Timeline: Season 2 (after School Hard) and later in season 7
Spoilers: AU from Beneath You(7.2)
Disclaimer: All ME
Down Memory Lane (2)
She got out of bed. The alarm said 6.30. Silently she crossed to the door, listening closely, senses straining. Something was off, in spite of the silence and familiarity. Carefully, Buffy opened the door of her mother’s old bedroom, the one she remembered going to sleep in. It was empty, the bed neatly made up. The furnishings looked a little bit odd to her, but she couldn’t pinpoint why.
She crossed to Dawn’s room. It was full of boxes and smelled musty. Shocked completely awake now, Buffy hit the light switch. Where in hell had Dawn’s stuff gone? Then she flashed on a two-year old memory: the trance trip she’d taken to find out if her mom’s illness was supernatural. This was how Dawn’s room had looked then, too. Empty. Because Dawn wasn’t real girl, but the mystical Key. Had there been a Dawn-erasing spell?
Buffy pinched herself. It hurt a little. She hoped this meant she wasn’t dreaming. The pinch gave her some other information as well. Her arm was feeling much softer and rounder then it should. So…what did this mean? She went downstairs quickly, to the kitchen, where her mom always used to pile the old newspapers. The top one said October 11th 1997.
That means… Angel is still around complete with soul… Spike has just gotten into town for the first time...or not yet? She couldn’t remember! Were Oz and Willow already together? Xander and Cordelia? No Anya, that was for sure. Count your blessings, she thought.
What if the Buffy from this time was just now waking up in a house with a Spike in it? Crazy, defenseless Spike in the basement? The other Buffy would stake him on sight, she had to get back really fast.
Buffy dressed hastily in a pair of extremely dorky jeans and a top, making a face at her fashion-disaster reflection. She practically ran all the way to Giles’ house. She rang the bell and pounded the door.
"Giles!", she called. "Giles! Wake up! This is an emergency!"
A sleepy Giles in tightly buttoned, striped pajamas opened the door.
"Really Buffy, what on earth are you doing her at this hour? Couldn’t it wait till school hours?"
Buffy grabbed Giles’ arms and only just succeeded in not shaking him.
"Giles, shut up and listen! Emergency here! I woke up here, only it’s the past for me, and I really have to get back to the future right now. Buffy from the past is going to wake up, and if she sees Spike she’s going to stake him!"
"Buffy, please slow down. You’re not making sense." Giles made as if to polish his glasses, but he wasn’t wearing them. "Sit down, take a deep breath and tell me everything, from the top."
School was about to start. Willow and Xander had trooped in a little while ago, and Giles had made Buffy tell her story again.
"So", Buffy concluded, "I read the date on the newspaper, six years in my past, and I came to Giles immediately, so he could figure out what to do and send me back."
The Scoobies just sat and gaped.
"Buffy, that’s really amazing," Willow babbled. "Has mankind traveled to the Mars yet and is there a cure for cancer?"
"Um, Willow – " Giles started to interrupt, but Buffy rode right over it.
"Get a grip, Will ", she snapped." We’re in a hurry, here! She, I mean Your Buffy, is so going to wig when she wakes up in a house with Dawn and Spike, and I really don’t want her to stake him, okay? So get to the spells already, the white magic thing. I want to be back before she wakes up!"
"Spells? What spells?" Xander chipped in. "And… Spike? What do you mean by that? "
"I know you never liked him, Xander," Buffy said, extremely annoyed, "but that is no reason to get Spike killed!"
Giles intervened. "Buffy, I really must ask you some questions. Why do you keep mentioning Spike? Are we talking about the same vampire who tried to eat the students last week?"
Buffy groaned. "Yes, I know, this must sound really weird to you, but Spike has changed, he’s working with us now!"
Don’t mention the soul, she thought, it will only make them think of Angel. Her gaze met only skepticism.
"Fine!"‘ she said quickly, "Let’s not talk about Spike anymore. He’s not relevant, you’re right. What is important is that two slayers, Buffy 1997 and Buffy 2002 have gotten mixed up. I don’t want to change history, so I guess I should say as little as possible about what has happened…is going to happen in the meantime. Let’s just go and figure out how to undo it, okay?"
"Gee, Buffy, I would really like to know, like, if I’m, you know, dating, in the future?" Willow asked shyly.
To her own surprise Buffy felt her eyes fill with tears, completely overwhelming her. God! Oz, Tara…She quickly looked away from Willow.
"I don’t think we should go into that, Will. Don’t you agree, Giles?"
But Giles was giving her anything but agreement.
Looking steadily at her he said: "Buffy, or whoever you may be, I’m far from convinced by your story. It’s unlikely to say the least. Why would we believe this? You may very well be a demon who has taken over her body."
He took off his spectacles and started to polish them.
