Disclaimer: Is this really necessary? If anyone really thinks these characters belong to me, then I've got some *great* real estate investments I'd like to discuss with you. All of the Buffy characters belong to Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, etc; I believe Sabrina Spellman belongs to ABC Family and Warner Bros. Television; and the Harry Potter characters definitely belong to J. K. Rowling. Only the story is mine, and if anyone waves enough money in front of me, even that is negotiable.
Summary: This is a revision and rewrite of my initial story that was originally posted here in January 2007, based on some well-thought-out observations and valid criticism of actions taken with regard to one of the characters. Because of those observations, I've rewritten that part of the story and I thank the readers who provided the criticisms that motivated the revision.
Time frame: Starting at ‘Welcome to the Hellmouth’ (WTTH) for Buffy, but since this is seriously AU from all of the series I’m borrowing from, it doesn’t really matter much, does it?
Character Bashing: None. For ANY of the characters. If anyone disagrees with my characterization of Angel, I just want to point out that I am merely portraying him pretty much *exactly* as he appeared for most of the first season Of Buffy.
Archiving: Check with me first, please.
Author's Notes 1: Thanks to Bill Haden, Drake the Archr and Theo (Starway_Man) for beta-ing this story.
Author's Notes 2: The start date noted at the beginning of this story differs from the series premiere air date and is based on several clues within WTTH that one of my betas, Theo (Starway_Man), pointed out with respect to the solstice (either December 21-22 or June 21-22). The exact words regarding the Harvest that Giles read aloud were “On the night of the crescent moon, the first past the solstice, it will come.” The full moon was on Christmas Eve 1996, and so since almost all of the events of WTTH took place on a Wednesday to Friday, this particular Wednesday must be January 10th for the moon phase to be right. Accordingly, I have decided to establish this new date as Buffy's first day at Sunnydale High School.
Sunnydale High School
January 10, 1997
The petite blonde beauty exiting the school library, who seemed to perfectly fit the classic movie/TV stereotype of a high school cheerleader, was clearly upset, although whether she was more angry than worried, or more worried than angry was still up for debate from the look on her face.
Or so the young man leaning against the lockers a short distance down the corridor decided as she practically stomped down the hallway towards him.
"Hi there. You’re Buffy Summers, right?"
Momentarily distracted from her worries about what the possible implications of the school’s librarian having presented her with a book labeled ‘VAMPYR’ a few moments after she’d walked in the library might mean for both her immediate and long-term futures, the lovely (and unmistakably quite lethal, if one knew how to observe properly) young lady glanced up at the tall, dark-haired youth who’d spoken to her and gave him a small frown.
"That depends. Do I know you?"
"You did several years ago, by my reckoning," he smiled warmly at her, his voice betraying the slightest trace of a British accent, although one differing from that of the librarian she’d just left a moment before. "My name is Alexander Potter.
"But my friends call me Xander."
"Sorry, I don’t remember anybody with that name," the blonde shook her head even as she tried to surreptitiously check out the potential hottie, a coy smile on her face. "And believe me, I *would* remember you, what with the way you talk, and everything.
"So, why don’t you just leave me alone, okay?" Buffy suggested as she began heading down the hallway.
"Actually, I was hoping you’d join me for a cup of coffee," Xander replied as he turned and dropped into step with her, moving with an almost unnatural grace and fluidity she reflexively noticed. But she wasn’t picking up any freaky weirdness vibes from him, either, she realized, so she just gave a mental shrug and continued walking.
Buffy Anne Summers, Vampire Slayer and the Chosen One, was about to semi-politely refuse the guy’s offer when she abruptly stopped – both walking and talking – as she heard him continue, "– while we discuss both the up and down sides of vampire slaying."
"What?!" she gasped, taken completely aback by the unexpected statement.
"How do you know about that?" Buffy demanded. "Uh, what I mean is, th-there’s no such thing as vampires," she added weakly as she looked the newcomer over with a now much more suspicious and wary eye.
