I claim no ownership in this chapter for the BTVS, Marvel, or Casper characters. They belong to Whedon, Marvel, and Seymour Reit and Joe Oriolo.
Buffy rolled her shoulders tiredly as she came into the town. The place looked decent enough, and if she was anybody else she might think that it looked as advertised. A small little no nothing town who's most interesting feature was its high school gossip. Having spent seven years in a town that had pretended to be like that, she was naturally suspicious of what she might find here. If it wasn't for the fact that she was tired and just wanted to sleep she would probably have given the town a complete miss. That and every time she ended up in a big town she managed to cause lots of property damage. On the plus side, the town didn't seem to be affecting her Slayer or Rider senses, which meant that there was a chance that she could slip in and out of the town before something decided that they wanted to challenge her. Supernatural beings seemed to have an urge to measure their worth more than high school football players.
She managed to get the sleep that she wanted. It was nice to get a full night sleep without any dreams or interruptions. It did began to make her wonder if maybe she wasn't being just a bit paranoid when it came to small towns. Maybe there really were innocent places like this, where the people weren't really out to get you and didn't have some dark secret war going on in the background. She stopped her musings as she looked over the table and groaned as she saw what one of the business cards said. Dr. James Harvey: Paranormal Therapist.
A supernatural therapist. There had to be some sort of catch to the guy, unless he was some sort of scam artist. She figured that she could at the very least stop by the address and see what kind of person it was that was here. Besides, if it was a scam artist she would enjoy scaring the guy making a mockery of her reality.
It had taken only a few minutes to find the big and somewhat creepy looking mansion that had been the address. Buffy had smirked a bit as she looked it over. A part of her half expected to see Scooby Doo and Shaggy to come running out of the place. It was like every cliche haunted house/mansion she had ever heard of. If it wasn't for the fact that she knew how big on cliches that supernatural creatures could be she wouldn't even bother going in. Hell, Dracula still lived in a castle.
Buffy knocked on the door, and watched as the door open on its own. She smirked as she waltzed in and saw a kind of nerdy looking guy. She guessed that this was the paranormal therapist or whatever he was. In the past she would have gone for her dumb blonde routine to approach him To bad said routine didn't work very well in biker leathers."You Dr. Harvey?" She asked curiously, as she looked the man over unimpressed.
"Indeed I am, and you are?" The man asked her cordially if not somewhat warily.
The blonde smiled a bit at him. He kind of reminded her of how Wesley or an early Giles used to act when she first met them. Very junior Watcher like in his demeanor. Only without the accent or the tweed. Not that, that was a bad thing. "Buffy Summers." She explained, watching to see if there was any flash of recognition. Instead he just smiled blandly at her. That was no big deal, since her reputation was mainly in So-Cal, and some of the major cities. Besides some people didn't really pay attention to the name just the title. "So according to your card your a supernatural therapist?" She questioned him curiously.
"Paranormal Therapist." He corrected out of habit.
Buffy smirked at the man. He either was in the know, or he was rather connected to the precise wording of what he was supposed to be an expert in. Personally she was really hoping that this guy didn't turn out to be another Dr. Walsh. "So you only deal in therapeutic exercises for paranormals then, not supernaturals?" She asked him cautiously.
"That's correct," Dr. Harvey confirmed, "I only do this for ghosts, souls, spirits, paranormal beings, or any of the other names that they come by. I do not deal with fabricated things like werewolves and vampires and other fictional creatures though. I deal in things that are of this world." He added in somewhat haughtily.
Buffy tried hard not to smile at the man but really there was just something hard not to laugh about the way that he responded. Here was a man that was probably considered a joke in his field and he was berating her on the reality of vampires and werewolves. The irony of it all was just to good. Then there was his wording. He only dealt in things of this world. She wondered if anyone had ever told him that most supernaturals weren't of this world. "Why don't you take me through what you think paranormal beings are then?" She offered to him. "I'm curious as to the kind of work your doing here." She admitted to him.
