A Buffyverse Apocalypse Interlude: CinderBuffy


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A Buffyverse Apocalypse Interlude: CinderBuffy

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A Buffyverse Apocalypse Interlude: CinderBuffy

  1. 1. A Buffyverse Apocalypse Interlude: CinderBuffy An Apocaversary Gift By RoseFyre So, today is my Apocaversary (1 year since I first posted - wow!), and I’ve been thinking for a while about what to do. The original plan was to publish a chapter, but, well, not going to happen - I have 2 5/6 rotations left to play before then, and even if I’d spent this week playing instead of writing this, it still wouldn’t have been enough time. So, after much thought (okay, about 20 minutes, but whatever), I have chosen to do a separate story instead. This is NOT, I repeat, NOT canon for my Apocalypse - and it may not make sense unless you know the characters at least a bit, so I highly recommend reading my Apocalypse first. Enjoy! --- And, as always, I don't own Joss Whedon or any characters/places from Buffy/Angel.
  2. 2. Once upon a time, in the far off land of Sunnydale, California, there lived a girl called CinderBuffy. CinderBuffy lived with her stepmother, Eloise, and her stepsiblings, Liam and Cordelia. CinderBuffy-
  3. 3. You know what? I can’t call her CinderBuffy with a straight face. Her real name was Buffy anyway - CinderBuffy was a nickname that Liam bestowed upon her when they were both children. So unless it’s Eloise or Liam talking (Cordelia was far too nice to use such a mean nickname), I’m just going to call her Buffy. Good? Good.
  4. 4. Buffy’s mother had died when she was born, and her father had died when she was ten - barely a year after her father had married Eloise. When he died, Eloise stopped treating Buffy as family, and began treating her as a servant.
  5. 5. While the rest of the family had nice rooms, Buffy had a simple mattress in the old hall closet.
  6. 6. She also did all the work. She made the beds. She cleaned the bathrooms, even the ones she wasn’t actually allowed to use.
  7. 7. She cooked and served family meals that she wasn’t allowed to participate in. “Did you hear?” Liam asked his mother and sister as Buffy served dinner, “Count Aubrey has finally died - I saw it on the news.” “Did he see the sun?” Eloise asked. “No, he took the potion to cure his vampirism and died of old age. I don’t understand that - if I could live forever, I would.” Cordelia looked up as Buffy placed a plate in front of her. “Thanks,” she said quietly. Eloise glared at her. Cordelia blushed and looked down.
  8. 8. “Did the news say how old he was?” Cordelia asked when she finally looked up. “No,” Liam said, “not exactly how old.” “Who has inherited?” Eloise asked curiously. “Put the leftovers in the fridge and leave us, girl.” Buffy nodded. “Yes, ma’am.” She caught Cordelia’s sympathetic glance as she left the dining room. Liam looked at his mother. “His daughter, Veronica.” “Is she a vampire too?” Liam nodded. “Yes.”
  9. 9. Buffy scrubbed the stove, listening as the others ate and talked. It was the closest she could come to being part of their family, and it wasn’t very close at all.
  10. 10. After dinner, Liam and Eloise played a competitive game of chess and gossiped about the new Contessa. They also disparaged Buffy and her cooking.
  11. 11. And Cordelia practiced piano and listened to their conversation. She’d never really understood why her mother had started treating Buffy so badly, or why her brother had enthusiastically taken up the cause. But whenever she tried to be nice - and she’d tried, repeatedly - her mother or brother glared at her or told her to stop. And she didn’t know how to stand up to them.
  12. 12. Liam wasn’t just going along with his mother, either. He often purposefully did things to make more work for his stepsister.
  13. 13. When Eloise came into the kitchen, she found the puddles from Liam’s prank. “CinderBuffy!” she yelled, “get down here and clean up this mess!”
  14. 14. Liam heard the yell as he relaxed on his bed. He smiled in a self-satisfied manner at a prank well done - one which he didn’t have to clean up.
  15. 15. An hour’s drive away, the new Contessa Veronica sat in her new throne in the palace that was newly hers and surveyed her ballroom. It was a beautiful sight, and it reminded her of her new responsibilities as Contessa of Los Angeles. She’d been Contessa for a month now, but it still felt new. Sighing, she stood up, and headed for the council room. She had a meeting to go to.
  16. 16. She entered the council room and sat down in the chair at the head of the table. Most of her advisors had also worked for her father, and thus knew as much about governing as she did.
  17. 17. Her advisors were already arrayed, ready for the meeting.
  18. 18. Her senior advisor, Martin Davis, began the meeting. “As we all know, Count Aubrey died last month, and Contessa Veronica has been confirmed as his heir.” He nodded respectfully to the Contessa, who nodded back. “We are meeting today to discuss the issue of heirship.”
  19. 19. The Contessa looked worriedly at Martin. “The issue of heirship?”
  20. 20. “Well,” Marisa Bendett began, “you don’t have an heir. For the safety of your lands and your people, you should.” Martin nodded. “If you die, there is no one closer than a third cousin. It would be good for you to have an heir in case you die.”
  21. 21. The Contessa smiled, showing her fangs. “I am immortal. I will not die.”
