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On Doctors Named Allison And Witches Named Sarah

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This story is No. 2 in the series "The "On" Series". You may wish to read the series introduction and the preceeding stories first.

Summary: On her way to a new job in California, Allison Cameron makes a stop in Cleveland to visit an old friend. Meanwhile, a coven of witches in Seattle is found murdered and the Council sends a witch named Sarah Bailey and a slayer named Vi to investigate.

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Multiple Crossings > General(Current Donor)ListenerFR182479,28924410,16830 Apr 1216 Jul 12Yes

On Trips to Seattle, and Trips to Cleveland

ON DOCTORS NAMED ALLISON AND WITCHES NAMED SARAH

by Listener

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Disclaimer: I do not own any of the characters or worlds used in this story, including Buffy the Vampire Slayer, House M.D., Private Practice, Scott Pilgrim, South Park, and The Craft. No harm is intended toward any of the copyright owners. This story is intended for entertainment purposes only.

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Warnings:

This story is rated FR-18 for language, violence, and sexual situations (mostly non-heterosexual). There are trigger warnings for violence (some graphic), angst, witchcraft, dubious consent, non-consensual psychic sex, and loving relationships between adults. Less crying than the last one, though.

The story is COMPLETE. It is 24 chapters (about 75,000 words) in length. I'll be posting it at the rate of about two chapters per week. It is un-beta’d, so any mistakes are mine and mine alone.

What You Need To Know:

The previous story in this series is: “On Ramona Flowers, And How She Became A Slayer”. Here’s a brief recap.

In 2008, Buffy left the slayers to strike out on her own -- she was tired of her decisions leading to people’s deaths, and was afraid of hurting Satsu (her lover at the time) when Satsu said she loved Buffy. Andrew went with Buffy, as her watcher, and they became friends. Eighteen months later (November 2009), while on patrol in St. Louis, Buffy found Anita Blake, cut off from her own reality. She looked after Anita, trying to help her. Willow and Kennedy (still a couple after all these years) arrived in St. Louis and Willow offered to use her magic to try and reopen the portal. She was unsuccessful. Dark Willow made a brief appearance.

Meanwhile... Ramona and Scott moved to Cleveland about six months after the film “Scott Pilgrim vs The World”. Ramona knew she was special, but it wasn’t until she was contacted by Faith Lehane that she learned she was a slayer. Ramona visited with the slayers and became friends with them. Scott spied on her and handled it badly by confronting her about her new friends. They broke up. Scott, depressed, inadvertently bled on the Cleveland Hellmouth, which was situated under the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. A powerful Plagiarus Demon took him over, turning him permanently into Nega Scott. Nega Scott attacked, and the slayers responded. Andrew heard about it and Willow made a portal for her, Kennedy, Andrew, Buffy, and Anita to go through to Cleveland to help. Robin Wood was severely injured in the fight, and later died.

Through magic and other means, the slayers determined how to fight Nega Scott. Faith, however, was so distraught over Robin’s death (they’d been together since shortly after “Chosen”) that she tried to take him on herself. She was captured and tortured. The slayers rescued her, but at great cost -- Kennedy was killed, and Willow had to be sedated and kept in a magical sleep so she didn’t lose her mind. Buffy led a team -- herself, Satsu, Ramona, and Anita (who Dawn, now a witch, activated as a slayer). Ramona slayed Nega Scott.

The story ended with Dawn and Willow sending Anita back to her reality, Buffy and Satsu together and in love, Faith in pain but taking it one day at a time, Ramona as a Cleveland-based vampire slayer, and Willow crying herself to sleep every night while Dawn tried to care for her. In the afterlife, Kennedy and Tara saw that Willow was in pain. Tara, who kind of works for the Powers, assured Kennedy that someday Willow would join them, and together the two women were content to wait.

Continuity Notes:

The following story begins in the late-night hours of April 22, 2010. Its canon is Buffy Seasons 1-7, The Craft (the movie), and House (through season 6).

