Throughout the story I might use some dialogues you’ll recognize either from the movie or from BtVS episodes. Those aren’t mine; they belong to the very talented ‘Fire and Fire’ and ‘BtVS’ screenwriters.
Buffy Summers let the familiar warmth envelope her as she left behind the Immaculate Heart School grounds and advanced into the forest. It never ceased to amaze her how quick the numbness that surrounded her while at school during the week gradually lifted the further she walked away from the school.
The only problem being that the lack of numbness meant she was able to feel the loneliness and heartbreak missing her parents and her home had brought her. She had tried so hard to overcome this, hence the trying to block it out. There wasn’t much that she could do about it; well, not more than she already had, that is.
She blinked back the tears that were threatening to spill, as she wished that her parents finally realized how much she needed them. Not their money, nor all the things they could buy her ? just them. She knew that they loved her, in their own way, of course. Sadly, they loved their business trips and parties more, and a daughter at home meant they had to give at least part of that up.
She had tried to make them see that she didn’t want to tamper with their lifestyle, that she just needed to feel loved, to feel that she belonged. She didn’t feel that way at school. Ever since she’d been sent there ? about four years ago ? she had known that it wasn’t the right place for her, that she didn’t belong there ? never had, never would.
It wasn’t until the last time she talked with her parents, about a month ago, that her father had finally said he would think about it. Thinking about it was definitely of the good, especially considering that every time she’d mentioned leaving, he had either said no right from the start or had simply ignored the issue.
So for now, she held to the hope that maybe, just maybe, she wouldn’t have to wait until she graduated before she could finally get away from Immaculate Heart. But, even if she had to stay until graduation, she held the hope that her parents would let her continue her education in a college that was closer to her home.
She knew she shouldn’t complain, due to her excellent grades, good behavior and of course, the very generous donations her father made each year, the nuns allowed her more liberties than those given to the rest of the interns. Thus enabling her to take long walks through the forest once a week so she could indulge in her hobby: photography. And, they had even given her permission to set up a dark room in one of the unused classrooms so that she could develop the pictures herself.
She shook her head to stop the depressing path her thoughts were taking and tried to concentrate on all that she could see, breathe, and touch. It was a perfect day for walking ? not too hot, not too cold. The sun shone brightly in the sky and a gentle breeze flowed from the mountains. She breathed in the clean mountain air and gazed lovingly at the trees, butterflies, and flowers that she found in her way to the pond.
With practiced ease, she climbed over the fallen log to cross through the gorge that stood between her and the pond that she had stumbled upon one day during her weekly walks. It had enchanted her the first time she laid eyes on it; it was secluded, quiet, and beautiful.
Cautiously, she walked down a slope to reach the pond. When she finally got to the bottom, Buffy breathed in deeply, letting the calmness that surrounded the place to invade her. She didn’t want anything, not even her, disturbing the peace that permeated the pond; so with measured movements she took off her backpack and knelt upon the ground. She unzipped the bag and took out several items: a flower bouquet wrapped in plastic, a white dress, a heavy duty plastic, a tripod, a camera and a large cable and set them aside in an orderly fashion.
Then she walked around the pond trying to determine where best to place the tripod for her camera. Once she reached a decision, she settled the tripod in place and secured it with some rocks she had found nearby. She double-checked the angle and the light so she could capture all the beauty of her special place, then mounted the camera over the tripod and installed the long trigger cable. Afterwards, she extended the heavy-duty plastic and carefully lowered it on top of the pond.
More out of habit than because she thought anyone else might be around, Buffy glanced in all directions, before she took off her white blouse, khaki shorts, socks, and hiking boots ? folding the clothes and stacking the articles in a neat pile over the back pack. Then she put on the simple white dress she had bought from a local shop. She had fallen in love with it as soon as she saw it and promptly decided that it would be perfect for what she had planned.
Once she was dressed, she scattered the flowers over the plastic and took the cable in one of her hands as she stepped into the shallow pond. Carefully, she laid down over the plastic, trying not to disrupt the setting as she extended her honey blond tresses around her head as a halo. She took a deep breath and closed her eyes, as she got ready to take some pictures.
* ~ * ~ *
Meanwhile, a few miles away…
“Ok, boys! Let’s get this thing organized. Demons over here, Vampires over there!” Robin Wood shouted to get the boys’ attention as he pointed to the places they had to stand. “Vampires? I want you to pick your runner. O’Connor?”
