No Place Like HomebyBlissfulZimZum666©
Buffy was out on patrol, she was fighting with a vampire outside an abandoned factory.
There was a sign mounted on the chain link fence, it read:
VIOLATORS WILL BE PROSECUTED
Buffy slammed against the sign. She ducked just as the vampire's fist smashed into it where her head had been an instant before. The vampire was a huge, burley Hell's Angel biker-type and he loomed menacingly over Buffy.
"I've always wanted to kill the Slayer." The vampire said.
"And I've always wanted piano lessons. So really, who's surprised we have all this unexpressed rage?" Buffy said.
Buffy punctuated her words with blow after blow, knocking the hulking vampire back several feet. He retaliated with a brutal punch to her face, sending her reeling. Buffy blocked a second blow and wrenched the vampire's arm behind his back and flattened him against the fence.
"But honestly? I think I'm expressing mine better. Tell you what... you find yourself a good anger management class..."
The vampire threw her off but she slammed him back into the fence again and whipped out a stake.
"And I'll jam this pokey wood stick through your heart."
Before the vampire could react, Buffy staked him and he turned to dust and slips the stake back into her coat.
"I think that sets the world speed record for closure." Buffy said to herself.
"Hey!" said a man behind her.
A bright light shone in Buffy's eyes as she turned to see the factory night watchman approaching.
"Miss, if you're looking for one of those rave parties, I'm afraid you're late. Chased a bunch of kids out of here last night."
"Oh, right. Yeah. Darn. My fellow ravers will be so disappointed. It was my turn to bring the Bundt cake." Buffy said pretending that's what she was there for.
"You know, if it was my call, I'd let you do whatever you want. It's not like anybody's using this place or nothin'. But they just don't pay me enough to argue with the boss so..." the night watchman said.
"Already gone!" Buffy said.
Buffy turned to leave but the guard stopped her.
"Oh, hey! Hold it, miss. Take your... whatever this is with you."
He bent over, picked up a glowing yellow orb and handed it to Buffy, who looked at it curiously.
"Thank you," Buffy said.
"Glow balls, huh?" The guard laughed. "I swear; I don't get your generation. What is that thing?"
"I'll let you know as soon as I find out," Buffy said distractedly.
Buffy turned and walked off into the night.
The following morning Buffy was preparing a breakfast tray for her mother. Dawn entered the room.
"Dawn, touch nothing." Buffy said.
"Who died and made you the Iron Chef?" Dawn asked.
"Look, Mom's sick and I made her a nice non-instant breakfast for once. And I don't need you..." Buffy began.
Dawn knocked over the rose vase that was on the tray.
"Oops!" Dawn said.
"... doing that," Buffy finished.
Joyce entered in her bathrobe, smiling.
"Oh! Check out the 'Pamper Mom' platter. You two do all this?" she asked Dawn.
"Oh, Buffy helped." Dawn said.
Buffy couldn't believe her sister, "I didn't 'help'..."
"I'm sure you did," Joyce said and sat down on a stool, "So neither of you is pregnant, failing or under indictment?"
Buffy and Dawn gave her a look.
"Just checking," Joyce said.
Buffy said, "We knew you were feeling less-than-great so..."
"Yeah, the headaches they said would go away came back and brought some friends along with." Joyce said.
"Well, what did the doctor say?" Buffy asked.
"Oh, take four of some-pills a day and come back for tests," Joyce replied.
"So they don't know what's wrong?" Buffy asked.
"Not yet." Joyce replied.
"Well, that's unacceptable. I think we should get a second opinion." Buffy said.
"Well, we need a first opinion first, honey." Joyce explained.
"Okay, we'll go right now." Buffy said.
"Buffy, I know you're concerned, okay? But don't be. I'm still the Mom. Which means I get to worry about you two. Which is a good thing because you're a Vampire Slayer." Joyce said and pulled Dawn onto her lap. "And you... you are my little punkin' belly!"
"Oh, Mom! That's like my kid name." Dawn said embarrassed.
"So I can't be retro?" Joyce asked.
Buffy noted Joyce and Dawn's easy camaraderie and felt a little excluded.
"Did you ever have any names for me?" Buffy asked.
"No... I think you were always just Buffy." Joyce replied.
"I got some names for ya..." Dawn said.
Buffy was hurt but covered it. Joyce suddenly remembered something.
"What are you doing hanging around here? Isn't this Giles' big day?" Joyce said to Buffy.
"Oh! Bigger than big. It's his grand opening." Buffy replied.
"So go. Bring me back a... I don't know... a flying broomstick or something." Joyce told Buffy
"Those never really work." Dawn said.
"Whatever. Book club tonight?" Joyce asked Dawn.
