Welcome to Sunnydale, Marie
Catch A Falling Star
Disclaimer: I do not own X-men, Buffy, or anything associated with their respective universes. The story idea is not entirely based upon, but is influenced by a four issue series called Icons: Rogue. My particular interpretation of her character comes from that - but with my own twists. Proofreading is courtesy of Chelle86. Thanks!
Summary: Marie(Rogue) comes to Sunnydale and finds asylum with the Summers family. Takes place in Season Five of Buffy, around Checkpoint, and at the point in Rogue's life where she was a runaway.
Author's note: This story uses Rogue/Marie as the protagonist. However, I cheerily made adjustments to her and her past to fit my story. So if Marie doesn't look 100% familiar, don't be surprised. She'll be the most like the movie Marie or the Evolution Rogue, but I've fleshed out her story a bit.
Feedback: Please! It won't get better without help.
The girl who entered Willy's attracted little attention from the customers, at first. Her pale skin and decidedly Gothic coloring made them think she was yet another vampire out for a night on the town. Only the steady beating of her heart and rhythmic breathing belied that. She was frail looking, all the more so in her bulky clothes - an oversized hooded sweatshirt, baggy jeans, hands hidden in fitted gloves. A ratty backpack was slung over shoulder. Anywhere else, she would have been just another lost kid. In a town like this, she was fresh meat.
Her head was bowed down as she tried to avoid notice. She tried to slip into a dark corner of the room, but all the dark corners were taken. She stood off to the side of the bar, obviously unsure of what to do. Her head peeked up for a moment, as she looked over at the bartender. The girl was worrying her lip and frowning. Her dark, shadowed eyes kept flicking over to the bartender, the customers, then back to the bartender. Finally, she moved to speak with the bartender.
That is, she would have. Before she was able to get his attention, one of the customers made his move.
"You alone?" he grunted, grabbing the upper part of her arm. He was an indeterminate breed of demon, grayish skin covered with various ridges and scales. His nose was overly large, the nostrils flared as he enjoyed the scent of fresh, youthful meat.
The girl looked down at his hand on her. "Let go," she whispered.
The demon grinned, showing teeth to shame a shark. Fear was starting to come off her in waves. The other creatures in the bar smiled as the scent reached them, but otherwise did not respond to the girl and her plight.
The girl tried to pull back from the demon.
"Let go of me."
This was starting to get fun. He tightened his grip with one clawed hand. His other hand transformed ever so slightly, talons extending. He moved to rake it across her face and release the necessary paralyzing venom.
The girl cringed. Her struggles increased.
"Don't TOUCH ME!"
She twisted away just in time to avoid the raking claw.
The bar patrons started to look up from their drinks. This was getting interesting.
"Don't touch me, don't touch me," she chanted. Her panicked movements finally paid off. As she twisted, the demon's grip on her shirt loosened. He tripped backwards and fell on a patron, taking a piece of her shirt with him. The patron's drink was knocked over and spilled on the floor. The blood and scotch combination made a slowly spreading, sticky puddle.
The owner of the spilled drink jumped up, his leather duster swirling about him. His face twisted into a demonic visage.
"You're gonna pay for that, mate?"
The demon snarled at the vampire. The traitor creature dared make demands of him? The potential meal temporarily forgotten, he leaped to his feet, ready to fight.
The girl turned to go, wisely taking this chance to escape. However, one of the bystanders reached out and grabbed her again. If the claw demon survived this battle, he would be angry if he learned his dinner had run off.
The rest of the bystanders began to place bets. No night was really complete without a bar fight and a betting pool on the winner.
The two combatants circled each other. The tension was broken by the vampire abruptly throwing himself at the claw demon. They tussled briefly, snarling and punching. The vampire grinned, exulting in the violence. He pulled himself away from the other demon, taunting, "That's all you got?"
The claw demon snarled again and charged the vampire. The vampire laughed, kicked him in the face, picked the demon off the floor, and snapped his neck. The body fell to the floor with a thump.
The demon holding the girl let go. The intended diner was dead; there was no point in trying to hold on to a struggling girl. She bolted for the door. The rest of the customers didn't care. A runaway like that would become someone's dinner soon enough.
The victorious vampire proceeded to check out his victim's pockets. Hopefully he'd get enough money to buy another drink.
The damn demon had been broke. The vampire stormed off with a snarl. Lost his drink, can't afford another - unlife sucked. At least he got a good spot of violence in. That was fun.
He slammed the bar door behind him and started off for his crypt. Before he took three steps, he noticed the girl who started this whole mess leaning against the wall. Curiosity overcame him and he went over to speak with her.
