DISCLAIMER: Joss Whedon owns BtVS. Eric Kripke owns Supernatural.
I don't own any of them (I just get a kick out of playing with these characters!).
Oh, yeah... except for Dana. She's mine.
ONE: A WITCHY ENCOUNTER“You can’t be a part of this.”
Dawn’s voice echoed in Buffy’s head. She continued to feel the stabbing pain of betrayal. After all that she’s done for them… after all that they’ve been through… Her friends. Her… family.
She practically dragged her feet as she walked away from her house. Her house. Dawn said it was her house too. The funny thing was… she wasn’t even human to begin with. That’s a laugh, alright.
Wait, that was mean.
Buffy never wanted this… She never wanted to be the Chosen One in the first place. She never wanted to involve others in her so-called destiny. She never wanted to be pulled out of heaven, pulled out of paradise. And now that they were in an actual war, they turn on her the minute something goes wrong. They thought it was another Buffy-saves-the-day kind of deal. Maybe this time, they were all really way in over their heads.
They don’t understand. They couldn’t if they tried. All her sacrifices, everything she gave up… it wasn’t for her. Never for her. If she had a hand on how to live her life… this SO wasn’t it! They were all so hung up on her superpowers that they were starting to believe they were inferior to her. And they made it sound like it was all about her. That she felt she was better than any of them. Like they didn’t know how messed up she was inside. How she felt so freaking scared and helpless. They want her out because they think she can’t think straight anymore. Who could think straight when faced with an apocalypse for the nth time? Well, that’s just neat.
Let them fight the big bad preacher man. Let’s see if they could do any better.
Memories crowded her mind, the beginnings of a migraine starting to form. They all turned their backs on her – Giles, Willow, Xander, Dawn… everyone. Buffy had never felt lonelier or isolated. Ever.
As she turned the corner, the darkness seemed to grow deeper. All the streetlamps were out, houses empty, silence deafening. Even the crickets seemed to have packed up and left town.
Buffy peered into the darkened street, figuring if she could squat in some deserted house or something. She was starting to feel hunger pangs. She could definitely use some mac and cheese.
It was really creepy walking through the empty streets at night. The town seemed truly dead. Sunnydale was a bona fide ghost town now. Everybody’s gone. Evil permeated the very air, making goosebumps spread across her skin.
“Whoa!” A female voice yelped as she stumbled and fell on Buffy’s feet. She fell flat on her face, groaning and coughing from the dust.
The slayer jumped back, eyes wide as she scrutinized the new arrival for any evil vibes. There were none. “What the…?”
The girl stood up, dusting off her jeans. She patted down her leather mailman bag, wincing when she heard a loud crash. “Oh great, that would be the bookcase…” She sighed, brushed off her long blond hair and squinted at the wide-eyed Buffy. “I… uh-oh. You saw me -- uh… do the…”
Buffy nodded, eyes wide as saucers, “Uh-huh. You—you just… poofed! And—and… how did you…?” Her eyes narrowed again, “You’re not a demon or anything right? I’m so not in the mood for a fight.” She put her hands on her hips, irritation in her voice.
Holding up her arms in surrender, the girl shook her head while grinning sheepishly, “No! No, of course not. I’m really sorry I had to drop in on you like this. I really didn’t mean to. Now, I probably have to do a memory charm on you but I don’t think…”
Buffy peered at her, “Memory charm? Are you a witch? Is that it?”
This time, it was the girl’s eyes that went all saucery-wide. “Okaaay. How’d you know that? Well duh. I did just apparate in front of you, didn’t I? Never mind.” She started to pace then suddenly whirled around to face Buffy again. “Alright. Fine. I admit it. I am a witch. I’m Dana Winters.” She held out her hand.
“Uh-huh.” Buffy stared at the proferred hand like it was covered with maggots. “You speak just like someone I know. He… he’s British, too. Are you part of the Watchers’ Council?”
