Just Another Day (In My Very Strange Life)
Rating: PG13 -- for a little violence and language, yay! LOL
Disclaimer: I own nothing Roswell.
Character Focus: Uber-CC; Liz POV
Spoilers: This takes place in the summer post-The Gift and post-Departure, so I figure whatever we found out in Busted about that summer is fair game, although of course Busted itself never happens.
Author's Note: Okay, here it is. A nice, fluffy Roswell/Buffy Crossover, CC all the way, puppies-and-hugs story for my friend Zoë. Merry Christmas, kiddo. And thanks, Debbie, I really appreciate the beta!
This fic won Best Crossover Fic in the Venus Rising Fanfiction Awards.
My name's Liz Parker, and a couple of years ago, I died.
Kinda; I got saved. But the thing is, I didn't really start to live again until about a week ago. In fact, I think it's pretty safe to say I lost my sense of direction in life. I felt weird in my own skin, you know? And it all came to a head when my friends learned about my latest secret, the one even I didn't know I had.
It's some secret, let me tell you.
Actually - let me tell you? Seriously. We just have to go back a week, to the night when Maria heard me say:
"Shit. Shit, shit, shit!"
Hold up. Fair warning: I might swear a little in this story. Don't faint yet - that's not my big secret. (Although I still think that of everything that happened, that might just be the part Michael finds hardest to believe.) And just to get it all out of the way: there's a little swearing, a little violence, and a little sugary-sweet Max 'n Liz happiness, because this is my story and I've earned it.
You've been warned. So, go on. Read it. You know you want to. I promise I won't interrupt again.
Well, unless something comes up. It happens.
Boy, does it ever.
"Oh, shit. Shit, shit shit!"
I couldn't stop staring at the pink-tinged plaster coating my hand, and swearing.
I looked up, fearfully. "Go away, Maria." My voice trembled as I willed her to turn her back, to not see.
But it was too late, and she screamed. Shrieked, really.
I closed my eyes and fell back on the couch, waiting for the inevitable pounding of feet. Yup; there they were, right on schedule. The door swung open so hard it slammed into the wall, and another cloud of dust rose in the air, although much smaller than the one I created.
That is, when I put my fist - and my arm, up to my elbow, through the employee lounge room wall.
Well, hell. I was upset. At some point I must have spilled something nasty on my favourite sweater and not noticed, because now it wouldn't come out no matter what I tried. What can I say? It was upsetting.
I looked up at five very anxious people.
I guessed I had about three seconds to say something, anyway.
"Liz, are you hurt?" Max rushed over, looking for the source of all the blood. His fingers travelled gently but assuredly down my arm and around my hand, which he turned over and over, searching for the injury. Thoroughly.
Isabel wasn't so patient. "Liz, what happened to your arm? And - oh, wow! Did you do that to the wall?" Her eyes were huge as she took in the gaping hole in the wall and then my blood and plaster encrusted arm.
Well, that was as good a place to start as any. "Yeah," I sighed, and waited for it.
There was absolute silence, and then a small thud as Maria fainted at Michael's feet.
He looked down and blinked.
"Michael," I said pointedly, "I think you were supposed to catch her."
"I can't believe he didn't catch me!" Maria whispered darkly, glaring across the room at her boyfriend who returned her 'look' with one of his own.
"He knew you were faking it," I whisper back, trying not to giggle.
She was aghast. "I was not!"
I just stared at her for a moment.
"Well," she grumbled, "he still should have caught me."
We both laughed, and I hugged her to me, glad there were some things I could always count on.
"Ugh, Liz, you're getting plaster all over me," she complained good-naturedly, and then pulled back as I realized my mistake.
"Liz!" she shrieked, and I winced, hoping they hadn't heard her. But of course they had.
"Liz!" Kyle echoed, and I rolled my eyes. Crap. Mr. Jock-Knower-of-All-Things-Sports-Related was going to enlighten everyone about how wrong it was that I could do what I just did. Don't get me wrong, I love Kyle, I do, but every now and then I wish the jock wasn't so - so much of a jock. Sigh.
I tuned out his scolding, and focussed instead on Max's beautiful eyes as he studied me.
"What?" I asked, softly. Kyle didn't notice - he had gotten distracted, and was debating with Maria over whether ice or elastic bandages would be more effective, and whether Tylenol or Aspirin was the drug of choice.
Max moved closer. "Liz, your arm. It's healing a lot faster than it should."
"Well," I said innocently, "you're a pretty good healer, Max."
"But I didn't heal you," he said, quietly. Michael heard anyway.
"What do you mean, you didn't heal her?" he said suddenly, not to mention loudly, and the room fell quiet as everyone looked at him and then Max and then me.
