Author: Anne Parnell

Title: A Glimpse at the Past

Category: Crossover (not really)
Rating: PG-13 with one part R (for sex and rape, mainly the rape)

Summary: First person perspective of Sunnydale from around the year 1 BB (Before Buffy). <G>

Legalese: All characters except those noted below with their respective rights, properties and copyrights are the property of their respective creators, authors, owners, producers and agencies. These characters are used without permission. No copyright infringement is intended or meant, and no money will be made from this story. The story may be copied in its entirety, and may be distributed as long as all copyright information remains.

The character of Alison Jarman belongs to me. Anyone wanting to use her can e-mail at anne@kayleyangel.com
The Wandererverse is a creation of Steve Pantovich. He can be contacted at Steve711@concentric.net

This is dedicated to Tim who is not only a talented writer but also an awesome editor, maybe one day youíll give Rebekah a run for her money... but not in a Tea Snarfing way... <G>

Authors note: Fic based on a relatively normal person in Sunnydale. This is based BEFORE Buffy moves to Sunnydale up to just after Buffyís first date with Owen. Since this does take place over a long period of time (and conflicting timelineís given on when each episode supposedly happened) no actual dates are set but the general time is given.


A Glimpse at the Past

Events that can change a person, one way or another...

Sunnydale High School
Sunnydale, California
Freshman Year

The crowd in the hallway parts as we walk into the hallway; nobody would ever stand in our way. Who are we? Well, let me introduce you to our little group. In the front is Cordelia Chase, fashion queen, then Harmony Kendall; sheís like our second in command. Then Alison Jarman (me!), and Marisa Heerkens, sheís my best friend. Following in the rear are Aura and Aphrodesia; theyíre new to our little clique, so theyíre like our gophers. Weíre dressed in the latest clothes, short skirts, tight tops and of course high heels. We are all well groomed, no hair out of place, which for me is quite a challenge. My hair falls past my waist.

As we walk past everyone, we donít look around us, since these people arenít really worth our time. We divide and separate as we approach our lockers. Marisa and I have our lockers right next to each other; next to Marisa is Willow Rosenberg. Willow, what can I say about Willow? Sheís dressed in a frumpy old dress, which so terribly clashes with her hair! Her hair needs a good moisturizer treatment, and definitely a cut to get rid of the split ends. The only thing she has going for her are her brains. Sheís incredibly smart. So am I but in my group you tend to hide how smart you are. I know for a fact that Cordelia is more than a pretty face and Marisa is more than just a sarcastic bitch.

"Willow, has anyone ever told you that you are stunningÖ" Marisa starts; Willow looks at her and blushes, "in the dark that isÖ oh wait! That means that someone other than Xander would have to see you in the dark. Sorry to get your hopes up love." We grab our books and walk past a now shaken Willow. She turns and walks in the opposite direction. I feel sorry for her. If she learned how to dress properly she would be gorgeous, she has the figure and the hair (if properly taken care of) to be a model.

Marisa and I walk into our first class and sit next to Percy and Mitch. Percy is so hot! Iíve had a crush on him for so long. Marisa thinks that he returns the feelings but I donít know. We are right in the back and every time our teacher says something we giggle. Not because what he says is funny, but because Percy and Mitch are copying every movement he makes. Mr. Andersen is one of the most boring teachers there is. Hey, History class would be more interesting if it wasnít taught in monotone.

Xander is at the front of the room. Heís one of those guys who are dorks but give him a couple of years, heíll be sexy as all hell. Right now he is acting like a clown, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1Ö

"Xander Harris!" Right on timeÖ Mr. Andersen is so predictable. Heís about to send Xander outside as usual but before he can, a student walks in and hands a note to Mr. Andersen.

The student rushes out and Mr. Andersen reads the note. Then he clears his throat, one of us is in trouble.

"Students, a note has just been handed to meÖ"

"Well duh! Einstein," I whisper to Marisa; she giggles. Mr. Andersen glares at us. Oh boy, itís going to be one of those classes.

"Öwhich informs me that I have some bad news to break to you all. Iíve just been informed that Wendy Robertson and Edward Matheson have been found, dead. We will be having an assembly including a safety talk given by Detective Stein straight after this class."

I sit there dumbfounded; Wendy was my next-door neighbor. She had been one of my best friends until just recently; Edward was her boyfriend and had also been a good friend. Theyíre dead? How can that be? That makes it 24 students this year that have disappeared or been killed. The police force in this town sucks! Marisa and Mitch are almost laughing over the matter, laughing over Edward and Wendyís death?

"Detective Stein is giving us a talk on safety? Oh gawd! If that guy actually got off his butt and did something, then maybe this town would be safe, but no! Letís all eat donuts and blame everything on PCP gangs. Oh puh-leaze!" Okay, so maybe not over Edward and Wendy but yeah, I have to admit that it is a funny idea having Detective Stein talking to us. He couldnít find a murderer even if they signed a confession in front of him.

The bell rings and we follow the rest of the school down the hallway. We walk past Cordeliaís class and she comes and joins us. Harmony catches up to us as we walk past the Science rooms. Mitch has his arm round Harmonyís waist and Percy is walking right next to me. Should I take his hand? Nah got to look cool. Aura and Aphrodesia are standing next to the gymís door, waiting for us.

We enter and claim the usual spot for us, right next to the basketball team, just behind the football team and in front of the swim team. Hey when you look this good, why not surround yourself with the best!

Principal Flutie approaches the dais at the front of the gym and the crowd falls silent. He is very brief, just asking all of us to take care of ourselves and that Coach Muldoon will be starting a self-defense course for anyone interested in it. I donít think so; the only way I am getting sweaty is by cheerleading! Then he introduces Detective Stein, yawn factor!

He stutters through his talk, I bet he has never talked in front of such a large crowd. He drones on and on about how you should go everywhere in groups, donít be out late at nightÖ all this is too much for our group. Cordelia is whispering loudly about what Detective Stein is wearing. The jocks are all laughing. Marisa starts stuttering as she repeats what Detective Stein is saying. Harmony is waving her arms wildly as if she is about to take off; strangely enough they arenít exaggerated at all. He really looks like a spaz. I lean over to Harmony, "Been practicing have you?" Cordelia bursts out laughing, Marisa is grinning wildly and Harmony is sitting there with her mouth wide open. Aura giggles until Harmony shoots her a glare.

He finally sits down and Principal Flutie gets back up to thank Detective Stein and then dismisses everyone, but asks our group and Willow to stay behind. Oh goody, weíre in trouble, but hang onÖ we canít be if Willow is staying behind, too.

We do end up being yelled at, and we have detention on Friday night. Oh great! Dadís going to yell again, maybe I should have moved to LA with Mom. No, not a chance, she deserted us when Dad needed her the most. In fact, sheís the reason Dad broke down. Oh well, no use bitching and moaning, shit happens and we move on. The others are allowed to leave after the verdict but I have to stay and so does Willow.

"Now the reason I have asked both of you to stay behind is that I am concerned about you, Alison. I know that things are difficult at home and that you have had a lot of responsibility thrust upon you recently. Your grades arenít very good, and I know one reason why you arenít applying yourself but I want you to be tutored for a little while by Willow to get your grades up. In the long run, you need to have a good education."

What? He wants Willow to tutor me? Hell no!

"Principal Flutie, I know youíre concerned about me, but I donít need Willow tutoring me, no offence Willow, but I am smart enough to handle myself." Thatís an understatement, if he just knew how smart I wasÖ

"Thatís not what your test scores show. Your grade point average is dismal, its not even 2.0 at the moment, your teachers have all expressed concerns about you." Oh great, play-acting has screwed me up again!!! Iíve been acting dumb so Cordelia and Harmony donít pick on me for being brainyÖ

"But Principal Flutie, I am smart! I just donít like people knowing it." Willow looks on, embarrassed that sheís witnessing this. But she doesnít offer to come to my defense. Hell, she knows I am smart; I beat her in the annual spelling bee during 5th year and also beat her at one of the math comps we had during that year too.

"Alison, for the next few months, you and Willow will be spending a lot of spare time with each other."

Sure, fine, whatever. No way in hell. "Fine, ok I will."

I storm out of the gym and Willow runs after me. She grabs my arm and I stop.

"Donít touch me." I start walking again.

"Alison, just wait up a second, I want to talk to you." I spin around and glare at her.

"This better be worth my time." I hate the hurt look that has slipped over her face but I have a rep to uphold.

"Alison, listen to me. Iím not going to tutor youÖ" Ok, now I am shocked, "I know you donít need it. The whole reason I didnít say anything before was because I know Principal Flutie. Once he makes up his mind nothing is going to change it. But if we look like we are going ahead with his idea then heíll let us go. Heís not supervising us, so every now and then weíll pretend for his benefit but thatís it." What she says does make a lot of sense.

"Sounds good WillowÖ"

"Ali, is she bothering you?" Harmony interrupts, "or are you just sinking to her level?" Aura giggles, that girl is getting on my nerves!