"Relax, Buff. I'm on your side, not the Council’s," Xander smiled at her in what she’d normally call a reassuring manner, if it weren’t for the fact that he’d just spoken of something that no normal person would have known about, let alone ever even mention in casual conversation. She was just starting to wonder exactly where and when he’d learned about the Dark side of things when her attention refocused dramatically on his words as the mysterious stranger continued speaking.
"What I’m hoping to talk to you about," he said as he smiled at her again, "is me and my friends helping you out, so that you can get the chance to actually have a life while still performing those ‘special’ duties which you’ve had forced upon you for the last few months. And us also doing everything we can to ensure your parents can never even try to institutionalize you again."
"You know, I think I am in the mood for a frappaccino, after all," Buffy agreed as she looked up, tentatively smiled at her (potentially) new best friend and took his offered arm.
"So, who exactly are you, Xander, and who are these friends of yours you mentioned?"
Sunnydale High computer lab
The same time
Willow Danielle Rosenberg was sitting alone in the school's computer lab, huddled over one of the terminals. It wasn’t surprising the young redhead was all alone, since she really didn’t have all that many friends; in fact, ever since Xander Harris (although he was now going by his recently changed name of Alexander Potter) had left town almost a year and a half ago (and he'd only reappeared a few times since then to visit and offer a totally unsatisfactory and incomplete explanation of his absence and where he’d gone off to), just about the only friend she’d had left in this world was the boy named Jesse Aaron McNally. And a guy really just wouldn't understand some of the problems she'd been having, she reflected mournfully to herself.
Although now that Xander had come back to Sunnydale, *finally*, Willow had high hopes that things were going to start changing.
Just then, two very fashionably dressed young women, a beautiful blonde and an equally gorgeous brunette, quietly entered the room.
"Hi there. You’re Willow Rosenberg, correct?" the brunette smiled at her, catching the redhead’s attention.
"Why? I – I mean, hi! Uh, did you want me to move?" Willow replied nervously as she looked up and noticed the two girls standing a few feet away and smiling at her in a friendly and entirely not-malicious-at-all manner, very much unlike the way Cordelia and her little band of sycophants usually did.
"No, not at all," the brunette shook her head. "I hope we’re not disturbing anything important," she politely added, her words delivered with an unmistakable British accent.
"You see, we’ve been told by a very good friend of ours that you’re the person we need to talk to when it comes to anything having to do with computers," the blonde informed her. Unlike the brunette, she spoke with a definite New England accent, Willow absently noted.
"You were?" the hacker semi-squeaked, beginning to look more than slightly freaked out at that particular revelation. "Who, who told you that?"
"Oh my goodness, where are my manners?" the brunette apologized, shaking her head apologetically.
"Please, allow me to introduce myself – my name is Hermione Granger, and this is my best friend, Sabrina Spellman," the young woman said, indicating the blonde standing next to her. "And that friend of ours I mentioned is Xander Potter."
"*You’re* the person Xander asked me to talk to?" Willow asked, her eyes bulging with surprise. "He told me to expect a geek friend of his to stop by to talk to me, not someone like you.
"Not that there’s anything wrong with you stopping by to see me, because there isn’t, really, but I was expecting to see someone more like me and not someone like you because you‘re not like me, what with you being all beautiful and well-dressed and everything," Willow began babbling, completely unnerved by the idea that someone who appeared to be more akin to Cordelia Chase than herself was actually interested in seeking her out and talking to her.
"Yeah, Xand said you might react like this," the blonde – Sabrina, Willow thought she remembered her being introduced as – half-laughed as the hacker began to dissolve into a flustered panic attack.
"Come on, why don’t we all go somewhere a bit more private and we can talk about things, okay?" the girl Hermione and her friends affectionately called ‘Bree’ suggested as she reached down and carefully pulled the semi-gibbering girl up onto her feet.
"Hermes, why don’t you tell Willow what it is we’d like her help with?" Sabrina suggested as she began leading the redhead out into the hallway.
"How many times do I have to ask you not to call me that ridiculous name, Bree?" the brunette huffed good-naturedly as she casually linked arms with Willow just as Sabrina had already done.
"Like Xand says, I guess at least once more, huh?" the blonde grinned as they made their way down the hall.
