from life to life, striving to put right what once went wrong and hoping each time that his next leap will be the leap home.
As the blue, sparkling lights faded around him, Dr. Sam Beckett braced himself. For what, he didn't know, but he'd learned over the years that the first few minutes of a leap could be…hazardous.
He was immediately aware that he was alone at night in a dark alley. Not much to go on, but it was a start. Other than that, the only thing he was certain of was that he hadn't leapt home. Not that he honestly expected he would anymore. He'd lost track of how many years he'd been trapped in the past, but he had a feeling that if he were to look in a mirror and see his own reflection, he'd find a few more wrinkles and grey hairs than he remembered.
Sam shoved those depressing thoughts to the back of his mind and tried to focus on his new situation. First off, who was he this time? Sam looked down at himself and saw that he was wearing a red, low-cut halter-top and black pants. Great—so he was a woman again. Ha-ha, very funny, he thought. But at least the woman he'd leapt into wasn't wearing stilettos.
As he walked down the alley towards the street he felt something digging into the small of his back. Sam reached behind him and pulled a sharp, wooden stake from the waistband of his pants. Odd, he thought. But he didn't have time to fully contemplate the oddness of it.
From behind him he heard a deep-throated growling. Sam turned around, expecting to see a large dog, or maybe a wild animal. But the growl had come from a man—a tragically disfigured man—who sprang at him with such speed that he didn't have time to react. The impact sent him flying into the brick wall behind him, knocking the air out of his lungs. Struggling for breath, Sam barely dodged out of the way as a fist came barrelling towards his face.
The man's knuckles collided with the brick wall next to Sam's ear—a move that should have had his assailant whimpering on the ground in pain. But to Sam's astonishment, the man's fist punched a hole into the wall and he didn't even flinch.
"What the…?" Sam said, but again, there was no time to think. The fist had just gone through a brick wall like it was Styrofoam and it was headed for his face again. This time it connected painfully with his left cheekbone, snapping his head back to bang sharply against the wall. Sam slid down to the ground, blinking away stars. "Oh boy."
"Is that all you've got?" the man sneered at him. It was then that Sam noticed his teeth. They were filed down to sharp points to look like fangs. Or perhaps, he thought, they actually were fangs. But of course, that was ridiculous, wasn't it?
"Get on your feet, Slayer," said the man.
Sam slowly picked himself off the ground. Not because he was ordered to, but because he stood a much better chance of defending himself if he wasn't lying prone against a wall.
If this guy thought he'd picked an easy target, he was in for a surprise, Sam thought. Drawing on his sketchy memory of ju-jitsu, he aimed a kick at the man's head. It should have been enough to lay him out, but the man merely staggered back a step or two and smiled.
"My turn," he said, and with blinding speed, grabbed a fistful of Sam's hair.
Out of the corner of his eye, Sam saw a young, dark-haired man standing at the end of the alleyway.
"Help!" Sam yelped, as he was thrown face-first into the concrete. He lost a fair bit of skin on his forehead, and his ears were ringing from the blow. But all he could think about was flagging down help before he took any more of a beating. He shook his head, trying to clear it, and looked around to see if the dark-haired man was coming to his aid or not. But he was still standing at the end of the ally, his arms crossed over his chest.
"Buffy, would ya quit toying with him? It's time to call it a night," said the young man.
Sam started dragging himself across the pavement towards him, but his assailant nabbed him by the foot and flung him effortlessly into a dumpster several feet away.
From inside the dumpster, Sam heard the sound of running footsteps and a short skirmish. When a hand reached for him over the rim of the dumpster, he backed away from it. Then the young, dark-haired man peeked over the top at him and waggled his fingers.
"Buffy? What are you doing in there? C'mon."
Okay, Sam thought, so my name is Buffy and this guy seems to know me; but if he's a friend he has a funny way of showing it.
Sam took the offered hand and clambered gracelessly out of the dumpster, landing with an unceremonious thump on his backside. The young man helped him to his feet, and for the first time looked concerned.
"Are you okay?" he asked.
"No, I'm not okay," said Sam a bit peevishly. "I just got beat up and thrown in the trash." The deep scrape on his forehead chose that moment to drip blood into his eye, and it stung. He hissed, wiping the blood away with his hand, then tenderly prodding the injury.
"Where'd he go?" asked Sam, looking around warily.
"Oh, him? He's dust," answered his new companion casually.
As Sam limped his way down the alley, the young man seemed to grow more and more concerned.
"We'd better get you home, let Giles take a look at you—you're a mess."