"No Harmony, Iím just leaving," Willow turns and walks off.

"So what was that all about?"

"None of your business Harmony. Letís just get out of here. Think that Mitchís brother will drive us to the mall, I feel like blowing off a few classes." Harmonyís face brightens, anytime the mall is mentioned sheís in.

We grab Mitch, his brother (Adam, who stayed down a year), and Marisa, but we canít find Cordelia. Aura decides to stay behind. As we all pile into Adamís car Percy joins us. So we jump out to rearrange the seating. There isnít enough room for the six of us, but Percy solves the problem.

"Ali, you can sit on my knee, Iíll keep you safe." I blush and sit down. He wraps his arms around me and weíre off.

Through out the whole drive Percy is stroking up and down my stomach, whispering in my ear. Oh yeah! He returns my feelings. We get out of the car and it screams away as Adam burns out of the parking lot. Percy grabs my hand and Mitch takes Harmonyís. Marisa walks past us making kiss noises, and I want to kill her over the embarrassment but everything is good as Percy leans down to do just that, kiss me.

Iím in heaven! Percy is kissing me.

"Get a room you two!" Great, trust Marisa to break up a moment. But we head indoors. Harmony drags us along to all the shops she wants to look at. I see a great jacket I want to buy, but since Dad is now on medication I canít afford it. How do you tell your friends that youíre broke?

*****

Later that night
(R during this section)

We end up going to see a movie at Sun Cinema after shopping. I didnít want to go but Percyís bought me a ticket. We watch a movie called Crimson Tide, typical stupid manís choice! The good thing was that Percy was such a caring guy, anytime I was scared (read; anytime I was playing scared) I could hide my head in his arms.

After the film, Mitch escorts Harmony home. They seem pretty tight, so we all figure out what was going to happen. Percy was going to walk both Marisa and myself home but Marisa decides that she was going to head off by herself.

"Iím a big girl, I can take care of myself." Iím worried about her.

"Rissie, you know what Detective Stein said, donít go out by yourself at night."

"Oh puh-leaze. Detective Stein wouldnít have a clue as to what he was talking about." With that she flounces off into the darkness, leaving Percy and I to stroll home together holding hands.

We joke around and I tell him what happened between my parents. Talking to him about it really helps me let go of the anger and resentment that I had toward my mother. I can actually see why she had done it. Rhys Jackson is a damn good-looking man, young and successful. He literally swept Mom off her feet. Heís caring and I know he loves Mom, itís just a shame that Mom split from Dad, but things werenít right at home for a long time before it. Now itís just a lot more peaceful and I like it.

We arrive at my place, and I canít see Dadís car anywhere so I invite Percy in. We head up to my room so we can be alone when Dad eventually comes back. Iím nervous cause itís my first time having a guy (besides Dad) in my room. I am so glad I was never one to have all the girly pink frills up everywhere. My room is a light sky blue with lavender curtains, bedspread and rug on the bare wood floor. I have a desk with a computer and several scientific books on it, everything from Einsteinís Twin Paradox to the Darwinian Theory of Evolution to the workings of different mathematical theorems. Yes I have read them several times; I particularly the theory of evolution, the idea of adaptations and natural selection really captures me. I told you I was smartÖ did you believe me? My bed takes up most of the room, Mom never allowed me to have a single bed, too small she claims so I have a double bed. Too small, thatís how most people describe me! I thought I was supposed to have growth spurts; instead Iím still a freakiní 5í2" short ass. But Iím getting sidetracked again.

Percy sits down on the edge of my bed. I climb up onto my bed and sit more to the middle of the bed. Percy takes my hand and kisses the back of my hand gently. Wow! A gentleman. A blush forms on my cheeks. I canít help it! I have never had a crush on someone before who has returned my feelings. I look down slightly and a lock of my hair falls in front of my eyes. Percy brushes it away and lifts my chin up. He looks me in the eyes before he leans down and kisses me.

We kiss for a while, before I can feel his hand slowly slipping under my top. I know I should stop him but it feels so good. Percy is leaning over me, and I feel myself falling backwards on the bed, with Percy over me. He undoes my bra quickly and starts playing with my nipples. Before I know it, my top and bra are on the ground and Percy is sucking on one of my breasts.

"P-percy, maybe we shouldnít do this." He stops and looks at me, before he strokes my face again.

"Shhh, sweetheart its ok. Weíll be protected. Iím going nice and slow, it wonít hurt at all." With that he goes back to kissing me. I feel trapped, Iím caught under his weight, his body is so much bigger than mine, heís about a foot taller. I try to break away.

"Oh babe, that feels good. Keep wriggling like that. See, I knew you wanted it." And suddenly I feel his hands at the band of my panties. Heís slipped his thumbs underneath and pulled them off. I knew I should have worn pants instead of a skirt today. Next thing I know I can feel his hands slipping inside me.

"Percy! Stop! No, we shouldnít be doing this." This is so not happening. I donít want this. Kissing I can handle but I am not ready for sex.

"What do you like a man to beg?" Hang on, what the hell is Percy talking about. This doesnít sound like the Percy I know.

"No, this just isnít right."

"So youíre some kind of tease, make a guy hard and then back off. Well sorry Princess. Iím not falling for this game. You want me, I know you do. Your body wants meÖ" he violently slides a finger in and out, "see, you are wet for me." I am close to tears, how could I be so stupid?

"Ok PercyÖ" I whisper. I just want this night over with.

With that he undoes his pants and pulls them off. His cock is short and wide, and very, very hard. I stifle a scream as he lifts my skirt up to my waist and leans over me again. With that he starts to push his cock in, I can feel him slipping inside and it hurts like nothing has hurt me before. The tears break loose and I start to cry as he pushes further into me. Then I remember that he hasnít put on a condom.

"Percy, youíre not protected." He glares at me but pulls out, I hope that he will move far enough away so I can run but he stays huddled over me and pulls out a condom. Was he hoping I would forget? Has he done this before? But at least he is putting it on now. Thank Gawd thatís one less thing I have to worry about. Percyís entering me again quickly interrupts my thought. He builds up speed and all I can do is cry about it. Finally he stops and collapses on me. Has he cum? I donít know! I donít care! Iíve never been in this situation before and I never will be again!

Finally he slips out of me and hops off the bed. He takes the condom off and throws it on my chest.

"Thanks for the release, maybe next time I wonít have to do all the work." He gets dressed and walks out of my room. I can hear the front door open and close.

With that I break down on the bed and cry my eyes out. I feel disgusting and violated and cheap. How could I let him do this to me? Never again. I am not going through this ever again. I get up and go into my bathroom, I turn the shower on as hot as I can stand and hop underneath. The spray hurts as it hits my sensitive skin, and the water is burning my back but I donít hop out. I just keep crying until there are no more tears.

*****

After the hot water runs out, I reluctantly hop out of the shower. I dry myself off and pull out a pair of jeans and a plain purple t-shirt. I get dressed and grab the bedspread off my bed. Throwing it into the machine I let it wash, hoping to erase the images playing in my head. I was so stupid! How could I let him do that to me? This is all my fault. I must have done something to make him act like that. Was it the way I looked? The way I acted? I donít know but from now on I am not going to be in a position like this again.

Pulling out a pair of scissors I hack into my hair. After a few cuts my waist long hair is now just above my shoulders. I want to cut it further but I know Iíll regret it later. I throw all my short skirts and tight tops into the bin, which I then set alight after moving it onto the balcony. Dad is going to kill me if he finds out that I was burning things in my bin but I donít care. I also throw in the clothes I was wearing when Percy was here. I throw my diary and my makeup into the bin as well, getting rid of anything that could have made something like this happen.

Next I pull out the rest of my wardrobe. Two pairs of jeans besides the ones I am wearing, plus two tracksuits, four sweaters and a few loose hanging t-shirts. Then I look at my shoes collection, all the high heels and my previously favorite pair of stilettos hit the rim of the bin. That leaves me a pair of dress shoes and a couple of sneakers.

I tear down all the photos that are next to my bed and toss them into the raging flames. I dump the hair that I cut into there as well. The smell is intoxicating but that helps release some of my anger. Have to hand it to pyromaniacs, they wouldnít be angry watching everything burn like this.

Principal Flutieís words echo in my mind, that Iím not applying myself. Iíll show him who isnít smart. I take out my homework and complete everything within minutes before tossing my old copies of the homework into the bin; Iím so cold inside that I want to keep it alight so I can warm up.

I try to call Marisa, I need someone to turn to and sheís my best bet. Her parents answer in tears, Marisa hasnít come home. She hasnít been heard from all night so far. I mention that she was walking home from Sun Cinema early evening by herself and her parents rip into me, blaming me for letting her walk home on her own. They donít listen to my protests that she didnít want to be escorted home. I hang up and the tears begin anew.