Willow figured she must have dozed off and was dreaming everything that was happening to her as the three of them walked along, side-by-side like old friends, and she was quickly drawn into a discussion with Hermione of the advantages and disadvantages of AMD’s newest offering as compared to Intel’s latest microprocessor, with the obligatory insult thrown Cyrix’s way.
The likelihood of it all being a dream seemed to approach unity, the redhead decided, when they were verbally accosted in the hall by Percy West and his ever-present coterie of hangers-on and brownnosers.
"What’s the problem here, ladies? Did the geek finally completely lose it and attack you or something? Is that why you’re actually touching the nerd?" Willow heard Percy's grating nasal tones interrupt her response to Hermione’s defense of AMD's apparent blessing to clone processor manufacturers to go forth and multiply (and add, subtract and divide, too, to use a *very* old hacker’s joke).
"I beg your pardon, but were you speaking to *us*?" The frosty disdain clearly evident in Hermione’s very proper British voice as she replied to the egotistical and self-important jock’s comment could have frozen Sunnydale’s harbor solid.
"Uhm, yeah?" Percy’s hesitant response to the brunette’s question served only to make him appear even more deficient (to use Cordelia’s favorite snark term, Willow thought to herself with a bit of glee) to all of the students now milling around and watching to see exactly whose blood it was that would be spilled in the metaphorical waters now surrounding them.
"Since it is glaringly obvious that your parents, whoever they might be, have never instructed you in even the most rudimentary forms of common courtesy, it clearly now falls upon me to inform you that in polite society, it is considered exceedingly rude to interrupt another's conversation without satisfactory cause," Hermione informed the blankly staring jock, who was gazing at her with a rapidly growing combination of dismay and regret at his impulsive action.
The brunette’s tone, followed by a dismissive sniff, was both disdainful and patronizing enough to resemble those used by a queen speaking to one of her serfs, and it was clear from Percy’s now brilliantly-red face that he was not at all pleased to be spoken to such a manner.
"Now then, Willow, you were saying –"
Hermione’s attempt to return to their prior conversation was yet again interrupted when Percy made the catastrophic mistake of believing that since he had been unable to respond in an appropriate manner verbally, he would be more successful when utilizing a more physical approach.
"Hold up a minute, b–"
The rather irate command from the would-be Sunnydale Razorbacks point guard, begun at the same moment Percy reached out to grab the English girl’s arm to prevent her departure, was cut short as he was abruptly slammed backwards against the corridor wall at the same instant that he felt frighteningly powerful fingers curling around his Adam’s apple.
"If you *ever* try to touch me or any other woman like that again, I will rip your throat out," he heard a sibilant voice whispering in his ear in a tone that made it clear that the words were not a threat, but a solemn vow, a moment before he was unexpectedly released to stagger back, awkwardly and off-balance, while the brunette who had so effortlessly manhandled him nonchalantly rejoined her companions walking down the hallway.
"And in any event, as far as system memory is concerned, it now appears that the majority of motherboard manufacturers…"
The brunette’s opinion could be heard clearly the length of the corridor as all of the students present remained motionless, no one willing to move and possibly draw her attention to themselves, until the casually chatting trio had finally exited the main doors.
Willy's Alibi Room
A short while later
Willy the Snitch glanced up at the hulking redheaded teenager who nonchalantly walked through the front door and shook his head with a mix of exasperation and resignation.
The bartender/informant knew that every six months or so, some would-be hardcase or idiot jock from either Fondren or Sunnydale High came strutting into his place, either as a result of a dare or to prove to their buddies what a tough guy they were. Unfortunately for his bottom line, though, they almost invariably turned around and ran back outside once they got a good look at his usual clientele.
Of course, there was also the occasional idiot who thought they were a lot tougher than they really were, and who tried to hang around for a couple hours, and who usually ended up as part of one of his other customers' meals. Willy often made a quick buck out of those types, and really didn’t feel too sorry for them when it was time to mop up the blood off the floor. After all, it wasn't as if he didn't warn them to get lost while they could; and he had long ago rationalized the end results of such encounters to himself – it was more along the lines of some people being just plain stupid and not listening to anyone else's advice.
