It's Joss's world, baby, we're just visiting it. The tragedy, alas, is all too real.
This story is set a week after the tragic and horrifying events of September 11, 2001, and uses that day as a backdrop. I may be taking some liberties regarding events, but my understanding is that the season premiere is set two to three months after Buffy's final sacrifice in 'The Gift', so Buffy in my story came back about a month prior to the date of the story.
Archives; Go for it.
Feedback; Let me know what you think at Jim_D_Means@prodigy.net.
The gang comes together for a worthy cause, but sometimes even the best of us need a little more help.
- And then a hero comes along
- With the strength to carry on
- And you cast your fears aside
- And you know you can survive
- So when you feel like hope is gone
- Look inside you and be strong
- And you'll finally see the truth
- That a hero lies in you
- --Mariah Carey
September 16, 2001;
"Are you sure you're up for this, Buffy?" Dawn asked her sister as they made their way to the Red Cross building after school. "I mean, you were…well, you just…"
"Came back from the dead, Dawn?" Buffy answered teasingly. Dawn grimaced at the thought. "I'm fine, Dawn. I've been back for a month, Giles had a doctor give me a complete physical and the ol' chassis is in perfect working order. Y'know, Slayer metabolism. My body'll produce more blood before I can miss it. Besides," she paused, a strange sadness as her mind recalled the terrible picture that she saw last week, "I just can't sit down and do nothing, not after what happened last week."
"I know what you mean," Dawn nodded. "I mean, I just got you back, it's like a miracle, then I wake up one morning, and everything's changed forever." She instinctively sought Buffy's hand, and her sister gave it a gentle squeeze. They both couldn't believe what they had seen when they woke up last Tuesday morning; two commercial planes crashing into the World Trade Center, and the mighty structure collapsing to the ground.
They entered the Red Cross silently, noticing the American flag flying outside at half-mast, and were greeted by a warm voice; "Buffy, Dawnie, hey there!"
"Hey back, Willow," Buffy met her best friend in the lobby, and they exchanged a warm hug. "Glad you could meet us here," she smiled.
"Hey," Xander poked his head from a six-month-old 'People' magazine. "Wouldn't miss it. Anything for free donuts and orange juice." Anya, Tara and Giles also nodded. The friends had agreed to meet Buffy at the Red Cross to donate blood.
"After what happened last week in New York," Giles admitted, "how could we do any less?"
Tara smiled, taking Willow's hand in hers. "I'm just glad that there's something we can do to help, instead of feeling helpless."
"I know what you mean, Tara," Buffy admitted, "I guess it's just so overwhelming for me because I'm used to being able to do something about that sort of thing. I mean, we've saved the world a few times now, gone up against the worst evils, but this…I can't pin this on a master vamp, or crazed goddess. This is human evil. How do we combat that?"
"By not giving in, Buffy," Giles answered sagely. "By standing against it at every turn, and not giving in to fear." The others agreed with their mentor, and waited patiently to donate some of their blood.
Four hours later;
A clear night, illuminated by a handful of stars and a near-full moon, greeted Steve Marconi as he drove the Red Cross van down the dark road to Sunnydale Airport, carrying thousands of pints of refrigerated blood to be flown to New York. Steve had taken this trip the last three nights in a row, after the airplanes were allowed to fly again. He knew every turn in the road, every pothole and dip. He thought he could make the run with plenty of time to make the flight.
He didn't see the body in the road until it was nearly too late. The still form in his headlights caused him to swerve the vehicle violently, nearly overturning the van before banking to a stop.
Steve rushed out of the truck and toward the body, to examine it quickly. It was a pretty blonde, female, twenties, in a leather top and pants. She looked so pale, so deathly still, that Steve was afraid that she was dead. He bent down and took her head in his hands, saying, "Hey, miss, you all right?"
The blonde opened her eyes, lifted her head and smiled at the driver. "I am now!" She then grabbed him by the throat and threw him aside as though he were a paper airplane.
"Boys!" she barked, and three hulking vampires emerged from the trees behind her. "Grab the truck, guys, I'll take care of the driver." While her henchmen started toward the truck, Harmony stalked her prey, her face contorting into her vampiric aspect. "Thanks for the meals on wheels, fatso. These blood packets are just the thing for emergencies. But me," she leaned toward the terrified driver, her fangs bared. "I prefer mine fresh from the source."
"Sorry, Harm," a voice called as a foot flew hard into her face. "The bar's closed." Buffy grabbed Harm and threw her aside, then helped Steve to his feet. "Stand back, friend. We'll take care of the creep squad."
The three vamps turned toward the girl who attacked Harmony, intent on defending their mistress. A sudden flash of light erupted in front of them, causing terrible pain. "Eat sunshine, scuzzos!" Willow shouted from her vantage point. Xander grabbed the nearest dazed vamp, easily ramming a stake into its heart. Buffy and Giles made short work of the other two. Harmony, for her part, ran off before Buffy could catch her.
"Leave her," Giles called after Buffy. "We have more important things that demand our attention." Buffy rejoined the other three, as Willow and Xander were helping Steve get back to his truck.
"What happened?" Steve asked. "I heard weird things about Sunnydale, but those guys looked like vampires!"
Buffy glanced around at the others, who didn't seem phased by the driver's observations. "Yes, Steve, vampires. They thought they could score some free blood by attacking your truck. Probably staked out the road for the last couple of days, figuring out when you were likely to come by this way. Don't worry about it, though, we won't let them get past us."
"Thanks, miss," Steve answered. "I guess you know about this sort of thing more than I do."
"Would you care for an escort?" Giles offered. "We can drive alongside of you if you wish."
"Thanks, I'd like that." Steve got back in the driver's seat and started the engine. Buffy and the others returned to Giles' car, and prepared to follow.
As they accompanied the truck on its way to the airport, Buffy felt a strange satisfaction at what they accomplished that evening. It was a small thing, hardly in comparison to defeating The Master or Angelus, or rescuing Dawn from the mad Glory, but somehow this was different. This blood was earmarked for rescue efforts in New York, and preventing it from falling into Harmony's hands filled her with a warm glow, one that she hadn't felt for a long time.
They made a difference against a great evil. That's what matters.