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Dark Times A'Comin'

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Summary: Witchblade/Tomb Raider comic/Spawn/Original/Buffy crossovers. AU Faith is running from her father, Willow and Cordy are together, Xander has a dark secret, while Buffy has to deal with her family just as much as she deals with her problems as the Slayer.

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Multiple Crossings > GeneralEvilguyFR18326,512073,98917 Nov 0617 Nov 06Yes

Lost Faith

Dark Times a Comin’

 

Disclaimer:  Buffy the Vampire Slayer is owned by Mutant Enemy Productions, created by Joss Whedon.  Tomb Raider comics are distributed by Top Cow and Image Comics, and despite having the Tomb Raider DVD where it’s told, I’m not sure who created Lara Croft.  Same for Spawn or Witchblade, but Witchblade is also distributed by Top Cow Image comics, and Spawn is owned by Todd Macfarlane Studios.  Whatever the hell is similar to what Buffy, Willow and Cordelia are that is different from the television series, I did not know beforehand.  Mostly I just made something up for Buffy and her “family” and used a lot of guessed/common knowledge from popular fiction involving witches.  Any questions, concerns, or burning rants, please contact me privately at the.evil.guy@grandt.com  Thank you and enjoy!

 

Chapter 1       Lost Faith

 

            She didn’t know what to do.  She didn’t know where to go.  She didn’t know what had happened.  She knew what she was doing right now though, and that was running as fast as she could.

            Faith Nottingham Pezzini sat alone on the cross-country bus, staring out at the black night sky.  She was a very special little girl, despite having celebrated her 16th birthday the week before with her mother’s death and her father’s best friends raping and beating her, and her killing at least two of them in the aftermath.

            She felt something suddenly, as she remembered her birthday.  She pulled out a rather plain looking silver bracelet, laced around a fake-looked red jewel that stared at her like some wide, never closing, accusing eye.  The red suddenly became a bit brighter as it was lit with an inner glow that Faith had never questioned or found the reason why.

            For a moment she had thought that it had moved in her pocket, but it was still in her hand, except for the red glow that lit up her face, but it quickly died down and then it was just another cheap-looking bracelet.

            Faith looked up when she realized the bus was slowing.  They had arrived at the last stop, the bus station.  Faith frowned when she realized that she no longer didn’t know where to go.  Sunnydale, California.  That was where she was supposed to go.  It was where she was needed and where she could get her needed help.  She wasn’t entirely sure how she knew all of this, but she suspected that the trinket that had once been her mom’s right arm had given the knowledge to her just then.  She wasn’t about to complain though, as the driver turned on the lights and she and the few other passengers got up to leave for the bus station.

            Stuffing the Witchblade back into her pocket, Faith silently made her vow again, ‘Don’t worry Mom.  I won’t let Dad, or the Bastard get their hands on it.  Or me.’

            She stepped off the bus and immediately made her way to the ticket counter to get a bus to Sunnydale, California.

 

<<<<<<<<<< *           *           * >>>>>>>>>>

 

            He was living in eternal torment.

            Well, okay, he used to live in eternal torment, and that wasn’t really living, because he had been dead at the time.  But despite hell being… well, Hell, what he was now going through came as damn close to eternal torture as it came.

            “He does not!” Buffy shouted.

            “He does too!” Cordelia and Willow shouted together, actually agreeing on something…for the third time if Xander’s memories served him correctly.  They usually did.

            People who had been in Hell and were now on Earth usually have pretty good memories, helps to remember what had sent them to Hell in the first place, and provided excellent guilt for those lucky enough to keep their souls and sanity now on Earth.

            Xander knew what this argument was about.  It just wasn’t important.

            What was important was the fact that Buffy had killed another vampire tonight, and in the process had gotten a little stronger herself.  Xander was surprised that she never seemed to notice that with each demon she killed, or even faced herself against, she became continuously stronger.  Hell, not even Giles seemed to know what was going on with his Slayer half the time.  Xander was the only one who had a clue.

