: I own nothing, neither world. I’m just borrowing them and will be returning them, slightly used, when I’m done. Spoilers
: For Buffy, through the first half of season 4 and for The Walking Dead, the first two seasons of the TV show and just to be safe, all the comics! A/N
: This has been in my head since episode one of season one and won’t go away. I have no idea if anyone wants to read it or not so I figured I’d toss it out there and see. Chapter One
Giles shook his head as he lowered the binoculars and turned to face his pacing slayer. “I don’t know Buffy.”
“I can’t just leave him there, Giles. He’s a sitting duck. A stupid, barbequed, shredded duck.” She leaned her head around him to look out the window at the zombie-surrounded tank. She bit her already gnawed thumb nail and frowned. This zombie plague had seriously been hell on her manicure. She glanced at Giles. Not to mention her family.
“I understand that and I even sympathize but it’s suicide, even for you.”
She set her feet, got that stubborn tilt of the her head he knew so well, loved so much. Would miss so much. “I’m not leaving him there to die.” He had to admit, she looked impressive and nothing like the 18-year-old teenager she’d been when this whole nightmare had started. She wore leather, a particular favorite of hers for the fashion, now practical for its durability and the protection it offered.
The pants were a brushed black, fit her like a second skin and were tucked into boots that hit just under the knee. Her shirt was a long-sleeved, deep brown, also leather and fit snugly, crossed in the front and tucked into the waist of the pants and she’d covered that with a jacket a shade darker. He knew she had knives hidden on her in various places but couldn’t see them. Such was the gift of the Slayer. She carried a sword sheathed across her back. Though she hated guns, she had two of them as well, carried in low-riding thigh holsters. In addition, she visibly carried a pair of sai in her boots. She looked beautiful and dangerous. The only thing that didn’t fit the warrior image was the perky blonde pony tail held in place by the pastel pink Scrunci and the happy daisy perched on the side of her head.
“And I’m not suggesting that you do. I’m suggesting you wait them out. They’ll move on when they realize there’s nothing for them.”
She stared at the tank for a long moment, as if she could will the man inside to just sit tight, to not do anything stupid, like blow his own head off to avoid zombiedom. Finally she nodded. “I guess so…ewwww…”
She pointed. “Horse.”
He looked back out the window and grimaced as he saw zombies devouring the horse the man had ridden in on (he had a brief inner chuckle, albeit a macabre one, as the old punch line ran through his head “and the horse you rode in on”). “Yes, well, better the horse than the man.”
“It’s still yucksome.” She muttered and moved past him to lean against the window frame, staring down at the maddened horde, eyes carefully averted from the feeding frenzy. Eyes also carefully averted from Giles. “Do you think they think?”
She’d asked him this at least a thousand times since the outbreak began. More and more since Xander and Willow. Even more since they’d hit Atlanta and he’d made that fatal mistake. “They’re dead, Buffy.” He said flatly. Just as he had at least a thousand times. “They’re nothing but walking dead.”
“Why do you think that guy just rode a horse right through zombie central?”
Giles shrugged and he leaned against the other side of the window frame and joined her in watching the tank. “Like us, he probably had the misguided notion that Atlanta had living people. A military or government presence. Safety.”
“Duh. I meant where the hell’s his car? Who rides a horse?”
His witty, if he did so say himself, retort was never heard as she yelled, “Dammit!” and took off out the door, leaving him to shake his head and wonder if she were risking her life for some sort of mentally challenged idiot as he watched the man, for no apparent reason, flip open the top hatch of the tank, hop out and bull his way through a group of walkers, firing off shots here and there (granted, taking out a walker with each shot) and run towards an alley.
He sighed as she slowly came back, tears in her eyes. “I almost forgot.” She said quietly, sadly.
He nodded. “I know. You have to hurry before you lose him.”
“I don’t want to Giles.” Tears were falling, practically rivers now, as she threw herself into his arms.
He hugged her, once. Hard. Then pushed her away. “Buffy. You’re the Slayer. I’m already dead.”
She nodded once. Hard. “I love you, Giles.”
He nodded and didn’t even seen the blow that took his head coming. He’d trained her well.
Buffy jumped across the gaps between the rooftops, resolutely not thinking of the way she’d had to stab her Watcher’s severed head and kept an eye on the moron below, swearing under her breath. What the hell was he thinking? He’d been perfectly safe in the tank. She figured he’d be all with the hopelessness and shoot himself in the head, not make a run for it. Stupid jerk. She found a relatively clear-of-walkers spot and, grabbing the sides of a metal fire escape, half climbed, half slid down to street level and picked up her speed.
