Disclaimer: I do not own any of the characters, worlds, or other intellectual property used in this story, including Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Firefly, and the song “27 Jennifers” by Mike Doughty. No harm is intended toward any of the copyright owners. This story is intended for entertainment purposes only.+++++ON 53 SLAYERS ALL LEGALLY NAMED JENNIFER
by Listener+++++Continuity notes: The following story takes place in July 2010. Lisa and Lucy first appeared in "On Lily the Witch".
This story has not been beta'd. Any mistakes are mine and mine alone. It is complete, and is approximately 3700 words.+++++
Eight years ago, it had been Warren and Jonathan who’d been the hackers. Andrew had been more into practical applications, especially vis a vis demonology. Still, it hadn’t been hard to pick up a few pointers from them, and over the years from Willow and the others as well.Besides, it’s not really hacking if you have permission to be in the system.
Andrew allowed himself to lean back in his chair, steeple his fingers, and share with his empty office what he thought was an evil laugh.
Which he cut off quickly when Buffy poked her head through the open doorway. “I don’t think you’re ever going to pull it off.”
He tilted forward quickly and put his hands on the keyboard, as if he was pretending to do work. “Pull off? P-pull what off?”
“Oh, you know,” she said, strolling into the room and plopping into one of his guest chairs, “‘ours is an evil laugh,’ that sort of thing.”
Andrew smiled at his slayer. “Hope springs eternal.”
“I guess.” She flashed a grin at him and put her feet up on his desk. He’d given up asking her not to do that. “So, why do I hear your heart pounding so fast? Can’t just be because of my radiant presence, can it?”
“Oh, Slayer Prime, your radiant presence is always worth a pitter-pat or two.”
Buffy dipped her head and pretended to smile coquettishly. “La, sir,” she said, batting her eyelashes, “you always know just the right thing to say.” But then the flirting tone went away. “Now -- what’s going on that’s got you so spooked?”
“N-nothing!” At Buffy’s expression, he knew his face had given him away. He could never lie to her, not convincingly, not after all this time working together. And, anyway, she’d probably think it was funny. So... “Well, not ‘nothing’, per se. But nothing bad. I promise.” Then, before she could ask him what he meant, he beckoned her over.
Buffy came around Andrew’s desk and leaned over the back of his chair, resting her hand on his shoulder. Though she was completely and utterly taken, and though he didn’t have feelings for her in that way anyway, it still felt nice when she touched him. “What am I looking at?”
Andrew brought up the manifest for this month’s trip to the Sunnydale crater.
“Are those typos?”
He shook his head. “Statistically speaking, with as many slayers as there are in the world, I’m not surprised so many of them share the same first name. I mean, it’s amazing that we only have two Dawns, and only one is a slayer, while the other is your sister.”
“I guess so.” Buffy suddenly laughed. “Oh, boy. She is going to kill
“Fortunately,” he said, smiling up at her, “I have you to protect me.”
Then he leaned back again in his ‘evil’ pose and pulled such a face that Buffy nearly passed out from laughter. But that was okay, because he was doing it for that precise purpose.
There was, after all, many reasons why Buffy and Andrew made such a good Slayer/Watcher team. The fact that he knew how to make her laugh was but one of them.
“They all have the same name.” Faith laughed bitterly. “Oh, I am going to make Andrew pay
Lisa Ljungberg, a senior intern slayer from Sweden, shared a look with Lucy Lewis, also a senior intern slayer, though by way of Cape Cod, not Kramfors. The look was a silent communication -- really more of a paper/rock/scissors debate -- as to who was going to bite the bullet on this one.
Lucy lost, and it was her who took out her earbuds to talk to Faith. Lisa, meanwhile, just turned up the volume and did her best to tune out the Dean’s ranting.
It wasn’t easy.
Lisa and Lucy were eighteen now, and had been roommates and friends for four years. This was part of their internship: going with a group of younger students to the Sunnydale Crater -- fifty-three, to be precise. Along with them had come another senior intern -- a future watcher named Crystal -- as well as Crystal’s mentor, Michelle, and of course Faith, the school’s Dean of Students.