  22. 22. Armando Cox shook his head. “But you are vulnerable to the sun. It can burn you.”
  23. 23. “There’s always the option of taking the cure,” Lester Nash said. “Like your father did.” Marisa nodded in agreement.
  24. 24. The Contessa looked at her advisors. “I do not want to take the cure. I am happy as a vampire.” “Then you must have an heir,” Martin said. “And how am I supposed to get an heir? I am not married, nor do I have any lovers.”
  25. 25. “Well, we have an idea about that,” Martin said, turning to his left. “Lynne?” Lynne Fitzgerald turned to the Contessa. “We think you should hold a ball.” “A ball?” “We’ll invite all of the eligible men in your domain, you’ll dance with them, and then you can choose the one who is right for you.”
  26. 26. The Contessa looked at them. “I am not certain that I want a husband.” Martin and Lynne exchanged glances. “Well,” Martin said, “you don’t necessarily have to marry any of them. You really just need the heir.” “And you definitely don’t need to get married for that,” Marisa smirked.
  27. 27. The Contessa sat back in her chair, thinking. Her advisors were right - even though she was immortal, the fact that the sun could burn her up was a definite weakness, and she really didn’t have any close relatives who could take over if she died. In order to do her best by her subjects, she needed an heir. That still didn’t mean she was going to get married. She definitely didn’t want a husband, and she wasn’t sure she wanted a man at all. She would go along with this ball in order to get an heir - maybe even an heir and a spare - because it was the best thing for her subjects. Perhaps she might even find the perfect man for her. She highly doubted it.
  28. 28. She pushed her chair back and stood up. “Fine. We will have a ball, and I will have an heir. You will plan it.”
  29. 29. The four junior advisors turned to Martin. “So, uh,” Armando asked, “how are we doing this?”
  30. 30. A week later, back in Sunnydale, Eloise was watching the news. “And now we bring you to a live announcement from the palace. Catherine James is at the scene. Catherine?” “Thanks, Rob. I’m here, live at the palace, where we’ve been told that Contessa Veronica’s senior advisor, Martin Davis, will be making an announcement.” “Any idea what the announcement is about?” “Well, there’s no definite answers yet, but the rumors we’ve heard are implying that there’s going to be a ball, and that single men will be especially welcome.” Eloise’s jaw dropped. A ball? With invitations for single men? This could be an excellent opportunity for her children! “Liam! Cordelia! Come to the living room!”
  31. 31. “What’s this about, Mom?” Liam asked as he came down the stairs. “The news - look.” Cordelia sat next to her mother and Liam stood in front of them to watch the news. “And here comes Mr. Davis, ready to make the announcement.” “Yes, yes, thank you. Contessa Veronica would like to announce a ball, to be held on the 29th of September. Eligible men will be especially welcome, as the Contessa is searching for a husband, though no one will be turned away.” A reporter shouted, “will she definitely be marrying someone who comes to the ball?”
  32. 32. “No, no,” Martin said. “No, the Contessa is looking, but she is not committing herself to marrying someone who comes to the ball.” “This sounds incredibly interesting, Catherine,” the newscaster said. “That it does, Rob. Contessa Veronica is holding a ball, but not committing to marrying anyone from it. Still, I know that I’ll be there!” “Same here, Catherine, same here. And that’s all the time we have for now. This is Robert Banks, live from Los Angeles. Have a good afternoon.” Liam stared into space, his mind full of dreams of marrying the Contessa.
  33. 33. Behind him, Cordelia turned to Eloise. “A ball! That sounds great, Mom!” Eloise smiled at her daughter. “I agree, Cordelia. And they said everyone is welcome - maybe we can find you a husband as well.” Cordelia smiled and her face lit up. “I’d love that.”
  34. 34. Just then, the clock made a loud noise, and Eloise turned towards it. “Girl, what are you doing?” “I’m sorry, ma’am, I was winding the clock like you told me.” “Then do it quietly!” Buffy didn’t say anything - winding the clock simply wasn’t a quiet job.
  35. 35. When Buffy was finished winding the clock and the TV was finally off (and perhaps most importantly, Liam and Cordelia had left the room), she approached Eloise. “Ma’am? I, I was wondering, could I maybe go to the ball?”
  36. 36. Eloise considered her stepdaughter. “And why do you want to go to the ball?” “I’d love to meet people, and see everyone in fancy dresses, and-” Eloise interrupted her. “Let me rephrase that. “Why do you think you deserve to go to the ball?” Buffy’s heart sank. “I’ve done all my chores, ma’am. And I, I’ll do everything you want. Clean the house from top to bottom, do the yard work, fix the broken computer-”
  37. 37. Eloise raised her eyebrows and Buffy stopped talking. “You’ll do all that anyway, if I tell you to.” Buffy looked down. She knew her stepmother was right. “And no, you cannot go to the ball. You will stay here and clean the entire house while we are gone.” Then she turned and headed upstairs. Buffy looked at her, then went into the kitchen to take a moment to just breathe. She wanted to go to the ball. She desperately wanted to go to the ball. But it wasn’t going to happen.
