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Challenge#9: Old School Ties.

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  • Challenge#9: Old School Ties.

    Title: Old School Ties.
    Description: A reworking of how a well known scene in Empty Places could have gone differently.
    Disclaimer: Not mine, no profit.

    "Xander's home!"

    The words flew round the crowded house, moving like wildfire between the excited potential slayers. Two of the girls abandoned their efforts to fix the makeshift banner above the fireplace and rushed to the door eager to catch the first sight of their fallen hero.

    Eventually the door opened to reveal Xander, one eye covered with a gauze dressing, flanked by Willow and Buffy.

    "Oh god." He said as he drank in the scene that greeted him.

    "We didn't have time to do more." Kennedy offered with a slightly embarrassed smile. "You have to pretend there's a big party here."

    Unable to contain herself any Longer Dawn ran forward and gave Xander a long hard hug, squeezing him tightly, words not needed to convey the emotions running through her.

    "That's fine. Parties in this house, I usually end up having to... rebuild something." Xander replied disengaging himself from Dawns attentions and making as if to sit on the empty chair that sat in the middle of the room.

    "Welcome home Xander" Buffy said from her place in the doorway "We're all really glad to have you back. I'm sorry to say there's going to be no time for a party though. I need to speak to you, Faith and willow in private." She nodded in the direction of Giles. "You as well."
    Last edited by tangent; 29-07-08, 10:02 PM.

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  • #2
    Buffy followed the others into the dining room closing the living room door behind her to shut in the discontented murmurs that still reverberated through the room. It was perfectly normal, she reflected, for the girls not to want to be left out of things that they knew would concern them and they had been more than vocal in their desire to let their unhappiness be known. Of course it wasn’t just the girls. Anya had been less than thrilled to be left out and Principal Wood had looked particularly unhappy that his name hadn’t been on the roll call but right now it was more important that they stay with the potentials, that there was at least one person in there that was capable of controlling the teeming room. She took a deep breath and turned her attention to the table where four people were waiting expectantly.

    “So what’s the what Buff.” Xander asked as she took her seat. “What gives with the special treatment?”

    Buffy favoured the young man with a smile. Even with everything he had gone through recently he was able to cut through the tension in the room with his easy brightness, although unsurprisingly Buffy detected a brittle edge to his apparent flippancy.

    “I’ve been thinking” she said, her smile disappearing “about Caleb, about the way he was during our last meeting and I think I finally understand something I should have realised months ago, something I think we can use against him.”

    “Well, then share the wealth B” Faith said, cutting into the slight pause “’Cos I gotta tell you, we’re not exactly drowning in good news here. I mean finding yourself up against a crazy preacher with his own private army and pet ubervamps is one thing; finding out he’s working for the one and only original First Evil though, well that’s got just about everyone wound so tight that things are starting to get seriously crazy.” She paused “And this is me talking.”

    Buffy glanced down at the polished surface of the table “The things is that ever since Caleb blew into town he’s been pulling us this way and that, always seeming to be one step ahead of us, always ready for us and now we know why.”

    “The First.”

    “Exactly. Eve was with us for weeks; living right here amongst us and all that time it was the First, watching us, listening to us, mocking us. It was able to use that information, to pull us around by the nose, getting us fighting between ourselves, setting us up so its toy preacher could knock us down” She looked up “and all this time it’s been focussing us on the Hellmouth, taking us back to it again and again, forcing us to concentrate on the risk of that seal opening, forcing us to keep stopping it.”

    Giles frowned “But the seal is holding back the First’s armies. Without its troops the First is effectively powerless. Why would it want us concentrating on the very source of its strength?”

    “That’s what I thought” Buffy said “but what if the seal isn’t the only source of power? What if there’s something else the First has up its non-corporeal sleeve, something it’s trying to keep us away from,” she leant forward “something we can use against it.”

    “Like what” Xander asked, uncertainty etched on his face.

