(I may have fudged a few years to make Sophie young enough to be a potential in Season Seven. I don’t own Buffy or Mamma Mia!)
For the To Boldly Go Challenge, wherein we look for non-obscure worlds to cross with Buffy that no one has thought to do yet. T'is Awesome.
Three girls were in tears and Xander, because there wasn’t anybody else, was on damage control. “Giles was just on a short fuse,” he promised before adding with a mutter, “Aren’t we all?”
There were six wide wet eyes trembling at him. He was trying his damnedest to do the socially acceptable thing and cave immediately, but he was tired as all hell. Getting right down to it, he was also more concerned with keeping the girls alive than nursing the boo boos on their estrogen-injected egos. “Look,” he said, trying not to snap. “We’re all stressed out here. The First is being a big, Big Bad. And we are chickens post chopping block. So if the man trying keep you breathing lets out his inner Ripper, live with it.”
A Potential blinked. “Ripper?”
“Old nickname. Self-explanatory, ain’t it? Now…” He paused as someone knocked into him.
“Oh, excuse me. I…just…um.” a girl babbled behind him.
Xander turned. It was one of the two girls that had just arrived minutes earlier, the one with the guitar case that, erroneously, held an actual guitar. She was hanging in the doorway. Clutched against her chest was an old diary. Emphasis on clutched. Her knuckles, all in a row just under her chin, were white except for two on her left hand, which were bruised a brilliant orange and green.
“Do you need something?” he asked, dreading the answer.
“Peachy,” he replied quickly before she could go on and turned back to the girls in question. “He didn’t mean to get angry. Just…be careful with the books. The Council’s libraries are pretty much kerblooie, so we need to be careful with the ones we’ve still got. Now. Excuse me. I have…stuff.” He spun and brushed past the Potential with the diary without another word.
In his wake, the girl bit her lip before turning opening her mouth. “Xander, I…eep!” She stopped up short. Staring at her, so close their noses were a hair’s breadth from touching, was the other new Potential. Eve.
“What’s the book, Sophie?” she was asked with a curling smile that didn’t reach the eyes.
“I…” she stepped back. Eve’s head tilted slightly. “It’s just my Mum’s.”
Eve’s eyes tilted shut and open again, much like the baby doll Sophie had once begged for but never gotten. “Is she dead?” At the gasp, she added, “It’s just…everything’s going to Hell. Don’t you think? My Watcher died.”
One of the girls behind Sophie promptly fled up the stairs, eyes streaming.
Sophie desperately wished she was back on Calicos with her mother in the rickety hotel, and she didn’t understand. She looked down at the diary. How had her life just…slipped through her fingers? Her breath started to shake. With a sob, she followed the other Potential up to the second floor. She knocked on the bathroom door.
“I’m busy!” the girl inside snapped with an impressive amount of bravado given the circumstances.
“Can…can I come in?” she asked with a sniff.
There was a pause, and then the door opened with a jerk. The two girls stared at each other, judging. When their faces were both deemed splotchy enough, the bathroom’s occupant stepped aside in silent invitation. Sophie swept in. She caught her reflection in the mirror and winced. The other Potential slammed the door and pressed against it with her back before slumping down onto the fake linoleum tile.
Sophie debated between the toilet seat and the rug before settling on floor and picking at the white pile with one hand. “I’m sorry,” she began before she realized the phrase applied to their situation in far many ways. “I’m Sophie,” she offered instead.
“Dianne,” came the answer. “No offence, but your friend is a bitch.”
“We’re not. Friends. We just ended up on Revello Drive at the same.”
Dianne looked up. “So is your mom…sorry.”
“Yeah. Your…what’s the word? Watcher?”
“Yeah.” They were both silent for a few minutes. And then: “So. Your mom’s diary. Did you love her?”
Sophie nodded. “She was my best friend.”
“I never knew my parents. But sometimes I wondered, y’know?”
“Completely…” Sophie paused. In the end, talking about unknown parents beat talking about dead loved ones. “I never knew my dad. I just have Mum’s diary, from the summer they met.”
Dianne seemed equally eager to run with the lighter topic of conversation. That is to say, not with a whit of excitement but with a sort of subdued desperation. “Did she write about him?”
Sophie put on a smile she didn’t feel. “Like you wouldn’t believe. Listen to this.” She pulled open the decorated velvet book. “July 17th.What a night. After the show Sam rode me over to the little island. We danced on the beach and kissed on the beach and dot dot dot."
Dianne blinked. “What?”