She pulled out the pair of sai she carried jammed in her knee-high leather boots and ran full-out, catching up to him just as he entered an alley in front of a smallish group of walkers. Stupid moron.
She angled her run so that her foot hit the wall about waist high and used it to push off. Flipping over the head of the lead zombies, she shoved the ends of the sai into the heads of two them, ripping them free as she landed. Before they even hit the ground, she’d flipped the sai around, raised her arms and pulled them apart in one continuous motion, severing the heads of two more. It didn’t kill them but they were down and no longer a threat.
She spun around, kicking out and sending more of the walking dead to the ground with dislocated kneecaps while her hands, armed with the sharpened blades did their own deadly work.
Rick Grimes, otherwise known as the idiot in the tank, turned, gun pointed in reflex, when he felt the someone come up behind him, only to lower it when he saw the Asian kid. “Guy on the radio?”
The kid nodded, unable to take his eyes off the scene in front of him. Rick couldn’t blame him. “She with you?”
The kid shook his head. “I wish…”
Rick picked a few more of the walkers off with his last bullets, careful to keep his shots toward the back of the pack, avoiding the girl, though it wasn’t easy; she was fast. Really fast.
Buffy cleared the rest. For now. She knew it wouldn’t last. She turned around and did her best Ahh-nold. “Come with me if you want to live.”
She turned and headed toward the street, not at all surprised when both of the guys said “Hey!” and “Wait a damn minute, now!”
Sighing she turned around. “Guys! Really. Dead things everywhere. It’s not safe here.” As if on cue the other end of the alley started filling up with the damn things. She glanced behind her. “I have a safe place…well as safe as anyplace I suppose.”
The Asian kid looked helplessly at the other end of the alley. “My friends...I just came to get this dumbass.”
Buffy shrugged. “Okay, we’ll go your way, then.” It wasn’t like she had anywhere to be, after all. Not anymore. She bit back tears, and she bit back anger at Giles for being so stupid in the first place.
He was already nodding as he headed up a ladder attached to the side of the building. Moron followed up, leaving Buffy to bring up the rear. Once they hit the relative safety of the roof she could tell they were going to start asking annoying questions so she fell into the old Sunny-D offense and stuck her hand out at the Asian kid.
“Hi! I’m Buffy!” The sun pretty much needed shades, her smile was so bright.
He stuttered and tried three times before he managed to say “Glenn. Me. I’m Glenn.”
She turned to the idiot who, upon closer inspection turned out to be, if the outfit was anything to go by (and judging by the eyes it was) a cop and so totally and completely NOT an idiot. She held out her hand and he said, “Rick. Rick Grimes. Thanks for her help.” He held up the gun in the other hand. “I didn’t have time to reload…and I lost the bag of guns I was carrying with my horse.”
He studied her for a long minute, took in her deceptively slight build, and what he knew was a purposefully vapid expression. She was very good at fooling people, he’d bet. He wondered what she’d been before the world went to Hell. He was a damn fine cop with an instinct about people that was so good, so scarily good, it bordered on a sixth sense. Whatever she had been, whatever she still was, because who risked their life for a man she didn’t even know, was something good.
He finally let go of her hand with a nod. “It’s nice to meet you, Buffy.”
She nodded and turned to Glenn. “So, you got a plan?”
She and Rick followed him across the roof and down another ladder to another alley, this one blocked off by a couple of buses. It was also occupied by two people dressed in riot gear beating the shit out of a walker. Buffy and Rick both dropped into defensive stances but Glenn said “No! They’re with me! It’s okay.”
They followed them into a department store where one of them whipped off the gear and turned out to be a blonde woman who pulled out a gun and pointed it at Rick’s head. Rick’s hands immediately went up in the standard “I surrender” position. “You just rang the dinner bell!” She told him, anger in her eyes.
Buffy frowned and with one well placed kick to the woman’s wrist the gun was flying the air. A quick turn of her hip and the woman was on the ground, face down, Buffy’s knee in her back, hand fisted in her hair, other hand held out to catch said gun, which she did. She pointed the gun at the woman’s head, yanked her hair a little harder, just enough that the woman whined a little and dug her knee in a little more.
“You know, I saved your buddy’s life. It’s not like I wanted gushing thanks or anything. I just wanted, you know, you not to point a gun at MY buddy’s head. Is that really so much to ask? Is it?” She pulled back a little more.