  38. 38. The afternoon of the ball, Liam dressed in his tuxedo and used the mirror in Cordelia’s room, as he had no reason for one of his own. “I look good,” he said to himself.
  39. 39. Meanwhile, Buffy was helping Eloise with her hair and makeup. “That will do,” Eloise said as she examined herself. “Stay here and help Cordelia when she is ready.” Buffy nodded as Eloise left the room.
  40. 40. “What do you want for your hair and makeup?” Buffy asked Cordelia as she sat down at the dressing table. She wouldn’t have been nearly so casual with Eloise or Liam, but Cordelia had never been cruel or mean. “Well, I definitely want to wear my hair up.” Buffy nodded. “I can do that.”
  41. 41. After Buffy put her hair up and curled it and helped her with her makeup, Cordelia examined herself in the mirror. “I look great! Thank you, Buffy.” Buffy looked around the room quickly, but they were still alone. “You shouldn’t-”
  42. 42. Cordelia stood up and put her hand on Buffy’s arm. “Mom and Liam aren’t here right now.” “I know, I just-” “Yeah.” Buffy looked down and Cordelia shook her head. “I’ve never quite understood why they treat you that way. I should have said something.” Buffy looked up quickly. “No, you shouldn’t have. They’re your family.” “And they’re still wrong.”
  43. 43. Cordelia pulled Buffy into a hug. “Seriously, I should have. And thank you for making me look so beautiful.” “It was no problem.” Cordelia pulled back and looked at Buffy sternly. “Just say you’re welcome.” Buffy smiled. “You’re welcome. Now go to that ball and find that perfect man.” Cordelia smiled. “I will.”
  44. 44. Then Eloise, Cordelia, and Liam got into the car to drive to Los Angeles.
  45. 45. As she heard the car drive off, Buffy indulged in a small act of rebellion - she relaxed on her stepmother’s bed. She knew she had to clean the house - and she would do it, too, though she thought the house was already rather clean enough. Eloise wouldn’t think so, though. Didn’t mean she had to start right that second. She relaxed on the bed for about half an hour, then started to sit up so she could get to work. She looked to her left, so she could step off the bed, when she noticed something odd.
  46. 46. There was a man standing next to the bed - and he hadn’t been there a moment before. Well, if one could call him a man. He had wings, after all. “Hi,” he said, “I’m your fairy godfather.”
  47. 47. Buffy stood up and looked him up and down. “You have wings.” “Like I said, I’m your fairy godfather. Fairy equals wings.”
  48. 48. She raised her eyebrows. “You’re wearing a kilt.” “Kilts are an old traditional male costume, worn valiantly into battle for centuries.” “Yeah, in Scotland. We’re in California.” “I have Scottish ancestors!” “Right.” He sighed. “Look, the Powers that Be wanted to put us all in actual dresses. I finally got them to agree to kilts. I’m still working on pants.”
  49. 49. “Oooookay,” she said slowly. “So you said you’re my fairy godfather.” “Yup.” “What does that mean, exactly?” “Well, uh…” He scratched his chin in thought. “Can you magic me the perfect outfit?” “No.”
  50. 50. “Can you clean the house using magic?” “Isn’t it clean enough already?” “Well, yes, but my stepmother doesn’t think so.” “Sorry, no.” “Then what good are you?” “Hey, I can help you choose the outfit - you’ve got a sister, right? Steal her clothing.” “Stepsister, yes. Cordelia won’t mind, though.”
  51. 51. “Good. I can also get you to the ball.” “Will we fly there?” “What?” “You have wings.” “Oh. No. These are just for show.”
  52. 52. “You going to turn the cat into a horse, then?” “Do you even have a cat?” “Well, no.” “No. I’ve got another way. You’ll see. Let’s find you an outfit first.” “Okay,” Buffy said as she headed for Cordelia’s room. Then she turned back. “What’s your name, anyway, Mr. Fairy Godfather?” “Oh, that? You can call me Joss.”
  53. 53. When they got to Cordelia’s room, Buffy tried on a number of dresses, while Joss examined himself in the mirror. None of the dresses were perfect, however. Finally, after trying on every single dress in Cordelia’s armoire, she shut the doors in frustration. “This isn’t working.” “What isn’t working?” “I love Cordelia, she’s my favorite relative, but we have completely different styles. No way am I going to feel comfortable in one of her dresses.” “What about your stepmother’s?” Buffy shuddered. “Hell no. No, I have a better idea.”
  54. 54. “This is not your room,” Joss said, though he happily sat in the chair in the corner. “No, it’s Liam’s.” “What are we doing in here?” “Looking for clothing.” Buffy dug through the armoire. “Aha! I knew this was in here!”
  55. 55. Buffy changed into the suit she’d found in the armoire. “Perfect.” Joss got up and looked her over. “And you complained about me wearing a kilt.” “It looks silly.” “You’re wearing a suit!” “Women wear suits!” “That’s a male cut.” Buffy glared at him. “You did not just disparage my father’s suit.”
  56. 56. “What’s your father’s clothing doing in your brother’s armoire?” “Stepbrother. Eloise thought Liam might want it. He’s outgrown it all, though. Dad was small, and he’s not.”
