What if?Disclaimer: None of the characters are mine, but belong to their respective owners.
Lately, Cordelia Chase was not having fun, or even a decent time in her life. Her boyfriend, Xander Harris, for whom she had given up a lot of her social status, had chosen to cheat on her with his best friend, Willow Rosenberg; there were vampires coming out of woodwork more than usual, which meant that there might be an apocalypse in the making; and Buffy had saved her from one of the aforementioned vampires again, something that was intolerable to the proud (to put it lightly) brunette, and stuck in her craw.
To make matters worse, things were darkening on her home front as well: her parents were stay-ing up late, later than the usual and not for the obvious reasons, and Cordelia was sure that she had heard the mentions of IRC whispered around when she wasn’t noticed (or just away at school). That meant that her parents were keeping secrets away from her, and Cordelia really hated being left out of a secret – even more than what she felt for Buffy, Willow or Xander.
Consequently, with all this pressure in her life, it was no surprise that Cordelia felt an impressive urge to rant to anybody, and in this particular point it was the new girl, Anya. To be fair though, the new girl did ask for it, literally.
“So, what’s on your mind?” she asked during one lunch break, seemingly oblivious of the death glare that Cordelia had sent her way. “Because honestly, it looks like you need to share, or you will burst.”
“You’re correct,” Cordelia exhaled sharply, her glare softening slightly, “I do need to share. I’m just not sure that you’re the right person for that – we’ve met only recently.”
“Oh, don’t worry, you can trust me,” Anya said cheerfully, “hey, here’s even my lucky necklace to show that I act with good intentions. Come on; try it on for good luck!”
“Thanks,” Cordelia said dryly, “I could use some good luck the way my life is going on lately. You know, sometimes I wish that Sunnydale didn’t even exist, that we all just lived anywhere else but here.”
“Wish granted.”* * *
“Hey, sis, how are you handling things?” Dawn LeHane asked with a fake cheeriness that fooled no one – not the elder LeHane sister, and not their Watcher slash guardian, Johanne Clearghe.
“Dawnie,” Faith glared at the younger brunette, a rare event those days, “you’re fooling no one. Try again.”
“Sorry,” Dawn dropped her innocent attitude with clear relief. “Is Jo okay?”
“She’s been tortured by a vampire, whose mother must’ve messed around a mammoth, or a rhino, one of those big hairy smelly animals,” Faith exhaled, still lying prone on the sofa. “She was patched-up as best as it could’ve been done, but now, well, it’s all in the hands of fate.”
“Sorry,” Dawn said in a tiny voice. “Faith... I don’t want Jo to die.”
“Me neither,” echoed the elder LeHane sister, “me either.”* * *
“And so, on this day, we commiserate the beginning of our new school,” the local politician’s voice droned – standing in the crowd, Elizabeth Anne “Buffy” Summers rolled her eyes.
Life was neither good nor bad to Buffy. Being an only child to well-to-do parents meant that she had lived a comfortable life, but that didn’t mean that it was only good – Buffy sometimes felt a bit too spoilt, other times a bit too sheltered for her own good. Of course, back home in L.A. that wasn’t so bad – Buffy had had friends there, many of whom were no different than she was, i.e. an only child. Now, however, as she and her family had moved from California to Illinois (thanks to daddy’s promotion) and she had to start a new life at a new school and a new state, Buffy felt very, very lonely. And very, very scared for some reason.
A rather cold wind blew from the shores of Lake Michigan, but Buffy’s shivers had nothing to do with it, actually.* * *
“Hey, Harris!” Rhonda’s cheerful albeit loud voice reached fully from across the street.
Alexander (“Xander” to his friends) Harris turned and waved. Unlike Rhonda, he didn’t have a voice that could be louder than a trumpet in the school’s orchestra, so he had to do with visual signals instead. “Hey!” he augmented it vocally at last when Rhonda finally made it across the street. “What’s up?”
“The usual!” Rhonda grinned cheerfully. “Are you crashing the graduates’ prom tonight?”
Xander Harris broke a crooked grin. His family was often noted more for anything else than common sense (“a Harris cannot be unlucky in Harrisburg!”), but in Xander’s case this eventually resulted in rather arrogant, almost bullying attitude. He messed with the weak, harassed the strong, and generally too flak from no one, but Rhonda. It all started when had gone to the city’s zoo with him and saw the hyenas. They were cool – loud and funny, rather how Xander wanted others to perceive him. Since that event Xander was never the same and neither was Rhonda, nor their friends – somehow they picked up on the hyenas’ character traits and stuck to them.