            Of course that came from his uncanny ability to see auras and that was something he had worked long and hard at.  But Buffy wasn’t the only one who had gotten stronger from her slaying a vampire.  One less vampire meant there was one less demon sucking up the energy given off by the Hellmouth, and that meant more necro-energy for him.

            It used to be, when Xander had first involved himself with Buffy’s life, that he wanted to genuinely help the girl.  He knew about the demons and vampires and the Hellmouth before he knew about her, but who she was and what she was destined to do struck a chord in him that demanded he help her.

            Now though, after the whole fiasco with Angel, who had thankfully left after Willow restored his soul, Xander only stayed around the Slayer because despite all factors, they were still friends, and her killing demons kept him on Earth that much longer.

            Xander had no clue as to how much his “batteries” held of necro-energy, or how long they could last even if he never used his Hell-given powers.  But he did know that so long as he was within range of the Hellmouth, his batteries were being recharged.  If he ever ran out of necro-energy, he would die, again, and be sent back to Hell to be the 2nd-in-command of Hell’s army.  As long as he kept his batteries filled, he could probably live for a century or two and use his powers as much as he liked.

            “Xander!” Buffy suddenly shouted, snapping Xander out of his reverie.

            “Huh?  Yes!  The 5th Amendment?  24?  Pi?  What?” he mumbled out.

            All the females glared at him like he was trying to be funny, although he wasn’t at the moment.  “You don’t want to join the Swim Team, again, do you?  I mean the last time was purely for Slaying purposes only.  You don’t want to…do you?”

            “He does!” Willow and Cordelia insisted.

            “I got asked to try out by Principal Flutie,” Xander shrugged.  “And when the big man himself asks you to do something, whether you want to or not, you do it.  If I make the team, then yeah Buff, I’m gonna be on the Swim Team.  Whether I want to or not is a total non-issue here.”

            “But…” she tried to protest.

            “Would it make you feel better if I showcased the Speedos they’ll make me wear?” Xander asked with a grin.  Willow and Cordelia both got bigger grins on their already triumphant faces, while Buffy went a little red in the face and had to grin a little herself.

            “Uh… well, what you do, if you make it on the team, is entirely up to you.  I just figured that you wouldn’t actually want to do it and then we could like lodge a protest or something…” Buffy tried to excuse herself, blushing even more furiously now.

            “Ah don’t sweat it Buff.  Chances are I’m nowhere good enough for the team as it is,” Xander waved the whole idea off.

 

<<<<<<<<<< *           *           * >>>>>>>>>>

 

            “I don’t understand it!  How could this happen?!” Xander screamed as he stared at the bulletin board.

            “I told you, you were good enough Xander.  You should believe your best friend when she tells you stuff like that,” Willow said rather smugly.  Xander turned and glared at her, absently wondering what his chains could do to the redheaded witch.

            “Yeah, believe it or not dweeb-oid,” Cordelia added as she looped her arm around said redhead’s neck, “you’re actually pretty good.  I think being chased around by vampires and running away from demons over the years gave you enough stamina to swim 12 twenty-yard laps in under 15 minutes.  I heard from Luke that they overheard the coaches in the locker room talking about making you the Team Captain.”

            “What?!” Xander screeched.  They were to the Library now and entered without hesitation or break in the discussion.

            “I know nothing about team sports!  Nothing!  And all I know about swimming is what…” Xander’s voice suddenly broke, allowing them all enough time to realize they had walked into the middle of something going on in the Library.

            A very large gold/bronze skinned demon was standing behind Buffy, who was glaring upwards at Giles, from the picture presented actually trying to defend the demon, and behind Giles was the most beautiful woman that any of the teenagers had ever seen in a tank top and black denims, holding to large pistols on the demon, who was standing quite still.

            “I don’t care that he’s harmless!” Giles was shouting.  “It’s a powerful demon, and might be working for someone who isn’t so harmless!  And I’d recognize it’s breed anywhere and I can guarantee you Buffy that they are not harmless!”

            “Since when did you get so bigoted Giles!  You didn’t mind Angel, although when he was still Angel, and besides teleport in here, had he actually done anything!  Did it ever occur to you that maybe he works for one of the good guys and was coming to warn us about something?  I know you didn’t!” Buffy snapped just as Giles opened his mouth again.