“Buffy, it’s okay…” Rick tried to diffuse the situation. Everyone had a gun out now, even though no one was pointing them yet.
“No, it is not okay. Who points a gun at someone’s head and goes off like that? What kind of manners is that? Do YOU like it?” She gave the girl's hair another jerk.
“No. I’m sorry.”
“Good.” She got off the blonde, handed Rick the gun. She turned to the others, gave them all her bright smile. “I’m Buffy by the way.”
The blonde turned out to be Andrea and her partner in the alley was Morales. The group also consisted of a large black man called T-Dog, a totally sweet black woman named Jacqui, and a guy who said his name was Merle but after less than a minute Buffy was privately calling him “Douchebag” in her head. He was only missing a giant sign on his head that flashed “Racist, Sexist Redneck” in neon letters. If she were left alone with him for any length of time, chances were very, very good he’d be changing his name to Merlene.
After introductions, T-Dog tried to raise the rest of their group but had no luck. He said he’d like to go up on the roof and Glenn and Morales went off to check out the sewers to see if maybe that was a way out.
She roamed around the store for a while, looking for anything that might be useful, while T-Dog did his thing with the radio and Rick tried to make nice with Andrea.
Finding nothing of use at all, she found a spot away from everyone and sat with her back to the wall and closed her eyes. Did she really want to stay with this people? It was what Giles had wanted, to find a group of people, stay with them. She could get away alone, easily. Easier. She could survive on her own. Easily. Easier. But Giles had said that wasn’t living and it was important to live, not just survive. He’d said it after Xander. He’d said it after Willow. He’d said it over and over after…
When the whole thing first happened they hadn’t even realized anything had been wrong…at first…Sunnydale, California…Four weeks ago…
“…and you are dust.” Buffy pulled her stake as the vampire turned to dust and, shoving into the back of her pants, turned and moved on. She linked her arm with Xander, who was waiting patiently on the path between the rows of headstones, calmly munching Doritos.
“Fledges are kinda boring these days, huh Buff?”
She shrugged. “It seems kind of unfair to just stake them before they’re even out of the grave but you know Giles. Plunge and move on. Plunge and move on.”
“The G-man says…hey, there’s a new demon.” He didn’t panic, sure that Buffy could handle whatever it was, but he did roll up the bag and set it aside.
She crinkled her nose. “Eww…it looks all…rotty.”
“It looks like a zombie. Is there such a thing as a zombie demon?”
She shrugged again. “No idea at all but it’s all gross.” She reached into the bag that Xander had been carrying and pulled out her sword. “I’m so not touching it.”
She took position and raised the sword. The demon just kept shambling towards them. She frowned at Xander, who returned the gesture and yelled at the thing. “Hey, Slayer here. Gonna take you out!” It turned and shuffled toward Xander instead. She poked it with the tip of the blade. It ignored her. She poked it harder. It grabbed Xander. “Hey! Ouch!”
She hacked at its head, splitting it right down the middle and it fell where it stood, still. Dead. She wrinkled her nose. “That was so…lame.” She looked at Xander. “You okay.”
“Yeah. Just a scratch.” He grabbed the Doritos and looked at the demon. “Better let Giles know, though.”
She nodded and didn’t think anything of it as they finished patrolling, dusting six more vamps and seeing no more demons that night. She dropped Xander off and stopped at Giles’ and filled him. He’d said he’d look into, made sure she was okay and sent her home.
The next day the news was filled with reports. Dead people walking around, eating people. Xander…just a scratch he’d said. Buffy blamed herself for letting the damn thing get close enough to touch him. She blamed herself again for not…doing something.
They’d gathered at Giles’ place, like they always did. Xander was missing. So was Anya. Willow had called and hadn’t gotten an answer. She’d made a sex joke. Giles had cleaned his glasses. Buffy had made a gagging nose. They’d decided to try again later but later had gotten the same results. Willow said she’d stop by but Buffy finally paid attention to the nagging feeling in her gut and said she’d go with her.
They’d gotten to Xander’s place and Willow led the way up the stairs and knocked on the door, concern marring her face when there was no answer since Mr. Harris’ car was in the driveway and he never walked anywhere, had no friends that would pick him to take him anywhere.
Buffy’s Slayer hearing picked up sounds from the in house and she said, “Get back, Will.” But, again, she said it too late, because Willow had already opened the door. She screamed as Mr. Harris lurched out the door, hands already grabbing the young girl before Buffy could react, dead teeth sinking into her shoulder.