  57. 57. “Ah.” he looked her up and down critically. “Well, you do look good in it.” “Thanks.” “Hair and makeup time?” “Makeup? In a suit?” Buffy grabbed something one last item from the armoire. “And I’m wearing Dad’s old hat.” “With that hairdo?” “Right.”
  58. 58. They headed into Eloise’s room, and Buffy sat down at the dressing table. “How should I do this?” “Just put it up, maybe? Keep it out of the way.” Buffy nodded, then pulled her hair into a low bun and put the hat on.
  59. 59. She stood up and turned to Joss. “How do I look?” He pulled her into a hug. “Beautiful.” “Don’t you mean handsome?” “If you want.” She shrugged. “As long as Eloise and Liam won’t recognize me at the ball and force me to return home, I don’t care.” He looked at her. “I barely recognize you.” “You barely know me.”
  60. 60. “True. I doubt they’ll be looking for you, though.” “I guess.” “So, ready to see your transportation?” “Sure.”
  61. 61. They headed down to the driveway. “There’s nothing here.” Joss smiled. “I can fix that.”
  62. 62. He looked at the driveway, almost glaring at it, and suddenly, a car was there. Buffy looked at it. “It has a crazy face on the hood. Where’d you get it from, a mental institution?” “What, you’re going to complain about a way to get you to the ball?” “Are you sure that thing is safe to drive?” “I’m sure. Chances are, it’ll break down after two drives, though, so prepare for it to disappear as soon as you get home.” “That’s fine - I don’t know how I’d explain it to anyone anyway.”
  63. 63. Buffy climbed into the driver’s seat and started the car. “Have a good time at the ball!” Joss said, waving as she backed out of the driveway. Buffy rolled down her window. “Will I ever seen you again?” “Who knows? I just go where the Powers that Be send me.” She finished backing up and rolled up the window, and Joss watched as she drove off. “I don’t think you’ll be needing me again, though.”
  64. 64. Over in Los Angeles, the sun had set and the ball was about to begin. “Ready for this?” Martin asked the Contessa in an undertone. “I believe I am,” she said. Then she turned to the many guests, all of whom were watching them. “Welcome to my ball. Please, enjoy yourselves.” Everyone began applauding, until Martin raised his hands for silence. “All single men, please line up to my left - the Contessa will dance with each of you, then decide who she wants to ask to dance again.”
  65. 65. Eloise, Liam, and Cordelia stood by the door, having just arrived. “Good,” Eloise said, “we’re on time.” Cordelia grinned as she looked around the room. “It looks beautiful. I can’t wait to dance.” Eloise smiled at her daughter. “Go have a good time, dear.” As Cordelia wandered off, Eloise turned to Liam. “Aren’t you going to get in line to dance with the Contessa?” Liam smirked. “I’ll wait. Save the best for last, and all that.” “Wonderful idea.”
  66. 66. The Contessa’s first partner was an incredibly stiff man named Riley Finn. The fifth time he stepped on her foot, she apologized and told him it was time for her to take another partner.
  67. 67. Her second partner…well, he certainly wasn’t stiff. “And can I say, your chest looks marvelous in that dress!” He appeared to almost be drooling as he looked at her.
  68. 68. “No, you cannot,” she said as she pushed him away from her. “Please do not return.”
  69. 69. “And I was thinking, we could have six children, and marry them all off, and a golden anniversary party, and-”
  70. 70. “I do not believe I wish to be married.” “But I thought-” “You thought wrong.”
  71. 71. “Oh, no, marriage? So not for me.” “What do you want, then?” “I want to be a Rock God. All those groupies…” His voice trailed off as he clearly fell into daydreams. Her brow furrowed. “All at once?” “Oh yeah.” “Um, yes, I think it is time for my next dance.”
  72. 72. “Mind if I grab something to drink?” “Well, since you already are, you might as well go ahead,” Harmony Kendall, the bartender for the night, said as she poured some drinks. “Weren’t you just dancing with the Contessa?” “I was. She seems to want someone faithful. Weird.” “Most women want that, you know.” Lorne shrugged. “I don’t get it. But I didn’t come here just for her. I also came for the free liquor.” Harmony laughed. “Help yourself.”
  73. 73. “And the aliens are coming to beam us all up, Lizzie!” “Who is Lizzie?” “Oh, Lizzie, don’t be so funny. You know who you are.” She blinked at him, then changed the subject. “I think I see the aliens by the buffet.” He turned quickly, walking away from her, almost as though he forgot what he’d been doing.
  74. 74. “Please tell me you are not obsessed with marriage, groupies, my chest, or aliens.” Will laughed. “No, actually I’m gay.” “Then why are you dancing with me?” He shrugged. “See those two women gossiping kind of behind me?”
  75. 75. The Contessa looked behind him and saw the two women. “Yes.” “The one in blue is my aunt. She thinks I should get married, so here I am.” “Have you not told her you are gay?” “Oh, I have. She generally ignores me.” “Ah.”
  76. 76. They danced for a while, and as Will began to leave, to make room for her next partner, the Contessa pulled him into a hug. “It was good to talk to you, William.” “You too, Contessa.” “Please, leave your email address with one of my advisors, and I will email you.” “Works for me.”