The man looked at her somewhat suspiciously, but nodded his head in agreement. The pair sat down and Buffy listened to his theories on what paranormal science was and how souls that still had something to hang onto in the living world would refuse to cross over. It was his job as a Paranormal Therapist to help give the spirits/ghosts/souls the closure that they needed to move on.
Buffy found herself to be surprised to find herself interested in all that he was talking about. While she hadn't run across ghosts very often when she had been working in the Hellmouth there had been a few times when such a thing might have been useful. Also would have been useful for their group when you considered what it was that they had faced. Would this guy have been able to deal with the double talk of the First? Briefly Buffy found her interest in psychology resurface. She had been good at it according to Walsh, of course considering what the woman had done with her free time Buffy wasn't completely convinced her recommendations were a good thing.
"Do you truly believe that you can manage to talk a ghost down enough that it will want to move on though?" She asked him curiously. "I mean some ghosts likely had rather violent deaths." Buffy pointed out to him.
"Don't we try to make criminals to get proper mental help?" Dr. Harvey shot back at her with a shrug. He had heard these sorts of arguments before. He had to admit it didn't often get them from someone that seemed genuinely interested in what he had to say though. It was a nice change from the usual skeptics or people that wanted to humiliate him that wanted to do a Q&A session. Also she didn't seem to doubt that it was possible for ghosts to exist or for them to have unfinished business. No, she was more interested in whether they deserved his kind of help, and the process that he used. He had a feeling that there were things that she wasn't saying. While her training was rough and obviously mostly self-taught, she was able to grasp some of the methods fairly well. Even if she didn't have the names memorized, and gave bastardized versions of them.
"So, have you actually had any success with your process?" Buffy asked curiously, wondering what he would tell her.
"We've managed to cure one ghost here using that method." Dr. Harvey admitted. "Part of that was because she was a recently killed one though and her core personality, or ID and Ego as Freud called them were still in place. I think the longer that a ghost is left alone the more internalized things become for some spirits and they forget more and more and more of what they were. Its a gradual burying of the Ego while the Superego seems to become more predominant within the spirit. Its when that happens that they're usually onlly left with a handful of emotions, and usually the stronger ones become dominant and they lose their last sense of ID and Ego and become dark spirits.
"So you think that spirits are actually easier to um, talk across the younger or newer to the whole ghosty thing that they are?" Buffy asked, her brow wrinkled as she thought of this theory.
Dr. Harvey nodded his head in agreement with what she was returning to him. His eyes lighting up in the excitement that someone got when someone finally understood them. "Exactly, they still identify themselves as human for the most part, and haven't lost themselves to the Superego."
"Is their a time limit you think on how long a spirit can be a ghost before it becomes like this? Buffy asked curiously.
"That's something I don't know." He admitted to her as he waved his hands towards several boxes fill with various documents. "I've seen reports of some paranormals that have started almost immediately after death on the path of vengeful spirits while others have taken their time before they lost their sense of self. Some spirits have even become guardians for a time before the madness overtakes them. I have noticed that spirits that interact with the world are more likely to stagnate in whatever position that they are currently at."
"What about the idea of simply salting and burning their bones and forcing them to cross over though?" Buffy asked curiously, remembering a rumor she had heard about that working.
"It may take care of the immediate problem of the problems the spirit causes, but it could also cause some sort of mentally crippling thing to happen to them if they are returned before they are ready." Dr. Harvey explained to her with a frown. "Not that some spirits don't need to have that done, but you should judge it by a case by case basis and not just presume that their all going to be evil. Only those that that have become completely lost within their Superego would need such treatment." He cautioned her. There is also the fact that any spirit who's bones you tried to burn would feel threatened and defend its bones and existence as much as a living person would their life and could become violent in their attempt to stay on this plane until they could finish whatever their business is."
"Yeah, I suppose so." Buffy agreed. "I do find it a shame that you limit yourself to only paranormal though. If it weren't for that I could think that there would be a lot more patients for you doc." She tried, waiting to see what his reaction was.
Dr. Harvey rolled his eyes, slightly exasperated at her returning to this. "As I told you earlier, I only deal in the paranormal though not the other stuff."
