Honey, I'm Home
AN: Trick or Treat update next, I swear. Feedback on this one would be nice though.
Also, I'm a hell of a lot weaker on Anita Blake than Stargate so, umm, when I make
mistakes, you really can point them out and laugh. I have no beta to do it for me.
********************* Life of the Party: Chapter One *********************
Home was a derelict two-bedroom apartment on the edge of the Blood District. Her place
actually wasn’t too bad, and thanks to the proximity of lots of semi-tame nasties, the
rent was dirt cheap- her favorite kind. It always amused Buffy to no end to think about
how much tourists were willing to pay to get into a Vampire Club like Guilty Pleasures,
but man, offer them Vampire neighbors and every visor wearing tourist, plus a lot of
locals, went screaming into the suburban hills.
Loss of blood was making her a bit woozy but she wasn’t particularly worried. The Blood
District had nothing on one of the cemeteries in good ol’ Sunny D for danger factor,
especially since the majority of the Vamps and Weres were people-broken.
And Buffy got to discipline the ones who failed obedience school.
She blinked at the garishly fluorescent lights of the apartment lobby and staggered
unsteadily up the stairs, gasping in pain when she stumbled and jammed her injured arm
into the banister. Stupid advanced age. Stupid slower reflexes. Stupid blindfolds.
Stupid missing hunk of arm.
Charlene had waited up again, because she nearly yanked the door off its hinges when
Buffy limped down the small hallway that held their apartment at the end. Her roommate’s
eyes grew round as saucers as she took in Buffy’s bedraggled appearance but merely
disappeared into the apartment to gather the first aid kit, leaving Buffy to stagger in.
Buffy had never done well living with others, especially with people who weren’t in on
the Slayer gig, but Charlene was a good kid. At nineteen, she was over a decade Buffy’s
junior, but she wasn’t all sunshine and naiveté. Charlene worked odd jobs at the Circus
of the Damned and sometimes took parts in “shows” at Guilty Pleasures when something
happened to one of the regulars.
Like if they had gotten eaten accidentally the night before.
You couldn’t have paid Buffy enough to strut her stuff in front of the gawkers, the
bloodsuckers, and the furry inclined. The wiggins factor was too high to contemplate,
but Charlene handled it all in stride, and with a smile on her face that tended to make
everyone else smile too.
She reminded Buffy painfully of Dawn in so many ways. Of course, Dawn didn’t have her
vagina pierced or have irregular, though reportedly amazing, sex with Vampires though.
At least she hadn’t at Buffy’s last death, and if Xander had relaxed his Big Brother
stance AFTER she had made this little dimensional transfer, well, when Buffy finally
kicked the bucket HERE, she was definitely going to kick his ass.
All in all though, Charlene was great. She didn’t ask awkward questions (though the poor
girl had to assume Buffy had a particularly nasty S&M fetish), knew her way around a
first aid kit, and even if her pay was erratic at times, Buffy didn’t have to worry
about her stealing the candlesticks or china.
Not that she had candlesticks or china, but, if she did, well, Charlene wasn’t the kind
to have sticky fingers.
Charlene appeared from the back, tattered first aid kit in hand. She put the kit on the
kitchen counter and went to close and double bolt the front door as Buffy straddled a
barstool gingerly. Not that they really had to worry about nasties of the human or
non-human variety breaking in. The first time they’d been robbed Buffy had beaten the
guy black and blue and shared a bottle of rum with him until they’d become fast friends.
Daniel was still a good buddy to have in a tight spot.
“So,” Buffy drawled as Charlene shook her head over Buffy’s wound and silently bandaged
it up, “how was your night?”
The younger girl smiled softly, lips warm with the movement. “Good, I got called to be
a backup dancer at Guilty Pleasures. One of the weres had a prior commitment.” In other
words, coffin bait, but whatever. “I made rent for the month in about four hours.” Buffy
perked up considerably.
“Well, now that’s great news.”
Charlene laughed. “Yeah, I thought you’d like that.” She started to continue but Buffy’s
fatigue caught up with her and she yawned hugely. “You should go get some rest.”
Buffy scowled. She wasn’t THAT old. Charlene, adept at reading her scowls after nearly
a year of rooming with her, merely laughed. “You have work in five hours, if you want
to make rent for the month.” She tore off the end of the bandage on Buffy’s arm and
packed up the kit.