The older generation didn’t understand, they tried getting them counselling and what-not; the school’s counsellor even claimed to make a break-through... and then one evening a pack of wild dogs ate him, and that was the end, as there were abruptly other things to worry about than just some more unruly teens.
As Rhonda gave Xander a hug, the young man gave her a visible kiss. A Harris cannot be unlucky in Harrisburg? Sure, but he’ll have to make his own luck first.* * *
Willow Rosenberg was living the sweet life. An only child of two prominent psychologists and a computer prodigy herself, she was rather loved and respected at her home school; not exactly popular (that went to the cheerleaders and the jocks), she nevertheless had plenty of friends and social activities... some could even say that too much.
For her part, Willow profoundly disagreed. Sure, she participated in photography, singing and drawing clubs in one day, but honestly, what else there was? Her parents were proud of her, but they were also often absent, busy with their careers and trips abroad. For all of her outgoingness, Willow loved her privacy too, so while she did occasionally had sleepovers, at the others’, she hosted her own much more rarely, so the Rosenbergs house was often empty, especially at night.
And it was at night that Willow felt the most strange, most unlike herself, as if she needed to get out there and do something – but what? For all of her high IQ, she just couldn’t fathom that idea, and so she would restlessly sleep until morning, when the sun would rise and Willow’s public face would be put over her private one.
...Lately Willow was getting into pagan worship, which she kept quiet from her parents: they were not especially devout, but she doubted that worship of Hecate would be considered espe-cially social or career-building by them. But what they didn’t know wouldn’t hurt them, right?* * *
The life of Cordelia Chase was messed-up. Sure, it looked started great, with rich parents that had made their money from oil (well, actually they had inherited that money from their parents, but that was just details), and she had a lot of friends – or at least hangers-on – at school, but... it just wasn’t what she wanted, exactly. Lots of money and minions was great, but what Cordelia wanted was parents who were present at least occasionally, who took stops from business trips and parties abroad and who actually cared about her, as amazing as that did sound.
But instead what Miss Chase had was her parents’ domestic staff, who were probably more loyal to her than to her parents, and whom she knew better than her parents. Considering that they were the ones who were usually involved in dropping off or picking her up from school and other places, that wasn’t particularly surprising; what was surprising that Cordelia reciprocated, as she did now, babysitting for her cook’s children as the elderly woman (who was teaching – kind of sort of – Cordelia how to cook and speak Mexican Spanish) had to leave to visit her own mother.
Cordelia knew that none of her sycophants would’ve even thought of doing something like this, and she had to admit that in times like these, as she was currently babysitting the little...darlings she thought of not doing it too, but what would she do then? Somehow such little actions gave her life meaning, and she enjoyed having a meaning in her life, at least to some extent.
Of course, Cordelia had a goal as well: as soon as she graduated, she’d leave and go to Hollywood to become an actress – with her family’s money it could be pretty much guaranteed, and if that didn’t work, Cordelia intended to use method acting instead, but right now, well...
As the precocious (to put it lightly) twins settled down somewhat and trotted over to ask Cordelia for advice, Cordelia put down her book and grinned at them. “What have you done?” she asked sternly. It was good to be in charge of something.* * *
“Thank you, thank you, everybody!” Devon yelled out as Dingoes Ate My Baby finished their last song. “You were wonderful.”
“What a ham” Oz almost, but not quite, thought. Life as a musician was not exactly what he had imagined, what with cheering crowds and fans, and groupies, but what was surprising was Oz’s own reaction to it – somehow it wasn’t quite what Oz wanted, not anymore.
Of course, it might be the issue of his full-moon reaction – apparently, werewolves did exist, and since he got bitten by his cousin, Oz was one of them. It was weird. It was scary. It was disturbing...and Oz had no idea what to do about it.
Oh, he certainly did do something about it, usually involving chains and a cage, but it was not going anywhere, and Oz didn’t like it. A rather intelligent young man, he didn’t like being baffled, especially by something that wasn’t supposed to exist (i.e. the ‘real’ lycanthropy) and it was beginning to piss him off. Oz’s lycanthropy had to go, one way or another, and Oz just had a radical idea – he saw a magic shop, not a magicians’ shop on his way here, and intended to go and visit it tomorrow, to see if magic was real, as were werewolves.
As the cheering crowd howled its appreciation, Oz toned down his grin somewhat. Tomorrow would be a shift in his career.* * *
“So, who were these assholes of mystery?” Lynn, the younger girl asked Tara.
