Story: Lost Scenes... (chapter 4)

Authors: Pat Kelly

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Chapter 4

Title: ...From Junior Year

Broadway Babies They Ain't

On the front porch of the Summers' home, the girlfriends sat in the swing. Mulling over events of the last, few days, they were trying not to at the same time. Looking at each other, they immediately looked away. They wanted so much to will the memories--and melodies--banished forever.

Veronica dared speak first. "That was..."

"Life in Sunnydale," came Buffy's stock, all-encompassing answer.

"Whoa no, uh-uh. That was life in Sunnydale, detoured through the Twilight Zone, with a brief stopover along the Outer Limits. Well-blended into an unholy batch of Rocky Horror/Moulin Rouge-laced Kool-Aid."

"That demon made us drink. Who tap-danced," the slayer added on. "Yeah, my 'weirdness threshold' kinda even upped a notch. I want it to go back down."

"A notch? Try again. The buckle's gone bust, baby," Veronica exaggerated for comedic effect. "And what you meant to say was, 'upped an octave.'"

She mimed striking a drum. "Ba-Dump."

"I sang." Buffy still didn't believe it. "I *sang*. There's no forgetting spell in the *world*."

"You and your magic words. Like 'please.' Why say that Hell-mouthful?" Veronica swatted the air dismissively. "All we need is a mallet, and a bottomless jug of the best moonshine an attractive, second cousin can buy."

Beat, and then Buffy asked--

"Who first? Shouldn't it be me, then you?" Something didn't sit right with her. "Maybe a third person oughta be helping. What if we missed?"

Veronica considered. "What if this person were to sport a trench coat? Concealing a camera--or worse--a sixty-year old birthday suit in desperate need of dry cleaning? With us being seven sheets to the wind..."

"Trench-coated people are automatically off-list."

Buffy flushed, being hit with a horrifying memory of her high school self in a trench coat. But then she grinned, remembering something significantly more recent. A tune. It wasn't originally hers, but she hummed the chorus to, "Why So Camera Shy?'"

Veronica punched her in the arm. "Wanna meet 'Mr. Mallet' first? I'll gladly oblige."

"What, it's catchy," Buffy said, unapologetic. "But Eighties Pop died for a reason, still."

"He doesn't know it yet, but Xander's smack dab in the middle of my warpath. And he won't until I strike," Veronica swore. "Quit while you're behind, and he'll come through it with minimal scarring."

A car pulled into the driveway, then. Keith Mars got out, carrying his duffel bad. He was just getting back in town. Lucky him.

"Dad, hey," daughter greeted, a vice grip on her girlfriend's thigh.

"How was the case?" Buffy tried to sound normal.

"Too long," he answered, walking up the stairs. "I miss anything?"

"Life in Sunnydale," the slayer smiled at him.

"What's to miss?" Veronica asked rhetorically.



G-ddamn Garden Gnomes

Veronica ran her hands through her hair for about the sixth time, standing against the wall. Then she stepped away and paced her own private corner of the hospital waiting room again, tapping her fingers together nervously. She looked at the double doors for the twentieth time. In the last five minutes. She wouldn't lose it, she wouldn't lose it...

Willow came over from where she'd been sitting on the chairs, the blonde witch following. "Veronica--"

Veronica cut her off. "No offense, Willow, but...go away."

Tara took the redhead by the shoulders. "C'mon, honey."

"I was just trying to..." Willow wanted to explain herself.

"She knows."

Veronica remembered hearing. It happened too fast for her to see. Everything had happened too fast lately. Her dad's death, his funeral, Buffy's near-paralysis...Buffy's getting shot in the backyard.

BLAM. One second, not shot; the next, shot. On the ground.

It was time to compulsively run her hands through her hair again. Her dad, now Buffy? From a gun? Because of that misogynistic piece of shit? No. *No*. She wouldn't lose it. How long had it been? Were surgeries supposed to last this long?

She sank to the ground, and cupped fists in front of her mouth.

"Xander pickin' up the kid?"

Veronica looked up at Faith, who came from...somewhere. The smell of cigarette smoke gave a clue.

"I guess. I dunno." She noted the slayer's taped up fist. "How is it?"

Faith's eyes darkened. "Shouldn'ta held back."

Veronica closed hers, saw the images behind her lids, and opened them to stop seeing. "Not what I meant."

The brunette stretched out her fingers. "Said I held back, didn't I?"

He was here, too. If he had to be breathing, hopefully it was through a tube.

They were both alone with themselves for a few minutes after that when Faith uttered, wide-eyed, "Fuck. No fucking way."

Sometimes the "slayer connection" sucked. Faith felt gut-punched.

Veronica was on her feet, panicked. "What? *Faith*."

The answer she didn't want from the brunette, but got anyway?

"She's dead."




~The Summers' Residence, Several Hours Ago~

"Before, they just used to be why I boycotted Travelocity," said Veronica as she and Buffy searched the backyard for more camera-packing garden gnomes, and hidden cameras in general. "Now I have an even better reason."

"I wasn't imagining jetpacks, was I?" Buffy asked, poking the grass with a stick. "You saw, didn't you?"

"Much as I think you, snug in straps, would be dead sexy...that's a big 10-4. Warren's no 'Rocketeer,'" Veronica confirmed that her girlfriend still gripped reality and sanity. "Don't wanna call it too early, but it's looking all clear."