BtVS: Almost seven years post-”Chosen”. Ignores most of Angel. Ignores most of Buffy Seasons 8 (which I have read) and 9 (which I haven’t), although I did borrow some characters and situations. I’m guessing Vi was about 17 when “Chosen” occurred; I haven’t found anything to confirm or deny that.

TC: Fourteen years after the film ends. For the sake of argument, the four main characters in The Craft were high school juniors when the film happened (in 1996).

H: According to Wikipedia, “Lockdown” -- Cameron’s final episode on House -- aired on April 12, 2010. I’m going to say that that was the day the episode itself ended. Also, this is AU to House Season 8 -- at least for now.

All research, names, and so forth came from a combination of Wikipedia and buffy.wikia.com. Mostly the latter. If you'd like a map of the slayer school, here's the one I made.

And can I just mention how hard it was to come up with a title and write the summary for this story? I was never much good at that.

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ONE: ON TRIPS TO SEATTLE, AND TRIPS TO CLEVELAND

Monica the Vampire Slayer stood in the doorway and watched her team work. Her witch was casting forensic spells while, under the watchful eyes of Sherrie -- Monica’s second-in-command -- the trainee slayers assigned to the Seattle branch were learning to collect evidence and deal with dead bodies.

So far, no one had thrown up. That was a plus.

Sherrie moved toward the door and spoke in a soft voice. “Three of them were killed quickly -- we’re not sure how, but they just... stopped living. The fourth, though...”

“The fourth.” Monica and Sherrie crossed the room to where the woman was stuck to the wall. And by ‘stuck’, that literally meant ‘affixed via magic’. Her body was partially mixed with the drywall, leaving her hanging in place as if crucified. “This is really horrible.”

Sherrie nodded. “I’ve already called Jim. He’s hitting his sources.” Jim was the senior watcher in Seattle. “But even he hasn’t heard of spells like this.”

“Great.” Monica peered at the woman. “Hmm.”

“Hmm?”

She placed a chair in front of the body and stepped up on it. Using the tip of her stake, she drew a gentle line through the blond woman’s bangs, and then lifted the wig off the woman’s head. “Bald.”

Sherrie’s brow furrowed. “She’s a little young for that, and she doesn’t look like she has cancer or anything.”

“We should get her test results, but I think I agree with you.” Every slayer had different powers, and one of Monica’s was to sniff out corruption and disease. The bald woman didn’t smell like sick people she’d known -- didn’t smell like her mother, who’d died of breast cancer two years ago. She dropped to the floor. “Anyone found any ID?”

One of the trainees, Alice, held up a wallet in her gloved hand. “No cash. Just credit cards and her license.”

Monica walked over and let Alice open the wallet for her. Seattle driver’s license, 31 years old, name of Laura L. Monroe. “I wonder who she was.”

Alice shrugged and replaced the wallet. The witch made his way to Laura’s body and moved his hands through the air in front of it. “I’ve never seen a spell like this,” he said. “It’s... it’s not even a spell, not really.” Monica saw the disgust on his face. “It’s like she was pinned here by pure hatred.”

“Well, that’s awesome.” She waved Sherrie over and the three of them stepped out of the room to confer. “Suggestions?”

“There’s no evidence of demons, and if it was vampires, the women would’ve been drained.” Sherrie folded her arms. “Could a witch have done it?”

Evan -- the witch -- shrugged. “I guess so, but to kill four people means death is visited upon you twelve-fold. There’s a reason we don’t kill.”

“I can’t imagine a witch wanting that on her head. Or his,” Sherrie added, nodding to Evan. All magic-users who worked with slayers were called witches, even if they were men -- it had been decided some time ago that the word ‘warlock’ just sounded silly. “What do you want us to do, Monica?”

Monica turned away, looking out the window, hands behind her back. “I think we’re going to need a little help here.”

+++++

Hector slid a folder across his desk. “This is everything we know,” he said.

Sarah opened the folder and paged through it -- photos of dead women who looked asleep, a room full of disarrayed and destroyed magical equipment, and reports from Evan, the witch on the scene. “When did this happen?”

