Snapshots 04
by Aadler
Copyright March 2023

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.

Warning: each drabble below is based on the story listed at the drabble’s beginning. Basically, then, all intended for people who already read the respective story and want to see more. You CAN try to read them without knowing the linked story, but probably won’t get full value.

xxxi – Unbidden the Day

It wasn’t his first time, Jonathan reminds himself. He had plenty of sex during the paragon spell (which, naturally, meant he was really, really good at it).

This, with Nancy, it’s different. He wasn’t that good, but the thing itself was great. Nancy treated him with, well, with tenderness, and this wasn’t world’s-best-at-sex-too, it was …

… real.

Lying on the blanket with her at Dodson’s Beach, he realizes he’s happy. His life isn’t limited anymore to D&D with Andrew and Warren; he has a girl now.

He just has to find a way to hang onto that.

xxxii – Zero-Sum Game

Time to leave the hospital, and he’s afraid.

Nothing new there; Xander’s always been afraid. All the jokes … comic-scared at least looked like brave, enough to keep him going.

This time, he doesn’t think he can.

He’s seen death so many times, always with the same realization: that could’ve been me. More often than he can remember, it almost was him. Now, a missing eye keeps reminding him of just how vulnerable he is.

Dread chokes his throat. He can’t do this. He can’t.

Willow looks to him, gaze searching. “You ready?” she asks.

“Yeah.” Casual, smiling. “Let’s go.”

xxxiii – Hungry Like the Wolf

They drink silently, at first. Finally Krofft says, “Thought I was a goner. Thanks. How did you —?”

“I screamed,” Elaine answers. “Gibbered in panic. Ran helplessly.”

Krofft nods, glum. “Wish I could’ve. Then?”

“He followed, laughing. When he rounded the corner, I punched him in the throat, kicked him in the goolies, and staked him.”

“Ah. Ace.” Krofft frowns. “A throat-punch affected him that much?”

“Brass knuckles. Little crosses worked into the forepiece.”

Krofft smiles. “Cheating.”

“Cheating,” Elaine agrees.

They clink their glasses, toasting the man who just saved their lives … from a lecture hall two years ago.

xxxiv – An Eye to the Future

It happens.

One night she’s there, just like Tiphaine predicted: pale woman, white hair, crimson lipstick, sunglasses with little lenses. Willy remembers her from his old joint, moving lightly as a vampire but without the reflexive arrogance, she’d scope things but never spoke to anybody …

It’s good that Tiffi warned him, gave him time to get his mind around what he has to do, ’cause he can feel it: Tiffi was right, this broad is dangerous.

“The design on that pillar,” she says to him. “Who put that there?”

Face smoothed into nonchalance, Willy prepares to lie his ass off.

xxxv – Echoes from the Battleground

This one didn’t require any particular expertise, initial suspicion confirmed on the first check: fertilizer and diesel fuel, textbook ANFO. Good thing Walsh had foreseen the likely outcome of a massive explosion in the town, otherwise it would have been very difficult to keep attention away from the Initiative’s impending debut.

So: intervention to downplay the intensity of the first reports, a picked man assigned for follow-up, misleading and downright fictitious analyses in the blast assessment. Routine, for a covert operation.

Control the process, and you control the results.

And Congress can’t screw up what it doesn’t know about.

xxxvi – And Your Enemies Closer

Throughout the process of finding and extracting Angel from that eternal tomb, Wesley wasn’t acting from loyalty, to his former comrades or to the greater cause. They condemned him, cast him out; now, he’s the one delivering salvation.

It’s the only kind of revenge he can take on them.

Fred’s reaction, when he calls, is disappointing. She hurt him the most; he only now recognizes that she’s the one he most wanted to hurt back. Instead her mind, in the moment of hearing, seemed to go somewhere else entirely.

Planning, he realizes.

Connor … is in for a severe, painful surprise.

xxxvii – Oaxaca Nights

Pablo starts at the resort tomorrow, so he scouts the nearby bars for pleasant possibilities before his new job is to begin.

The woman in the corner is arresting: pale-eyed, otherworldly, with a dark sensuality and a seeming fragility that could be entertaining, or conceal unexpected layers of passion. Enticing, yes, but she occasionally trades glances with the tousle-haired gringo at another table, and that one has every appearance of being a rough customer indeed.

While Pablo is no coward, he’s looking for fun, not a fight. He turns away, seeking other prospects … and lets death pass unnoticed.

xxxviii – Bitter From the Sweet

Katie is frowning out the window of the front office. “Anything wrong?” Judith asks. With Andy … gone … she’s needed the help until a buyer can be found for the motel, but she’s worried about Katie since Dustin’s abrupt mysterious lukewarmness. Now, though —

A shrug. “The girl who just checked into #27? She signed in as Buffy Summers.”

Judith gapes. “Buffy? Back here?”

“Not our Buffy, no.” Another shrug. “But something about her …”

“I’ll let Douglas know,” Judith says, suddenly decisive. “Meanwhile, we’ll want to keep an eye on her.”

Katie maintains her watch at the window. “Way ahead of you.”

xxxix – Shock to the System

Willow looks over the wrecked Buffybot, sighs. She wants to blame Spike — just being evil and inconvenient — but he honestly hasn’t yet recovered enough strength to inflict that much damage. Repair will take time, all of it mechanical and structural instead of programming. She can do it, yes, but it will be tedious.

And probably have to be done again, as more damage occurs.

She decides to store the frame with other components she’s collected over the years (from Ted, Moloch, April) while she considers how best to approach the task.

Now, if only there were some kind of shortcut …

xl – Maxima Culpa

Mary Claire waits till the end of the semester, then packs for departure. Leaving Sunnydale means abandoning any chance of atoning for her failure; still, she trusts Father Nolan, so she’ll follow his counsel.

Stuffing everything into her car takes work, but she’s spent weeks paring down her possessions, and living with the minimum can be part of her ongoing penance. She exits her hometown with mixed feelings but a clear destination: Anne, and the East Hills Teen Center. Maybe there, she can find peace within herself.

At the very least, it’s a relief to leave the supernatural behind her.

Questions? Comments? Any feedback is welcome!

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