Title: Return to Sunnydale (Companion piece to the Vid ‘The Spell’)
Characters: Vamp!?, Buffy, Joyce, Giles, Willow, Xander
Warning: Major Character Death
Timeline: Beginning of season 3
Summary: An excerpt from the AU created in the Fanvid “The Spell”. Buffy returns to Sunnydale and finds that nothing is as she left it.
Return to Sunnydale
It had been nearly three months, but the last conversation they’d had was still fresh in Buffy’s mind. “I’m a Slayer.” “I don’t accept that.” “I have to go save the world.” “If you leave this house, don’t come back.” After everything was finished, she had come back, but not to see her mother, only to leave a note. It seemed so impossible to face her then, to face any of them.
Taking a deep breath, Buffy knocked on the door. She must have thought about turning away a hundred times before it opened. But she was still there, and the look she received was filled with nothing but love and relief. Buffy was home.
Welcoming arms enfolded the Slayer and pulled her inside. “I’ve missed you so much,” Joyce wept into her daughter’s hair.
“I know, Mom. I’m sorry. Everything was just so messed up.”
“Shhh,” Joyce held her head and looked into her eyes. “That was then. You’re here now. That’s all that matters.”
“I love you,” Buffy whispered in overwhelmed relief.
Buffy watched her mother excitedly skitter around the kitchen, making dinner. ‘You must be hungry,’ she’d said. The Slayer didn’t know if her stomach was ready for food just yet, but she didn’t have the heart to keep her mom from taking care of her. By the time they sat down, the wonderful aromas had revitalized her appetite anyway.
After several minutes of small talk, Buffy began, “I know you still don’t understand all this Slayer stuff. That note I left wasn’t very clear…”
“Oh,” Joyce answered. “I understand more than you think. I can see what you were up against now.” She reached to cover her daughter’s hand. “And I’m so sorry I wasn’t there to support you.”
Buffy blinked some moisture from her eyes. “I wanted to tell you so many times. It was just that… Everyone who knew seemed to always be in danger. I couldn’t stand worrying about you, too.” She smiled at Joyce’s accepting nod. “That reminds me. I should go find my friends. They’re probably really mad at me for running away.” She noticed her mother duck her head with a deep frown. “What is it? Is something wrong?”
Still avoiding Buffy’s gaze, Joyce took a deep, steadying breath. “Oh, Buffy… Sunnydale isn’t the same as when you left. It… It’s theirs now. All your friends from school, they’ve been taken. Sunnydale belongs to the vampires.”
“No…” Buffy breathed. “Willow?! Xander?!”
“I’m so sorry, Honey. They were among the earliest to go missing. Some of the high-school kids… And then the mayor and all his people were murdered. Buffy, your friends… he made them like him. He made them his… well, really they’re his enforcers. Xander and Willow are the vampires who run this town.”
Tears were streaming down Buffy’s face. “Who, Mom? Who did this to them?”
“Only a few have ever actually seen him. They always call him ‘Sir’. He makes his soldiers and then sends them out to do what he commands.”
“This is all my fault,” Buffy stood suddenly, agitated. “I have to do something. Have to stop this.”
“It will be all right, Mom. I just need to figure out… I need to find Giles! He’ll know what to do. I need to go get--”
“Buffy,” Joyce shook her head. “Do you mean the school librarian, Mr. Giles? But… he disappeared when you did. Some even thought you and he… ran away together. They had seen the pair of you around town. It was hard for me to believe, but…”
“Mom, Giles was my Watcher. He helped my fight them. If he disappeared,” she sat back down heavily, “he probably tried to stop this by himself and…” Dropping her face into her hands, Buffy began to weep.
Her mother wrapped her in a tight hug. “I’m sorry about all of this. But you can’t blame yourself. What could you have done to change anything?”
Buffy looked up with watery eyes. “I’m the Slayer. It was my job to stop this from happening.” She stood up again with determination. “And it’s my job to fix it now.”