Buffy sighed in relief. "Good. This was getting weird."

She halted right then.

"Yeah, that's my fault. Watching you jab the earth the way you do stirs up these...feelings." She flashed an "oops" smile. "Still, I'll take them over rage and debilitating grief."

Must've been the others' rare day off.

With an understanding, supportive smile, Buffy squeezed Veronica against her as they started walking toward the back porch and said, "I'm smelling Italian."

"How'd we live without a ‘Tara'?" Veronica questioned.

Tara had kind of taken care of all of them once Keith died. With the Council recalling Giles to England after Glory was stopped (figuring that if he'd produced the longest surviving slayer in history, other watchers would benefit from his experience), she kept the house in order. No one expected her to when they asked her to move in; they only didn't want her to have to live alone on campus. But Tara took it upon herself.

"I microwaved, you baked. Sometimes there was scooping," remembered Buffy. "Ordering--we were great at ordering. With phones."

"Ever see a Snickerdoodle or a Papa John's menu again...well, nobody likes me when I'm angry," Veronica said, looking towards the back door. "If we're gonna eat tonight, we better pray that cooking while smelling that smell isn't an aphrodisiac."

A redhead was in the kitchen with their chef as well. After fall semester, Willow did what Buffy and Veronica had done a year earlier. She packed up her Hearst-earned college credits and transferred them to UC Sunnydale.

And in an obvious move, she transferred herself here, because here was Tara. She was so witch-whipped. Since late, last summer officially.

The house was a lesbitastic place.

Buffy halted again. "God, what if they are?"

"Xander makes his entrance soon, I know what he'd say," grinned Veronica, and was discouraged by her girlfriend's head shake. "But *we'll* say ‘get a room' for the hundredth time, and when we do, remember to specify--"

Warren Meers' voice interrupted their conversation. "You think you can just do that to me? That I'd let you get away with it? Think again."

The girls both turned, unprepared to see him standing there. Let alone standing there with a gun. Yet Buffy reacted instinctively, protectively, and shoved Veronica down.


His aim was wild. An upstairs window took a bullet. A tree. A slayer.

Backup was the first one out of the house. He flew into the yard barking viciously and leapt at the intruder on his property as said intruder tried to flee. His paws held Warren down, all his weight behind them, while he snarled and growled right above the murderer's face.

Veronica picked herself up and immediately crawled over to a prone Buffy. Her girlfriend's eyes were open in shock, but she said nothing. The shot was real close to...Buffy's shirt. It had blood. Buffy's blood.

The new girlfriends were the next ones out.

Veronica looked over at them. "911. Yesterday!"

As Tara went in to call, Faith pushed past her and zeroed in on the subdued Warren. She charged over, kicked the gun away, and the look in her eyes scared Backup off. She bent down, pulled Warren up by the shirt collar, and just started letting loose on his face.

Willow ran over to Buffy and Veronica, and seeing her best friend like that, she couldn't keep from crying. "Buffy? Oh my god, nonono. Buffy!"

Veronica was by Buffy's head, cradling it in her hands and lap. She couldn't deal with crying right now.

Sharply she said, "Stop her."

Willow was somewhere between pissed and perplexed. "Stop...?"

"Faith. Stop Faith. Quick."

The hacker witnessed the other slayer going apeshit, but just before she got over there, Faith stopped herself. Jumped off, and defensively showed her bloody-knuckled hands. Most of the red wasn't hers.

"Stay the hell with me, Buffy. Got it?" Veronica ordered, her eyes boring into the hazel ones she was trying to will to remain open.

She had to keep her conscious. "You listening? Don't go *anywhere*. The ambulance is gonna pull up any minute now, and if you want the pleasure of my company in back, keep that gaze focused right here."

She pointed at her own face. "But that should go without saying. Why would you wanna gaze at anything else? And you're doing great so far. Really. Oughta be able to shake off a bullet, c'mon. Wasn't even that big."

Though she smiled, her voice broke on every word. "Any minute."

By the time she heard Tara say it was coming, she could already hear sirens in the distance.




It was six hours later, and the surgery was still ongoing.

Moments after Faith's announcement, Veronica barreled through the double-doors and fought through security to catch a glimpse of the doctors before she was hauled away. A few minutes after that, a nurse appeared and explained that while Buffy's heart had stopped, the surgeon was able to manually get it beating again. But it would be a while yet--the bullet hit dangerously close to that pretty crucial organ.

With that good news, Veronica calmed down some, though Faith was on her shit list. She'd thus been in her corner ever since. She hadn't even spoken to the police detectives who wanted her statement.

The only, other time she let someone in was when Dawn brought her a Kit Kat from the vending machine. But then Buffy's sister went back to sit with everyone else. In six hours, Veronica had taken maybe half a bite.

At six hours and fifty-two minutes, when the exhausted doctor finally came out, his face was the opposite of grim. It was a success, he'd said.

"We're moving her to the ICU for a little while just to be sure, but...she's a strong young woman."

Buffy's friends and family cried tears that came happily. Xander cracked jokes. They all hugged Dawn. The usual, relieved reactions.

Veronica, though? She wasn't relieved until she was alone later in Buffy's hospital room, seeing--and holding--her girlfriend in living color. She might have cried then.

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