"You see, and don’t take this the wrong way if you are the real Buffy, it is quite improbable that you would survive seven years of slaying. Most slayers don’t even live to see eighteen."
Gasps from Willow and Xander.
"And you keep mentioning Spike. What if he has put a spell on you, so you’d trust him and be easier to kill? We really must think about other possibilities before rushing in to do a time-reverse or what have you."
Buffy gritted her teeth.
"I remember this, "she grated, "and it still pisses me of to be reminded of it! Don’t you remember that this happens all the time? I sense something wrong with my slayer sense, and you spend a lot of time blowing me off, until it’s almost too late!"
She received nothing but glassy-eyed looks from her former friends, and a cool stare from Giles. She dropped her head in her hands.
"Okay, I give up. What can I do to convince you that I am really the future Buffy?"
Giles watched the disgruntled Slayer’s retreating back until she was out of sight. He turned to Xander and Willow.
"Well? What do you think? Is it Buffy?"
Willow made her big-eyed face and nodded with vehemence.
"Giles, who else could it be? She knew us, she was just acting a little different because she was so old, I guess! I mean, if she’s twenty-one she can drink in bars, she probably has a job…"
"Maybe she’s in college!" Xander interjected. "You know, college girls, no disapproving Moms, we all know what they get up to!"
"Buffy? In college? No way! Buffy and studying are not mixy things!" Willow laughed, and Giles nodded.
"I agree Willow, Buffy’s not the college type." He paused and put his fingers to his craggy forehead. "Why are we talking about college? Please stay focused! Xander, what did you think?"
Xander puffed up a little at being asked his opinion. "I think it was really our Buffy, only from the future, like Marty McFly."
"Yeah, and she has to be really careful not to change things, or she will fade in all the pictures! " Willow bobbed in her chair with enthusiasm.
"What? Never mind, I don’t need to know, " Giles almost rolled his eyes, but caught himself in time.
"Alright, in spite of my words to Buffy, I really can’t conceive of anything so closely resembling Buffy, and being able to deceive us. I do feel she was hiding things, but that was probably the Marty McFly- thing, very illuminating, Xander. If we knew our futures, we’d be too tempted to act upon that knowledge."
"Yeah, she didn’t want to tell me who I’d be dating, didn’t she?" Willow peeked hopefully at Xander.
In Xander’s mind troops of faceless girls with big chests danced past along, twirling their pompoms and flashing frilly underwear.
Giles looked pensive. "I think that as her Watcher I could handle knowledge of the future. I’ll ask her tomorrow."
It was dark, and Buffy was walking along a deserted street in the bad part of town, morosely kicking bits of trash. There had been no really challenging vamps, just a couple of clueless fledglings, who were so no fun to stake anymore. She’d just gotten too good.
"Um, Buffy, why don’t you go out and patrol? " she mimicked in a fake English accent. "We’re still not quite convinced what really happened to you!".
They had rained questions on her for hours, none of the answers apparently enough to convince them. Except for Willow, no one seemed prepared to just believe her. There had even been some talk of her going to class. At least she had managed to talk them out of that!
She looked up sharply. Her Slayer senses told her vampire- not Spike – but still…
"Hey…" came softly from a tall dark figure, as it detached itself from the wall it had been leaning against.
"Angel!" Buffy blurted out, completely surprised. "Oh, of course, you’re still here in this time, I mean, right now… I’m babbling, right? Hey, you."
Angel stepped closer, smiling slightly, really closing in now, clearly going to kiss her. Buffy thought: Well, why not? No changing of history here! Cool lips met hers in a gentle kiss. Buffy kissed back, then withdrew.
Buffy frantically tried to remember on precisely what terms Angel and she had been back then. Kissing, sure, but what kind? She decided she could be bad. Who’d know? She closed the small distance between them again, grabbed his shoulders and captured his lips in a real, grown-up kind of kiss. Angel made a faint, surprised sound, and started getting into the kiss. Again Buffy withdrew. She stared at Angel for a few heartbeats, then turned and walked away.
"Gotta patrol!" she called over her shoulder, and saw Angel staring after her expressionlessly, as always.
What to think of that little episode? Angel had definitely not known she was anything other than his normal 1997 Buffy. She was miffed he didn’t notice anything. Spike would have known in a heartbeat. And she herself? Didn’t feel a thing! She knew it was over between her and Angel, but that over…
The fates really had it in for her that night. She sensed another vampire lurking in the shadows only a moment before realizing it was Spike. Former Spike, of course. She stepped back in the shadow of a big dumpster. Carefully she looked around the corner. Spike was talking to someone, gesturing in short, choppy moves, a lighted cigarette trailing glowing circles in the air. Whoa. She dropped back against the dumpster and pressed a hand to her breast. It felt as if her heart and her stomach were having a fight in there. Holy crap, she couldn’t believe she was so much affected by the sight of old Big Bad. They hadn’t exactly been friends back then! But here she was, all a-flutter and totally wigged by the former incarnation of her ex-lover.