“Watchers’ Council? How did you know about those bastards…?” The stranger stiffened visibly. Her blue eyes narrowed slightly, “Are you one of those pillocks? ”
Buffy was taken aback. “Uhh… no! God, no. Do I talk like one?”
Dana looked skeptical. “Well then, how do you know about that council?” She asked, her tone casual and light although her eyes were anything but.
It was Buffy’s turn to narrow her eyes at the stranger. “I think that’s none of your business. I have to go.” She started to walk away.
Dana continued persistently, matching her pace with Buffy’s, “That… council has been an absolute pain in my ass ever since I started as an Auror trainee. You wouldn’t mention them if you aren’t… if you didn’t…” She trailed away, suddenly lost in her thoughts. She faltered, her feet unable to move as she stared at Buffy in a new light. “You’re… you’re the… I can’t believe I found… but it can’t be… can it?” Her disbelieving eyes stared at Buffy’s tired ones.
Buffy stopped walking, a ghost of a grin on her lips as she took in Dana’s reaction. “Let’s start again. Hi, I’m Buffy Summers, one of the slayers currently residing in our beloved town of Sunnydale, the infamous Hellmouth of California.”
“Okaaay… I feel dizzy...” Dana ran a hand through her disheveled hair. “No way am I this lucky. Wait ‘til my friends hear about this!”
“So why are you here? There’s no one left in this godforsaken town.” She crossed her arms across her chest, her eyes narrowed in suspicion.
Dana raised her eyebrows in surprise, “No one? Oh my god, really?” She looked around the empty street. “Oh wow… I didn’t realize… ”
Buffy suddenly felt bone-tired. Weary, dead-on-her-feet tired. At this point, she didn’t care if this witch stayed in town or not. With a snort of disbelief, she started to walk away. She still had to break into a house and rummage for food.
“Hey! Wait!” Dana called out, jogging to catch up. She matched Buffy’s quickened pace. “Look, I’m not sure what’s happening here. I was studying my runes this morning, when it told me that I had to come here. To Sunnydale. I had no idea why, but my rune reading is usually on the right track. Well, that’s what Hermione used to say. And she’s supposed to be the cleverest witch of our class.” She placed a hand on Buffy’s shoulder, effectively stopping the smaller girl on her tracks. “What happened here? Maybe I could be of some assistance.”
Buffy looked at her. She seemed to be doing some quick thinking while she stared at the blond witch. Finally, she nodded towards a house across the street, “Come on. We need to get inside first. Then we’ll talk.”
Dana paused while Buffy headed towards the front door. “Is that where you live?”
“No. But it’s a place where we could rest and find food.”
Her eyes widened. “You’re not serious? We can’t just break into somebody’s house! That’s… wrong.”
Buffy laughed mockingly, “You have got to be kidding me. Does anything in this town feel right to you?”
“Whatever. I don’t want to force myself into another person’s home.”
“They’re gone.” Buffy rolled her eyes.
“Never mind that. Tell you what… why don’t we just sneak in their backyard? We could just set up my tent there.” Dana suggested, walking towards the side of the house. “That way, I won’t feel too much of a criminal. I’ll even cook us some dinner. I don’t know about you, but I’m starving! ”
Buffy shrugged, following Dana’s lead. The promise of food was too hard to resist.
Dana placed her bag on the grassy floor, opened it and began to pull out something... long. It turned out to be an ordinary tied-up army tent. She laid it neatly on the ground. Dana muttered an incantation while she drew symbols in the air. In a blink of an eye, the tent now stood in front of them, front flaps swinging with the evening breeze.
She grabbed her bag and then walked inside the tent. Her voice called out, “Come on in!” Her head suddenly popped from between the flaps, “Don’t worry. I won’t bite.”
Buffy almost smiled at that. She glanced around, scanning their surroundings before stepping inside the small tent. She was in no way prepared with what greeted her eyes. As expected, her jaw dropped in shock.
