Chapter 1 - New Beginnings
Breathe… just breathe…
A voice interrupted the young girls thoughts, and her eyes snapped open to attention. She ran her clammy hands over the knees of the dark blue denim jeans she was wearing before turning to her left. A nostalgic smile was spread across the older woman’s face as she watched her daughter wake from her thoughts. A frown crossed the younger blondes face as she spoke.
“Sorry Mom, you were saying?” she asked.
“I was just wishing you a good day,” her mother repeated. “This new town will be good for us, you’ll see,” she promised, lightly squeezing her daughter’s hand.
A worried smile flickered across her face as she watched the hesitation in her child’s eyes as she looked out from the car window and towards the school grounds. Teenagers were milling about the grounds, waiting for the bells to sound the start of a new day. As if on cue, a shrill ring sounded across the PA system and the teens slowly made their way inside the building.
“I guess it’s now or never…” the girl said nervously as she fiddled with the straps of her backpack before opening the door to the SUV.
“You’ll do fine honey,” her mother assured.
Nodding slowly she leaned across to give her Mom a quick kiss on the cheek before exiting the car and closing the door behind her, staring hesitantly at the school before her. She heard the car shift into gear behind her, and the window slide down.
“Buffy?” her mother called towards her. “I’ll pick you up at 4pm, okay?”
Buffy turned, nodding at her Mom and waving as the car pulled out of the lot. She stood frozen to her place for an instant, collecting her strength and taking a few deep breathes before approaching the double doors to the school. To her new life…
Clutching at her backpack protectively she wade her way through the masses of students all busily moving from their lockers and down the halls to the first class of the day. Self-consciously, she ran her fingers over the hem of her light blue singlet, tugging it a little lower. She made one attempt at getting directions to the administration office but after the look she received from the girl she’d approached, she decided against trying a second time. I’ll just wander about till I stumble upon it… she thought.
A second bell rang and the halls quickly began to empty, the other students moving into their respective classrooms. It made her travels a little easier and she soon found the office.
Fifteen minutes later she had in her possession her locker combination, her class timetable, and directions to her first class scrawled on a piece of notepaper.
“Good luck,” the woman behind the desk offered with a smile before returning to her computer.
Smiling weakly in response Buffy made her way down the now empty halls and towards her locker in the direction she had been pointed. She had meant to stop by the library before class and pick up some textbooks, but considering how long it had taken her at the office she decided it best to head straight to class.
After struggling with the lock for a minute she hit the door in frustration before trying a fifth and final time. To her surprise, it yielded and the door swung open. Stuffing her backpack inside she removed a notepad and pen and closed the door quickly, jogging quickly toward her first class.
Biology… yuck… she thought as she turned the final corner.
She was so focused on her destination that she hadn’t seen the person walking in the opposite direction. She crashed into them, books flying in all directions.
“Bollocks…” a male voice cursed.
Cursing herself, Buffy dropped to her knees to collect her belongings. Her hair fell from her shoulders shrouding her face like a curtain. Standing quickly, she tucked the unruly hair behind her ears before lifting her eyes to the person she had bowled over who was crouched on the floor retrieving the rest of his books.
The first thing she noticed was his hair; bleached almost white and slicked back off his face. He was dressed head to foot in black, from the combat boots, jeans and T-shirt. A long black leather duster hung open from his shoulder. A frown marred his face as he stood to glare at her.
“I’m sorry about that, I wa--”
“Just bloody well watch where you’re going next time,” he cut off her apology, walking passed her and down the hall she had come from.
She was taken aback by his abruptness but pushed it from her mind. She was late for class. Finding the correct room number, she inhaled deeply before opening the door to the classroom.
The teachers voice stopped at her entrance and the twenty or so students all spun in her direction. She froze a few feet into the room, her cheeks flushing lightly under the scrutiny of their gazes, and she almost considered turning around and running out of the classroom.
“Ah… yes? Can I help you?” the teacher spoke with a hint of impatience.
The teacher’s voice snapped her out of her frozen state and she approached the desk, her right arm extended with a note. The man accepted the note and read over it quickly, realization crossing her weary face as he placed it with a stack of papers.
“Miss Summers… I’m Mr. Perry. I’ve been expecting you. Got held up at the administration office I presume?” he said with a slight twinkle in his eye. “Take a seat,” he instructed.