            “Look Miss Summers…” the chocolate haired lady next to Giles said in a similar accent to Giles, but more proper somehow.

            “My name is Buffy Lady Croft,” the blonde snapped, but more respectful than she was speaking to Giles.

            “Buffy…until that creature, whether demon, alien, mutant, or otherwise, calmly convinces me, himself by the way, that he is no threat, he is in very real danger of being shot.” The Lady Croft explained.

            “Aren’t weapons illegal to have in schools?” Buffy innocently pointed out.

            Lady Lara Croft just gave her a lopsided grin and shrugged.  The guns never wavered once.

            “Buffy, you are the Slayer, I don’t understand this sudden…” Giles continued, but was interrupted.

            “Nobody ever told me you were the Slayer!” the golden demon said suddenly, sounding quite surprised, despite the voice that sounded like a dinosaur’s roar formed into speech.

            Buffy turned to look up at him.  “Uh… yeah.  Sorry I forgot to mention it in my letters GB.  Ignore them for now.  Why are you here?”

            “I couldn’t get a hold of your mother, so I tracked your aura.  This is the place you spend most of your time, so I came here.  There have been movements; Shell has taken the challenge of the sword, and your fa…uh, Geld Roy has moved his forces to the mount while the others remain in the valley and by the sea.  I’m sorry to cause you this disruption but…”

            Buffy shook her head and gently patted the harsh looking talon closest to her.  “No, it’s all right.  Unfortunately I deal with stuff like this all too often.  Thanks for telling me, I’ll keep Mom up-to-date as well.  Uh… by the way, how’s Trixie doing?”

            The golden demon’s mouth stretched, and a few more fangs became visible, and its eyes changed color from demony yellow to a bright green.  It was smiling everyone realized a moment later.  “She is well.  Misses her best friend of course.  But then we all miss you to some degree.  Even… even Geld Roy.  Slayer huh?  This’ll kill him!”

            That said, the demon turned his back on the group, held up one talon to the empty air, and then slashed it downwards, a bright red energy following the swipe and became brighter and wider until it was a portal through which the massive demon could step through easily.  The moment it did, the red energy quickly withered and died out, leaving the Library as it always was, save for the woman behind Giles.

            “Uh Buff?” Xander announced the presence of the rest of the gang, startling the three present apparently, and for a moment Xander, Willow and Cordelia had two large guns pointed at their heads.  Xander ignored the foreigner and continued with his question to Buffy, “Who, or rather what was that?”

            “That was GB.  He’s an old friend of Mom’s.  You want the whole story, ask her,” Buffy folded her arms and looked at all of the men present.  She was serious and that was her final say on the matter.  And not even a Watcher or the 2nd in command of Hell’s Armies would risk asking Joyce Summers how she knows an 8 foot golden skinned demon.

            Lady Croft finally put her guns away, which allowed Willow and Cordelia to breathe finally.  “So you knew him?  Why didn’t you say so?” she snapped at the blonde Slayer.

            Buffy shrugged and retorted, “And have the guns pointed at me rather than at what was behind me?  Besides, I told you he wouldn’t hurt anybody.  Unless the person in question was a denizen of Hell, or from the Source.  Or one of the First’s legions, or of one of the Rebar factions, or…”

            “We get the idea Buffy!” Giles finally snapped.  “He’s a soldier and would not hurt any innocents.  But please tell me how you could possibly know one of…”

            “Ask my Mom, cause I’m not talking,” Buffy refolded her arms and gave her best mimic of Willow’s “Resolve Face”, which was actually pretty close.

            Giles glared at her, but finally just sighed, shook his head, and then cleaned his glasses while rubbing the bridge of his nose.

            “Who’s the hottie?” Cordelia immediately asked.  Everyone looked at her, surprised.

            “What?  She is, and not even a gay man could deny it!” Cordelia defended herself.

            Lady Croft chuckled slightly but stepped forward and introduced herself.  “Hello everyone, my name is Lara Croft.  I’m an archeologist come to the area to research the local indigenous life, namely the local tribes of Indians of the area, as well as several of the remains of Spanish monasteries left by the Spanish.  And I also happen to be Rupert Giles’ niece.”

