The Element of the Matter

Authors introduction:-
I shouldn't be writing this, but the idea popped into my head and just had to be written. This is simply an excuse to use the characters, nothing more. Buffy just happened to be there to make an interesting story.

All irregularities will be handled by the forces controlling each dimension.
Trans-uranic, heavy elements, may not be used where there is life.
Medium atomic weights are available.
Gold, Lead. Copper, Jet, Diamond, Radium, Sapphire, Silver and Steel.
Sapphire and Steel have been assigned...

Sunnydale 2000, two strangers walked up the hill and looked over the town. 'So what do you think it was this time?' The blonde woman asked her partner.

'Something isn't right. A subtle shift in reality?' he asked, gauging her opinion.

She gazed out, impossibly blue in blue eyes soaking up the tides of reality. 'Possibly, I don't know though. Given the location it could be simple perception.'

He frowned 'Too small. Perception can alter reality, but on a hellmouth the repercussions would be vast. Echoing down the corridors of time like a freight train. It would shatter reality.'

'No, it wouldn't.' She disagreed. 'Not if it was controlled.'

'What force could do that. An altering of perception so total it only causes the faintest ripple on the fabric?'

For a moment they looked at each other. Knowing the answer. 'Magic.' They said at the same time.

Walking down the main street the two strangers couldn't have looked anymore out of place, but were still perfectly in tune with each other. 'They can feel it. All the hate, the fear the darkness bubbling out of every foundation.' The woman tried not to gasp.

'Yes, unusually perceptive of them.' He winced back and stopped. Facing her 'How are you handling it?'

There was another moment where she seemed to sway in the wind. 'Well enough. Given any thought on what we're going to do?'

'Depends. Whatever has been altered had an impact. It might be selective or minor. Until we know what has changed we can't know what or how to fix it.'

'Or if we should.' She pointed out. 'The alteration could be for the better.'

He looked at her. 'Come on. Lets find it, whatever it is.'

Exploring a hellmouth is usually more than dangerous. Especially when you know what your doing. The two strangers knew exactly what they were doing.

Rupert Giles, former Watcher, part time mystic and American secondary school librarian. It was a good CV, shame it meant nothing when it came to running a magic shop. The previous shop keeper had, of course, left his inventory behind and his next of kin didn't have a clue what half the stuff was worth.

Giles was too good a man to fleece them, but that didn't mean he wasn't going to get a good deal. He was checking the building's stock against the inventory list when the door opened. 'I could have sworn I locked it this time.' He muttered to himself.

It was a couple, maybe in their thirties. The man wore a old fashioned grey suit and the woman a completely out of place blue dress. They took a long look over the shop. 'Urm, I'm terribly sorry but we're not open. Going through a change of ownership at the moment and I'm just taking stock.' Giles said stepping up.

The man glanced at his companion who almost rolled her eyes back at him. 'Hello.' She said, a smile hovering on her lips. 'We're just looking. It's a very interesting shop you have.'

Giles recognised her accent immediately, it was the sort he had trained around. Upper-class English. Still there was something about her that wasn't Watcher trained. A lot more friendly. The man on the other hand almost ignored Giles out right, he went to the nearest table. Looking at everything, it was mostly just cheep shiny knock offs. A good way to gauge if someone knew just how real magic could be.

While he was distracted the woman had made her way over to the bookcase. Giles hadn't indexed them yet so he had no idea what they held, although from the rest of the shop the most dangerous thing in the building was a cursed comb that made your hair actually fall out. Most of it was basic protection based magic, healing and the occasional glamour. 'As good as it is to hear a civilised accent again I have to admit I thought the door was locked.'

'It was.' The man interrupted. For a strange moment Giles had expected it to be Russian, rather than matching the woman's.

'Something in the mechanism shifted, I think it must be broken.' She quickly supplied.

Giles gave them a moment, not liking the sound of a lock simply breaking. 'Yes, well that's just going to have to be one more thing I'll have to see to. As I was about to say I'm quite busy trying to get ready for next weeks re-opening. If you could...

'Giles! How's the... Whoa.' Buffy practically flew in. Whatever she was about to ask cut off after seeing the intruders.

'Are you open already Mr Giles?' Her younger sister, as ever, was right behind her.

'No, I'm afraid not. However my door doesn't seem to have gotten the message.'

Before anyone could say anything the strange man half whispered 'Emerald?' in surprise.

'Who?' Dawn asked, blinking.

This time the man actually continued. 'Nothing, I... I just remembered I have to pick something up for a friend of mine. The jewels on the artefacts reminded me.' Dawn quickly got out of the way as he walked out of the shop.

The woman nodded politely as she followed him. 'Yes, thank you. It was very interesting, I'm sorry we couldn't have come by at a better time.'

After they left Buffy gave Giles an odd look. 'That was... weird.'

'They were British.' the younger sibling shrugged. 'They're always weird.'

As his Slayer tried not to laugh Giles took off his glasses and polished them. 'Yes, well thank you for that vote of confidence Dawn. Now if you will excuse me I have to call Xander about a certain guarantee he gave me.'

Outside of the Magic shop the two strangers didn't risk a backwards look. Without rushing they found a quiet corner where they could talk. Eventually the woman turned to the man. 'It couldn't have been her Steel. Emerald was destroyed, remember.'

He didn't bother speaking, Simply sending his thought to her. 'It was her, you knew what she looked like, how she felt. That girl is the same. Identical.'

'Impossible. An echo like that? Here? You know the damage...'

'Of course I do Sapphire, that's why it has to be her. I'm positive her reconstitution has something to do with the ripples. Someone used powerful magic to recreate her, here and recently.'

'We have to investigate, quietly. There's no telling how delicate the fabric could be.'


End Part One

Authors note:-
I'm told that cliffhangers are evil, considering Sapphire and Steel was a contemporary of Classic Doctor Who I think they're under used...