Buffy just nodded quickly before turning to face the class. There was one free desk at the back of the classroom. She quickly walked towards it and sat down, placing her books before her. A few curious glances were thrown her way but most of the students had returned their attention to the front of the class.
A young guy with shaggy brown hair threw a quizzical look in her direction, smiling when he noticed she returned the gaze. She smiled back and opened up her notebook, thankful she had been spared an introduction.
“Class,” Mr. Perry spoke up, drawing the student’s attention his way. “I’d like to introduce a new student… Miss Buffy Summers. She comes to us from Hemery High in LA. I trust you’ll all make her feel welcome here.”
Spoke too soon… she groaned inwardly. A few faces turned in her direction. Great… exactly what I wanted on my first day…
The bell sounded for the end of the first double period and a sigh passed Buffy’s lips as she gathered her books and stood, quickly exiting the classroom to avoid an inquisition. This wasn’t the first time she had moved schools and the reaction was always the same. Being bombarded with questions was not what she wanted right now.
She made her way into the hall, only making it a few steps before she felt a light tap on her shoulder. She blinked her eyes closed for a moment, irritated at her lack of speed in her escape before pasting a smile on her face and turning around.
The girl standing behind her had a shy smile on her face, and nervously tucked her long red hair behind her ears. Buffy visible relaxed. Not a jock…
“Uh, hi. I’m Willow, Willow Rosenberg,” she introduced, offering a smile. “Thought you might like a guide, someone to help you find the cafeteria, toilets, library…” her voice trailed off as her cheeks flushed.
Buffy smiled, this time genuinely. “Buffy Summers, but you know that,” she added with a laugh. “God I hate being the new kid, everyone staring at you,” she added, tilting her head in the direction of a group of students who slowed their pace as they walked passed her. Her own cheeks coloured when she saw one of the guys throw her an appreciative glance.
The red head nodded, “I know what you --”
An arm interrupted her, as it was casually thrown over her shoulder, which was attached to the body of the shaggy brunette haired guy that had smiled at her in class.
“Hey Wills, give the new girl a chance to settle in, relax before you start a babble fest,” he teased. Dropping his arm he dipped his head in Buffy’s direction quickly in greeting. “Xander Harris would be me and I see you’ve already met the smartest person in our school,” he continued with the teasing.
Willow frowned indignantly at the teasing, before shrugging her shoulders in agreement. “Can’t help that I’m gifted.” A mischievous smile crossed her face as she continued, “I’m cursed to drag your sorry ass through High School.”
“Hey!” he replied indignantly.
Buffy watched the pair of friends with amusement. “Well, I should probably let you two go. I’ve got places to find…”
Willow turned her attention from her best friend to the new girl, “Oh no you don’t, I told you. I’ll be your tour guide, show you around the school.”
Buffy lifted a hand to decline, but Willow wouldn’t hear of it. “It’s no trouble at all. Lets go, your locket first and then to the cafeteria, you must be starved.”
“Especially after that boring class.” Xander grunted trailing behind the girls.
Now it was Willow’s turn to be indignant as she lectured Xander. “It wasn’t that bad!” she looked from Xander’s look, which almost matched that off Buffy’s. “Ok, so today wasn’t an example of Mr. Perry’s best lectures. But he is a good teacher,” she professed.
The trio walked towards the cafeteria after returning their books to their lockers. Buffy watched the two beside her as they teased and joked, poking fun at each other whilst trying to involve her. Nice people… she thought idly.
Her eyes widened at the pandemonium before her. Apparently half of the school was trying to get food all at once. Seeing the shock on Buffy’s face, Xander puffed his shoulders up and a look of sheer determination crossed his features as he spoke.
“I’m goin’ in!”
He quickly disappeared into the throng of students as Willow steered Buffy towards a table. “He’ll be back with a tray load of food in a few minutes… that boy’s stomach is a never ending pit!”
Buffy looked at her quizzically as she sat down. “Are you two dating?” she asked.
At Willow’s sudden head shaking she figured not. “No! Xander doesn’t see me that way, we’ve been friends since we were in kindergarten.” A wistful look crossed the red heads face as she enlightened Buffy with a story from their childhood. Buffy sat silently for a moment, wondering if she should say what was on her mind or not. She didn’t want to ruin a budding friendship, but at the same time she had an outsider’s perspective.