            Now everyone shifted their stares to Giles, who had just put his glasses back on.  “Lara is my niece, actually she’s my niece on my mother’s side of the family, and my mother’s first marriage.  John Croft was a Duke’s son, but we were still brothers.  Sadly… he passed away many years ago.  Roughly about the time that I was in college actually.”

            “Right about the time they called you the Ripper?” Cordelia unabashedly asked.

            Giles nodded.  Lady Croft was silent, but her lips were thinned.

            “Oh, and Lara isn’t an archeologist, she’s a Tomb Raider,” Giles added, but this time with a grin slowly growing on his face.  Lara turned and shot him a venomous glare, while the others just took this in their strides to the long table at the center of the Library.

            “Really?  Cool.  Maybe she can clear out all these hidden demon treasures that keep popping up that demons always come looking for that gives them unlimited power,” Xander said casually as he took his seat next to Buffy while Willow and Cordelia took the seats opposite the two.

            “I thought that there were thousands of caches like that scattered across the Hellmouth?” Willow asked, confused.

            “There are,” Giles confirmed.  “Lara wants to try and find at least one of them.”

            “Try thirty feet straight down, that’s where the Master’s cave is,” Buffy suggested.

            “Already did.  Got some gold trinkets and cleared out a nest of vampires, but nothing really worthwhile,” Lara told them as casually as the teenagers were taking her.  “I was hoping, since I’m sticking around for a while, that I might be able to help Uncle Rupert out a bit, and even see your team in action.  It’s certainly more fun than going through old newspapers and tomes on ancient artifacts with no clue where to begin looking for the next evil thing to keep out of a demon’s hands.”

            The teenagers looked around at each other, each thinking the same thoughts, but none of them quite willing to voice them.

            “What?” Lara responded to the looks.

 

<<<<<<<<<< *           *           * >>>>>>>>>>

 

            “I can’t believe that that is what you really do!” Lara exclaimed for the third time as she and Xander walked through the graveyard.  Buffy, Willow, and Cordelia were on the other side; they were planning at meeting at the entrance in just under an hour.

            Xander just shrugged, grateful to Heaven on High for gracing the Earth with such a beautiful and interesting woman.  Too bad, despite him being to Hell and back, she was still too old for him.

            “Well, sorry to disappoint.  Some nights are more active than others.  Usually Tuesdays.  But we like to be grateful for the lull periods, despite Buffy being bored or having nothing to beat up except Giles when she’s mad about something.”

            Lara laughed, and Xander smiled.  Then something suddenly triggered his senses, and they both heard the crack of wood and groaning of moved earth, ceasing all their movements.  “Funny, they usually aren’t that noisy,” Xander, commented as he stepped back from the grave of Robert Patrickson.  Lara grinned at him and pulled one of her pistols.

            “Guns don’t usually work that well against vampires…” Xander said hastily as the vampire was coming up quicker than normal and by the end of his warning it was already on its feet advancing towards them.

            Lara just pulled the trigger twice, eject with louder than thunder claps and a flash of fire at the end of the muzzles, and blasted a double shot through the vamp’s chest.  The vampire’s eyes widened in shock like they all do when they realize they’re dusted, and then he dusted.

            Xander was silent for a moment and then finished his sentence, “…or in some cases I guess it just takes the right woman to do the shooting.”

            Lara grinned at him and ejected the clip and pulled one of the bullets out.  “Something I concocted a few years ago after my first encounter with vampires.  It’s entirely unique and only good at close range, about ten meters is the mark before the bullet disintegrates itself.  I doubt you know much about ballistics as it is, so suffice to say it burns them up on the inside, and if you get a heart shot, within five to ten seconds their undead hearts are completely burned away, and there you have…”

            “Instant dust bunnies with two easy squeezes,” Xander finished for her with a wry grin on her face.  She grinned right back at him.

            The party was quickly broken up though when Buffy came running up, looking flushed and pasty at the same time.  Xander quickly identified the combination of being heavily exerted and dead panic scared at the same time in the Slayer.