Besides, such people getting themselves killed did help reduce this overcrowded world’s surplus population and also probably improved the human gene pool, too.
In any event, he was just about to open his mouth and suggest that the kid turn around and walk back out the door he came through when a Polgara demon evidently decided it had taken offense at either the kid's presence, or maybe just his existence.
Either way, the Polgara had just walked up behind the kid, grabbed hold of his shoulder and spun him around to face the demon, probably so that it could see the expression on his face as it skewered him, when the kid simply just drove his left fist into its face, breaking both the Polgara's nose and its jaw, and knocking it clear across the room to smash against the far wall of the bar and then slump to the floor.
Ignoring the dumbfounded expressions on the faces of basically everything standing or sitting at the various tables scattered around the room at this display of inter-species diplomacy, the newcomer – who couldn't possibly be human, based on his punching out his would-be assailant the way he had just done – turned back to stare at Willy.
"You're Willy, right?" the whatever-he-was asked the disbelieving bartender, and Willy gulped nervously as he noted what he found to be an extremely disturbing expression of complete and utter indifference by the newcomer to the fact that one of the bar's patrons had just tried to murder him.
"Uh, yeah," the bar owner managed to squeak out an answer as he stared into a pair of cold blue eyes and fought to control his bladder muscles. "Is – is there something I can do for you?" he asked nervously.
"Uh-huh," the unidentified demon ('cause that's what this guy had to be, Willy had immediately decided after seeing his visitor's actions) nodded his head agreeably and then continued speaking. "I represent a group called Ragnarok, which has just recently arrived in your delightful little town here.
"We'd appreciate it if you can do us a favor and start spreading the word to your patrons that a new administration has taken office here in town and there are going to be significant changes regarding what will be considered acceptable behavior for any beings who wish to continue their residence here," the redheaded ostensible teen announced in a British-accented voice that carried clearly throughout the now-silent room.
"I think the being who's currently running things here in town is going to have some strong disagreements with that particular statement, friend," a massive Kaliff demon seated at a nearby table stated calmly as he stared at the new arrival.
"I take it you’re referring to the man who supposedly founded Sunnydale a hundred years ago? One of my associates is negotiating that situation, even as we speak," the redhead shrugged nonchalantly, an instant before spinning around to confront the Polgara he'd rendered unconscious just a few moments previously.
As he spun, the redhead's form seemed to distort for a fraction of an instant and suddenly a ten-foot tall grizzly bear was facing the now-confused Polgara. The bear's left paw snapped out with eye-blurring speed and an audible 'crack!' echoed through the bar as the Polgara's head abruptly rotated a hundred and eighty degrees, to now allow it to stare down the length of its spine, before it dropped limply to the floor.
"I'll drop off a copy of the new standards of behavior for you to post on your wall, later on tonight," the redhead said casually a moment later as he resumed the form he had worn when he'd originally entered the bar.
"See you then," Ronald Bilius Potter said as he walked out, leaving a curiously silent establishment behind in his wake.
Sunnydale Municipal Building, a.k.a. City Hall
Approximately the same time as the preceding scene
His Honor, Mayor Richard Wilkins the Third (and the Second, and the First, if one ignored the fact that his birth name had actually been André Mephistopheles Malfoy) was sitting at his desk, reading through the various reams of paperwork that routine municipal affairs seemed to generate when he suddenly looked up and demanded, "Who’s there? I know that someone just came in."
In response to his question, a medium-tall, dark-haired adolescent with some sort of lightning bolt shaped scar on his forehead suddenly appeared, holding what appeared to be a silvery-grey cloak in one hand.
"Interrupting official business is not only uncouth, young man, but also quite disruptive in terms of the .overall operational efficiency of my schedule," Wilkins declared with a frown. "Now then – care to tell me what it is you were hoping to accomplish by this rudeness?"
"I’m here to ensure that certain minor political problems won’t develop into major ones in the future," the youth replied as he suddenly produced some sort of stick about a foot long, pointed it at him and said, "Sectumsempra!"
The scarlet flash produced in response to the youth’s command was easily intercepted by the lightly glowing hemisphere that suddenly appeared around the desk, and Wilkins smirked at the boy who simply stood there looking at him, apparently not having anticipated that the man he’d just attempted to assassinate might possess any magical defenses.
