TITLE: Ophelia; She is Not
FANDOM: Buffy the Vampire Slayer (au-from The Harvest onward)
CHARACTER(S): Nancy (from The Wish); Buffy Summers; Cordelia Chase; Rupert Giles;
A/N: This 'verse comes out of the discussions in the comments for kerk-hiraeth.dreamwidth.org/3131.html
the second one since my 'comeback' to writing fanfic, with yourlibrarian
I was really set to thinking as to the history of the show, and how it might differ if, as in this 'verse, it was Willow who was vamped and killed in the pilot.
Those thoughts led me to Nancy. Nancy who? Well I have given her a surname; and have sketched out enough of a backstory in my head to carry more stories forward but this buffy.fandom.com/wiki/Nancy_(Wishverse says all you need to know vis-a-vis the canon of the TV show, though in my head she's a college student, with an interest in theater ; she's also gay, which leads me to the girlfriend.
Jan, or Janan, to give her her full given name has appeared in one of my stories before. She was Tara's first girlfriend and, though it wasn't ever stated in this drabble open-on-sunday.livejournal.com/2913192.html ; one of a set of three for open-on-sunday, was much older than Tara at the time; as Nancy would have been when they were together before this story is set.
I hope to see Nancy and Jan again, but it occurs to me now that, even when I was writing Nancy's moments in my mind; Jan was her girlfriend, and she was the same Jan as in the drabble.
The dodgy lighting over the theater parking was the same; one light had been fixed since last semester, that was it. The air was crisper; though not even close to the weather she'd grown up with, still strangers to California got a brisk shock when they experienced it. Traffic was lighter than most expected for a town this size; but the docks sounded lively; must be a couple of ships in.
Nancy felt strange about it tonight that's all; first rehearsal for a production since...
She grimaced; she'd gone and wasn't coming back. She sighed, reflecting that now she was starting her final year; strangeness walked hand in hand with Sunnydale every night.
She couldn't fault Jan for leaving after... After it happened. She had no warning of Sunnydale's rep before she arrived; Nancy remembered Jan being so shocked that she had come to UCSD even knowing about it she'd been rendered speechless for the rest of what had turned into their first night together.
Hadn't been planned as their first date, and Jan had made it clear enough over the months that learning about this town had not affected her decision to begin sleeping with her, but Nancy had always wondered.
Jan had nearly finished her Freshman Year when she'd been... it had happened. Nancy cursed Greyhound for it's timetabling, but she'd known; with increasing certainty that the moment her remaining projects were completed Jan would be heading somewhere safer.
It had started as a tiny humorous thing; this ritual, but it had quickly become part of their nights rehearsing at the local theater for the local drama group's productions. Jan had grasped onto it; Nancy now saw, as a way of controlling her fear.
Her last year here; Nancy had rather it had been 'The Winter's Tale', but this would do ~ if only this had not been Jan's favourite, and if Cordelia had not been the part that Jan would have been perfect for.
She wondered if she'd have got to play The Fool anyway; boyish as she looked at times, but she liked Cordelia anyway. She did ponder what it would be like to play Gloucester, or even maybe Lear.
But Cordelia would do.
So she settled her books and notes into the crook of her other arm; lifting her left to the sky to declaim.
“Hark! Hark! The lark at heaven's gate sings,
And Phoebus 'gins arise;
His steeds... “
And there it ended as she was unceremoniously shoved aside by a pair of giggling high school rich... divas. Ironically, she supposed, one of them appeared to be Cordelia. Nancy didn't recognise the asian girl with her, but the not so surruptitious glance backward told Nancy that the moment had been deliberate.
Actually it surprised her, because she knew that Chase had become part of the production team on the recommendation of one of the teachers; Nancy knew her and respected her, the woman had given up on a theatrical career of her own because of racism on Broadway; deciding on a career she loved better anyway.
She didn't have to work hard to figure why she'd been targeted; for once not because she was a lesbian.
She smirked; kinda refreshing that actually.
Sighing she began to turn to pick up her belongings when she was almost knocked onto her backside by another; this time clearly accidental, collision. As she collected her wits, Nancy thought she heard a mumbled apology and almost clashed heads with the, apparently, extremely nervous girl flapping about in front of her; Nancy having, by this time, knelt down to assist in the recovery of her own belongings.
Gripping a hard wooden object she suddenly recognised who it was.
“Buffy Summers,” she said calmly, but so appreciatively that the poor girl actually stopped wrecking Nancy's notes and looked directly at her; admittedly confused until Nancy pointed out where she knew Buffy from.
“Last semester? You rescued my girl... “
Choking off that sentence, Nancy smiled; with only the slightest of grimaces, as she inwardly berated herself for, once more, forgetting that Jan was gone; never to return to Sunnydale. She knew the letter waiting to be opened in her room told her where Jan was spending the rest of her college life.
In a different City; different State? Different country.
Anyone speculating on different continent, would not be crazy to lay money on.
She thought she almost detected a moment's relaxation; only to be distracted by the object she realised she was holding. It smelt of ash, and a little blood; wasn't sharpened of course, and appeared to be made of the same wood as the chairs the cast used between scenes.
Bemused, Nancy watched Buffy pick up; calmer and steadier now, her books and notes; gather them together neatly and hold them out to her. Nancy stood confused for a second, and then held the makeshift stake out to the Slayer.
Fuck, but she was even tinier up close!
From somewhere Nancy's personality kicked in and she smiled. “Fair exchange?”
It was Buffy's turn to be confused again; especially when Nancy held out her hand; her left hand, and it took her a couple of seconds to respond and take hold of it as they shook hands; Buffy remembering at the last moment to move the stake to her other hand.
