This is a crossover of “The Crow: Stairway to Heaven” and “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”, neither of which belongs to me, though I do intend to dabble in their worlds. “The Crow” is mildly AU and after the (only) season and “Buffy” is set early Season 2. I think. Highway to Hell
“Please? Everyone has to have someone eighteen or older with them and you know
Darla and Daryl can’t get off work, but you
can take a few days away from the Blackout, Shea’ll be fine with the new guy and the crowd’s been cleaner lately, and you won’t even have to pay and besides, it’ll be good for you to get out for a while.”
Eric smiled a bit and held up his hands defensively, “All right, all right, Sarah, breathe.
“You will? All right! Thank you, thank you, thank you!” Sarah threw her arms around the slightly bemused Eric before turning and bolting for the door, picking up her skateboard and backpack along the way. She paused at the door, “Meet you at the school tomorrow? Daryl’ll be there to okay you as my chaperone, so that won’t be a problem, and I already talked to Shea.”
“Oh, you did, did you?” The raised eyebrow and half-teasing tone did nothing to diminish the girl’s bright grin.
“Well, I really
wanted you to say yes, so I made sure you wouldn’t have any excuses so long as that bird of yours doesn’t come up with something.” Sarah gave a final little wave and fled before Eric could respond.
Eric smiled at the closed door and shook his head, quiet brown eyes glittering with amusement tempered with deep sadness. Sarah was a bright spot in his days, something that could lift away some of the soul-deep pain that echoed in his heart. He would not deny the thirteen-year-old under his care something she wanted so much, no matter how much he might tease her for it beforehand.
The next morning found him at the school, getting signed up as a trip chaperone by Dayrl Albrecht’s okay.xxxx
“Waiiit a minute,” Xander half-jogged, half skipped in front of Willow, hitching his backpack up over one shoulder and halting her forward momentum. “What was that?”
Willow blinked up at him, “Um, about the middle schoolers from Port Columbia that’re coming for a week? One of them is staying with me.”
“Middle schoolers from Port Columbia,” Xander shook his head, “Whoa, they’re coming here?
As in, here-here? High school here? And where is Port Columbia, anyway?”
“It’s a field trip… I’m not quite sure what it’s supposed to do, though,” Willow frowned a bit, then brightened, “Anyway, Port Columbia is in Canada and hi, Buffy.”
“Hi, guys,” Buffy bounced up next to her two friends, “What’s this about Canada?”
“Oh, you haven’t heard either? There are some middle school students who’re coming next week for a field trip to Sunnydale. They’re staying with various families in town, mostly. One of them’s staying at my house.”
“Oh, yeah,” Buffy perked up a bit, “I forgot about that. My mom tried to get one, but it didn’t work out.”
“And is anyone else seeing the problem, here?” Xander asked as he backed through the library door, “I mean, really. Out-of-town middle schoolers on the Hellmouth? All-you-can-eat buffet? Anyone?”
“Xander’s right, Buffy,” Giles set a pile of books on the table next to the computer and turned to look at the three teens, “You will have to be even more vigilant in order to keep the visiting students safe. Perhaps you could ask Angel to patrol when you cannot?”
“Right,” Buffy jumped up to perch on a corner of Giles’ desk, “Good call. I’ll do that.”xxxx
“Eric!” Sarah waved the man over and tilted her head, glancing at the passenger on his shoulder, “Um… it may be a bit late to ask, but… will you be OK without your bird?”
The crow flapped its wings and churrled.
Eric reached up a hand to smooth ruffled feathers, “He can keep up. He tires about as easily as I do.”
“Right. That all you’re bringing?” Sarah nodded to the plain black duffle in Eric’s hand, hitching her own backpack a little higher over her shoulder. At his nod, she huffed, nudging her own duffle with a foot, “They won’t let me bring my skateboard.”
Eric smiled a bit and glanced at the bird on his shoulder before bending to pick up the navy bag that Sarah continued to toe at, shaking his head. The bird took off.
“Oh, c’mon, Eric, aren’t you at least going to pretend
to feel sorry for me?”
“Sarah, I’m sure you can survive without your skateboard for one week,” Eric led her onto the bus and picked the back seat, “Window or aisle?”