It was no ordinary tent.
As far as she could tell, the only evidence of it being inside a tent was the flaps on the face of the tent. The ceiling, for one, rose to an incredible 15-foot rise and the room appeared to be at least 25 feet wide.
That was impossible.
A spacious living room can be seen on the right side, complete with sofas and a fully-functional fireplace. A huge kitchen occupied the other side, filled with gadgets she only saw on TV.
At the far end of the room, she could see two wooden doors on the right and two more on the back wall. Only one door was placed on the left side wall, curiously enough.
It looked just like a normal apartment. Only thing was, it was crammed into a one-man camping tent.
“This is… uh…” Buffy breathed as she tried to make sense of what she’s seeing. “I never knew you guys could do this. I mean… well, my best friend’s a witch and she does spells mostly and she’s really into that wicca stuff plus she’s got that pure magic energy going for her now…” She babbled. “It… it just… it seems so real.”
“It is. Comforts of home. My godfather gave me this tent right after I finished my Auror training.” Dana smiled. She dropped her bag on the kitchen table and opened the fridge. “Soda?”
“Diet, please.” Buffy replied absently, settling on a kitchen chair. “What’s an Auror?”
“Think of it as Wizard Police. I catch the bad guys.” Dana popped open an orange soda. “I’ve met all kinds of crazies since I moved here. No offense to your best friend, mind you, but I find that whole wicca thing rather… wonky.”
“So you’ve traveled a lot?”
“Right you are, my friend. Right after my training, I bummed around a bit across Europe. I volunteered to be assigned here just a couple of months ago. Let me tell you, you guys have a lot of weird stuff happening around here.”
“I’ve always wanted to travel. You know, see the world. I’ve always been Sunnydale girl. I’m cursed to stay here forever.” Buffy said wistfully.
“Well, why don’t you? What’s stopping you?”
Buffy replied automatically, “It’s my destiny. It’s something I can’t change.”
“Destiny, huh? I can understand that. I’ve had my run with Fate m’self. Interpreting it is funny business, I tell you.” She leaned closer, “Have you given it a thought that maybe you’re not destined to be stuck in Sunnydale. Maybe you’re just destined to be the Slayer.”
“But that’s the same thing!” Buffy scoffed.
“Nope. Think about it. You say you have to stay here because of the Hellmouth. But if this Hellmouth closes permanently… you see where I’m going with this?” Dana grinned.
Buffy looked thoughtful, “I get to move out of Sunnydale. Okay, I get that. But how?”
“Beats me. But something tells me, the way things are going around here, it won’t be long now.” Dana shrugged. “If you do get to close this particular doorway, you’d be more than welcome to join me while I carry out my Auror duties.”
“Really? You won’t mind?” Buffy’s face started to light up with excitement.
“No, I’d actually welcome the company. It tends to get rather lonely sometimes.”
“Okay.” Buffy giggled, “I just can’t get over how much you sound like Giles. He’s an old British friend.”
“Is he your watcher?” Dana asked before taking a swig on her soda.
“Yeah. You totally wigged when I mentioned the Watchers’ Council. Why the stiff-upperlippy?” Buffy asked curiously.
Dana choked on her drink, “Stiff-upperlippy?”
“Just answer the question, witchy woman.” Buffy raised an eyebrow.
She laughed, “Alright, alright.” She paused, obviously gathering her thoughts before she spoke. She turned around, placing a small vat of water on the stove before dropping the dried pasta to cook.
“Centuries ago, a group of squibs formed what you now know as the Watchers’ Council…”
“Squids?” Buffy gave her a confused look.
“Squibs, Slayer. Do try to keep up.”
Buffy made a face.
“Folks from magical families who, through some twist of fate, were born without a drop of magic in their blood. In an effort to acquire power, somehow they were able to tap into ancient magicks and manage to control the destiny of the mythical Vampire Slayer.”