"Uh-huh." Dawn said.
"You guys have a book club?" Buffy asked and reacting to their looks. "Okay, I'm gonna go. I will be back later. What time is your doctor's appointment?" Buffy asked her Mom.
Joyce gave her daughter an exasperated look.
"I just want to know... take it easy. I want you to relax all day, keep your feet up, plenty of Oprah." Buffy instructed her Mom.
"Plus you can check my rain forest report and you know there's like eighty bazillion old board games..." Dawn said.
Buffy grabbed Dawn by the arm and dragged her out of the house.
"Hey! You said I couldn't come." Dawn said.
"Changed my mind." Buffy told her.
Buffy reached the Magic Box, entered and glanced up at the quaint bell that rung when she opened the door. She strolled into the store, taking in the curios and knickknacks lining the shelves. The store was quiet and empty. She looked up to find Giles standing serenely in the centre of the store, dressed in a spangled purple robe and pointed purple warlock's cap. Giles smiled at Buffy cheerily, Buffy merely stared him down. Finally, he dropped the facade and shrugged out of the costume just as Dawn burst through the door behind Buffy, gasping for breath.
"I told you, you couldn't ditch me!" she said to Buffy.
Dawn looked around. "Wow... Mr. Giles! This place is so... wow. I mean, check out all the magic junk."
"Our new slogan..." Giles said sarcastically.
"So when's it open? You know, for customers?" Dawn asked.
"Since nine this morning, actually," Giles said.
"Dawn. Go. Browse. And..." Buffy said.
"You break it, you bought it. Heard you the first sixty times," Dawn said scathingly.
Dawn wandered into the recesses of the store to check the place out.
"Still, not to worry. No, I've got feelings about this place. Magic's a small niche market but... well, think about it. Sunnydale... monsters... supply and demand. They'll be lining up around the block in no time." Giles said to Buffy.
"Yeah. You'll be making money hand over fist." Buffy said.
Suddenly puzzled, Buffy held her hand over her fist.
"Which I guess is a good thing." Buffy said not quite understanding how that was a good way to make money.
"You all right? You seem a little distracted." Giles said to Buffy.
"It's just my Mom's still sick and we have no idea what the deal is." Buffy told Giles.
"She is getting medical attention?" Giles asked.
"Yeah. We have a highly trained medical staff working round the clock to tell us diddly." Buffy said.
"I'm sorry. Still, you know, time and patience... both great comforts..." Giles trailed off.
The bell jingled as Willow and Michael entered. Michael wore a red, long-sleeved T-shirt and leather pants.
Willow ran in, excited.
"Giles! Where's your hat and cloak?" Willow asked.
"Yeah, the hype was out of control," Michael said.
Dawn hurried up to Willow, "Willow! You gotta see this. They have the coolest talismens... mans... talisguys. I..."
"Actually, I have a little Scooby-centric deal to deal with first." Buffy said interrupting.
Buffy reached into her bag and removed the glowing yellow globe.
"I put this before the group. What the hell is it?" Buffy asked.
"It appears to be paranormal in origin." Giles said.
"How can you tell?" Willow asked.
"Well, it's so shiny." Giles said.
"Found it on patrol." Buffy explained.
Buffy handed the object to Giles.
"May be more where that came from. I say we go back out again tonight." Michael said.
"Um... sure." Buffy said.
"You can't patrol. Buffy said." Dawn told Michael.
"No, I didn't." Buffy said, hoping Dawn would shut up.
"Yeah, remember? You said it'd be easier if you didn't have to look out for anybody."
"Well, I wasn't talking about Michael." Buffy said nervously.
"Don't worry about it." Michael said.
"Oh, she just said you look even cuter when you're all weak and kitteny and she'd better go solo or you'd get hurt. So welcome to the club. She'll never let me go either." Dawn said.
Buffy was mortified and furious. Giles, Willow and Michael looked away, uncomfortable. Dawn finally registered the awkward silence.
"What? What?" Dawn asked.
"Giles, you got that danger room set up out back? I'm feeling the need for a little physical rehab about now." Michael said.
Giles handed the globe to Willow.
"Of course, yes." Giles said to Michael.
Michael disappeared into the back of the shop.
Then to Willow, Giles said, "If any customers do..."
"On it." Willow assured Giles.
"Dawn, we're going." Buffy said.
Dawn knew she was in trouble and headed out, dejected. Willow stopped Buffy before she left.
"Buffy, wait. Go easy on her." Willow said.
"Why?" Buffy asked.
"I can't help it. I just have all this involuntary empathy for
Dawn. 'Cause she's, you know, a big spaz." Willow replied.