“Window, totally, and I know I can survive
without it, that’s not the point. Shelly gave it to me before she introduced me to you… it just makes me feel closer to her, that’s all.”
Eric quieted as he sat beside the girl, considering. “Shelly gave you me, too,” he said after a while. “Did you know she told Daryl to tell me to take care of you that night?”
“Yeah… I was there. That’s what got Daryl looking out for me… Shelly didn’t know you were dead.”
“And Daryl forgot to tell me, but Shelly didn’t, the last time I saw her.”
Sarah twisted in the seat, settling her backpack on her lap and wrapping her arms around it, “Are you okay?”
Eric reached out a hand and ruffled her hair, “I think I will be.”
She swatted his hand away with a sharp “Hey!” but she was smiling.xxxx
The bus ride was long, boring, and uneventful. Most of the passengers slept, including Sarah, who had her head pillowed against his shoulder. Eric himself couldn’t sleep. There were downsides to being his particular brand of dead. Upon occasion he would ‘space out’, usually flashbacks or waking dreams, but sleep eluded him except for one brief period when he’d been separated from his ‘inner Crow’. Barring that same brief period, he didn’t need to eat or drink, either.
He was more aware of the Crow within him—and the bird—since Shelly had reunited him with it. He’d been telling the truth when he said that it came from him—indeed, it was
him, or at least his darker side. The part of him so angry that consequences didn’t matter… the part of him that had been mostly in control when he’d first come back. He’d accepted it, accepted the anger and hate, accepted that darkness and let it become part of him again. If he didn’t fight it, he controlled it—a hard-learned lesson he wouldn’t forget.
He was broken out of his musings by a sense of growing unease, a feeling like but not like the portal in his loft window. It pulsed with power, a sense of massive energies far beyond that he was accustomed to, and it felt evil
His hand tightened on Sarah’s shoulder, waking her.
“Ow, hey—lighten up, Eric, that hurts,” she groggily swatted his hand away.
“Sorry,” dark brown eyes scanned the bus, then the country outside. It was dark, sometime past eight, but his Crow eyes could make out the sign proclaiming ‘Welcome to Sunnydale’.
Sarah yawned and sat up, “So, were you just trying to break my shoulder or were you waking me for a reason?”
“We’re almost there. Sarah, I don’t want you going anywhere in this town alone, and I want you with me after dark.”
“What? Why?” It wasn’t a protest, she trusted him too much for that.
“This place feels… wrong. There’s something here, something supernatural… Something evil.”
” Sarah caught the seriousness in his voice, “Right. No going anywhere without you after dark. Got it.”
“If you aren’t with me at sunset, Sarah, wait inside. I will find you, wherever you are.”
She nodded. Despite the restriction, it felt nice to know he cared—and, if she were honest with herself, it was comforting to know he’d be able to find her, even if no one knew where she was. If Eric was uneasy about something, he probably had a good reason to be. His weird feelings hadn’t been wrong yet.xxxx
“What is it with Sunnydale and buses of exchange students coming at night?” Buffy perched on the back of the bench, amiably waiting with Willow and Xander for the predicted busload of middle schoolers and chaperones to arrive and playing with her favorite stake.
“That’s a really good question,” Xander twisted to look up at her from where he sat on the bench, “This is Sunnydale.
Why haven’t they learned?”
“They’re not from Sunnydale?” Willow suggested before visibly brightening, “Hey, look! Here it comes!”
“Hey, great! And not a vamp in sight,” Buffy jumped down from the back of the bench while Willow and Xander stood, “So… who are we looking for?”
“The girl’s name is Sarah, but I don’t know who her guardian is… there was a last-minute switch when her mom and the man who might have taken her both got called in to work because of how many people were out with the flu. They said something about a third guardian that they’d ask, because otherwise she wouldn’t be able to come, and that they’d call and tell me if I wouldn’t need to pick her up.”
“Wow. Where do her mom and this guy work?” Buffy idly flipped the stake she’d been toying with and slid it back up her sleeve as the bus stopped across the parking lot.
“The police station, I think. Daryl—the guy—is a police detective and her mom runs the desk on his floor.”
“Cops, huh?” Xander nodded wisely, “Bet she knows their laws inside and out. So,” he clapped his hands together, “What about this third guardian that’s coming with her? Do we know anything about them?”
