Let me know what you think, I'm just not sure.

Disclaimer: I own nothing. Absolutely nothing.

Note from the author: Just so you know, this is set in season three of Buffy and it's a little while after Ninth Key/ High Stakes. Why? Just because. And the Ninth Key thing works well with the vampire thing, ya know? But mostly just because. And AvrilSays obviously beta'd this first chapter, like forever ago, but I don't know yet if she'll be doing the rest.

Note from the beta: All right, American readers; since I'm Singaporean, I speak and write using British English, so some words might seem to be spelled differently to you. I apologise if it causes any confusion.

I sat awkwardly at the back of the police van, rather annoyed. I mean, sure, I'd been breaking and entering, but you'd think people would be a little more grateful after I found all that money that their grandfather had hidden just before his heart attack. I tell you, I have a seriously thankless job - and I wasn't particularly looking forward to another 'discussion' with Mum.

The car pulled into our driveway and I walked up to the front door accompanied by two policemen. The look on Mom's face when she opened the door was enough to make me wince, and it wasn't long before I was sitting on the couch in front of her and Andy. Boy, this was going to be fun.

"Now, Suzie, I thought we agreed to put this behind us."

"We did, it's just-"

"You know I'm worried about you."

"I know, I-"

"You were actually doing pretty well when we first moved here."

"Yeah, it-"

"So, I was thinking, maybe you just need to take a break."

"It's just- huh?"

"I've talked to my sister, Joyce. Remember your Aunt Joyce? We haven't seen her in forever. I've decided that you will stay with them for the next couple months, just to cool things off a bit."

"But school, and -"

"You can go to school there. I'll talk to Father Dominic about having your records transferred. I know it seems drastic, but I really do think it will help you. Plus, Buffy's a nice girl - you two will probably get along fantastic. You haven't seen each other in years."

Well, that was true. But, still...

"You can't just make me stop everything that's going on in my life and move me to some other town."

"I can, and I will. I'm sorry, but you really need this."

My poor mum. I think she was getting desperate to try and fix all this- but my problems aren't exactly something that a little vacation and a few trips to a therapist could cure. But it didn't look like I was going to be able to argue.

"Okay, when am I leaving?"

"Tomorrow."

"What, so soon?"

"They just live a couple hours away, in Sunnydale. I'll drive you there in the afternoon." She stood up and patted my shoulder. "I think this'll be good for you, sweetie. Now, go to bed, you can pack in the morning."

I sighed. "Goodnight, Mom."

"Buffy, honey, can I talk to you for a minute?"

"Sure, but I gotta go patrol."

"Do you remember Aunt Helen and your cousin, Suze?"

Buffy shrugged. "Vaguely."

"Well, Suze is going to be staying here for a little while."

"She's what?" I yelled. She couldn't just spring something on me like this! What about patrol? And Slayer duties? And-

"Well, she's been in some trouble with the law, and Helen thought it'd be good for her to come out here, for a change of scenery."

"Where's she going to sleep?"

"In the guest room, of course. It's pretty close to yours, isn't it? I'll need your help cleaning my old museum stuff out."

"So she's coming down because she's getting in trouble with the cops, and you want me to sleep right down the hall from her?"

"Oh, try to be nice, or at least open-minded. I seriously doubt she'll be much of a threat."

"But how am I going to keep the Slayer stuff secret?"

"I'm sure you'll think of something. You kept it from me long enough."

Buffy refrained from pointing out that her mother was much more oblivious than the average teenage girl. Instead, she just sighed.

"I guess. When's she coming?"

"Tomorrow. She lives just a couple hours away, in Carmel."

"Tomorrow? Are you kidding me?"

"Buffy! You spend most your time fighting evil to save people, but you aren't even willing to help your own cousin."

"Fine, I'll try. I'm going now."

"Be careful!"

If I had thought the police car ride had been uncomfortable and awkward, this was a thousand times worse. Mum and I just sat in silence, coasting along toward my doom. Okay, so maybe that's a little dramatic, but I couldn't believe this was happening. Not to mention, I did a little research - okay, so CeeCee did some research, but whatever - and Sunnydale had a killer mortality rate, no pun intended. The place was probably swarming with ghosts. Fun.

It went on like that, in complete silence, until we got to Sunnydale. Now, I'd never actually been there, but the gigantic, brightly-coloured 'Welcome to Sunnydale' sign made it pretty hard to miss. From there, we drove to a neighbourhood, and then pulled up into the drive of a pretty, well-kept, entirely ordinary house.

