Disclaimer: None of these characters belong to me. Deal with it. I have. All of the really good characters belong to Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, etc., I'm just borrowing them for a while to show him how things could have gone after season 3. All of the songs and lyrics belong to their respective owners. I'm just using excerpts to flesh out my story. There is no intent to profit from this. Only the story is mine, and even that is negotiable.
Category: Action-adventure. Completely AU after Graduation 2. Primarily B/X, C/X, W/X, W/O and some other relationships.
Time frame: Season 7 in a completely AU Buffy-verse.
Character Bashing: None. Some people may think that Buffy, Willow and Cordelia are not shown in the most favorable light, but that is because of decisions made and actions taken in the previous story, "Best Served Cold." This story describes what happens next.
Spoilers: Some for AtS 1-4, but absolutely none for BtVS after season 3, because this takes place in a completely alternate universe from the one you guys know.
Author's Notes: This story is a sequel to Starway Man's story, "Best Served Cold." If you haven't read it, I strongly suggest you check it out before reading this. It's listed with my stories. The author has okayed my posting his story here and my writing this sequel, and has also provided significant input to the plot. This story takes place at what would be the end of season seven for Buffy and season four for Angel.
Best Served Cold 2 - Second Helpings
"Vengeance helps no one." – Flora MacDonald, Scotland 1746
Caritas Karaoke Bar
South Los Angeles, CA
July 6, 2003 9:45 pm
"Wow! This place is really cool!" Michelle Byers, the most current incarnation to bear the title of Vampire Slayer, looked around the demon lounge, clearly fascinated by the various demonic species she could see seated at the tables scattered around the club's interior. "How come you never brought me here before, Xan? "
"Maybe 'cause he's never been here before, and didn't even know this place existed, before yesterday?" Gunn smiled at the young blonde's enthusiasm as he pulled back a chair for her. He absently noted that the several blue streaks through her hair matched almost exactly the spaghetti-strapped top the Chosen One was wearing.
"Oh sure, you're gonna use that as an excuse, huh?" the teenager grinned back at the former gang-leader-turned-demon fighter/supernatural investigator as she slipped into her seat.
"Well, you said you wanted to see someplace new and unusual that you've never seen before," Angel said softly, as he took a seat facing the stage, "and this is definitely one of the more unusual, and safe, places in the city. I don't know of any other place where you can find out about your destiny just by singing…"
As he finished his little speech, Michelle looked at the vamp with a sideways glance. The maroon pullover the undead detective wore provided enough of a contrast with the black leather trenchcoat and slacks he wore, that Angel no longer looked like a spokesperson for the Amalgamated Morticians Association of America.
"Hey, who said anything about safe, D. B.?" the Slayer asked the leader of her group of unofficial chaperones.
// Man, this definitely has to be a contender for the championship of the 'Extremely Unlikely Team-ups' Contest, at least from the Council's point of view, // she thought to herself as she fondly gazed at the smiling face opposite her.
// I mean, who would have expected a 250 year old Master vampire to be providing backup to a Vampire Slayer? Well, actually, maybe it should be *another* Slayer, since he did actually work with That Bitch a couple years back, // she reflected, before dismissing the entire matter as currently unimportant.
"Actually, I did," came the reply from behind her, just as she expected.
The speaker was currently dressed in a deep forest green shirt and black Dockers, a hip length black leather jacket casually draped over one shoulder. "You take enough chances as it is, Michele. A relaxing and stress-free night is something you should learn to appreciate here."
"Hey, the last suggestion I had for a stress-relieving way to spend the night? It made you start choking on that juice you were drinking, you know. Right before you turned a really impressive shade of red," the Slayer commented casually, as she turned her head to face her Watcher, hoping to see a repeat of the actions she had just described.
Unfortunately, her hopes were fruitless, as the dark-haired young man just stood to one side, grinning at her. A superior smile was on his face, as Michelle realized he had anticipated her words.
"You only get one opportunity to score on the Xan-Man, young lady," he told her, deliberately dropping into a pompous British accent as the human incarnation of the Key hooked his thumbs in his belt and looked down at her with pseudo-disdain.
"And most people do not even get that. Consider yourself one of the fortunate few, child, who have *ever* managed to score one on the Master," he looked down his nose at her in a haughty, mock-patronizing way, one he knew would cause her to break out in laughter.
