Fandom: Buffy the Vampire Slayer (tv) [Wishverse], Angel (tv)
Characters: Buffy, the Cooper sisters
Summary/Teaser: Wishverse Buffy traveling from Cleveland to Sunnydale. ("i learn every room long enough to make it to the door, and then i hear it click shut behind me")
Warnings: --
Spoilers: --
Notes: Written for cookie_dough101 for voleuse’s Wishverse ficathon. The request: Buffy, NO PAIRING; Gritty, set during Buffy's travels (up until she arrives in Sunnydale)
Word Count: 1357

Standard Disclaimer: Joss Whedon and co. own the characters, I'm just playing with them. I do, however, own this story, so don't steal it. Archive it anywhere; just ask first.

Feedback is always appreciated. Make me blush with praise or rip apart the story with criticism, or both.

Thanks to buffyworld.com for episode transcripts and IMDb.com for providing handy lists of the episodes characters have appeared in. Many thanks to scrollgirl for ideas and for being possibly even better with off-the-cuff canon knowledge than I am. Oh, and yes the joke is from Wonderfalls. (If you know the show you'll know what I mean when you get there.)


Click Shut
by Elizabeth Scripturient
i learn every room long enough
to make it to the door
and then i hear it click shut behind me
-ani difranco, "dilate"
December in Cleveland was a bitch. Biting winds with bits of hail, and don't even get her started about what the snow is like. Sure it makes tracking easier, but when you're up to your knees in the soggy white stuff you're usually at a disadvantage versus the big ugly who has weapons, armor, and a size advantage all built in. And she was sure one of these days she was gonna get frostbite from slogging through the puddles of slush. So don't tell Buffy Summers how beautiful the snow looks. Her mother made that mistake one Thanksgiving morning. Buffy just barely controlled her Fist of Doom. With great effort she forced her mouth into a smile and nodded, murmuring something noncommittal.

She suffered through the day, listening to her mother talk about how thankful they should be that they didn't have to suffer through football games all day now that her father wasn't around. Buffy thought she actually would enjoy watching someone else get creamed in an epic struggle, but she didn't say that, didn't want to start a fight with her mother, too.

The next day she hopped on a bus out to L.A., figured she'd look up some old friends. Told her mother her Watcher was sending her to some special training. She'd know that was a lie once she got the credit card bill – Council always covered its own expenses – but Buffy didn't much care. Didn't tell her Watcher anything. He never believed any of her lies, and no excuse would ever be good enough for him anyway. Blah blah blah, it's the end of the world, for real, again.

***

She got off the bus and breathed in the smog. Sure it was a dirty city, but it was a damn sight warmer than Cleveland.

How long had it been since she had last been here? 3 years? Was getting so she could hardly remember her old life.

She looked up the Coopers first. She and Julia had always had so much fun together. 1722 Spaulding. Same apartment, which wasn't a surprise.

Justine was the one who answered, and she almost didn't recognize Buffy.

"Hey, Justine," Buffy said after the door was opened. "It's me, Buffy Summers."

"Oh wow, how are you? It's been so long. Good to see you. Come in, come in."

Buffy perched herself on a couch as Justine called for her sister and poured out some soda.

"So what brings you back here?"

Buffy shrugged. "Cleveland in December is a bitch. Cold and raw and too much goddamn wet. I needed out."

Justine nodded.

"Buffy? Is that really you? God, you've changed. You look so grown up." Julia threw her arms around her old friend, almost overturning the glass of soda Buffy had been holding.

"Yeah, it's really me. Thought I'd come back and see my girls."

"Oh, we've gotta go out clubbing. Justine never wants to go with me," she looked pointedly at her sister, "but she can't say no tonight. It's your homecoming. Oh, this'll be great. I know this terrific bar where they don't card."

"Is there anywhere in L.A. that does card?" Buffy asked, and they all laughed.

***

Soon they were full of brightly colored sugary drinks and pop songs with an obnoxiously heavy bass.

"I'm gonna live forever," Julia said as she headbanged to a particularly tinny song.

Buffy just laughed, but Justine wanted to believe her. Julia has always been the vibrant one, from the time they were children. Her blonde hair always better at catching the sun than Justine's. And now that they're older, Julia's always the one who catches all the attention. Justine doesn't mind. She'll just stand against the wall and watch.

"I'm dating a biker," Julia continued. "He's amazing. His whole body's like he's been carved up. No, not scarred -- he never gets in fights -- I mean like a statue, like he was carved out of a rock or something. He's so intense.

I'm gonna be an artist, you know. I draw my boyfriend a lot. In the nude. Him, not me. Well usually." She laughed. "He goes to sleep on the floor, half curled up. But his face never relaxes, like he's perpetually worried or something.

He's so dark. Like it's not that he's keeping a secret, it's that he is a secret. You know? Like the Endless."

Buffy looked blank.

"Sandman. Graphic novels," Justine filled in.

Buffy nodded. "Ah. I don't have much time for reading recently." A pause. "You be careful of those dark ones," she said to Julia. "They can be dangerous."

“Oh but that's what I love about them,” Julia said lightly.

Buffy sighed.

"So what are you doing these days, Buffy?"

"Oh let's not talk about me. Let's just dance."

Hours later Justine was looking tired and she pulled the two others off the dance floor. "I'm sorry, Buffy, but we’ve gotta get going. School tomorrow. You know how it is."

Buffy nodded, though in fact she had almost forgotten how it was.

When was the last time she so much as set foot inside a school building? Probably last fall when a whole bunch of vamps decided to make a name for themselves by making a feast out of the middle school’s production of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.

They had grown up a lot since she;d last seen them, but they were still so much younger than her. Oh they were all born the same year, that's how they knew each other, but once she got Called she stopped having time for fun, and then they moved to Cleveland and she never registered for the new high school, and her whole life had been all about the Slaying. She never really connected with anyone and honestly never really wanted to. She got the occasional fuck, but that wasn't connection, that was release.

And release was what tonight was all about. She knew she could have gone home with Julia and Justine. Guaranteed a warm place to crash, a shower in the morning, some food. But it felt so good to burn off energy like this. She hadn't danced in so long. And it was like it was just her and that horrible bass beat, the only real thing in this sea of mass and heat. None of the guys even touched her. She knew she gave off that air like she would kill them if they so much as breathed on her, and it wasn't all that far from the truth.

While she was dancing she felt a familiar clutch in her stomach. She pulled a stake out of her boot, turned around, and threw straight at the heart.

The only person who noticed the shower of dust was a blond woman, who moved her gaze from the now nonexistent vampire to the Slayer. "I was talking to him, you know."

"Didn't your mama ever teach you not to talk to strangers?"

"He wasn’t a stranger."

“Do you normally talk to the undead?"

"You make it sound like I hold séances, like I can talk to the dead or something."

"Can you do that? 'Cause I could see that being a highly marketable skill."

"No, I don't talk to the dead. A place like L.A., though, a lotta people talk to the undead. Most of them just don't know it."

Buffy nodded. She felt like she should pursue this conversation, but she didn’t know how to, and she didn’t really want to either. Then her ass started vibrating. Who the shit invented these tiny phones anyway? She pulled it out and put it up to her ear, sighing. "Yeah? Sunnydale? Southern California? Yeah, I can be there soon. Yeah, I'll find directions. Bus waiting for me? What kind of mojo you people have that you always know where the fuck I am? Yeah, I'll be at the station in ten. Thanks for nothing." She snapped the phone shut and headed for the door.

Guess she'd have to cut this little vacation short and head south. You'd think one Hellmouth would be enough for a continent. At least it didn't snow there.


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