Snap, Crackle & Pop
Buffy woke up, bleary eyed in the late afternoon, having slept solidly for the first time in the weeks since she’d left Sunnydale. Dragging herself out of bed, she stripped off her clothes from the night before and looked disgustedly at her hands, still covered with the blood of the vampire from their fight.
At a closer inspection of the pile of clothes, she saw they too were marred by splashes of blood which had become ingrained with the vampire dust that clung to the fabric. Had she soaked them the previous night, they might have been salvageable, but after a night to set in, nothing was going to get those stains out of her clothes. She really couldn’t afford this right now, with no work and her funds quickly diminishing.
She made her way into the shower and gratefully stepped under the spray despite the slightly murky water, vigorously washing off all the reminders of the previous night. After she was thoroughly cleaned, she found a new outfit and binned the destroyed garments.
Buffy calmed slightly as the apartment seemed to shift back into the human world, no longer a part of its demon underbelly. Next time she saw Whistler, she promised herself, she’d rip out his vocal chords. Let him try to give cryptic messages then.
Having decided on reflection that there was no point going job hunting so late in the day, but not wanting to stay in the box-like rooms of her apartment, Buffy elected to go to the park. As she made her way down the main street, she was distracted by occasional ‘pops’ and ‘cracks’ coming from side streets as she approached them. The sounds seemed to be following her path, but when she looked down the roads there was never anyone suspicious. Well, nothing more suspicious than the normal inhabitants of her neighbourhood. It was either Whistler following her or her mind playing tricks Buffy decided, either way, she opted to ignore the sounds and enjoy her day.
When she entered the wide open space of the park, the sounds stopped; her tracker seemingly deterred by the risk of discovery without any shady corners to hide in. Buffy lay back on the soft grass in the sunlight; enjoying the feeling of the warm sunbeams on her skin as she watched the city dwellers hurry past.
~ ~ ~
Hours later with the slim moon hanging over her head, the sole occupant of the park lay in a peaceful slumber, undisturbed even by the light drizzle that had begun to fall. From the shadows of the trees surrounding the park, faint ‘pops’ could be heard followed by the rustle of grass as shrouded figures moved in around the girl. They stopped with a start as she started writhing in her sleep, worried that she had heard their approach, then moved ever closer as they realised they were still undiscovered.
“Are you sure?” one queried, glancing at one of his associates.
“She’s definitely the one.” Another reassured his partner, then turned and muttered under his breath. A faint blue glow could be seen from behind, and then he turned back to his companions. “It’s ready.” He stated.
Carefully lifting Buffy’s hand, he held it in his and motioned for the others. They also held out their hands, so that all five occupants of the park were clasping hands over Buffy’s unconscious form.
The one gripping Buffy’s hand, apparently the leader, looked at a watch on his other wrist and started a whispered count down. “Five… four… three…”
Buffy suddenly shot up “Angel!” she whispered hopelessly into the night, still caught in the nightmare, reliving the moment in which she had lost him forever.
She noticed the dark figures surrounding her a second too late to pull away and, with a jerk in her stomach the whole group disappeared, leaving the dry and flattened grass where she had slept the only indication that there had been anyone there moments before. Within a minute, even this had gone as the drizzle grew to a heavy rain, soaking the grass.