A moment later, he was rewarded with an outburst of giggles.
"And what exactly did you suggest, Michele?" the cute-as-a-button redhead also seated at the table asked with obvious interest. "I've never seen Xander do a spit-take in all the time I've known him," she continued. "Whatever you said to accomplish that most definitely bears repeating..."
Seeing her co-worker's face blush slightly when Michele had first mentioned the incident made Harry Doyle realize that she simply *had* to know what it was the girl had said to get such a reaction from the normally un-embarrass-able joker calling himself Xander Harris.
"It's not really that important, we can discuss it later," the man in question immediately declared as he tried to change the subject, but Harry was not to be swayed in her quest for knowledge.
"Oh, I definitely think it's that important," the former blonde disagreed with an even bigger smile, when she saw his reaction. "Come on, Michele. Just what was it you said to him?"
Enjoying her moment as the center of attention, Michele dropped her smile and pasted a look of total innocence on her face, as she quickly looked out of the corners of her eyes over at Gunn. The towering black man had just picked up his drink, before the Slayer started answering.
"Well, all I did was ask Xander if he'd like to stay in and help me work out some practical applications of this book I was reading," Michelle stated simply, watching as Gunn began swallowing his drink.
"Oh? And what book was that?" Harry continued her interrogation. The redhead was determined to find out exactly what had elicited that reaction from her erstwhile opponent in all things jokes- and humor-related.
"The Kama Sutra," Michelle answered, a gigantic smile breaking out on her face as her designated target of opportunity choked on his drink, spraying the contents across the table to form interesting designs on Angel's shirt.
"Ha! She shoots, she scores, once again!" the teenager exulted, bouncing triumphantly in her chair and thrusting both arms up in the air in a gesture of victory for her successful timing.
"Oh yeah, I've still got it," she grinned gleefully, as the rest of the table's reactions ranged from hysterical laughter on Harry's part to a rueful grin on Angel's face as he wiped the contents of Gunn's drink off himself, to a slightly self-conscious smile from Xander.
"Come on, old man." Michele was out of her chair, and tugging on Xander's arm to follow her. "Let's go check out the song list. And I'm picking out yours, so don't even *think* about anything related to that country and western 'music of pain' crap," she admonished him as she led the way to the song catalogue.
"Ah, good evening, my little collection of angst aficionados! Quite an interesting little cherub you brought along tonight," Lorne commented, watching the two walk over to the songbooks by the stage as he strolled up to the table.
The owner/Master of Ceremonies of the club was attired in a pale blue shirt and burgundy suit with matching cravat, that contrasted dramatically with his green complexion and red horns. "I know, they're all young when compared to you, Tall, Dark and Broody," he smiled as he looked at Angel, "but she's really pushing the limits now, don't you think?"
"She's the new Slayer, Lorne. Her name is Michelle Byers," Harry informed the anagogic demon as she half-turned in her chair to watch the two walking away.
"And the guy with her is her Watcher, Alexander Harris. They've just relocated here from Sunnydale, so we decided to bring them here for a reading, to see if you could possibly give us a head's up on anything Michelle might need to watch out for," the seer explained.
"So who's watching the Hellmouth while they're here enjoying the splendors of the City of Angels?" the empathic demon inquired. "Or did she just think no one would notice her absence and not try to bring about Hell on Earth, while she was gone for a week or two?"
"Well, actually, the old Slayer is back in Sunnydale now, and she's taken over the responsibilities there," Angel said somewhat uncomfortably, not wanting to get into any of the details involved in the transfer of responsibilities.
"I see. Oh! Uh-oh, duty calls, my dears! Looks like I'm needed elsewhere. I'll have to catch up with you later," Lorne smiled at the group before heading off to the bar, where a Fyarl demon appeared to be arguing with the bartender.
"And remember, darling," the former Deathwok clan member caught Harry's gaze for a moment before leaving, "you have a sacred duty. Don't forget it! Ever!"
"What duty was Tall, Green and Musical referring to, Harry?" Gunn asked, smiling at Fred as she returned from the ladies' room and rejoined the threesome already at the table. "Somethin' you forgot to mention to us when you got yaself merged with your demon-y half?"