Sam hoped this Giles was a doctor, because right now he could really use one. He'd twisted his knee, scraped his forehead, been punched in the face, and he was pretty sure he had a concussion—the sooner he got there the better. But to his dismay it looked like they had to get there on foot.
The young man kept up a litany of chatter as they walked. Through the pounding of his head, Sam tried hard to follow what he was saying. He managed to catch a few names—Willow, Tara, Anya, and Dawn—but he couldn't figure out the relationships. From what he could tell, they were all friends, except Dawn, who they seemed to be looking after. A younger sister, maybe? Sam kept silent as much as possible, letting his new friend ramble on. Most of it didn't make sense: Tara was mad at Willow because of a spell…and they were worried about Buffy ever since the whole 'dragged out of Heaven' thing. Sam naturally presumed his young guide was just a colourful storyteller.
And speaking of guides, where was Al, he wondered. Something about this leap was, as his friend would say, a little hinky. It would help to have a few questions answered.
"Uh…Buff? Where ya going?" asked the young man from behind him. Sam stopped and turned around—he hadn't been paying attention and he'd kept walking straight when he should have followed Buffy's friend. He was standing in front of a house that was obviously their destination.
"Sorry," said Sam. "I, uh, must have been daydreaming." He limped past him towards the house, ignoring the weird look he was getting.
By the time he got inside, all Sam could think about was sitting down. His knee was swelling and it ached horribly. Sam kicked off his shoes (they may not be heels, but it seemed to him that all ladies' footwear were implements of torture) and headed for the couch.
"Stay put, I'll call Giles," said the young man, and after a moment's anxious hovering, he disappeared into another room.
Now would be the perfect time to do a little snooping and find out a thing or two about Buffy. Just so long as it didn't involve getting off the couch. Sam looked around. There was a framed photograph on the end table, which he picked up and studied. One face he recognised—the dark-haired boy grinned back at him goofily from behind the glass. The two girls in the picture were a mystery. They were both young and happy, one a blonde, the other a redhead. Sam tilted the frame until he could see his reflection in the glass. Right—so Buffy was the blonde. Cute—aside from the gash on her forehead and the bruised cheek, of course.
"Okay, he'll get here as soon as he can," the young man said as he re-entered the room.
"Does he often make house calls in the middle of the night?" asked Sam.
"Only for you," he answered. "You always were Watcher's pet." Again with the cryptic answers—it was starting to make his already pounding headache worse. "How are ya doing?"
"My knee is swelling to the size of a football, and there's a mariachi band in my head," Sam replied.
The young man frowned. "Tell you what, I'll whip us up some hot chocolate—why don't you run upstairs and grab a Tylenol?"
Once again Sam was left alone in Buffy's living room as her friend took off to the kitchen. With a sigh, he levered himself off the couch and limped his way over to the staircase. It looked daunting, but there was Tylenol at the other end and that was incentive enough to climb the stairs.
When he finally made it upstairs he was confronted with a long hallway and four closed doors. Sam tried the first one, which turned out to be a girl's bedroom…and it was occupied. A young girl with long, glossy brown hair was sitting cross-legged on her bed, writing in her diary.
"What? You don't knock anymore?" said the girl, quickly stashing the diary under her pillow.
"I, uh…" Sam stumbled.
"I was just finishing my homework, okay? I'll turn the light out in a minute."
"Uh, good. That's good," said Sam, slipping quietly out of the room. That must be Dawn, he decided. And she was definitely Buffy's little sister. His own little sister had used that tone of voice on him countless times.
Sam was a little more hesitant to open the next door, and he decided it might be better to knock first just in case. The red-haired girl he'd seen in the picture answered the door. The lights were off in the room, and there were candles lit everywhere...and there was someone in the bed.
"Sorry, didn't mean to interrupt," said Sam.
"Tough night, huh Buffy?" she asked. The figure in the bed sat up, and Sam realised it was another woman.
"What?" said Sam, momentarily distracted.
"You got hurt," she explained. "I'd kiss it better, but, you know…Tara might take it the wrong way."
Aha—Tara. That must mean the redhead was Willow. "I see you two have made up," said Sam, hoping he'd assumed correctly.
Willow positively beamed; "Um, we're kind of in the middle of making up right now, if you know what I mean." The girl on the bed ducked her head and waved at him shyly.
"Well in that case, I'll leave you alone," said Sam, wondering if his blush was as bright as it felt.
"Are you sure you're gonna be all right?" asked Willow.
"I'll be fine. Giles is coming."
