Forget and Smile – Chapter Eight

This entry is part 8 of 16 in the series Forget and Smile
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Title: Forget and Smile

Rating: R, eventually

Disclaimer: All characters are the property of Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, etc. Only the lame plots and dialogue herein are mine.

Notes: This is a sequel to Sweet Lethe, a short story I wrote just after Chosen aired. At the time, I called it my Silly!Sappy!Amnesiac!Shanshued!Spike tale, and that still strikes me as a pretty good summary. I started writing the follow-up then, but never finished, although I kept adding bits from time to time. I suppose the delay makes sense, because the story picks up years later, when Buffy goes to visit Willow and Spike. She hasn’t seen him since the events in Sweet Lethe, and he still has no memory of his past and no idea he was once a vampire.

Word Count: Still editing, but this got away from me. It’s going to be a long one, folks, at least 25,000 words.

Thanks: To keswindhover and revdorothyl for betaing, and enigmaticblues for reopening the comm and running this season in spite of having an incredibly busy life.

The story begins here.


Buffy led her first group of Martial Arts students through a series of stretches, using the time to calm her nerves.

So far, she’d only learned the names of two students. Trudy, the reason a new teacher had been needed, was a powerfully built older teen who had only recently become a slayer. No one had ever fully determined why some girls got their powers when they were very young and others didn’t until they nearly reached adulthood. Whatever power was making that decision may have made a mistake in Trudy’s case. It had ignored her throughout years of abuse, and only made itself known when the girl was filled with enormous anger.

On the other hand, the other student Buffy knew had been called unusually early, and she had apparently been pretty angry by then as well. Willow had warned her that although Katie was the youngest student in the class, she had been at the school the longest, training since before she could reliably tell her right from her left.

Right, no underestimating Katie. Buffy stood up and turned around, signaling to the class to stand. On second thought, no underestimating any of them.

She started on some drills and then set them to practicing their forms so that she could evaluate their skills. As she walked around, observing and making a few suggestions, nearly a dozen sets of eyes followed her warily. Most of them were performing with what she suspected was unusual diligence, but although Buffy had been told Trudy was the best fighter in the class, her form was terrible; she was forgetting the moves and starting over, then executing them poorly. She kept looking at Buffy and the other girls as if she expected everyone to turn and condemn her.

Willow had offered to pull Trudy from class, but Buffy thought that would be the worst thing, confirming in the girl’s own mind that she was evil and not to be trusted. The school employed a therapist who was working with Trudy, but Buffy didn’t think that would do any good if the girl felt rejected by the other slayers.

Now, she walked past Trudy without comment, giving her an encouraging glance, and was rewarded when the next form was a big improvement on the first.

Most of the others were performing in a way that gave Buffy a very good impression of their regular instructor. At least, their forms were good. But as they finished, a small buzz of conversation started in one corner. She turned to stare at the offender.

It was one of the older girls, who flushed and said, “Sorry, Ms. Summers. I just wanted to tell Angela that I’ve gotten my assignment.”

“That’s exciting news,” Buffy agreed. “Where are you going?”

“I’ve been accepted to NYU, so I’m going to be teamed with a Slayer in New York, and I can train with her while I’m taking classes.” The girl’s eyes shone, and Buffy couldn’t blame her. She knew most of the students came from the Midwest and many hadn’t seen much of the world. New York must seem like a glorious adventure. “Spike says he’s met her and she’s a good fighter and has great taste in music.”

If that means Spike’s taste in music, you may want to bring earplugs, thought Buffy, but she didn’t want to dampen the enthusiasm.

Since Buffy had tolerated one interruption, the students decided that she would put up with even more. “I think it must have been more fun in the old days,” said one, “when there weren’t any experienced slayers and all the chosen girls just had to make it up as they went along.”

Buffy was too rocked by the shock of hearing the events immediately after the destruction of Sunnydale referred to as “the old days” to respond.

“Duh.” Katie grimaced at that. “I don’t want to be assigned to some bossy old slayer either, but the reason there were no experienced slayers then was that they were all dead. Spike says slayer mortality has dropped 50 percent in the past five years.”

Buffy had a feeling she was going to hear the words “Spike says” a lot.

Another girl snorted. “And how much of that is because they keep us younger ones locked up in these kinds of places and then make most of us go to college?” She turned to Buffy. “How old were you when you first started slaying, Ms. Summers?”

Younger than most of you. In fact, when I died the first time I was younger than most of you are now. Buffy pretended she hadn’t heard the question. “Come on,” she said. “Let’s do some sparring.”

They had started before she realized that with these young students she should have demanded they put on protective gear. But by then the girls were lined up, two-by-two, selecting partners and bowing ceremoniously. And because there was an odd number of girls in the class, one of them stood across from her.