            “Guys!  What happened?  I heard something loud over here!” she asked.

            “Oh, it was just the Lady Tomb Raider using her vamp-killing bullets to take out a later riser.  Nothing to worry about Buff.  Promise, I won’t let anything happen to Giles’ niece.” Xander gave a comical oath.  Particularly comical when the Lady Tomb Raider gave him an incredulous look.

            “Vamp killing bullets?  How do they work?” Buffy asked.

            “Combination of combustible shell and hollow points filled with holy water and wooden machete particles, held in a solid wax ball that protects the water and the wood, but as the heat melts the wax, allows the holy water out and the wood to splinter out into the vampire’s heart, or wherever you manage to hit him.  Only lethal part to humans is that it reacts the same way that a normal hollow point does, though with less explosive damage and more internal bleeding and burns.  In short, if you’re going to shoot with this, make damn sure it’s a vampire you’re shooting at.”

            “Wow!” Buffy exclaimed as Willow and Cordelia came up at a much slower pace than the Slayer’s.  Just then Buffy looked at her watch and winced.  “Sorry guys, I’ve got to get home ASAP.  I promised Mom I’d be back before 7 for dinner.  Wills, were there any more wild animal attacks that we should take care of?” she asked, using the newspaper and media’s terms for vampire victims.

            Willow shook her head, then started, “Oh, just one more, ahhh, a Robert Patrickson.  He was the only other one in the past week.”

            “No worries Buff, that’s, I think, who Lady Croft just got,” Xander said, pointing down at the grave covered with dust.

            “Oh,” Buffy said as she looked as well.  Then she frowned for a moment and looked back at her watch.  “I’ve gotta go guys.  See you later on at the Bronze!” she ran off at top speed.

            “Bronze?” the English duke’s daughter repeated.

            The teenagers grinned and quickly dragged the Tomb Raider along with them, despite her sudden protests.

 

<<<<<<<<<< *           *           * >>>>>>>>>>

 

            “Lara’s fun,” Willow said as she walked out of her attached bathroom into her room.  Actually, it was Cordelia’s room, but everything that Cordelia owned, Willow owned, so the statement remained unchanged in her mind.

            She walked over to the bed, wearing only two towels, one wrapped just under her shoulder pits, the other held in her hands as she dried her long red locks.  Cordelia was wearing only white cotton thong panties as she lay on the bed, idly flipping through a magazine.

            “No argument here,” Cordy replied absently, turning the page.  “Although I think the slaying twosome were more impressed with her guns and fighting skills rather than how well she danced and made even us feel left out.”

            “Oh she didn’t make us feel left out,” Willow chastised the Chase girl as she sat on the edge of the bed still trying to dry her hair.  “She couldn’t have.  We, and Xander, were the ones she was dancing with.”

            “Yeah, if I weren’t me, I’d totally be feeling jealous of me right now,” Cordy again replied absently.

            Now Willow really looked at the brunette girl.  “Is that with the aloof attitude?  Is that why you’re wearing practically nothing while I’m sitting next to you?  You’re jealous of how I might feel about Lara?”

            Cordelia finally looked up and looked her redheaded friend directly in the eye.  “Don’t you mean Lady Croft?” she asked icily, proving she was indeed jealous.

            Willow rolled her eyes.  “She asked us to call her Lara.  But if you want, I’ll call her Lady Croft from now on.  Besides, she’s Giles’ niece!  As hott as she is, that still makes her related to a Watcher, and Eewww!!”  Cordelia suddenly grinned, like a cat changing her moods at the sight of catnip.

            “I’m sorry,” she said, throwing the magazine away, “I couldn’t help myself.  You’re the only thing that I’ll ever want.”

            “That’s not true and you know it,” Willow said, sliding upward on the bed, accidentally slipping the towel onto the floor.

            “Don’t even think that you’re getting your wet hair on my bed like some dog in from out of the rain!” Cordelia mockingly protested as she sat up and got on all fours before Willow.

            “Look who’s talking,” Willow said back, grinning with a hint of mischief.