Lisa remembered her own trip to Sunnydale, three years earlier. At that time it had been Buffy who’d been in charge, and Lisa and Lucy had been sitting in the back with the other students, not really understanding why they had to do this at all. Sure, the plane ride had been fun, what with all their sister-slayers and witch-and-watcher friends along for the trip, and the time spent in Los Angeles had certainly been enjoyable. But seeing Buffy stand at the edge of the giant hole where her home had once been, Giles at her side with his hand on her shoulder, Lisa had finally understood what Buffy and the other instructors had meant by sacrifice.
Even three days of sightseeing and three nights of truth-or-dare and teenage craziness at the Hyperion Hotel couldn’t change how Lisa felt after that. It had been the moment
, as Sonya -- their instructor in anti-vampire combat -- had called it: the exact point when Lisa had realized she truly was a slayer. For some it came in combat; for others when they were first chosen. But for Lisa, it was standing with her sister-slayers, holding Lucy’s hand, watching Buffy turn to them with tears in her eyes, unable to speak.
“Do you want me to do it?” Giles had asked. Buffy had nodded, and Giles had gone to the “Welcome to Sunnydale” sign that somehow still stood. He gave it a little nudge with his hand, and they all watched it fall.
Then they’d all gotten back on the bus and returned to LA.
Now Lisa was back -- Lisa and Lucy both -- and Lisa wondered how Faith’s instruction would differ.
The bus rolled to a stop about a hundred yards from the crater. Faith stood up and faced the girls. “All right,” she said. “This is it. Sunnydale Crater.” Her voice was harsh, and Lisa watched her force herself to be controlled. “For slayers,” she continued, “this is a holy place. Those of you who believe, you can think of it as a pilgrimage, if you want. But no matter what you think, you treat it with respect. Lots of good people -- slayers and humans both -- were killed down there. Anyone who acts like a dumbass, you’ll answer to me. Got it?”
Assent in the form of nods and murmurs.
“Good.” Faith sighed and ran her hand through her hair. “All right. Schapker, can you put up the shield? Don’t want us getting roasted out there. Drew, go with her.”
Jennifer Schapker, a seventeen-year-old witch, got up from her seat and slipped past Faith, stepping off the bus. She was followed by Jenn Drew, who was sixteen and who Lisa knew had one hell of a crush on Satsu, Buffy’s lover. Lisa watched the two of them set out focus objects in a large, irregular pattern, and then Jenn stepped away as Jennifer knelt in the center and caused a green glow to emanate from the objects. When she was finished, there was enough shade near the edge of the crater -- near the sign that someone had, for some reason, bothered to replace despite the lack of a Sunnydale to welcome people to -- to protect all fifty-eight of them from the sun.
“All right,” Faith said. “There’s cold water in the cargo compartment, and blankets and stuff. Grab a shady spot and get comfortable. And turn your damn phones off -- not vibrate, not silent, but off. If I see or hear anything electronic, it goes in the crater, and you ain’t never getting it back.”
Lisa smiled at Lucy. They both remembered Buffy smashing Amber’s phone to pieces the last time they’d been here. Lisa put her phone in Lucy’s purse -- better not to be tempted; she knew she was a tech-head at heart -- and they joined the students in the shade. Lucy unrolled a thick bamboo mat, then draped a bedsheet over it, and the two of them sat close where Faith was standing, at the center of a half-circle. Lisa supposed that one of the math geniuses would know the exact term for it, but she didn’t.
Jennifer DaSilva, a fifteen-year-old who’d only been a slayer for a few months, leaned over and tapped Lisa’s shoulder. “How long does this last?” she asked. “Will we be back in time for So You Think You Can Dance
“We’ll be done when we’re done,” Lisa said. “And don’t think Faith didn’t hear you just now.”
Jennifer’s face flushed and she retreated to her own blanket. Lucy gently elbowed Lisa and said, subvocally, “don’t tease the baby slayers.”
