A/N: This is the beginning of my Vampire/Slayer Archives series – the first episode. Set in my Angel/Spike universe, you may want to go check out my rewrites of the last eight Angel Season 5 episodes to understand what's going on, starting with A Different Hole in the World. Though the rest of the series will revolve around the Angel/Spike/Buffy relationship, this one is outside-character centered, which I've had a lot of fun writing. This episode is rated T for language and a few situations, but be warned, the rest of the series will veer more toward hard M than anything else.
The Vampire/Slayer Archives: Episode 1 – Living up to Expectations
Chapter 1 – Louisville Slayer
So, it all started with softball. I'd never been much good, but it was fun being on a team, hanging out with the girls, having people who would talk to me on a regular basis, having something to do during the summer besides sell shaved ice to fat tourists. Who never tip, even thought the tip jar is right there, begging to be filled, people!
Anyway, one day in softball we were playing against our rivals, the Reganton Rattlers, and I was up to bat. The midsummer air was stifling and the afternoon sun bright. We were two runs down, with one on second and just one more out to go in the fifth inning. I knew it was still the middle of the game, but it felt like everyone was counting on me. I couldn't let them down. Not Coach Drew, not my best friend Haley, and definitely not Penny friggin' Brown, captain of the team. Because I was beginning to suspect that even though I had a crush on Sean Davidson who was a year older than me, going in to senior year, and worked in the same lake-side refreshment stand as I did, I was also developing a crush on Penny Brown. And I thought growing up couldn't get any more confusing.
So, I was up at bat, wondering how badly I was gonna screw up this time, and this strange feeling came over me. An adrenaline rush, I thought. Oh, good! Maybe I won't fuck this up.
Sheila Hsu stepped up onto the pitcher's mound and I hefted my bat, praying the dust I kicked up with my feet shuffling for a grip wouldn't make me sneeze like last week. And then the ball was flying and I didn't even think. I didn't focus on how my hands rolled over one another as I swung, I didn't keep my eye on the ball, and I certainly didn't notice whether the ball was coming over the plate or not.
I just swung, shivering with rapturous glee and a rush of power when the bat made contact with the ball, shooting it up and out. Past the pitcher, over the shortstop and still flying. Urged on by the shouts from my teammates and my coach, I ran. I ran hard and I ran fast, catching up to Molly Drapinski just after third and waved on by the coach, following her in to home.
I had just hit my first home run! And it was fucking fantastic. For five joyous moments, I was everyone's hero. Coach Drew gave me a high five, Haley and the others hugged me, and Penny Brown smiled, raised her eyebrow and said, "Nice one, Nguyen!"
She knew my name! She knew how to pronounce my name! Even if she would never give me another thought, in that moment, it felt like enough.
Smiling like an idiot, I barely paid attention the rest of the game. I cheered and clapped with the rest of the team, but I couldn't even care if we won or lost. All that mattered was that I'd gotten a home run and Penny Brown had noticed.
I was up to bat once more, but fucking Sheila Hsu walked me on purpose. Another Rattler tried to tag me out on the way to third, bit I was just too quick. I'd never been quick enough to avoid getting tagged out, not when the ball landed so close in the outfield.
It was an amazing game and we ended up winning five to four. We lined up, shaking hands with everyone on the rival team, congratulating them on a good game. When I got to Sheila Hsu, I winked at her and smiled, confidence fueled by good luck and an awesome game. Sheila just scoffed and shook her head at me, moving on to Haley behind me as I shook the next hand in line.
Because I had to work that evening, I couldn't go out for pizza with the team, so I wandered away from the field, taking the walk back to my bike slowly.
"Hey," called a voice just as I was about to hit the parking lot, "you had a nice game!"
"Thanks," I said, looking back to face the speaker. She was a young woman, probably college age, maybe just graduated, and she had the most amazing hair. It cascaded down around her face and shoulders, a deep wavy golden brown that shone in the sun. And for Pete's sake, I was noticing way too much about this girl's hair!
"You're Rita, right? The one with the impossible last name?"
"Yeah," I answered, stopping to face her, patiently pronouncing it, "Nguyen."
"Tough break, sister," she said with a sympathetic tsk. "I'm suddenly glad my parents were white trailer trash."
"Yeah?" I asked, wondering whether or not she could tell that my mom was white. "What's your name?"
"Faith Lehane," she said, sticking out her hand to shake mine. A little hesitantly, I took it, almost gasping at the strength of her grip. "Nice ta meet ya, kid!" she smiled, and that smile just about knocked me over.
"You, too," I replied carefully. "Are you here with the Rattlers?"