“So… are you, like, hunting them down?”
“Yes, actually. Our ministry has tried for centuries, but so far, we have yet to pin down their location.” Dana pulled out a slab of bacon from the fridge then started chopping. “They’ve been successful in eluding our best Aurors. The ministry even recruited…”
“The council’s gone. The First blew up their headquarters.” Buffy interrupted quietly.
Dana stopped chopping, her jaw dropping at the sudden news. “What? The who?”
“The First Evil. It’s this incorporeal baddie set on bringing about the latest apocalypse.” Buffy explained matter-of-factly. “That’s the reason why Sunnydale looks creepier than usual. The First managed to build itself an army of uber-vamps and now they’ve almost taken over the whole town.”
“Uber-vamps? Almost taken over? That has to be an understatement.” Dana queried, sautéing the bacon on a chinese wok. With a flick of her wrist, a pair of tongs dropped itself on the boiling water and lifted a hefty amount of pasta for her to inspect.
“Well, I’m still here, aren’t I?” Buffy asked sardonically. She added, “The world famous Slayer. A lot of good that’ll do since I’ve been thrown out of my own house.”
“Ow! C’mere you little bugger…” Dana wrestled with the playful tongs, which was hopping around the surface of the boiling water. She muttered an incantation that made it go rigid and suspend in midair. “Thrown out? What for?”
Buffy fidgeted. “A lot of people were hurt when we tried to do a little investigation in the First’s lair. A priesty guy named Caleb attacked us. He was super-strong and took us all by surprise. Anyway, they thought I’ve been taking my commando role too seriously. I don’t know.”
Dana began mixing the pasta with the creamy bacon sauce then dumped it on a large plate. She waved at one of the drawers, beckoning a couple of forks to float towards them. “Here, dig in. I hope you don’t mind sharing a plate. I’ve never had company before so I’m a little short on dinnerware. Wait, I think I still have some leftover garlic bread in the oven.”
“That’s fine. Doesn’t matter.” Buffy reassured her. She moaned as she took a mouthful of the pasta dish. “Oh my gosh. This is amazing!”
“Alright. Now tell me…” Dana started, nibbling on some toast, “You people are surrounded by … by these…”
“Uber-vamps.” Buffy supplied, munching through another mouthful.
“So basically, what you’ve been doing was laying out battle strategies?”
“Okay. And they threw you out because one of your strategies didn’t work.”
“That’s about it.” Buffy grabbed a piece of toast.
“You do realize that’s stupid, right?” Dana’s indignant tone caught Buffy’s attention. “What the hell were they thinking?”
“I don’t really know what to think.” Buffy sighed. “For years, they’ve been looking up to me, expecting the Slayer to charge in and save the day. The minute I miscalculated, they’re like ‘Off with her head!’”
“I’m sorry, but your friends are idiots. Idiots! Oh my god.” Dana shook her head. “Don’t they realize you’re at war with a dangerous enemy? Having casualties is part of being at war.”
“That’s what I told them! But they want a fool-proof plan all the time, and that’s just not gonna happen.” Buffy lowered her gaze, her eyes started to fill with tears. “They all turned their backs on me… my watcher, my sister, my best friends… everybody.”
“Buffy, listen to me.” Dana squeezed her hand comfortingly. “Look, we just met and I’m not claiming that I know all about who you are, although I do perceive myself as a good judge of character. There’s no doubt that this is a difficult time for you. But you have to remember that in the end, you still have to be the strongest among them. They’re just afraid because it looks like the end is just around the corner. They’re like rats on a sinking ship, scrambling about for something to save them. I think you can still save them and this town.”
Buffy shook her head, “I don’t know. They pretty much made it clear that they want nothing to do with me.”
“So focus on something else. Focus on the enemy. What it would take to bring this evil SOB down. And you know what? I believe I can help you with that.” Dana dumped the plate and forks on the sink and waved a hand at the fridge. A plateful of chocolate brownies came out, hovering in midair.