"I didn't have to," Max replied. "It's healing on its own."
"Shit," I groaned, and fell back on the couch.
It was almost funny, the way they all stared at me, shocked. Isabel looked like she needed oxygen. "Isabel, breathe," I said wearily. "I can explain. I think. See -" I didn't get a chance to finish.
"I didn't think you even knew the word!" Michael blurted out.
I couldn't resist
"I found it in the dictionary," I said with a straight face. "Did I say it wrong? I looked up the pronunciation and everything." And then I just cracked up. After a moment, Maria joined me, and I laughed harder.
I looked up to see Michael flushing dully and the others fighting back grins.
"So what's going on, for real?" Max asked. I should've known better than to try to pretend I didn't know in the first place. I'm the worst liar.
"Well, I don't really know. But I think that maybe it's another change," I said, nodding significantly. They all nodded to show they knew what 'change' I was referring to. Kyle looked slightly panicked, but didn't say anything.
"I started noticing it a few weeks ago. I cut myself on a knife, and it barely bled. You couldn't even tell where it went through skin after a few minutes. Then there was that time I slipped and whacked my head on a booth, and I barely got a bump, and - Maria, you remember when I caught my finger in the car door the other day?"
She nodded. "Yeah, and it made that awful noise. I thought it was broken for sure."
"It was," I told her, and she paled.
I figured it wasn't the best time to tell her why I didn't want to go to the hospital when it happened, that I'd jumped at the chance to have Max come over and make the pain go away. But by the time he'd gotten here, it wasn't bothering me anymore so I just went straight for the feeling better part. Heh. Go me.
"But Liz! I saw you that night. It was kind of stiff but it was fine. Only a couple hours later?"
Now everyone was really staring at me, and it was making me nervous. Well, let them. I was tired of keeping this to myself anyways.
"That's not all," I said. "I seem to have gotten a lot stronger." As one, they all turned to the wall, and then back at me when I continued. "Faster, too. The other day, in gym, I had to slow down to keep from getting ahead of Pam."
"You can run faster than Pam?" Maria sat up excitedly, all shock and disbelief swept away before her ongoing quest for vengeance. "That's it! You have to join track and run her into the ground and - and just wipe that smug, superior look off of Miss "Just Call Me Helen" Troy's face for good!"
I laughed even as I shook my head. Maria and Pam Troy had been rivals for years. No one really knew how it started, but they never had anything nice to say about each other. Behind the other's back, anyway; face-to-face they were nice as pie. Although for some reason, a lot of people seem to think I hate Pam too. I'm not really sure why; I'll have to ask Maria some day. She'd know if someone was saying that about me.
"Can't do it, Maria. First of all, look at my legs and look at hers. She's like a foot taller than me! People would get suspicious, and start wondering, and then " and I nodded significantly in Max and Isabel's direction. "We get a little more attention than anyone here wants."
Kyle spoke up. "Liz, do you really feel that 'changed'? Because I don't, but I have to go in for mandatory drug testing every year. Is that going to be a problem?" He'd heard the story of how Alex found out about our Czech friends, obviously.
"Well, why don't we do a quick preliminary test, compare our blood cells and see what they look like?" I suggested, sensing an opportunity to escape my interrogation. "If they don't look any different, we're probably fine. Come on, we can use my old microscope right now, it should be fine for this."
I made it halfway up the stairs before someone cleared their throat. I turned around to find the five of them staring at me expectantly.
I sat down on one of the steps and sighed. Well, it'd been worth a try.
"Okay, I get it. We're not done here yet. What else do you want to know?"
"So, let's get on with it." I had to speak up to be heard over the sound of the wind. After our little talk the day before, we'd decided that maybe it would be better just to get an idea of how much I really had changed, especially since the blood test showed nothing. And for good measure, we figured everyone should take part.
Between Max and Kyle's home equipment, there were enough handheld weights to go around. We decided on a straightforward system: starting with the lowest weights, we'd take turns doing 5 reps at each until people began dropping out.
Maria was first to give up. She said she just wanted to watch.
Isabel was next, although Kyle was clearly impressed with how far she got. Michael only lasted a round beyond her, and went to have Maria massage his aching arms.
Then it was just Max, Kyle and I. We began taking a couple minutes between reps, because Kyle said otherwise the results wouldn't be reliable. Finally Max just dropped the weight he was trying to lift, and sat down to watch us too.
I was feeling the burn; there was no denying it. But it was really something to see Kyle, who made wrestling MVP last year, struggling as hard as I was. And I was determined to make my point.
Suddenly Kyle fell over, weight in hand, and I stepped over to heft it off of him. He looked shocked, but let me help him up.
"Kyle," Maria whispered. Her eyes were huge. "How much did that weigh?"