“Why don’t you just tell him how you feel?” she asked.
Willow’s eyes widened in shock, and Buffy immediately began making her apologies. “I’m sorry… it’s none of my business, I shouldn’t have…. bad Buffy,” she scolded.
“Is it that obvious?” Willow asked finally, her voice quivering slightly.
Buffy looked at her for a second before nodding slowly. “It was to me but I’ve got an outside perspective on it. I don’t think he has a clue.”
“Who doesn’t have a clue about what?” a male voice interrupted. Xander sat down between the girls on a vacant seat with a thud, placing a tray loaded with everything imaginable from what was available.
“Oh nothing. Just girl talk about celebrities,” Buffy covered quickly, sneaking a smile at Willow. The red head looked relieved, but she returned the gesture.
“Ok,” Xander accepted. “So… has Willow given you the run down on who’s who around these parts yet?” he asked with a raised eyebrow.
Buffy shook her head slowly.
“Well,” he continued as he swivelled in his seat and pointed to a group of students, their lunch table piled with books. “There you have the nerds… Ouch!” he yelped at the elbow he received from Willow.
“The chess club, math club and science club nerds,” he clarified. “Our Wills here is a brain but she prefers to keep the company with more desirable people such as moi!” he said pressing a hand to his chest to accentuate his speech.
Both girls rolled their eyes and then shared a giggle. Xander smiled, noticing how pretty Buffy looked when she smiled before returning to his introductions.
“The group near the doors to the courtyard are the smokers and I don’t just mean of the nicotine kind.” He twisted in his seat again. “The jocks sit in a pack by the vending machines, which is also where the cheerleaders frequent.” A glimmer of a smile crossed his face before he continued.
“The punks sit on table to our right. The few people who mix in and out of different social groups sit there,” he said pointing to a large table in the centre of the room. “An social outcasts such as us frequent this end of the room,” he said proudly.
“Hey! I’m not a social outcast,” Willow denied, before giggling again.
Buffy laughed also, a mischievous grin crossing her face. “Well thanks for that guys. Which was the table where the popular kids sit again?” she said with faux superiority in her voice.
Willow grinned, and Xander offered a fake look of shock before he nudged Buffy in the shoulder. “Yes, you are doomed to zero party invitations and few dates if you hang out with us.”
A familiar blond head moved through the crowd before joining the group at the table in the centre of the room. A dopey looking blonde immediately wrapped an arm over his shoulder and Buffy grimaced slightly. Noting the sudden change in her expression, Willow followed Buffy’s gaze and a look of knowing flashed over her features.
“Had a run in with one of them?” she inquired.
Buffy nodded quickly, turning her attention away from the table and back to the two looking at her with curiosity. “Billy Idol over there collided with me in the hall before class.” She shrugged. “I guess it was partly my fault, I was in such a rush, but he just took off after yelling at me.”
Xander raised an eyebrow at the moniker she gave, instantly knowing whom she was speaking of. “Ah… yes,” he said. “I see you’ve met Spike, and what a pleasure of a person he is,” he added sarcastically.
“Spike? What sort of name is that?” Buffy questioned.
“Nick-name,” Willow answered. “His name’s William, William Thornton. He’s one of those floaters Xander mentioned, friends all over the school.”
Buffy nodded, glancing at the table again, noting the blonde was still fawning over him. “And whose the leech?” she asked in amusement.
Xander laughed at her description. “That would be Harmony Kendall. Not the brightest spark, but her ‘Daddy’ is one of the rich and powerful in this town.”
“So is her best friend Cordelia’s Dad, Mr. Chase,” Willow added. “She’s the brunette with the nail file and the few girls sitting opposite are the Cordettes.” Seeing Buffy’s confused look, she explained further, “Girls that flock by her side, popularity by association…”
“Right, knew a few people like that back in LA,” Buffy blushed. She had been friends with people like that. “At my old school I was a… I-was-a-cheerleader,” she said quickly.
Willow’s eyes widened in surprise, Xander’s in glee. “So does that mean you’ll be trying out for the cheer squad here?” he asked hopefully, images of the little blonde before him jumping around in a short skirt flashing through his mind.
