Title: After the Storm
Fandom(s): The Vampire Diaries, Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Disclaimer: Buffy the Vampire Slayer and all related characters are copyright Joss Whedon and ME. Vampire Diaries and all related characters are copyright of L.J. Smith, Kevin Williams and the CW. No infringement intended.
Synopsis: Buffy was having a hell of a time finding anything supernatural—aside from herself—in this new and unfortunate world.
Sunlight streamed in through the tall windows, bathing the cubicle Buffy Summers occupied in warmth as her gaze studied the widescreen monitor and her fingers absently searched her knee high socks for hitchhikers. A small pile of them had accumulated on the corner of the desk housing the monitor as Buffy continued her fruitless search through local newspapers via the library database. The vent above her rumbled to life and her chin lifted, gaze leaving the screen to search the ceiling for her second, and welcomed, heat source to fight off the chill of an Ohio fall.
The main branch of the Cleveland Public Library was a large building, dominating its corner of the city’s real estate with ease and just a little regally, but since the building had been built before central air conditioning and insulation were the norm, certain areas tended to stay cold during winter and hot during summer. Buffy had found one such place in the computer room on the third floor and while she’d warmed enough to shed her leather jacket her hands, with their blue tinted nails, told a different story.
A sigh escaped past chapped lips, she needed her balm, and green eyes returned to the computer screen as her right hand rose from its search to downsize the program that allowed her to navigate the local newspapers and brought up the internet. Her left hand joined the right on the keyboard as she attempted to channel Willow’s old net-girl persona, or at the very least some Google-fu and locate someone that could actually help her. Why did she need help, why was Buffy stuck in a library on a beautiful, if cold, Thursday morning one might ask?
In a word: Dawn.
In four words: Willow teaching Dawn magic.
A simple transportation spell her ass.
She huffed and lifted her left hand to prop her chin on it as she scanned the results of her search for Willow Rosenberg. Her Willow had been the one to help send her to another dimension so perhaps this dimension’s Willow could help send her back. A dimension that didn’t have a Watcher’s Council building and since Dawn had been attempting to send her to the study Buffy had instead found herself in midair several stories above the ground. She’d had enough time to roll her eyes before she’d plummeted to the ground and landed, hard, in the middle of a vacant lot that hadn’t seen a good mowing in months, if not years, hence the hitchhikers.
Green eyes glared at the website offering to find any Willow Rosenberg she wanted for the lowlow price of twenty-nine, ninety-nine and her nostrils flared in irritation as she highlighted Willow’s name, replacing it with Faith’s and she continued that routine until she’d exhausted all her friends, not that she had that many, before muttering, “What the hell,” and typing in Hank Summers and Los Angeles, California.
The screen in front of her filled with blue links and her brows rose beneath her bangs as she scanned the selection and brought the cursor to the first link. Hank Summers’ image, which looked remarkably like her dad, filled the screen and she scrolled down, scanning more than reading, an article about this dimension’s version of Hank and his accomplishments over the last decade. Buffy gnawed at the inside of her mouth as she learned this Hank Summers was a good man, great even, helping to bring down corrupt corporations, was active in several charities and was also a lifelong bachelor.
Her brows dropped, tugging together before she brought Google back up and typed in Joyce before staring blankly at the blinking cursor. Feeling oddly like it was mocking her Buffy’s gaze dropped and she noticed a hitchhiker on the hem of her white tee and absently tugged it off as she struggled to recall her mother’s maiden name. Buffy knew it started with the word ‘lock’ and she continued to roll the hitchhiker between her fingers. She brought it up and stared at it as she squished the soft exterior until the harder, brighter seed was released and she realized why the plant was so easily distracting her. Her mother’s maiden name ended with something plant-like!
Green eyes narrowed in determination and she dropped her hand, wiping the remnants of the seed on the table as she leaned forward and typed in lock and added tree before deleting it. She took a breath and typed root, but then shook her head, blonde hair slipping from behind her shoulders. The word sapling just didn’t sound right and Buffy’s eyes widened before she added wood to the end of lock and typed in Virginia, the state her mother had been born in.
