This began as a fluffy idea for a short piece based in the middle of Season 5, then before I knew it, it was growing and blooming and turning into a season rewrite! It's going to be a long one, so I hope you'll enjoy the ride as much as I am so far!
In this Buffyverse, events up to the end of Season 5's first episode, 'Buffy vs Dracula', are exactly the same as canon with the exception of the last scene. There is no Dawn, but Glory's still the Big Bad, albeit with a different purpose. To begin with, this story sticks pretty closely to canon with some subtle tweaking, eventually going completely AU. And yes, there will be Spuffy :)
I've used some original dialogue from the show, though I've tried to keep it to a minimum. I hope this story will amuse and entertain, and if so I'd vastly appreciate a minute of your time to review. Thanks, and happy reading…
'Special delivery,' Buffy announced cheerily, setting down the fresh bowl of popcorn on the coffee table and taking a seat on the floor.
Riley, Xander and Anya were sitting around the table, a game of Life in progress. Xander dived straight into the popcorn, grabbing a handful, as Riley shook the dice and moved his playing piece.
'It was decent of your mom to let us hang here while she's out tonight,' Xander said to Buffy through a mouthful of corn.
'Yes,' Anya nodded. 'Xander's basement is far too depressing for a fun and relaxed evening.'
Xander stopped mid-chew, something hurt in his expression.
'So Giles is serious about buying the magic shop?' Riley asked, steering the conversation away hastily.
'Seemed like it,' Buffy said. 'He's even started planning how to turn the back room into a training space for me. But y'know, I think it'll be good for him. He said himself he gets bored just sitting around at home.'
'Plus, if you're gonna sell magical doohickeys, seems to me like the Hellmouth's the perfect place to set up shop,' Xander rallied.
'Absolutely,' Anya agreed. 'I'm also hoping that he'll give me generous discounts on his merchandise.'
'Poor Willow, finding the owner's body like that,' Riley said. 'How'd Tara take it?'
'Okay, actually,' Buffy mused. 'I think she was a little freaked, but she seemed to deal pretty well.'
'If she's gonna be hanging around with us, she'd better get used to being a 'little freaked',' Xander pointed out. 'Especially on Tuesdays.'
'Buffy,' Anya cut in, 'it's your turn, you know. You're holding up the game.'
'I'm sorry,' Buffy said, frowning just a little and glancing at Riley. She rolled the dice and moved. 'Aw, "taxes due"!' Buffy pouted, slumping. 'I think I hate this game.' She handed the dice cup to Anya, seated to her left.
'We can do something else if you'd like?' Riley said with a smile, rubbing her back sympathetically.
'No, this is good,' Buffy said, nodding decisively. 'Doing normal, Saturday night couple stuff with my friends, where absolutely nobody gets staked, stabbed or set on fire...makes for a pleasing change of pace.'
Xander smiled at her, but Anya was too intent on the game to notice. 'Oh, crap,' she huffed, slapping her cards down. 'Look at this! Now I'm burdened with a husband and several tiny pink children, more cash than I can reasonably manage…'
'That means you're winning,' Xander said.
'Yes. Cash equals good.'
'Ooh!' Anya squealed, clapping her hands for joy. 'I'm so pleased! Can I trade in the children for more cash?'
Suddenly something smashed in through the window, showering them with broken glass. Anya squealed and ducked behind the table, Xander instinctively shielding her. Cautiously, Buffy went to look at the missile. It was a rock with a note wrapped around it; she untied the string and opened it out:
Slayer, come out and die
'Who the hell writes a threatening note and uses a smiley face to dot the 'i'?' Buffy wondered aloud, showing the note to Riley.
'I'm waiting for you, Buffy!' came a valley-girl voice from outside, high-pitched and inherently annoying.
'Harmony?' Buffy and Xander said together. Buffy moved over to the hole in the window and peeked out. Sure enough, Harmony was standing on her front lawn with three other vampires behind her.
'So much for nobody getting staked,' Xander said.
'Riley, get some weapons and come with me,' Buffy said briskly. 'Xander, Anya, you guys stay here.'
Buffy took a stake from Riley and opened the front door. Riley stood behind her holding a crossbow.
'Excuse much,' Buffy said to Harmony, irritated, 'we're trying to have a games night in here, and you and your buddies aren't invited.'
'They're not my buddies,' Harmony said scornfully. 'They're my minions.'
'They're your huh?'
'Minions!' Harmony repeated. 'You know, lackeys? They work for me.'
Buffy couldn't help herself; the bubble of laughter in her chest spilled out before she could stop it..
'What's so funny?' Harmony asked, stung.
'Oh, where do I even begin to answer that?' Buffy gasped, laughing even harder at Harmony's scowl.
'Buffy, come on,' Riley said, chuckling despite his words. 'They have killed once that we know of. She could be a threat.'
It was too much; Buffy almost doubled up with laughter.
'Stop laughing!' Harmony snarled. She lunged at Buffy, but the invisible barrier threw her back from the doorway.
Buffy took a deep breath to calm herself. 'Like I said, you're not invited. Now, someone's gonna pay for that broken window. Any volunteers?'