“Basically my brothers and father,” Tara admitted, feeling almost guilty on their behalf, “and, um-“
“Hey, no need to make allowances,” Hope, Lynn’s older cousin slid across gracefully, shooing the younger girl away. “I think we got a fair idea what they were going to do to you once they had the chance.”
“Thanks,” Tara managed not to stutter. “For sticking up for me, I mean.”
“Yes, well, it was clear that you didn’t want to go, and we were feeling responsible at this time, so, here you are,” Hope grinned, rather wolfishly. “You will be all right, won’t you?”
“Kind of, I guess,” Tara muttered, “and thanks for inviting me-“
“Meh, we’re not done yet – we’ve still got the court date, remember? Seriously, officer Artak-seenko is huge – pissing him off with racial slurs was not the smartest idea they’ve ever done.”
“Yes, well,” Tara muttered, as she took another sip, “that’s them.”
“Yup,” Hope grinned, and Tara felt her spirits rise a bit for the first time since the rest of her family managed to mess up and got themselves arrested, trying to capture her. She still wasn’t sure where it would take her, but she knew for sure that anything was better than going back home. Anything.* * *
Anyanka has never visited the Mormons before. The experience was interesting. On one hand, the people seemed to embody the old ‘salt of the earth’ virtue, rather like the English did in the early ages of Anyanka’s career, but on the other, their more flexible than usual family approach did create quite a nice little steaming pool of resentment, jealousy and the like, that Anyanka ea-gerly skimmed and used to her own ends – making up for the gaff of erasing a Hellmouth from existence.
So far it was working rather neat. The Mormons investment in their faith made it risky to approach them directly, so Anyanka had to settle for the indirect approach, which was only half as satisfying. However, the rate at which that she was receiving her wishes made up for that, so she had no reason to complain: when faced with a choice between Utah, and, say, Nunavut, well...
Standing in the shadows, Anyanka could only smile as yet another wish came true and a person exploded like a pricked balloon. Life was good.* * *
“And this is the master bedroom,” the sales person, finished with a flourish, expecting a response. Rupert Giles just nodded placidly and said nothing.
There comes a time in a Watcher’s life when it becomes obvious that it will be unlikely that he’ll get assigned to a Vampire Slayer which leaves them with a rather copious amount of free time and no idea of what to do with it. In Rupert Giles’ case it was simple – he got a wife.
Well, it was by accident, really. One run-in in a magic shop, then another, slight clash of personalities (i.e. British stuffiness vs. Romany thrift), a surge of hormones (possibly brought on by a potential midlife crisis), and after some actually steamy romance, one Mr. and Mrs. Giles, were ready to go on the honeymoon.
Quentin Travers, of course, probably would not have approved. But Mrs. Quentin Travers (it was a semi-arranged marriage, done a long time ago) was more understanding and more influential on her husband than it was assumed. Thus, Rupert was able to marry Janna (she preferred to be called Jenny) without too much ado...and move here, away from disapproving eyes of the other Watchers. And now, well, the rest of their lives (however long they were going to be beckoned).
“I like it,” Jenny purred as they have made all of the appropriate sounds regarding the agent and signed the necessary papers. “Now kiss me!”
And that’s what Rupert did.* * *
“Faith, I’m glad to see that you’re okay.” Johanne Clearghe may have vocally faltered for the first time in her life as she saw the glare of her elder charge.
“Likewise,” Faith said with a warm smile before her glare hardened again. “But why didn’t you listen to me in the first place? What, you thought that you getting tortured to death would moti-vate me more or something?”
“I’m sorry,” Johanne had to give this point to the younger woman. “But you’re my Slayer. I could not let you face Kakistos alone – it was my duty.”
“And what about your duty to Dawn? She may not be a Slayer, even a potential one, but she’s still my sister,” Faith’s voice didn’t quiver – much.
“Dawn was in the get-away vehicle?” Johanne actually winced. “It was a good plan, really-“
“So was mine, until it collided with yours,” Faith said quietly. “As it was, I had to decapitate that wretched sadist with a ventilation fan, and then pour holy water all over until it caught. Guess being heartless does not make one immortal – well, more so in case of a vampire.”
“Faith,” Johanne said words that she hadn’t expected to say in a long while yet, “I’m sorry.”
“Yes, well, all is forgiven,” Faith winced as she shifted on the sofa. “Really. Sorry for the tone, Jo. I’m glad that we all lived to see the new day.”
And together, the Watcher and the Slayer just sat there quietly, watching the rise of the new day reflected in the windows of the buildings opposite to theirs.