Warning: small bits of profanity and violence in story like an R rated film might have


This tale is set in S4. Yes, it is Spuffy, but in keeping with the idea of new beginnings, it has a slow build, beginning with the internal life of the characters. If you are expecting a quick Spuffy fix, you might be disappointed, although your patience will be rewarded if you stick with it. There are 26 chapters total.

One of the many lovely things about the world Joss and ME created was the use of metaphor, especially in the first three seasons. They took us through the high school years using their own special supernatural devices to deal with things we all experienced.

Season 4 was a perfect set up to continue that form of storytelling. The college years are the time when we re-evaluate all we have been taught up thus far. We experience the world and its people for ourselves, unfiltered. We experiment and challenge and grow. In the end we become our own selves. The Initiative, with humans at the helm and demons as their experiments, the introduction of a chipped vampire and a Slayer apart from the Council and its control were a perfect avenue to explore those parts of our lives in the same metaphor as the previous three seasons. At some point, for reasons I will never understand, they changed course and made it about Adam, a Frankenstein monster, instead of Buffy trudging into those gray areas of her world and grappling with the issues they presented.

In this story I am attempting to tell S4 in a way that might have continued the progression begun by ME in seasons 1–3. There is no Adam in my story, even though I do use canon here and there in the telling of it.

Setting: Begins after S4 episode "Beer Bad" and goes completely AU after "Something Blue" The first few chapters are quite short but after that they are normal sized.

Chapter 1

Buffy awoke to the mother of all hangovers and the sick feeling in the pit of her stomach that she really didn't want to know all that had happened to get her into this condition. She slowly cracked open one eye and flinched as a small amount of light from the open curtains hit her full force. "Damn, now I know how vampires feel with those sunlight issues!" she groaned into her pillow.

"Hey, Ayla, how ya doin'?" Willow asked, her face beaming even brighter than the sunlight.

"Ay who? God, please tell me the demon that did this is dead and dismembered." Buffy held her head, desperate to hold together all the little pieces that insisted they wanted to fly off in all directions.

"Ayla. You know…'Clan of the Cave Bear'?" Willow could see that Buffy was clueless, so she tried to explain. "You drank some magic home brew and went all 20 million B.C. on us. It was kinda cute, except for the fires and the grunting and your taste in men…. Oh, and the vandalism was of the bad too. I'm not too sure the maintenance people are going to love you for having to repaint our room to get rid of the petroglyphs, but, hey, I told them you were really into archeology studies and they didn't report it. Also on the 'yay Buffy' side, you did knock Parker unconscious."

Buffy fell over and buried her head under the pillow again in embarrassment. "Will, remind me that Tab is my friend and beer is made by evil demons, okay? I don't even want to see one of those commercials with the cute guys drinking the foamy. I didn't kill Parker, did I?" Buffy's face had a tiny flash of hopefulness that gave Willow pause.

"Nope. The jerk will live to seduce another day. He may think twice about who he picks though, 'cause I kinda psyched him out earlier, before you beaned his noggin." Willow smiled in solidarity. "I told him off pretty good, let me tell you. I gave him the full Rosenberg talkin' to."

"You know, so far college and Buffy are turning out to be majorly non-mixy. I almost get whupped by a skanky vamp-ho and lose my protecto-brella. Professors are snarkier than the demons I kill, but I can't kill them, even if they do throw me out of class. At least I don't think so, I'll have to ask Giles. My first roommate gave a whole new meaning to demon fighting and my first non-dead boyfriend should be dead. And that's just the highlights! My first frat party since the whole snake thing with Cordelia turned into the Twilight Zone and what's with Anya's bunny costume anyway? I don't know what was worse: her bad Easter Bunny imitation or having to see Giles in a sombrero. Guuuuhhhh," Buffy shivered in memory. "I think someone up there is trying to tell me to give up on higher education."

"It hasn't all been bad, Buff; it just takes some adjusting is all. You'll be College Buffy in no time, trust me. This will be millions of times better than high school was, you'll see." Willow was having trouble seeing it from Buffy's point of view because the redhead was born for the college life.

"High school's followed me here, Will. Harmony-Vampire Harmony, if you can believe it! Is it just me? I can't wrap my mind around Harmony and Spike as a couple. No wonder he almost let me dust him when we fought over the Gem of Amara! If Harmony's the best he can do and his last girlfriend was Dru, he must be suicidal!" Buffy looked horrified for a moment as she envisioned her night of alcohol-induced wildness. "Spike didn't get a front seat at the 'Buffy Goes Cavegirl' show, did he?" For some reason that Buffy couldn't quite explain, she fervently hoped the annoying vampire hadn't seen her in yet another humiliating situation. The whole Parker brush-off thing was bad enough. Spike had already used that ammunition to wound.

"Nope. Oz said he ran into Spike in L.A., literally ran into him. Spike was trying to get the ring back from Angel but messed it up. Angel got rid of the ring, so it's safe. I don't know if Spike came back to Sunnydale or not. He's probably off jamming bottles in other girl's faces far away even now." She still got the willies at the memory of the drunken vampire and his kidnapping of her the year before.

"Seems like a waste of a neat power. Angel could have been safe and even gotten a suntan. He'd look so good on the beach in a Speedo." Buffy's eyes glazed over in lust at the mental picture.

"True, but then if he had TOO good a time, Angelus would be the Speedo-wearing murderer of fish and teachers, and we'd have a big problem!" Willow pointed out the one major flaw in Buffy's gift giving.

"What is my problem, Willow? I mean, Angel was the love of my life and our problems made Romeo and Juliet look like a summer fling! I finally go normal with Parker and manage to pick the biggest jerk on campus. I'm doomed! Buffy and college, no mixy. Buffy and boyfriends, no mixy either. I should become a nun. A demon-fighting, kick-ass nun." Buffy pulled the pillow back over her head again and wailed in misery over her fate.

"No, Buffy, no! You just haven't met the right guy yet. I mean, I got lucky and met the right guy first thing with Oz and…and even if I can't talk about stupid music equipment like slutty hypnotic singers with weird names like Veruca…um…never mind. Oz happens to be my just right guy, that's all I mean. I know you thought that was Angel for you, but there's somebody out there that's really your Mr. Right. Angel was great and I know you love him, but if it were the perfect match, he would still be here, no matter what some old mean gypsy cursed him with. There's someone just perfect for you, who'll really understand you and make you feel complete. You just have to be willing to see him when he shows up, that's all. Parker was a poophead. He was your rebound guy. Rebound done now, so you can find the real thing."

No one could say Willow wasn't a cheerleader in her own way.