Lisa grinned. “She deserves it,” she subvocalized back, knowing that Jennifer would have no trouble hearing her. “That show is idiotic.”
“Yeah,” Faith said, poking Lisa’s sneaker with the toe of her boot, “this coming from someone who watches Jersey Shore.
Now it was Lisa’s turn to blush, but she didn’t rise to the bait.
Besides, the students were all assembled now. It was time to begin.
Let me tell you a story, Faith said
. It’s the story of a girl whose life wasn’t too different from some of yours.
I come from Boston, which you know. You also know I had a bad home life. Without getting into too much detail, let me just say that I know what it’s like to be beat down, to be hit and hurt for just existing. I know it sucks.
Then my watcher found me, and saved me from my foster home. She taught me how to fight, how to deal with supernatural bullshit. She told me that I had the potential to be a vampire slayer, to be the one girl in all the world.
Now the thing you gotta remember is, back then it was just one girl. Not thousands of all y’all, but one. Uno. Singular. And it was Buffy.
You all know what happened to her, and then to Kendra, and then... then there was me.
Being a slayer was the best thing that ever happened to me. But it was also one of the worst. Diana, my watcher, hadn’t had time to go all My Fair Lady
on me before Kakistos killed her and sent me running. I came here, to Sunnydale, and Buffy helped me kill him.
But mistakes were made. I wasn’t treated like one of the family. Now, before you start getting all self-righteous and wanting to go after Buffy... don’t. B and me, we’ve come to an understanding. That girl’s my sister, just like you all are sisters. But just like sisters, we had some rough patches growing up.
That year in Sunnydale, I was the bad girl. The Dark Slayer. I was slutty, and I slept around, and I didn’t bother to follow any of the rules Giles or Wesley -- our other watcher -- set down. It wasn’t worth it.
And then I killed a human being.
Faith stood up and walked out into the sun, standing at the edge of the crater. Her arms were wrapped around her chest. No one followed; they all knew instinctively to let her be. They respected her, trusted her with their lives, but they also knew she was prickly.
Even DaSilva didn’t say anything, for which Lisa was glad. She reached over and took Lucy’s hand in hers, and they shared another wordless communication.
After a minute or so, Faith came back, drank some water, and lowered herself back into a lotus position on her blanket to continue her story.
“In the back of my mind,” Faith said, “I knew what I was doing. I knew I was hurting people. But the Mayor of Sunnydale... well, he treated me like a daughter, and I never knew my father. Not really.” Lisa saw a wistful expression on Faith’s face, and she didn’t understand it -- how could someone like Faith be turned to evil?
“I know what you’re thinking,” she said, seeming to look directly at Lisa. “Some of you, anyway. Others of you know exactly what I was feeling, because you’ve been there.” She looked out at them, seeming to meet all of their eyes one pair at a time. “But I was evil. I was bad. And it came down to me and Buffy, mano a mano. And this is the result.”
Faith lifted her shirt up to the level of her breasts and stood again. The scar on her abdomen was still visible, even after all these years; Lisa had seen it before, and she never wanted to get anywhere near the blade that had made it.
When everyone had had a good look, she readjusted her shirt, though she didn’t sit down. Lisa got a nervous-energy vibe off of her, and she couldn’t help but squeeze Lucy’s hand tighter.
This... this was important.
I was in a coma for almost a year, Faith said
, and when I woke up, everything was different. The man who loved me like his own daughter... dead. The vampire with a soul... gone to LA. And then there was me. I did some things I’m not proud of, hurt a lot of people who have somehow managed to forgive me, and then I ran. Ran to Los Angeles of all places, and it was Angel who saved me.
Yeah. Angel. A vampire. Sure, he has a soul, but still... what’s a slayer doing with a vampire?
Turns out Angel knows a lot about redemption. He convinced me that I was worth saving, even after I tortured one of his friends, and I turned myself into the police.
Three years in jail. Three years of shitty food, three years of doing what other people told me, three years of constantly being on my guard so the other women there didn’t attack me. Or worse.