"Who?" she asked raising an eyebrow. I looked back to the field, where a few stragglers were still packing up their things. "Oh! The dopes in purple? Nah, I'm just visiting."
"Okay," I nodded. "Well, I've got to go."
"Oh, sure. Don't let me keep ya." She waved me off casually, saying, "See you later, Rita!"
"You, too," I replied lamely, disturbed by how strongly my heart was beating against my ribs.
Later that night, after I'd walked home and showered, I rode my bike down to the lake, locking it up behind the Sip and Slurp, the unfortunate name of my place of employment. Inside, I was greeted by Sean with an apathetic wave and by the owner, Doug. "Okay, guys," he said as I strapped on my apron, "I'll be back at closing."
"Thanks, Doug," I said in parting, though I wasn't sure what I was thanking him for. Leaving me alone with Sean? Giving me the job in the first place? Whatever the reason, it was completely lame.
Sean and I worked in relative silence, serving people done with a day at the beach and now strolling along the boardwalk, having dinner or just taking a walk. Eventually, though, things died down and I turned to Sean, asking him, "So, what's up?"
"Not much," he yawned, showing off those perfect teeth and that amazing jaw of his. It sent shivers down my spine just looking at him, which I really hoped I was hiding from him. "Got a text from Penny," he mentioned, brushing back his straight brown hair, which wasn't nearly as long as lost of the guys in school, a difference I found appealing.
"Said you scored a home run today!" he actually smiled at me, and an eager grin leapt to my lips in response. "Good goin', Vanilla!"
Sean had taken to calling me vanilla since the beginning of the summer, when I'd accidentally let the soft serve machine just go and go until the floor was practically covered in vanilla ice cream. God, I would never live that down, would I?
To continue the conversation, I asked Sean, "So, I didn't know you talked to Penny Brown."
"Oh, yeah," he scoffed. "All the time. I guess she's my girlfriend now."
"Is that so?" I mumbled, turning away to hide the crushed look on my face. Of course he liked Penny. Everyone liked her. Nothing was ever fair was it? Every day in school for ten damn years they teach you play fair, be fair, fairly graded, fairly earned. But outside? Life isn't fair.
Looking down, I suddenly realized that I'd picked up a metal spoon from the counter and bent it in half with one hand. How the hell had I done that? I couldn't even lift the bucket of ice to refill the soda machine by myself. And now I was bending spoons? I wondered if I'd done it with my mind somehow. My dad likes to talk about how there's more out there than science can explain and he's convinced his office is haunted. I wondered if this would count as one of his unexplained phenomena.
Carefully, I bent the spoon back, realizing it wasn't my brain, but my hand that had actually done the damage. What the hell was going on?
A quick rapping at my window startled me, putting my stomach up in my throat, agitating the many butterflies already flapping around in there. Looking up, I saw a familiar face behind the window.
"Well, fancy meetin' you here," Faith exclaimed, gaze flicking to the still bent spoon in my hand.
"Uh, hi," I said, slipping the spoon into my apron. "How can I help you?"
"Nothing for me. Thanks, slugger. But, I'm guessing I can help you."
"What? Are you a salesperson or something? I don't want to buy anything," I told her, wondering if Sean and I could get rid of this lady by ourselves or if I should actually call the cops.
"I'm not sellin' anything. I'm here to recruit you."
"What? Are you in a cult or something?" I asked suspiciously. "I'm not interested in that either."
"No! A cult? Do I look crazy to you, girl?" Faith laughed, offended I guess. "I work for a school."
"A school? You?"
"What? I don't look like the educator type?"
"Yeah. Uh, no," I changed my mind, blushing fiercely and wondering if I would get fired for shutting the window shutters in her face.
"That's why I'm out here, recruiting," she explained, "and not teaching all the girls how to tell their asses from a hole in the ground."
"It's a girl's school?"
"Yeah, primarily," she nodded, leaning on the counter and picking a straw up out of the dispenser. "It's a school for girls like us."
"What do you mean girls like us?" This was getting sketchier and sketchier. So why wasn't I getting rid of her? I suspected it had something to do with how she was chewing on the end of the straw she'd picked out.
"Girls who get home runs without even looking," Faith smirked. "Girls who can bend metal spoons with one hand," she nodded to my apron and I blanched, horrified. She'd seen me do that?
"I've never gotten a home run before," I confessed, hoping she'd made a mistake and would go recruit someone else.
"Ah," she nodded. "You look like a girl just come into her power today. Man, I've got good timing!"
"Yeah, awesome," I said, looking around behind her for someone else to serve, but there was no one. "I'm not interested in your school."
"You will be!" she teased playfully, slipping me a pamphlet with a business card stapled to it. I read the top of the pamphlet, "Summeridge Academy for Girls."