“Sometime late last night, Pacific time,” Hector said. “The Seattle team felt it happen and dispatched two slayers to check it out. They found this and called in the troops. I spoke to Monica and Evan, and they’re reasonably certain it’s witch magic.” He sighed. “Our magic.”

Sarah ran her hands through her hair. At the expression on Hector’s face, she felt her cheeks flush. “Sorry.” She had a habit of inadvertently glamouring her hair when she was stressed out; a moment’s concentration turned it back to chestnut-brown from whatever color it had been. “So I’m going, huh.”

Hector nodded. “You’re the best of us at investigations. These witches may not have been ours, but something killed them. Something dangerous.” He touched the phone on his desk and speed-dialed command central. “This is Hector.”

“Renee.”

“Renee, I need a slayer. Guard duty, accompanying Sarah to Seattle for an investigation.”

“Monica confirms,” Renee said. “We’ll handle the tickets. Vi will meet Sarah in front of the admin building in one hour.”

“Thank you.”

Renee didn’t say goodbye. The phone clicked off.

“What is it?” Sarah asked when she saw the pensive look on Hector’s face.

He shook his head slightly. “It’s been a long time since a witch has done something like this. At least, to our knowledge.” That counted for a lot; the International Council of Watchers missed very little on the supernatural front. “Whoever did this is dangerous.”

“I’ll have Vi with me,” Sarah said, “and all the slayers in Seattle. It’s not like I haven’t done this before.”

“I worry.”

Sarah reached across the desk and rested her hand on Hector’s. “Don’t worry so much,” she said. “You’re doing fine.”

Hector smiled, but Sarah saw that it was wistful, not happy. He was nominally in charge of the witches, but only because Willow still hadn’t recovered from Kennedy’s death six months ago. Despite what everyone was saying about how well he was doing, she knew he’d much rather have been out with the slayers, fighting evil, than sitting at a desk, setting assignments and doing paperwork.

He blinked; Sarah guessed he realized he’d been woolgathering. “You’d better get your things,” he said. “Slayers get touchy when we’re late.”

Sarah grinned. “Sure thing.” She patted his hand, then pushed back her chair and picked up the file. “I’ll let you know what we find.”

+++++

“Assigned,” Vi grumbled, jamming clothes into a duffel bag. “Assigned!”

“It happens,” Chris said. “You go on assignments all the time.”

“But now?” She kicked the closet wall -- which, being fortified to handle slayer tempers, didn’t budge -- and yanked a sweater off its hanger. She threw it into the bedroom proper, counting on Chris to catch it. Or not -- she didn’t really care. She pulled down some long-sleeved shirts and tossed them onto the bed, then slammed the closet door. “I should’ve told her no. I mean, this weekend, of all weekends!”

“It’s not that big a deal.” Chris started folding the shirts and she smiled a little at him -- he was so domestic sometimes.

“But it is a big deal!” She plopped down on the bed beside him and leaned her head against his shoulder. He put his arm around her and tucked her head under his chin. “How can I keep an eye on you when I’m not here?”

“Keep an eye on me?” Chris was keeping his voice mild. Vi knew they’d talked about this before, when he’d told her an old med school friend would be passing through on her way to a new job in California. “Do I need keeping an eye on?”

Vi took a deep breath, let it out in a sigh, and pressed her ear to his chest. His heartbeat was reassuring against her cheek. “No, you don’t.” She was just jealous, and she knew it. Chris’s friend Allison was tall, blonde, and very, very pretty, and she’d just signed divorce papers, so she was on the market again. And what did Vi have to offer but a temper that she couldn’t control half the time and enough strength to break the woman in half if she so much as looked at Chris the wrong way--

No. Control. Breathe. Remember what Izzy taught you.

She took a few more deep breaths, then turned her face up to Chris’s. “I’m sorry,” she said. His fingers were in her hair, which she’d grown out again because she liked when he touched it. She felt him wrap a lock around his fingers and pull -- not hard, but hard enough to send little crackles of electricity through her. He kissed her softly, first her lips and then her forehead. “We don’t have time...”