Jail ain’t nothin’ like what you see on television. Trust me.
And I didn’t even finish the job. I broke out because Angel needed me -- because he meant so much to me that I risked my life and my freedom to save him.
Well, I saved him. And then Sunnydale, and you know what happened once I got there. Everyone does.
Faith’s voice had been getting softer -- stronger, but softer -- and now she trailed off. Lisa looked around, saw that Jennie Robbins -- one of the youngest, a fifteen-year-old girl with a huge chip on her shoulder -- had her hand up. “Yeah?”
“Okay, first of all,” Jennie said, “I got nothing but respect for you for everything you just said. But I got to know -- what’s it got to do with us?”
Lisa’s heart clenched -- she thought Faith might make an example of the girl for her snotty tone -- but she didn’t. She just smiled. A moment later Lisa remembered that Faith and Jennie had been working together, one-on-one, for almost a year now. Jennie was one of the slayers that the Dean had taken under her wing, one of the slayers who liked the power more than the purpose.
“Everything,” Faith finally said.
I’m not going to bore you with all the BS we went through between Sunnydale and Cleveland, Faith said
. But you needed to hear it -- needed to hear my story -- so you could truly understand what happened in April. I know it’s been kept quiet -- Buffy, Giles, and me decided it should be, and I don’t want any of you letting this get around.
Last April, Buffy killed me.
Because I told her to.
Lisa didn’t hear a sound from any of the girls. They were utterly silent, utterly rapt.
And so was she.
“In the final battle with the First,” Faith said, her voice quiet but still carrying to all the girls present, “Buffy was hurt -- badly hurt -- by the Turok-Han. She was down, and we didn’t know what was going to happen next. She handed me the scythe and told me to hold the line. And by God I would do what she said, because in that moment I knew -- knew in my heart -- that she trusted me.” Faith’s voice broke, and Lisa watched her swallow hard before continuing. “And that... that was my
Faith’s eyes shone. “Come with me,” she said.
Lisa and the others got up from their blankets and followed Faith to the edge of the crater. Faith stood facing them, her back to what had once been Sunnydale, her heels hanging over thin air.
She spread her arms.
“You all will have a moment,” she said, louder now. “Maybe you already have. But there will come a time when you go from just being a hot chick with superpowers--” and here Lisa joined in the laughter-- “to a woman with a purpose.”
Faith watched the girls for a long, silent moment before she turned to face the ruins. “My name,” she shouted, her voice echoing, “is Faith Lehane!”
Lisa felt tears come to her eyes.
“My name is Faith Lehane, and I am a vampire slayer!”
Lisa felt Lucy release her hand and, through blurred eyes, saw her friend stand beside Faith. “I am Lucy Lewis, and I am a vampire slayer!”
She wasn’t the first.
“I’m Jennifer Tran, and I’m a vampire slayer!”
“My name is Jennifer Gaffigan, and I am a vampire slayer!”
“My name is Jenn Simone, and I’m a vampire slayer!”
Lisa watched as, one by one, twenty-seven Jennifers, sixteen Jenns, and ten Jennies shouted to the world exactly what they were.
Until she was the only one who remained.
Lucy took her hand again. “Come on,” she said, smiling.
Lisa joined Lucy at the edge. “My name is Lisa Ljungberg,” she said, her voice quiet but full of a resolve she hadn’t felt before, “and I have never been prouder to be a vampire slayer.”
At that, Lucy pulled her into a hug.
“I’m fine.” Lisa was already in bed, in her pajamas; Lucy was just toweling off after her shower. “It’s been a long day.”
“It has.” Lucy wrapped the towel around herself, then wound another around her long hair, before sitting on the edge of the bed they were sharing for the trip. “I’m proud too, you know.”
“Yeah.” Lucy smiled. “Proud to be a slayer, and proud to be your friend.”
Lisa smiled back and reached out, pulling Lucy into another hug. “You’re more than just my friend,” she said. “You’re my sister, and I love you.”
“I love you too.” Lucy kissed Lisa’s cheek and then eased away; she went to her bag and pulled out her nightgown. “That’s the lesson, isn’t it.”