"Yeah, but people don't believe you about paranormals, who's to say there aren't things out there that you haven't been made aware of?" Buffy asked him curiously. "I mean tales of spirits or ghosties have for the most part been thought to be fictional. What if the others have a basis?" Buffy figured if he didn't admit to knowing this time, she would make some question about some of the idiot peoples ideas that romanticized vamps and other supernaturals to throw him off.
James Harvey opened his mouth to counter that, but paused as he thought it out. "I suppose its possible." He finally admitted warily. "Until I see some sort of supernatural creature I think that for the time being that I will have to remain a skeptic on the believability of such beings though." He reasoned to her diplomatically.
Buffy wanted to laugh, he was talking to a person that was practically leaking supernatural out of them, and he didn't even know it. She doubted that anyone not in the know would understand the irony she was feeling. Still, it was better if the man stayed in his piece of the world that he knew and understood. Her eyes drifted towards a clock and she blushed as she realized how long that they had been talking. "It's been interesting Dr. Harvey, but I have to get going." She explained rising to her feet, as she offered her hand to the man.
"Of course, come by anytime." Dr. Harvey returned to her with a smile. "If you ever have any questions regarding paranormal activities be sure to call me." He informed her. He figured she had been hunting for a way to end a haunting somewhere. He really hoped she didn't try to use the burning of the bones method. It was a dangerous one. Spirits were likely to answer such a response with deadly force of their own.
"Will do." Buffy promised, as she began heading for the door. She paused though as she sensed something. Something powerful in fact. While it wasn't on her level, it was stronger than she had been expecting.
"So doc, who's the person with all the power?" A nasally voice demanded as three ghosts lowered themselves through the ceiling. "I mean we've been feeling that power for an hour or two now. Its rude not to introduce guests like that to us." The owner of the voice explained snobbishly.
Buffy looked up to see a trio of grayish white blob like creatures that were coming down and acting as if they owned the house. Considering that they were ghosts, there was actually a chance that at one time or another that they had owned the house. One of them looked like a giant marshmallow considering how fat he was, while the other two were much slimmer in build.
Dr. Harvey watched her nervously to see what kind of reaction that the girl might have to the presence of three real ghosts. It was one thing to talk about the theory of Paranormal Therapy, it was another when one was confronted with a paranormal being though. He wondered how loud she was going to scream.
"Hey doc we're talking wit youse." One of the other thin ones complained in a a more raspy voice.
"Yeah, its bad manners to ignore us like that." The large one boomed out in agreement.
"Yeah, you might give us an inferiority complex."
"Not to mention its unprofessional for a person like yourself to add in unknown Fleshie elements to our environment." The first one added in, with what almost looked like a sneer aimed at the two of them.
"I take it these are your patients?" Buffy asked calmly, as she looked the strange spirits over with interest.
"Yes that they are." Dr. Harvey admitted letting out a sigh of relief that she hadn't made a mad dash for the door or window.The ghosts actually more annoyed by her lack of reaction than anything else. "May I introduce you to Stretch, Stinkie, and Fatso. Better known as the Ghostly Trio."
"They worked really hard on coming up with those names didn't they?" An amused Buffy asked him, as she looked the trio over without any worry.
"And who are you Fleshie?" The ghost named Stretch demanded of her. "I don't recall ever inviting you over."
Buffy chuckled at the figure that was hovering in front of her. "You really want to play the whose a bigger bad ass with me?" She questioned with a cocked head aimed at him. "Geeze what is it with guys always having to prove that their the biggest douche bags around? You would think that being dead might have cured you of it."
Stretch seemed unaffected by her sarcastic tone. "I'll have you know Fleshie, that we invented being douche bags." He bragged to her.
"And you're actually proud of that?" Buffy returned with an amused twitch of her lip.
"Who are you Fleshie?" Stretch demanded in annoyance at this human that refused to be impressed or cowed by their mere presence. Usually by this time they were pelting the running Fleshie with various items as they fled from their home.
"Yeah." The other two echoed.
"Buffy Summers." She explained, crossing her arms as if daring them to say something.
