Yeah, I suck. How long has it been? Well, my New Year's resolution was to not leave things just hanging. Good news for you guys.
This chapter was hard because I realized as I wrote it, that I suck at fight scenes. I think I came up with a good solution though. This ends the "Welcome to the Hellmouth" part of the story. Next chapter takes place around "Prophecy Girl". The intervening time will be summarized, since I feel that nothing of huge import happened that can't be, you know, skimmed.Chapter 17
By the time they left for the Bronze that night the whole gang was fairly tingling with nerves. The afternoon had been filled with training of one kind or another for all of them and the fun filled conversation with the Summers parents.
The end result of said conversation was that Willow would be returning to her home and would not be interfered with, for now. She was invited to spend as much time as she wanted with the family, and she seemed happy with that. Joyce and Hank didn’t really like the situation, but felt that there wasn’t a whole lot that could do about it. Joyce had spoken with a harried social worker about the Rosenburgs, and was basically told that there had been earlier inquiries, but nothing had ever come of it. It was insane, but the family was starting to see that Sunnydale was in its own little bubble, and the rules and laws of the rest of the world were only vaguely important there.
Xander’s situation was a totally different story. There was no way that he could continue the way he was. He refused to talk about his parents at all. He refused to talk to his parents, at all. The only thing they could get out of him was that leaving home was not his choice and that going back wasn’t an option. They considered having him stay with them, but one look at the way he and Paige interacted…. That was a bad idea. Hank finally said that he should stay on the couch until they came up with a permanent idea. That pretty much settled it.
Now all they had to do was survive the night.++++++++
The four teens entered The Bronze in pairs. Buffy dragged Xander with her to the second floor while Paige and Willow made their way around the dance floor and to the stage, where the band was setting up. Both teams were looking for good vantage points for the whole club, and good lines of sight for each other.
“Stop pouting Xander.” Buffy swatted him on the arm to get his attention. He had been staring down at Paige instead of looking for vampires.
Xander turned to her and gave her a bit of a smile. “I don’t pout. I was just showing my disappointment in a visual way.”
Buffy rolled her eyes and maneuvered her friend so he was looking in a different direction. “I separated you two so that you could concentrate on the task at hand. Less ogling, more saving the day.”
They continued the back and forth banter, trying to keep things upbeat, but things got strained as the minutes continued to tick by. They were so wound up that the sound of someone clearing their throat behind them caused Xander to nearly jump out of his skin and Buffy to nearly clobber the brunette. Luckily she managed not to give any visual hints to her inner reflex.
“What the hell Cordelia? You nearly gave us strokes.”
“Well, excuse me for breathing. It’s not my fault you two are lost in your own little world over here. I just wanted to know what on earth made you want to get lost in the eyes of dork boy.”
Buffy snorted. “Yeah, no, I don’t poach from my sister. She’s scary.”
Cordy’s brows crinkled with confusion. “Huh? Isn’t your sister 11?”
Buffy shook her head. “Other sister, older.” She turned and pointed to where Paige and Willow were talking to one of their classmates. A rather geeky looking guy with dark hair.
“Oh, well, looks like she goes for even dorkier guys than you Xander.”
Xander frowned slightly and looked where Buffy was still pointing. “Never thought I’d be competing with Jonathan for a girl”
Buffy giggled. “Unless he introduced himself by knocking her unconscious, I don’t think he can out do you.”
“What – you know what?” Cordelia shook her head quickly, “I don’t care. What I came over here to say was that I want you , Buffy, not dork boy, to try out for one of the two open spots we have on the cheerleading team. A couple of Juniors just disappeared a week ago. I know that a bunch of losers drop out every year, but these were popular girls. Almost as popular as me. This is way beneath them. Anyway, tryouts are in 2 weeks. There’s this stupid rule that they can’t be replaced for at least 3 weeks. As if they’re coming back. Nobody ever does.”
Buffy frowned at the way people around here just blithely accepted people just going poof in the night. After a beat she shrugged, she was planning on trying out for next year anyway. “Sure, why not. I kinda miss the workout anyway.”
The brunette smiled. “Great”, her face turned serious, “But you really need to rethink who you hang out with. You can be forgiven a bit, since you HAVE to spend time with your sisters, but this,” she gestured between Buffy and Xander, “Just won’t do.”
With that she spun on her heel and left.
“And you like her because….” Xander asked after a beat.
“I don’t know, she’s fun to listen to. She reminds me of most of my friends from Hemery, except more honest in her insults.”
“Yeah, that makes it so much better.”
“Hey, speaking of pissy, bitchy friends, what’s up with Jessie?”
Xander frowned. “I have no idea. He’s been –“
Buffy cut him off abruptly. “Ok, we’ll talk about it later. Bad guys are here.”
Xander followed her line of sight and saw a large group of people entering through the back of the club. The last one through the door stayed right in front of it, grinning nastily. He turned and looked as close to the front entrance as he could see. Another group was coming in there, and he was willing to bet that they were guarding that exit too. A quick call from the girls, who were positioned to watch the front door more clearly, confirmed that there were two burly vamps blocking the entrance.
Paige and Willow disappeared into the crown. Willow making her way to the back room and Paige finding a good place to beam from. Buffy made her way down to the area near the stage and Xander stayed in the balcony to watch the back door. The Vessel was identified quickly. Mostly because he jumped up on stage and ordered the minions to bring him offerings. Not real subtle.
A moment later and the power died. That was Willow. She flipped the main breaker to distract everyone and cause a bit of a panic. Buffy used this opportunity to jump on the stage and confront Mr. Vessel Dude. As the two of them fought, Paige beamed to the back entrance and staked the vamp guarding it before he even knew she was there. After that she started herding freaked out teenagers out the door. With everyone running out it was hard to tell who were innocent bystanders and who were vamps. She made a quick decision and beamed over to the library.
“Quick. Is there any way to weed the vamps from the kids as they all run out?”
Giles shook his head. “Nothing mundane. You would know more about magical solutions.”
Paige blew a breath out of the side of her mouth. “Yeah, ok, so I need Dawn. Let’s go.”
Seconds later all three of them appeared in the alley. “Giles, herd people, we need to concentrate for a second.”
The two sisters conferred momentarily and then they held hands as Dawn waved her wand and muttered “lumo solara” under her breath. Instantly the alley was filled with light. The vampires that were streaming out with the crowd screamed and scurried off into sewers, leaving the humans to run home a bit more safely. The light lasted about a minute before it died out, needing to be recast, but by then Buffy, Willow and Xander had emptied the club of people, and it was no longer needed.
Dawn gave a sigh of relief at the sight of her smiling sister and reached for her cell phone.
“Hey mom? We’re on our way home now.”