"No, nothing like that," Harry grinned. "It's just something Lorne decided I should be responsible for, after the last time we were here."
"What happened the last time we hit this place?" Gunn asked. "I don't remember any major shake-ups or anything Apocalypse-y happening."
"Well, after the last time we were here," the redhead smirked at her 'boss' across the table, "Lorne decided that it was my sacred duty to prevent Angel from ever getting close to that microphone again. Even if it was to 'stop an Apocalypse', he said," Harry laughed at the memory.
"Hey, I'm not that bad!" Angel protested, a hurt look on his face.
"Yes, you are," all of his companions at the table automatically chorused.
"I gotta say, I'm with Lean and Green on this one," Gunn said, after he shrugged. He looked over at the souled vampire. "You got put back here on Earth to save lives and souls – not sing, bro."
"So, what's going on here, people?" Michele asked, as she and Xander rejoined the group.
"We're just tryin' to convince Angel that his mission here on Earth involves saving souls, not trying to replace Bryan Adams on stage," Gunn explained as the two took their seats.
"Yeah, Deadboy, you're supposed to prevent Hell on Earth, not initiate it," Xander grinned, unable to resist an easy shot at his friend.
"You guys stop picking on Angel," Harry scolded the rest of the group, before adding with a wicked grin, "That's my job."
"I, uh, don't mean to interrupt you guys or anything," Fred interrupted them as they all tried to best each others' comments, "but, uhm, it looks like Lorne is ready for the next performance, so maybe we could get Michelle up there now," she suggested. "That is why we came here, isn't it?" the Texan asked cheerfully.
"Oh, yeah!" the blonde squealed, as her face lit up with delight. "It's showtime!!!" the Slayer then announced with a happy smile.
"What songs did you finally decide on, Michelle?" Harry asked, smiling at the expression of fun the young blonde was wearing. She had come to look upon the girl as the younger sister she had never had, and, given the girl's Calling, intended to make sure the Slayer enjoyed life as long as she could.
"I'm going to do "One on One" by Hall and Oates," the Slayer revealed, throwing a sidewise glance at Xander that the redhead noted and mentally filed for later evaluation.
"How about you, Xan?" Harry asked the taller brunet. "What's your song?"
"The Brat here insists I do "Bad to the Bone" by George Thurogood," Xander answered, somewhat embarrassedly, using the nickname he had given her the first time they had met. He reddened even further when Harry laughed and clapped her hands in approval at the blonde's choice.
"Come on, Xan-Man," the younger girl demanded, heading towards the stage and pulling Xander along with her. "Let's get going!"
"I still think this is a bad idea," the brunet could be heard protesting half-heartedly as the Slayer led him away. "Maybe I should just sit back there with the gang and just – " The rest of his proposed alternative was lost in the background noise of the club.
Caritas Karaoke Stage
Five minutes later
"I'm tired of playing on the team
"It seems I don't get time out anymore
"What a change if we set the pace face to face
"No one even trying to score
"Oh oh I can feel the magic of your touch
"And when you move in close a little bit means so much
"Ooh yeah, you've got to understand baby
"Time out is what I'm here for
"One on one I wanna play that game tonight
"One on one I know I wanna play that
"One on one I wanna play that game tonight
"One on one so slow"
Michelle's voice echoed across the room, her lilting alto matching the easy-going chords of the music. Harry was pleasantly surprised to discover that the Slayer could not only carry a tune, but that she was surprisingly talented.
In fact, judging by the way the blonde's voice danced along with the various instruments, Harry suspected that Michelle had taken at least a modicum of voice training at some time in her life.
Harry also noted the way that the teenager's eyes repeatedly wandered back to the spot where Xander sat waiting, and the expression in her eyes as she observed her Watcher. The Seer made a mental note to herself to have a discussion with Xander in the very near future regarding his unofficial ward and the girl's possible behavior towards him. She should probably have a talk with Michelle, too, she decided.
"One on one I wanna play that game tonight
"One on one so slow
"That's all you need to know now
" 'Cause if it's really right there's nothing else
"One on one I want to play that game tonight..."
// Oh yeah, // the redhead decided, as she paid as much attention to the *way* Michelle was singing, as she did to the words she sang. // Xander and I *definitely* need to talk about Michelle. Tonight, if not sooner. //
Xander's turn in the spotlight soon brought a broad smile to Harry's face as she came to the realization, from the tall brunet's body language, that he would rather be fighting a pack of Fyarl demons than be standing on the stage onto which his ward had dragged him.