“No… I don’t even know if it’s a guy or a girl,” Willow watched the people getting off of the bus curiously.
“What if it’s some creepy Goth-guy?” Xander asked, jumping a bit when a duffle bag hit the pavement with a loud smack.
“Xander!” Willow protested.
“Ah, how bad can it be, Wills?” Buffy asked, scanning the bus’ passengers.
A sharp caw made all three of them jump and a crow landed on top of the lamppost near the bus as other people got out of their cars to gather up their temporary guests.
“Sarah?” Willow called, venturing forward.
One of the kids turned towards them, swinging an olive-green backpack over her shoulder and reaching for a dark duffle. The person next to her turned as well, proving himself to be a man with shoulder-length wavy hair. Black clothes made his skin seem more pale than it really was and the quick, searching look he gave the group of teens spoke of intimate knowledge of the darker sides of humanity.
“That’s me,” the girl said carefully, glancing at the young man. He gave a slight nod and she relaxed.
“Hi,” Willow moved forward, holding out a hand, “I’m Willow. You’ll be staying with me and my parents.”
The girl shrugged her backpack more firmly onto her shoulder and reached out to shake the proffered appendage, “I’m Sarah and this is Eric. He looks out for me sometimes.”
“And I’m Xander and this is Buffy,” Xander added, offering his own hand to Eric, who took it.
The crow cawed again, loudly, and flapped its wings as if agitated.
Eric glanced up at it and it quieted with a soft squawk.
“Right then,” Xander clapped his hands together, rubbing them in a habitual nervous gesture, “As none of us can actually drive and none of the parents are currently available… we’re gonna be walking to Willow’s lovely home tonight. I’ll be your bag-boy tonight…” he bent to pick up Sarah’s duffle, noticing that Eric already had his bag slung over his shoulder.
“All righty then,” Xander looked around, “This way, ladies and gentleman. You’ll be getting the nightly tour of Sunnydale courtesy of Scooby Tours, the only teen led tours in town!”
Sarah leaned towards Willow and Buffy as Xander started to lead them away, “Is he always like this?”
“Only when he’s nervous,” Willow informed.
Buffy raised an eyebrow and turned to Sarah, “Pretty much, yeah. He’s always like this.”
She noticed that the black bird followed.xxxx
“The Crow has come,” sing-song, more than half-mad, the light, feminine voice carried a note of something undefineable.
“The crow?” A bleach-blond head turned to look at the speaker, “Dru? What are you talking about?”
Drusilla turned her head, pretty brown hair glistening in the faint lighting, “The Crow has come,” she repeated, no longer sing-song. “The bird of Death that carries souls. He’ll take you away from me if we stay here.”
“Dru?” Spike wheeled his chair towards her, “Dru, I don’t understand. What crow?”
“The Crow. We should go, Spike. The Crow will take you away from me if we don’t go.”
No matter how mad her words often sounded, she was always right in her own way. “All right, pet, we’ll go. We can go to L.A, or pick another place. We’ll stay away from this crow and everything will be fine.”xxxx
The crow continued to follow the small group as they moved through the streets, Xander taking his role as tour guide to a humorously exaggerated degree. Buffy found the bird’s behavior suspicious and kept an eye on it, but none of the others seemed to notice, at least not until it flew a bit ahead to land on a fencepost.
Sarah twisted to look at her guardian. “Eric, isn’t that your bird?”
“One way to find out,” he sighed, then stepped around the puzzled teens and held up an arm, fist closed.
The crow churrled and flapped over to land on the outstretched wrist, then hopped to Eric’s shoulder and turned to face forward, chirruping softly.
“You weren’t kidding when you said he’d probably follow you, huh, Eric?” Sarah asked, venturing forward to examine the bird. “What’d he do, ride with the luggage?”
Eric shrugged his unburdened shoulder, “Probably. Sorry about this,” he turned towards Willow, “He’s been ‘my’ bird for about a year and a half, now. He doesn’t like to be left alone.”
“No kidding,” Sarah snorted, “He busted into the police station once, looking for you. Flapped up a fuss when you weren’t available. Daryl made me
catch him and take him outside.”