He just shook his head and stared at me.
"It's impossible," he declared. "With your height and weight, there's no way - no way - you could lift up that much weight. Goes against every law of physics. Your - your spine should've collapsed on itself or something."
My momentary pride died. "What are you saying?" Then I couldn't speak any more because my throat closed up. He wasn't, was he? He wasn't going to call me a freak or something, not like this, not not in front of everyone, not with that serious look on his face.
Bless Maria but she always could read me like a book. She jumped up then and insisted we stop and have a snack. Luckily this diverted Kyle, who immediately made sure everyone got one of the toxic-coloured sports drinks he kept in stock.
I felt a little prickly but it soon passed as everyone treated me normally. Well, I may have gotten a few odd looks, but at least they were being casual about it.
After a break, Michael got up and we all watched as he toed a line in front of us.
"Okay, so we'll race to that rock over there," and he pointed to a large outcropping about 100 ft away, "and back. Just out and out, running as fast as you can. Sound good?"
The distance wasn't anything we hadn't done in gym before, but we needed to take the rough terrain into consideration.
"We need to warm up first," Kyle said, and led us in some stretches. I had to admit, this was a side of Kyle I'd never seen before, and I could see now why his teammates liked him as captain. He was a natural coach, and he was obviously in his element.
Satisfied, he led us to the line.
"On your marks," I yelled. I could feel the adrenaline rushing through me in anticipation.
Everyone stilled, eyes focussed on the rock.
And we were off. Michael and Isabel led, with Max and Kyle behind them and Maria and I last.
Short legs. Story of my life.
Pumping furiously, I passed Maria in a few strides and gained on Max and Kyle. I kept pace with them for a second and then moved ahead. Still breathing easily, I leapt over a small piece of brush and gained on Michael and Isabel. Isabel was starting to fall behind just a bit, but she'd been running every day for some time now and I could see that it was only because Michael had the height on her. We were about 30 ft. from the rock when I could look over to see the shocked look on his face.
I couldn't help it; there was something about the way he looked so - so stunned that little Lizzie Parker could catch up with big, powerful Michael Guerin, and I suddenly felt the need to show off.
So I did. When I reached the rock, knowing that all eyes were on me, I decided against skidding to a halt and just turning around to run back as I'd planned. Instead, I ran at it full-speed and a moment before slamming into it, lifting a foot to push against it and flip so that I came down, bounced once and propelled myself in the opposite direction.
Basically, I came down running.
Oh, but it was so freeing, so liberating! The wind was at my back now, and I had to shout with glee, to feel so in tune with my body and the world around me. And unless you have tape to back up anything, I suggest you just take my word that no, I did not hop and skip about in my very own little happy dance for a moment.
Michael had reached the rock while I was showing off, but I caught a clear view of everyone else as they stumbled more or less to a stop to watch as I sped back to the finish line.
The looks on their faces they looked a little afraid, which worried me, but more importantly, they looked amazed.
That, I thought, I could live with.
With any luck, we were still going to be friends when all was said and done.
I had drinks ready for them when they got back.
Maria hadn't even bothered to make it to the rock, but waited for Michael and Isabel and they jogged back together. At some point, Max and Kyle had begun racing each other, and it was funny to see the stubborn looks on each face as they refused to give up.
Max won by a nose. Literally.
Have I ever seemed in any way unappreciative of Maria's friendship? If I have, it will never, ever, happen again.
When she got back, she didn't hesitate. She didn't act afraid or threatened or freaked out. She just ran over to me and we squealed and clapped hands and jumped up and down in excitement, exactly as we did in 7th grade when she got the highest score in archery.
I love my best friend.
"Liz," Isabel said as we were packing everything up in the cars to head back. No one really talked, although Kyle was looking rather pensively at me, then his muscular arms, and then back at me again, as he and Max put their weights away.
"Can we try something else?"
Everyone stopped to look at her.
"Like what?" I asked.
She pulled something out of her backpack, a blue highlighter.
Out of the corner of my eye I saw Max and Michael grin at each other. Obviously they'd figured out what she was up to.
Isabel uncapped the marker - and came at me.
Seriously, she darted in with a smile on her face, moving faster than anyone I'd ever seen, moving so fast she seemed to blur in front of me, aiming for my face and arms and everywhere between.
Well, than I'd ever seen before.
Instinctively, my arms came up before me, and jab for jab, I managed to block every attempt she made to dab me. She kept up the assault for a minute or so, but by the time she put down the marker, panting with the exertion, I had only one dot of blue ink on me - right on the tip of my nose.
She'd gotten just one shot in.
"Damn," Michael breathed.