“I know,” he said. “I can wait for you to get back. It should only be a few days, right?”

“Should be.” Renee, who ran the command center when Xander wasn’t there, had said Vi was going as a bodyguard to Sarah Bailey, one of the witches. Vi thought Sarah was all right, and the woman knew her magic, but she’d much rather have spent the weekend with Chris. Especially with what he was doing to her hair... “Stop that,” she murmured.

“You don’t really want me to.”

“No.” She shivered. “I really don’t.” But she was a slayer, and she had to put the mission first, and Chris knew that, damn it! She took his wrist and pressed her thumb to the pressure point between his forearm bones. “But you have to.”

“I know.” He let go, kissed her again, and then stood up. “I’ll fold these. You go get your toothbrush and stuff.”

Vi hugged him, quick and impulsive. “I love you,” she said against his chest -- and why did he have to be so much taller than her? Not that she minded, and even on a bad day she could kick his ass with both hands tied behind her back -- oh, God, that last bit sounds good right about now -- but she always got a crick in her neck when they tried to kiss standing up. “Tell me you love me.”

“I love you. And you never need to order me to tell you that.” He leaned down and kissed her once more, then gave her a gentle shove in the direction of the bathroom, punctuated by a slap to the seat of her jeans. “Now get moving, slayer.”

“Yes, sir!” She snapped off a cheeky salute and sauntered off to the bathroom. The jealousy was still there -- it would always still be there -- but Chris was a good man. He wouldn’t cheat on her -- not with his old friend. Not with anyone.

He knew what she’d do to him if he tried.

+++++

Faith saw Vi standing in front of the admin building, carrying her duffel bag, but she didn’t have time to stop and chat. She was already late for a training session with a bunch of the baby slayers. She knew Vi was having a rough time of it, what with Dr. Frost’s friend coming in town -- she’d only been bitching about it for the past two days -- and now she’d be out of town on some errand.

Faith made a mental note to call Vi later, see how she was doing, and then she was in the training building. She pushed open the door to the main gym and, in the same motion, picked out her target and leapt. The trainee did an admirable job catching her and rolling backward, but Faith wasn’t the Dark Slayer for nothing; she rolled with the kid and tossed her into a clutch of girls, who caught her as Faith sprang up to her feet. “Good job, kid.”

“Thanks, Miss Faith.”

Faith sighed. “Don’t call me that.” She pulled an elastic out of her pocket and tied her hair back, moving to the front of the gym to address the class. “Rule number one?”

The girls chorused it perfectly: “Don’t die.”

“Don’t die,” Faith repeated. Then she stood straight up in the position of respect, clenched her right fist, and rested it against her open left palm. She bowed to the class; they bowed back. “All right,” she said. “Today, we’re gonna...”

Faith noticed the girls looking behind her, instead of at her, and glanced over her shoulder.

Oh. Great.

She motioned to the open door. “Come in if you’re comin’,” she said.

Buffy grinned and practically pranced into the room. “Don’t mind me.” She jumped up onto a pile of unused mats. “Just pretend I’m not here.”

Faith made a raspberry noise. “That’s bull, B, and you know it.” One of the baby slayers made a scandalized noise -- to them, Faith was high on the food chain, but Buffy was... well... Buffy. “They ain’t gonna get anything done with you just sitting there, watchin’ ‘em.” She stepped back and made a come-hither motion. “You might as well run the class y’self.”

Buffy shook her head. “I’m not here to steal your thunder, Faith. I’m just keeping an eye on my girls.”

“Your girls?” Faith felt her eyebrows rise. “I thought they were my girls now.”

Someone in the back tittered. “I heard that,” Buffy said.

“‘Course you did.” Faith folded her arms. “We all did. We’re all slayers here.” She beckoned Buffy over. “C’mon, B,” she said. “If you’re gonna intrude on my class, least you can do is help me out a little.”

“Help you? How?”