Her mild smile of amusement at his discomfort shifted to one of surprised enjoyment as the Key gradually got into the mood of the song. While he most definitely wasn't a threat to Hollywood or Nashville, Xander's husky baritone worked surprisingly well, as he more recited, rather than sang, the lyrics to the song Michelle had selected for him.
"Now when I walk the streets
"Kings and queens step aside
"Every woman I meet
"They all stay satisfied.
"I wanna tell ya, baby
"What I see I make my own.
"And I'm here to tell ya, pretty woman
"That I'm bad to the bone"
Looking at the young man up on the stage, Harry studied him a bit more thoroughly, consciously tapping into her demonic side in order to examine him more closely. Now that she was paying more attention to the guy, Harry could easily sense the power radiating from her new friend.
// I've got a feeling all of our lives have just become a bit more interesting, // she reflected, unknowingly proving that the Seer didn't need the visions that the Powers That Be sent intermittently in order to predict the future.
Caritas Lounge - twenty minutes later.
"Look, sweetness, I really don't know that this is such a good idea you've decided on," Lorne protested yet again, as Michele dragged him over to the Fang Gang's table.
"Just tell them what you told me," the Slayer commanded him. "'Cause I know enough about weird stuff happening, to know that I need them to hear exactly what you just told me," she elaborated.
"Guys, please. Just listen up to what Lorne has to say, okay?" the petite blonde then addressed her friends as she interrupted their conversations.
Anyone who knew the young woman would have been able to tell that the young blonde seemed upset, but was covering it well. But those who knew her well would have immediately realized that she was scared, almost out of her wits.
What alarmed Angel the most, though, as he observed the young woman's Watcher standing behind her, was the look of intense concentration that furrowed the brunet's brow and the grim expression he wore. The (fortunately) few other times he had seen his friend's face wearing that expression boded no good for the target of the young man's displeasure.
"All right then, Little Darling," the Host agreed as he pulled over an empty neighboring chair and dropped into it. "You just calm down, and I'll tell them what I can."
"What exactly is the problem, Lorne?" the vampire asked, as the rest of the group waited for the answer.
All attempts at fun and frivolity had vanished when Michelle and Xander had returned to the table. Everyone present now wore serious expressions that would have instantly cowed anyone, human or demon, at whom they were directed. *No one* threatened any member of their family without calling down the wrath of every member of Angel Investigations, and everyone there looked upon the current Slayer as though she were their favorite baby sister.
"Well, you see, it's not really a problem, so to speak," Lorne began, looking a bit uncomfortable with everyone staring at him with such intensity. "It, uh, seems that our little songbird's destiny was…altered, about two years ago."
"Well, tell us what kind of demon-y badness messed with Little Sis here, so we can go find it and kill it," Gunn said. "Ain't nobody gonna mess with any of our people's destinies and get away with it like that! What's her destiny supposed to be, who or what changed it, where do we find him, her, it or them and how do we kill 'em and get things back to the way they're supposed to be?"
"Whoa, slow down, Captain America! Well, my lethally intentioned friend, you really don't want to do any of that – because you'll make the lovely little lady here very upset with you," the Host stated.
Lorne looked very pensive, as he looked at the faces staring at from around the table.
"You see, guys, her original destiny was to *die* about two years ago. And the person responsible for changing that is our very own unofficial Watcher, sitting right there," he informed them, as the demon indicated Xander.
After a moment of stunned silence, the table broke out in a multitude of half-shouted questions, and Lorne took advantage of the confusion to look over at the tall brunet. His face silently asked a question, to which Xander gave a reluctant nod of his head.
"All right, all right, come on now, guys and dolls," the green-skinned oracle raised his voice to be heard over the clamoring questions. "If you'll all quiet down, I'll tell you everything we know. Which actually isn't all that much, so pay close attention, kids..."
"Get on with it, Lorne," Fred demanded impatiently.
"Sheesh! Keep your panties on, honeybunch," the demon replied, as he continued to look at Xander. "Now, as far as destiny goes, your karma seems to have been rear-ended and run off the road by some one's tractor trailer-ma, so to speak, sweet cheeks," the Host said with a slightly twisted grin as he stared at the quietly waiting Watcher.