"What's a little bit like you doin' here?"
The girl looked up. Her eyes were full of suspicion. "What do you care?"
"I don't, really," he admitted as he joined her by the wall. "Just curious. You did get me into a fight, y'know."
She shrugged. "Sorry about that."
"Don't be. I'm always up for a good spot of violence." He paused. "So what were you doing in there?"
"My ride dropped me off here."
"Picked yourself a hell of a ride. Only sort that brings you to a place like Willy's is setting you up for a nasty end."
"I guessed that." The girl flicked her eyes over at him. "Why are you even bothering to ask?"
"Don't know. I'm bored. Know a girl about your age, like her well enough. Seein' as I've saved your life, I've got an interest in you keeping it. Take your pick." The girl just gave another shrug. "I'm Spike, by the way."
"Marie." "You got anywhere to go, Marie?"
Seeing the direction this conversation was taking, Marie began to edge away. Casual talk was one thing. Now her warning alarms were going off.
"If you haven't got a place to go, kid, you won't last the night. Not a young thing like you."
"I'll be fine. I'm tougher than you think."
"You almost died in there. That demon was fixing to have you for a snack."
Marie's eyes narrowed. "I'd have survived."
"Really?" Spike nodded towards the torn shoulder of her shirt. "Picture those claws shredding a bit more." He reached a hand out to her. "The poison and the blood loss would've killed you quick enough."
He was becoming too close to Marie for comfort's sake. She backed away quickly.
"DON'T TOUCH ME!"
Spike held up his hands in surrender. "Not fixing to hurt you, bit. Just offering some help."
"Why should you want to help me?" Marie challenged. "Why should you care?"
"Don't really care. But," he remarked, "I know people who do. You die tonight, they'll blame it on me sure enough." His voice grew bitter. "It's always Spike's fault." Once again his tone changed, becoming friendly. "Listen, I know somewhere you can go. Somewhere safe."
Marie doubted this was a purely altruistic offer. There had to be some catch. She knew he was some kind of night monster (all her months of traveling had taught her of their existence) but he didn't seem intent on putting her on his menu. If he was being honest, she'd have a place to sleep. If not - there were ways of protecting herself. Even if she died inside every time she used them.
Seeing her consent, Spike began to pull her along. Marie yanked herself away. "Never touch me," she hissed. She fumbled in her backpack for something. Pulling out a long, ratty scarf, she wrapped it around the gaping hole in her shirt. Only after the impromptu patch was completed did she start to follow him again. Holes like that had to be covered as soon as possible.
They seemed to cover half the town in pursuit of this promised safe place. Spike finally stopped in front of a house. The street sign said Revello Drive; the mailbox read 1630. Marie felt a little bit better. The house seemed like a standard suburban affair. The front porch light was on, as well as the lights inside.
Out of the corner of her eye, Marie saw Spike straighten. There was something about his body language which reminded her of when Cody would go up and talk to her, before they started dating. That aura of false confidence, especially. She remembered how much courage it had taken to confront Marie, how afraid of rejection she had been. She remembered saying and doing silly things hoping to impress Marie.
What was she doing here? Shouldn't she be home, watching football with her father?
Marie shook herself out of that train of thought. Moments like that were fewer and farther between, but they were still unfortunately happening. At least she had kept quiet this time.
Spike was now walking up to the door. Marie trotted behind him. By now, she was feeling tired from her trip, the fight, and the walk. The possibility of a place to lie down on was welcoming.
Spike rang the bell. Marie wondered why he was being so polite. He struck her as the sort who'd just barge in without regard to social conventions.
A woman opened the door. She had a motherly sort of face and tired eyes. Seeing her guest, she frowned a little.
"Spike, why are you here?"
Spike jerked his head to indicate Marie. "I've got someone who could use a place to stay, Joyce. Found her at Willy's. Just came into town."
As Spike was finishing his explanation, a blonde head peeked out over Joyce's shoulder. Marie guessed her to be in her early twenties, only a few years older than herself. The blonde made a face upon seeing Spike.
"What are YOU doing here, Spike?" the blonde snapped.
Spike nodded to her. "Buffy."
Marie watched them quietly. She got that when-Cody-had-a-crush-on-me deja vu feeling again.
The aforementioned Buffy scowled at him. "Why do you keep showing up here?"
"Not out of any desire to see you," he bit out. "Found a girl at Willy's. She needs a place to stay, away from the nasties. Thought your mum would be willing to put up with her for the night. Anymore questions?"