  77. 77. The Contessa looked over the crowd, enjoying the fact that so many of her guests appeared to be having a good time. Unfortunately, she was not. None of the men thus far had been right for her, and there were precious few left. She took a second to glance around the room and noticed a woman in blue dancing by the buffet. Something about the way she moved was incredibly sensuous and attractive, and it caught her eye - as did the fact that the woman’s partner was also female. The Contessa pulled her eyes away from the dancing women. She needed an heir. She needed a man to give her an heir. She couldn’t be gay, could she? Not that she had anything against gay people, but she needed that heir - for her subjects, if not for herself. And a woman couldn’t give her that. She turned back to the line of men, and asked the first one to dance.
  78. 78. Finally, after a dozen or so more dances, the last man came forward. “May I have this dance?” Liam asked, trying to sound gallant. The Contessa tried to smile, but she knew it looked more like a grimace. “Certainly.”
  79. 79. “Oh good,” Eloise said as she watched the dancers. “He finally got up there.” “Your son?” the woman next to her asked. “Yes. Do you have a son in the competition?” “A nephew, but the boy keeps insisting he’s gay. What blather!” Eloise smiled. If the woman’s nephew was gay, that was one less competitor for Liam.
  80. 80. Liam and the Contessa danced for a while, and though he was somewhat boring and tended to talk about himself a bit too much, the Contessa thought the dance was going rather well.
  81. 81. Well, it went rather well until he got a bit too grabby.
  82. 82. “Pardon me,” she said, removing his hand from her bottom, “you do not have permission to do that.” “But women love-”
  83. 83. “Have you ever danced with a woman before?” she asked. “Well, no, but-” “Then you do not know what women love. Keep your hands above my waist.”
  84. 84. “And,” she added, “if you touch my chest I will kill you.”
  85. 85. They danced for a little longer, and Liam kept his hands in only appropriate places, but he still continued to only talk about himself. The Contessa eliminated him from her list of potential partners, though she suspected he thought he was a shoo-in to marry her.
  86. 86. Finally, she managed to convince him that she did not want to continue to dance with him - he seemed to think she would want to dance with him all night - and she sat down on her throne. She’d danced with all of the single men at the ball, and she still hadn’t found the right one. A few of them were okay, but not great, but, honestly, the man she’d liked the best was the gay one, and that was because she knew he wasn’t interested in her - at least, in any way other than friendship. She looked around the ballroom.
  87. 87. At least her guests appeared to be having a good time - they were dancing, eating, drinking, and having fun.
  88. 88. Then she stood up - someone new had just entered the ballroom.
  89. 89. It had taken Buffy a full two hours to drive from Sunnydale to Los Angeles, and she found herself wishing that her fairy godfather had actually been able to fly her there. She was rather glad, though, that he hadn’t given her a horse. She’d already missed two hours of the ball, and she didn’t want to miss more. She found a parking space - okay, so it was actually a handicapped spot, but it was empty, and for some reason the car had a tag. Maybe it had belonged to a mental institution.
  90. 90. Buffy entered the ballroom, a full two hours after the ball had begun, to see lots of people dancing. She closed the door behind her, hoping to slip in quietly - and avoid Eloise and Liam.
  91. 91. She wasn’t expecting a woman to immediately come up to her and ask her to dance. She especially wasn’t expecting the Contessa - The Contessa - to do so.
  92. 92. The Contessa pulled her up to the small stage with the two thrones on it. “May I have this dance?” “You want to dance with me?” Buffy asked. “Yes, I do.” “I, um, okay.”
  93. 93. The Contessa pulled Buffy into her arms, and they danced. Buffy didn’t say any of the wrong things, or put her hands in places they weren’t wanted. Instead, she asked about the Contessa, her likes and dislikes, her life, and anything else she could think of. It was better than talking about herself, or her life, after all. And the Contessa seemed to appreciate it. Then Buffy danced a bit too close.
  94. 94. And the Contessa pulled back, staring at her. “You are a woman,” she said quietly. “Yeah, I am,” Buffy said. “Were you thinking I was male?” “I was,” the Contessa said. Buffy shrugged. “I, um, I wore my dad’s old suit. It’s a long story.”
  95. 95. The Contessa pulled Buffy into her arms again. “I do not mind that you are female.” “You don’t?” “No. I thought I would only like a man, but perhaps I like women. Shall we dance some more?” “Sure.”
  96. 96. They went back to dancing as the Contessa thought about the fact that Buffy was female. She hadn’t expected to find someone she actually liked at the ball - she never had before, after all. She’d expected to find a man who was passable, woohoo him until she was pregnant, and then never speak to him again. She hadn’t expected to find a woman who was interesting (though rather reticent about herself) and likable, and who she wanted to keep dancing with. Did it matter? Could it matter? She didn’t know. For now, though, they could dance.
  97. 97. Once the whole long line of men had gone once, and the Contessa had found someone she seemed to enjoy dancing with, Martin headed out onto the floor. There was a beautiful woman he’d had his eye on since the evening began, and he wanted to get to know her.
  98. 98. “May I have this dance?” he asked Cordelia. “Of course,” she said.
