Snapshots 03
by Aadler
Copyright October 2022


Disclaimer: Characters from Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel: the Series are property of
Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, Kuzui Enterprises, Sandollar Television, the WB, and UPN.



xxi – Glass Ceiling

Riley studies the ‘washout form’ in front of him, sighs. He’d had hopes for the new recruit: so much talent, drive, raw potential … but this is how it’s done at this level. Push till they break, then see how they deal. And she, apparently, can’t deal with failure.

Shame, but that’s how it is.

She arrives on the dot: enters, salutes, ignores the form he pushes toward her. “If you want me out,” she says levelly, eyes on his, “you’ll have to have me carried out.” Beat. “Sir.”

Well.

“Hit the rack,” he tells her. “Tomorrow, training starts for real.”


xxii – Beg to Differ

Drusilla doesn’t actually see the future, but she sees many things that lead to the future. It’s so common that, often, she acts on parts while letting the rest fall away.

In May of 2002, new events trigger old memories, and fill in, oh! such delicious details! Turnabout, and leap-frog, and mixing up the chairs, and Spike — already brought so low — humiliatingly bonded to one he despises (and that one, too, rather entertainingly altered) …

The alleys of Rijeka echo with peals of mad, delighted laughter.

And in Brussels, a vampire named Gutrick shivers suddenly, and has no idea why.


xxiii – First Do No Harm

Douglas is so grateful to the Slayer. Obviously, I owe her a lot myself. It makes me feel guilty that I didn’t actually like her.

She was just so much like the vicious, vapid girls I loathed in high school. Besides, she saved me, and Katie, but somehow failed to save my husband (and I feel guilty about that, because Douglas and I could never have been together otherwise).

It’s not just me. Katie, even in hero-worship, seems uncertain, and Dustin refuses to talk about Buffy at all.

Maybe I’ll work through it eventually.

Somehow, though, I doubt that.


xxiv – Yet to Be Seen

She could have been a hero.

She was headed that way, for a while. Watching over the school, preventing a few likely catastrophes … but some things went wrong, shaking her assurance, and, honestly, she just lost interest. Still trying to find her purpose then, and that wasn’t quite it.

Now she’s here. And what she’s learning sounds useful, even rewarding … but, heroic? Nuh-uh.

If she could have just dealt with Cordelia, put that behind her, she’d have been able to move on. But no-o-ooo.

Screw it.

She could have been a hero. Maybe she still will, someday.

Not today, though.


xxv – Learning Curve

Isobel knows Slayers. She’s only ever seen two, but she knows Slayers.

And she hates them. They fight the fight, and she respects that, but they cheat: supernatural power, coming from outside, nothing they earned. She’d use that if she had it, but having it doesn’t make them better than those who don’t.

Xander, now: Xander fights with only what any dedicated human can bring to the table, just pure guts and heart and will. That’s worth respect.

She’d do anything for him.

Glaring down the barrels of the shotgun, Isobel waits for this Leah bitch to come into range.


i (q) – God Save the Queen

Tucker wants her.

Nancy sighs, silently inside herself. She doesn’t want him. She actually thought about it — they’re both outsiders, she hates to shut someone out when so many others did the same to her, part of her thinks she should at least give him a chance — but in the end she just doesn’t feel like it.

She’ll have to find a way to let him down easy. Probably after whatever crisis had Buffy and Cordelia calling them all to meet in the library today. Knowing Tucker, it could get … unpleasant.

Maybe something else will come up. She hopes so.


xxvi – Walking After Midnight

Sunnydale is intoxicating.

Carlie came back on a whim; the hunting in L.A. is incredible, the natural population turnover providing a surfeit of delicious quarry, and the big-city ambience suits her perfectly. Still, the undead may be free of love or pity, but apparently they’re not immune to nostalgia. So she returned to her old hometown, just to check things out.

And the city … sings. The air vibrates with energy, something beneath the earth’s surface whispers of the delights of Hell, and up ahead of her: it’s Xander!

She laughs, heads his way. This will be easy … and fun.


xxvii – X-Factorial

Did he just save my life again?

I don’t think so. He helped, helped a lot, but I could’ve kept the Krusty-thing busy till Giles and Willow finished their mojo and sent it to the cornfield.

I could have. Seriously.

I wish I loved him the way I know he loves me. Still, I love him enough to keep him in the fight. The things we face may kill him someday, but shutting him out would kill his soul.

… If he died, I don’t know if I could keep living.

This is his destiny, though, as much as mine.


xxviii – Precious Cargo

Tito reaches the Hyperion after sunset, as requested. The three men in the lobby are expecting him — advance call from Sunnydale — and come out to help cart the stuff inside: nothing heavy, just several ungainly armloads of envelopes and packages.

Together, they manage it in one trip. The others thank him, offer to clear a room if he’d like to stay overnight. Unexpected bonus … but he declines.

Because of the woman. A spectacular beauty, statuesque, dark hair, high cheekbones; she never speaks, though, just watches like a cheetah tracking a gazelle herd.

Miles away, still feeling Cordelia’s eyes, Tito shivers.


ii (q) – Queen’s Gambit

Hiding under demon bodies is … undignified. Indignity, however, is much more survivable than the Slayer.

Dalton emerges only once he’s sure he’s alone. Except, not quite, because of the voice.

He knows it all too well. The scent, though? human.

He breaks open the box quietly, quickly; unhealthy to hang around here too long. Pulls her out, feeling her weakness through his fingertips.

Human means prey. That’s how it IS.

Then, an almost physical jolt as her eyes meet his: recognition, and more.

“You,” she says. “You will help me. You will serve me.”

Obedience is instant, automatic. “Yes, Drusilla.”


xxix – Kirlian Logic

Somehow, after the call for body removal at the diner, Virginia and Rebecca end up downing margaritas at a nearby bar. “How old are you?” Virginia asks abruptly.

Trusting the post-battle truce, Rebecca says, “Thirty-two,” then waits.

Virginia nods. “Good personal trainer? and nutritionist?”

“Both,” Rebecca confirms.

“Immortality’s got too high a price tag,” Virginia muses. “Delayed aging, not much less.” She shrugs. “But twenty years from now, you could still be reasonably fit. And glamours can have you looking young.”

Rebecca considers it, cautiously. “You’ll help me?”

“We’ll talk,” Virginia says, and pours another from the pitcher.


xxx – Otherwise a Perfect Sky

Saw Red Dawn on TV last year, and something I hadn’t caught before at the end: with the brothers, wounded (dying) on the park bench, the older one was gasping, “Daddy’ll be here soon. Daddy’ll be here soon.”

Their father was dead. He wasn’t coming. They’d be joining him.

Mine is alive. Up ahead, somewhere.

Memories. The two of us against the bikers. Me, half-crazy, trying to kill him. Him, holding me.

The armored car lurches on the highway. My eyes burn, and the hip wound (fucking claws). The world swims. I push it away.

Daddy’ll be here soon.
 

Questions? Comments? Any feedback is welcome!
 

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