Fic: Cruellest Month

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OK, a little late, but it’s still Friday in plenty of places! It’s so cool to see so many contributions piling up in this round. Here’s my little offering – vaguely post-NFA, not particularly comics-compliant. It’s that time of year again, when things build to a head and apocalypses have to be faced one more time.

Fic: Cruellest Month
Rating: G
Period: post NFA
Writer: gillo

This time of year always made Buffy antsy. Not tense, exactly, just easily twitched. Sunnydale might be rubble in a crater filled in by government order, but April was the cruellest month still, the time apocalypses started building. The time memories were harder to force back where they belonged.

Dawn was on Spring Break back in the States too, and that helped not one teensy bit. Or Bit. Because that was the point, wasn’t it, however hard she tried to think it away? At least Dawn remembered the Sunnydale days, unlike these mini-Slayers, who were hardly out of grade school when it all happened. No shared memories there.

Unshared memories could be of the good. Nobody to accuse you of still having the hots for a long-dusty vampire could be helpful. Nobody to catch sight of a bleached blond head in the distance and turn to you with a look of wild surmise, and excitement that was always, but alwaysdamped when they caught up with him or sometimes even her.

On the other hand, no Dawn meant no excuse to talk about memories into which just sometimes, just accidentally, a certain name might creep. No distraction, either, from a sequence of very nasty dreams and a strong sense of discomfort at the back of her neck. Something was definitely outside.

Buffy shook her head, straightened her spine and marched into the common room, where a small group of young women disported themselves in various postures, all of them expressing idleness and boredom.

“Heads up, girls”, her crisp voice stirred most of them into paying some sort of attention. A few even sat up, seeing the look of determination on her face.

“It’s Apocalypse Time again. Time to investigate what’s the what and do our thing.”

A general groan. Not exactly unexpected – she knew she had a lot to live down with the older team members at least. General Buffy had been lying low in recent months, nothing like as bad as she had been three years ago, after the escape from the crater and the relocation of the team across to Europe. Some, but not all, of those present remembered her from then, intense, focussed, avoiding all closeness as she organised the floods of new Slayers, the calls from across the world, the local disasters as newly-empowered super-heroines messed up with their families, their friends, their societies.

That had been a tough time. It was all very well for about three dozen to Choose on the edge of the Hellmouth, but picking up the pieces for those for whom the choice had been made without consultation – that took longer. For most of a year now, though, there had been fewer and fewer cries for help, fewer emergencies.

So many fewer that half the admin team had gone away. Giles was back in his home near Bath, working on resurrecting a relationship soured by Sunnydale. Dawn was back in California, catching up with old friends. Andrew, thank all possible goddesses, was back in Rome, acting the suave Watcher and convincing himself, if nobody else, of his cool mastery of intrigue.

So much the wrong time for an Apocalypse, then. All was peace and plenty – two of the girls were even crafting cunning little Easter baskets to hide eggs in. Yes, Slayers were young, still. Buffy sighed, but maintained her resolve face.

“I’ve been having these Slayer dreams for a week now. Anyone else?” Two tentative hands rose. “Dragons, rain, orcish types, yes?”

Two other heads nodded, four further faces showed surprise. Clearly more training on recognising Slayer dreams might be in order. “OK. Newsflash – vivid dreams like that? Worth talking about. Two of us get the same dream, it’s weird. Nine of us? Time to saddle up, gals.”

Idleness turned instantly into organised activity. Sharpened stakes and sharper blades were thrust into canvas bags, tough boots replaced furry slippers, layers of smart but warm and practical clothing were donned. Cellphones were thrust beneath layers of clothing because, hey, still teenage girls in the main, and gradually all eyes were turned again on the General.

“Who was in Sunnydale? Right – Vi, you lead that group, right? Head to the back door, scout around. First sign of an ubervamp or similar, you call me. No heroics, you hear?”

The redhead nodded and led her contingent to the rear of the building. Buffy scanned the remaining handful. “I have no idea what we are up against here, but if in doubt, kill. We’ve had no warning from oracles or prophecies, so it’s either all our imagination or a nasty that’s not in the book. I say we play like it’s real. You with me?”

Some of the younger faces were pale, some with excitement, some as if barfing might not be out of the question. Buffy repressed a pang. At their age she’d saved the world how many times? “Front door. Stay behind me till I give the signal. Don’t forget – if it’s a vamp or a demon, it has its weapon. Make sure you don’t have to reach for yours.” Good advice that. Best not to think where she’d heard it first.

She checked her hair in the mirror as she went past. How had she let it get so dark? How did she even have time for such thoughts anyway? Door knob in hand, she checked her team was in position, then yanked it open.

Someone else had paid less attention to the bleach bottle. Someone who should have been dust years back, but was standing there, lips slightly apart, one eyebrow raised just a teensy bit, blue eyes bluer than ever. She felt her knees begin to buckle.

“Vampire,” one of her team announced, lunging forward, stake in fist. Instinctively, Buffy slammed her arm back, creating a bar across the open doorway. At no point did she drag her eyes away from the being in front of her. At no point did she pay attention to the hubbub behind her.

It was only the appearance of Vi and her gang, moving in a way they no doubt considered stealthy, creeping up behind her visitor, that finally triggered Buffy into action. Even then, if was pretty much action of the action-free kind. “Weapons down!” she croaked. It was a surprisingly assertive croak; the mini-slayers did as instructed.

Vi’s jaw dropped so swiftly it almost hit the ground. “Buffy! Is this …?”

“Looks like.” She answered. He still stood there, smirking a little now, but very, very still. “Well. Are you?”

“Am I what, Slayer?” definitely a smirk. “Me? Yes, as far as I can tell. Still dead, still here. Took a while to find you, love. Gonna ask me in?”

There was only one possible reaction to that. She punched his nose. Then she invited him to cross her threshold.

“Ow. Why is id always by dose?” Spike was performing to the hilt, communicating a pain which would have been much more convincing if he had not been grinning at the same time, with eyes that, yes, actually did dance.

“Because you’re stupid. And missing. And burnt up in a crater, remember? And there’s an Apocalypse on the way. Or are you it?”

“Nope, not it. You’re not the only one with contacts and dreams though, pet. There’s a big nasty out there. Nothing you can’t handle, mind, not a hellgod or original evil, just a bloody big escapee from Jurassic Park by the looks of it. You want some help with that?”

Around them a bunch of wide-eyed, speechless girls watched the exchanges. The contingent late of Sunnydale had some idea of what might happen. The youngest, though, the girl who had been Called moments before Spike had burned to ashes, she just stared. And stared. As the Slayer and the vampire bickered, traded a punch apiece, kissed as if their lives depended on it.

And turned, as one. As one superb, polished machine, each hefting weapons with lethal grace.

“Watchoo bints looking at? We hafta go kill us a demon.”

And suddenly, after a quick nod from Buffy – sensible, adult, General Buffy – the pair were off, running towards danger. The others could catch up if they wanted, but they truly were not needed. Nor anyone else now.


Originally posted at