"Is this just for the summer? Some sort of extra college prep or somethin?"
"No, it's all year round," she shrugged, pointing to a business card stapled to the brochure. "Read it over and give me a call when you're ready to talk about it."
"Sure," I nodded uneasily, watching as she flounced away, her jeans really too indecently tight.
"What was that about?" Sean asked, and I hastily shoved the pamphlet into my apron pocket.
"Oh, nothing," I insisted. "Nothing at all."
Before heading home after closing, I sat in a pool of light next to the Sip and Slurp, and decided to read the pamphlet. With pretty pictures and ambiguous wording, it was quite generic and I couldn't figure out how exactly I was qualified for this school. My grades were only okay, I wasn't a music prodigy or anything, and I certainly wasn't a sports star. Why would they want me?
And then I found out that the school was in Scotland. I didn't know how to feel about that. On the one hand, it would be nice to get out of this small town, get out of Oregon and go see more of the world. But on the other hand, I'd be leaving all my friends and family behind.
Which, given how much my parents were fighting these days, actually sounded kind of nice. Maybe if I left, they'd actually consider getting a divorce. I mean, my brother Stacey was already out of the house, working at some bar in Chicago to pay his way through law school. Flipping through the pamphlet again, I noticed the line that said, "All attendees are provided with tuition, room and board through grants and endowments". After some thought, I worked that out to mean that my parents wouldn't even have to pay to send me away. And now that Sean and Penny were seeing each other, I found I didn't really care to stay. The only person I would miss was Haley, but she'd been spending so much time with her boyfriend lately, I barely got to see her anyway.
After I'd decided to ask my parents if I could go, I realized this was probably too good to be true. Why would they recruit me? Why was the recruiting agent for this Scottish school an American? Why didn't they charge tuition? I sighed and folded up the pamphlet, stowing it in my pocket as I approached my bike.
Suddenly, two guys appeared out of the shadows and I repressed the urge to shriek. Why hadn't I gone home right away? Why had I let that stupid pamphlet distract me? "Stand's closed, guys," I managed to say loudly, hoping they wouldn't come any closer. Both were wearing leather biker jackets, had big looking shoulders and arms, and scruffy hair. One even had a moustache that was big and dark and scary looking.
"We're not here for the soft serve, sugar," the one on the left (without the moustache) said, sneering at me in a way that had my heart beating a million miles a second. And then his face shifted into something monstrous. His brow got really big and bumpy and when he smiled at me, I could see big fangs where his canine teeth should have been.
I couldn't help it. I screamed. I screamed bloody murder and fumbled to get my bike unlocked, looking back only once and noticing that the other guy's face had changed, too. And then they were on me, the first guy picking me up by my hair. "Get off me, you freaks!" I yelled, kicking back at him and hitting him in the knee. Surprisingly, he groaned and let me go, hobbling back a few steps.
"What's wrong, Earl?" his friend asked, keeping his eyes on me so I couldn't escape.
"I think this one's a slayer," he growled through all those pointy teeth (because now I noticed that it wasn't just his canines that were deadly looking). Slayer? What was that?
"I've heard their blood is really choice," the mustached man crowed, licking his lips. Blood? Ew! "Wanna find out?"
"Yeah, she doesn't look so tough," he said, standing up straight and looking me up and down. "Probably one of the new ones everyone's talking about these days. We can take her."
What were they playing at? They could definitely take me! I was a sixteen year old girl and they were two big, burly men. Just three weeks into summer vacation and this was it. I was gonna die.
"Hey Chip and Dale," a woman's voice called from the shadows, "think I look tough?" And then Faith stepped into the light, and I'd never been so relieved to see anyone in my entire life. But even as toned as this girl looked, there was no way she could save me from these goons. Could she?
"You must be Faith," said the first monster, growling at her.
"You've heard of me?" the woman cried, smiling like she'd just won the lottery. "I'm touched!"
"You dusted my Sire, bitch!"
"Oh, so sorry! Was it mommy or daddy that got the pointy end of my stake?" she smirked, casually moving between me and the monsters. Behind her back, she let something slip from her jacket sleeve and pressed it into my hands. Looking down, I realized it was a wooden stake! Which means these goons must be vampires. True, honest-to-God standing in front of me vampires! Maybe I fell off my bike, hit my head, and I was just hallucinating all of this. I hoped beyond reason that this was the case.
"My sire was Helen Bauchner, Lady Death of the South!"
"That Anne Rice wanna-be who wore way too much makeup?" Faith replied with another laugh. " I think I did you a favor there, buddy."