The Ghostly Trio looked surprised at that. "As in the Vampire Slayer?" Stretch asked with a calculating voice.
"Buffy Summers?" The other two repeated, their cocky and jovial attitudes vanishing and very obviously swallowing in fear.
"You know her?" Dr. Harvey asked in surprise, as he looked at the blonde with new interest wondering just exactly who it was that she was.
"No Doc, not really, but we have heard of her through reputation." Stinkie admitted nervously, while Stretch continued to have a staring contest with the blonde.
"Reputation?" Dr. Harvey asked.
"Yeah Doc she's the reason that a friend of ours that was doing the high unlife in California was able to move on." Stretch explained with a scowl. "James Stanley was a good friend of ours, a little bit obsessed with his teacher than he should have." He noted with a knowing chuckle. "He was still good company."
Then there was the old Holt Orphanage that some of her friends dealt with. Not that she didn't play a part in it. Stinkie added with a leer.
You heard about that? Buffy asked weakly while her cheeks went red.
"Who didn't hear about that one?" Stretch returned smugly. "Your vampire wasn't exactly hard to get to tell tales."
"Spike is so lucky he didn't make it out of town." Buffy grumbled, as she tried to get body under control. It didn't help that Stretch had the same attitude.
"That doesn't even mention the fact that she destroyed our vacation home." Fatso reminded the others somewhat grumpily.
"Yeah that's right." Stinkie agreed, while giving her the stink eye. "Do you have any idea how hard it was to get that place? There was a waiting list 3 centuries long for places there. It was supposed to be our turn this year."
"Yeah that's right, how are you going to compensate us for that?" Stretch grumbled.
Buffy rolled her eyes at the trio. "In case you forgot, I also lost my home there." She pointed out to the belligerent spirits. "And it's not like you guys are hurting for places to hang." She reminded them, as she waved her hand at the mansion.
Before the spirits could come up with a counter three more figures entered the room one through the window on a broom, another ran through the door and the final one popped out of the floor. The girl that was running nearly slammed into Buffy who managed to side step her even as the girl dropped to the ground in a roll and came back up.
'Winner!" The girl by the window declared with a smirk as she looked at her companion while holding a gizmo off the hearth in victory.
"Damn it." The dark haired girl grumbled as she saw that her companion had beat her.
"Ah come on Kat, you'll get her next time." A smaller ghost offered with an encouraging smile.
"Girls." Dr. Harvey shouted, causing them to look up and see the group staring at them. Buffy looked the trio over with interest. Each girl looked like they were about college age. A blonde in a hoodie holding a broom of all things. She figured Phoebe and Willow would both have a fit if she was to ever see that. Neither one of them were big fans of the stereotypes that involved witches. The brunette reminded her of a young Faith and Dawn mixture complete with attitude.
"Ah hi." The kid ghost offered towards Buffy sheepishly. His smile grew when she didn't take off running away from him.
"Sorry dad." The brunette girl offered. "Wendy here challenged me to a race though." She told the man, nodding towards the blonde girl wearing a red hoodie. "Whoever could make it here fastest from the lab."
"That may be but you nearly ran over a guest." Dr. Harvey reprimanded his daughter while nodding towards Buffy.
"Sorry." The trio all echoed.
"Well you should be fleshie, witch, the adults were talking." Stretch grumbled while glaring at them.
"Go stick your head in a blender." The girl snapped back at him defiantly. "Or better yet, why don't you get a life?" She suggested with a smirk while meeting the angry ghost glare with one of her own.
Buffy bit her lip in amusement of her choice of words and saw that the witch was hiding a smile behind her mouth.
"Hey, there's no reason to get insulting." Stinkie complained.
"Yeah." Fatso agreed. The two ghosts were now glaring at the girl in annoyance who amazingly enough was able to meet the glares of all three ghosts with equal power.
"Ooh we're so scared." Stretch mocked at her attitude. "Who do you think you are, Wednesday Addams?" He demanded of the girl.
Buffy shook her head a bit as she listened to the girl go back and forth with the ghost. "And who are you guys?" She asked the new arrivals curiously.
