Alas, a plot bunny seized me and wouldn't let go, and even though I know people are waiting for updates of other stories I haven't been able to resist giving in to it. Here, as a teaser, is the Prologue and the start of the first chapter. If I hadn't been writing this I'd have been watching 'Bulletproof Monk' and playing 'Rome: Total War', not writing anything else, so don't think you're missing out on the BuffyBot because of it.
Sweet Home Alabama
Summary: What if Tara was a Vampire Slayer? And straight?
Rating: Don't know yet, 'G' so far.
Prologue: Come Back To Me
Shortly after Season 4 Episode ‘The Freshman’ …
“Another Slayer.” Giles’ voice was carefully neutral.
“Why should that surprise you? You know that Faith was Called after Kendra. It was inevitable that another should be Called after her death.” Quentin Travers gestured at a chair. “May I sit down?”
“Of course. Tea?” Giles put the kettle on as Travers sat down, and then returned to the reason for the other man’s visit. “I’m surprised only that you think it should be anything to do with me. You made it quite clear that I had failed, was of no more use to the Council.”
“I was wrong.” Travers sighed as Giles looked at him searchingly. “This isn’t easy for me, Rupert. I admit it. I was wrong. You have done a magnificent job with Miss Summers. Our tried and trusted methods may well be out of date and inappropriate for this new breed of American Slayers. The Cruciamentum is indeed a barbaric hangover from an age in which no value was placed on human life. We want you back.”
Giles raised his eyebrows and used one finger to push his glasses further back on the bridge of his nose. “I seem to remember the words ‘incapable of clear and impartial judgment’. The expression ‘useless to the cause’ may have cropped up as well. And you want me back?”
“I do.” Travers leaned forward in his chair. “I’m quite prepared to grovel. I was wrong, you were right. Traditional Council methods gained us a Slayer who first went rogue and then was killed fighting on the side of a would-be demon lord. The man we sent as your replacement proved to be a dismal failure until he went against our instructions and took his cues from you. Your methods kept your Slayer alive against all odds and prevented what could have been a massacre of cataclysmic proportions. It is clear that you are the one suited to this environment, and I’m prepared to admit my error. We need you. I can offer you a restoration of your salary backdated to the point when you were fired, full restoration of pension rights, and a twenty per cent increase from today onward.”
Giles delayed his reply until he had made tea and poured out two cups. “I take it you are not merely asking me to officially resume my position as Buffy’s Watcher. I am foolish enough to be acting in that capacity anyway, despite having no backup and no financial recompense, and I’m sure you are well aware of that.”
“I no longer consider that foolish, Rupert. You carry dedication to your young charge to extremes, perhaps, but excessive devotion to duty is hardly a sin worthy of any great condemnation. No, I want you to take charge of the new Slayer.”
Giles looked coldly at Travers from over the rim of his teacup. “I’m not deserting Buffy. You couldn’t offer me enough to induce me to leave her.”
“Of course, Rupert, I’m well aware of that. I wouldn’t expect you to, and it’s unnecessary anyway. The newest Slayer has enrolled as a student in the University of California, Sunnydale. She’s already here.”
“And her existing Watcher?”
“She doesn’t have one. Oh, we located her not long after she was Called, and we made contact and attempted to take her under our wing, but we weren’t entirely successful. Her family is, shall we say, a little eccentric in their ideas.”
“One would have thought that eccentricity would have made them more approachable, not less,” Giles commented warily.
“Oh, I know of your initial difficulties with Mrs. Summers, and I see your point,” Travers told him, “but this is a particular form of eccentricity. Bible Belt Christianity, with just enough of a smattering of occult knowledge to prejudice them firmly against anything smacking in the least of demons or witchcraft. Our designated Watcher left Alabama at the point of a shotgun barrel.”
“And you expect me to take over this – this Beverly Hillbilly?” Giles sniffed. “You don’t have anyone else who will risk failure, that’s why you are calling me in, isn’t it?”
“You are the man on the spot, Rupert. You have advantages a new Watcher couldn’t bring to the task. An existing retinue of youngsters who are enrolled at the same University, and who already trust you. I feel confident in your ability, Rupert. I’m sure you’ll succeed brilliantly.”
“You think there’s a good chance I’ll fail, but no-one’s career will suffer in the process,” Giles deduced. “However, if it will enable me to continue to watch over Buffy and give me financial security at the same time, I’ll accept the additional duties with a couple of provisos.” He went on to negotiate some changes to the deal, and Travers proved flexible and reasonable when working out a mutually satisfactory compromise.
“Very well, then, Rupert,” Travers said at the conclusion. “The backdated salary will be in your account within a week. Here is a little dossier on your new charge. Her name is Tara Maclay.”