“It’s too late!” Joyce grabbed her arm. “Sunnydale is lost. Everything is shut down. Everyone who survived has left town.”
“Then why haven’t you?” the Slayer wiped her tears away.
“I wanted to be where you could find me when you came home. But, now that we’re together again, we can leave this place for good.”
“You don’t understand. I can’t.”
“Yes,” Joyce pleaded. “We can and we must. If you go upstairs and pack everything you need right now, we can still get out before sundown, before they even know you’re here.”
“I need to stop them.”
“I know. But if you go out there tonight, you won’t stand a chance. Please, Buffy, let’s go and we can fight them from the outside. Please… He’ll kill you.”
Something in her mother’s panic got to Buffy. “Ok, we’ll go.” But when she got to her room the weight of her failure was too much to ignore. Her sorrow turned to anger. “I’m sorry, Mom, but I can’t leave them like this,” she whispered as she gathered her weapons and climbed out the window.
The Slayer was shocked that she hadn’t noticed anything on her way back home, but her mother was right, Sunnnydale had changed. The darkening streets were deserted. There were lights on in only every fourth or fifth house. Most of downtown was boarded up or in ruins. It looked like she had missed the apocalypse.
Buffy firmly stamped down on her guilt. She knew she was supposed to have been there, to stop this. But the past couldn’t be helped now. Just looking at the state of the town told her that this new master vampire, this ‘Sir’, wasn’t going to stop here. This was only his starting point, and she had to stop him from going any farther.
She was quiet and kept to the darkness until she made it to Restfield cemetery. It was a bad idea to alert a town full of vampires that the Slayer was home. Buffy didn’t know why, but Restfield felt like the best place to start. If she could only find and kill the leader… Vampires weren’t known to be super sentimental. The rest might scatter and thin out enough for her to eventually clean up the town. Something was drawing her there. Something she didn’t quite understand.
She could hear them talking as she silently crept closer. It sounded like a soldier’s report was being given to his commander.
“…We have three that are to be born here tonight. I know you like to be present to greet them. And a scout said that there might have been a girl who got off the bus today, Sir.”
That was all Buffy needed to hear. He was right in front of her. The bastard who had killed all her friends, terrorized her mother, and taken her home away. Raising her crossbow, she glared at his back, at the tiny target of his non-beating heart.
“Hmm. We may have to look into that,” Sir answered in voice that made Buffy flinch as she pulled the trigger.
The arrow struck him, but missed his heart and spun him around. Buffy nearly collapsed in grief at what she saw.
“Giles?” she gasped. “No! It can’t be. It can’t be you. Why…? How…? Who did this to you?!”
Her Watcher stood up tall and pulled the arrow from his own back. “It seems we have the answer to the question of the Slayer’s return. Disappointing,” her murmured, seemly thinking of something else for a moment. “As for the answers to your questions, my dearest. After what your Angel put me through, I was all too happy to let Drusilla show me my true potential.”
“No! I killed Angel… To save you.”
“A tad too late, I’m afraid. But thank you for getting that troublesome obstacle out of my way. The fool could never really see the bigger picture.” He smiled wickedly at her sorrowful expression. “Now,” he glanced toward a vampire emerging from the trees, “if you will?”
“My pleasure,” Xander grinned, showing his fangs, and sprinted after the Slayer.
Buffy was massively out-numbered and too overwhelmed to think straight. Her only choice was to run for her life.
They kept on her like a pack of wild dogs. Herding her, harassing her. As she entered the town center, Buffy knew she had to stop and fight. If she could only take out a few, her chances would be better. Glancing back, she saw no one she recognized. Knowing this was the time, she turned to make her stand.
Joyce jumped at the knock on the front door. She had done her best, but Buffy was as stubborn as ever. As she slowly approached, she couldn’t shake the feeling that they knew. Somehow he always knew.