Her stomach dropped when the third link was to a newspaper article from Mystic Falls, Virginia and in the summary it listed her mother’s name and the phrase ‘animal attack.’ Dread filled her even as she clicked on the link and scanned the short article giving a brief description of Joyce being the member of a founding family and her tragic death in the local woods. Buffy’s gaze flicked up, finding and calculating the date of the article and realized it had happened nearly two decades prior before she continued scrolling down and found several pictures of a woman that was definitely her mom, but not her mom. The dropping sensation was back and it filled her cheeks with a tingle that told her she was paling as she reread the short article.
A rustling drew Buffy’s head up and to the side, her eyes narrowing in confusion as she watched a teenager, not particularly dressed well for the cool weather, rummage through a backpack two cubicles behind her. She could have sworn a guy had been sitting there, but a shrug lifted her shoulders, guessing since she’d been well and truly distracted and he’d probably already left without her knowing, and went back to her search.
The floor compressed behind her and something brushed her back, bringing Buffy to her feet and around before she’d even processed what had happened. Her eyes widened and then narrowed on the girl that had just swiped her leather jacket from the back of her chair and was tugging it up her arms even as she was booking it between the cubicles. “Hey!”
Blue eyes glanced back and then the teenager put on a burst of speed before Buffy muttered, “Son of a bitch,” and sprinted after the little bitch that had her jacket, her jacket with her only stake and last bit of cash stashed in it, and Buffy quickly came to the realization, in that moment, that she was the dead horse and the universe, regardless of dimension, was never going to be done beating her.
An alarmed exit appeared before the teenager as Buffy put on a burst of speed as the kid palm slapped it, opening the door sans alarm, and disappeared through it. Buffy hit the door with her shoulder and paused, glancing around the stairwell in front of her before hearing footfalls above and frowned, head falling back as she glared upward and groused, “Up instead of down? Is this a freakin’ horror movie?”
With a shake of her head she lengthened her stride and took the stairs two at a time, gaining on the teenager even as she broke free of the stairwell and, Buffy guessed, onto the roof. She reached the top landing and the door slammed closed behind the little thief and Buffy rushed forward, catching the handle and yanking the door open. She spilled onto the rooftop a step or three behind the wide-eyed teenager.
“Seriously?” Buffy questioned as she watched the other girl dart across the flat roof toward the other side and her eyes widened as she watched her pick up speed. “Nononononono!” Buffy chanted as the girl hit the waist high ledge of the roof and put one foot on it before diving for the building across the alley.
Buffy followed her lead, but stopped at the ledge, leaning over to see the kid hadn’t quite made it and was now hanging onto the edge of the adjacent building with her boot-covered feet scrambling for purchase against the brick. She took in the ten foot wide gap and a story drop with narrowed eyes before sighing and climbing onto the ledge. “Hold on!” was shouted in the kid’s general direction.
The out of breath response of, “Kinda hafta,” made her smile and Buffy took her own breath before leaping.
She hit the other roof and rolled forward, taking the impact in her shoulder and back rather than risking an ankle in heels before she rolled onto her hands and knees. The fingers, with bloody nails, grasping the brick slipped from view and Buffy’s eyes widened as she lunged forward, stomach catching the roof’s edged as her left hand caught the teenager’s wrist and her right braced herself against the building.
Blue eyes stared up at Buffy stunned and a pretty face, currently ugly with terror, was turned up towards her. She shifted, spreading her legs, jeans catching against the brick as she anchored her stomach against the building’s edge before lowering her right arm and ordering, “Give me your other hand.” The teenager dropped their gaze toward the backpack she held and Buffy snapped, “Forget the damn bag and give me your damn hand!”
Pale brows tugged together and Buffy glared at the frown the kid sent at her and then Buffy flinched when the dead weight of the kid’s body rocked as she rolled her arm up and around, forcing the bag into an upward arch. Buffy lost track of it as the kid impacted the side of the building and her grip on her wrist slipped and blunt nails cut bloody trails through her skin.
Her hand fisted, trying to catch the kid’s fingers but the blood made her skin slick and her fingers slipped away. The look of confusion on that pretty face was quickly replaced by finality. It was then that she screamed.
A scream that was abruptly cut short and Buffy stared down, horrified before she took in the sounds of sirens in the distance and her bloody hands.