Buffy shook her head quickly, and Xander couldn’t help but show his disappointment, whilst Willow looked a little relieved. “You were a cheerleader?” she repeated.
Buffy just nodded. “Three years running we made the state championships,” she dropped her gaze to the tray before her and snatched up an apple and began munching on in it. “I gave it up a little while before we moved here after…”
Willow saw the flash of pain that crossed Buffy’s face. She didn’t push, Buffy would talk about it when she wanted to. For once Xander appeared to have the sense not to either.
“So…” Willow said. “We should probably start heading to our lockers, the bell will ring any minute.”
Buffy nodded and stood quickly, waiting for her new friends before they left the cafeteria.
Spike pushed Harmony off of him as he half listened to the conversation that was going on at the table. He had been given another detention from being late to class. It’s all that bint’s fault. If she hadn’t run into me…
He stood, removing his Zippo lighter from the inside pocket of his duster and grabbed the packet of cigarettes that were sitting on the table before him. He needed a smoke, and to get away from Harmony’s prattling. He looked across the room and his eyes lowered into a glare as he spotted a familiar blonde head walking out of the cafeteria.
“Whose the Goldilocks?” he asked to the table, effectively interrupting the conversation of the table. A few heads swivelled in the departing trios direction, shrugs coming all around.
“New girl, was in bio this morning,” a guy’s voice answered. Spike turned to look at who spoke, seeing Devon, the resident muso of their group following the departing group. “Betty… something, I think. She’s from LA,” he added before returning his attention to his notebook, scrawling a few lines before chewing on the end of his pen.
Harmony tilted her head in confusion. “What’s wrong Spikey?” she asked running her hand up his arm.
“Bint made me late for class, and I got a detention because of it,” he snarled, pulling his arm free.
Harmony pouted. “What a bitch! Don’t you worry Spike honey, we’ll make sure she gets what’s coming to her.”
The brunette filing her nails added with a laugh. “Yeah, I’ll make sure she’s made aware that she’s not welcome at the party this weekend. Did you see who she was hanging with? She just spells loser,” Cordelia added incredulously.
Spike smirked before turning on his heel, needing that cigarette.
The rest of the day flew by relatively quickly. Homework was assigned for almost every class, and Buffy sighed when she realized she was going to have to spend the better part of the weekend trying to catch up on the first few weeks of work. That’s what you get for changing schools a few weeks into a new year… she mused. And they couldn’t have picked a worse time to do it, senior year.
Closing her locker she hefted her bag over her shoulder, which was now considerably heavier that it was filled with textbooks from the library. She had promised her Mom she would try and stay ahead of her schoolwork, but that would mean catching up first.
Willow and Xander had exchanged phone numbers with her during the last class of the day, and had invited her out on Saturday night. She was glad she had managed to make some friends. Walking through the double doors at the entrance to the school she was immediately washed in sunshine and a small smile crossed her face as she breathed in deeply.
First day over…
Lifting herself up onto a ledge, she dropped her bag beside her and waited for her Mom to arrive, watching as people slowly began to leave. Soon she was one of only a few left on campus. She looked down at her watch and sighed in frustration.
She tapped her fingers on her bag nervously. She knew her Mom was starting her new job at the gallery today, but it wasn’t like her to be late. This is why I need a cell phone… so I can call her if I need too… she thought, planning on using that argument later.
The doors behind her swung open and a few students walked out. A jolt of surprise washed over her when she recognised one. Billy Idol… Spike… her mind corrected. And he looked pissed off. Buffy turned away, glancing in his direction again when he walked closer to her.
Looking up he felt eyes on him and soon found their owner, the reason for his detention. Betty something… he chewed over in his mind if Devon was right. He scowled at her as he walked passed her and towards his baby, the Desoto.
Figures his cars black… just like his clothing… she thought as he walked passed, glaring at her. Buffy didn’t return the glare; she just stood up, noticing her Mom’s SUV pulling into the lot. A window wound down and Joyce Summer’s voice floated through the window.
“I’m sorry honey, got held up at the gallery.”
Buffy nodded, moving quickly around to the passenger side door and climbing in. “It’s okay.”
Buckling up, the car pulled from the lot. Spike watched it for a moment before starting up the engine to his car and turning up the volume to his stereo, punk music flooding the car park as he peeled out onto the street.