Buffy jerked her out of the thing’s arms and pulled her off the porch. “Jesus!” She muttered as she ran down the walkway, Willow following closely behind her, hand covering the missing hunk of flesh.
“Xander!” Willow cried, looking over her shoulder at the boy in question. Buffy stopped for just a moment to look as well.
“God, Xander. I’m so sorry…so sorry.” Xander, Anya, both his parents, a few people Buffy didn’t know, all walking dead. “Run, Will.” She pulled Willow behind her.
The took a roundabout way and lost the Harris’ before making to Giles’, bursting through the door, Buffy yelling, “Giles!”
“Buffy!” He came from the kitchen, wiping his hands on a towel. He took one look at Willow and closed his eyes, pinched the bridge of his nose. “What happened?”
“Xander, his whole family, Anya. Mr. Harris bit Willow.”
“Buffy, Willow, I’m afraid…the bites are infectious.”
“He means I’m dead, Buffy. I’m one of them.” Willow pulled her hand out of Buffy’s and went into the living room.”
Buffy looked at Giles, waiting for him to deny it. She could see by the look on his face he wasn’t going to. “Giles…” she whispered.
They both jumped when they heard the gunshot, ran into the living room. Buffy spun around, into his arms. “Oh, God, Giles!”
He'd held her, rubbing his hands up and down her back and he'd been unable to take his eyes off Willow, lying dead, for the second and final time, on his couch. He'd whispered but she'd heard, of course, about how had she even known he’d had the pistol?
Glenn’s voice jerked Buffy out of her memories and back to the present. “Sewers are blocked off and even if they weren’t, they’re filled with walkers. We need to get out of here.” Once again, as if it were their cue, the walkers broke through the outer doors of the front of the department store and started banging on the inside glass.
Buffy sighed. Once again she had no doubt at all about her ability to get herself to safety. She barely even knew these people. She glanced at Rick. At Glenn. Shoved that thought right out of her head. She was the Slayer. It was her duty to protect these people. Even Merle.
“I have an idea.” Rick was saying.
“Is it anything like your jump out of the tank and run through a horde of berserking zombies?” Buffy asked brightly.
In spite of the situation, Rick grinned and threw an arm over her shoulder. “No. It’s even better.”
“You are a sick bastard, Rick Grimes. A sick and twisted little puppy.” She pretended to gag. She figured it fooled everyone but Rick himself, which made her more than a little curious and more than a little cautious. But, as before, he let it slide.
There’d been an argument, as Rick had known there would be, when he’d laid out his plan. Oh, not of the plan itself. No one else was offering any ideas, they were desperate and it was a sound plan, if the only plan.
It was the fact that he wanted Buffy with him that was the problem. Morales, T-Dog and Jacqui had thrown a fit, though he noticed not one of them had offered themselves in her place. Andrea and Glenn had said nothing, Glenn because he’d been in that alley, had seen Buffy in action. Andrea, Rick assumed, because she didn’t much care for the petite girl.
Merle hadn’t said anything either, though Rick figured that was just because Merle didn’t give a shit about much of anything but Merle.
Buffy had taken a silent moment with a tilted head and he’d known exactly what she was doing. She was analyzing, processing, refining his plan, coming up with contingencies. He again wondered what she’d been and couldn’t wait until they had time alone to talk. He wouldn’t press her but he hoped she’d talk to him. He saw her eyes clear, knew the instant she’d agreed, knew she knew he knew.
They understood each other, he thought. He figured she could make it on her own a lot easier than she could make it with a group. He figured she knew that and he also figured that she knew he was the only one that knew it. For some reason, though, he knew she was going to stick around. At least for now. And they both knew that as well.
The arguments from Morals, Jacqui and T-Dog ended abruptly when Buffy had simply said, “Did one of you three want to go instead?” So, she’d noticed that too.
Glenn and Morales dragged the walker in from the alley. Rick insisted on a service, which Buffy found sweet. He chopped the hell out of corpse, which Buffy didn’t find so sweet and then started draping himself and her with guts and viscera, smearing them with blood, hence her sick bastard comment.
The plan was elegant in its simplicity and gave Buffy a whole new respect for Rick and made her take back every “idiot” and “moron” comment she’d thought and uttered, even though in her head she’d stopped believing them the second she’d looked in his eyes.
They would just gut themselves up until they smelled dead and basically walk right through the lifeless sons of bitches. T-Dog had noticed a construction site with a panel truck that would serve their purposes not too far away and if the keys weren’t in it, Rick would just hot wire it. They’d drive the truck back, pick up the group and be on their way.