Faith grinned. “Well, for starters, the kids are all afraid to hit me.”

“Afraid? Really?” Buffy bounced off the mats and stalked over to Faith. Without telegraphing, she threw a punch, full speed, at Faith’s head; Faith blocked it and, in the same move, grabbed Buffy’s arm and hip-tossed her to the mat. Buffy slapped the mat to take the impact and bridged up, springing to her feet. She did something Faith couldn’t block -- Buffy had a few moves that the Dark Slayer still hadn’t quite figured out yet -- and Faith found herself careening toward the girls.

One of them caught her before she went too far. “Thanks, kid,” Faith said. She turned to Buffy. “You wanna tell ‘em, or should I?”

Buffy’s grin -- she was always so damn smiley when she sparred with Faith -- melted away. “Someone tell me why I was able to do that to Faith.”

Silence.

“C’mon, y’all,” Faith said, moving to stand beside Buffy. “Answer the question.”

A hand went up. “Because she’s The Slayer.”

Faith heard the capital letters. They all sounded that way when they talked about Buffy, and it annoyed the hell out of her. “No, Lorraine,” Faith said. “She’s a slayer. Just like me, just like you. She’s just been doin’ it longer than any of you.”

There was a small hubbub, but Buffy held up her hands. Everyone shut up on cue, which made Faith want to give them a dirty look. But she didn’t. They were young, after all. “Faith’s right,” she said. “But you all have something we didn’t: each other.” Buffy gently bumped against Faith’s shoulder. “This one here, she was a royal pain in the ass, and yeah, the stories are true, she tried to kill me--”

“Woulda got away with it, too, if it hadn’t been for them damn kids...” Faith said under her breath. No one laughed except Buffy -- these trainees seriously hadn’t ever watched Scooby Doo?

Buffy just nodded and walked forward, into the ranks of the trainees. They parted, making way for her. “But now Faith and I are like sisters. Just like all of you are sisters. Even when you don’t like each other, you depend on each other, and you love each other. And if you remember last fall, it was the power of love that stopped a pretty strong demon.”

Faith made a face. Buffy was getting all speechy now, and Faith only had these girls until ten. “Hey, B?”

“Yeah?”

She strode to the center of the room, her senses picking up the trainees closing a loose circle around her and Buffy. “We gonna teach these kids today? Or are you just gonna talk ‘em to death?”

A couple of the girls laughed, but Faith saw more than one scandalized face -- as if she had no right to talk to Buffy that way. “I don’t know, Faith,” Buffy said, and Faith saw her slipping into a ready position. “What can I teach them that you haven’t in the past month?”

Faith grinned. “We can show ‘em how they’re supposed to come at me. None of ‘em are willing to hit me hard enough.”

Buffy’s smile was absolutely predatory. She shrugged off her jacket -- high fashion, Faith was sure, to be wearing that on a spring day -- and handed it to one of the trainees before slipping off her sandals and nudging them to the side. “So what you’re saying is that you want me to hit you?”

“If you can.” Faith stood up straight, brought her hands together, and bowed. Buffy mirrored the motion. Almost as one, they shifted into ready positions -- Buffy had her weight on her back leg, sort of a cat-stance, while Faith leaned forward, her right leg behind her and turned so she rested on the side of her foot. “Regular rules. Three taps or a knockout.” She took a deep breath. “You ready, B?”

Buffy didn’t answer. She just launched herself forward, bouncing on her left foot, and jumping into the air, her other leg windmilling around for a kick.

A full-power, full-speed kick.

This is gonna be awesome.

+++++

When Buffy sparred or trained with Satsu, it was like precision machines, gears and pistons and other widget-y things moving in perfect harmony. Maybe that was because she was sparring with the woman she loved, and despite everything, despite Satsu’s amazing fighting abilities, Buffy just didn’t want to hurt her.