With a wordless screaming growl the vampire attacked, his friend only a step or two behind. Faith fought them almost effortlessly, blocking their blows and striking out at them with incredible force. I watched breathless from the side, standing next to my bike and wondering if now would be a really good time to run away. But I couldn't just leave Faith here by herself, could I?
A few moments later, moustache guy had Faith knocked down and was trying to stomp on her head while the other one came after me. I couldn't help it. I screamed again. When I ducked away from the guy, screams silent for a moment, Faith shouted at me, "Use the stake!"
"What?" I replied, confused and dodging the guy the best I could.
"That weapon in your hand! Put it in his heart, short bus!" she cried, finally catching the other vampire's foot and twisting it so he belly flopped onto the pavement.
"I don't know how!" I told her, unsure how I could even think of speaking to someone with this guy after me. My breath was coming in desperate pants, I was sure my heart was trying to escape my body through my mouth, and my long black hair was everywhere, including in my eyes.
"Sure you do, honey," Faith grunted, tackling her vampire and sitting on him, punching him in the back of the head repeatedly. "Just stab him, pointy end first."
Shrieking again as I dodged the vampire, wondering how on earth I was doing it, I turned the stake in my hand, holding it point down, because that seemed better than accidentally poking myself in the eye with it. As the vampire came at me again, I set my feet like at home plate and screamed at him, swinging my arm down and at his chest. The wood punched into him easier than I thought possible, and suddenly the vampire exploded into a cloud of dust. "What. The. Fuck," I panted, coughing as I inhaled some of the dust.
I turned back to see how Faith was doing, and she pulled another stake from her boot, driving it into the guy's back, falling down a few inches when he turned into dust under her, just like his friend had.
Shaking uncontrollably, I dropped the stake, noticing the way it clattered away across the pavement, and sank to my knees. Letting out a deep breath, Faith picked up the stake, fitting it back under her sleeve and knelt down in front of me. "Good going, Oregon!" she praised, clapping me on the shoulder. "No one hits the heart on their first try!"
"What," I asked, starting to hyperventilate, "the fuck just happened?"
"You, missy," she smiled, taking one of my hands in hers, "are a bona fide Vampire Slayer!"
"A who, now?"
Faith laughed, standing and helping me to my feet. "Just calm down, Rita. Take big, slow breaths. There you go! I know. It's always a shock when you're first told you've been called."
"Called for what, exactly?" I managed to ask, still using Faith's hand to support myself as I took deep breaths, trying to calm down.
"To fight back against the evil things in the world. Things like those vamps. See, no one else is equipped to deal with them."
"What are you?" I asked her, pulling my hand away from her and leaning back against the bike rack so I wouldn't topple over.
"Also a Slayer," she nodded. "Got called up when I was just a little younger than you."
"So you've been doing this awhile?"
"Longer than I'd care to admit," she laughed, sticking her hands in the pockets of her summer jacket. "You and your bike want a lift home?"
"I don't know," I eyed her suspiciously. "I don't know you."
"Oh, Christ," she giggled. "I just helped take down those vamps for you and you're worried about taking a ride home? Let me tell you, sweetheart, now that you've been called, more of those things are gonna find you. They're drawn to the slayer energy or somethin'. So, I don't want to leave you out here alone until you're ready to deal with them on your own."
"I'll be able to fight like you?" I asked her, suddenly drawing to the conclusion that if I was what Faith claimed I was, this could be very interesting.
"If you come to the school," she nodded, watching as I unlocked my bike and wheeled it towards her.
"Right. The school. So it's not too good to be true?"
"Not for you, Rita," she insisted. "You're one of us now and you need to learn more about what it means to be a Slayer. We've got a whole curriculum and everything, so you'll be able to graduate and then decide how you want to use your abilities from there."
"I'm…" I started, following beside her, presumably to her car. "I'm just overwhelmed."
"I get that," she said, approaching a pickup truck. "Why don't you sleep on it? I mean, you don't have to come, but you'd probably be safer if you did, if that makes any difference for your decision."
I nodded and Faith drove me the mile and a half home in silence. When I hopped out of the cab and lifted my bike down from the back, I noticed the bike was a lot easier to lift that it had been just a few days ago. Fuck me, I was stronger! As I walked the bike past the passenger window, Faith opened it and called out to me. "Don't invite inside anyone you don't know! They could be a vamp!"
"Yeah, seriously!" Faith smiled. "I'll be back in the morning to see how you're doing, maybe talk to your parents?"
"Okay," I waved to her, wondering what the hell I was getting into.
I hope you like Rita. It's always a little difficult coming up with an original character, but I think I've got the basics of her personality down. Please, review if you get a chance and let me know what you think.