The "bitch" went unspoken, but it was there in his voice.
"Yeah. Why would you care about keeping some stranger from the 'nasties', Spike?"
"My good deed of the day?"
"You don't do good deeds. You're a vampire."
Spike opened his mouth for a retort, only to be cut off by Joyce.
"Stop it!" The two looked abashed for a moment. Ignoring them, Joyce directed her attention towards Marie. "Why don't you come into the light?"
Marie stepped forward, uncomfortably. "I don't want to be any trouble, ma'am. If you want me to leave, I will."
She shifted awkwardly when she heard Buffy mutter, "Probably just some vamp Spike picked up to get invited in and kill us."
Joyce glared at her daughter, effectively shutting her up. "What's your name?"
"Well, then, Marie, you look like you could use a place to sleep. Why don't you come in?"
Marie entered the house timidly. Buffy continued to radiate hostility; Joyce continued to offer a friendly smile.
"I'm Joyce Summers, Marie. Buffy, why don't you get some blankets from upstairs so we can make up the couch for her? She looks like she's about to collapse from exhaustion."
Buffy left, still sulking. Joyce made a note to talk to her daughter about manners and dealing with company.
"Guess I'll be off then," said Spike. He turned to leave, giving Buffy's retreating form one last glare before stalking off into the night.
With the other two gone, Joyce focused on Marie
The girl was obviously a run away. Her bedraggled clothes, ratty pack, and point of arrival to Sunnydale all indicated that. Joyce felt a pang of sadness, wondering if Marie's mother was sitting up late that night, praying for her daughter. When Buffy had taken off that summer, she had spent every night (and every day) worrying about her fate. Joyce was decidedly grateful Spike had brought Marie by, regardless of why he did it. Sunnydale was not a kind place to its residents. To the lost ones like Marie, it would be brutal.
Why was Marie here? What was she running from? She was certainly far from home - her accent spoke of the South, a soft and graceful drawl. It was probably a miracle she had come this far in one piece. If it could be called that - Marie's eyes were surrounded by dark circles and haunted. Was that why she was running, or did that pain come from what she had seen while running?
"Is it okay if I set my bag down, Mrs. Summers?" Marie asked timidly.
"Yes, go right ahead," Joyce responded. "Do you want a sleep shirt? I'm sure we can find something more comfortable for you. You must be so hot in that sweatshirt."
Marie pulled her sweatshirt in tight. Give up her protective layers of cloth? "I'm fine. Thank you, ma'am."
A few awkward moments later, Buffy came downstairs with blankets, as requested. She was still giving Marie the evil eye.
"Mom, I don't like you inviting strangers in here."
"Well, I don't. We don't know anything about her."
Joyce grabbed the blankets from her daughter and walked over to the couch. "I know that when you took your jaunt off to L.A. I would have jumped for joy if I knew some nice person would be giving you a helping hand. Marie, pay her no mind. You're perfectly welcome to stay here."
Marie was glad Mrs. Summers was being nice about this. Too rarely in her travel did she meet such genuinely kind people. Usually there was some hidden trick, like Spike's eagerness to help her. Marie was sure he had some hidden agenda there, maybe something to do with Buffy. But why he had then proceeded to fight her was beyond her.
"Let me help you with that, Mrs. Summers."
"No, I've got it." Joyce made a few corrections to her impromptu bed on the couch. "This should do for the night. Don't be surprised if my other daughter, Dawn, wakes you up tomorrow morning; she has school."
Having finished the bed, Joyce turned to Marie. "Have a good night's sleep." Her hand moved forward to deliver a gentle, motherly caress. She couldn't help but feel a twinge of concern when Marie flinched away. There were scars there, to be certain. She hoped Marie would stay long enough for a chance to heal them.
After Joyce had gone upstairs to bed, Marie finally lay down and tried to sleep. It felt so strange, being in a place like this. The home was warm feeling and cared for. Lying here in the dark, she could feel the love that permeated the home of a happy family. She pretended for a second she was back home, in a time when things were good. That illusion was quickly shattered when Buffy walked into the room.
"You may be just a runaway looking for a place to stay," Buffy said calmly. "And if you are, you're welcome to it. But if you aren't - you hurt my mother, you hurt my sister, I will make you pay. Do you understand?"
Marie nodded silently.
With that, Buffy turned and left the room.
Marie burrowed back into the sheets. As long as she kept all her shields up, nothing would go wrong. She just had to keep her distance until she could leave Sunnydale. Otherwise, she would hurt people. She always did when she let them come too close.