* * * * * *
Chapter One: The Ugly Duckling
During ‘The Harsh Light of Day’ …
Tara hastened across the campus, her arms laden with books. She was feeling nervous. One of the most feared vampires of all time was in town and she was under strict instructions to stay in her room that night. The Slayer of Slayers. She would be a target, and she lacked the experience to defend herself. No, she had to stay in, and leave him to the other Slayer and her associates. She felt relieved, but also rather ashamed. They didn’t seem to think much of her. Buffy Summers was so much more capable than her, so much more confident, and had observed her fumbling efforts at vampire slaying with scornful eye-rolls and sniffs. Willow seemed nice, and Mr. Giles was polite and reassuringly calm and non-threatening, but she didn’t think she’d ever feel part of the team.
A strand of hair blew into her eyes, and she raised a hand to brush it away. A man was crossing her path, not looking where he was going, and they crashed together while she was unsighted. Her books tumbled to the ground. “S-s-sorry,” she stammered, bending to retrieve the books. He bent at the same time, and their heads collided.
“Ouch!” she exclaimed, recoiling. It hadn’t really hurt; normal knocks and bumps didn’t hurt these days, a high pain threshold being part of the whole Slayer package, but she still had the conditioned reflexes. “Sorry. Again.”
The man rubbed his head and grinned at her. His eyes twinkled. They were blue, very blue. His features were classic, as if sculpted by Michelangelo, and his cheekbones were so sharp that they probably counted as concealed weapons. His hair was dyed platinum blond, slicked down close to his head, giving him an air of danger and rebellion. Tara felt her heart leap. He was gorgeous. Of course in a movie the collision and the knocked heads would be the start of a relationship; Tara spent a whole two seconds dreaming of that before bringing herself forcibly back to reality. She was plain, mousy, Tara Maclay, who stammered whenever a man looked at her twice; not that anyone ever did. No romantic encounter here, just a straightforward collision with a – vampire?
The tingling sensation was just like the one she’d felt when the Slayer – the other Slayer – had dragged her round the cemetery to find vampires. It couldn’t be right, though; it was broad daylight. The feelings must be wrong, it had to be her reaction to this attractive man. Ignore them.
“Don’t mention it, pet, no harm done,” he assured her, and bent once more to pick up her books. His voice was smooth, rich, sexy, with a hint of a quirky British accent. Tara felt her knees going weak, and wished fervently for ears that didn’t stick out, for hair that was definitely blonde rather than an undistinguished sandy colour, and most of all for the confidence to speak to him without stammering.
“Th-thank you,” she addressed him, her voice immediately betraying her. “I’m s-sorry, I should have b-b-been w-w-w- looking w-w-where I w-w-was going.” ‘Idiot!’ she scolded herself. ‘Choosing a whole series of words beginning with ‘w’, brilliant idea there, Tara.’
“There you are,” he smiled, handing her the books. “Sorry about not watching where I was going.” The smile died as their fingers touched. “Slayer.”
“W-w-what?” Tara recoiled. His eyes were now cold, sizing her up not as a girl but as a target.
“Slayer. How come? That annoying Summers bint was fine last night when I had that run-in with her.”
“You’re Spike,” Tara breathed, beginning to back away.
“Heard of me, then?” He grinned proudly. “William the Bloody. Saved you the trouble of saying you that ‘w’ there, pet. Kind of me, innit? The Slayer of Slayers. Which ought to make you bloody nervous, seeing as how you’re a Slayer and all.” He snapped his fingers. “The other one. That bint who was making a bloody nuisance of herself. Never actually met her, but I heard about her. She got herself offed? And you’ve won the booby prize. A quick death. You’ll make a decent appetiser before I visit Summers for the main course.”
“I’ve got a stake,” she lied. Her voice trembled. She looked around for help, but the other students on the same route had moved on, and there was no-one close by.
“Don’t much care, love. A Slayer must always reach for her weapon.” His face rippled into the terrifying visage of a vampire. “I’ve already got mine.”
“W-w-w-w,” Tara began, couldn’t complete the word, and gave up. She raised the books and struck at him as he dived for her. He brushed them aside, sending them tumbling to the ground again, and punched her in the stomach. She gasped for breath and punched back, a clumsy over-arm blow. He deflected it over his shoulder, stepped in, hit her on the chin with his elbow and seized her by the shoulder and the back of her head. His head dipped and his fangs touched her throat.
And stopped. “Well, that was bleeding pathetic,” he told her. “You’re the worst excuse for a Slayer I’ve ever come across.”
“S-sorry,” she replied, lowering her eyes. She made a futile attempt to free herself and then stood still. She closed her eyes and resigned herself to death.
To be continued ...
The characters in this story do not belong to me, but are being used for amusement only and all rights remain with Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, the writers of the original episodes, and the TV and production companies responsible for the original television shows. BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER ©2002 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. All Rights Reserved. The Buffy the Vampire Slayer trademark is used without express permission from Fox.
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