            “Come on, let’s get some sleep.” Cordelia suggested as she turned around, still on all fours, and pulled the bed covers down for the two teenage girls to slip in underneath them.

            Suddenly Willow was practically on top of her, their thighs touching and the powerful witch’s hands on Cordelia’s hips.  The girl looked back behind her, frozen.  “Panties,” Willow chastised with that same grin and easily slipped the cotton material from the girl’s body, without even having to change either’s position.  Cordelia now matched Willow’s grin and finished pulling down the covers.

            Once able, Willow slipped beneath them and lay down to wait for sleep to come to her.

            Cordelia, as she did every night, turned around three times on all fours, then cuddled herself down like some kind of wild animal on Willow’s right side, her head resting on her owner’s slowly moving chest.  Once settled, they fell asleep nearly instantly.

 

<<<<<<<<<< *           *           * >>>>>>>>>>

 

            Buffy walked in the front door with a combination sigh of relief and part resignation for what was to come.  She hung her coat up on the rack next to the door and waited only about ten more seconds.

            “Buffy Summers!” the harsh voice echoed through the two-story house, not counting the basement.

            Joyce Summers walked out from the kitchen/dining room area, looking very upset.  “Where have you been?” she snapped.

            “Patrolling,” Buffy answered, sounding tired.  She didn’t move from the spot where she stood.

            “I figured that, but Willow called a half hour ago asking what it was that I needed you home so soon for.  She said that you left patrol over five hours ago!”

            “I went for a walk!” Buffy snapped back.  “Gawd Mom!  I am a teenager in America, not a prisoner of war!  Not to mention I’m the Slayer so I can definitely take care of anyone that would try to ambush me.  In fact it’s what I patrol for!  So vampires and demons will ambush me so I can kill them!  So please do not make this about not telling you where I was or not calling home because it’s too dangerous.”

            “Are you finished yet?” Joyce asked, sounding if anything angrier than ever.

            Buffy stared at her mother for a moment, looking as if she was considering something, and then nodded.

            “GB came by the school today.  He gave you an update…”

            “I told you about that and I gave you the update.  I didn’t leave anything out, I swear!” Buffy interrupted, but fell silent at the look she received.

            “…and shortly after the General contacted me via thought-wave and gave me a more detailed update.  Apparently, in his briefing to the General, GB mentioned something about you being the Slayer.  He’s demanded that you sign up.”

            Buffy waited for about thirty seconds before she realized her mother was finished talking, and then she blinked as she considered the information.

            “I don’t have to sign up until I’m 18 on Earth, and even if I wanted to, I would be put on Probation for signing up now.”

            “The General says that he can waive that policy in your case.” Joyce explained.

            Buffy looked up at her, surprised, and then angry beyond words.  “He’ll waive a policy that the High Command put in place, for his stupid war, but he won’t do the same thing for a “suggestion” from the Lower Council!?!” she screamed.

            “What’s going on?” a quiet voice asked from the top of the stairs.

            “Go to bed Dawn!” both elder Summers women told her.

            “But…”

            “Go to bed Dawn!!” they shouted now, still staring at one another.

            “Fine!  I didn’t care about your stupid argument anyway!” she shouted herself and raced to her room.  They heard the door slam.

            “I’m sure, in his eyes, one conveyed more threat than honor or loyalty could dictate,” Joyce started to say.

            “What the hell is that supposed to mean?!  No, never mind!  I don’t want to know.  That bastard can rot in the Void for all I care right now.  If he cared half as much about his family as he did his precious war…”

            “Buffy, that’s not fair,” Joyce snapped.

            “I don’t care if it’s fair or not, it’s the truth, and this war has been going on for almost a million years mother!  Even if one side wins, not even a week later another war will start.”

            “That’s what we’re trying to ensure, that the Alliance holds out…” Joyce tried to explain.

            “Yeah, well whatever.  We aren’t of the Alliance and we aren’t there, we’re here, and even when I turn 18 I’m not going to sign up and so long as I declare that before a High Court, like God, they can’t draft me.”

            “We took care of that when we first came here Buffy,” Joyce comforted her my moving forward and embracing her oldest daughter.  “That’s why your father is trying to get you to sign up.  You can still join the war of your own free will.”