She pulled the door open to see him standing there. A shiver ran through her at the sight.
“Good evening, Joyce,” he greeted her in his smooth, easy tone. “May I come in?”
One doesn’t live in a town ruled by vampires without learning the rules, and Joyce had learned them all very quickly. She knew never to invite a vampire into your home. But, she also knew that this particular vampire was only asking as a polite formality. The whole town was his. Between his powers of persuasion and his sway over the magickal forces, he had access to anywhere he wished. And if he was ever blocked, he had his very own Furies ready to rain fire down upon any who resisted. Ethan and Willow dealt swift punishment to those who thought magick might save them.
Joyce silently stepped aside so he could enter.
“Is there something you think you should tell me?” he asked conversationally as he continued into the living room. “Some news I might be interested in?”
Lying to him was dangerous, but Joyce had to keep her daughter safe. “I… I’m not sure. Is there something in particular you’d like to know?”
The vampire sighed as he turned to look at her, his small smile not unpleasant. “Tell me, my dear… Have I ever been unfair to you? Ever unkind? You live in peace, unharassed and under my protection. You are provided with every comfort. My children have been of service, whatever your need. Is this not true?”
“Y-yes. Your kindness and mercy towards me have been much appreciated.”
“And all this I gave to you in return for one small favor. You were to tell me when our prodigal Slayer returned.”
“Please,” Joyce cried, falling to her knees before him and grasping at his hands. “She won’t bother you. I promise. Just let me take her away. Let me… We’ll go across the country, to the other side of the world. I didn’t tell her who you are. She doesn’t know. Just… please don’t kill my daughter.”
“My dear woman,” Giles’ calming voice sighed as he gently pulled her up. “Get to your feet. You are much too strong for such a display. Too dignified to be begging.”
“I’ll give you anything if you’ll let my little girl live.”
He frowned in false pity. “The problem we’re facing is that you’re wrong about something. You see, the fresh wound in my back says that the Slayer has, in fact, discovered exactly who I am… and was.”
“She wounded you?” Joyce breathed in astonishment.
“Have no illusions that she’ll get another chance. It was a blind shot from behind. If I’d been paying any attention, I would have felt her presence so near.”
Joyce fought to keep from disintegrating into terror for her daughter. “But… If she does know who you are now, won’t that make it harder for her to hunt you?” she reasoned hopefully.
A soft smile slid across Giles’ face. “Ah, but you and I both know our girl far too well for that. Knowing my identity will only seal the Slayer’s determination to destroy me. As some misguided final tribute to the man I once was.”
“Please,” she breathed desperately. “I’ll give you anything you like.” Stepping in close to him, she began placing uncertain kisses along his throat.
The vampire stood motionless, allowing the delicious groveling to continue for several moments. Eventually, Joyce looked up to see if he was showing any interest in her offer. The face staring down at her was cruel and heartless.
“Foolish creature. Do you truly imagine that I am lacking in any of my desires?” He grabbed her wrist, pulling her hard against his body. “Do you think you can win favor by offering me what is already mine?”
Tears flooded Joyce’s eyes at the sight of the vampire’s true face. She whimpered, “You can do whatever you want with me, just don’t hurt Buffy. Please.”
He slowly bent to her neck, stopping to whisper into her ear. “I give my word that I will not harm your daughter. I’ll only watch as you bring her to me.” With a final sob from his victim, he plunged his fangs into her lovely flesh.
Buffy had just dusted the third vampire and looked up for an escape. Her heart shattered once again. Both Xander and Willow stood there, calmly watching her.
“I’m so sorry, you guys,” she whispered.
“Sorry?” Xander snorted. “Don’t worry, they weren’t very useful anyway.”
“I don’t think she was talking about dusting our soldiers,” Willow leaned in and purred in his ear.
“I should have been here,” the Slayed muttered. “I might have been able to save Giles and both of you.”