But with Faith, sparring was like art. Only Faith could bring her to the edge like this, push her harder than anyone else at the school would even dream of doing. Sure, some of the original slayers gave it their all, but Faith had been fighting Buffy one hundred percent pretty much since they’d met. They knew each other’s moves, knew each other’s countermoves; Buffy wouldn’t admit it to Faith, but she actually enjoyed forcing herself to learn new fighting styles just to stay ahead of the Dark Slayer.

Buffy caught Faith’s arm and brought her to the ground, a wrestling move she was shamelessly copying from the WWE -- Dawn’s last boyfriend had been a fan. Faith grunted and slammed her fist against the mat, but only once -- anger and frustration, then, and not submission. “You okay down there?” Buffy asked, almost subvocalizing the words.

“Just fine, B.” Faith could hear better than most slayers, but had never gotten the hang of responding in kind. “But couldja maybe switch arms?”

“Why?” She wrenched back on Faith’s wrist and was rewarded with a louder-than-usual moan. “This hand been busy lately?”

Buffy had exactly one second to enjoy the quip -- which she really shouldn’t have made; Faith might not be a walking wound six months after Robin’s death, but that didn’t mean she didn’t still have feelings. She opened her mouth to apologize, but found herself on her back -- Faith had used brute strength to reverse the hold, breaking it and shifting around Buffy’s body, one arm under her chin and the other pinning her arm behind her.

Faith cranked back on Buffy’s neck. That hurt. A lot. But Buffy wasn’t going to tap out -- she’d faced worse pain than this. “Hey, Faith,” she forced out, teeth gritted.

“Yeah, B?”

“Sorry about what I said.”

“‘S okay. Y’didn’t mean it.”

Buffy wanted to smile, but her jaw wouldn’t move that way in this position. Still, it was nice that Faith was accepting her apology instead of losing her cool and going wild with the punching.

“You give, B?”

Buffy ground her teeth hard. “Hell no!”

Faith, rather predictably, loosened the hold just slightly, just long enough of a break for Buffy to exploit. It was one of Faith’s moves, something she always did.

Buffy exploited it, exerting all her strength to free her trapped arm, and then spun out from under Faith. They got to their feet, but Faith was an instant too slow, and Buffy snap-kicked her in the chin. She heard Faith’s teeth clack together just before the impact knocked Faith flat on her back.

But she wasn’t buying it. Faith had played possum before. Buffy moved quickly, pinning Faith’s arms under her knees and drawing back her right hand for a palm-strike to Faith’s nose.

Tap. Tap.

A pause. Almost too long.

Tap.

Instantly Buffy stood up and held out both hands; Faith took her by the wrists and let Buffy pull her to her feet. Around them, the trainees applauded. Buffy found her shoes and slipped back into them, then draped her jacket over her arm.

“And that, kids, is how you fight me.” Faith’s voice was thick, and Buffy hoped she hadn’t bitten her tongue. “I can’t teach you if you ain’t gonna give me everything you got.”

Buffy nodded. “She’s right. And if she catches you holding back again, trust me, she won’t hold back against you.”

Lorraine raised her hand.

“What’s up?” Faith asked, moving her jaw with both hands.

“What would’ve happened if you hadn’t submitted?”

Buffy grinned, and it was the very special grin that had made Big Bads quake in their boots for more than a decade. “Tell me my next move.”

“No mercy,” said one of the other trainees -- Buffy was pretty sure her name was Mary or Merrie or something. “You get an opponent down, opponent doesn’t submit, you keep fighting. But...”

Buffy folded her arms. “Say it,” she said. “Tell me my next move.”

Mary or Merrie drew back her hand and made a palm-strike, straight down, and even gave the little grunt of effort at the end that all Buffy’s martial arts teachers said was the right thing to do.

“‘S right,” Faith said. She cracked her jaw one last time, then moved to stand beside Buffy. “She woulda hit me, and there’s some things even a slayer can’t heal.” Faith grabbed the bottom of her shirt and pulled it up, revealing the scar on her stomach. Her voice softened. “You all know why I have this. It’s ‘cause I didn’t stop, and Buffy had to do what she had to do. She did the right thing.” Faith lowered her shirt and put her arm around Buffy’s shoulder. “And she’d do it again, if she needed to, right?”