“Why wasn’t I told about this?” Eric’s voice was suddenly sharp—if the bird had come for him…
“I think we were more worried about the false murder charges at the time,” Sarah’s voice held a trace of sarcasm. “It’s not like we could admit a wild bird
to visit you.”
“Oh,” Eric shifted, “Then.”
“Yes, then,” Sarah huffed and glanced around, “So… anyone mind if we get going? I don’t know about you guys, but that graveyard is giving me the creeps.”
Eric gave her a puzzled glance—she never minded the graveyard in Port Columbia, although that might just be because his and Shelly’s graves were there. He turned his attention towards the rows of headstones and frowned. There was something out there, in the graveyard—more than one. A brief glance and a nod sent the crow flying over the sacred ground, checking for anything out of place. No brief flash of seeing through the bird’s eyes.
Not in, then. Under.
“Yeah, we should probably get a move-on,” Buffy agreed, and the group started moving again.
A block later, and the crow landed back on Eric’s shoulder—he transferred it to a wrist, then Sarah’s shoulder, knowing she would be comforted by the warm weight of his familiar.xxxx
“… So…” Sarah looked around at the suddenly silent group, “… Awkward silence?”
“Hey, that’s a good one,” Xander gave her a quick grin, “I’ll have to use that the next time I say something stupid.”
“Oh, well, that should be later tonight, then,” Buffy said cheerfully. “Hey, look, Willow’s house.”
“Where?” Sarah looked at the row of houses.
“Right there,” Willow pointed. “Come on inside—Sarah, you’ll have to share my room. We only have one guest room and since Eric’s a guy…”
“Right, guy gets the guest room,” Xander nodded wisely.
Eric ignored the general proceedings past following Willow into the house, gently herding Sarah ahead of himself. He dropped his duffle inside the door of the guest room he was shown to and followed the two girls to Willow’s room, wanting to know where Sarah would be at night. Buffy and Xander waited in the entry.
“I’ll go get the cot from the guest room,” Willow said, “My parents shouldn’t be home until morning, so you guys can either stay here and get settled or come with us to the Bronz—it’s a little club in town. You have to be at least thirteen to go, but there’s no entrance fee.”
“I can get the cot,” Eric waved off that offer, “Sarah?”
“You slept on the bus,” Eric conceded, “but we leave when Willow does at the latest.”
Eric shook his head and went to get the cot, returning to put it in Willow’s room.
“I can give you the spare house-key if you guys end up wanting to leave earlier,” Willow offered as she helped him position the bed.
Eric nodded, glancing at Sarah. She’d probably get bored soon enough without knowing anyone there.xxxx
“He kind of reminds me of you
,” Sarah murmured, smirking at Eric as he eyed the newcomer warily.
wrong,” Eric replied, even more softly.
“Oh, right,” Willow exclaimed, remembering her guests, “Sarah, Eric, this is Angel. Angel, Sarah and Eric are here for the week from Canada—a school thing for Sarah. They’re staying at my house.”
“Hi,” the man said, a bit awkwardly.
Sarah grinned, poking Eric’s side, “See, he is
Eric gave her a dirty look before turning his attention back to Angel, examining stance and clothing. Sarah had a point—he carried himself in a similar manner and wore all black. The height and hair were radically different, though, and the man had a strange sense of muted wrongness
about him, like something within him was evil in a way that the man himself was not.
“Perhaps,” Eric conceded, offering a polite smile, “Angel. Eric Draven,” he indicated himself before holding out his hand.
The other took it, though he made a bit of a strange face when he replied. “Just Angel.”
“Please tell me that means that you aren’t going to tell us your first or last or whichever name and not that your parents named you ‘Just’,” Sarah pleaded.
Angel grimaced, but he did need another name in case of actual paperwork. Of course, ‘Just’ Angel was a really bad pun, but Buffy would probably get a kick out of it. “I’m not going to answer that.”
Buffy grinned, catching on to Angel’s train of thought. “It’s ‘Just’.”
“It’s a bad pun,” Angel retorted.
Eric nodded, “I’m calling you Angel,” he sensed deception shifting to acceptance—this ‘Angel’ truly had no other name he thought of himself as, but had accepted the misunderstanding as a new naming. Interesting.
, brushing his hand inconspicuously across the sleeve of the man’s coat.
And was overwhelmed.