    Buffy glanced up her expression clouded by her own inner doubts. “That I don’t know” she said, her voice low. She paused for a second and looked around the room and as she did the doubt in her eyes died, replaced by a steely conviction “but throughout all this Caleb’s been sitting pretty up at that vineyard of his, leaving the seal lightly guarded if at all. We all know that the bad guys always go where the power is, so why's Caleb so attached to that place?”

    “Because there’s something there,” Willow said her eyes wide “something powerful.”

    “That’s my guess.” Buffy answered “And I think that it’s about time we go in a take it from him.”

    “Or, alternatively how about… we don’t.” Faith said, filling the sudden silence around the table. “Seriously B it’s a neat theory but you can’t ask those girls in there to march back on in there without some kind of proof that there’s something worth the marching.”

    “I know.” Buffy said her voice filled with a whistful certainty. “That’s why I’m going in alone.”
    Last edited by tangent; 24-05-09, 12:00 PM.

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    • #3
      Giles rose and pace over to the wall, reaching up and removing his glasses. After a second he turned and looked directly at Buffy his eyes grave.

      "What you're proposing is tantamount to suicide you do realise that, don't you?"

      "It's worth the risk." Buffy answered levelly "Besides I'm not going looking for a fight."

      Willow frowned "Then how...?"

      "Look, we know a full frontal assault won't work, we can hold our own against the bringers but Caleb is just too strong." Buffy glanced quickly at Xander. "And I'm not risking anyone else getting hurt, not this time."

      "Sure Buff, no-ones looking to get hurt here but?"

      "Strong as he might be though, he's definitely not the fastest and he talks too much, way too much. He's too sure of himself and I can use that, keep him at arms length for long enough to get him to tell me what he's so attached to up there. I can do this Giles I know I can."

      "And if you can't? What then? If you should fall, who will lead those girls, who will carry the fight?"

      "Faith;" Buffy said. She waved away the dark haired slayer's attempted protest "Faith's a slayer, the true slayer really, it's through her that the line continues and if anything happens to me she's more than capable of taking over." She turned and looked directly at the suddenly silent girl "You are you know, you've got everything it takes to lead, maybe if I wasn't here, if you had to; well I think you'd do a hell of a job."

      "Hey hang on here B, leadership is your gig, not mine, anyone gets to sacrifice themselves for the greater good here it should be me."

      "No." said Buffy calmly "Like I say the line goes through you now, you die and one of those girls gets called. Do you think that they're ready for that?"

      A new hush fell on those gathered round the table as each in turn considered the full import of the blonde slayers words.

      "You're fully intent on this?" Giles asked eventually "You mean to go into the lions den with no back up, no idea of what you're facing and with only the vaguest of ideas of what you might find.

      "I really am" Buffy almost whispered.

      The slayer and the watcher held each others eyes. A gap had grown between them of late; a gap filled with pride, stubbornness and a belief that each was right in their convictions but now was not the time for holding on to such things, now was the time to work together once more. They held each others eyes, and in the silence a thousand unspoken words passed between them.

      After what seemed like an eternity it was giles who finally broke the silence.

      "Then how can we help?" He said.

      The talk at the table turned to tactics and diversion, battle plans and defensive strategies and as Buffy watched the four of them argue over the details of the oncoming raid she felt the tension within her melt away. The First had tried to tear them apart to get them fighting amongst themselves when they should be taking the battle to their enemies and it had begun to succeed. But Buffy knew these people. She'd fought along side them and even occasionally against them, in the process taking on odds that would cause most sane people to run for the hills. Theirs was a life forged in fire, hardened to the strength of steel by battles others couldn't dream of. The First might be ancient and powerful, Caleb might be strong but in the face of the five people in this room acting in concert they didn't stand a chance. Buffy leaned back and smiled. The first was going to find out just what it meant to go up against the old school; and it was going to lose.
      Last edited by tangent; 30-07-08, 12:16 PM.

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