"I’ve been dealing with upstarts like you trying to take over this town and the Hellmouth for over a hundred years, young fellow," Wilkins declared somewhat pompously as he sat comfortably behind his desk, "so I’m quite well prepared when it comes to defending myself against any would-be usurpers. It seems there’s always another wannabe Dark Lord around the corner."
"Yeah, I figured you probably would be prepared for an attack here, Malfoy," the youth nodded his acknowledgement of the Mayor’s words, while ignoring Andre’s momentary furious look at how he'd addressed him. As he spoke, a massive silver pistol suddenly appeared in the male teenager’s hand. "Well, at least insofar as wizarding and normal muggle magic is concerned, anyway," he then qualified his comment.
An instant later, just as Wilkins was opening his mouth to protest, the pistol’s muzzle flashed, although no sound was heard, and the Mayor’s head seemed to explode, splattering grey matter across the walls and rug behind him.
"Hmm, looks like Xand was right; aside from the magic, he really wasn’t any more resilient than a normal human being at this point in time," the youth murmured to himself as he cast various cleaning charms to remove all trace of the Mayor’s brains and cerebral fluids from the carpet and walls surrounding the desk, while leaving the body sprawled in the chair as it was.
Draping the sliver-grey cloak over himself again, Harry James Potter disappeared from sight.
A moment later, the door to the outer hallway opened, apparently of its own accord, and the whistled strains of ‘Weasley Is Our King’ could be heard echoing down the hall.
732 West Elm St.
Later that evening
Angel, currently the only known ensouled vampire in the world, was sitting in his apartment and rereading Plato’s ‘Republic’ for the thirty-fifth time this decade when he heard a knock on his door.
Carefully setting the book down on the small table next to his chair, he walked over and opened the door slightly, to find a tall, dark-haired young man standing in the poorly-lit hallway outside.
"You’re Angel, the vampire with a soul," the youth stated with an unmistakable certainty as he stared him straight in the eye, startling the vampire with his statement.
The boy (he couldn’t be more than seventeen or eighteen, tops, Angel figured) spoke with the faintest trace of an English accent and smelled faintly of various herbs and chemicals the ensouled vampire normally associated with magic-users. But whoever he was or whatever his magical affiliation, the youth was quite definitely human, without any trace of demonic blood in him that Angel could sense, so he nodded acknowledgement of his identification but otherwise remained silent.
"I know you’re interested in anything having to do with the Vampire Slayer who’s just moved into town," the kid stated, watching with a complete lack of concern, "and I’ve got some information that I'm sure you'll be interested in that concerns her."
The boy wasn’t afraid of him in the least, Angel noted curiously; he couldn’t smell even the slightest hint of fear coming from the youth, something which was actually quite out of the ordinary when it came to people familiar with his vampiric state. Usually, even the humans who dealt with him on a frequent basis had the slightest tinge of fear whenever they knew he was around, but this kid didn’t seem to be the least bit concerned about the potential danger he was exposing himself to.
In any event, the boy was correct in that he did, indeed, have an interest in the blonde Slayer who had just arrived in town with her mother. Ever since first seeing her back in Los Angeles those few months ago with Whistler, he’d felt a connection with the petite blonde warrior who’d been Chosen by whatever powers oversaw the forces of Good on this plane.
Somehow, she was important to him. That, he was quite certain of. The tiny beauty held some currently unknown, but significant tie to his existence, and Angel was bound and determined to figure out what it was and how she fit into his unlife.
And if this kid knew something important that related to her, then he needed to find out what it was.
"Come in," he invited the boy inside as he moved back to allow him admittance, then checked the outer hallway before closing and locking the door after him. He didn’t have any neighbors on this floor to eavesdrop, but there was no point in letting anyone who might be wandering by hear whatever it was the boy had to say.
As he turned back to face the youth, he saw him gesturing towards him with some kind of stick and saying something that sounded like, "Depulso!" and he suddenly found himself flying across the length of his apartment to slam against the far wall.
