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This story is No. 1 in the series "Closer Than They Appear". You may wish to read the series introduction first.

Summary: Cheerleaders, Slayers, and Witches. Oh My! Buffy's in Lima, Ohio. She's not alone. And it's not for the weather.

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Television > Glee(Moderator)acsFR18516,75835713,9384 Feb 1131 Dec 11No

Prologue

Disclaimer: This is a derivative (aka transformative) work. All BtVS characters belong to or were created by Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, and the suits at Fox. Not sure who owns Glee - Ryan Murphy created it and Fox broadcasts it.
Summary: Buffy's in Lima, Ohio, and it's not for the weather.
Spoilers: All 144 episodes of BtVS (Not comic book Seasons '8 thru whatever' compliant). Glee - Season 1 but AU after that. Might borrow some character backstory but Season 2-6 plot? Not a chance.
Author's Note [1]: Le Muse insisted that I post this now even though it could be a while before the rest of it gets written given the huge stack of other WiPs I have.
Author's Note [2]: Most fan fiction set in the Glee universe depicts Lima, Ohio as a small town. It's not. At 40K residents it's very close in size to Sunnydale. Just the right size for a Buffy to manage. On a normal day, more than 1 slayer could be considered overkill. This fic assumes Glee takes place in a Lima very close in nature/size to the real one.
Author's Note [3]: This story will attempt to portray a sympathetic Kennedy. So, no Kennedy-bashing will occur.
Pairings: None. Yet.
Word Count: 2,126



She stared at the open locker containing everything she owned, thrown into boxes and shoved into the cramped space. Her entire history since Sunnydale sitting there, mocking her. Clothes she'd bought just because they brought a twinkle to Willow's eye. Her favorite book of poems, read to Willow on planes, buses, beaches, and under many trees as they traveled. Years of memories. Small and large.

Ignoring the curious glances of passing slayers, she tried to not look like her world had just imploded. She'd never used it before, never needed to, but every slayer had a locker like that, a place they could store personal possessions they didn't need every day or things they wanted to store while on a long mission. Lockers that were always just the right size. Lockers that could withstand a nuclear blast. Or possibly a breaking heart.

It wasn't a large box, she thought, her fingers rubbing against it through the thin leather of her favorite pants, the ones Willow liked so much. She wasn't sure how such a simple thing could cause so much trouble, as it burned a hole in her pocket. How something she'd agonized over for months could hurt so much.

Just hours ago it'd been in a different pocket, waiting for the right moment to be used. Maybe she'd picked the wrong moment? But she couldn't go back. Not yet.

Drawing a ragged breath, she pulled it out and gently, very gently, like a bomb with a hair trigger, set it down inside the locker. Stepping back she closed the door and pressed her thumb against the lock before keying in her combination. Sealing it until she returned. If she returned.

Closing her eyes for a moment, she concentrated, going through an exercise she'd learned years ago from her watcher, locking away her feelings until she could deal with them. Alone. Now.

Turning around she started walking. Out of the locker room. No real direction in mind other than away. Away from Cleveland. Away from the spiteful vultures just waiting for her downfall. Away from her one truth that apparently wasn't as truthful as she'd imagined.

She wouldn't give them the satisfaction. She came from a proud family. A family with deep roots. Roots most of her fellow slayers couldn't even begin to understand. Her place in the world had been assured since her birth. A place where pride and honor were everything. Where rebellion was only tolerated in small doses and where she'd had to fight to be herself. To be different. But still proud. And sure of herself.

She'd finally been ready to leave that all behind. Ready to take that last step and prove how committed she was. To show her love. To start her own family.

Only to be rejected. Something she hadn't planned on. Looking out across the grounds, she wondered if it showed. If the shock was obvious. And to wonder if anyone else could see the stake through her heart. And if they would celebrate her absence. If they even noticed. The short note she'd left on Giles desk didn't say much, other than she needed a break and would be back, eventually.

Stepping through the gate, nodding to the girls on watch, she stopped and reached out with that inner sense, that part of herself that made her special. It had no name, though some of the others called it their inner slayer. She knew better. Reaching out, she let it guide her feet forward.



Walking, one foot in front of the other, along back roads and empty fields, she lost track of the hours. Possibly days. She could keep up the pace for a long time if she had to. She'd done it before. Focusing on the soft tapping of her feet against the ground to keep her thoughts at bay. She wasn't sure where she was going but she didn't slow down until she couldn't feel the Hellmouth any more. And still she walked. Drifting silently through small towns and cities where nothing looked familiar beyond the sameness of all towns in Ohio.



The sign said 'Welcome to Lima, Ohio'. Standing on the side of the road, braced against the turbulence of passing trucks, she stared at the sign.

She'd heard the name before, sometime in the past. Before Sunnydale was burned into her memory, before Willow, but she couldn't remember when or why. And there was something else about Lima, some personal reason to avoid it but she couldn't remember what it was. It was as good enough of a place to stop as any. No one would know her. A motel room, a shower, and then something to drink. And maybe food, something edible.



She was going to have to get some clothes, she thought, closing her motel room door behind her and stepping out into the bright afternoon sun. A shower had removed several layers of grit from her skin and made her feel slightly better, but her clothes looked like she'd been dragged through a sand dune or two.

But not yet. The shock was starting to wear off. She felt the need for something numbing.

The first bar she entered was the kind of dive that only cared about the money and didn't question her presence on a warm afternoon. She stayed for a couple hours, watching people, mostly suspicious men, drifting in and out. Leaving two empty bottles of Jack behind, barely feeling buzzed, she joined the rush hour masses headed further into the small city.