Dadís finally come home and he knocks on my door to let me know that heís home and that heís going to bed. Good, I canít deal with anyone at the moment. I hear my phone ring, itís answered so I guess Dad picked it up.

"Ali, Harmony is on the phone for you." I donít answer, I pretend I am asleep when he peeks into the room. I can faintly hear him tell Harmony that I was in bed asleep.

I hear him shut his bedroom door, so I sneak out of mine and head downstairs to the liquor cabinet. I need something to warm me up and whiskey is looking like a pretty good choice right now. I take the bottle up to my room and sit out on the balcony next to the now dying fire. This isnít good enough, I need more fire. I realize that I missed all my "girly" magazines, so I toss them in to build it up again. Then I take a swig of whiskey, wincing as it burns my throat, but its warmth rapidly spreads through my small frame.

Taking another large swig, I lean back against the balcony frame and shut my eyes. I canít tell my father, he would be angry with me for allowing a boy into my room, let alone kissing him. He has a very old worldview on life. Mom is busy with Rhys, but even still I wouldnít have been able to admit what had happened tonight, not to her. There is no way I am going to admit this to Harmony, Cordelia or any of the others in our clique, in fact I donít want to see our little clique anymore.

*****

Jarman household
Next morning

Before I realize it, the sun is rising over Sunnydale and the bottle of whiskey is gone. I canít remember drinking it all, but itís no longer there. I clean up the mess the fire caused and then toss the bottle as far away from our house as possible, Ďcause there is no way Dad would allow me to drink it. The resounding shatter of glass is music to my ears.

Changing into my black jeans and pulling on a gray t-shirt before slipping a gray sweater over the top, I glance at myself in the mirror. Gone is the naive little girl and in its place is a hardened woman. I am not going to let this beat me! I actually thought about suicide last night, but that is not an option for me. I pull my short hair up into a messy ponytail and grab my bag and shoes before I head downstairs.

Dad is sitting in the kitchen rambling on and on about watching the fairies and elves play in the garden, HA! As if there are really Ďwee folkí in our garden. I grab a juice and sprinkle in a little St. Johnís Wort before handing it to Dad who drinks it in one gulp. The herb helps slightly but it is has a common side effect in causing fatigue, which is bad considering that Dad is an insomniac now. Dadís currently taking Fluoxetine, which is a Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor otherwise known as a SSRI, but it doesnít help the insomnia. Iíve told the doctor to put him onto Doxepin or Mirtazapine to help with the insomnia that he is going through, but they think that I donít have a clue what I am talking about.

Hell, doesnít everyone know that Doxepin is a Tricyclic antidepressant that increases the production of serotonin and norepinephrine in the brain? Or that Mirtazapine is similar to a SSRI? Or that both Doxepin and Mirtazapine help insomniacs to sleep while helping to calm them down? I certainly do, and I know all the side effects too.

In fact, in Biology we are about to undertake an assignment on common illnesses and treatment for them. I am doing mine on "Atypical Depression" which is what Dad has. I mean, who knew that depression could cause hallucinations, delusions, or physical rigidity?

I kiss Dad goodbye and head off to school, the last place on earth I want to be in besides my bedroom. I detour by Marisaís place and peek in her bedroom window, which is how I usually pick her up to go to school. But the only person in her room is her Mom crying into her pillow. I guess I wasnít the only person not sleeping last night.

*****

Sunnydale High School

I walk up the front of the school and people stop and stare at me. I know a lot of them donít realize that it is me; they expect the best from me and I definitely ainít that at the moment. There are a number of whispers happening as I passÖ

"Is that Alison? What happened to her?"

"New studentÖ possibly. Itís Alison? No way!"

"Did you hear what happened to her? Sheís gone mental like her Dad."

Harmony, Aura and Aphrodisia are waiting for me by the door.

"Well if it isnít Percyís little slut, and what a bold statement weíre making," Harmony says loud enough for a number of people to hear. I say nothing and just walk past them and inside the building. Willow is at her locker when I arrive at mine.

"Hi Willow, have you seen Marisa?" Willow looks surprised that I have spoken to her and turns to me; her jaw drops in shock at my appearance.

"A-alison, I havenít seen Marisa. Are you ok? You look completely different." I shake my head and sigh.

"No, Iím not okay, but Iím more worried about Marisa than myself at the moment. She never made it home last night. I was hoping she just crashed at someoneís house but nothing so far."

"Willow, I need help and Iím coming to youÖ whoa! New girl?" Xanderís impeccable <yes, note sarcasm> arrival stops me from saying anything else.

"Xander, itís Alison."

"Why hel-lo AlisonÖ" he starts, before he really looks at me, "Jarman? Oh my god what happened to you?"

"Long storyÖ" I begin, not really wanting to tell him.

"She had a nervous breakdown after sleeping with Percy, and who would blame her. Hi Alison." I cringe when I hear the words and slowly turn around to see who it was who almost had the whole story. To my surprise I see Jesse there.

"Apparently not that long," I weakly mutter, "who told you that?"

"Percy is bragging about how he scored with another chick. After hearing Harmonyís shot at you earlier, I put two and two together. Donít worry, Iíve told everyone it isnít true, said you were with us at Willowís house last night." Iím shocked by what he has said.

"Why are you protecting me? Iíve never done anything for you, in fact Iíve mainly been a bitch to you."

"Yeah, but I hate how Percy treats girls, using them then tossing them aside. So think of it not so much as me helping you, but me having a shot at Percy. Seriously, if it were you who protested, then youíd never be believed, but if we do it then it has a bit more hold. Also, can I have a quick word with you?"

We walk a bit further down the hallway and into one of the spare rooms. He hands over a slip of paper.

"What is this?"

"A phone number for the Rape Assistance and Awareness Program. I guessed what really happened and you probably donít want to admit it. But if you need help, these guys are really good. My cousin got help from them last year and she recommends them." A tear slips down my face. I canít believe it; Jesse is helping me out even though I was a bitch to him.

*****

Lunchtime is hell; Harmony and the others are laughing and sitting with Percy and his mates. Every now and then I can hear Percy mentioning my name and the others laugh. How can people I thought were my friends do this to me? I canít believe I was so stupid in thinking Percy was a nice guy. I wish Marisa was here.

I hide at a table close to the exit so I can run if needed. Willow and Xander are sitting nearby but I canít see Jesse yet. Finally he enters and when he sees me sitting there by myself, he dumps his stuff next to me.

"Sorry if I overstepped my bounds earlier, but I couldnít bear to see you upset. Out of the entire ĎPopularí crowd, you were the only one to give a damn about anything. Whenever someone said something a little bitchy, you always flinched, especially if it was at Willow. You didnít like how they treated her did you?" I look into his eyes before quickly looking over at Willow.

"They pick on her because theyíre scared of her. Iím not talking Ďbout Cordelia, but Harmony and Marisa are scared of her. If she started to care about her looks, she would be prettier than any of them and that upsets them because she is, to them, a nerd." I see Xander playing with his food and Willow laughing at him. "Thatís the other thing that upsets them, she is so smart."

"So are you. Willow told me what Flutie said and I laughed. He really has no idea about you does he?"

"Not one. Oh well, I wonder what heíll think if he sees the truth?" Harmony and Mitch stand up and walk past us.

"Going for the losers now are we, Ali? Percy is just too good for you and you know it." I try not to flinch but manage to come back at her.

"No, I just prefer boys who can actually spell their full names instead of shortening it. You would think that Percival and Mitchell have too many letters for them to spell." Jesse smirks as Harmony and Mitch stalk off. As soon as they are out of range he starts laughing.

"I am impressed with you Alison, you are handling all this pretty well."

"Jesse, please call me Ali. But anyway, I didnít handle it too well last night, and Iíll probably cry myself to sleep tonight but I have to handle it well. If Dad finds out about itÖ heís already gone through enough I donít want to upset him more."

"Well give RAAP a call, talk to them. But if you need anyone else to talk to, here is my number and Iíll organize for you to meet my cousin. Sheíll be glad to talk to you, if you want to talk to someone else whoís been through it." He scribbles his number on a scrap of paper and hands it to me.

"I think this is more than just you getting one over PercyÖ"

"Like I said, you were the only one who seemed to give a damn. Now youíre on your own and in this situation you need someone to help you out. Iím slightly qualified, and if you want a friend to listen to you, Iím here any time, day or night." I almost start to cry over that. Itís good to see he doesnít hold a grudge, and in a way heís right; I do need someone to help me out.

"Thanks Jesse. Anyway, Iím going to head off to the library and hide for a little while." He looks at me confused until he sees a tear slip down my face.

"Why not just go into the toilets? Youíd be able to wash your face afterwardsÖ"

"Library wonít have anyone in it, toilets do." I grab my things and run out, leaving Jesse staring after me.

*****

Jarman household
Later that night

I finish cooking the steak and vegetables that were left out for dinner and serve them up while calling Dad for dinner. Yeah, Iím smart and I can cookÖ what of it?

