Afternoon at the Bronze
by Shadowlander
Part one of the Reality Shift series.


"Ouch! son of a bit..." Buffy Summers growled jerking away from the mangled patch of wires and transistors formerly known as the amplifier that powered her guitar. "Useless piece of..." she continued to mutter in French adding several rather colourful and somewhat impossible curses for good measure about the physical well-being of the makers of the ancient sound equipment. Tossing aside her screwdriver in disgust she gave the fried remains of her beloved amplifier a swift kick and turned her attention to her quietly laughing audience of one. "What?" She asked before dropping down to sit on the edge of the stage with a tired sigh.

This had not been her week, well if she was going to be real honest with herself, her year. She was terribly behind in her schoolwork, about to fail most of her classes, except for French, which she apparently had a natural aptitude for. Who knew she would have a flair for French insults and curses? Then there was her mother, who was still nagging her about the whole "musician" thing, the two hour lectures on the possibilities of actually being able to support herself later in life had gotten really old five minutes into the first lecture on the first night. Although that little fact hadn't stopped her mother from continuing to try to change her only child's mind on her chosen profession. So what if she wanted to be a musician the rest of her life? It didn't matter if she ever got a record contract or made it big. Music was the one constant in her life, the one thing that had helped her get over her parents' divorce and the move to Sunnydale. Then she had met Willow, the shy little redhead who's smile seemed to light up the whole room. Well it seemed that way to Buffy and that was all that really mattered.

"You're hopeless B," Faith replied with a laugh leaning back in her chair with her booted feet propped up on the table in front of her. "You're so sickeningly in love its nauseating." The Slayer continued with an evil little smirk before taking a drink of her soda. Not that the dark-haired Slayer begrudged the blonde musician any type of happiness, especially when that happiness happened to be in the form of her best bud, Willow, she just liked to tease her friends.

"I'll remember that the next time you need mouth to mouth, wouldn't want you to get a cavity because of me," the blonde shot back with a smirk of her own. Referring to that little incident earlier that month, when Faith went after the Master on her own without the rest of the gang as backup. By the time Buffy and the dark-haired vamp with a soul caught up with her, Faith was laying face down in a pool of water.

"Well since I have absolutely no desire to ever repeat my little tango with his dust-ship, anytime soon, I doubt you will be giving me any more smootches, unless Red is there too - and willing." Faith replied her cocky little grin growing at the immediate reaction from the blonde.

"You can keep you're smoochies to yourself." Buffy all but growled, before seeing the laughter in her friend's eyes. Ever since Willow had hesitantly introduced the blonde to her friends in the library, Faith had taken every chance to tease the shy hacker she got. None of it meant in a mean way, the musician had concluded, the Slayer just liked to watch her Wills turn red. And Wills was learning how to return the Slayer's shots with her own fire as they researched and insulted late at night in the library.

To most outsiders it would seem that the three of them rarely got along with one another, the way they and Cordelia were constantly trading insults. Which was totally untrue, while they did like to tell one another off at least once a month, they didn't see it as expressing any hatred, it was just the gang bellowing off a little stream every now and then. It wasn't like they ever stayed mad at one another for any great period of time. The longest the little group had ever gone without speaking was like a day and a half, and that was only because Cordelia got stuck in traffic and couldn't apologize for telling off the Slayer until Monday morning. Hell the whole group would start worrying if they didn't pop off at one another on regular basis; it just wasn't healthy in their opinion. They were friends, in a lot of ways even family, and families argued, so it really wasn't all that strange to them. They would insult one another, apologize later and get on with their was normal...well as normal as it ever got in Sunnydale anyway.

"So you're going hunting for that werewolf again?" Buffy asked changing the subject. Sometimes it was best not to let the dark Slayer think about smoochies and sex too long, she tended to start acting on such thoughts.

Every since that big hairy thing had evaded the Bronze two nights ago, she had been on edge. Something about the way the creature was acting, besides the over all "grrr" part and trying to eat several people on the dance floor, had bothered her. Granted Faith was able to step in before it could kill anyone, once Buffy had introduced the creature to the effects of getting a live mike too close to an amplifier. There was something to be said about was our friend. 'At least, the amp went out as a hero of sorts,' she ruefully thought thinking about the fried remains of the heroic amplifier she had been trying to fix all afternoon.