“Damn right.” The trainees all looked horrified. Buffy was somewhat gratified to see that they weren’t sanguine about taking life. Not yet, anyway. Let them have their youth a little longer. “I wouldn’t be happy about it, but if killing Faith was the right thing to do, I’d do it.” She took a long, slow walk around the circle, ending in front of Mary. Or Merrie. Whatever. “And I expect you to do the same.” Her face went serious. “Here endeth the lesson.”

Without another word, Buffy left the training room.

+++++

Satsu drove the car -- a little green Honda -- because she knew Buffy hated to drive. Buffy had apologized for being late, and had explained why, and had kissed Satsu very thoroughly to make it up to her -- and to taste her lip gloss. Which they were on the way to get more of, because she was running out, and Buffy simply had to have her cinnamon kisses.

But Buffy was also uncharacteristically quiet. “Is everything all right?” Satsu asked. The car was small enough that she could touch Buffy without having to reach awkwardly. She took Buffy’s smaller hand in hers and stroked her wrist. “What’s on your mind? Is it the trainees?”

Buffy shook her head. “It’s fine. It wasn’t the fight, or the lesson.” Satsu knew Buffy hated thinking about the day she’d stabbed Faith with her own knife, but it was something all the trainees needed to learn. “And I know Faith is okay with it.”

Satsu nodded, still playing her fingertips over the soft skin of Buffy’s wrist. “Then what is it?”

Buffy wouldn’t look at Satsu, but after so many months together, Satsu knew how to tell what her lover was feeling. Still, she wouldn’t force Buffy to speak.

She didn’t have to.

“It’s Willow.”

Satsu drove on, waiting for Buffy. She’d waited for a year and a half; she could wait for this.

“I had breakfast with Dawn today,” Buffy said. “Will’s not doing better. Not really. Dawn thinks she’s hit a grief plateau, whatever that means.” Dawn, Buffy’s younger sister, had been caring for Willow since Kennedy had died. Satsu still felt a pang thinking about her friend; despite Kennedy’s honorable death, fighting evil, doing what she loved, she would never really stop missing the late slayer.

“People cope with loss in different ways,” Satsu said.

“Yeah, I know, but shouldn’t Willow be healing just a little bit?” Buffy squeezed Satsu’s hand.

“Perhaps.” Satsu didn’t really know what to say. “Perhaps she just needs more time.”

That didn’t make Buffy feel any better -- Satsu could tell -- but it was all she had to offer.

+++++

Allison did one final walk-through of her apartment. She’d moved out after the separation, rented a little one-bedroom in New York, where she’d been working in the city’s many emergency rooms as a floater. But now she had a new place to go.

Los Angeles.

Well, okay, Santa Monica. But close enough.

The call had come pretty much out of the blue; she’d put her resume up on a few sites, but hadn’t expected any bites. She was an immunologist and a diagnostician, and she had some practical experience, but what had she been looking for? Not what Dr. Addison Montgomery had offered: a position at a private practice, the opportunity to buy a share after two years on the team, and, as Addison had put it in the interview, “all the personal drama you can handle.” She’d flown out to California to meet the team, and they seemed nice -- but, more importantly, none of them were anything like House. None of them would sacrifice a patient’s well-being just to solve a mystery.

The apartment was empty. Allison set the keys on the counter, signed the walk-out paperwork, and extended the handle of her rolling suitcase. All the rest of her things were already in California, in storage, waiting for her to arrive. It was just her clothes, a few medical things, and her computer.

Allison locked the doorknob from the inside and closed the door behind her, then started toward the elevator. With her free hand, she texted Chris. Leaving NY for good. See you tonight.

Allison had an eight-hour drive ahead of her. Best to get a move on if she wanted to get to Cleveland by dinnertime.

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Your feedback is, of course, very welcome.

NEXT TIME: Allison and Sarah both arrive at their destinations, and Dawn and Xander talk about bad days.
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