'As if I carry money around…oh, you mean like, 'you'll pay for that', right?'
'Um, boss?' said one of the minions, raising his hand. 'When's the part where we kill her?'
'Right, I was just coming to that,' Harmony said, flustered. 'I've been reading up on you, Slayer, and I know that if I challenge you to a duel you have to accept.'
Buffy frowned. 'Says who?'
'Well…y'know…the books!' Harmony said lamely.
'Harmony, you're an idiot,' Buffy sighed. 'But if you're that desperate to get killed,' she stepped over the threshold, 'then let's make it quick, 'kay? We're planning to watch Titanic.'
Harmony smiled nastily. 'Mort – you know what to do.'
The biggest of the minions stepped forward, grinning.
'Mort's my champion, I nominated him to fight for me,' Harmony explained, looking smug.
Buffy shrugged as she descended the porch steps, squaring up to her opponent. 'All the same to me. So then, Mort, what I'm asking myself - ' she ducked as he threw a punch, back-fisting him hard across the face, ' - is exactly how dumb you have to be - ' Mort threw another punch, but Buffy blocked and snap kicked him in the stomach, ' - to be one of Harmony's minions.' She threw an uppercut that snapped his head back. 'I mean, did you have to fail an entrance test to get in or something?'
'You talk too much, Slayer,' Mort sneered.
'Fine. Let's just get straight to the killing.'
Buffy stepped in with a wicked right hook, but Mort took it on the chin and grabbed her in a bear hug.
'Buffy!' Riley shouted, raising the crossbow.
'Hey, no fair!' Harmony yelled. 'This is between the two of them, you can't just butt in!'
'Butt in?' Buffy wheezed, ribs creaking. 'Good idea.'
Buffy struggled in Mort's grip, head-butting him fiercely. His nose broke audibly and he dropped her, howling and clutching his face. In one smooth motion Buffy stepped up, staked him and turned to face the gang on her lawn. 'Who's next?'
Harmony and her minions looked at each other and without a word, in perfect synchronisation, they took off running.
'This isn't over, Buffy!' Harmony yelled as she ran. 'I'm gonna go figure out some even better plan, and I'll be back!'
'Great, look forward to it,' Buffy called back.
'Are you okay?' Riley asked, putting his hand on her shoulder. Behind them, Xander and Anya stepped out onto the porch, Anya still nervously clutching her hands together.
'Yeah, I'm fine,' Buffy said. 'Can you believe her? I mean, she goes to all the trouble of rounding up a gang, and that's the best plan she can come up with?'
'Well, you know Harmony,' Xander shrugged. 'Not exactly the shiniest lip gloss on the rack.'
'Personally, I'm glad that she didn't have a better plan,' Anya piped up. 'If you'd gotten slaughtered, it would have spoiled the evening quite considerably.'
'So what are we gonna do?' Riley asked. 'I mean, we can't just leave them running around out there, they might hurt somebody.'
'Aw, I knew this night was going too well!' Buffy whined. 'I guess I'll have to track 'em down and kill 'em all.' She sighed. 'What a drag.'
'Need some back-up?' Riley asked, almost eagerly.
'Nah, you guys stay here. I'll still be back in time to watch the movie.'
'How're you gonna find them?' Xander asked.
Buffy frowned. 'I have an idea.'
Spike strode through the graveyard, enjoying the cool silence of the night. In his hand was a paper bag containing bourbon, cigarettes and a dirty magazine that he'd purloined from the local gas station, and Clem had finally hooked up his crypt with cable just in time for the Monster Movie Marathon on Channel 44. Unlife was good.
The rustle of boots on grass and a faint scent of citrus alerted him to her presence just before Buffy caught his shoulder and slammed his back up against a crypt.
'Oi, watch it!' Spike exclaimed. 'You'll smash my JD!'
'I'll smash more than that if you don't talk,' Buffy said. 'Where's Harmony?'
'Dozy bint's back in town, is she?' he sniffed. 'So what on God's green earth makes you think I know - '
Buffy hit him in the face without ceremony. 'Try again.'
'Bloody hell, Slayer, you're in a right old mood tonight,' Spike said, blood trickling from his split lip. 'What's up, on the blob are we?' He inhaled deeply through his nose. 'No, that's not it…'
Disgusted, Buffy slammed him against the wall again by his lapels, cracking his head against the stone. 'Where is she?'
'Hell if I know!' Spike roared back. 'And I must say, it's a bit off to be beatin' on a fella when you know he can't defend 'imself!'
'Fine.' Buffy grabbed the grocery bag from his hand and held it out to the side, pinning him against the crypt with her other hand. 'Talk, or the booze gets it.'
'You bitch,' Spike snarled, reaching helplessly for his precious cargo.
Buffy let the bag slip an inch through her grasp.
'Okay, okay!' Spike said hastily. 'She used to have a cave in the north woods, not far past the overpass construction site - happen she's gone back there. Alright?'
Buffy relaxed the pressure on his chest and Spike shrugged her arm away, snatching back the bag she held out. 'What's in that anyway?' Buffy asked, curious despite herself.