Buffy then did what she did best in police-type situations.
Thunder shook the few inspiring posters that were framed and mounted on the brick walls of the shelter and Buffy lifted her head from her study of the day old newspaper to glance around the overly heated room. The rusted springs of the cot squeaked in protest with her shift in weight as she brought a hand up to fan herself and her eyes rolled towards the ceiling currently being pounded with rain. Her gaze returned to the paper and a frown creased her brow as she realized the streets would be covered in frost by morning and her boots, while stylish, just weren’t meant for slick surfaces.
A hand came to her stomach as a cramp, not the first of the evening, halted her breath and she ignored it, hoping it wasn’t the beginning of her monthly friend arriving early as she scanned the paper for mentions of the girl she’d tried, and failed, to save twenty-three days before. Buffy knew the police sought her for questioning, but the article that had detailed the death of Nora Martin had only been a small blurb and there was something terribly sad about that.
Green eyes rose from their search and her head followed as Buffy offered the woman in the cot next to her an easy, if sad, smile. “Hey, Molly.”
The mother of two returned the smile and asked, “Can I have that paper when you’re done?”
Another cramp, deeper and sharper than the first dragged a gasp from her and she flinched before directing her attention to the paper and folding it in half. “Here,” her response came out breathy as the pain doubled and she rose, offering the paper to Molly as her son gazed up at her from his place beside his mother’s cot.
Molly’s eyes widened, bringing attention to the fading bruises around her left eye, as she accepted the paper with a startled, “Thank you.” Her head inclined, dark hair spilling to the side as brown eyes narrowed on the hand Buffy had fisted over her stomach. “Are you alright? You look a little feverish.”
“Peachy,” Buffy frowned and absently pressed her free hand to a flushed cheek before she sighed. “Mind watching my stuff? I think I need to use the ladies.”
A knowing look spread across Molly’s face and she quickly agreed, “Of course. Take a shower. Those always helped me.”
“Maybe I will.” Buffy nodded to her and made her way past Molly’s son and sleeping daughter, heading towards the locker rooms set up along the far side of the building. A building she’d had to take a drug test to be allowed into and provide a copy of her driver’s license. Thank God she’d had her wallet on her when Dawn performed her spell and it was a shame she had only managed to spend seventeen nights in due to overcrowding. She understood the families with small children first rule, hell she supported it, but sleeping under an overpass the other nights was starting to leave a bitter taste in her mouth and in her heart.
A bead of sweat escaped her hairline to travel down her forehead and she brushed at it with her right hand. It tensed with the movement, hand cramping until she could see the tendons pressed tight against her skin and she swallowed her grunt of pain before she finished the few yards to the locker in a steady jog. She slowed her stride as she passed the security desk, not wanting to arouse suspicion and get herself kicked out, and then sprinted once she hit the hallway. The sounds of her bare feet slapping against the brushed concert made her flinch since shoes were supposed to be worn when not on your cot.
The curious looks she got were ignored and she hit the door as the lights dimmed, signaling it was nine o’clock and time to sleep. She pushed her way inside as her throat constricted and she coughed, the cramp in her hand forgotten as she struggled for air and collapsed against the row of lockers with enough force to rock them and the rattling bang echoed across the tiled walls. Green eyes scanned the room for help, found none and the tension melted from her throat suddenly, leaving her gasping for air and Buffy stumbled away from the lockers.
She turned back towards the locker room door and the muscles in her left leg fell into spasm. Her mouth opened, but she swallowed the urge to cry out as she fell backwards, landing hard on her ass, but that pain was overshadowed by her knee contorting. It popped and shifted, her leg tearing through her jeans as her knee bent in a way it was never supposed to move and her startled shriek of pain intensified when her leg realigned.
Terrified, not for herself, but the people beyond the door, Buffy shoved herself back onto her feet and her knee protested the movement even as she lunged for the door and flicked the lock. Someone pushed against the door and she stumbled back from it as pounding replaced the pushing and she was ordered to unlock the door. Buffy shook her head and then cried out, falling to her knees as her back arched and several wet pops reverberated off the tiles surrounding her.