“Dot Dot Dot - It's what they did in the olden days. Ahem: Sam's the one, I know he is. I've never felt this before."
“So this guy Sam's your dad?”
Sophie ran a hand down the spine slowly. “The plot thickens. Sam told Mum he was going home to get married."
“Bastard!” her audience gasped.
“I know. August 4th...What a night! I was still feeling depressed about Sam When after the show 'Bill' rented a motorboat and I took him over to the little island. One thing led to another and... dot dot dot."
“August 15th. What a night! Harry turns up out of the blue so I said I'd show him the little island. I must need my head examined. But he was so sweet I couldn't help it and...”
The pair said it in unision. “Dot Dot Dot!”
“Yes! August 19th. What a night. A boy stumbled into my dressing room. He called himself Ripper. He was a complete honey. He was on the run from someone called Ethan. There was only one thing to do.”
Dianne’s jaw dropped. “Four? You’re kidding.”
Sophie shook her head mutely before forging on. “I took him to the island and…dot dot dot.”
They sat quietly for a moment. Sophie closed the diary and set it in her lap. Dianne blinked at last and asked, “Well, which one is it?”
Sophie threw up her hands. “I don’t know! And now…I guess I’ll never know.”
Dianne suddenly froze. “Wait... Ripper? Did you say Ripper?”
Sophie blinked. “Yes?” she said hesitantly, then blinked again at the sudden scrutiny she found herself under.
“Maybe…only one way to find out. C’mon!” And Sophie found herself seized and dragged up from the floor. Dianne turned, flung open the door, and yelped.
Eve stood silently in the doorway, staring past Dianne at Sophie. Sophie shrank back.
“Christ! What is wrong with you!” Dianne yelled. She moved to shove Eve away but the strange girl stepped back before the hands could touch her.
“I was just waiting for the bathroom,” she explained.
“It’s called knocking, you freak. C’mon, let’s get out of here.” Dianne pulled Sophie away and back towards the stairs.
Sophie couldn’t help but look behind her. Eve wouldn’t stop staring for the longest time. Then she turned and walked away down the hall. Waiting for the bathroom, indeed.
As she stumbled down the first step, Sophie was forced to focus back on Dianne. “Where are we going?”
“To see Ripper.”
Sophie dug in her heels on the stair. “What!”
Dianne glanced back, brown hair tumbling off her shoulder. “Well, a Ripper, anyway. Didn’t you hear Xander? Mr. Giles used to be called Ripper.”
“Mr. Giles? Who?”
Sophie found herself blinked at. “Wow. You are new. He’s camped in the dining room with his precious books. Word to the wise: do not touch.”
And like that, Sophie found herself in the same room as one of her potential fathers. Well, potential potential father. She was still nervous as all hell when the graying blonde glanced up through his spectacles and demanded, “What now?”
Dianne pushed Sophie forward helpfully. “Sophie has something to tell you.”
He frowned. “Unless it’s to tell me that she has a solid grasp of Mayan, Greek, or Romanian, I dare say it can wait, Miss Dianne.”
He looked at her. He had blue eyes. Oh god. Her stomach had just dropped down into her toes. Sophie swallowed. “I’m from Greece? This little island called…”
“Sit.” He pointed to a chair.
She sat. A stack of texts that looked like they would disintegrate at the slightest sneeze was slid in front of her. She watched Mr. Giles—Ripper—pull out a sheet of paper and start scribbling on it. She looked back at Dianne, who thrust forward her hands in the man’s direction in a clear demand to say something.
He blinked. “We haven’t met, have we? Giles. Rupert Giles.”
“Pleasure.” He shoved the sheet of paper at her. “These are key phrases to look for. Slayer. Female warrior. First evil. Magical object that will save our collective arses…”—he shook himself, and his tense air suddenly fell off him like water—“Do speak up if you run across anything useful.” With that, he turned back to squinting through a magnifying glass at a printed photograph of a scroll populated by strange wedge shapes.
Sophie hesitantly placed her mother’s diary on the table and reached into her pocket for her reading glasses. Behind her, Dianne made an exasperated sound and stalked off. She looked at the man that didn’t look at all like a Ripper. He was wiry muscle underneath the wrinkles, like a pale bookish version of the silver-haired fisherman on Calicos, but beyond that there was nothing remotely tough. She tried very hard to picture him with piercings and leather and mascara. His image remained stubbornly that of a frazzled librarian. A scary librarian, but then most librarians were. Sophie opened her mouth.