"So why were you late home tonight Alison?" He asks me, as Iím about to cut into my steak. Should I tell him that I was really in detention? No way.

"I was helping Marisa with her homework." I was hoping that it didnít sound too forced a lie.

"Alison Madelyn Jarman donít you dare lie to me." He knew I was lyingÖ how?

"Iím not lying to you Daddy." He glares at me; uh oh I am in big trouble now.

"Marisaís body was found in Weatherly Park earlier today. Yet you claim you helped her with her homework this afternoon?" Marisaís body? Oh god no!

"Marisaís b-b-bodyÖ sheís dead?" I start crying and I canít stop. All through school I have always been friends with Marisa and Wendy but now, both of them are gone. Just when I need someone the most Iím all alone. I feel Dad wrap his arms around me and I stiffen.

"Iím sorry my baby girl. I shouldnít have told you like that, Iím just worried about you thatís all. Last night you were crying the whole night. You wouldnít talk to your friends. And you are lucky that I am so concerned about you, otherwise I would have grounded you after you set fire to your bin and drank my whiskey." I gulp; Dad knew pretty much everything. I thought he was out of it last night.

"Daddy, Iím just going through a lot at the moment, and now Rissieís deathÖ" He lets go of me and holds my face.

"Alison, donít think that you canít talk to me about things. I know things were hard on you once Jessica left us, but remember I am always here for you."

"I know Daddy, Mom leaving us is the least of my worries at the moment. I appreciate you trying to help me but I donít think youíd understand. Iím going to bed now, Iím tired and I need sleep. Night Daddy." I brace myself and hug him before quickly running upstairs. I canít handle it anymore; I canít even hug my own dad.

I pull out the number on the card Jesse gave me and call them. I end up talking to a lovely girl by the name of Paula Millhouse. Unfortunately Jesse didnít tell me that RAAP was Denver based. Paula was really nice about it and gave me the number for the Rape Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN).

Instead of calling them straight away, I take out the other number Jesse gave me and dial the number.

"ĎEllo," Oh no, I must have woken him up. I didnít realize that it was that late.

"J-jesse?"

"Ali is that you? Whatís wrong girl?" With that I start crying again.

"They found Rissieís body." I only just managed to get the words out. I hear him sitting up in his bed while I struggle to calm down

"Oh my god, are you okay? Do you want me to come around, I will if you want?" That sounds good but how will I manage to explain to Dad what heís doing in my room. I try to think of something in case Dad asks but I can hear Dadís bedroom door shut.

"Ali, are you still there?"

"Sorry Jesse, ummmÖ yeah if you could. But donít knock on the door. Can you climb?"

"YeahÖ why?" I can hear the confusion in his voice.

"I need you to climb up to my window. Itís not hard; we have a lattice up the wall where we havenít planted anything yet, so it should be an easy climb. My window is on the second floor just above the front door."

"Ok, Iíll be there in about 10 minutes." I hear the click as he hangs up the phone.

*****

I hear a knock on my window and jump. Turning around, I see Jesse standing on my balcony. I open the windows and let him inside. He wraps his arms around me as soon as he gets in, and I stiffen in his arms. The second time tonight Iíve stiffened in a hug, this isnít good.

"Sorry Ali, I forgot that you probably donít want a guy touching you in any fashion," he whispers as he drops his arms from around me. He takes a seat on my bed and I sit down on my desk chair watching my legs as I begin swinging them.

"Howíd you find out about Marisa?" I look up suddenly, I didnít expect him to ask me that.

"Dad found out somehow."

"Did he say what happened?"

"Not a thing." I see him stand up and pace around the room, looking at the things on my corkboard. He looks at a couple of photos of my Mom and my Dad before turning around.

"Your parents look so happy together, what happened? That is if you donít me askingÖ" I sigh to help myself gain my composure. If I managed to tell that shithead Percy then I could tell Jesse, but I never told him the whole story, Jesse will hear it all.

"When I had just turned 13, I came home from school to see a guy I had never met standing at the top of the staircase. I scream, thinking it was someone who had broken in when Mom comes in from the kitchen. She sees me and asks me whatís wrong. I point up to where the guy was and Mom laughs and introduces him as Rhys Jackson, a guy she had met one day at work. I walk into the lounge room and I see a heap of suitcases. I ask her what she was doing and she tells me that Dad told her to get out of the house. I stare at her and she continues that Daddy found out that she had started seeing this guy for a couple of weeksÖ"

Jesse reaches for my hand and gently holds it but doesnít try anything further than that so I relax a little more.

"She tells me that she no longer loves Dad and that she was in love with this Rhys guy. Then she says that it isnít my fault and she loves me dearly, but I must understand that it was for the best that she was leaving and that there wasnít going to be any more arguments between her and Daddy. Then this Rhys guy comes down the stairs and tells me that it is nice to finally meet me, since Mom told him everything about me. I laugh and sarcastically reply that it wasnít nice to meet him since it was the first ever time I had ever heard of him. Mom got really mad and sent me to my room. When Dad allowed me to come back downstairs, Mom was in LA, moving in with Rhys." Jesse lets go of my hand and begins pacing again.

"Thatís rough, have you seen your Mom since?"

"Yeah, I had to go stay with Mom and Rhys when Dad ended up in a mental hospital. The break up with Mom really took its toll on Dad. Especially when he found evidence that Mom and Rhys had sex in his bed. That one really shocked him but I donít blame him. I stayed there for two weeks; made Momís life a living Hell but I saw how much Rhys loves her. Every day he did something to surprise her."

We keep talking; Jesse asks a lot of questions that night and I answer them all. Every time I feel uncomfortable, Jesse just asks something different to make it easier on me. He doesnít try anything more than holding my hand and occasionally wiping the tears off my cheeks. Suddenly I realize that he wasnít just a colleague anymore; heís a friend, my best friend. He knows me better than Marisa ever did.

We continue talking well into the early hours of the morning, until I see what the time was. I didnít want Jesse to walk home this late at night, not after Marisaís death. So I offer him my bed, and he declines because he didnít want me sleeping on the floor. I grab a blanket and a pillow and he settles down on the floor next to my bed.

I must have been having a nightmare, cause next thing I know, Jesse is holding my loosely and whispering for me to wake up. He waits Ďtil I orientate myself again before he lets go and grabs me a tissue. He settles back down on the floor and I snuggle back into my quilt but I feel guilty.

"Jesse, are you still awake?"

"Yeah AliÖ" he rises up onto one elbow to look at me.

"You can sleep on the bed if you want." Iíve never heard myself so unsure of anything before. Jesse grabs the blanket and pillow but instead of hopping under the quilt like I thought he would, he lies down on top of it. His face is down the end where my feet were. Confusion must have shown on my face.

"Iím sleeping this way Ali, so you feel more comfortable with me on the bed. I donít want you scared of me." With that both of us close our eyes to try to sleep again. I succumb to the dreams again but this time I feel safer than I have in a long time. I know that Jesse will help me vanquish the nightmares.

Itís pleasant waking up and seeing Jesse there with me. He stays out on my balcony while I shower and get ready for school, even though I was in my bathroom. He just didnít want to scare me in any way. Afterwards, Jesse walks me to school; a quick detour is made to his house so he can change and grab his things. We continue talking and just before we walk into the school building Jesse stops me. I know that he has one last question to ask but he looks so scared about asking it.

"Did you call RAAP?" Hang on, thatís not the question I was expecting. All night he never asked exactly what happened with Percy, thatís what I was expecting him to ask now, not thatÖ

"Yeah, umm, I did but theyíve given me another number to call. Something called RAINN." He looks at me waiting for me to continue.

"And?" he prompts as I leave it there.

"I called you instead of them." I hang my head in shame. But I needed someone who knew me to talk to last night, after everything with Rissie and Percy, not some strange womanÖ or worse a strange man.

"Ali, Iím honored that you called me, and I understand why you did. You needed someone there to hold your hand, didnít you?" I look up, totally surprised. Howíd he know that? He barely pauses before continuing, "See I knew it. But you do need someone professional to help you as well. Promise me youíll call them tonight? If you want Iíll stay with you while you call them."

"Youíre right Jesse, Iíll call them tonight. I promise Iíll call them but do you mind if I call you after I talk to them?"

"Not at all, now I better scram otherwise Iím going to be late for Mr Andersenís class. Youíre lucky that you donít have to put up with Cordelia in that class, she really has no clue about history does she?" I laugh as he runs off and I quickly run after him, heading for Biology.

*****

As promised I pick up the phone to call RAINN, I am so nervous as the phone rang.

"Welcome to RAINN, my name is Daniel Timmons, how can I help you?" He sounds nice enough and fairly polite.

"Hi, umm Daniel. My nameís Alison." I have no idea what to say, I think I sound like a fool.

"Hi Alison, let me guess this is your first time calling here?"

"Yes."