Okay, I told myself, making an (pretty weak, in my opinion) attempt to be optimistic as I stepped out of the car, this may not actually be too bad. After all, I haven't seen Aunt Joyce or Buffy in forever. It'll be great to see my cousin again. Right? RIGHT?

I decided that my pep talks needed some work. I made a mental note of that.

Mom got out too and helped me unload my suitcases from the trunk.

"Suzie, I want you to know that you should feel that you can talk to your cousin. She's had trouble with the law herself- but she got through it. Joyce tells me she's doing much better now."

Oh, great, my cousin was an ex-convict. I know, that may sound hypocritical coming from me, but at least I have a reason. I mean, my law-breaking is for the good of humanity, and so on. What excuse does she have?

"Why don't we meet in the library after school?" Willow asked as she and Buffy walked down the halls of Sunnydale High School.

"Sorry, Will. I have to be at home tonight."

"Why?"

"My cousin's gonna come stay with us for awhile, she'll go to school here and everything. She got arrested, and everyone but my mom seems to think that the trip down here will do her wonders."

"Knowing Sunnydale, she may not actually make it back alive," Xander pointed out, coming up behind them.

"Exactly! I don't know what Mom was thinking!"

"I'm sure she was just trying to do the right thing," Willow said.

Xander nodded seriously, "At least if she's dead, she can't get into trouble with the cops."

Buffy shrugged, unconvinced by Willow but resigned. "You're probably right. Maybe I shouldn't be so quick to judge. I mean, I've had my fair share of trouble with the law and all."

"Yeah, but you're the Slayer, Buffy. What excuse does she have?"

"Good point."

I stood in the doorway of Aunt Joyce's house, feeling incredibly awkward. As soon as she'd opened the door, my mum and her were hugging and gushing about how they hadn't seen each other in forever and blah, blah. It was almost intimidating, really.

Well, I decided to take advantage of their current distraction to take a look around the house. So, I set my bag down on the floor and started to wander around. It really was a nice house, pleasant and airy. Sunlight was streaming in through the windows, and gave it a kind of glow. It wasn't long before I found the stairway and decided to take a look upstairs. I hadn't come across mine or Buffy's room yet, so chances were that they were that way.

Don't get me wrong, I was usually totally against the snooping thing and all, but this place was going to be my home for the next...well, I'm not entirely sure how long. But I was probably gonna be here for awhile, and I wanted to know what I could. So, I climbed the steps and walked down the hall, glancing in doorways. It didn't take long to find the room that would be mine. There were a few dusty cardboard boxes against the far wall, a twin bed with a plain white comforter, and a small dresser - not to mention a good-sized window that I could easily sneak out of if the need arose, as I was sure it would. Satisfied, I dropped the backpack I'd been carrying next to the bed and continued wandering down the hall. A quick glance in one doorway told me that it must be Buffy's room. Suddenly curious, I stuck my head inside and looked around.

It appeared to be an average teenage girl's room, other than the large, black duffel bag sitting on the floor. Suddenly nosey, I crept in and tried to get a better look.

It was big, bulky, and...was that a cross sticking out of it? Weird. I'd admit, I shouldn't be picking around in her stuff. But my curiosity got the better of me and I leaned toward the bag.

"What are you doing?"

I jumped. And tripped. And then fell on face. Way to make a great first impression.

Finally, I was standing and facing whom I could only assume was Buffy, though she looked plenty different from the last time I'd seen her. Granted, that'd been quite some time ago.

"Oh, um, I'm really sorry. I don't normally go through people's stuff – but, I don't know, my mum and yours were talking, and I just started looking around, seeing where stuff was, since I'd be living here, and...sorry," I fumbled, feeling my face turn red.

"It's okay, I guess. But if you're going to be living here, rule one is to stay out of my room, especially when I'm not here. That all right with you?"

"Got it. I'll just...go put some stuff away in my room."

"That sounds good."

I went to say goodbye to my mum, who'd finally decided she'd better get going, and then Buffy and I took all the rest of my stuff up to my new room. As I sat there, half-unpacked suitcases on the floor by me, I was mulling over the series of occurrences earlier that day and thinking that it might not be such a bad idea to stay there. After all, Aunt Joyce was a lovely person, despite her earlier gush-fest with my mother. And Buffy was pretty nice – she didn't act like an ex-convict at all, and she was really helpful in helping me drag my suitcases to my room.

I'd just decided to risk feeling optimistic when Jesse materialized in front of me.

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Beta'd by AvrilSays/DangerouslyAvril