Chapter One: Unwanted Knowledge
A Family of HeroesDisclaimer:
I own nothing in this story! All references to Buffy the Vampire Slayer belong to Joss Whedon, and all references to X-Men belong to Marvel comics and Stan Lee. I am making no profit on this story; I am simply letting my overactive plot bunnies out to play!Summary:
This story came as a response to a challenge issued by Clandestine on the Buffy crossover site “Twisting the Hellmouth”. Buffy Summers and her cousin Scott Summers haven’t seen each other since they were children, before Buffy became the Slayer and before Scott’s mutation manifested. Ever since Scott started at Xavier’s school, however, they’ve kept in touch through email and phone calls, although neither has revealed their secret to the other. When Buffy hears that she is destined to die fighting the Master, her despair forces her to write to her cousin to say good-bye. Meanwhile, Scott is dealing with the aftermath of the events in the X-Men movie.Rating:
FR-15, I guess, mainly because of the violence, and that just to be on the safe side.Timeline:
“Buffy” Season 1 episode 12 “Prophecy Girl”, and just after the events of the first X-Men movie.Warnings:
I’m going to be going for some heavy angst here, so you may want to have a tissue ready.Author’s Notes:
The first few chapters of this story are going to deal with the events of Prophecy Girl. There will be a lot of dialogue taken directly from this episode, so bear with me please!
Clang! Sixteen-year-old Buffy Summers slammed her locker closed, subtly tucking a wooden stake up her sleeve as she turned, hiding the weapon from the eyes of two of her classmates who were leaving the school after a lengthy cheerleading practice. Both girls glanced at her slyly and giggled as they passed, whispering to each other once they felt they were out of earshot. “She is so weird, you know?” “Oh yeah. You’d think someone from L.A would be cooler, but…”
Buffy sighed as she caught the trailing end of the conversation. While most people wouldn’t have been able to hear the snide comment, Buffy wasn’t so fortunate. This gig that she’d been dragged into came with some definite downsides, enhanced hearing being one of them, and for a girl in high school, it was one of the worst as far as she was concerned because she couldn’t help overhearing comments like that from her classmates.
Moving over to the sinks, she allowed the stake to fall from inside her sleeve, and she set it on the sink behind the knobs, turning on the water as she did so. Glancing up into the mirror, she studied herself with a critical eye. Definitely need to get more sleep. These hours are seriously killing me.
She brushed a hand through her bangs, and fussed with the few strands of hair that had escaped her ponytail before a gurgling noise caught her attention. She looked down, expecting to see that the drain was clogged with gum, or something, only to stare in shock as she comprehended what she was seeing.
Buffy Summers had seen a lot of things in the last two years, and didn’t shock easily anymore. Or so she told herself. But all those thoughts went straight out of her mind at the sight of blood pouring from the faucet. She stood there for a moment, simply staring, before she shook her head and turned off the faucet, allowing the blood to run down the drain. There was an ugly red stain, but the janitors would take care of it later. Grabbing her stake and slipping it back up her sleeve, she headed for the door. This was definitely a Giles-issue. Fortunately, she knew he’d be in his office, since he was still deeply involved in researching the Master.
The halls of the school were deserted, now that all the cheerleaders had gone home for the evening, and Buffy traveled the distance from the girls’ locker room to the library in less than three minutes, a personal best for her, and she wasn’t even trying! Shoving the double doors open, she started muttering to herself as she approached Giles’ office. “Giles, you are not going to believe this…”
Voices caught her attention as she belatedly realized that Giles was talking urgently with someone, while still trying to maintain his “stuffy British librarian” act. His voice was rising in tone as he struggled to maintain his composure. “It’s clear. It’s what’s going to happen. Uh, it’s happening now!” Pages rustled as he passed a book to whomever he was talking to.
Buffy moved closer, trying to see who else was in the tiny office. Then a tall figure stepped over into the light cast by the lamp on Giles’ desk and the light cast his features in a soft, warm glow, making him look more handsome than ever. Buffy recognized him instantly. “Angel,” she breathed, feeling her heart race a little at the sight of the handsome – oh who are you kidding, Buff, more like incredibly hot
– man. So what if he was a vampire? He was still gorgeous and made her heart race every time she saw him.
Angel was poring over the book in his hands intently; his face dismayed as he found the passage that Giles was referring to. His face twisted, oddly enough, into an expression of pain and denial. “It can’t be. You’ve gotta be wrong.”
Giles’ voice sounded oddly anguished, although he was still keeping it as controlled as possible. Whatever they were discussing, it was obviously a painful subject. “I’ve checked it against all my other volumes. It’s very real.”
Angel shook his head. “There’s gotta be some way around it.” At this point, he seemed to be having more success than Giles in controlling his voice, but Buffy could still hear the note of desperation. She stopped, close enough to hear their conversation clearly, but far enough away that she wouldn’t be easily noticed. She wondered what Angel was doing here. She knew Giles didn’t fully trust him, but yet, here he was. What was going on?
Giles spoke again, more urgently, obviously trying to get the facts through to the vampire. “Listen. Some prophecies are, are a bit dodgy. They’re, they’re mutable. Buffy herself has, has thwarted them time and time again, but this is the Codex. There is nothing in it that does not come to pass.”