  99. 99. He pulled her into a classic hold, one arm on her shoulder and the other in her hand, and began to twirl her around the floor. “You’re one of the Contessa’s advisors, aren’t you?” Cordelia asked as she danced with Martin. “I am. I was one of her father’s advisors, and now I’m her senior advisor.” “It’s nice to meet you.” “You too. Might I ask your name?” “Oh! I’m Cordelia. Cordelia Whedon.” “Martin Davis.”
  100. 100. As the night went on, Buffy and the Contessa continued to dance.
  101. 101. As did Martin and Cordelia. In fact, none of them danced with anyone else the entire night.
  102. 102. “Might I say that you are truly beautiful?” “Do you really think so?” Cordelia asked. “You are.” Martin tentatively reached a hand up to touch her face. She smiled as he caressed her. “Thank you.”
  103. 103. She pulled him closer to her and smiled. She’d wanted to find the perfect man, and it seemed that she had.
  104. 104. As the night grew later, and became early morning, Buffy and the Contessa continued to dance. “Do you mind if I kiss you?” the Contessa asked, eventually. “Even though I’m female?” The Contessa nodded. “Yes. Perhaps because you are female.” Buffy smiled. “Sure. You should know, though, I’ve never kissed anyone before.” “Neither have I. We will learn together.”
  105. 105. The Contessa dipped Buffy into a kiss, which both of them found they quite enjoyed.
  106. 106. Across the ballroom, Liam saw them kissing. “Mom! The Contessa is kissing someone who isn’t me!” Eloise looked at where her son was pointing with pinched lips. “I’m sure she’ll come back to you. There couldn’t be anyone better.” Inside, however, she wasn’t so sure. The couple definitely appeared to be enjoying themselves. “She’d better,” Liam said.
  107. 107. As the night got even later, Martin pulled away from Cordelia. “It has been lovely dancing with you.” “You too,” she said, smiling. “Can I get your email address, or some other way to keep in contact with you?” As Cordelia nodded, about to give him her number, Martin suddenly turned around. “Oh no,” he whispered.
  108. 108. As the sun rose, the Contessa pulled away from Buffy. “The sun, it burns!” Buffy stared at the Contessa in consternation. She knew the Contessa was a vampire - she’d heard enough of the news to know that, and had felt her cold skin herself. She’d forgotten vampires’ reaction to sunlight, and had kept dancing all night. And now it was dawn.
  109. 109. As Buffy stood there, not knowing what to do, the Contessa turned into a bat and flew away, most likely to her coffin.
  110. 110. Then she noticed that everyone was watching her. She couldn’t be seen by her stepfamily. She couldn’t answer the questions. Nor could she deal with answering anyone else’s, either. Instead, she turned to run from the hall.
  111. 111. She ran straight to her car and sped off, hoping to beat her stepfamily home.
  112. 112. She ran so fast that, when her hat flew off her head and got left behind, she didn’t even notice.
  113. 113. Buffy did manage to beat the others home, so she parked the car and hoped that her fairy godfather had been right about it disappearing. She really didn’t want to have to explain the insane car. Really didn’t.
  114. 114. And it turned out that her fairy godfather had been right - once she was out, the car disappeared.
  115. 115. Then she headed upstairs and let her hair out. Which was when she realized that she’d lost the hat somewhere along the way. “Damn it,” she said, “I hope Liam doesn’t notice it’s not in his armoire.”
  116. 116. She did, however, fold the suit neatly and put it back where it belonged.
  117. 117. Then she swiftly ran around the house, cleaning it as she’d been ordered to do.
  118. 118. When she heard the door open, she headed downstairs. She considered asking how the ball had gone - she knew she’d have been curious if she hadn’t been there - but she could tell by the looks on Liam’s and Eloise’s faces that it wouldn’t be a good idea. Not that it was ever a good idea to ask them anything. Instead, she lowered her face to hide her smile and turned to Eloise. “I cleaned the house like you said, Ma’am.” Eloise raised her eyebrows. “Good. We are hungry, go make us breakfast.” Buffy nodded and headed to the kitchen, catching sight of Cordelia’s secret smile as she did. She vowed to ask Cordelia what had happened, later - when they had privacy.
  119. 119. As Buffy cooked, she could hear the others talking in the dining room. “Cordelia, the man you were dancing with, he was the Contessa’s advisor, wasn’t he?” Liam asked. Cordelia smiled. “Yes. His name is Martin Davis.” Eloise smiled. “A lovely match for you. Did you give him your phone number?” Cordelia winced. “I was about to when the sun rose, and then he left to go take care of things. He does have my name, though.” “Well, at least he can look you up.”
  120. 120. “I just wish I knew who that man was who danced with the Contessa the entire night,” Liam said as Buffy served their omelets. Eloise nodded in agreement. Buffy smiled to herself as she returned to the kitchen. While frustrating Liam wasn’t the main goal of her visit to the ball or her dance with the Contessa, it was a very nice bonus.
  121. 121. After breakfast, everyone headed upstairs to go to bed - it had been a very long night. Liam continued to think about his dance with the Contessa. How had it gone so badly? Why hadn’t she picked him? And who was that other man?