“All our research stuff is with the others. I don’t think I’d be able to tell you much.” Buffy remarked dejectedly. “Except that I still think that Caleb guy’s hiding something in that mausoleum. Something important.”
“That’s a start. I’ve got a roomful of books downstairs.” Dana remarked thoughtfully. “There’s got to be information about this… somewhere…”
Buffy frowned, “Downstairs?”
The blond witch grinned, “Yep. Door’s that way. Come, I’ll show you.” She pointed to an unmarked door beside the kitchen.
“I gotta admit, this is a first. Opening myself up to a stranger is a bit… totally not me.” Buffy commented.
“I know. I’m not really a people-person. But I don’t know…” She frowned slightly, staring into space. “There’s something about you that makes me feel like we’ve known each other for years. Meeting you felt like…”
“…like coming home?” Buffy asked, grinning slightly. “I know! I felt the same way. It’s just so easy to talk to you, you know? I haven’t had that in a while. Maybe with Spike… sure. But everything’s been crazy lately…”
Dana turned the lights with a snap of her fingers. “Feel free to explore. Oh, wait.” She waved at one book shelf that toppled over. It repaired itself before the books flew back in place.
“Whoa…” Buffy’s eyes seemed to pop out as she gazed at Dana’s library. It was a large circular room, the entire wall lined with book shelves. An open circular fireplace occupied the center of the room, with an inverted funnel-like chimney which was suspended from the ceiling. A huge cauldron was set in the middle of the fire, a heating what looked like a viscous orange potion. A computer station on one of the tables defied the room’s old world atmosphere.
“This is unbelievable.” The Slayer marveled. “Oh god, Giles will totally flip out.”
Dana chuckled, “Probably. This is actually a smaller collection compared to my godfather’s.” She gazed at her books with fondness. “He’s really proud of his library. Most of his rare books are dated several centuries back.”
“It would take me several lifetimes just to read some of these…” Buffy confessed. “I’m not really good with books. Unless it’s about Archie and … the gang…” She smiled sheepishly.
Laughing, Dana made a motion in the air. A large tome flew into her hands, flipping its pages as it went. “Hmmm… the First, the First…”
Walking curiously around the room, Buffy almost bumped into a low round table with several colorful vials littered on top. Most of the them were labeled, even eliciting a chuckle as she read, “Wart-removal, acne-removal, facial wrinkle-removal, eyebrow-shaping, lip-plumping… okaaaay…”
One particular vial caught her eye, the pink swirling liquid inside drawing her in. Its label simply said “FOR TESTING.” She shook the bottle, amazed at the graceful swirling of the pink liquid. “This is so cool…”
Dana noticed her new friend’s preoccupation and shot out a warning, “Slayer, be careful with those. Better not play with the potions. My uncle left some of his samples there and I still have to perform tests on…”
“BUFFY!!!” A male voice yelled from above.
The sudden shout caused Buffy to jump in surprise, knocking several books from a nearby shelf. In her haste to catch them, she accidentally let go of the vial, simply watching in horror as it crashed on the ground. “Crap!”
Pink swirling clouds of vapor emanated from the spilled liquid. It quickly made its way to the two girls’ nostrils, forcing them to inhale the fumes. When the last of the pink smoke was inhaled, Dana started a coughing fit while Buffy leaned on a desk to steady herself. I don’t think it did anything, did it? Two feet, two hands, one head… can you check if I’ve grown a tail or horns or something?
Dana gave her a wry look. I told you to be careful. Some of those potions aren’t for vanity only. My uncle probably left some serious magical brews and…
She trailed off as she noticed Buffy’s look of open-mouthed astonishment. What? What’s wrong? I can HEAR you. We can hear each other speak. But – but you’re not opening your mouth! We can speak but—but…My mouth… you can hear me… Oh. My. God.
Dana’s eyes slowly widened in realization.