Piece of Cake
“Buffy, wake up!” Willow elbowed her in the ribs.
“Huh?” Buffy jerked awake. “What – Oh.”
The entire History class was staring at her.
“Miss Summers, would you care to answer the question?” the teacher said.
Buffy gulped. She hadn’t heard the question and couldn’t even remember what the topic was. Either her brain had not woken up properly yet, or the memory potion had now worn off. “Er … World War II?”
Sniggers ran through the class and the teacher gave her a sharp look. “We were discussing the Civil Rights Movement, Miss Summers. Please try to pay attention.”
“At least it’s my first week,” Buffy said as they left the classroom. “She’ll probably let me off this once.”
“Why are you so tired anyway?” Xander asked. “Were you … you know … busy last night, doing … stuff?”
Buffy raised her eyebrows at him. “Really subtle, Xander. You mean slaying vampires?”
“Yeah,” he said, “only without the risk of being overheard.”
“I have been a slayer for a long time. I know how to cover my tracks, okay?” Buffy sat down by the fountain. “And in answer to your original question, my mom and I had some bonding time down at the cemetery.”
Her friends stared at her. “What do you mean?” Jesse said. “Your mom knows you’re the Slayer?”
“Well, she does now. I told her last night – well, this morning - as gently as I could. ‘Course, she thought I was nuts, so I took her out on a field trip to see me in action. She hasn’t said a lot since. Think she’s still taking it in.”
“Oh,” Willow said. “Are slayers’ parents supposed to know about this stuff?”
“She was gonna find out at some point.” Buffy shrugged. “Might as well be sooner rather than later.”
“Why now, though?” Xander asked. “What’s the occasion?”
“Slaying involves doing certain things,” Buffy said. “Cutting classes, starting fights, trespassing; the kind of thing that if kept up for long enough gets a girl thrown out of school or even arrested. The point is, to anyone who doesn’t know who I am, it just looks like I’m a violent delinquent and that’s really not how I want my mom to see me. I’m fed up with there being such a divide between us. At least now she knows there’s a good reason for it, even if she doesn’t like it.”
“I don’t like it.” Giles neither looked nor sounded at all happy with Buffy. “Why on earth did you not consult with me before telling your mother you are the Slayer?”
“Because,” Buffy said calmly, “I knew you wouldn’t like it and I’d made up my mind. Up ‘till now my mom and I have been distant because of the slaying. Now she knows there’s a good reason why I keep getting kicked out of school and arrested. Come on, Giles, this can only be a good thing. Imagine the impact on my slaying if I get grounded every time I stay out later than midnight.”
“That is not the point and you know it. How on earth did you convince her that you were telling the truth?”
“I showed her.”
Giles frowned at Buffy. “What do you mean?”
“I mean, I took her to the cemetery and we waited ‘till a vamp burst free of its grave, and then I staked it.”
“You put your mother in danger?”
“She was perfectly safe! I got the guy before he had even finished clawing himself out, okay? And Mom was hiding behind a tombstone. He wouldn’t have seen her even if he did get out.”
“Look, Giles, she’s my mother, okay? I wouldn’t have taken her if I wasn’t sure I could keep her safe.”
“Nevertheless, you cannot keep taking risks like this. At least not without clearing it with me first! I am starting to feel as if when I speak to you I am speaking to a brick wall.”
“Don’t worry, Giles.” Buffy put a hand on his arm. “I do take it in. Don’t get me wrong. But I’m not one of those slayers who is all about the physical and lets the Watcher plan everything. I prefer to use my own brain when I feel the time is right.”
By lunchtime, Buffy was positive that the memory potion had worn off completely and took a second sip of the bottle she had stashed in her bag. Not that she needed it for any important slayer stuff yet, but she didn’t want to flunk her classes. Making a mental note to get as much homework done before the cheerleading tryouts as possible, Buffy was able to relax slightly and chat to her friends about her life back in L.A. When lessons began again, however, she found her mind wandering back to Spike.