"Oh yeah, going to introduce Big Bad to Mr. Dart Gun, the two of them just have to met." Faith replied merrily, a big goofy looking grin plastered across her face. After finally taking care of the Master once and for all, a wasted six months dusting half his minions including that annoying little one, just to get close enough to the mutant Uncle Fester. She was looking forward to wrapping up this little problem too and spending the rest of school year sleeping in class like a normal teenager. Thankfully the werewolf problem didn't cause too many headaches while she was hunting down the master and his bratty kids. Well except for the three nights during the full moon cycle, sometimes she didn't get in until after sunrise the nest day as she chased vampires and one really elusive werewolf around town at all hours.

"You really like that dart gun, don't you?" Buffy asked cocking her head to one side, remembering the glazed over look the Slayer got every time she went near the weapon's cage in the library.

"What's not to like?" Came the eager reply, as Faith pulled her feet off of the table and stood to stretch. "If I can figure out a way to get it to shot little wooden stakes my job would be so much easier...You hear that?" she asked suddenly her enhanced hearing picking up a stray noise near the back door. Since Big Bad's little romp through the Bronze two nights ago, she had also been a little edgy.

Aside from it being the first time the werewolf had been spotted inside a building, that earlier incident where she fought it inside the sporting good shop not counting since she was the one that threw said werewolf through the picture window to begin with. The creature seemed really focused two nights ago, like it was real determined to get to a certain person in the Bronze. She hadn't said anything to B, but Faith was pretty sure that Big Bad had been headed right for Red. Maybe she was overreacting and Red just happened to be in the general vicinity of the creature's path that night...yeah right. If she believed that one, then Darla had been one hell of a snappy dresser before Fang dusted the blonde vampire. Something else was going on with Big Bad, she could feel it in her bones she didn't know how it involved Red...yet, but she was going to find out. No one, vamp, demon or otherwise messed with her friends, it tended to annoy her when one of them got hurt. It made her want to break things, put people in hospital, and do several other really antisocial things to people and demons she didn't know. In all it made for an unhappy Slayer and when the Slayer was unhappy the demon populace was made to feel pain. It was one of those unspoken rules of Sunnydale not found in any of the tour guides, along with the fact that the town itself set over the gates to hell.

"Nah," Buffy replied jumping down from her perch on the side of the stage. "It could be one of bouncers or something," she suggested coming to stand beside Faith.

"Yeah could be...wanna take a look?" The Slayer offered with a twinkle in her eyes.

Buffy was near the back door when she finally heard the noise that had first alerted Faith near the stage. Putting her hand on the handle of the back door she listens for a moment to see if she could hear the noise again. Sunset was still a few hours away so it couldn't be a vampire, then she heard it. A voice she could recognize in a thunderstorm just outside the back door. 'Willow!' her mind screamed. She jerked the door open and rushed outside without a second thought, reason being overwhelmed by instinct. Her Wills was in trouble and she didn't care if she had to go through a chaos demon, but she would get to her girlfriend one way or another.

"GET YOUR HANDS OFF OF HER!" She growled, grabbing a hold of the figure that had backed the small redhead into a corner of the alley, and forcibly pulled him away from her Wills with a jerk. "You!" she all but cursed recognizing the senior that had been following Willow around campus the past few months. At first they didn't think too much about it until he had nearly followed her into the girls' locker room one day. After that the gang had closed ranks around Willow trying to keep the guy as far away from the redhead as possible.

Oz, the blue haired senior, rolled quickly to his feet and charged the blonde standing between him and his prize. He had been following the redhead around for weeks trying to get her alone, but one of her friends had always been hanging around running him off. But not today, he had caught her alone on her way to the Bronze to meet the annoying blonde bitch that was the most vocal of her friends running him off. He had almost had her too, when the very same blonde had come out the back door and ruined everything. Well he wasn't going to take it anymore, he had only wanted to talk to the shy redhead, get her to go out with him. Now it seems that he was going to have to take what he wanted and maybe shut up that annoying blonde for awhile.