            Buffy pulled away and walked into the living room.  “I haven’t seen him in two years Mom,” she said quietly, not facing the other woman, “Two years.  Do you know how long that is in the Void?”

            There was silence after that, until the old mantle piece clock struck three o’clock in the morning.  Joyce sighed and cleared her throat.  “There is still the matter of your punishment Buffy.  You came in after curfew, and that was the least half that had me so upset.  For Dawn’s sake, I can’t be lenient, just because I’m glad to see you alive and not in the Void.”

            Buffy nodded.

            “I want you to wear it,” she announced.

            Buffy’s shoulder’s slumped and she sighed, like a kid getting her least favorite punishment for having her hand in the cookie jar, and still didn’t get away with the cookie.

            “All day tomorrow and throughout patrol and for the next two patrols after that,” Joyce finished the sentencing.  Now Buffy gave some reaction.

            She turned a horrified look on her mother and let out a sound that was a cross between a pig and lion’s roar.  “Come ON Mom!” she yelled.  “I was two hours late and I have to wear it at school?!  That isn’t fair!”

            “As you said young lady, I don’t care if it’s fair or not, it’s your punishment, and you will carry it out.  Now head on up to bed.  You have a heavy day ahead of you,” Joyce shot a parting joke as Buffy climbed the stairs, miserable.

            Only mumbled grumbling could be heard, but Joyce shouted up after her daughter, “I heard that!”

            “You did not!” Buffy shouted back and then slammed her own door shut.  Joyce chuckled.

 

 <<<<<<<<<< *          *           * >>>>>>>>>>

 

            Faith’s bus got to Sunnydale around 7 in the morning, and luckily the driver didn’t get upset about her not leaving a tip.  After this recent expenditure she had to watch her cash very carefully.  The moment she was off the bus, being the last passenger on it, the driver immediately closed the door, but only after taking off like the hounds of hell was chasing him.

            Faith frowned at the odd behavior, but dismissed it as she instead walked away from the bus station in the very bright sunlight.  She sighed as she stopped at a nearby bench and reviewed her cash flow’s status.

            Not much.  Maybe enough for a meal, a whole meal, but certainly not enough to find a place to live with.  She stood up and started walking, hoping to find some place where she could get some fast, easy, and safe money.  Moral was the least of her concerns at the moment.

 

<<<<<<<<<< *           *           * >>>>>>>>>>

 

            Buffy stopped walking.  She…sensed something.  She knew she wasn’t as good as her mother, or even her sister at sensing energy shifts in the Ether, but when she did she was always accurate.

            Unfortunately whatever it was she sensed now was not clear enough for her to fully make it out.  She could only hope it wouldn’t distract her that badly during the day as it was on the far side of town and it certainly didn’t feel evil or demonic.  In fact it almost felt…familiar.

            “Hey Buff, you off in lala land?” Xander quipped, coming up behind her.

            “Huh?” she startled, but not that badly.

            “You were seriously zoning there,” Xander commented, now sounding concerned.

            “No, I-I’m fine, just thought I heard something.  Musta been nothing.  Lets get to class Xan,” Buffy began to walk into the building.

            “Okay, now I know something is up.  Is it apocalypse worthy?” he asked.

            “No,” Buffy said shortly, but now they were in the school hallways.

            “Hey guys!” Willow bubbled, coming up to them with her shadow named Cordelia.  “What’s up?”

            “Nothing, Xander just startled me for a moment,” Buffy tried to dissuade them from talking about the event.

            “Xander the dweeb startled the mighty Slayer?” Cordelia repeated, although with her own twist on it.  “Have too much mocha today or are we just cranky because of that time of the month?”

            “Drop it okay!” Buffy snapped.

            “Whoa, if it was that type of thing, that was all you had to say Buff, it’s dropped,” Xander raised his hands in surrender/defense.

            Buffy sighed and didn’t bother correcting them, just grateful that her momentary lapse in concentration was forgotten.  They stopped by the Library because all of them had a brief free period first of the morning and said hello to Giles.  Lara was sleeping in according to him.

            After that it was a normal typical school day.