“Sir?” Angel O’Connor asked.
“Explain the rules to the Demons.”
Angel turned to face his team. “Demons! Wanna go to the movies?” he asked, fully aware of what the answer was going to be.
“Yeah!” the Demons answered in unison.
“Then let’s start…” the dark-haired man trailed off as he noticed that one of the team members was talking and pointing towards him.
Angel walked over to the guy and pulled him by the collar of his t-shirt until they were face to face and whispered menacingly: “Graham, I’m waiting for you to give me an excuse to beat you to a bloody pulp. Now, if you don’t want that, shut the fuck up and stand still.”
Angel pushed Graham and pinned him in his place with a threatening glare and continued: “Rules are simple. Vampires choose a runner. He gets a three-minute advantage and then we follow him. If we catch up with him or if somehow we get back to the camp next, we win. If he gets here first, Vampires win,” he threw an intimidating look to his team. “But if you know what’s good for you, you’ll all make sure we win, you hear me?”
“Yeah,” the Demons shakily responded. They knew better than to go against Angel’s orders. Nothing good ever came to anyone when he was in that mood.
Angel smirked when Riley Finn came to stand next to him and signaled to the other side of the camp, where it seemed that the Vampires had already chosen their runner, Spike Taylor. He had only been at Oak Ridge Honor Camp for three months and due to his easygoing character and leadership skills, he had quickly become the Vampires’ team leader. Because of this, he instantly became Angel’s enemy. Not that they would have been friends even if they’d been on the same side, it having been hate at first sight for both of them.
“Good deal,” Angel said loudly so the other team heard him. “They chose Spike, the new guy. This is gonna be a very easy win for us.”
At that moment, a tall man holding a red bandanna ran into the camp to join the Vampires. Having heard Angel’s comment as he passed by, he stopped running and started walking backwards. He threw Angel a condescending look as he replied, “It ain’t over ‘til it’s over, blood breath. You of all people should know that.”
“Why, you little…” Angel spat out indignantly, or at least tried to, since by then Xander had already joined his Vampire teammates and was no longer paying any attention to him.
Xander slipped into the circle the Vampires had made around Spike, taking a folded piece of paper out of his pocket.
“Now, Spike, I need you to pay attention to this map. See this?” he said, waiting ‘til Spike nodded. “You’ll just have to follow the path I marked, it’s a shortcut and if you do as I tell you, I promise you’ll be back here with plenty of time to have first seat at watching Angel’s demise,” Xander told them.
“That’d be a sight to behold,” Spike chuckled. “Pity we don’t ‘ave a camera to capture the moment, it’d be bloody priceless that’s for sure.”
Xander and the others laughed as the image of a very irate Angel after losing the race filled their minds.
“’Ow did ya find this map, mate?” Spike asked as curiosity won over amusement.
“I’m the Camp’s Official Mapmaker, remember? How do you think I found it? I made it, of course,” Xander replied proudly. “It’s a very good thing that I have full access to all the resources from the library, don’t you think?”
“Startin’ to think so, at least,” Spike replied.
“So, you’ve gotta start slow, that’ll give Angel and his team a sense of false security. You can start running in earnest when you are out of sight. From here you should go straight until you get to the river, there you’ll turn to your left and keep going until you find a pond. Then you’ll have to make a right turn and when you find the main road, just follow it for about five minutes and it’ll take you back to the camp.”
Spike’s blue eyes were fixed on the map as he memorized the route he had to follow. It seemed easy enough. He was asking Xander about some of the places that he had to go through when they saw a jeep park in the middle of the camp.
A man in his mid-forties carrying a rifle stepped out of the vehicle and moved towards Robin Wood.
“Is all set up for the competition, Officer Wood?” he asked.
“It is.” Wood answered.
“Ok. Who’s gonna run for the Vampires?” Snyder shouted.
“I am,” Spike answered, walking over to where Snyder stood.
“Ah, the new guy. I hope you’re not thinking of fleeing the camp for good, boy. You’re getting out in about nine months, aren’t you?”
“Yes.” Spike said, trying to keep his answers short on purpose.
“I guess you don’t want to jeopardize that, now do you?” Snyder questioned. Without waiting for the answer, he came closer to Spike and lowering his voice, he added, “You make me look bad and I’ll make you regret it for the rest of your life, boy.”