"Well I'm Casper the Friendliest Ghost." The ghost-boy introduced himself. That's Kat, she's Dr. Harvey's daughter, and then there's Wendy."
Buffy smiled as she shook hands with the being. "I'm Buffy Summers." She introduced herself. Casper blushed slightly at the smile she flashed at him, causing the two girls to scowl at her jealously.
"Buffy Summers?" Wendy squeaked out in surprise. "My aunts told me about you and Willow Rosenburg."
Buffy smiled at the blonde. "Don't believe everything people tell you." She warned then turned to look at Dr. Harvey. "And you tell me the supernatural doesn't exist when you have three of the strongest poltergeists ever, a guardian spirit, a witch, and a vampire slayer all in the same room as you?" She asked somewhat incredulously of the man. "Either you're in denial, trying to hide it, or completely oblivious." She told him.
"Actually we've been trying to find a way to break the news to him doll face." Stretch admitted. "Hell, we've even told him a time or two but he keeps coming up with some new excuse as for how something happened."
"Ah one of those." Buffy nodded in understanding. "My mom used to be like that, took me being involved in the world for nearly three years before she was ready to accept it. Even so, she tried to deny it." Buffy told him.
"Good, so youse understand what we're dealing with." Stretch sighed in relief. "The Doc is good at what he does, but he's a bit reluctant to accept some of our ideas on things. Any suggestions on how to get him to accept its all real?"
"He'll come around eventually, until then just try and make sure he doesn't do anything to stupid. Sometimes they feel like they'll have to do something just to prove your wrong which can lead to much badness." Buffy warned the group. Maggie Walsh hadn't believed that she was dealing with magic and had ended up dead. Course that was more to do with her playing Doc Frankenstein then anything else. Then again she did add demon parts to her super soldier collage.
"Alright, we'll keep it in mind, now what's this about Kat being a Slayer? I thought that was youse?" Stretch questioned her. The other ghosts nodded their heads in agreement.
Buffy smirked a bit even as she shrugged. Seemed that these ghosts had a soft spot for Kat, even if they didn't want to admit it. "Rules have changed, I got tired of living by the rules of some old windbags. So me and some others changed them."
"A girl after our own ectoplasm. If you wasn't a Fleshie I might be interested in ya."
"Yeah sorry, I'm trying to stick with guys that have a heartbeat right now." She explained to the ghost. She really wasn't interested in doing her Cookie Dough speech for this group anyways.
"Your loss." Stretch returned with a shrug.
"So what is a big moved and shaker like you doing in a burb like Friendship Maine?" Stretch asked curiously.
"Yeah, we're usually pretty quiet around here from vamps, demons, and dark magic users." Fatso agreed. "Wendy here is usually just thought of as the Cutest Little Witch."
Wendy blushed at the reminder of her old nickname.
"Doing some traveling and dealing with some things that I agreed to." Buffy explained to the trio. "You know, make a deal with Scratch and eventually you have to pay him back."
"Scratch!" All of the ghosts shouted as they zipped back several feet in fear.
"What are you doing making deals with a guy like him for?" Stinkie asked fearfully.
Fatso nodded his head in agreement. "Yeah, don't you know what happens to people he deals with?"
"Yep." Buffy replied, as she held her hand up and a ball of hellfire appeared in her hand. "I think that I have a real good idea."
This seemed to be the limit for Dr. Harvey, as his eye rolled up in the back of his head and he fainted.
The Ghostly Trio on the other hand seemed to be much more impressed with the display of power. "Wow, you're the current host for the Rider. Stretch questioned in awe. "I mean had we known what you were.
"Yeah, we didn't mean no disrespect." Stinkie added in nervously.
"Yeah we ah always thought that you were a good person, and that vacation home wasn't really all that big. Besides I burn to easy as it is." Fatso stuttered out.
"Yeah, and my allergies always acted up from all of the dust out there." Stinkie agreed.
"And the taxes for the place were horrible." Stretch finished off. "We should be thanking you for helping us get out of it."