All of Buffy's pent-up frustrations suddenly poured out.
"She's so annoying. Especially now that Mom's sick. She's all over her while I have to be the grown-up and the two of them are like the Giggle Twins and why can't I ever be Lil Punkin' Belly?" Buffy asked Willow.
"While I don't feel qualified to address the last part, I can tell you that Dawn's not just the youngest, she's the baby and maybe your Mom needs that right now." Willow reasoned.
"Dawn doesn't care what my Mom... You just have no idea how much I wish I were an only child these days." Buffy said.
The crash of breaking glass came from the rear of the store.
"Oops!" Dawn said.
Buffy winced and looked knowingly at Willow.
Buffy and Dawn returned home, Dawn was still going on about the incident at the shop.
"We can't all be born with big, fancy, Chosen One reflexes, you know." Dawn said.
"Shh! Mom?" Buffy said.
A soft moan came from the living room.
Buffy and Dawn rushed to Joyce, who was lying on the couch in obvious distress.
"Mom!" Buffy said concerned.
"What's wrong?" Dawn asked.
"It's just my head." Joyce said weakly.
"I'm taking you to the doctor." Buffy said.
"No, sweetheart. I'm fine." Joyce insisted.
"We don't know that. We don't know anything. We're going." Buffy said more firmly.
"I just need my prescription. Please?" Joyce asked.
Buffy picked up the slip and stood up.
"Hospital pharmacy open?" she asked.
"Mmm-hmm." Joyce replied.
"Ten minutes." Buffy said simply.
With that Buffy left the house and went down to the hospital, she had been there on many occasions over the last four years.
The technician handed Buffy a bottle of pills and she turned to leave, examining the bottle as she went. She passed two orderlies and a nurse wheeling a patient down the corridor on a gurney. Ben called out to Buffy, stopping her.
"Hey! It's Buffy, isn't it?" Ben asked.
Buffy looked at him, confused.
"Ben... but you can call me man-nurse. Everybody else here does." Ben said.
Suddenly the patient sat up, struggling to get off the gurney. It was the factory night watchman from the night before.
"I don't belong here. I have important instructions. Fascists!" he said.
Ben pushed him back down while the orderlies fastened his restraints.
"Now you're hurting the nice orderly who's here to help you." Ben said, then to the orderly he said. "I need nine cc's of Phenobarbital in this guy n..."
Buffy stepped up, slammed the man down onto the gurney with one arm, and effortlessly held him there.
"Or not." Ben said amazed, then to orderlies. "Now let's strap him." The Ben spoke to the patient. "For your own good, I promise," then to Buffy. "You know, not to be rampantly sexist in the workplace, but you've got some serious muscles for a girl."
"I... um..." Buffy said unsure what to say.
"Radioactive spider bite." Ben suggested.
"How'd you guess?" Buffy asked.
"I'm a doctor- well, almost." Ben told Buffy.
The night watchman seized Buffy's arm and looked at the medicine bottle she was holding.
"Doesn't even help. Doesn't make a damn bit of difference!"
"I've met this guy. He's a security guard. He's not crazy." Buffy said to Ben.
"If you say so..." Ben said unconvinced.
"They're coming at you. Don't think you're above it, missy. They come through the family! They get to your family!" The watchman said to Buffy.
"My family? What do you mean?" Buffy asked, if this man knew something about what was making her Mom ill then she wanted to know.
The watchman let go of her arm and the pill bottle fell to the floor.
"Let's get him to Exam One. Now would be nice." Ben said to the orderlies.
Buffy stared after the watchman as the orderlies wheeled him out. Ben picked up Buffy's pills and handed them to her.
"I'm real sorry about that. Here. For your Mom?" Ben asked.
"Yeah, thanks." Buffy said.
"She's not feeling better?" Ben asked.
"Not yet but she will be. I'm starting to figure out what's wrong." Buffy said to Ben.
Buffy had an idea, something supernatural had made this man go nuts, he knew that what ever it was, was trying to get at Buffy through her family. So, she reasoned that whatever this supernatural thing was, it was the thing that was making her Mom sick.
Giles was standing beneath a sign reading 'Shoplifters Will Be Transfigured,' he neatly folded over the top of a brown paper bag, and hand it back to his first customers.
"Thank you for choosing to shop at The Magic Box and please do come again." Giles said.
Willow was standing at the counter, perusing an ancient tome. Giles waited until the couple left the store, then bounded over to Willow, giddy.
"Did you see that? Customers! Real, live customers! They came in and I gave them things and they gave me money and then they left! It's brilliant!"
He 'jumped' back to the cash register to deposit the cash.