The sounds of fighting had drawn Faith out the back door as well, taking in the situation quickly she made two firm decisions. One that B was having a lot of fun without her, fighting a guy with blue hair. And two that the same blue haired guy was the one that had been creeping out Willow lately. "All right, do I have to get a hose?" She questioned reaching for the guy struggling with Buffy. Only to be stopped by a strange little growl followed closely by a cry of pain.

Shaking off her surprise, Faith grabbed Oz by the back of his shirt and forcible removed him from Buffy, momentarily forgetting her own strength and sending him flying further than she intended. "Oops!" She said, as he flew into bunch of empty boxes piled next to the dumpster, taking a moment to enjoy the sound he made on impact.

"Faith!" Willow's cry prevented her form doing a little more pounding on Oz, like she had wanted to. Something about the guy annoyed her, maybe it was his inability to decide on a hair colour and stick with it for more then a week, such indecisiveness really got on her nerves...and she absolutely hated that shade of blue on him. Turning her attention back to her friends, she found Willow crouched next to a bleeding Buffy.

"What happened?" she questioned, briefly wondering if he had a knife she didn't see at first, if there was a knife somewhere in that alley she was "so" going to hurt blue-boy.

"He bit me." Buffy replied pressing her right hand against her bleeding upper arm.


"He bit me," she said again trying to stop the flow of blood steadily flowing down her arm.

'No that can't be right,' Faith told herself firmly after the initial shock wore off. 'B wouldn't be bleeding that much unless...' she added to herself before dropping to her knees in front of Buffy to take a look at the bite mark herself. "Let me take a look," she said, trying to keep her own fear under control, she was the Slayer she could handle anything.

Well just about anything. "That's not human," Willow said in a dull whisper her eyes wide with fear for her girlfriend. "Because human bites shouldn't look like that and even if they do they still shouldn't be considered human", the redhead continued, going into full babble mode, turning her eyes to Faith begging her to make everything all right. Because Faith the was the Slayer and she could make anything all right, she always did, it was her gift.

Tearing her eyes away from Willow's scared and confused ones, she threw a quick look over her shoulder. "Damn!" she cursed as she catched blue-boy disappearing around the corner of the building. 'Worry about him later,' she decided thinking fast. She would tear apart the town if she had to but she would find him. "Giles, we got to get to Giles." She said firmly, helping Buffy to her feet. 'Then I'm going to add blue-boy to the 'things-to-Slay list.'

The School Library

Giles looked up from the ancient tome he was reading when the three young girls came crashing through the library doors with little warning. "G, we need you over here!" Faith called out, guiding Buffy to the nearest chair.

"W-what happened," he asked scrambling around the research table once he saw her blood soaked shirtsleeve.

"Blue-boy bite her," Faith replied moving out of the way to let the Librarian/Watcher take a look at the wound. The redhead had already disappeared into the office only to return moments later with the first aid kit, that bordered on actually being a trauma kit, Giles's private stash of medicinal herbs and the fire extinguisher. Although Faith was a bit puzzled over why they would need the fire extinguisher she wisely kept her mouth shut, Willow looked like she was about to spit nails. And while the Slayer did tend to be reckless at times she was not stupid, she could tell an emotionally distraught person when she saw one and wasn't about to risk getting attacked by one. 'No sir, not this Slayer,' she told herself leaning back against the table so she could watch Giles work from a safe distance.

Dumping everything onto the table Willow planted herself next to the injured blonde, her demeanor shifting from being scared out of her wits to being outraged that he wasn't moving fast enough.

"Blue-boy?" Giles questioned crouching down so he could a better look at Buffy's arm.

" know the guy that's been hanging around Red a lot."

"Ah...I thought his hair was green" Giles replied absently, carefully peeling away the shredded blood soaked shirtsleeve. "Ahhh, I-I'm going to have to re-remove your shirt." He added glancing up into Buffy's pain clouded eyes. In the time it took to get to the library, the pain in her arm had developed into a steady throbbing and she had begun to get a bit light headed from the loss of blood.