Buffy’s interest peaked further, at hearing her name. They were discussing her? But why all the hurt and anguish…why did Angel look so upset? She didn’t think that she’d done anything to upset him in the last few weeks, but then again, she’d barely seen him since the incident with Darla. He seemed to be avoiding her.
Angel whipped around to stare at Giles. “Then you’re reading it wrong.” He shoved the book at Giles, roughly, but Giles just took it, not commenting, which told Buffy more about his state of mind. Giles never let the gang abuse the books in this way.
Giles finally lost all control as he snapped at the vampire, his voice rising angrily. “I wish to God I were! But it’s very plain! Tomorrow night, Buffy will face the Master, and she will die.”
Buffy heard the words, but her mind was roaring, refusing to process them for a long minute. Giles’ words echoed in her mind. “Buffy will face the Master, and she will die.” …die…die…tomorrow night.
As the words finally sank into her numb, disbelieving brain, she did the only thing that felt right. She laughed, even as Angel said, “Well, have you verified the text?” She continued to laugh, her voice growing louder and more hysterical as Giles and Angel heard her and turned to face her. Angel stepped out of the office, while Giles lingered in the door. Buffy backed away from him and stopped near the large study table in the middle of the room.
She looked at Giles, her Watcher, her voice hollow when she finally spoke. “So that’s it, huh? I remember the drill. One Slayer dies, next one’s called! Wonder who she is. Will you train her? Or will they send someone else?”
Giles cleared his throat, looking uncomfortable. “Buffy, I…”
She interrupted him before he could say anything more. “They say how he’s going to kill me? Do you think it’ll hurt?” At this she choked up and had to stop as tears began to flow down her face as small rivers. Angel stepped toward her, arms outstretched to gather her in close, but she backed up rapidly. “Don’t touch me!” She took several heaving breaths, before facing Giles again, as betrayal and hurt washed over her. She couldn’t believe that this man, whom she had trusted for almost a year, who had been a mentor, and a friend, would keep this kind of a secret from her. He told Angel, but not her…not the person this stupid prophecy was meant for! “Were you even going to tell me?”
Giles looked even more uncomfortable, obviously picking up on the tone in her voice. His own voice was quiet, and slightly embarrassed and ashamed when he spoke. “I was hoping I wouldn’t have to. That there was…some way around it. I…”
Something in Buffy snapped and the answer came to her. “I’ve got a way around it. I quit!”
Angel looked at her, his voice quiet as he tried to soothe her. “It’s not that simple…” he began.
“I’m making it that simple! I quit! I resign, I-I’m fired, and you can find someone else to stop the Master from taking over!”
Giles cleared his throat. “I’m not sure that anyone else can. All the…the signs indicate…”
That was the last straw. Was he not listening to a word that she had said? All her rage and frustration, and even fear, came flying to the surface as she moved into a full-blown fit. “The signs?” Spotting a book on the table next to her, she seized it, and threw it at Giles’ head with all her strength. He dodged and it thudded off the wall, which was a good thing, because if it had hit him he might very well have been knocked unconscious. “READ ME THE SIGNS!” She grabbed another book and threw that one too, but in her anger and anguish her aim was off and that one thudded against the wall to his right. “TELL ME MY FORTUNE! YOU’RE SO USEFUL, SITTING HERE WITH ALL YOUR BOOKS! YOU’RE REALLY A LOTTA HELP!”
As the last words came out of her mouth, she winced inwardly. She knew that he had been a lot of help this year. He and his books had saved her life and the lives of her friends several times this year, and that was an unfair accusation, but right now she was too angry and upset to think closely about what she was saying.
Her words had struck Giles cold and he froze, before lowering his head and acknowledging her point. “No, I don’t suppose I am.” He reached for a handkerchief, and moved to dry his watering eyes. Somehow, this only made her angrier, that he was feeling sorry for himself when he was telling her that she was going to die the next night!
Angel’s voice cut back in. “I know this is hard.”
She lashed out at him next. “What do you know about this? You’re never gonna die!”
Angel’s soft brown eyes were intense. “You think I want anything to happen to you? Do you think I could stand it? We just gotta figure out a way…”
God, were they both that dense? She’d have thought that for a vampire as old as Angel, he’d have been smarter…or at least have better hearing. “I already did. I quit, remember? Pay attention!”
Giles tried again. “Buffy, if the Master rises…”
“I DON’T CARE!” Reaching up, she seized the silver cross that she wore every day. Angel had given it to her the night they first met, when he was playing the cryptic wise guy, before she knew what he really was. Yanking with all her strength, she snapped the chain. There was a slight pain in her neck as the chain dug into her skin before giving way to her strength. As if that slight pain was a release, she suddenly calmed down, her own words echoing back to her. “I don’t care.” She looked at both of them in turn before focusing on Giles. “Giles, I’m sixteen years old.” Her voice hitched. “I don’t want to die.”
Dead silence fell over the room as she flung the cross to the ground. Giles and Angel stared at her and she stared back for a long moment, before turning and walking out of the library, without looking back. Neither of them followed her.