Buffy scowled again, just to make a point.
“In my day and age we at least pretended to be respectful to our elders…”
“Loss of blood really makes you whiney. Did you know that?” Buffy… “Don’t scowl.”
She smiled, teeth bared, before laughing and stumbling off to bed.
Stupid rent. Stupid need to work. She cradled her injured arm to her side as she
practiced scowling down the street. The street which was conspicuously empty of the
city bus that was already ten minutes late. She had gotten a slow start anyway, and
now that she’d made it to the bus stop on time, the city transport system was plotting
to screw her over. Plus, thanks to her nifty Slayer metabolism, the extra strength
aspirin she had popped before breakfast were already wearing off.
Funny which Slayer perks did and didn’t work out here. She still had the speed, the
stamina, and the strength, but certain things definitely didn’t transfer dimension to
dimension. She couldn’t make googly eyes here for one thing without going all entranced
and sex slavish, and while speedy healing still worked for everyday bumps and bruises,
any kind of supernatural wound, like giant hunks of flesh torn off from an itty baby
Vampire, healed EXTRA slow and hurt like a royal bitch in the meantime. Funny how much
she’d gotten to prefer getting things broken to ripped off. Broken bones healed in a
fraction of the time clawed legs did.
She had time to glance down at her watch, a frog shaped monstrosity she had bought on a
Willow inspired whim, and curse the time, before the city bus clattered around the corner
and to her stop. At nine in the morning, the bus was full of its usual dregs of humanity,
though Buffy’s spidey sense was quiet. As in Sunnydale, the creepies and crawlies pretty
much preferred the shadows, legal or no. At least some things didn’t change.
She fell asleep and almost missed her stop, but managed to wake up and scramble out to
face a brand new day in Buffy’s Life of Redemption For Saving the World. If the Powers
were making her work so hard just because she kicked major ass, she hated to think of the
heaps of atonement they’d work out of Angel, Wills, and Spike. Of course, soul or no,
Spike wasn’t one for regret. Or atonement.
It had been kinda refreshing to have someone around who didn’t fight the good fight out
of a sense of obligation or guilt. Not that the whole, “I did it for love” thing hadn’t
been a touch wiggy of course, but in retrospect, some things could be excused. Poets
always were. And Spike, Spike was such a poet.
Inspired by your beauty effulgent…
She shook off the remains of her sudden melancholy as she swung open the doors to Dead
Dave’s Dive, ahem, bar, and greeted the day-staff with a jaunty salute with her
uninjured arm. The bartender/cook, and waitress, both regarded her warily, mostly
because Buffy didn’t have the reputation of being the most stable person. Mostly
because she was a good human girl working in the Vamp District at a supernaturally
friendly, as in “hi, welcome to Cheers” sort of place. Aside Dave’s trend of catering
to fuzzballs and fangboys and all their assorted entourage, it was a great place though.
Dave, despite being deceased, was a really decent boss. It was rare to find an employer
who didn’t mind if Buffy broke some bones every time someone tried to get fresh, she’d
been fired from every Denny’s near her apartment for much of the same, and in general,
the bar was an easygoing place. The supernatural community in this little hell of a
universe played more politics than Buffy had ever forgotten from four years of highschool
history, and a lot of shit went down at Dave’s, but the actual bloodletting and general
mayhem took place elsewhere. Buffy did the books and inventory during the day a couple
times a week, and took an early evening waitressing shift that took her until midnight,
when she went out to hunt for baddies.
If she didn’t work here, she’d totally come here to drink. It beat old Willie’s hands
down, though that wasn’t difficult criteria to top, even for a demon bar.
Things, understandably, were quiet during the day, with only a few regulars stopping by
for an early, or extremely late drink, a meeting during a workday break, or, sometimes,
some of Jerry’s kick ass onion rings. He lacked Dave’s personableness, which was really
saying something about Jerry’s social skills, but their day cook/ bartender made some mean
The office was, quite frank;y, a mess. It was officially Dave’s, but he wasn’t in it
much, and Buffy wasn’t exactly the neatest worker. Thanks to almost two decades of
scraping by while balancing the finances for first her family, then the Council as Head
Slayer, had given her a bit of a head for numbers, though the numbers were always a lot
friendlier to Dave than they had ever been to her and hers.