'Nothin',' Spike said defensively. 'Liquor and smokes.'
'And…lemme guess, a porno magazine?' Buffy asked, rolling her eyes.
'Hey, lay off,' Spike frowned. 'I'm a guy, right, and guys like lookin' at naked girls. I bet if you lifted your overgrown Boy Scout's mattress you'd find a few choice publications.' Spike smirked, waggling his eyebrows.
'Just because you're a pig, Spike, doesn't mean all men are,' Buffy huffed, then turned and stalked away without a backward glance.
'Nice chattin' with you too, Summers,' Spike yelled after her. 'Any time you fancy pressing that cute little body up against me again, you just let me know!'
Buffy stumbled, but kept walking.
'Press up against him,' Buffy muttered to herself as she strode through the woods, ignoring the flush on her cheeks. 'Right, on what deluded planet would that ever happen?' She didn't know how he did it, but Spike got under her skin like nobody else.
Hacking through the undergrowth with a little more force than was strictly needed, Buffy noticed a cave entrance not too far ahead. The muddy ground was churned up with recent footprints.
Slowing, Buffy crept cautiously up to the dark opening. A rocky corridor went back a few metres before turning, and the vaguest hint of torchlight flickered on the damp rock. She moved silently into the cave, and as she got further in she could hear Harmony's voice.
'Okay, so things haven't been perfect,' she was squeaking, the echo adding an extra dimension of irritating. 'I just need a little more time to grow into my leadership role!'
Buffy peeked around the corner and saw two of the minions not far away, backs to her. Beyond them, Harmony was pinned against a wall by the third minion.
'You just can't get the staff these days,' Buffy quipped under her breath, raising her crossbow and taking out one of the clueless vampires.
The leather-jacketed minion let go of Harmony and the remaining vampires turned to face Buffy.
'See, I told you I knew what I was doing,' Harmony crowed quickly. 'The new plan worked perfectly.'
'New plan?' the floppy-haired minion frowned. 'The new plan was for Peaches to get killed?'
'Yeah – I mean, no – ugh, I knew Buffy would track us down, so now the fight's on our territory, on our terms. See?' Harmony grinned. 'I'm, like, an evil genius.'
'Oh,' said the minion, and grinned back at her. 'Cool.'
'Hate to rain on your parade, Harm,' Buffy mock-sighed, crossbow reloaded in the time Harmony had been speaking, 'but genius really isn't the word – halfwit, maybe.' Raising her arm, she shot Floppy Hair through the heart.
'Brad!' Harmony whined. 'Ooh, that's it! Cyrus, kill her a lot!'
'Finally,' Cyrus growled, lifting the axe he was holding. He swung savagely at Buffy, but she ducked and pushed him away. He stumbled, snarling, and as he whirled to face her Buffy staked him without breaking a sweat.
'And I thought it was painful watching you try out for head cheerleader,' Buffy said, turning back to Harmony.
She was talking to an empty chamber.
Buffy let herself in by the kitchen door, shrugging off her jacket. No sooner was she inside than the front door opened and her mother breezed into the hallway.
'Hey everyone!' Joyce called into the living room on her way past.
Buffy leant a casual shoulder against the fridge. 'Hey Mom.'
'Buffy, what happened to the living room window?' Joyce asked, concerned.
'Oh, that,' Buffy shrugged. 'Harmony showed up with some fangy friends, tried to crash the party.'
'Is everyone okay?' Joyce frowned, putting her bag on the island.
'Oh, yeah, toasty. And Xander knows a guy who can fix the window tomorrow, so we're all
good. How was the exhibit?'
'Oh, it was fantastic,' Joyce raptured. 'The gallery looked amazing, and there were so many people there! I even brought home a new piece of art for us to hang at home.' She opened her bag and carefully drew out a flat bubblewrapped package. She peeled back the layers to reveal a pottery disc, simply glazed in gold and bronze shades with a beautiful embossed maze-like pattern.
'Ooh, pretty,' Buffy cooed, running her fingers gently over the smooth, cool surface.
'Isn't it?' Joyce said proudly. 'I wasn't planning to buy anything, but then I spotted this and I just had to have it. You know, I didn't even notice it when we did the first inventory.'
'Wait a second,' Buffy said, snatching her hand back, 'it's not going to summon any fresh corpses to eat our brains, right?'
'Not this time,' Joyce laughed. 'No, this isn't ancient – handmade in New York just this year.'
'Good,' Buffy breathed. 'Hey, we were just gonna watch Titanic - wanna join us?'
'Oh, no thanks, Buffy,' Joyce chuckled. 'My love life is tragedy enough for me. I think I'll just head up to bed, it's been a long day. Don't forget to lock up when you leave, okay?'
''kay. Night Mom.'
'Night,' Joyce said, hugging Buffy briefly. 'Night everyone!' she called into the living room on her way past, smiling at the chorus of replies.
Buffy smiled. True, Harmony was on the run out there somewhere, but she had a loving mom, a perfect boyfriend and good friends beside her – what could life throw at her that she couldn't handle?