“Nancy Walker, “ she said, feeling it unusally necessary to explain; unintentionally repeating herself as she did so, that Buffy had, “... saved my... “
She cursed, in arabic; which didn't help, as she kicked herself for... She was gone; Walker it's time you got used to it. She was never the u-hauling romantic, but Nancy knew she had almost begun to imagine a future with this one.
She was rescued from further maudlin reflections when Buffy's head dropped and she mumbled ~ damn she was so small, “I'm sorry.”
Nancy's chuckle made Buffy glance up again.
“For what? Saving her? She's still alive, and I can hardly fault her for leaving a town with the rep this one has; now can I?”
Nancy thought Buffy looked a bit nonplussed at that; suddenly it occurred that the poor girl wasn't used to people actually having conversation with her; talking to her.
As that thought formed; another more disturbing one beat it to her vocal chords.
The beads of sweat; the still heavy breaths and the biting of the lip.
“You're scared... was there a vampire on the crew?”
Buffy didn't have to answer, though she held up two fingers, “Scheisse!”
Suddenly Jan's frantic messages; that scared timbre to her voice when they spoke after Nancy called to let her know that the bus was finally getting into Sunnydale and to meet her at College, the way she'd had to be calmed down and didn't appear to be all there when they made love.
Her constant trips to the bathroom.
How could I have been so obtuse?
Aloud, she muttered, “I was too horny to see straight!” A titter from nearby brought her back to the present. She saw this tiny child, but was saved from sudden anger by that grin, and laughed herself as she realised that she had, indeed, said that last out loud.
Nancy looked at her and abruptly offered to buy her a coffee at the bus station if she'd escort her there. Buffy looked like she was about to refuse, then shrugged, muttering absent-mindedly that she would, and would miss working at the theater now her mission was over.
“Why leave? “ Adding, before the Slayer could point out what, she imagined anyway, was obvious, “You really are good with your hands.. you turned a piece of chair leg into a weapon with... what? Your fingernails? That blood is yours, yeah?”
Buffy seemed to relax a bit; telling Nancy about her friend Xander; who'd passed on tips, apparently from some alcoholic relative, so she wouldn't seem too out of place working on the sets.
“You still seem lonely, if I can say that. Do you only have... “ She needed to choose her words carefully; almost having forgotten how to talk to a girl she wasn't trying to seduce. “Boys in your life?”
Buffy tried not look too regretful, but it was clear she had no girlfriends. She seemed about to say there was one, but thought better of it; bit her lip and, eventually, admitted, “I could use a girlfriend.”
Nancy almost doubled over in silent mirth as Buffy almost seemed to turn the colour of the Sunnydale sports jerseys as she realised what she'd said.
Nancy held up her hand, “Small 'g' is fine; been a while, but I think I can recall how to talk to, “ she gestured the appropriate apostrophes; promising to kick herself later for using them, “ 'straight' girls,”
The kid actually laughed at that and gestured towards the parking exit on the bus station side of the building. Nancy mocked the swooping of a hat; inappropriately as Buffy was the 'hero', but what the heck.
It was actually kinda nice to play the romantic hero to a girl for once.
Maybe she would try for the male lead next time after all, she smiled to herself.
“He sounds like a good teacher, “ she was saying to Buffy as they turned onto the sidewalk, and waited patiently for the lights to allow them to cross.
Now, if you were following the two young women ~ at a discreet, and stealthy, distance ~ you might have been expected to miss the knowing smile on the younger ones face at that remark.
If that same smile, and the thought behind it hadn't also been on your mind.
You might also have missed the pain on the face of the watcher as they recalled the misery at the death of an even younger girl, because of your; not your charge's, mistake.
You might also have been wondering what to do about the two earnest, and dangerously heroic young people trying to assuage their own survivor's guilt by helping you and your charge; two tragically ill-equipped; angry, very young men to be, who felt far too much like yourself at that age for comfort.
You might further feel that you were in too deep to cut them loose; especially as they were showing signs; buried in their earnestness, but there nonetheless, of promise that could lead them to become much better adults than you felt.
You, further to all that, might be concerned at how to marry that with the need to actually do your job and keep your charge alive for as long as possible; even unto your future mandated betrayal.
Which you so wished you could see a way out of.
Then you might see in this new – possible – female influence a way of providing a release from your charge's overwhelmingly masculine social group which, in the dog eat dog atmosphere of an American High School, could leave all three of them dangerously isolated.
Carefully you retreat as you realise you've got too close behind them, but not before you hear the older woman offer her hacking ~ whatever that was ~ in return for your charge carrying on with the work on the sets; also promising doughnuts; pizza and some of those horrendously sugary confections Americans called mochas.
So you decide to stand, eventually, where you are, until you are sure they are safe inside the bus station. Feeling hungry yourself now, you might recall the younger boy offering you and the aforementioned Xander, pizza and a movie at his house, since his parents were going out to visit relatives and would not mind at all a teacher acting chaperone; since you couldn't be somethng they were too old for anyway.
Sadly you might also reflect on how grateful Xander looked at the prospect at this, possibly, meaning not having to go home at all.
As you turn away, your thoughts might avoid what their choice of filmic entertainment might be and turn to the easily digested pizza; as long as you could persuade them to stay away from those evil anchovies...
You might also decide her report could wait until morning.
Hark, hark, the lark at heaven’s gate sings,
And Phoebus gins arise,
His steeds to water at those springs
On chalic’d flow’rs that lies;
And winking Mary-buds begin to ope
their golden eyes;
With every thing that pretty is, my lady sweet, arise:
(Act 2, Scene 3, William Shakespeare's Cymbeline)