She threw her backpack down in the visitor’s chair as she took the chair behind the desk.
The bag held her waitressing outfit, basically jeans and a sparkly top, some makeup for a
quick touchup, and a small arsenal of pain medication and fresh bandages. Dave, nosily
friendly boss that he was, got cranky when Buffy showed up with bits and pieces missing.
He half believed that she was in an abusive relationship, or a cult, considering the
number of times she showed up to work broken, bleeding, and newly bandaged. Hopefully a
long-sleeved shirt and fresh bandages would put said boss off the scent, literally.
Stupid Vampire noses.
Buffy reached for the paper that Lynne, the day-waitress, left every morning before Buffy
got in. She was the first to admit she’d never been tops with the research, let alone
the reading, parts of life, but she knew the value of knowing your enemy, and this
universe was definitely The Enemy. Besides, the funny thing about almost parallel
universes was that sometimes, just sometimes, there were people in the newspaper that
Not people she’d ever get to talk to, or reminiscence about some so and so demon they
butchered together in good ol’ Sunny D, or Cleveland, or god, any of the places she and
her merry band had ended up over the years. She’d learned her alternate reality, or
whatever, lesson. She was grateful for the shrimp, and the few glimpses she got of
familiar faces. The Cordelia of this reality was the star of one of the worst Soap
Operas running on television today for instance. Whenever she was feeling particularly
homesick she taped The Vamped and the Restless. The fangs on the costumes were totally
cheesy, but man, sometimes it was even good to see the Queen of Bitchiness, in all her
glory, even if she WAS a good ten years younger than Buffy currently was. Besides, it
was funny to read about all the controversy it caused in the papers. Vamps were legal,
but not necessarily well liked.
Buffy got that.
She usually skimmed right through to the obituaries, the morbid part that had helped her
survive almost three decades as a Slayer who shouldn’t have lived out her first year,
urged her to them. To read the names of the people she knew in another life, and those
she’d never known in either. She’d go back then, and skim for articles about the
supernatural. See what all the creepy crawlies were doing.
Normally, though, Angelus wasn’t on the front page.
“Shit!” The obscenity exploded from her lips as she clutched the paper tightly, eyes
wide. The ache in her arm was a distant concern as she scanned the rather lengthy
article. “Oh shit,” she breathed, even as she felt lightheaded from lack of oxygen.
Distantly she knew she was hyperventilating, distantly she was processing the story.
Angelus. Unexpected coup. New Master of Los Angeles. Uniting the packs of LA. Plans
for a glorious future. Brining Vampires into the public eye.
Smiling with eyes like sin.
Telling the lies he had told universes away, different words with the same meaning.
Buffy shuddered. As always Angelus remained Angel in her heart, maimed and twisted, her
first love once its heart had been torn out, beating, and bleeding, bleating to its
Shakespearic doom. Funny how here, with a supposed soul, she knew him to be Angelus,
and not Angel.
Knew with a clarity that had taken a year to form, why the Powers had been to keen to
see her hang around. Help out. Because if things had gotten fucked up enough to leave
Broody and Apocalyptic as a Big Bad again, then things were really about to go to pot
here in this messed up version of home. And who better to send for a front row seat
then someone who had been there before. Seen it all before. Caused it all before.
Apparently Buffy still had some repenting to do. “The bastards.” She said the words,
but it was hard to believe them. She’d well and truly dug her own cesspit this time.
Fate and destiny had nothing on this one. The Powers WERE bastards, and it was all her
fault for taking the shiny bait.
Because there was a purpose here, now, where before, before she had just been Slayer
girl, out on her own like it had been so long before, when it was just her and Merrick
bumbling along the best they could. Before Hellmouths and baby Slayers and really
complicated relationships with Vampires. Now she knew why she had been sent here.
Angelus, no matter his incarnation, always had one thing on his mind.
And Buffy, with self depreciating egoism, knew she was the only one around here who knew
him well enough to stop it. Mostly because she was the only one stupid enough to have
prodded puppy Angel with a sexy stick to find out all about his darker side and have
lived to tell about it.
She really needed a drink.