Willow's smile grew even larger.
"What?" asked Sam, knowing he was missing something.
"Nothing," said Willow quickly. "I'm sure Giles will take good care of you." And with a conspiratorial wink, she ducked back inside the room and closed the door.
Sam continued down the hall feeling increasingly confused. This had to be one of his most puzzling leaps—just how many people lived in this house? It occurred to him that they might be college students, sharing rent to save money. That would explain a lot, actually. Sam smiled a little—college. He liked the idea of being a student again, even in the guise of a petite blonde girl named, of all things, Buffy.
The next room turned out to be the bathroom. Finally. Sam was pleased to find that he had the place to himself. In the mirror over the sink Buffy's face looked back at him, and he hated to see the mess he'd made of it. Dried blood coated half of it, and he was sure it was going to leave a nasty scar. Then he wondered whose scar it would become. Would he take it with him when he leaped? Would Buffy inherit it? He had no idea, but scientific queries would have to wait—there was Tylenol to be had. Behind the mirror he found the mother lode of all first aid kits. The shelves were packed full with bandages and pill bottles, some seriously potent prescription medications and enough gauze and iodine to treat a field army. He had to dig, but he eventually found a bottle of good old-fashioned Tylenol. Sam palmed two of them and closed the cabinet. He frowned at Buffy's reflection, wondering to himself what possible need could they have for all that stuff?
He shrugged it off and filled the sink with warm water. He did his best to clean the scrape, trying to dig out the dirt and tiny pebbles that had imbedded themselves under his skin. The result wasn't great, but it would do. The dirt was gone, the caked blood was gone, but the wound looked angry and red.
"Sorry," he said, as if Buffy might be able to hear him.
The last door at the end of the hallway had to be Buffy's. Sam knocked anyways, in case she shared the room with somebody, but when nobody came to the door, he assumed it was safe and he went in. It looked like a comfortable room to live in. It was clean, but not fussy, feminine, but not girly. The only thing in the room that looked like a throwback to her younger years was a little stuffed pig sitting on the pillow of her bed. He wondered what stories it could tell him if it could talk. But the pig wasn't giving anything away—he'd have to get his answers elsewhere.
First things first, though. He had to find something else to wear before his knee swelled to the point where he'd have to cut his pants off. Sam dug through her dresser, but pretty much everything she owned seemed to be designed more for fashion than for comfort. At last he came across some pyjamas that were covered in pictures of sushi. Not the most dignified sleepwear imaginable, but they looked loose and comfortable. He changed into them quickly, half expecting Al to show up while he was naked. He had a knack for appearing at those moments, especially when his host was a cute blonde. But he managed to change without interruption, and he was left wondering why Al still hadn't arrived.
Sam sat down at the desk next to the window and started looking for anything that might tell him more about Buffy and what he was here to do. Right off he was rewarded with a page-a-day calendar torn off to October 22, 2001. Was that even possible? His brain might be Swiss-cheesed, but he was pretty sure he'd started leaping in 1997. He'd never leapt past the date of his first leap, as far as he knew. Theoretically he supposed it was possible, assuming he'd been leaping for more than four years. But it was a first, and that might explain why it was taking Al so long to find him.
So that took care of the when part. Now to find out about the who. He always felt a little guilty going through other people's things, but it was a necessary evil in his line of work. There was nothing helpful in the first two drawers, but in the third… Sam stared at the bizarre array of weaponry and paraphernalia in disbelief. There were several stakes like the one he'd found in the back of Buffy's pants, but that wasn't all. There were bottles of holy water, two brass crosses and a double-headed axe that looked deadly sharp.
Had he leapt into a serial killer, he wondered? He almost laughed—it was ridiculous—there was no way this girl could pose a threat to anyone, she had to be all of a hundred and ten pounds soaking wet. Plus his gut told him that she couldn't possibly be a murderer. Still, things were obviously not as normal as they appeared to be. Just as he was about to close the drawer and move on, his eye caught sight of a photograph hidden underneath a weathered old Bible. He picked it up and brought it closer to get a better look.
The girl in the picture was Buffy, looking carefree and spectacularly happy. And standing next to her was an older man, looking at Buffy with an odd expression on his face—pride? Curiosity? Love? Sam couldn't tell, but once again there was more going on beneath the surface.
There was a soft tap on the door, followed by an equally soft British voice. "Buffy? Can I come in?" The door opened a crack and a man appeared. The same man he'd just seen in the photograph.
"Giles?" asked Sam, and for the first time in an impossibly long time, he felt safe.