Willow didn't bother looking up from her book, "Congratulations. You're an official capitalist running dog. But I gotta tell ya...on the orbular front? We're batting zeroes." Willow told him.
"Well, we'll just have to keep trying." Giles said.
A group of customers entered and began browsing. Giles called out to them, "If there's anything you need help with, let me know."
Anya had also come in with the customers; she stopped at the main display table, examining the items. She picked up a small bag of dust and carried it over to Giles.
"Your conjuring powder is grotesquely over-priced." Anya practically shouted.
"Anya..." Giles said.
"I'm sorry. I'm nearly out of money. I've never had to afford things before and it's making me bitter." Anya explained angrily.
"The change is palpable." Giles said.
"Anya, cheer up you miserable fuck." Michael said from down the other end of the counter.
"Michael." Anya said affronted.
"That stuff doesn't come cheap." Giles said ignoring Michael.
"Well, you're getting ripped off. I could hook you up with the troll that sheds it," Anya told Giles, less angry.
Buffy ran in, flustered.
"Giles, I have an idea what's making my Mom sick." Buffy told Giles.
"Have you spoken with her doctors?" Giles asked.
"They won't find anything. What's hurting her- it's supernatural." Buffy said and picked up the orb. "The night watchman who found this thing? He went crazy- like overnight."
Willow, Giles and Anya backed away cautiously.
"It won't hurt us. I had it on me all night. But this guy, he saw things... he said things." Buffy said.
"Such as?" asked Giles
"They'll come at me through my family." Buffy said.
"Who will?" asked Giles confused.
"I don't know... yet. But whatever touched this guy, it made him see through what the rest of us are seeing. He knew someone's hurting my Mom and they're trying to get to me." Buffy said.
"It's possible but still... the ramblings of a madman aren't much to go on." Giles reasoned.
"Yeah, but it's a start. We need to find out who's making my Mom sick and how." Buffy insisted.
"Then what?" Willow asked.
"Then I hunt them... find them... and kill them." Buffy said.
Later on that day, the shop was bustling with customers. Anya was working the register and Michael, Buffy and Willow were at the counter, busily researching. A customer approached Willow with an antique hourglass.
"Do you gift-wrap?" She asked
"Do we!" Willow said, and then to Anya. "Do we?"
"Oh! We do. Little help..." Willow said.
Giles was desperately trying to manage the customers and answer a flurry of questions.
"No, no. Ground cloven hooves are 30% off. The whole ones are full price." Giles turned to see someone tasting something. "That's not... candy!"
Giles looked up with relief as Xander entered the store.
"Xander! There's too many of them... people! And they all seem to want things." Giles said desperately
"I hear ya. Stay British. You'll be okay." Xander said, not wanting to get involved in helping out.
Xander patted Giles on the shoulder then headed over to Anya.
"The thousand-yard stare. Damn! You hate to see it on any man but especially in retail." Xander said as he went round behind the counter.
Anya wrapped up a woman's purchase and handed it to her.
"Please go." Anya said to the woman.
The woman walked away, shaking her head.
"Anya, the Shopkeeper's Union of America called. They wanted me to tell you that 'please go' just got replaced with 'have a nice day'." Xander told Anya.
"But I have their money. Who cares what kind of day they have?" Anya asked.
"No one. It's just a long cultural tradition of raging insincerity. Embrace it." Xander told Anya.
Anya called out to her customer, "Hey, you! Have a nice day."
"There's my girl!" Xander said.
Anya grinned with pride and Xander wandered over to Buffy who was reading a book over to one side. Willow was utterly failing at gift-wrapping the hourglass she had been given by her customer.
"Did you ever think in a million years you'd miss the high school library?" Xander asked Buffy
"Someone put a spell on my Mom. Something to make it seem like she's sick." Buffy informed Xander.
"That's a new kind of nasty. Any suspects?" asked Xander.
"Well, I've got the list narrowed down to just under infinity." Buffy told Xander.
Willow carried the hourglass over to Anya, the wrapping paper hanging off it.
"Does this look right to you?" Willow asked Anya.
"Sure, if you wrapped it with your feet." Anya replied.
Anya took the hourglass and started wrapping it herself. Willow frowned and turned away.
"You know, Buffy, there used to be this French sorcerer back in the 16th I-don't-know-what named..." Anya began
"Cloutier?" Giles guessed.
"So cute in his little knickers. But he had this one-spell demons just hated called tirer la couture."
"Rotate many foodstuffs?" Buffy asked and Michael laughed.
"Pull the curtain back." Willow told Buffy.
"A spell to see spells... well, a trance to see spells, actually, but you get the idea. Try that." Anya suggested.
"What do you mean 'see' spells?" Buffy asked not understanding.