After a momentary pause, he continued. "It would appear that your companion here pissed off some *very* significantly powerful people, my friends," Lorne stated as he glanced around the group. "And they are *way* out of my league. Basically, it was the alteration of Xander's destiny that subsequently affected Little Darling's destiny here, among many others. But for some reason, I really don't think she's going to be all that upset with him for that."
"I bet…" Gunn stage-whispered to Fred.
Lorne ignored him. "With regard to who actually caused the alteration? That I can't tell you, because I honestly don't know. All I can say, is that someone most likely used an artifact to provide the power boost necessary to accomplish something like this. The flavor seems like it might be Kleynach, but don't hold me to that, I'm not completely sure."
Angel started as he remembered his one (thankfully brief) encounter with that demon breed, but said nothing.
"In any event, altering someone's destiny isn't something that just any street corner mage or witch can do, people," Lorne continued to explain. "It takes a whole lot of power and a *whole* lot more determination to reach back and alter the timeline that way. And the kind of guys capable of doing things like that? They are *definitely* not the type that like other people trying to undo their work, if you catch my drift."
As the table re-erupted into a verbal hurricane of questions, Lorne gave a small sigh and settled back for what was probably going to be a *long* evening.
UC Sunnydale Museum
Antiquities Collection Wing
UC Sunnydale, CA
July 7, 2003 9:00 am
As the staff went about their normal opening routine, straightening the various historical presentations or putting the finishing touches on new displays, no one paid any particular attention to the very attractive brunette coed moving confidently through the hallways, aside from the occasional approving hormonal glance or two.
After all, most of the university professors usually had one or more of their students and teaching assistants running errands or making pickups or deliveries for them prior to the start of classes. So, there was nothing out of the ordinary that would draw an onlooker's attention to this specific woman.
At least there wasn't, up until the moment she stopped in front of one of the more esoteric exhibits presenting a variety of purported Mesopotamian relics and artifacts, and casually punched her fist through the high-impact glass enclosure protecting the display.
As the museum alarm system began ululating throughout the halls, several members of the college's security force headed towards the source of the disturbance as fast as they could possibly manage.
The first guards to arrive at the display were astonished to discover to see an attractive brunette casually ripping apart the entire display, tossing some of the heavier shelving aside as thought they were made of cardboard, and effortlessly pulling apart the steel framework enclosing parts of the exhibit.
"All right, little lady," one of the guards yelled as he drew his pistol and aimed it at her. "Stop what you're doing and put your hands on top of your goddamned head."
"I'm sorry, but I can't do that," the woman smiled agreeably at him as she continued to shred the display. "My boyfriend needs some of these things, and he's waiting for me, and I really don't have any time to waste talking to you," she said pleasantly.
"I said get your hands up, or I'll shoot!" the guard warned, as the girl turned back to her work. "I'm going to count to three, and then I'm going to open fire," he warned her. "One."
The girl continued to ignore him.
The brunette nonchalantly bent a three inch angle iron out of her way, as she sorted through the debris she had created.
"Three. All right, honey. Can't say I didn't warn you," the guard said, as he centered his pistol's sight on her chest and pulled the trigger.
The woman looked up as the bullet apparently hit her, although there was no sign of blood or injury evident.
"Hey," she said, a startled look on her face. "That wasn't very nice."
As she spoke, the woman grabbed a broken steel bar and threw it at the guard, hitting hard enough to impale him through the chest, drive him backwards and embed the bar into the wall behind him.
Leaving behind a widow and two children, the human died instantly.
Seeing the fate of the first guard, the remaining security guards immediately began emptying their pistols at the woman, but none of the bullets seemed to have any effect upon her whatsoever.
Gathering up several items from the now thoroughly demolished exhibit, the woman just deposited them inside a backpack she had brought with her, then took off at an unnatural speed down the hallway.
Easily pushing open the large, very heavy wooden doors leading to the main stairway, she then vanished amongst the bewildered thongs of students filling the vestibule of the building, most of whom were wondering at the ongoing wail of the sirens, the confused babble of the people in the hallway above and the panicked calls for an ambulance that could be dimly heard above the howl of the alarms.