  122. 122. Cordelia, meanwhile, thought about her dances with Martin. She hoped he’d manage to find her, and if he didn’t, well, maybe she’d call the palace and bother them until she got through to him.
  123. 123. That evening, when the Contessa rose from her coffin, she called her advisors to a meeting. “After I had to leave last night, what happened?”
  124. 124. “Well,” Lynne said, looking at her a bit nervously, “the man you were dancing with? He ran.” “And, um, people were shocked,” Marisa added. “The ball pretty much ended then.”
  125. 125. The Contessa looked at them. “No one got he-his name?” “He ran,” Armando said. “The instant you were gone, he turned and ran. He was gone before anyone thought to move.” “Then how am I supposed to find him?”
  126. 126. “Um, you didn’t get his name either?” Marisa asked. The Contessa glared at her. “No. I did not. My chosen partner listened to me, let me talk about myself, and did not brag about he-his life.”
  127. 127. “Well,” Martin said, “he did leave his hat.” “His hat?” “It must have fallen off while he was running.” “Where is it?” “In the ballroom, still.”
  128. 128. “Well,” the Contessa said, “I believe my date was one of my subjects. We shall search for him. We will take the hat, and have every single person in the entire county try on the hat, and the one who it fits, was my date.” “What if it fits more than one person?” Armando asked. “I believe it will not,” the Contessa said. “And I will know my date when I see them. However, I will not be able to begin the search, as I cannot go out in daylight. You will start tomorrow. If you find a person who can wear the hat, you will stay there until nightfall and call me, and I will fly there.” “And if the person isn’t one of your subjects?” Lester asked. “Then we will spread our search out.”
  129. 129. Martin smiled as he thought of a way to turn this to his own advantage - he could find Cordelia in the process! “Alright. Lynne, you and I will start tomorrow, though I want to check some things first, figure out the best order to do this in. The next day, Marisa, Armando, and Lester can go, and we’ll switch off. Does that work for everyone?” Everyone nodded.
  130. 130. “And the Contessa is apparently on the hunt for her mysterious date. Catherine James is live at the scene. Catherine, do you have more news?” “Well, Rob, one of the Contessa’s advisors - Marisa Bendett - just told us that there’s going to be a hunt for the Contessa’s date. Apparently, Martin Davis and Lynne Fitzgerald are about to begin this hunt. They’re going to every house in the county to find the date, though they haven’t told us exactly how they’ll be looking.” “Good to know, Catherine.” The television was interrupted by a knock on the door.
  131. 131. Eloise walked over to the door to answer it, and found two people on the other side. “Hello,” she said.
  132. 132. “Hi,” Martin said, “I’m Martin Davis and this is Lynne Fitzgerald - we’re searching for the Contessa’s date from the ball two nights ago. Can we come in?” “Of course,” Eloise smiled at them. “Let me call my children.” She turned from the door. “Liam! Cordelia! There’s people here to see us!”
  133. 133. “Martin!” Cordelia said when she came down the stairs and joined the others at the table. “I wasn’t expecting to see you here!” Lynne rolled her eyes at her co-advisor. “You chose to start here on purpose, didn’t you?” Martin blushed a bit. “Yes.” He turned to Cordelia. “You remember how the Contessa’s date left the ball at a run? We’re looking for him, and we’ve brought the hat he was wearing. Everyone is supposed to try it on.” He smiled at her. “I think we can skip you, though, since I know you were with me.” Cordelia blushed.
  134. 134. Eloise smiled at Cordelia, then turned to the visitors. “I rather think I’m too old to be the Contessa’s date, but I suppose I should try the hat on, anyway.” She removed her normal hat and placed the new one on her head. It was far too big. Therefore, she removed it, replacing it with her normal hat once more. Liam looked at the hat and smiled. “My turn.” He would get that hat on his head, no matter what it took.
  135. 135. While Liam picked up the hat and took it to the bathroom, Martin turned to Cordelia. “Can I get your number? I meant to, but…” Cordelia smiled. “Of course.” She went into the kitchen and grabbed a pen and some paper, and wrote it down for him.
  136. 136. Liam returned, wearing the hat, but it had obviously been forced onto his head. Martin and Lynne exchanged a look.
  137. 137. “There,” Liam said, “it’s me.” “That looks like it was forced onto your head,” Martin said. “It really does,” Lynne concurred. “It wasn’t,” Liam said stubbornly. “Liam,” Cordelia said quietly, “I know I saw you dancing with the Contessa earlier, and that wasn’t you with her at the end.” He glared at her. “It was.” “No,” she said, shaking her head, “it definitely wasn’t.” She’d never stood up to her mother or brother before, but she knew it was the right thing to do. She’d known that for ages, but hadn’t acted on it. Finding Martin, having his silent support, allowed her to finally act.
  138. 138. Martin turned to Eloise. “Is there anyone else in the house? Because, if there isn’t, we really do have to move on.”