"Not a problem, now I think I know why youíve called but if you could just clarify a few things for me."

"Ok, I guess I canÖ"

"Good. Firstly, did it happen to you or are you a concerned friend?"

"No, it happened to me." My voice is extremely quiet.

"Are you ok talking to me about this?" I canít speak to a male about this, no matter how nice Daniel sounds.

"N-not really."

"Thatís fine. Listen, whereabouts are you located? I can see if I can organize one of our counselors in the area to stop by and have a chat with you if you would like..."

"Iím in Sunnydale, California."

"Excellent, letís see..." I can hear the tapping of keys on a keyboard, "here we go. I can organize for a meeting with Jasmine Lawson who operates on the outskirts of Sunnydale. Can you hold for a second?"

"Sure, I guess." With that I am greeted with boring hold music but I scribble down the name of the woman he was organizing for me to meet with. Jesse canít complain now that I didnít follow through.

"Alison, good news. I have Jasmine on the phone with me now, and I will transfer you through to her so you can have a chat and organize a time that suits both of you. Go ahead Jasmine..."

"Hi Alison, I understand from what Danielís told me, that youíve had a bit of bad luck."

"T-thatís right."

"Itís ok sweetheart. Now instead of going through all this over the phone, I would like to meet with you either in my office or at your home. Whichever is easier or more comfortable for you? When are you available?" I think about it for a few seconds.

"Are you free tomorrow afternoon?" I hear the quick taps of fake nails on the keyboard; the noise is almost irritatingly familiar. Momís fingers sounded the same way whenever she was on the computer.

"If you would like, I can fit you in at 5?"

"Thatís fine. Where are you located? And can I bring someone with me?"

"If you will feel more comfortable with someone there that you trust, certainly. And I am at..." as she rattles off her address I quickly jot it down.

"Thanks Jasmine, Iíll see you at 5."

"Certainly Alison." The soft click tells me sheís hung up the phone and I quickly dial Jesseís number to ask him to come with me. He says heíll come with me and I hang up the phone just as Dad gets home.

I run downstairs and give Dad a big hug and a quick kiss. He looks at me, very confused.

"What? Canít I give the best Dad in the whole wide world a kiss and hug?" I say, smiling. I feel better than ever, Jesse is helping me, and now Jasmine is going to as well. Iím not going to be alone through this. I run off again before Dad can answer and I start on dinner. Things are looking up.

*****

Next day

Jasmine was so nice; she is really a great person to talk to. She included Jesse in everything we were talking about, asking his opinion on different comments I made. Not only that but she didnít judge me, thatís what I needed. She never told me that I had done the wrong thing by not reporting it to the police she understood why I hadnít.

Jesse walked me home again and before he said goodbye he asked me if he could come with me next week.

"Jesse, of course you can. Thank you for helping me through all this." He smiled at me and quickly gives me a loose hug, one I could break if I wanted to.

"You seem to be handling it pretty well, considering what my cousin went throughÖ she was an absolute mess. I just didnít want to see you go through the exact same thing she did." I blush as I quickly kiss his cheek.

"Thanks," I say as I run inside.

*****

Sunnydale High School
Two weeks later

The seniors are running frantically round the school; itís close to their graduation. Only a few more years and I can see myself doing the same. Some clubs and organizations are naming their new presidents and leaders. Freshmen on the other hand are just going through the motions, walking through the partÖ as if we really are good little students who are paying attention to all our classes. There is only one week left and we canít be bothered.

Weíre on our way to one of our last finals for this year and the atmosphere around us is that of a holiday. No one is stressing, itís relaxing almost. Xander, Willow and Jesse are all busy discussing their plans for the vacation. Iím tagging slightly behind because I still donít feel comfortable around Xander. I can handle being with Jesse but other guys still give me the Wiggins. I donít mind much being slightly behind them, I already know what I am doing, seeing Mom again.

Jesse thinks that maybe I should tell her some of the things happening here, not necessarily the rape but maybe things like Marisa, Wendy, and Edward and me breaking away from my friendship group. I told him I would consider it but I just donít know. At least I am able to keep a straight mind in regards to the things happening in my life.

Principal Flutie called Willow and I into his office the other day, shocked to find my grade point average up from a dismal 1.8 to whopping 3.6. He wanted to know what Willow had done to change it so quickly; it jumped that much in under a term. We admitted the truth to him, he seemed to take it fairly well but then he yelled at me for playing dumb. I told him I had learned my lesson and wouldnít be doing it anymore.

Harmony has become Bitch Central; even Cordelia doesnít pick on me as much as Harmony does. I canít figure out why though. She has a better home life than me and she still has all her friends. Maybe sheís just jealous that I have beaten it, beaten the odds that were piling up against me. Who knows, who caresÖ She may just be jealous that I can always get the last word against her.

As we enter Mr Andersenís exam room, the buzzing feeling drops off and the nerves start building. Willow and I share a quick smile as we start towards our desks. Since we are in alphabetical order, sheís down the back near Percy while Iím in the middle. Iím glad about that, Iíve tried to avoid Percy as much as possible. My only problem now is that Harmony sits right next to me; the curse of J is just before K.

This is going to be all too easy. We only did a bit of American history, easy stuff! I wanted a challenge, and Mr Andersen didnít like it when I asked if we could do another countryís history like maybe Australia or Germany or Poland or something other than American. Willow agreed with me, but no one else did. Damn! In fact this exam is so easy, I finish in just over half the time and Willow beats me by about 10 minutes. I doodle on the exam booklet counting down the days Ďtil Mom was picking me up.

She apparently has some important news to tell me; personally I think she is pregnantÖ I wonder how Dad would take that bit of news? I hope she is, I want a little brother or sister, even if they are only half related to me. I know that Mom and Rhys moved into a new house, sheís now living near Long Beach in a place called Sunset Beach. Sounds pretty cool and there is apparently a marine park or something that I can go to. But I am worried about DadÖ

I look around me and see that the majority of the class is now finished and there is only about 5 minutes left. Good! I am SO bored. Have you ever sat in an exam and just wished it was over but it felt like time was standing still? Thatís what this class feels like.

Finally weíre allowed out of the classroom. I have never seen a class move so quickly. I guess neither History class wants to listen to Mr Andersen any longer. As we walk out I can hear Harmony complaining to Percy and Mitch that it wasnít long enough since she never finished it. Suffer!

*****

I arrive home to find Dad watching the news on TV. On it they are doing a report on a fire in Hemery Highís Gym. They are saying that a girl set it alight; that is ridiculous! Although, as I said earlier when watching my own fire burn, maybe she was stressed and needed a big stress reliever so why not torch the school gym?

Seriously, what is the world coming to when people are constantly disappearing, being killed, or burning down high school buildings? I have no clue, but what a story that would make to your children. ĎHey kids did I tell you about the time I burnt down the gym? But donít you try it just yet, youíre a little young!í

The phone rings, interrupting my thoughts and its Mom telling me that sheís canceling the trip to LA. She and Rhys are apparently going to be in Australia. Fine, thatís the last thing I need at the moment. I hang up the phone while she is in the middle of talking and start crying into my pillow.

But after thinking about it, logically that is, Mom has never had a chance for a holiday with Rhys. They arenít married (although I can see that happening in the near future) so they havenít been on a honeymoon.

I call Mom back to apologize and she tells me that they will only be gone a couple of weeks, I can always come visit them when they get back. Then she sweetens the pot and adds sheíll be bringing me back lots of presents. Just how rich is Rhys?? The good thing is that Mom and I are still talking to each other. I canít go through loosing any more people; it just hurts too much.

*****

The Bronze
Two days before sophomore year begins

One thing I like about the Bronze is the fact that even though you are underage, they still allow you to enter. There is no way that I would have managed to make it through the whole summer break without it. Since Iíve barely seen Willow or Xander. Jesse I have seen a couple of times; he comes with me to see Jasmine and sometimes we go out to the movies or to dinner. But most times we head back to my house and watch videos with Dad. Dad thinks he is my new boyfriend, he doesnít believe us when we both deny it.

Yet, here I am being a loser in the biggest sense of the word, sitting with my glass of Coke and staring off into the distance. Thoughts and memories are flowing through my mind of everything that has happened throughout the year and the challenges that are facing me in the near future.

Abruptly my thoughts change as I see Percy walking into the Bronze, Aura hanging all over him. Cordelia, Harmony, and Mitch are with them. They walk over to the dance floor and start dancing. Percy and Aura are so close you would think they were the same person. All I can think of now is that Percy and Aura are going to need a hotel room soon the way they are going. What the hell does she see in him? Probably the same act I saw, Mr. Kind and Sensitive. My stomach starts clenching and I can feel bile rising up in my throat. Oh Gawd I am going to be sick!

"Are you ok, Miss?" I spin around and stare into the eyes of the most gorgeous guy ever! He was at least a foot taller than me (but isnít *everyone*?), beautiful brown, spiky hair and brown eyes to match. His expression is one of concern.

