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Holiday Horrors

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This story is No. 3 in the series "Mathematics and Magic". You may wish to read the series introduction and the preceeding stories first.

Summary: The wicked won’t let the righteous rest, even during the holidays. Buffy and Charlie wander a little farther into the mysteries of the supernatural…but at what cost?

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Television > Numb3rs > Buffy - CenteredJessRSFR15428,3802245,43224 May 1111 Nov 11No

Prologue

Disclaimers: Buffy the Vampire Slayer belongs to Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy & Fox. Numb3rs belongs to Cheryl Heuton and Nick Falacci…I think. (NOT me!)

 

Author’s Recommendation: As this has become a fun, normal thing for me, I thought I’d give it it’s own category (at least when a good fic catches my attention).

To those who are interested, this time I’m recommending a Narnia fic, which centers around the idea of Earth & Narnia meeting post-LW&W & pre-PC. It’s really very interesting, and though not get complete, the chapters always seem worth waiting for, to me at least.

A Narnian Revelation by cap red

Summary: In England the Pevensies are living their lives, no one but them knowing about Narnia and that they were Kings and Queens there. What happens when a Portal between worlds opens and the Narnian world becomes part of the English one? (Work-in-Progress)

Fandom: Narnia

FF.Net: /s/4983179/

 

Warnings: You should read First Meeting and A Call Away before this.

 

Author’s First Note: Thanks again to NeverTooOld for beta-reading! :-)

Now here’s the start of the next bit… Enjoy! :-)

Holiday Horrors

Part III in Mathematics & Magic

By Jess S

Prologue

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Summers’ House, Sunnydale, California – Friday, November 29, 1996

 

Buffy sighed, glancing at where her cell phone was charging, currently turned off. She half-expected Charlie to call at any minute, despite the fact that they’d talked to each other for over a half an hour earlier that evening. That was before she’d done her homework, gone to the Bronze, and gone patrolling with Faith.

 

Somehow, though, the day just wasn’t sitting with her.

 

She felt…off. And she couldn’t explain why.

 

Talking to Charlie hadn’t helped because Charlie was feeling the same thing she was and was just as incapable of explaining it.

 

Maybe it was some kind of Slayer-vision-thing that Charlie was picking up on through the bond? But no, if it was, wouldn’t Faith be feeling it too?

 

She still felt more than a little bad for Cordelia, of course.

 

The confrontation between Cordelia and Xander had happened yesterday evening at the Bronze.

 

There hadn’t been any major problems on Tuesday, since Xander had really been too out of it most of the time for even Cordelia to do anything other than pity him. And she had, in fact, been quite miserable as she’d watch him struggle through the school days with his still healing injury.

 

But, as Buffy had complained to Charlie earlier in the week, Cordelia had begun to suspect that something was going on, undoubtedly clued into the way Willow and Oz’s relationship had suddenly cooled in the aftermath of the kidnapping-for-love fiasco.

 

Not that Xander had really helped his case with his girlfriend, since he’d barely been willing to talk to or look at her most of the time he was hobbling through the halls or hunched over in class.

 

That’d apparently come to a head when Cordelia and Harmony had run into each other in the hallway, and seen Xander accepting help from Willow between two classes. Buffy had winced when she’d caught Harmony’s comment to Cordelia, teasing that Xander was probably gonna leave her for Willow and she’d just be his cast-off. It’d thrown her even more how quickly Cordelia had accepted the idea and then flown into an unreasoning rage at it. Oh, she hadn’t attacked Xander and Willow in the hallway there, Buffy wouldn’t have let her. But she did confront her boyfriend later that day.

 

In the evening, Xander actually made it to the Bronze; making Buffy really wonder at just what her friend’s home life was like, for him to be completely unwilling to recuperate in his parent’s house if any alternative was possible. Nonetheless, that was where Cordelia confronted him, and where he had reluctantly admitted that his feelings for Willow had grown from what they’d been, but that he was trying to ignore them. When pressed, Xander had also admitted that he and Willow had kissed a few times, by accident, a few weeks ago.