“Okay,” Spike responded flatly, keeping a cool demeanor, which he knew drove Snyder out of his mind.
Snyder took his rifle, cocked it and pointed it towards Spike’s chest. Spike knew Snyder wouldn’t dare shoot him, at least not with so many potential witnesses around. So without flinching, he locked his blue gaze with Snyder’s and waited.
Snyder gritted his teeth; it made him furious that Spike Taylor didn’t exhibit any external signs of fearing him. He would have to make sure that that changed before he left the Camp. At the moment though, without a valid excuse and in front of practically all the inmates and officers, he couldn’t do anything. So, he pulled the rifle away from Spike’s chest and pointing it towards the sky, pulled the trigger.
Spike held Snyder’s gaze for a few more seconds, before he smirked derisively and walked slowly towards the forest.
Snyder turned to Angel once Spike disappeared into the woods, and with an evil grin he said, “Give him just two minutes, O’Connor, not three.”
“Yes, Sir,” Angel replied grinning. He just couldn’t wait to wipe the cocky smirk from Spike’s face.
* ~ * ~ *
“Guess bein’ able to run without suffocatin’ is as good a reason as any to quit smokin’,” Spike muttered as he paused for a moment in order to catch his breath.
Behind him, he heard the Demons close on his heels, so he hid beneath a tree as they passed nearby. He took out the map to check where he had to go next, and once he was sure Angel and his team was gone, he ran off in the opposite direction.
He found the pond that Xander had mentioned and was about to make a right turn when he caught a glimpse of something, or rather someone, in the pond. He stood behind a tree, blinking several times as he tried to make sure that he wasn’t dreaming. She was, without a doubt, the most beautiful creature he had ever seen in his life.
He stayed as still as he could so she wouldn’t notice him and disappear. She looked almost ethereal as she lay over the water, her hair floating about her head like a halo as blooms of flowers surrounded her body. Entranced, he moved from behind the tree in an effort to get a closer look and suddenly lost his footing. He managed to grab a branch to stop his fall, but a few loose rocks rolled down towards the pond.
His breath caught in his chest when she opened her eyes and looked directly at him for a second. He felt like lightning had zapped right through him. He couldn’t do anything but run away, scared by the intensity of the feelings that this angel had conveyed to him with that one look.
* ~ * ~ *
Buffy had felt someone watching her for about a minute before she heard the rocks that landed on the pond. She turned her head slightly towards the noise and opened her eyes, only to gaze in amazement upon the most handsome man she had ever seen. Time seemed to stand still as electricity charged the air between them as their eyes met. She was about to open her mouth and say something, when he suddenly turned away from her and ran up the slope, disappearing from her sight.
Buffy kept her eyes on the spot he had been standing just moments ago, until a shiver and the reality of the cold water reminded her of what she had been doing.
In an effort to refocus on her task, she took a deep breath and closed her eyes again. She bent her arms upwards, as if waiting for someone to step into them. She pushed the camera trigger several times, until she was sure that she had taken enough pictures.
Slightly dazed over what had happened, Buffy stepped out of the pond and walked towards her backpack. She took off her dress, and after drying herself with a towel, she changed back into the clothes she was wearing earlier. After gathering all her belongings, she started walking the long way back to the school.
She felt different, lighter somehow. The too-brief encounter at the pond had changed something fundamentally within her. All thoughts about leaving the school and her parents vanished, all she could think about was a mysterious man with soulful eyes and white-blond hair ? as well as where and when would she find him.
“It shouldn’t be that hard to find out where he came from, there aren’t many places nearby,” Buffy said to herself. “So he either came from Oak Ridge or… the reformatory,” Buffy practically jumped with joy as she remembered she had heard the other girls talking about that place. “That’s it! I’m sure he came from there. Now, Buffy, think. How can you make it so that you can see him again?”
An idea started forming in her mind, and after a brief consideration of the pros and cons, she decided that she would put it into motion on Monday. She was sure that once they hear her plan the other girls would agree to help her. And with them backing up her plan, convincing Sister Jen shouldn’t be that hard.
Distractedly, she glanced down at her watch, and noticing it was almost noon, she hurried back towards the school. She had promised Willow Rosenberg, her best friend and roommate, that they would go to the movies at two. She couldn’t wait to tell her friend about her mystery man and her plan that would enable her to see him again.