Angel was so surprised by the unexpected attack that he missed whatever the teen muttered next, but when he tried to push himself away from the wall to jump at the boy, he was shocked to find himself stuck to the wall and unable to move.
"What the hell do you think you're doing, boy?" Angel snarled with a mixture of fury and fear, his game face erupting into sight as he realized he was essentially helpless to defend himself from anything his visitor might wish to do.
"Shut up, bloodsucker. And spare me the overcompensating rhetoric," the youth told him coldly, as he walked across his apartment and pulled over one of his kitchen chairs and placed it in front of the currently entrapped vampire, turning it around and leaning his arms on top of the chair back as he sat down in it.
"I've got a number of things I need to tell you, so I want you to shut up and listen to what I have to say; and, for your sake, you better listen closely," he announced.
"First off, let me introduce myself," the youth then went on as he stared at the vampire with a mixture of disdain and what Angel thought might possibly be anger.
"My name is Alexander Potter and I know pretty much all there is that's worth knowing about you – how your soulless alter ego Angelus killed that gypsy girl almost a hundred years ago, what the Kalderash tribe did to you as revenge for her death and how you've been basically traveling around the States, here, for the past ninety-odd years, keeping a low profile and staying out of everyone's sight as best you can," the youth casually announced, causing the vampire's eyes to widen in shock upon hearing this boy offer a concise and relatively accurate summary of his existence since he'd been ensouled.
"And by the way, there's also a little clause in that curse they used to give you your soul that the vaida of the gypsies evidently didn't bother mentioning to you, something that's really pretty significant," the youth continued, "and which I'll get to in just a few minutes.
"But first, we need to talk about that asshole demon who calls himself Whistler contacting you several months back when the newest Slayer was Called and his pointing her out to you, and the fact that, since then, you've somehow managed to convince yourself that you're in love with her," Potter went on.
"I find it odd *at best* that despite the fact that you think you love her, you still haven't done a thing to help the Slayer out in any way with any of the responsibilities she’s had dropped on her ever since she was Called," he declared contemptuously, as the young man looked at Angel with an unmistakable expression of scorn and maybe even something approaching hatred. "Not with any of the nightly Slaying she had to do, and especially not when she went to fight Lothos and his minions and ended up having to burn down her high school gym.
"You didn't lift a finger to help even when her parents had her institutionalized because they thought she'd gone crazy," he added accusingly.
"Don't you think that them seeing a real, live vampire, so to speak, might have helped convince her parents that they might want to pay just a *little* bit more attention to what she was telling them?" he asked sarcastically.
"I couldn’t reveal myself to her back then," the vampire automatically protested.
"Slayers can sense vampires, don’t you know that? Her Watcher would have had her dust me before I could say anything to her. It’s only here on the Hellmouth, with all of the supernatural energy to confuse her senses, that Buffy won't immediately know who or what I am and I can get close enough to her to talk," Angel pointed out.
"So, given the circumstances, you tell me – how could I have possibly helped her in Los Angeles?" Angel asked, trying to justify his past behavior.
"Oh, I don't know. How about this for an idea – your coming up to her one night while she was out patrolling with your hands in the air to show you're not trying to attack her, introducing yourself and telling her about the curse and then actually *doing* something to help out, instead of just hiding in the shadows and stalking her?" Xander responded acerbically.
"Anyway, all of that's in the past, and there's nothing either of us can do about it now," he then went on as he shook his head in what could have been either resignation or disgust.
"But what we *can* do something about now is the fact that things here in Sunnydale are gonna be *real* different from here on out," the dark-haired youth declared emphatically.
“You said something before about a clause in the curse?” Angel asked, wanting to change the subject away what from what he reluctantly had to agree had been his previous failure to help out the Slayer in her Calling.
"The moment of perfect happiness thing – yeah, like I said, we’ll get to that in a minute or so," the boy nodded. "But just so we’re clear on this, Deadboy – if you're gonna be staying here in my town, then you're gonna be pulling your weight around here, too, just like everyone else is gonna be doing. This whole 'Mysterious, Cryptic Stranger Lurking in the Shadows' act ain’t gonna fly, anymore.
"So, listen up, 'cause here're what the rules are gonna be from here on out…"