 

Cordelia had stormed off, and then been humiliated when Faith had accidentally pushed her into a pile of trash in front of Harmony’s clique while fighting a vampire. The younger Slayer had offered a half-hearted apology as she rushed off after the vampire, but had left Cordelia to be tormented by Harmony again.

 

Buffy had found out about the later part of the incident while on patrol with Faith that night, who’d felt pretty bad about it in retrospect. She’d then gone out of her way to find the other girl this morning before classes started, only to be aghast at how much anger and hurt had been rolling off of her. She’d tried to comfort her, but been cut-off by Harmony, who’d taunted Cordelia for still hanging out with Buffy.

 

Thus, Cordelia had avoided the whole Scooby gang for the rest of the day.

 

That day had also been the first day for a new girl named Anya, who’d arrived at school and immediately set herself on befriending Cordelia. Buffy had thought Anya might be a demon, but hadn’t been sure of what kind when she bumped into her in the hall, and the possible-demon had been quick to vanish in between classes. What’s more, she hadn’t been able to figure out why any demon would be interested in talking to the hurting, angry Cordelia.

 

However, that afternoon she’d run into Anya again—an Anya who was more than a little upset and looked very lost—and Buffy was surprised to find that the girl no longer registered as remotely demonic to her Slay-dar. At that point she was entirely human, if a bit weird and over emotional. Other than her not registering to Buffy’s Slayer senses, though, the only thing that’d been different was that the girl hadn’t been wearing the weird necklace that she’d had on earlier in the morning.

 

Buffy had of course told Giles about all of that. And hopefully he’d find some answers for them soon.

 

Still, Buffy couldn’t get to sleep. Something still wasn’t right.

 

But what?

 

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Eppes House, Pasadena, California – Friday, November 29, 1996

 

Charlie’s eyes snapped open as a wail of pain and lonely emptiness suddenly slammed across his bond with Annie, stealing the breath he would’ve used to release the pent up cry. He started to push himself up to reach for his cell phone, but that was when the memories hit.

 

The memories of the Thursday that hadn’t happened.

 

And the shadows of the lifetime that’d come before it.

 

A life without Annie.

 

A life wherein he and Annie had never met.

 

How exactly Charlie would still be breathing in such a world wasn’t answered; Charlie couldn’t remember being attacked there. But he could remember the loneliness, the emptiness. The lack of everything he had now, but wouldn’t know to miss if he hadn’t met Annie months ago.

 

And he had Annie’s memories, too. Or, at least, shadows of memories. Most of them just outlines, sort of the story of what would have been; but all of it was overwhelmed with the painfully poignant absence of the empathetic bond he shared with Annie and all the friends he’d gained since then.

 

That world for Charlie wouldn’t be too different career-wise. He’d still be getting ready to teach at Cal-Sci. But his big brother wouldn’t be worriedly calling all the time. He wouldn’t be talking to his girlfriend whenever he could and helping out at Angels’ House whenever he got a chance. It wasn’t quite a life without meaning, it was just a much emptier life, a life where he hadn’t yet had the chance to connect with anyone. Let alone anyone as special as Annie.

 

Annie’s life however, was like it’d lost all the color; everything good had been bled out of it, until there was only black, white and gray. Only orders from the Watchers Council and missions to be carried out. Charlie wasn’t arrogant enough to believe that the change in Annie’s life that might’ve been was just the fact that she’d never met him. No, something more had altered her life and had probably been the reason, in that lifetime, that they’d never met.

 

Ring. Ring.

 

His cell phone, ringing loudly from his computer desk, yanked him out of his thoughts, and Charlie winced, hurrying to answer it before it woke either of his parents up.

 

“Hello?”

 

Charlie…” Annie let out a clear sigh of relief that echoed over their bond, crossing the painful void—left by the empty feeling they’d been hit by—like a balm.

 

“Annie,” he closed his eyes, taking a slow breath in equal relief. “You’ve no idea how happy I am to hear your voice.”

 

Oh, believe me, I have an idea,” she disagreed, but with clear happiness behind her words.