"Yeah, itís just Iím feeling a little queasy. Iím fine, really." I have no idea who this gorgeous hunk is, but Iím getting a bad vibe off him, like something isnít quite right.

"You sure? I can drive you home if you wantÖ" Right, getting into a car with a stranger? Sure thing, especially in this town. I mean, hell even the people you think you know can turn on you.

"Yeah Iím fine, really," I see Jesse walking in, it figures really since Cordelia is already here. Yep thatís right; Jesse has a crush on Cordelia. I see Jesse spotting me, and he heads over in my direction.

"My boyfriend is here now so everything is good. But thanks for the offer." I turn as I speak so I can say thanks to his face but heís gone. How does he do that?

"Hey Ali, wanna dance?" He smiles at me grabbing at my hand.

"You just want to be near Cordelia!"

"Of course, but at the same time I want to be seen dancing with the gorgeous Alison." I laugh and look at my watch. Oh shit! Iím going to be late out to the car, Dadís out there waiting for me.

"Sorry Jesse, maybe next time. Dadís waiting for me." I kiss his cheek before I grab my coat and run towards the exit.

*****

Sunnydale High School
Sophomore Year

First day of school, the sun is shining, the birds are singing, and I feel like shooting myself. Jesse called me last night to let me know that Percy and Aura were in four of my classes. Apparently he overheard Percy and Mitch talking last night about which girls they had and when Mitch mentioned me, Percy laughed and said all was good since I get to watch him and Aura all day.

Yeah, like I want to watch two people going at it, especially the person I hate most in the world. So why do I want to shoot myself then? Iím over it, Iíve moved on with my somewhat pathetic life nowadays. Itís all just water under the bridge now. Iíll figure it out someday; right now I have to find Jesse.

I walk up the stairs and see Jesse talking to Willow and Xander just inside the door. "Hey guys, what are you talking about?" Jesse gives me a hug while Xander and Willow smile at me. Iím getting more comfortable around Xander, which is good considering he is Jesseís best friend.

"Weíve got a new girl starting today," Xander informs me. New girl means a new victim for Percy; I hope she looks out for herself. I wonder which group sheíll head into? Will she a. be a little Miss Popular or b. will she be on the outskirts like the rest of us?

"Cool, where is she from? Anyone know her name?" They shake their heads; I would have thought Willow would have found out by nowÖ she is our resident hacker. Someone transferring here is pretty big news; we donít have many people moving here from out of town. Not that I blame them, considering the weird things that happen here, like all the disappearances and deaths.

Not long after that we head off to our different classes, Jesse and I are in Chemistry together which is good. Iíve already got my lab partner for the year and Jesse loves it because I already know what we have to do. Itís not like this isnít covered in the books I have at home. He thinks he may actually end up with a B this year for Chem., not his usual C-.

The teacher drones on and on about what will be covered in the class. Heís even more of a monotone than Mr Andersen! I didnít think that was even remotely possible, but the evidence supporting that theory is in front of me. I hide a yawn and Jesse snickers next to me before his eyes glaze over again.

The bell rings and we almost run out the door. I head off one way and Jesse the other; I forgot one of my books in my locker. On the way down the hall I stop to get a drink.

"How was Chemistry?" Willowís voices floats over the trickle of water. I finish my mouthful and wipe my face.

"Boring! You think Mr Andersen is bad, wait for this class. Anyway, I better rush or Iím going to be late. See you at lunch?" I start down the hallway after Willow nods her head.

*****

Willow and I grab a seat in front of a wall. I am really beginning to like Willow. Itís nice to meet someone who is so smart but still as caring as her. We talk about Chemistry, as Willow had to suffer through the class after mine. Both of us think that it will be a waste of our time, but we have no choice in the matter.

"Oh, have you met the new librarian? Heís got some of the best new books," Willow asks. I hadnít but that sounds good. I really need a few new books to read, and if Willow is recommending them, they will be my standard of reading.

"No I havenít, is he nice?"

"He sounds so cool, British accent and everything. He used to work in a museum too."

"Iíll check it out now, I need some new books to read." I head off towards the library, passing a new face on the way. Is she the new sophomore everyone has been talking about or is she just a freshman? Donít know; donít care at this moment in time, maybe Iíll look into it laterÖ

*****

Sunnydale High School
Next day

I walk into the school looking around for Jesse and I canít see him anywhere. This doesnít usually bother me, but I have been having a strange feeling ever since I talked to the guy in the Bronze. Somethingís not quite right about this town, and I mean past the disappearances and deaths. Actually, maybe itís not past that. Not many people seem to remember that we seem to have a pathetically high death rate in this town.

I decided to skip Chem. today; I so donít want to be stuck in that hellhole. I sit down under a tree near the side gate and pull out one of the books I borrowed from the library, The Golden Bough by Sir James Frazer. It sounded interesting and it is more a study than a book per se. Itís talking about all kinds of things, like at the moment I am reading about Artemis and Hippolytus. I have no idea why our library would stock such a text, I donít even think I was supposed to have been able to borrow it, but the librarian looked like he had other things on his mind.

I can hear a murmur and notice Principal Flutie talking to the girl I passed yesterday. Sheís rather pretty, blonde and fairly close to my height too. I canít quite hear what they are talking about but I think that she may want out of the school grounds, Ďcause I can see Principal Flutie shutting the gate. They talk a little more before Principal Flutie walks off. I notice the new girl looking around and so I pretend not to be paying attention before my jaw drops. She just jumped the fence! How the Hell did she do that?

I run back into the hallway, I really need to talk to Jesse now. I can see Willow and Xander walking further down the hallway. I run down there to ask them if they have seen Jesse, but when I get close enough to hear what they are saying I wish I hadnít. They are having a conversation with vampires in it. Oh my Gawd, they must be on drugs! I stand there in shock as they keep walking.

*****

The Bronze
Later that night

I walk in and can see Jesse watching Cordelia, I approach him and he doesnít even react.

"Jesse?" With that he walks off. What is going on here? Jesse never has ignored me before. My eyes follow him as he stalks Cordelia. I donít think this could actually be Jesse, could it? He is acting so weird!

I watch as he walks up to Cordelia. Sheís walking off the dance floor and at first she doesnít see him. Jesse just stands there until she finally notices him, then he takes her hand and takes her back on to the dance floor. Ballad For Dead Friends starts up. THATíS a good song for this moment in time. Jesse is about to get himself killed for the way heís treating Cordelia. Can someone have taken his face? I know that sounds ridiculous but the way he is acting is so not him!

Suddenly screams penetrate the dark room as a massively large "human" gets up on stage. He canít be human; the brow is far too ridged to be human.

"Ladies and Gentlemen! There is no cause for alarm. Actually, there is cause for alarm. It just wonít do any good."

Who is this freak? Cause for alarm? Oh great, Jarman, youíre going into panic mood. Why is it whenever I panic I start talking about myself in the third person? I look towards Jesse and Cordelia and I canít believe my eyes, Jesseís face is similar to the freak on stage. This is not happening, this is not happeningÖ how can this be happening? Whatís happened to Jesse?!?

"This is a glorious night! It is also the last one any of you shall ever see. Bring me the first."

Last night weíll ever see? I donít think so buster! Not if Alison Madelyn Jarman has anything to say in the matterÖ but I donít have anything to say. Hey, I'm new to this whole witty one-liner hero thing! What do you expect? Anyways who would actually listen to a pipsqueak? Not me, and I am said pipsqueak!

"Watch me, people. Fear is like an elixir. It's almost like blood."

I watch with morbid fascination as the freak starts to bite the doormanís neck. Is he drinking his blood? That is so gross! Hasnít he ever heard of AIDS or HIV? The doorman screams, yeah like thatís going to do you any good buster! Although at this stage I might recommend wetting your pants and passing out.

The freak is no longer biting the doorman; heís moved onto a girl. I think I recognize her, I think sheís a student at Sunnydale HighÖ great more deaths for our school. Guinness Book of Records should be watching our school! Does this mean that I will really be dying tonight? Whoís going to be looking after Dad when I go?

I hear a squabble near where Jesse is, a freakish looking female is trying to grab Cordelia and Jesse doesnít seem to want to let go. Finally the female manages to pull Cordelia away and Jesse looks confused. Okay, I am going to take a stand here and say this is not good!

The female has taken Cordelia up to the freak on stage and Cordelia starts screaming. I think I would be too if I was up there. The freak is touching her face, itís almost like heís caressing her. He leans down to bite her when all of a sudden something comes flying down in front of me. Iím frozen to the spot where I stand; I canít move. The freak on stage stops what he was doing and looks up.

"Oh, Iím sorry, were you in the middle of something."

"You!"

"You didnít really think I would miss this. Did you?"

"I hoped youíd come."

"Be right down." Who the Hell is the freak talking to?