Buffy had modified the plan slightly by suggesting a distraction in the form of car alarms once they were in the truck and on their way. If they drove the truck a few blocks over, she could certainly set a few off, drawing at least some of the walkers from the store.
So it was that they set off, covered in blood, guts and other things wrapped around their neck, Buffy telling him “You look mah-vah-lous, dah-link” as she tossed a piece of intestine over her shoulder like it was a mink stole on their way out the door. He shushed her even as he bit back a laugh, amazed that with all the horror, all the uncertainty, all the thoughts running through his head, he could still laugh.
It didn’t take long before they found themselves in the middle of a pack of shambling walkers but being ignored. He let out a very slow breath. This was going to work. He glanced over at Buffy and she gave him a slow wink and an even slower nod.
On the rooftop, Glenn looked at Andrea. “I can’t believe it. They’re going to make it. They’re actually going to make it.”
She nodded. “I think they are.” She turned from the two and looked at him. “Why didn’t you argue about her going? She’s just a kid.”
He snorted out a laugh. “I saw her kick ass.” His eyes blurred at the memory, glazed over. “She was incredible. Like Wonder Woman and Xena rolled into one. I gotta find out where she learned to fight like that. Flipping and swords and kicking.” He made a few karate chops in the air to demonstrate. He shoved the image away and blinked himself back to the here and now. “Why didn’t you?”
Andrea turned back to their progress. “I shouldn’t have pointed the gun at him, I know, but she didn’t have to…I was still pissed.” She shrugged. “I’ll apologize.”
Merle came up beside her. “Be the day when I’d apologize for doin’ what I thought I needed to do.” He slapped her ass and she cringed and moved to the other side of Glenn, who tried very hard to ignore Merle. “What you got to say, Slant Eyes? Huh? Huh? Yeah, what I thought.” He looked out over the city as the rest of the group joined them to watch Rick and Buffy.
Rick and Buffy kept their pace slow and steady, which became harder the closer they got. They were about 300 yards away when Rick jinxed them by muttering “We’re going to make it…” Buffy just knew he was directly responsible for the fat raindrops that immediately began to fall.
The shared a glance and began to run, walkers on their tail. She pulled ahead of him at the fence turned and cupped her hands to give him a boost. He stuck his foot in and she ally-ooped him up and over. He hung for a second from the top of the fence and then dropped while she took half a second to draw her sword, decapitating the lead three walkers before quickly scrambling up and over the fence herself. "Silver lining," she called out to him as she flipped over the top and landed on her feet. "Impromptu shower!"
“Hurry up!” She yelled, jumping in the truck next to him as he flipped the visor down looking for keys. She opened the glove compartment, rifled through it while he looked under the seat. He finally found them in a lunch box on the floor.
He jammed them in the ignition and started the truck with a vicious twist, shoved it in gear and took off, running over several of the undead on the way. “Good plan…” she muttered.
“We’re in a truck, we’re not dead. I’d call it a good plan.”
She shot him a grin. “But LOOK. AT. MY. HAIR.”
“Right. What was I thinking.” But he was smiling as he turned back to the road.
As per their plan, he took a circuitous route and she used her sword to whap the newer looking cars that Rick said would have alarms, causing them to shrill loudly. Several of the walkers were attracted to the new noise.
They made it back to the store and picked up the rest of the group just as the front window gave and walkers flooded the store. T-Dog slammed the back door of the panel truck, yelled “Go! Go! Go!” and Rick floored it, having no idea where he was actually going, but heading out of the city in the direction he’d been given.
He’d told himself he wasn’t going to pry but he just had to know. He couldn’t help himself. He looked over at Buffy. “How old are you?”
“After all that, THAT’S your question? Really?” She laughed and shook her head, got out of her seat, ducking her head, even as short as she was, so she didn’t bang it off the roof and slid open the separator between the front and back of the truck. “Everyone okay back here?”
Glenn fist pumped the air. “You guys were awesome! That was so awesome!”
Buffy grinned at him. “So, everything is…awesome, back here, then? No one hurt? No one…bit? Scratched?” She got serious.
“No.” Morales answered. “We’re all good. You guys got back just in time.” He crouch-walked his way to the front. “If you want to pull over, I can drive us to our camp?”
Rick nodded, happy to let the other man drive. He noticed Buffy climbing into the back so he took the passenger seat and watched the scenery pass by as he decided what his next step in finding Lori and Carl would be.