"Its blue today," Faith commented leaving her safe position to step closer to Willow and Giles who were both trying to take off Buffy's shirt without causing her too much pain. Batting their hands away, she briefly catched the musician's eyes with her own. "Hate to be doing this B," she said in a low voice before grabbing a handful of fabric in each hand and ripping the shirt open down the front.

"No you're not", Buffy replied with a weak smile, trying to lighten the mood a bit.

After a moment, "You're right, I'm am I better than Red at tearing your clothes off?" she couldn't help but ask, a naughty little grin shining in her eyes as she retreated back to her former position.

"Wouldn't you like to know....." Buffy shot back as Willow slipped the ruined shirt off over her shoulders, Giles having turned his attention to the medical supplies and...the fire extinguisher. Giving his Slayer a confused look, he decides to drop the matter when Faith only gave him an amused smirk and a shrug. Somethings he was just happier not knowing, he decided before opening the medical kit and rummaging around inside of it for bandages and the disinfectant.

Returning to his attention to his patient, he set about cleaning and disinfecting the injury as best he could. "You say you were bitten by another student?" he asked after a few moments, having finally gotten the bleeding to stop so he could take a closer look at it.

"Yeah," Buffy replied trying to cane her head around to see what he was doing to her arm. "Came out the back door of the Bronze and found Oz backing Wills into a corner", she explained between hissing as Giles cleaned the wound as carefully as he could. "We got into a fight, then Faith showed up to pull him off me...he gave me this in return."

"Was there anything else? Anything unusual?" he asked his mind racing. He knew that the bite had not been made by a human, it couldn't have been. There were two rather deep punctured marks around some badly torn skin. The bite mark seemed familiar he just couldn't place where he had seen such. It wasn't a vampire bite, too early in the day for that. No this was something entirely else, he decided trying to remember just where he had seen the bite mark.

"Yeah.. ah...there was this growl...not like a vamp. More like a dog or something." Willow replied placing a hand on Buffy's uninjured shoulder.

The overwhelming panic, that had pretty much taken over when she had first seen all the blood, was now leaving her as Giles calmly cleaned up the musician. 'Why does Giles have the fire extinguisher out?' she asked herself , giving Buffy's shoulder a reassuring squeeze.

"A dog?!" Giles questioned sharply, looking up from his work.

" least that is what it sounded like anyway." Faith answered pulling herself out of her relaxed position. 'Oh damn!' she cursed her mind already working. "Red where did you put those autopsy photos from last month's werewolf attack?" She questioned remembering just why the bite seemed so familiar to her back in the alley.

"W-werewolf attack?" Willow asked in a really small voice a feeling of dread going through her and settling in the pit of her stomach.

"Yes...the werewolf attack, I need to see the bite marks." Faith replied trying to remain calm because if what she thought had happened really did happen then B's life had just become a hell of a lot more complicated.

"Giles?" Buffy asked while Faith and Willow descended upon the library's computer where the redheaded hacker kept most of her 'somewhat illegal but very valuable' information. "What's going to happen to me?" She questioned in a small voice once she had gotten his attention. She wasn't kidding herself, she had seen those autopsy photos just like the rest of the gang had, she knew what bite marks they were about on the remains of the werewolf's victims. She had also read up on the whole werewolf curse, when the first victims started to turn up a few months ago, she knew perfectly well that she had just been screwed over by a werewolf named Daniel Ozbourne. And that now she had the curse too.

"We'll cross that bridge when we come to it," Giles replied after a moment. "But first we have to make sure that you are confined for the'll be sundown in a few hours, you need to be safely locked up by then", he continued, his eyes never once leaving the young girl's face. He could tell that she was terrified and that she was trying to be brave in the face of a very uncertain future. 'But it's a future she will not be facing alone.' He vowed to himself, knowing beyond all doubt that he would not rest until he found a cure for the werewolf curse.

Continued in
A Night in the Library
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