Max and Isabel hadn't replaced the Jeep yet, so they got a ride home with Kyle while Maria drove the rest of us back to the Crashdown. She and Michael were both on that night, and I offered Michael my parents' shower while Maria used mine.
By the time they were out of the apartment, I decided I wanted a bubble bath, so it was some time before I made it back downstairs.
When I walked in I immediately noticed two things.
To my right, Max, Isabel and Kyle were sitting along the counter, where Maria was pretending to take their order but was actually listening very intently to something Max was saying. A quick glance told me - yup, Michael was at the order window, keeping one eye on the stove but straining to hear what was going on.
It was pretty much what I expected; I knew they'd need time to digest this latest development, and I'd steeled myself to handle a lot of questions and weird looks in the next few days. I was just glad it didn't look like they were going to start avoiding me.
Actually, I was still a little freaked myself, and I was desperately hoping I wouldn't have to face this alone. And I was desperately happy that it looked like I didn't have to.
And right then, we had other problems.
Because farther away, sitting awkwardly in a booth near the front, there was a man squished against the wall by several younger people, and at a glance I didn't think they were all related. For one thing, the redhead and the blonde next to him were practically in each other's laps, and there was obviously something between them. Across from him sat a young couple - they touched hands way too often not to be involved somehow - and a girl who looked closer to my age, maybe a bit younger, and very quiet.
Something about them, and the way they looked around the diner, told me they were looking for someone.
And then something else clicked into place: I'd seen them before. I couldn't swear to it, but I think I'd seen them around the area yesterday and maybe the day before too.
"Guys, talk about me later," I said as I joined the group at the counter, ignoring the slightly guilty looks they threw my way. "I want to ask you something."
They looked at me expectantly.
"Don't all look at once, but isn't there something - different - about that group over there? Second booth from the window."
They all turned to look at once. So much for subtlety.
The man made eye contact first, but the others soon turned to look at us too.
We looked away, but they didn't even bother to pretend they hadn't been looking. Didn't they know how this worked?
Apparently not. One by one they slid out of their booth and made their way over. It wasn't hard; the dinner crowd had pretty much left by now.
The man led the way, and I thought someone - particularly every male in our group - might lose it when he and the others made no secret of studying Isabel from head to toe. But everyone showed remarkable restraint.
"Elizabeth Parker?" he asked her hopefully. She shook her head. A little disdainfully, which amused me more than maybe it should have.
Looking at me and Maria, he focussed on Maria next. "Elizabeth Parker?" he asked, just as politely, but with a slight edge to his voice, as his eyes kept flickering back to me.
She shook his head, and he did the strangest thing.
"Oh God," he said, dropping his head into his hands. Finally I was able to pinpoint his accent. It was British, I thought. "This one's even smaller than Buffy."
The redhead patted him on the shoulder.
"Take a deep breath, Giles. You're freaking them out."
"I'm Liz," I said firmly, holding out a hand.
The young guy of the group - dark hair, engaging grin - shook it first.
"Xander. And this," he said pointing at each person as he named them, "is Anya, Dawn, Willow, Tara and Giles.
"Max, Maria, Michael, Isabel, Kyle," I rattled off, and each person gestured slightly when I said his or her name.
Giles was still shaking his head. Xander saw my look. "You'll have to forgive him. He forgot his medication today," he joked.
At that the older man looked annoyed, but he did pull himself together. "Xander, that's enough," he said briskly, and turned back to me.
"Perhaps we could speak privately?" He spoke courteously enough, but I could feel the way everyone around me had tensed up. They didn't look FBI, and they sure weren't peeling, but who knew what other alien menace was out there. The only thing was, they weren't that threatening. I mean, at all. And evil aliens wouldn't ignore other aliens to come after me, would they? It just didn't feel right.
"What is this about? Do I know you?" I countered. Strangely enough, he did sort of seem familiar, although I couldn't quite put my finger on why.
He shook his head. "I don't think so, but we've been looking for you for a few weeks now." A few weeks? That was right around the time when
"Why?" Maria and Michael asked at the same time. Maria grinned perkily. She didn't seem to think they were that threatening either.
Michael looked irritated, but stubborn. "No one does anything or goes anywhere or talks to Liz until you answer some questions. And I want to see some ID."
Maria threw an arm around him and kissed him on the cheek. "Oh, look at you," she cooed, "looking out for my Lizzie. Aren't you sweet?"
Michael looked outraged. "Muh-ree-ah," he groaned between clenched teeth. I have to admit, I was touched. Laughing, sure. But you know, touched. I think Max and Isabel were too, because their eyes had brightened suspiciously, and Kyle had a hand in front of his mouth, half-hiding his smirk.