At first, Buffy wasn’t sure if Katie had partnered with her because they were closest in height or for some ulterior reason. But by the time Buffy had blocked three kicks without attacking in return, Katie’s expression was grim, and Buffy realized that this fight was very important to her.

Buffy had been tempted to go easy during this first real sparring match with a student, but after she had moved to a cautious offense only to have Katie block the testing blows, she realized the rest of the class had stopped to watch them. She backed up let her gaze focus on some of the students’ faces for fractions of second. They were as intent as Katie.

So, this sparring session was a test for the new teacher, and Katie was the one chosen to challenge her skill. Buffy’s eyes flicked to Trudy, who was standing a little apart from the others, pretending disinterest.

I should be glad that Trudy isn’t the one they picked. Either it means they don’t trust her or she doesn’t trust herself, or both. Both, I hope.

Then she had to give Katie her full attention, because the girl moved in for the attack, and Buffy realized that if Trudy was the best student in the bunch, she must be very good indeed. Katie’s form wasn’t perfect, but she had power and determination, and she’d learned to watch her opponent and predict moves.

Still, it took Buffy only a few minutes to get Katie’s measure and to make sure she kept the upper hand, if not too obviously so. She didn’t allow Katie to land any blows, but she was careful not to strike too often or too hard herself either. Get their respect, but don’t trample their self-esteem.

Katie wasn’t liking the situation a bit. After her third attempt to get a roundhouse kick under Buffy’s guard failed, she uttered a frustrated grunt and disappeared.

Now, that’s not playing fair. Buffy jumped back instinctively, but Katie moved in with a blow to the stomach.

It takes more than that to wind me, you brat. But Buffy pulled back further, grimacing as if she felt more pain than she did. Her acting didn’t extend to panting, though. She needed to listen. And to be careful not to hurt her unseen adversary when she administered a very well-earned coup de grace.

Katie didn’t immediately pursue her unfair advantage. Buffy wondered if the girl was afraid she’d gone too far by disappearing. The blow had been a strong one too, but they were slayers and didn’t expect much holding back, even in a casual match.

Maybe Katie was trying to be sporting enough to give Buffy time to recover. Too bad. Buffy had no qualms at all about dodging behind the girl, grabbing her by the back of her jacket, and tossing her into a pile of wrestling mats.

“Hey!” yelled Katie, returning to visibility to gape at Buffy in astonishment.

Buffy grinned. “Nice to see you again.”

Katie mumbled something about not having good control when she got over-excited. Buffy decided to let that pass. She didn’t want to start handing out punishments her first day on the job. For one thing, it would make her feel too much like a real teacher.

“How’d you do that?” the girl who had boasted of her New York assignment asked Buffy. “It’s like you knew exactly where she was.”

“I did.” Buffy reached down to help Katie up. “I’ve fought a lot of battles in the dark, and even a few with invisible opponents.”

Peripheral vision told Buffy she had gained respect from the class, but she was looking directly at Katie’s bowed head, and the girl’s stance and her dull tone warned Buffy that the respect had come at the expense of her sparring partner’s adolescent ego.

“Of course, my w–my teacher used to make me spar blindfolded all the time, and that helped a lot. Have you guys ever done that drill?”

Heads shook.

“I used to hate it, but it saved my life a few times. He made me learn to move quietly too.” She spoke directly to Katie. “I’ll work on that with you next. Between that, your invisibility, and your good form, you’ll be a real menace. But we’ll need to pick out some clothes that don’t make any noise at all when you move, to make it really even next time.”

Katie looked down at her jeans, t-shirt, and hoodie. “These are noisy?”

“I could hear denim rubbing against denim, and that zipper clicked a few times.”

One of the other girls jumped into the conversation. “What’s the best thing to wear on patrol?”

“Well,” said Buffy, remembering a particular incident, “You’re better off with tight-fitting clothes. Bulky stuff rubs and gives you away, and so does carting around too much equipment. Keep it really simple when it’s hot and stick to soft fabrics when it’s cold.” And then watch the guys in full combat gear stare when the girl in the halter top does what they couldn’t.

Katie’s head came up. “Hey, what if we tried this with me invisible and blindfolded!”

Buffy smiled in unfeigned pleasure. “That would be great. We’ll do it next time.” She moved back to the front of the class. “Okay, a couple of more drills and we’ll call it quits for the day.”

The class ended in relative silence, and Buffy’s only conclusion was that it could have gone a lot worse. Katie had obviously set out to impress Buffy, and she had. But Buffy liked her most for being so interested in a new approach to honing her fighting skills that she’d forgotten her anger at being beaten. If any of the other girls were like her, Buffy might actually enjoy parts of this job.

Chapter Nine


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