She pushed herself up and stumbled forward even as a heaviness filled her limbs, weakening her, but a sharp pain in her jaw drove her towards the sinks along the far wall. Her vision blurred before sharpening and she paused, posture stiffening as the pounding on the door intensified and she stared at her reflection. Her eyes burned a fierce and frightening yellow that reminded her sharply of the vampire’s from her home dimension.
Tears blurred her vision and the thudding beat of her heart intensified, filling her head and her chest constricted before it pushed outward. She screamed, falling back to her knees as her chest narrowed and lengthened, ribs cracking and shirt ripping, falling in tatters from her body as she fell forward. The smell of disinfectant and urine suddenly overwhelmed her as her face contorted; stretching forward until she could see her nose lengthening, flattening and her screams became a snarl.
She collapsed, fur spilling across her exposed skin as her legs contorted, reshaping and her jeans fell from her body followed quickly by her underwear. The heartbeats outside the pounding door across the narrow room swiveled her head and she huffed, lifted a face that was narrowed and furry and the smell of sweat was sweet on the air and her stomach tightened with hunger.
A snarl peeled thin lips back, exposing her teeth and she took a halting step forward before the pounding stopped, replaced by the softly hesitant voice of Molly. “Buffy? Buffy, are you alright? Open the door.”
She jerked back, graceless for a moment on four legs, before she turned and leapt atop the lockers. Sharp claws scrambling against the metal before she pushed herself through one of the narrow windows lining the wall, the glass giving surprisingly easy beneath her strength, but the scent of her own blood had her heart beating quicker and her thoughts jumbled as the rain struck her, stinging needles of cold against her furred back.
The scents of the alley were distracting and she pushed herself up from where she’d landed and did the only thing she could.
The only thing she wanted to do.
Wind swept down the narrow road, inviting the layer of fallen leaves into a rustling dance and Buffy ducked her chin as her hair swept forward, a mass of loose waves that crowded her face and blocked her view. Green eyes narrowed as she gave up attempting to manage it and just hoped she didn’t look like something small and furry was nesting in it by the time the wind was done having its fun. She wasn’t entirely sure she’d be welcome, but she was certain looking like a street urchin, regardless of the fact that it was closer to the truth than anything else, was not going to be the best of first impressions.
Winter had well and truly come and while the state of Virginia was mild compared to Ohio none of the clothing she’d managed to commandeer for herself was made for harsh weather. Thankfully Molly had gathered her things and kept them safe for her four full moons ago even after Buffy had found herself thrown out of the shelter, but thankful they hadn’t called the police. Full moons—her head shook—that was how she kept track of time in this world and, not for the first time, Buffy wished, sometimes out loud, that there was an Oz in this world to help her through her transition from less than human to completely other.
She redirected her hands to the pockets of her cotton jacket, shoulders hunching and her army duffle, that looked like it had been through an actual war, shifted against her back. Her head lifted as she continued her steady stride towards the address she’d found in the town’s directory and what town had a directory nowadays? Apparently the Lockwoods were well-to-do as her mom would’ve said and Buffy wondered absently if this world’s version of Joyce would have been anything like her mom.
The ‘animal attack’ that had killed Joyce Lockwood and the sudden increase in them over the last year had brought Buffy to Mystic Falls in the hopes that there were others like her. She hadn’t found another werewolf since her first change, not that she had been looking at first, but once she started she found it remarkably hard to locate anything supernatural.
A mailbox held aloft by brickwork and wrought iron appeared in the distance and Buffy increased her speed and stumbled when she was nearly rammed into the damn thing. Her boot heels skidded in the grass and she took a deep breath before turning in a slow circle and exhaled with a sigh when she realized she was alone and still not entirely in control of her new and, not always, improved abilities. Seeing the numbers twenty-one and twenty-nine in iron on the side of the small pedestal had Buffy stepping onto the driveway and making her way up it and through a beautiful estate.
Her brows rose after several minutes of secluded walking as she escaped the canopy of trees covering the gravel drive and she found herself before a home that was larger than the Council’s building in Cleveland. “Wow,” was whispered softly as she took in the multi-columned mansion done in brickwork that matched the mailbox perfectly and left Buffy mildly intimidated. Her hands rose to tangle with her hair and bring it under some semblance of control as she finished making her way towards the porch that spanned the front of the house and wrapped around to the left.