It wasn’t a question, but Lisa answered anyway. “We love each other,” she said. “We trust each other, and we’re always there for each other, and no matter how bad a thing we do, we forgive each other.”
“We do.” Lucy tossed her towels on the floor and pulled on her nightgown. “I just hope that Faith can forgive Andrew.”
“Maybe. Or maybe she’ll just get revenge on him.”
“Revenge? Do slayers do that anymore?”
Lucy climbed into the bed and arranged the blankets around herself. “I don’t know. Do we?”
Lisa turned out the light and rolled onto her side. As quietly as possible, she moved her hand to the vicinity of Lucy’s ribs.
“Let’s find out.”
Faith handed the hotel bill to Lisa. One item -- ‘mattress replacement and cleaning’ -- was circled in bright red ink. “I think,” she said, “that a week of bathroom duty for your wing ought to cancel that out.”
Lisa blushed. “Yes, ma’am.”
Then Faith smiled. “Don’t worry. You’ll get her back. It’s what sisters do.”
“I highly doubt Buffy ever tickled you until you peed.”
“Well, no,” Faith admitted. “But trust me: we’ve gotten even with each other plenty of times over the years. You and Lucy -- it’ll be the same way.” She grinned. “You guys even look like us, y’know?”
Lisa pondered that. One of them was blonde, one brunette; one was slender, one was curvy; one obeyed the rules, and one liked to break them. If Lisa was taller than both Faith and Buffy, that didn’t matter so much. “I don’t want to kill Lucy,” she said. “Not even if she asks me to.”
Faith nodded. “I know. And, God willing, it won’t come to that. But someday, you may have no choice. You have to do what’s right, and you have to know that she’d do the same for you.”
Across the lobby, Lucy was joking around with a few of the Jennifers. Lisa felt a smile come to her lips as she watched her friend’s easy, effortless movements. They were as different as they were alike, but Faith was right: they were sisters, and they loved each other.
“Here endeth the lesson,” Faith said. Then she walked toward the lobby doors. “All right, ladies!” she called. “Time to go home!”
Buffy met Faith as she got off the bus. “Good trip?”
“Long trip.” She saw Andrew and gritted her teeth. “I’m going to do something so horrible to him--”
“No, you’re not.”
“C’mon, B, he sent me on a trip with fifty-three girls who all have the same name! Do you know how hard it was to tell who was who?”
“Still. You’re not going to do anything to him.”
Then Faith saw Buffy’s evil little smile.
“Not without my help.”
The dressing-down from Giles, Faith decided later, had been totally worth it. She and Buffy had snuck into Andrew’s room, tied him to his bed, and -- Faith admitted she got the idea from what happened to Lisa -- tickled him until he wet the bed.
From then on out, all Faith had to do was hum the first few bars of “27 Jennifers” whenever Andrew passed by. It never failed to make him run for the men’s room.+++++Author’s Note:
This was supposed to be a humorous story, but clearly it didn’t go that way. At least, not entirely. Somewhere along the line, I needed a reason for there to be 27 Jennifers, 16 Jenns, 10 Jennies, and “her” -- in this case, Lisa, one of my MCs -- and what better reason than to call back to something I mentioned in a previous story -- that everyone visits the Sunnydale Crater.
I hope you didn’t notice the points where the narrative bogged down, or that if you did you didn’t mind it so much. And I hope you liked the glimpse into what the slayers of my “On” series do when they’re young.
If you're wondering what Faith was talking about when she said she told Buffy to kill her, then you haven't read "On Allison/Sarah". Go. Do.
The song: 27 Jennifers
by Mike Doughty. There's an alternate version called "Lisa Ling and Lucy Liu", and that's where Lisa and Lucy get their names from.
Thanks for reading. I appreciate any feedback you may wish to offer via reviews or e-mails. The next story in this series comes on October 25, and in advance of it, you may want to read some of your favorite books from when you were a kid.Listener
Marietta, GA, USA
October 18, 2012