The other group all exchanged looks, like we weren't taking them seriously or something. And maybe they had a point, but let's face it, after everything we'd seen and done these past few years, this all seemed kind of silly. It wasn't even about aliens, that much seemed clear. I was beginning to think these people didn't know anything about me, even if they did seem familiar. Maybe one of them was family, or something.
"We really don't have time for this," Giles said apologetically. Looking around, he noted that the only other people in the diner were on their way out the door and reached into his vest pocket.
A moment later a knife flew threw the air, directly at me.
My hands clapped around it before anyone could move.
So I'm thinking: not family.
Then there was chaos, as Max tackled Giles, Kyle had Xander on the floor, and Michael was over the counter and glaring down the others along with Isabel, who had moved between me and the other group without thinking. Maria was right beside me. She wasn't laughing anymore.
"Hey," I said.
"HEY!" I shouted, and finally everyone was still.
"Could someone tell me just what you think you're doing?"
And with that, I turned and slapped the knife on the counter.
"Who are you, and why did you try to kill Liz?" Max spoke with authority, and his furious tone suggested that they had better answer him, and fast.
Mmm. I love how his voice gets all low and velvety like that. Dangerous-sounding. I'm thinking maybe a little role-playing later might be called for. I bet I could talk him into a pirate outfit, and -
I shook my head to clear it. Max had Giles backed up and pinned against the wall, and this was no time to be ogling his rippling muscles. Even if they really were rippling.
I looked around, and I couldn't help but notice that Xander and the others weren't fighting back. And they didn't look scared or even resentful.
"Max, let him up. I don't think he was trying to kill me," I said.
He looked at me in disbelief, but he studied Giles for a moment. Finally he backed off.
Max didn't turn his back on him, though. "Again," he pressed, "who are you really, and why did you - do that?"
The man was still straightening his glasses when he answered, a glance from me clearly communicating a willingness to let Max speak for me. For now, anyway.
"Your friend has several special abilities, and we need her to use them. I'm a professional trainer, and everyone here also has special abilities. Normally, I would take a much more diplomatic approach, but you have to understand, time is of the essence."
"Be more specific," Max responded, exchanging a suspicious glance with me.
"It's difficult to explain," the redheaded girl piped up, but then the youngest girl interrupted her.
Pale and very serious, she - I think it was Dawn - looked straight at me.
"My sister died. We need you to take her place. You're the new Slayer."
"Excuse me?" I asked, rather reasonably, all things considered.
They exchanged looks. Giles took the lead again, speaking quickly.
"You've been feeling stronger lately. Faster, with better reflexes."
I stopped nodding as soon as I realized I was doing it.
"And you've been having nightmares. Maybe you've been getting strange sensations from some customers, something you can't quite put your finger on, something you feel in your gut, like cramps, but not."
My mouth was hanging open. I know this because Maria reached over and gently closed it for me.
"How " I swallowed hard. "How do you know all this?"
"Liz!" Isabel said, exasperated. Max nudged her.
"What?" she asked. "She shouldn't have told them that."
Unlike Max, Michael had no scruples about stating the obvious. "Yeah, but Liz sucks at lying." He just shrugged when I glared at him, but really, I couldn't argue. It was true.
Besides, I had more pressing issues to deal with.
"Are you from the Council?"
Our visitors froze when I asked that. Everyone else noted their expressions, then looked at me. Carefully.
"Liz?" Maria tried to get my attention. "What's the Council?"
I answered without turning away from our unexpected guests.
"Some British organization that's been trying to get me to consider a scholarship to some school overseas. They've been talking to Mom and Dad, but when I agreed to an interview they seemed more interested in my training regimen rather than answering my questions about their lab facilities. I told them I didn't think we were a good fit." I said, watching Giles.
He'd gone awfully pale, but looked relieved at the last bit.
"Why didn't you tell m - us?" Max asked. I could tell he was a little hurt.
I shrugged. "What was there to tell?" I stopped studying Giles long enough to smile at Max. "Everything important is here in Roswell. I'm not going anywhere."
I ignored the way Isabel, Michael and Kyle looked nauseous while the redhead, her friend and Maria simultaneously got a kind of "awww" expression going, like you do when someone puts a wriggly puppy in your arms. Max smiled shyly but didn't look away.
But Giles cleared his throat and spoiled the moment, darn him.
"Then time is shorter than I thought. If the Council has already found you, then the others can't be too far behind."
"What others?" I asked.
My answer walked in the door. Bleached blond and strutting his stuff, he looked us over. Well, mostly me.
"Cool, new Slayer," he started, and then took in Max, Michael and Isabel.
"Blimey!" he exclaimed, and he had a British accent too. "So some of you survived the crash after all?"
It was a loooong night.