She had managed to get better control over the effects of the potion, and managed to steer the memories away from the more painful ones. The thing was, most of them were painful in hindsight. Even her favourite memory, when Willow’s spell had made Spike propose, was bittersweet. Buffy considered that at least she had that time to look forward to. Just those few hours with Spike loving her, even if they would be under a spell.
Until then, she had to sit tight and try not to miss him too much. It wasn’t as if she had nothing to do – there were plenty of distractions between now and then.
Over the next week, Buffy spent the majority of her spare time completing the next months’ worth of homework, combing the books she had borrowed from Giles, and she also tracked down an old acquaintance.
Marcie, drinking from the water fountain, nearly choked and straightened up to stare at Buffy. “Are y-you talking to me?”
“Yeah, hi, I’m Buffy Summers. I’m new here. Just thought I’d come and, you know, introduce myself.”
“I’m Marcie Ross,” she replied, sounding hesitant. “Did you want me to go?”
“What? Oh, no. I just didn’t really see you with anyone, so I thought you might like a friend.” Buffy smiled warmly.
“Oh.” Marcie considered. “Thanks, I guess. Um, you want to go and get lunch?”
That was the invisible girl thing sorted. All Marcie needed was some attention, and she wouldn’t disappear and go loony.
Piece of cake, Buffy thought, as the two of them chatted over lunch. Marcie was quiet at first, but once she got talking, she seemed a very interesting person. Buffy gently discouraged her desire to be one of the in-crowd – “Who wants to be like everybody else?” – and tried to boost her self-esteem by saying that she had heard her play her flute and that she was very good at it. She came away from lunch with the satisfaction of having helped a human being not become a psycho, and with the bonus of a new friend.
Joyce had said little since Buffy had shown her how she killed vampires, and Buffy wanted to give her time to take it in. She even gave her the library phone number, so she could consult with Giles any time she felt the need for another adult to assure her she was not as crazy as her daughter, and to ask him any questions. At least Joyce was satisfied with how well Buffy was doing at school – she had so far avoided any trouble and was getting top marks on her homework. Also, most of the time Joyce came into her daughter’s room, Buffy was reading.
Of course, she was mainly reading supernatural texts borrowed from Giles, and occasionally a title she had bought off the internet called Cantonese for Beginners that came with a cassette. But her mother didn’t need to know that.
Before she had even finished unpacking her things from the move, Buffy decided she needed a clear-out. If she was going to need money for ingredients for the memory potion, and anything else that might come in useful, she needed to spend less of her allowance on the more frivolous things, and that was the best way to start. She sold and replaced most of her wardrobe with cheap (yet stylish) items and put the money aside for later.
Something she was beginning to consider was delving a little deeper into spells and potions. After all, the timeline could end up changing vastly and she wasn’t entirely sure exactly what she would need or if Willow would be available. Although she didn’t want to step on her friend’s toes, an extra witch in the gang could only help, right? And besides, Willow would still – eventually – be the powerful one. In fact, the others might not even need to know if Buffy practised witchcraft.
Well, they would probably find out at some point. Just like they would probably find out that she had lived this life once before. But that hopefully wouldn’t happen for a long time.
Buffy sighed. It occurred to her that, by not being honest with her friends, she was feeling incredibly lonely. How, she wondered, could she stand seven years of this? And she also missed her sister.
She knew she shouldn’t be surprised that Dawn currently didn’t exist. Her early memories of her had been false, after all. But she couldn’t help but wish that Dawn was here, now – it felt strange without her. Four years was far too long to wait to see her little sister again.
The tryouts arrived. Buffy had decided it was best if she didn’t try out, but took an interest anyway.
“Why don’t you try out, Buffy?” Willow asked one lunchtime. “I think you’d be good at it.”
“No. I mean, I’ve done it before. But that was before I became the Slayer and I’ve kind of matured since then. Besides, I know exactly what Giles would say.” Buffy put on a fake English accent. “‘You were chosen to destroy vampires, not to wave pom-poms at people.’”
“It’s not like I don’t have any hobbies, anyway.” They were all just Slayer-orientated. Except teaching herself Cantonese.
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