            Until Lunch…

            “Oh not again,” Buffy groaned next to Xander in the food line as they caught sight of the commotion in the center of the Lunchroom.

            “Come on babe, what the hell is your deal?” Percy Williams asked loudly.

            “I don’t have a deal.  Now leave me the hell alone, perverted neanderthal,” Cordelia shot back and turned to her lunch.  Willow, thankfully, was still in the line getting her food and wouldn’t be caught in the cross fire this time.

            “I don’t get you,” Percy announced.  “Last year you were the second easiest girl on campus, not to mention the most popular girl in school.  Now you’re worse than the worst losers at this school!  And you’re hanging around that Summers chick and spending all your time with Willow Rosenberg of all people.  Not that she’s an actual person.”

            Cordelia froze, and felt like she had just been dumped into the artic waters of the north.  “Shut up,” she whispered, warning the jock.

            “You know, maybe,” Percy continued, ignoring her warning, “ there’s more to it than that.  Rosenberg hangs around Summers, and all of a sudden you’re with Rosenberg all the time.  Maybe it’s more than some kind of tutoring deal you’ve got going on.  Maybe Rosenberg is now the easiest girl on campus.”

            Xander had been holding Buffy back from the moment Percy started talking.  Now Buffy struggled to hold Xander back, but only because of the look she saw on Cordelia’s face.  She knew that look all too well.

            “Maybe I’ll see if I can get my own tutoring deal with Rosenberg,” Percy slyly drawled.  “Hell, might even get you and the Summers chick if I work hard enough.”

            “Shut up,” Cordelia said a little louder, looking about ready to pop, clenching and unclenching her fists.

            “Yeah, then I’ll be the guy with the most at school.  Of course it’s not that much of a challenge getting three sluts to suck my dick.  Maybe I should just concentrate on turning Rosenberg into my dream girl.  Never keeps her legs closed for girls or jocks.” He began laughing.

            He didn’t even get to finish the first laugh.  Cordelia shot out of her chair and punched him straight at his jaw, just beneath his nose.  The 280 lbs jock was knocked clear away and into several lunch tables, which he knocked over and down, over seven feet away, and skidded three more once he was flat on the floor on his back.

            Cordelia then stalked forward, for all appearances some kind of jungle predator, and when she got to Percy, she put her foot on his crotch, her spiked heel directly into his nuts, the rest of her foot she placed on his lower abdomen as she stepped up onto and put her other foot directly at the center of his chest, that heel digging deeply into his soft stomach.

            She bent down so that he could see her face instead of just her bare legs.  “Now listen here pervert.  Willow Rosenberg and I are good and genuine friends and if I ever hear anyone say anything to the contrary, I will come back to you and make you regret it.  And then I’ll go after the people that said it.  As for Buffy Summers… I wouldn’t want to be you after school Percy.  Say good bye to any chance you had at football scholarship.”

            She dug her heels just a couple more inches deeper as she turned around and stalked back to her table, where Buffy, Willow, and Xander were waiting for her.

            “That wasn’t smart,” Willow said the moment she sat down.  The young witch sounded angry with the cheerleader.  The cheerleader looked like that both scared and hurt her.

            “I…I’m sorry, I…tried to control myself but…”

            “It’s all right Cordelia.  I would have done a lot worse.  Probably still will.  And if Xander had gotten to him, I doubt he’d be alive right now,” Buffy gave excuse to her friend.

            “You have no idea how right you are Buffy,” Xander told them gravely.  He spooned some of the mashed potatoes into his mouth, but didn’t say another word.

            The rest of the lunchroom quickly got its normal chatter level back and the incident with Percy was quickly forgotten.  It wasn’t the first time someone had confronted Cordelia about her changed in behavior, and it also wasn’t the first time violence had occurred because someone insulted Willow Rosenberg in Cordelia’s presence.  In fact it was quickly becoming a common and expected occurrence at Sunnydale High.

            But still, Buffy couldn’t shake that feeling she’d had all day, and wouldn’t be able to for the rest of the day or the next.  She only hoped she could figure out what this strange familiar feeling was before it was too late.
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