Buffy had another peek. Spike was still talking, standing there with that cocky, sexy stance, one hand hooked on the waist of his jeans, no doubt. The street lighting glinted on his platinum hair. And the duster! How she missed seeing that evil thing on him. It simply screamed "I’m Baad!" at you. She put her hand on her forehead. She wasn't coming down was a fever, she hoped – she felt all hot and sweaty. No other possible reason for feeling like this, right? She couldn’t be missing the old, bad Spike, now could she? Aw, who was she kidding? Buffy the vampire slayer, as usual all hot and bothered for someone she couldn’t have, and this time she’d chased him away all by her big stupid self.
Well, best get it over with soon, she reasoned, surrounded by the powerful perfumes wafting from the trash. Talk to him, stake him, get over him. Or just realize you don’t even like him. She stepped away from the dumpster to the middle of the street.
"Yo, Spike!" she called out. "Come on over, I want to talk!"
"Slayer?" Spike rumbled, as he turned around, eyeing her warily.
Buffy drank in the way he looked. Still arrogant, sure of himself, evil. It was kinda hard to admit that she was missing that part of him. In hindsight all their fighting had mostly been just plain fun. His hair looked a little different…for the rest: the duster and the black clothes were Spike Last Year. The Bad Year. Of course, she thought fondly, this was not her Spike yet. Oops. Well, yeah, whatever would happen between them, or not, he was hers. Hers to stake or…well, she hadn’t decided about what else to do with him yet.
"Spike, let’s do something different tonight. We can fight anytime; tonight I want to talk to you. Let’s have at truce: you don’t bite me, I don’t stake you."
"What the hell for, Slayer? Let’s just fight!" Spike vamped up and advanced growling.
"Aw, come on, Spike! We’re opponents, equals, we can have a parley before combat!"
This seemed to appeal to Spike, because his human face returned.
"Okay, then, Slayer, truce it is. What do you want to talk about so bloody urgently"? he said, lighting another cigarette.
They fell into step together, keeping some distance between them.
"Well, I always wanted to know if you only think about killing Slayers, or that, you know, you’re a little bit attracted to them as well?"
Spike’s scarred eyebrow rose. This was the last thing he expected from the righteous little Slayer!
"Never!" he drawled out, looking her over. "You must be joking! I don’t bleeding shag my food!"
"Okay", Buffy said, undaunted. "How about this?"
She grabbed him by the belt of his jeans and yanked him close, mashing her mouth to his.
"Make you hot? " she growled, and kissed deeper.
She felt the answer growing under her hands. Spike put his hands on her hips, pulling her into him.
Buffy shoved him away, a triumphant smirk on her face. She couldn’t be this wicked or rough with poor fragile crazy Spike, and it was a relief to let it out once more.
"Okay, Spikey, truce over. I found out what I wanted to know! Bye! "
She walked away. She left behind an utterly gobsmacked Spike.
"What-the-hell!" he roared, punching a fist against the alley wall. "I’ll get you for this, Slayer!"
"Now, Buffy" she thought, still smiling. "that wasn’t very nice! Great fun, though…"
Buffy walked up Revello Drive, on her way home, still basking in the glow of pranks played on former boyfriends. The lights were on. Dawn was still up? On a school night?
Suddenly her legs were pumping, driving her up the last few steps to the front door with maximum speed.
She threw herself in her mother’s arms with such abandon that the startled Joyce only just managed to stagger to the couch before they both fell over. To Buffy’s own surprise she was sobbing.
"Mom! I’m so glad to see you! I missed you so much! " she blurted out. She lifted a tearstained face. "You look so healthy! You look great! Can we just sit here like that? Can you just hold me?"
"Buffy, sweetie, what’s up? Did you have a fight with Willow or something?"
Joyce stroked her daughter’s blonde head with a mixture of amusement and concern. Buffy shook her head, her face once again buried in her mother’s sweater.
"No, no fight. I just realized I love you, and that I never say it. You do know that, Mom, don’t you?"
Joyce smiled. Buffy realized with adult perception that it was an indulgent smile, one reserved for silly fears in children. She remembered feeling it on her own face when talking to Dawn.
"Of course I know, Buffy. And I love you. I always will."
Buffy flashed on formless memories of her mother’s presence in Heaven.
"You’re a great mom, and you raised us really well. I think of you every day."
Joyce was starting to look a little bewildered now,. "Us? Honey, you’re an only child! Or were you talking about Hank?"
"Sorry mom. I just needed to say this. I wish…." Buffy trailed off. She couldn’t say ‘I wish you hadn’t died’…. She hugged Joyce again, and staggered a little, lights flashing on the edge of her vision.
Continued in Because she’s got personality (3)