Suffice it to say, it took demonstrations from Spike, Willow, and Tara to prove their supernatural status. We had to take Anya and Dawn's word about theirs.
Then again, we'd been dealing with aliens for years. If any of us hadn't been able to handle 'weird' by now, we wouldn't have made it as far as we had.
On our side, Spike made a move toward me - presumably to congratulate me, although I still couldn't quite 'read' him very well - and Michael's little blast, followed by Max's instinctive raising of his nifty green shield, kind of said a lot.
Isabel just pulled out a bottle of Tabasco sauce and changed it into mustard, which also seemed to impress everyone although she suddenly looked like she might cry. And not, I figured, because Spike's feelings were a little hurt from his unintentional encounter with a wall.
Actually, I thought I knew why. She was thinking about Alex. So before anyone asked her about it, I brought up the question of why exactly these people wanted me, and what they thought I could do about anything.
"Why exactly do you want me, and what do you think I could do about anything?"
Giles adjusted his glasses.
"In every generation, there is a Chosen One," he intoned. Behind him, the people he came in with rolled their eyes, except for the youngest one. She looked like she might cry until Spike put a hand on her shoulder, which was kind of freaky but seemed to help. "She alone will stand against the vampires, the demons and the forces of darkness. She -"
"Are you insane? Am I?"
I'd whispered, but everyone heard and looked at me.
Giles stopped reciting and looked at me, quite seriously.
"No. You just have a unique and special dest-"
He almost fell off his seat when we all shouted at once.
"Don't say it!"
"I don't want to, and you can't make me," I said stubbornly, for what seemed like the hundredth time.
Mom sighed, and looked at Dad, who just shrugged helplessly. "Okay, then, we'll compromise. If we let you stay in Roswell while we're gone, you'll have to check in with both us and the Sheriff at least once a day. If anything happens, anything at all, you're staying with either him or Amy."
Immediately I straightened and tried to look as dependable and trustworthy as a teenager can.
"Oh, and Lizzie?"
"We know you're, uh, seeing Max again, and ..."
"Calm down, Dad. We're taking it slow. Nothing much is going to happen while you're gone."
For some reason he didn't find that as comforting as I thought he would. Huh.
I tried again. "Mom, Dad, it'll only be for a month. I could practically run this place in my sleep, and if anything serious happened, well, I'm here, and if it's anything I can't handle, Sheriff Valenti and Ms. Deluca are only minutes away. I promise I'll call every day - every day - and you'll see, there'll be nothing to worry about."
Reluctantly, they nodded, and each gave me a hug before going to pack for their trip. They were going to write it off as a business trip because they were going to two different conventions, but it was really a chance for Mom to visit my aunt, who was overdue to deliver twins and really, really wanted her big sister there.
I took a moment to grin. Maybe idiotically, maybe not. I just couldn't believe my luck.
With only a little more time, maybe I could get all this other stuff out of the way before they got back.
Okay, I didn't mean I wanted a to stage a battle the very next night. TPTB have a very strange sense of humour.
But battle we did, and considering how new I was at this, I think I showed some promise.
We were sitting in the Crashdown, waiting for the last customers to leave, when it happened.
Spike was able to give us a bit of a warning when he came in at dusk. "Something's coming," he said, grabbing a seat next to Isabel. "Actually, some things are coming. And" he added with a sneer, "they smell." I grinned when Isabel moved away from him a little.
Immediately Giles and Xander went to the window, Anya pulled Dawn out of her seat and asked Maria to show them somewhere a little more secure. Willow and Tara closed their eyes, apparently channelling their energies or something in preparation.
When Willow opened her eyes, they had changed. I shivered to see them spark with power and darken unnaturally. Tara, whose eyes did not change, sensed me watching and explained, "Willow is more powerful than I am. My job is to watch her back while she protects yours."
"Kyle," I said suddenly, "go back with Maria and the others, will you? I'm worried that something might try to come in a back way."
Suddenly Max, Isabel, Michael and Kyle were staring at me, and I blushed even as I stood my ground. It was true, I'd spoken with a little more authority than usual, but I really was worried that the humans, strictly speaking, were a little vulnerable.
"Maybe you should go with him," Max said. And I have to give him credit; he spoke casually. But I knew what he really meant, and I also knew this wasn't the time for it.
I didn't get a chance to argue before Giles nixed that idea anyway.
"Don't be silly, we need her here. Get it through your head: she's a Slayer. A woefully untrained one, to be sure, but she has the instincts and the abilities to back it up. She is needed here." His tone brooked no refusal, and I stood a little taller, a little prouder, as he spoke.
And when he turned back to the window, I stuck my tongue out at Max. Childish? Sure. Satisfying? Hell, yeah. Kyle was rolling his eyes at Max's expression when he headed into the back room.