I suddenly get the answer as the girl lands on the pool table. Itís the same girl who jumped over the fence at school. She does a flip and grabs a pool cue as she goes. I should have guessed that one, beautiful and athletic. But whatís with the cue? I donít think it is going to be much use to anyone.

But I have to swallow that statement a second later, as I see her thrust the cue into an attacker. OW! That would have toÖ oh my Gawd! Did he just turn into dust? What the freakiní Hell is going on here? Where did he go? Are my eyes playing tricks on me?

"Okay, Vessel boy. You want blood?" the girl asks as she removes her jacket. Blood? Okay, I think I just might be losing my mind here.

"I want yours! Only yours!" Cordelia is flung aside. That must have hurt and insulted her at the same time. Miss I Am Better Than Everyone got rejected over a newie!

"Works for me."

Ok, this newie would have to be either a gymnast or a cheerleader. Who else would be able to do the flips she does? And what a kick she has too!! The freak actually staggered back into the chairs at the back of the stage. They keep trading blows at each other, until the girl is thrown into a pile of boxes.

I can see Xander moving into the fray or rather being forced by the thing on his back. Now that is just gross, using a cymbal to decapitate someone is sickening! Xander keeps going; in his hand is a stick. Okay, okay, I think I have worked this all out. This is a realistic play that is being put on. Man the special effects team must be working over time!

I see people being herded over to an exit. The Librarian and Willow are there ushering people out. The female who grabbed Cordelia earlier jumps from above onto the Librarianís back forcing him to the ground. I watch as Willow throws what looks to be water over the girl and her face literally steams. With that she runs out the door. Iíve never seen someone allergic to water beforeÖ hmmmÖ

I turn back to see if I can find Jesse again. Heís still with Xander and Xander looks to be threatening him. Why would you threaten your best friend? I have no idea! Someone bumps into Xander and I watch as Jesse turns to dust. Jesse is dust? Oh man! This is too much, now Iíve lost him too. But the fear factorís in control right now; I know Iíll cry when I have time and what I just saw catches up to meÖ

From the looks of Xander, he knew what would happen. And if Xander knew, then Willow did. They knew what happened to Jesse and didnít tell me. How dare they not tell me what happened to Jesse! How can I ever trust them again? I canít believe they betrayed me!

"Sunrise!" The word draws me out of my vengeful thinking and I turn back to the girl facing the large freak. I see her throw a microphone stand into the window behind him. The large freak reacts to the light coming in through the window but when he figures out that it wasnít what he was afraid of, the girl stabs him in the back. Funny, I feel the same way about Xander and Willow.

I run out of the Bronze before the others can realize I am still there. Iím crying and part way down the alley I bump into the gorgeous stranger from the week before. He turns to look at me and a smile of remembrance crosses his face.

"You seem to have a lot of bad luck in there," he says. I nod and start walking off. I donít trust this guy, even though he is gorgeous.

"Hey!" I stop and look at him, instincts coming into play as I catch what he throws my way. He keeps talking, "Be careful out there. Keep safe." I look at whatís in my hands and notice itís a wooden stick with one end sharpened. I look back up to ask him what itís for when I notice heís gone again. ARGH! How does he keep doing that?

What the Hell is he, a ninja?

*****

Jarman household
Even later that night

I walk up my driveway and notice a strange car parked in the garage. Dad must have visitors. Although that in its own way is strange, we donít get many people coming over to our house anymore. I open my front door and can hear Momís voice.

"Andrew, Rhys and I have decided that since weíve been living together for the last two years that it is time that we take the next step. Weíve been engaged to be married early next year. Isnít that fantastic? AndrewÖ AndrewÖ? Andrew, are you alright?"

I storm into the kitchen and see Dad standing there not moving. Oh man! Not again! I hated the last time this happened. Actually this scene kind of reminds me of when this last happened.

"Ali darling, did you hear the good news?" Rhys asks me. Heís calling me darling? I turn to him, my eyes must have been flashing since he took a step backwards. Funny, that makes me almost smile.

"Alison Jarman! We do not threaten people in this household," Momís voice stops the smile from appearing. This household? What would she know about this household? She left it two, almost three years ago. Thatís it; Iíve had enough crap for one night.

"Mother, I canít believe you. What the hell would you know about this household? You left us; you packed your bags and walked out on us. And do you know what happened when you did? Dad spent two weeks in hospital, hooked up on an IV drip to keep nutrients flowing into his body. Thatís right, you remember yet? Thatís when I spent two weeks at your house with Rhys." Tears are running down my face but I donít care as I draw breath to continue.

"Alison Madelyn Jarman, you do not speak to me in that manner!"

"Well how could you be so cruel? This is petty; letís throw it into Andrewís face just how badly he has lost me to a younger, richer man. I donít care what you say to me at this moment of time. You donít live here anymore; you donít have authority over me while in this household! You have no idea what I have to put up with, not only looking after myself but Dad as well. You have no stinking clue do you?!?"

"But AliÖ" I canít take it anymore, Jesseís no longer alive, Dadís relapsing, and yet Mom wants to continue arguing.

"Mother, you and Rhys get out of OUR home right NOW or you'll NEVER see me again!" She looks at me with shock clearing etched on her face. Serves her right! I have to see if I can reach Dad before its too late but I canít do that with her around. "Now GET OUT!!!"

I motion for them to leave, as they move into the lounge room I march to the front door and open it. I motion with my head for them to go and they seem to take the hint. As they pass me, Mom looks at me, still totally shocked. Once they are out the door I slam it behind them.

"Dad! Dad!" I try to wake him up but I am having no luck. I canít get him to do anything. Itís like having a statue of your father in front of you. So I move onto Plan B.

"9-1-1 Emergency."

"You have to send someone out here. My Dad isnít moving."

"Is he breathing?"

"Yes. But he canít move. I think he is in shock." Duh! Understatement much!

"Heís breathing? Thatís good; Iím going to dispatch an ambulance. Whatís your address?"

"19 Hadley St., itís near Revello."

"Did you see what happened?"

"I came in towards the end of it. He has a history of ĎAtypical Depressioní."

"Do you know if he is on any medication? If so do you know he is on?"

"Heís on Fluoxetine at the moment. I can hear the ambulance, I better turn on the front light so they can find us." I hang up on her before I remember that I should have thanked her. Hey! Iím under a lot of stress here.

I switch on the front light and open the door. Mom and Rhys have taken my suggestion and left. Those two make me so angry!

I watch the paramedics get out of the ambulance and jog up the driveway. I lead them into the kitchen to where Dad is still standing, totally zoned out. Then I step back and let them work. I answer their questions as best as I can.

I walk behind them and lock up as they struggle to get Dad into the ambulance. I hop into the front seat and watch the world pass by as we head towards the hospital. I barely notice the scenery as my mind whirls over the new worst night of my life.

*****

Sunnydale High School
Next day

"Principal Flutie, Iím grateful that you are allowing me to have this talk with you," I say as I sit down in front of his desk.

"Now Alison, I donít have much time but what can I help you with?" I brace myself, knowing he would so not like the next thing I say.

"Iím going to drop out of school." Yep I was right, his jaw has just hit the desk.

"Youíre going to drop out? Why?"

"Dad had a relapse last night, but heís been released already. I need to stay at home to look after him. Weíve organized a nurse to come in and help out in the mornings but we canít afford one for the full day."

"Alison, although I am not happy with your decision I do understand why you made it. Now, why donít we work out a way that you can still have an education while taking care of your Dad?" A way for both? Is there such a thing? I look up at him hopefully.

"How long is the nurse at your house every morning?" I think about it quickly, trying to remember what Dadís nurse had said to me.

"From 8:45 til about 12:45, everyday. Why?"

"Now, from the looks of things, you are willing to leave your father alone with the nurse?"

"I guess I am, yeah. I had to today because I needed to tell you this in person."

"Then that settles it." Huh? What settles what? What the hell is he talking about?

"Excuse me, Principal Flutie?"

"Youíll attend classes in the morning; then at 12:15 you go home to take over caring for your father. Then next year, you can catch up the classes that you didnít finish this year. The way your grades are at the moment I think you can handle the pressure." This sounds promising! I like this idea; at least I wonít be completely bored all day.

"So, Chemistry, Biology, Math and History all have morning classes. But what about their afternoon classes?" Yes! I am out of Gym and unfortunately Computers.

"Iíll talk with the teachers so that they make sure that any tests or practicals that they have will be in the morning classes, and that they are prepared to give you the work for the afternoon classes to you. Iím sure you can work on them at home?"

"Thank you Principal Flutie! I have to go home now but from tomorrow onwards Iíll do that."

"Goodbye Alison." I run out the door and jog all the way home.

As soon as I reach my house I call Jasmine. I really need someone to talk to now that Jesse isnít around. I agree to see her at 4 PM but this time sheís coming over to my house. In the meantime I think about what happened last night.

The big freak on the stage was drinking blood, as if he lived on it. He was killed by a wooden stick in his backÖ right where his heart would have been. Thatís how Xander killed Jesse too. Before both of them turned to dust.