"It was a pleasure boys." Buffy returned to them with an amused smile as she closed her hand snuffing the fireball. "Say, you know how you could make it up to me though?" She requested of them.
"What?" The trio asked of her desperately.
"Help me find a good bar somewhere in this state." Buffy replied to the desperate group. "Ever since I've been getting jobs from Scratch its been one of the few pastimes that I enjoy these days. You know comparing bars by their drinks and their food. I figure a group like you guys probably know a few good places to get food."
The Ghostly Trio nodded eagerly and gathered together in a huddle for a moment as they began discussing various bars that might interest her.
"That should keep them busy for a few minutes." Buffy explained with a smile as she turned to look at the girls. "So what's your stories?" She asked them curiously.
"Our story?" Kat asked in disbelief. This person just a few years older than the two of them had just cowed the Ghostly Trio faster and more easily than anyone or thing that she had ever seen.
"Well yeah, how many groups have a Slayer, a Ghost, and a Witch in them?" Buffy returned to the girl with a smile.
"You manage to make my dad faint, and get the most disgusting trio of beings to follow your orders and you think that we have a story?" Kat demanded of her in wonder.
"Yep." Buffy agreed, popping the p at the end.
"You know what's happening to me?" Kat asked her hopefully. "You can explain away all of the dreams and the sudden increase in all of my physical abilities in a way that makes sense?" Her voice practically pleading for the other girl to have an answer. "The three of us have been working for weeks on trying to figure it all out."
"Sure, your A Vampire Slayer, Not The, but A. If anyone ever tries to tell you different then have your witch's friend there turn them into the ass that their being." She advised them with a grin. The girls grinned at her in return. "I can have some people send you some info or you can wait until another witch of power finds you. If that happens I suggest you be very careful with your friends as she doesn't like to startle very much, and people knowing things when she thinks they don't can make her cranky and prone to shoot magic and ask questions later." She warned them.
"Well I can hide us for a while, if Willow Rosenburg doesn't know about you specifically." Wendy offered while waving her wand.
"If that's what you want to do." Buffy told her with a shrug. "Knowing what you are could be a big help though. I'd train you myself, but there are things stopping me. I wouldn't be the best of people to train you right now. Maybe in a couple of years though." She added in hopefully.
"Hey Fleshie, Witch, Bulb Head, leave our guest alone and deal with the Doc already." Stretch ordered, as the Ghostly Trio began hovering over the blonde.
The trio of good members rolled their eyes in exasperation at the others. It seemed they were all used to the Ghostly Trio throwing their Incorpeal weight around all of the time. Buffy could understand why Kat had told them to get a life.
"Come on Slayer er Rider, ah Buffy. Stinkie stuttered out unsure what exactly to call her. We know this great spot.
Yeah, f you have any control of your other powers now would be the time to use them and we can get where we need to sooner. Stretch suggested her.
Buffy looked nervous. She had never used her Rider powers for just fun. Still it might be an interesting experience. "Here, call me if you have any questions." She offered to the girls as she scribbled a phone number on some paper. :That or if you want to talk about other stuff. If I can't talk with you about it maybe I know someone who can. I happen to know a lot of different people including some pretty cool witches." She assured the pair making sure that she looked all three in the eyes before focusing on Kat. "Tell your dad I'm sorry for running off as well, but hat the brothers wanted to show me a good night out." She suggested.
"Thanks." The girls said waving at the woman who ran out the doors.
As Buffy got outside she realized that it was nearly noon. It just made her all the more hungry. "Which way?" She asked, as she mounted up.
"Follow us doll face." Stretch suggested as they took off into the sky. "To the Grey Gull."
Buffy rolled her eyes as she summoned the power of the Rider and felt the flare of power as flames overtook her and the bike and she followed after the three. She hoped that the Rider wouldn't think that she was abusing its power by using it as a booster. The fact that the Ghostly Trio were flying around her as she rode made this one of the more fun transformations that she had ever gone through. She hoped that the place that the brothers picked had good food and drink.
Don't own Addams Family either, that's Charles Addams. Considering the same actress played both Kat and Wednesday, I couldn't resist though.