"Careful, or I'll take that as an offer," Max murmured, and I closed my mouth with a snap, blushing furiously.
"Okay, we need a strategy," Giles continued. "Spike, Xander and I are all trained at hand-to-hand. We're frontmen. Willow and Tara will work on protection spells, and -"
I interrupted then. "Rather than rush them, stand back when they attack and let Michael have a crack at them first. Michael?" Then I reminded myself to lay off the rhyming in the future. It just wasn't good for the image.
"I'm up for it," Michael said, a little flatly, so I knew he was scared but in control.
"What about me?" Max asked. Good; it looked like he was getting a grasp on the situation.
"I think we should keep you back at first, because we might need your shield, and you should save your energy to heal anyone who gets hurt."
Without giving any of us time to let that sink in, I turned to Isabel. "Isabel, see if you can get into any of their minds, see what you can find out, or if there's anything you can do to them while you're in there. Or you know what? Just blast 'em."
She actually grinned slightly at that and moved to stand by Michael.
"What will you be doing?" Max persisted.
"Giles?" I asked. "You're the resident expert on slaying. What am I capable of?"
"Superhuman strength, agility, fast healing, fast reflexes," he rattled off. Then, with a speculative glance, "Do you have any weapons training?"
I nodded, and explained, for my friends' sake as much as the new group. "I got Kyle's dad - the Sheriff - to teach me how to shoot last year." As I spoke I pressed the release under the counter that no one except me and my parents knew about, and a hidden drawer slid out, supplying me with a gun and several clips of ammunition. I loaded one and placed the others strategically through my pockets. "I guess I had some gun issues to work out," I added quietly, more to my friends than the others.
"Fine, but that won't work on vampires," Giles said. "Here, take these as well." Opening a duffle bag, he pulled out several wooden stakes and adorably small crossbows, distributing them among the group. "Aim for the heart. That, beheading and sunlight or fire, are the only reliable ways of killing vampires."
We nodded in understanding. I could tell from the expressions on their faces that only now was this becoming real to Max, Michael and Isabel, and wondered if I had the same mix of grim fear, anticipation and determination on my face.
I joined Giles and Xander at the window. "Are we, um, being attacked by vampires then?" I asked, amazed the words were even coming out of my mouth.
Spike answered that one. Sniffing deeply, he estimated: "A couple demony types I can't identify 'til I see 'em, and a handful of vampires."
"Probably minions," Anya offered in a helpful tone. She came back? I looked, but thankfully Kyle, Maria and Dawn had stayed back and out of sight.
"Oh," I said. "No, uh, problem."
I pretended not to notice the way everyone looked at me then.
From then on, it just got weird.
The vampires weren't so bad. Kinda like Skins, truth be told, although obviously their spot of vulnerability was a little higher up. Michael and Isabel blasted two of them into little bits, and I figured out how to use the handheld crossbow a moment later.
It wasn't so hard. I just let myself get so scared that I couldn't think. My body - and don't think this isn't the weirdest sensation - just 'knew' what to do, so I let it.
I just went nuts on the vamps, and if I'd had a better idea of precisely where hearts are, I'm sure I would've killed as many as I staked. But I did manage to irritate some of them a lot before one of the others stepped in with more experienced aim.
My foot got a lot of demon face-smashing action too, and I can't even guess how my body knew just how flexible it had become. I certainly had no idea. But I will say that when you're short, counters are handy to have around. Great for getting a little height.
All told, I had one kill and three assists. Max was hard put to stand back, but in the end he really was needed more for healing. Mostly bruises and scrapes, but some were pretty bad. Like I said, Michael and Isabel killed a couple between them, and Giles' crew got the rest. I have to say, it was impressive how they seemed to know what to do. A lot of training goes into that kind of confidence and unity, I thought, and I found myself in utter awe of all of them.
The shock didn't set in until afterwards. It wasn't pretty.
But for the first time in a long time I felt like I'd found some direction again. A purpose. It was a good feeling.
And that's it. That's my story of how my life changed - again. Feel-good story of the year, right?
Maria says she's not surprised. She thinks that I just got addicted to almost getting killed on a regular basis so my body went and created the destiny I wanted for me. She says that like it makes sense. Then again, she and the witches are getting kind of cozy. Apparently they're all amateur chemists, and that's where I stop wanting to know what the three of them do when they get together. They look too happy to be entirely sober, is what I'm saying.
Not too surprisingly, Michael and Spike alternatively face off and get buddy-buddy, and the only one who seems to know which is which is Kyle, who's so happy to have 'guy culture' in his life again he cheers them on. Of course, Kyle's pretty happy in general these days because he can keep playing sports, since my changes are Slayer-related and not alien. No worries about the blood tests.