Say something. This could be her father sitting right next to her and she was just going to keep quiet? She pulled the first book towards her. Perhaps when she had a proper conversation starter. She scanned the Greek for anything resembling the word Slayer. It was the old script. It was like she was squinting through legalese for her mother again, and she had to blink back a tear when she remembered she was in Sunnydale. She turned the page. She just needed a word. How hard could it be to find one word?
Sophie jerked out of her haze when a female voice called out. “Giles. Take a breather and…you hijacked help? How long has she been stuck in here?”
Wondering the exact same thing, the Potential glanced around. The window was no help, being boarded up and heavily fortified besides. Nor did she have a watch. The American obsession with knowing the exact minute of the day was a bit disturbing to a girl who grew up in a place that told time with a time system that involved the sun, the tide, and what meal was on its way to the table.
She turned around towards the speaker. It was a blonde woman, older than the potentials and…much shorter. Buffy, she presumed. Self-consciously, she took off her glasses and started to clean them with the edge of her shirt. The Slayer’s mouth opened. Her head swiveled twice between Mr. Giles and Sophie, twice. “Do you by any chance own a lot of tweed?”
Sophie frowned. “I’m sorry?”
Buffy waved the earlier question away. “Ignore me. Go and eat before the books eat you. They’ve been known to swallow demons whole.”
Sophie would have preferred to stay and attempt a conversation with Mr. Giles now that he wasn’t adhered to his texts, but something in the Slayer’s voice made her grab her mother’s diary and scamper.
As she left, she overheard a snippet of the conversation:
“Less than nothing.”
“Xander and I are going to the motel on the east side. We just got word…”
Passing through the kitchen, Sophie left hearing distance. There she stopped short. Perched on a stool was Eve.
“Will you stop staring, please?” she asked before her nerve could leave her again.
The girl shrugged. “I…don’t mean to. It’s just that you’re new here, and I’m new here. I’m no good at friends. Do you think we could be friends, Sophie?”
“There’s lots of girls here.” In other words, get the hell away from me, please, Sophie thought to herself.
“But you’re special.” Eve blinked again in that slow doll’s way.
Sophie felt the hairs on the back of her neck rise in alarm.
“I’m not really up to making new friends right now,” she said and shuffled away towards the entrance to the living room. Eve shuffled with her.
“You were friendly with that Dianne girl in the bathroom. Did you tell her all about Mummy?”
Sophie bit her lips with her right canines and focused on not being mad. She hated when she was angry. Things always went…wobbly. “Do not…talk about my mother,” she struggled to say evenly. “And leave me alone.” Spotting an opening, she rushed past the insane potential and back up the stairs. Not wanting to pack into a room with everyone else, she pulled down attic stair in the upstairs hall and clambered up. The smell of dust reminded her of home. Donna had always been ready with hugs and dust cloths, for all the good the latter did. Donna had always been there.
And now she was dead.
Sophie still had so many questions. Who was her dad, and why…
She turned around, scrubbing the back of her hand across her face. Dianne’s head was poking out from the narrow attic entry. The brunette’s mouth twisted to the side as she thought. “There’s a meeting downstairs. Molly says it’s important. Um…”
Sophie sniffed and swallowed the next burst of tears with a hard swallow. How long had she been up there? The simple answer: not long enough.
Dianne smiled softly. “Take your time. I’ll tell them you’re coming, ‘kay, Sophie?”
Sophie lingered in the attic for as long as was conscionable. She wanted to make Mr. Giles like her, so being unbearably late was an option. He probably wasn’t Donna’s Ripper, and it was even less likely that he was her father, but it was a fantasy she wasn’t able to let go. She needed it to get through reality.
Reality was freaks with sewn over eyes setting half the island on fire, killing her mother, and destroying everything she had ever known. Sky had died saving her. The strange woman on Paros, the Watcher, had died to get her on the next ferry to Athens with a passport and a plane ticket to California.
Sophie clambered down after furtively glancing around for any sign of Eve. She stopped in the bathroom to straighten her clothes and splash cold water on her face until she looked more human and less like a blond puffer fish.
Eve was talking when she ghosted down the stairs towards the living room. Given the looks of horror pointed the strange girl’s way, she was being her usual tactless psychotic self.
Then Buffy and her friend, Xander, burst in through the front door, and as all Hell broke loose, Sophie saw Eve’s slight smile stretch unnaturally until a sharp crescent slice ran from ear to ear.(To Be Continued)So...you think the First knows something about Sophie that everyone else doesn't? Thank you for reading.