Buffy made her way slowly up the six steps that lead onto that porch and gazed through the paneled glass that made up most of the front door into a wide expansion of home covered in wood floors. Her shoulder rolled, duffle sliding down her arm to be propped against her leg and she took a breath before leaning forward to hit the small doorbell that was adjacent to the door handle. A tinkering of bells could be heard deeper in the home and Buffy flinched as the sound of pounding feet beat their way down a flight of stairs and towards the door.
She shook her head, attempting to ignore the fact that she shouldn’t be able to hear that well, and instead focused on trying to bring a genuine smile to her face. The deadbolt unlatched, the front door opening inward and the entry was filled with a guy, barely older than Nora Martin, and thinking of her was like a stab to the gut and Buffy’s smile slipped.
Brown eyes studied her intently before his head inclined, nostrils flaring and Buffy found herself mimicking him. Her own eyes widened with the scent of fur and dark soil and something sharper, deeper that reminded her faintly of death. Those dark eyes narrowed and his head tilted, chin coming to the side as his gaze swept past her to take in the porch and what lay beyond it. Eventually the silence stretched beyond what was comfortable and his gaze traveled back to her and he asked, “Can I help you?”
Buffy’s chin dipped into a nod even as she contradicted herself with, “I hope so.”
His gaze shifted back to her, a brow arching in a way that was oddly familiar before he asked, voice entirely too calm, “How long you been a werewolf?”
“Wow,” Buffy whispered again, but with far less enthusiasm and asked, “You’re going to lead with that?”
A small laugh escaped him and his head ducked, right arm coming up to catch the back of his neck and absently rub at it as he offered, “I’m not big on small talk.”
“Good to know.” Buffy’s gaze slipped down, frowned at the fact that her hands were clasped together in front of her and her fingers were starting to pale with how hard she was wringing them. She forced them apart and into the back pockets of her jeans, making her jacket gap around her small frame as she replied, “Four full moons and counting.”
His brows tugged together and a flinch worked its way across his features. “Yeah, I remember counting by moons.” He took a step back and opened the door wider, but the invitation remained unsaid which caused Buffy’s brows to tug together, but before she could comment he was speaking, “I’m Tyler, but I’m pretty sure you already knew that or you wouldn’t be here.”
“Yeah,” Buffy agreed as she lifted her bag and made her way over the threshold, glancing around the vaulted ceiling before her gaze slipped to Tyler and she settled for honesty, or as much as she could share without appearing all thundering loony, as she explained, “We share a common ancestor.”
“I kinda figured,” he replied with an enigmatic grin and finished, “And now we’re going to share a common friend.”
“How did you figure?” Buffy questioned, turning back to him.
A line appeared between his brows. “The curse,” he stated as if that explained everything, which it so did not, and that thought must has been written all over her face because he quickly explained, “The fact that we’re werewolves is a curse.”
“Well yeah, but how does that explain the ancestry link?”
Tyler nodded, as if the question made sense, before he clarified, “The curse is on a bloodline.”
Green eyes widened and understanding began to dawn as Buffy stated, “That explains some things,” but she kept the fact that if confirmed her assumptions to herself. A sheepish smile spread across her face, brought color to her checks as she opted for honestly, at least most of it, “You’re the first werewolf I’ve come across.”
“That does explain things.” Tyler mimicked and motioned for her to follow him. “So what’s your name?”
“Buffy.” He stopped and she nearly ran into him and she rolled her eyes at his smirk. “Yes, Buffy,” she groused and flicked a hand at him to continue. Tyler shook his head and resumed walking and Buffy studied the immaculate house he was leading her through even as she asked, “So who’s the common friend?”
“What?” His head inclined, but he kept his stride.
“The friend you said we’d be sharing?”
“Oh,” he stopped then and turned to her, the smile he wore was nearly contagious as he explained, “He helped me to be okay with being a werewolf. He made my life better and I know he can help you too.” Tyler caught her gaze, held it as he stated, voice terribly sincere, “I know Klaus would want to.”
Buffy returned his smile with one of her own, relieved she wouldn’t have to run anymore and wondered if the universe had finally moved onto another dead horse as she nodded and asked, “How soon can he get here?”
The end (… for now).