 

“Do you know what happened?” the mathematician asked after a moment of heavy silence, trying to search for some logical explanation for the terrible memories and, upon not finding any, more than willing at this point to search the supernatural for the source. “There was a demon, right?”

 

Yeah, Anya, I think.” Annie confirmed with a sigh. “She came to school yesterday and got real buddy-buddy with Cordelia for a while. She felt like a demon in the morning, but later in the afternoon she didn’t. I don’t know why. I’ll have to ask Giles.

 

“You didn’t ask him already?”

 

Well, I told him about Anya and her feeling like a demon and then not after her creepy necklace was gone, but I didn’t have these…memories, I guess, last night.

 

“Oh yeah, that makes sense.” Charlie nodded, even as the vague memories hit him again.

 

It was like remembering a dream.

 

Or, actually, more like remembering a really terrible nightmare.

 

Bits and pieces overlapping to form horrible thoughts. All of it enveloped in that terrible feeling of disconnectedness and lonely apathy.

 

It was amazing to think that, though they hadn’t even known one another for a whole year yet, life without each other would be so much less than what it already was for them.

 

…Well, um, I guess I should give Giles a call?

 

Charlie blinked, “Y-Yeah. Yeah, that’s probably a good idea. Call me later, alright?”

 

I will.

 

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Summers’ House, Sunnydale, California – Saturday, November 30, 1996

 

Faith shook her head as she reached for the half-empty water bottle on her bedside table, leaning back a little to draw a few long gulps from it before putting the cap back on again.

 

The Wednesday and Thursday of this past week had put its preceding weekend to shame. As horrible as Willow getting kidnapped by the love-sick and drunk Spike, Xander getting hurt, and Oz putting his and Willow’s relationship on hold had been, Queen C had, of course, gone above and beyond all of that.

 

According to Giles, Queen C had made a wish to a Vengeance Demon. The wish had led to a warping of reality that Buffy and Cordelia alone remembered. Though B hadn’t been overly talkative on why she thought she remembered and Faith didn’t, but she was pretty sure it had something to do with whatever was going on between B and Math-man. She’d heard them talking later.

 

Still, the idea that wishing something could screw up so much…

 

Well, needless to say it was something all of the Scoobies were now well forewarned against. ‘Wish’ had officially become ‘the ‘W’ word,’ never to be spoken out loud.

 

Not that that was all that’d troubled the younger Slayer lately.

 

“Having trouble sleeping, Faith?”

 

Only the fact that this wasn’t the first time that this’d happened kept Faith from completely crushing the all-too-breakable glass bottle. She finished setting it back down on the table, then closed her eyes, not looking in the direction the voice’d come from as she answered it. “You’re not really here.” She said firmly, but very quietly, not wanting to catch Buffy’s super-sensitively sharp ears.

 

Diane Dormer’s familiar—and much missed—voice sounded just as nice as she remembered it. “I’m always here.”

 

Faith shook her head, curling her fists carefully together to avoid breaking anything with any sudden outburst of Slayer strength. “Leave me alone,” she whispered.

 

“I can’t,” was the expected response. “You won’t let me.”

 

“What do you want?” the slayer asked for probably the hundredth time.

 

What she wasn’t expecting was an actual answer.

 

“I want to help you.”

 

End of…

Holiday Horrors

Prologue.

 

Author’s End Note:

Now, between the epilogue of A Call Away and this prologue, we’ve covered S3E8 ‘Lovers Walk’ and S3E9 ‘The Wish’! And we’ve started making our way into S3E10 ‘Amends’. Hopefully this explain—at least in part—why it’s taken me a long time to get this piece of the series out. It, obviously, took much longer than it should have, but I’m afraid a writer’s block inserted itself in there, too.

I am sorry it took so long. As I said earlier, hopefully shorter chapters will make it easier to get updates out quicker. I hope the most recent chapters were worth the wait, and hopefully more will be ready soon!

 

To Be Continued in…

Holiday Horrors

Chapter 1.
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