The demon bar reminded her of one of the pubs her cousins had dragged her to the last time she visited her great-grandmother, before Sunnydale. The bartender had recognized her as a slayer, making sure that she saw the Council sygil above the mirror that marked it as neutral territory, but she'd already sensed the lingering presence of a slayer when she'd stepped inside, though the Jack had dulled her enough so she couldn't tell who it was.

They left her alone while she steadily consumed unlabeled bottles of something strong, one after another. She could tell she was making them nervous, but none of the patrons seemed to be afraid of her. She wondered whose territory she'd wandered into, where the local demons didn't fear a wandering slayer, but only for a moment. No one in the bar would stop her from drinking.



She pulled herself out of the cab, using the door to hold herself up. The bartender had called her a cab at closing time, giving the driver an address with no explanation. She was too drunk to care. She could walk to her motel.

She hadn't felt this detached since her mother died and she went to live with her father. Turning around she threw a couple twenties into the cab, not caring if it was the right amount. She hadn't touched her trust fund since her watcher died but she had plenty of money to last a while. The old Council might not have been as rich as everyone imagined but Buffy had insisted that all slayers get paid a generous amount. Living with Willow, she hadn't needed to spend much of it.

Standing on the sidewalk, she stared at the small house. A slayer lived there. The air practically vibrated with the fact. Probably the same one who protected that bar. She hoped it wasn't someone who hated her. Or who knew her. She'd made a lot of people angry after Sunnydale just doing her job.

The screen door opened silently at her pull. Stepping onto the porch she saw a deck chair in a corner, piled high with soft looking cushions. Stumbling over to it, she collapsed onto the pile.

"I'll just wait here," she mumbled to herself. "Introduce myself and go back to my room." Closing her eyes, she let go, not fighting sleep as everything went dark.



Buffy walked confidently down the sidewalk, whistling to herself. It'd been a quiet patrol, like most had been for the past month. Although it was slightly larger than Sunnydale, Lima was too far from the nearest Hellmouth in Cleveland to have much to attract more than the occasional stray vampire. Since she'd moved in, she'd run across three. None of which remotely resembled a challenge when she'd staked them.

The Lima demon population was also small, just barely large enough to support a demon bar, mostly made up of neutral demons who could pass as human. She'd introduced herself at the bar and made it clear that Lima was now her territory but that had mostly been a formality unless they approached her.

Lima was the perfect place to semi-retire to. Far enough from Cleveland to be free of the day-to-day annoyances of the Council and close enough to go back in case of an apocalypse. And a college that had been willing to admit her into their Counseling program with her unusual transcripts.

At least that's what she told anyone who asked. If they even asked. Most of the Council had been told she was taking a well deserved break away from the Hellmouth at some undisclosed location to finish college. Xander, Willow, and Dawn knew where she was, but she'd asked them to not tell anyone else unless it was an emergency.

There was another reason for her presence in Lima. A reason known only to Giles. But that was almost two years away. Two years to prepare for it while staying under the supernatural radar. And she'd promised to find the missing Council agent originally assigned to the task by the old Council, though without a name or description it was going to be a virtually impossible task. She still couldn't believe that the only copy of Old Council records of deep cover agents had been lost when minions of the First destroyed the London office.



She was a block from home when she picked up an odd sound. It got louder the closer she got to her cozy Sears Collingwood. Standing on the sidewalk in front of her house, the noise seemed to be coming from her porch. It wasn't something demony. In fact, it sort of sounded like someone snoring. Not quite of Xander quality, more like Faith when she'd caught that cold on their last wendigo hunt up in Alberta. But loud enough for her sensitive ears to pick up.

Cautiously approaching the porch, Buffy looked through the screen door. There was definitely a person shaped lump on her favorite porch chair. And, if the smells the breeze was now blowing her way were any indication, a very drunk lump.

Opening the screen door, Buffy prepared to eject the drunk from her home. Holding her nose against the overpowering smell of alcohol, she crossed the small porch. Looking down at the lump, obviously female, up close, she could now feel that slight tingle along her nerves that signaled the presence of one of the new slayers. With her favorite pillow over her face. Buffy cringed. It was going to have to be washed to get the slayer slobber off.

"Great," she muttered to herself. Random, drunk slayers appearing on her doorstep, with their annoying hero worship and high expectations. Something she'd hoped to leave behind in Cleveland by not telling them where she was going. Her nearest neighbors, whom she had yet to meet - a nice gay couple and their teenage daughter according to her realtor, certainly weren't going to be impressed. Once they returned from wherever they'd gone for the summer.

Reach forward, she snatched away the pillow. The slayer didn't move. "Even better," she grumbled. "Not a case of wandering hero worship," she said, looking down at a slightly grungy looking Kennedy.

Sighing, she decided to do the responsible thing, though packing up and moving to a hotel until Kennedy realized she wasn't home and left on her own was very tempting. Pulling out her phone, Buffy tapped 1 on her speed dial.

"Hey Willow!" Buffy said, after Willow's voice mail prompt had stopped. "Did you forget to tell me something? Or lose something? Care to tell me why your drunk girlfriend is passed out on my porch?"

Stuffing her phone back in a pocket, Buffy grimaced. Reaching down she tried to shake Kennedy awake. She stopped snoring but didn't move. She tried to wake her up again with the same results.

She really couldn't leave her there. Who knew how long it would be before Kennedy woke up. She didn't want to scare her paperboy. He'd finally stopped throwing her paper into the bushes. Or the mailman. On the other hand, she thought, smirking to herself, maybe Kennedy would scare away that pool boy she'd been warned about.
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