“Aww,” Willow gave an exaggerated pout. “Look how much she seems to care. Better late, I guess.”
Xander chuckled. “How ‘bout it, Wills? You want to go back to being little Willow Rosenberg? To following the Slayer around like a couple of dogs?”
“Wasn’t very much fun before. I like the way things are now.”
“I thought you guys were safe. I thought Giles would look after you.”
“Oh, he did,” Willow grinned. “I was his first.”
“Always the favorite. Teacher’s pet,” Xander cooed, caressing her cheek.
“I remembered you, didn’t I?”
“Yes, you did. And still you make me share.”
Willow laughed as he pulled her closer. “Are you jealous of him… or me?”
“Don’t have to be,” he answered in a low growl.
The vampires shared a wet kiss. Buffy cringed at the conversation, and Willow noticed.
“Don’t worry, Buffy. Sir is generous with all his favorites. You’ll see.”
“I don’t want to see. I want my Watcher and my friends back! Damn Spike. He was supposed to take Drusilla away from here.”
“Spike?” Xander gazed at Willow absently for a moment. “Oh yeah. He didn’t last very long, did he?”
“See what happens when you’re a big baby and won’t share?” Willow teased him.
“Stop it!” Buffy shouted.
Willow looked at her, perplexed. “Don’t worry, Buffy. All those daydreams we used to have in the library can come true now.”
“No! I never daydreamed about Giles like that. He was my Watcher.”
“Oh,” the vampire stuck her bottom lip out. “Well, Willow did. She never would have done anything about it in her mousey, pathetic life, of course. Shame really. He’s very, very--”
“Stop! He’s dead. A vampire now. You all are. Not my friends… Vampires! And I slay vampires. So come on and let’s do this. I’m not going to let you demons keep them.”
Xander laughed. “She thinks we’re here to fight with her.”
“Always was a slow learner,” Willow tutted, shaking her head.
“What do you mean?”
“Our orders,” Xander grinned wickedly, “were to keep you busy for a while.”
Willow smiled, “Sir wanted a little time to… add to the family.”
“No. No!” Buffy cried, running past them as they laughed and kissed.
Joyce was delicately laid out on the couch, still, peaceful, as beautiful as ever. She was waiting there for her daughter to come home. Buffy went numb at the sight. The world around her moved in slow motion as she completely shut down.
She didn’t even react to stop them when a group of vampires came to collect the body, all impeccably dressed in the finest of mourning clothes. She recognized some of her classmates… Harmony, Larry, Devon. They carried Joyce out, lifted on their shoulders like royalty. Buffy followed in silence. They were met at Restfield by Cordila, and led to a prepared plot. Joyce was buried with the greatest care.
Buffy spent the next three days alone. She walked the streets, never seeing the demons she once called friends. All other vampires stayed clear of her. She knew they didn’t fear the Slayer. They were ordered not to molest her by someone they feared and respected much more. Every morning she woke to find fresh food for the day in her kitchen, complete with a different variety of ice cream.
Buffy knew, even dead and evil, Giles was still taking care of her.
The third night came, and Buffy stood at the grave site, waiting for sunset. But, as the night grew, so did the number of vampires waiting to welcome their newest sister. The Slayer wouldn’t get a chance to slay that night.
It wasn’t long before she found them. Together, just like any happy couple out on the town. Buffy had steeled herself, ready to win this fight for the sake of those she loved. Her heart wasn’t in it. The vampires knew her too well. They would only let her see the faces of Giles and her mother, never the monsters she wanted to kill. It was strangely peaceful and comforting when Buffy fell to her own mother’s bite.
Sir lifted the Slayer’s body, carrying her gently through the streets to the gathered, reunited Scooby Gang. They grinned at him as he tenderly laid her in her own bed to rest and wake up anew.
“Now our family is complete. It is time for the world to learn who we are.” His yellow eyes sparkled as he waited for the birth of his warrior child.