  139. 139. Eloise involuntarily looked to the living room, where Buffy was, once more, winding the clock. “No there isn’t,” she said. “Yes there is,” Cordelia said at the same time. She ignored the glares from her mother and brother. “Our stepsister, Buffy.” “CinderBuffy,” Liam muttered maliciously as he took the hat off. Martin and Lynne exchanged glances again. “Well,” Lynne said, “she did say everyone.” Martin nodded decisively. “Bring her over.” Eloise glared at her daughter once more, but obeyed the Contessa’s advisor. “Girl! Get over here!”
  140. 140. Buffy came over. “Yes, Ma’am?” “Well,” Martin said, “the Contessa is looking for her dance partner from the ball, who left the hat behind, and wants everyone to try it on.” Buffy looked at Eloise nervously. “But I wasn’t at the ball.” Martin shrugged. “She did say everyone.” “Go ahead, Buffy,” Cordelia said, gesturing at the hat.
  141. 141. Buffy nervously picked up the hat and put it on. Unsurprisingly, it fit her perfectly. During the ensuing silence, she sat down at the empty seat at the table. “Well,” Martin said, “we have a possible match.” Lynne rolled her eyes. “No wonder the Contessa kept messing up the gender pronouns when she was telling us to go search for her date.” Martin nodded. “I’m going to call her. Is there somewhere we can relax until dark?”
  142. 142. While Buffy showed Lynne to the living room, Cordelia showed Martin to the phone. “Lester? Yes, it’s me. Put her on. Yes, we have a match. Yes, I know it’s daytime. No, you know she’ll want to know immediately. Okay.” He nodded and waited. “Yes, Contessa Veronica, we found a match. Why didn’t you tell us you were looking for a woman? Well, yes, there is the heir question. We’ll figure it out. Yes, we’ll stay here until dark. The address? 1630 Revello Drive. In Sunnydale. The family name is Whedon.” He hung up the phone and headed into the living room.
  143. 143. After Buffy brought in chairs from the study for Eloise and Liam, the six of them sat in the living room until dark. The conversation was awkward - Eloise and Liam didn’t quite know what to say, and Cordelia glared at them every time they said anything nasty to or about Buffy. Buffy, meanwhile, wasn’t used to speaking up, so she pretty much stayed silent. Eventually, Lynne began telling stories about her childhood out of sheer desperation to somehow get rid of the silence.
  144. 144. As soon as it was dark, the Contessa flew to Sunnydale and their house, then let herself in.
  145. 145. “It was you,” the Contessa said as she pulled Buffy up from her seat and caressed her face. “It was,” Buffy said. “Why did you not stay?” “That’s a really really long story.” She glanced around at the others in the room. “And not important anymore. Can I tell you later? In private?” “Certainly.”
  146. 146. The Contessa pulled Buffy in for a hug. “You never told me your name.” “It’s Buffy. Buffy Whedon.” “And you must call me Veronica.” “Of course, Veronica.” They smiled sappily at each other.
  147. 147. The Contessa dipped Buffy into a kiss. “Would you like to be with me forever?” “I would.” “How do you feel about the sun?” “The sun? Doesn’t matter to me.” “Good.”
  148. 148. “Uh, Martin?” “Yes, Cordelia?” “What exactly is the Contessa doing to Buffy?”
  149. 149. Martin sighed. “She’s turning her into a vampire.” “…What?”
  150. 150. “Well,” Lynne said. “At least that gives us a really long time to try and deal with the heirship question, right?” Martin nodded. “Right.” Buffy smiled at her sire and lover (well, hopefully). “Bleh,” she said. “Bleh,” the Contessa said back. Then they smiled and kissed.
  151. 151. Liam looked at his stepsister and the Contessa kissing. “Mom, why didn’t she want me?” “Don’t worry, Liam,” Eloise said, “someday you’ll find the right girl for you.”
  152. 152. And he did. But that’s another story for another time.
  153. 153. Oh, you want to know more about the couples from this story? Well, Martin and Cordelia had nine children - six of whom got married, while three graduated from college. They also raised 20 puppies and kittens to adulthood, then gave them away to deserving families. In addition, Martin chose to revamp the Education system, becoming the new Education Minister (though he never left his position as one of the Contessa’s advisors). As for Buffy and the Contessa? Well, they lived vampirically ever after. And I do mean ever. The End.
  154. 154. Before closing, I’d like to say thanks to everyone who helped me while I was writing this (yes, Shirtless!Liam is for all of you). The first, and most important, thanks goes to Marina, who helped Lauri, for coming up with “Lizzie” me come up with the idea, talked me into doing it, proofread, and Ori, for coming up with Catherine James (newscaster) did any number of other things, including finding Buffy’s suit and convincing me to put Joss into a kilt. De, for finding the hat-as-object And to Fire, Cait, Jamie, Katy, Pen, and everyone listed above for listening to my ranting (“NO CONTESSA, NO BITING BUFFY!”) and I would also like to thank: happy shouting (“YES LIAM ANGRY FACE!”) and complaining when Lark, for coming up with Robert Banks (newscaster), finding the things weren’t going right. Also, general awesomeness. maps (for the council room) Thanks, everyone! Sarah, for talking me through using OMSPs to get the chandeliers just right And go to my livejournal (rosefyre.livejournal.com) soon for a Jenn, for finding me the topless top behind-the-scenes!