BloodÖ wooden sticksÖ heartÖ dustÖ

I jump up and run upstairs to my room. Switching on my computer, I quickly log onto the Internet. Running a quick search on those words I find the answer I was dreading.

Vampires.

Wasnít that what Willow and Xander were talking about the other day? And in the library there was a whole heap of books on Vampires and one titled, Vampyr. Also that strange guy gave me a wooden stick and told me to be careful.

Suddenly it was all coming together. The deaths and disappearances always happened around here at night. It also explains how someone could be dead and turn up the next night.

Oh my Gawd! What is wrong with this town?!?

I start printing out everything I can find on vampires, not caring whether someone claimed it as fact or fiction. While thatís happening I decide to jog to the library to see if I could find some more books on vampires or any mythological beings. Hey if vampires are real, why canít demons or the boogeyman be real?

Iím going to be in for a long night aheadÖ

*****

Sunnydale High School
Few weeks later

I slowly walk behind the new girl, who I found out is named Buffy Summers. Sheís with Willow and Xander; I still havenít forgiven those two for not telling me about Jesse. Iím close enough to listen in on them. Iíve found out that listening into the conversations about whatís happening around me is a GREAT way to find out information. Hey, it works on two levels; one, Iím short so most people ignore me. Two, I was the Gossip Queen at one time, no matter what Cordelia or Harmony would say. Iím the snoop to end all snoops.

"Well, did Owen say anything about me on the way home?" Owen? Buffy likes Owen? Why didnít I see that one coming?

"Oh, you mean specifically about you?" Trust Willow to dodge the outskirts of the question, that is when she doesnít really want to answer it.

"Or generally... i-in the area, in the ballpark, any sort of indication?" Wow! Buffy must really like him if sheís stuttering.

They round the corner and start down the stairs. Iím about three steps behind, pretending like I am not paying any attention to whatís happening in front of me.

"Well, in that case, no." Xander sounds a little jealousÖ I think someone has a crush on BuffyÖ

"But he was pretty incoherent, so we might've missed it." Yep, good olí Willow, softening the blow.

"You think?"

"No."

"I knew it. I totally blew it last night!" This is BORING! I wanted them to talk about vampires not Buffyís date!

"No, see, what you need is a guy who already knows your deepest, darkest, secrets and still says, 'Hey! I like that girl!' Someone like..." Ok, Xander is getting the hint, deep, dark secretsÖ they sound interesting.

" Owen!" I look around and surely enough, Owen is approaching Buffy. Yawn factor coming up.

"Well, heh... This is our stop," Willow says as she walks around Buffy and drags Xander away with her. I almost start to leave as well, but I decide to stick around for a little longer.

"Hi."

"Hi. This is going well." Yep I should have left earlier, but for some reason Iím still not moving. Well, thatís a lieÖ I am moving, to sit down on the steps, nothing more. Well, except for pulling out a book to hide my interest in the conversation between Buffy and the object of her dreams.

"I don't really know how to say this, but... about last night..."

"You don't even have to. I'm sure you were pretty freaked out." Freaked out? Ok, what happened last night to freak out Owen? Tell me, come on I am dying to know here!

"Totally. And... I was wondering when I could see you again." NO! Owen you are supposed to say, "What happened," not ask her out on another date. Who the Hell is trying to ruin my day?

"Um, that was my hopeful ear. Could you repeat that?"

"I think you're the coolest!"

"Really?" Okay, enough of the sickening talk, I feel like gagging! Hack, choke!!!

"I mean, last night was incredible! I never thought nearly getting killed would make me feel so... alive!" Owen was almost killed? This is getting more promisingÖ what happened? Vampires? Demons? Come onÖ someone say what almost killed himÖ okay, maybe I shouldnít be rooting for someone to almost kill him, huh? Excuse me for this being what passes for my life!

"So that's why you wanna be with me."

"Oh, absolutely! When can we do something like that again?" The voices are fading slightly and I look up to notice that they are walking away. I quickly follow them.

"Something like..."

"Like, walk downtown at three in the morning, a-and pick a fight in a bar. How about tonight?" Is that all? Man, Owen you have to work with me here, say raid a vamp nest.

"Tonight would... be... not a workable thing. Did I just say that?" They stop and I almost run into the back of them. Good going there, undercover girl!

"Tomorrow, then. I-I'm free any night this week." Hmmm, desperate much?

"I'm not. Please don't take this personally. It's not you, it's me." Ow! Hit him with the oldest break up line in the book. Good going BuffyÖ

"Right. It's you."

"And I was kinda hoping that... maybe you and I could still be..." Oh no, donít say that line. Please, Buffy not that lineÖ

"I, I get it. You just wanna be friends." Ok, so maybe she didnít actually say it but itís bad enough.

"That'd be nice."

"Friends. Yeah. Great." I watch Owen leave and I feel almost sorry for him. Oh well, crap happens!

"Yeah. Great."

I see Mr. Giles approaching. He comes up behind her and together they watch Owen walking in the distance. Finally Buffy and Giles sit down on a bench. I, of course, have to listen in again. When Mr. Giles is around, the talks get more and more interesting. I think it was a good idea me hanging around during all that. What does it say when Iím getting used to that British accent? Well, could be worse; heís not using a Crocodile Dundee Australian voice.

"I was ten years old when my father told me I was destined to be a Watcher. He was one, and his, uh, mother before him, and I was to be next." A Watcher? Huh? Buffy looks like she understands what he is talking about.

"Were you thrilled beyond all measure?

"No, I had very definite plans about my future. I was going to be a fighter pilot. Or possibly a grocer. Well, uh... My father gave me a very tiresome speech about, uh, responsibility and sacrifice." A grocer? Out of everything you can make of your life, you were going to choose to be a grocerÖ man that is LAME! Although the idea of Mr. GILES in a Top Gun flight suit makes me giggle.

"Sacrifice, huh?"

"Seems like a nice lad."

"Yeah. But he wants to be danger man. You, Xander, Willow, you guys... you guys know the score, you're careful. Two days in my world and Owen really would get himself killed. Or I'd get him killed. Or someone else." Danger man, yeah itís always the quiet ones you have to watch out for. Oh Gawd! Does that mean that I want to be danger man? Wait, no, Danger Girl. Hardly! I just want to know what is happening in this town and how to stop itÖ

"I, I went to the funeral home of my own free will." Funeral home? And?!?

"And I should've been there."

"Buffy..."

"I blew it!"

"I have volumes of lore, of prophecies, of predictions. But I don't have an instruction manual. We feel our way as we go along. And, I must say, as a Slayer, you're, you're doing... pretty well." Ok, two new names to look upÖ Slayer and WatcherÖ at least theyíre out in the daylight so I know that they arenít vampires.

"Well. At least I did stop that prophecy thing from coming true."

"You did! Handily. No more Anointed One. And I would imagine the Master, wherever he is, is having a fairly bad day himself."

As I hear Buffy laughing, I walk off planning what I am going to do when I get home. Hopefully Dad will be tucked up safely in bed and I can do some research without him hovering over me. I might not be Hacker Girl like Willow, but I can surf with the best of themÖ

*****

Jarman household
That afternoon

I did my research on Slayers and Watchers and it helped me realize something. No matter what shit has happened in my life, Buffy Summers is going to have one hell of a hard time. Iíve only got to look out for Dad and myself but she has to continuously save the world with no one except Mr Giles for help. Well, maybe she has Xander and Willow helping, I donít know. Makes me wonder what Iíd be doing if I wasnít still crying about JesseÖ Yeah, I can hold a grudge. Never said I was perfect.

At least I can make it so there is one less person to watch out forÖ I know the dangers and I know what goes bump in the night. I switch off my computer and pull out the stake the stranger gave me. I look at it for a little while before I place it in my bag. HmmmÖ Iím getting an idea here. Since vamps hate crosses and holy water, whatíd happen if I had a priest say "Amen" on my stake?

Well, thereís that old Catholic guy at one church that might help. I think heís Swedish or somethingÖ hey, Iíll take any advantage I can get. After allÖ

Pepper spray is going to be so passť!

*****

Authorís Note: During this story I have made mention of two different organizations which help deal in the aftermath of rape. Each organization offers Hotlines to call and provide free counselling and advice.

For more information on Rape Assistance and Awareness Program (RAAP), which is based in Denver, can be found at their website http://www.raap.org/

To contact RAAP:
24-Hour Hotline: 303-322-7273

Or for more information on the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) can be found at their website http://www.rainn.org/

To contact RAINN:
24-Hour Hotline: +1-800-656-HOPE

For immediate help in a crisis, they recommend dialling "1"at the voice menu.
RAINN also has some useful information on three important questions, included below.

What should I do if I am sexually assaulted?

How can I help a friend who has been sexually assaulted?

What can I do to reduce my risk of sexual assault?

Thank you for your time.

The End

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