Spike is the one who found me. He says he can smell Slayers a mile away. Plus, an old friend of Xander's from L.A. had a vision or something, so they knew to come to Roswell. Xander won't say why she didn't come instead, though.
Isabel hangs out with Xander and Anya a lot, partly because she and Anya both like to shop and mock - sorry, "critique" - everyone's outfits, but also because Xander reminds her a lot of Alex. I know this, because he reminds me a lot of him too, and Maria and I already feel like we've known him for years.
Actually, of them all I'm probably closest to Dawn. I know we're not sisters, but in a way, we were both made out of Buffy, right? And maybe I just feel like I understand that look she gets in her eyes sometimes; I know what it's like to get so sad that really, nothing can make it better, and all you can do is ride it out until the worst of it passes. She asked to stay with me while my parents are gone, and I was shocked because it had never occurred to me that she wouldn't. Maybe I inherited more than one legacy from Buffy.
Or maybe it was Faith. She was another Slayer, and supposedly the Slayer thing should have passed down through her, so Giles is trying to figure out if something happened to her too. No one seems too upset at the prospect, which is something I'm not sure I want to know about.
Generally, though, I like Giles. He's friendly in a droll kind of way, and makes me look like a lot of fun in comparison, which is cool. Plus, apparently I'm older than your average fledgling Slayer, and Giles is going nuts trying to figure out if having multiple Slayers alive at once screwed with the normal pace of the prophecy. For my money, the only thing funnier than hearing him theorize about it all, is his idea of desert wear.
Willow did a memory-recovery spell on Max and he found out that Tess couldn't be pregnant because all they did that night in the observatory was play some cards before she pulled her little mind-whammy thing on him. The son thing at the lake? Flashback. Apparently being mindwarped is a lot like taking LSD; something can trigger an episode a long time later. I figure the cold water did it, made him suddenly feel the pain of his "dying son" or something, and his mind jumped to the most plausible explanation for it.
He's glad, of course, but he's still a little in denial about me, and still over-protective, so I'm kind of easing him in. I haven't even told him yet that Michael, Isabel and I think that maybe I have some resources to help them after all, even if I'm not the original mindwarping fourth.
I am making sure he gets to see the fun part of this whole thing, though. Slayer training means I'm suddenly a much better dance partner, and a little less scared to show a little more skin. I've got the moves now, and I like to use 'em. I don't hear Max complaining either, although I do get some odd looks from other people from time to time. And I'll never forget the time Paulie asked me - seriously - if I was Liz Parker's long-lost sister.
I wasn't that much of a nerd before this started, was I? I can't believe I've changed that much, not really. I'm just I'm still trying to grasp the probability stats on my life span as a Slayer, and I'm taking the circular route through fun and avoidance to get to logic and acceptance, okay? Cut me some slack. And while you're at it, forget that I just admitted to using calculus to figure out my new life expectancy, or I'll kick your ass.
Besides, doesn't anyone else remember a certain soap factory party where I - actually, forget that too. Let's just say that I'm letting Isabel initiate me into the fun world that is leather.
I still haven't figured out what I'm going to tell my parents when they get back in a couple weeks. I mean, the training? I'll already decided to say I've taken up an interest in gymnastics but my control-freak personality won't let me subjugate myself to some high school sports team mind-destroying mentality. If they don't buy that, I'll tell them about West Roswell's MVP and his budding Buddha obsession and let them draw their own conclusions.
The problem is the travelling. The Scooby gang can't stay that long, and I'm going to have to figure out a good cover story for why I need to go back to Sunnydale with them, for a while at least. I'm thinking accelerated college program?
Except they'll need some proof. Giles has some ideas about that; he thinks that if this Council wants to collaborate with me, they should put their considerable resources to good use. So when he's not trading insults and threats with them, he's working with them on providing some cover stories. Maybe even a real scholarship, because there's no way they'd accept me not going to college. And college has kind of been a bit of a dream for me too. For, like, my entire existence. I want to be elite, you know?
Er not that I'm feeling terribly mundane about life or my prospects or anything. Just oh, never mind. I don't think I can really explain it and I think I'm done babbling here anyway.
The point is, I'm ready to move on. I have my own destiny now, and somehow it helps. I always hated feeling useless and, like I said, for the first time in years I feel like my skin fits, like I can look in the mirror and see Me. And I'm living for Now.
In fact, right now I think I hear Max at the door. We're going dancing, and I want to see his eyes when he sees the slithery little number Maria, Isabel and Anya talked me into. And then I intend to push him into a dark corner and have my wicked and only technically virginal way with him.
Kidding, kidding. Anyway, catch you later. It's been fun.
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