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Title: In This Life or the Next
Author: jedibuttercup
Disclaimer: The words are mine; the worlds are not
Rating: T; het
Prompt/Prompter: xgirl2222, who asked for: "B:tVS/Dracula Untold. Buffy starts having dreams of one of her past lives where she was a lost potential named Mirena. When the "real" Dracula shows up, suddenly all those vampire boyfriends start to make a great deal of sense."
Spoilers: B:tVS post-"Chosen"; post-movie; modern setting
Notes: Borrows heavily from the plot of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer movie, because it made the pieces fit so neatly. More setup than fulfillment, alas? Also, according to the Internet, 'balaur' is another Romanian word for Dragon.

Summary: It had been years since Buffy had dreamed regularly of her past lives. Most days, she forgot she'd ever been anyone else at all. 1600 words.

It had been years since Buffy had dreamed regularly of her past lives. Most days, she forgot she'd ever been anyone else at all, much less centuries' worth of Slayers who'd fought, died, and been reborn to walk the night again. The memories just weren't relevant to her everyday life, and the twenty-first century was so different from all the others that she rarely tripped over a trigger strong enough to stir them up again.

Lothos had probably been to blame for the early ones, anyway. Her first Watcher, Merrick, had made it sound almost like there was only ever one Slayer, one guy who looked out for her, and one master vampire who'd haunted them all; and she'd almost believed it for a while, dreaming of girl after girl who'd all met their ends at Lothos' fangs. Time, another Watcher, and a houseful of Potential Slayers had taught her that there wasn't so much literally one Slayer 'in every generation', but a bunch of them eternally passing the torch, like some kind of Olympic flame relay with crosses and pointy teeth. Lothos had still been a milestone for her, though: the first archenemy she'd ever killed.

He'd been very, very dead for the better part of a decade, now. But the dreams were becoming annoyingly persistent again anyway, startling her awake several nights in a row. This time, they were mostly of one particular past Slayer's life-- or maybe just a Potential who'd lucked out of being Chosen for once? She hadn't quite figured out what was special about Mirena yet, other than the fact that she'd rocked the domestic happiness Buffy had always felt like she was missing; she'd woken with her hand curved over her stomach a few times, feeling an aching sense of loss, and she had vivid tactile memories of rubbing her palms over the warm, scarred back of a man sharing her bath. Smooth, soft hands, unused to holding any kind of a weapon, unlike those of the lean, muscular, overwhelmingly intense being who must have been her husband.

Buffy shivered at that thought, rubbing her left thumb over her naked ring finger. Husband. Taller than her; darker haired; leanly built. Strong. High cheekbones and a lickable jaw-- though she only seemed to see him in bits and pieces; she couldn't quite picture his face. It was almost as though he'd been assembled out of the key features of all the boyfriends she'd had since Hemery. Or, and this seemed ironically likely given the way her life tended to go, quite possibly the reverse? Now there was a thought to legitimately keep her up at night.

Something had to be triggering the dreams, though. She'd been living with her instincts long enough to trust them by now, even when she didn't understand or didn't like what they were telling her. But there were so many new things in her life lately-- new city, new home, taking classes again, sister away at Oxford, a team of former Potentials Slaying with her rather than the Scoobies, Giles back in Jolly Old doing important Council-rebuilding things while keeping an eye on Dawn for her-- she was having a hard time narrowing it down.

Buffy thought she could rule out crossing paths with another Slayer from that particular life, at least. It would have stood out, given that... given that... well, she wasn't exactly sure why, but there'd been something spooky about that life even if she hadn't wielded a stake then, and she knew she would have noticed another woman doing something about it. So it probably wasn't one of the ex-Potentials, reborn along with her. Familiar architecture, maybe? But that didn't feel right either; there was a distinctly castle-y feel to the glimpses that stuck with her after she woke, heavy stone and torches in sconces and tapestries and oooh, a heavy red jacket with gold embroidery... no, that was his, not hers. Long, long blonde hair, flowing down over the fur collar of a cape, trapped by an ornate circlet around her brow; whoever she'd been, she hadn't been poor.

I knew what happens to the sons of the queen....

Buffy blinked, and shook off the waking flashback as she strolled to her next class at the University of Cleveland. "Okay, this is starting to get really creeptastic," she muttered, glancing over her shoulder to see if anyone was following her. Maybe she'd better try to think of something else for a while.

She didn't see anyone; it was an overcast day, the colors around her grayed out even more than the usual faded palette of late fall. She shivered again as a chill washed over her, standing the fine hairs on her arms on end, and picked up her pace a little. Maybe it was just the section on dream interpretation they were going over in her psychology class, stirring things up? And the regular Slayer dreams slash omens had been taking a break lately; maybe her subconscious was just kicking up dust without anything better to fixate on?

Yeah, and maybe Buffy was still trapped in a padded cell somewhere, and everything she remembered since meeting Merrick was the dream. Both probably had about an equal chance of being true.

A wry, bitter smile tugged at one corner of her mouth, and she resettled her schoolbag over her shoulder. Maybe it was time to make a few calls; a lot of the Watchers' diaries had burned up when the Bringers had destroyed their headquarters, but someone somewhere might recognize the Potential's description.

Decision made, she skipped up the steps of the big brick building that was her destination... then paused, surprised out of her musings as an arm reached past her to grab the door. Dark leather jacket, surprisingly large hand; Buffy blinked, half-turning to get a look at the man who'd somehow managed to come up behind her without tripping her Slayer hearing.

It was that visiting history professor, the guy who did evening classes about the Ottoman Empire. One of the other Slayers was taking it as an elective, and Buffy had picked her up for patrol afterward a few times. He had dark, piercing eyes, dark hair just long enough to curl behind his ears, and barely enough scruff above his mouth to suggest a mustache without threatening lip ferret territory. It was weirdly sexy... but something about him made her feel like she was short of breath every time she saw him, and not necessarily in a good way. She had yet to figure out whether that meant she wanted to invite him to dinner or Slay him; it was a thing.

"Mr. Bălaur," she blurted as he pulled the door open for her.

"Ms. Summers," he nodded, eyes dipping to the new necklace highlighted by the deep vee of her blouse. She'd picked up the Transylvanian cross at a street fair; it was made of some dark metal, not the flat smooth silver of the one Angel had given her, but it had made her feel strangely nostalgic when she saw it. "Nice necklace."

"Thank you." She bit her lip, reaching up to lay her fingers over the ornate metal shape, then ducked her head and went inside, dizzied by the intensity of his gaze.

He let the door go, then followed her in... and headed off in the opposite direction of where she was going. The skin on her back prickled until he was out of sight, and she let out a sigh. Maybe the dreams were to distract her from him? Or maybe she was just making drama for herself.

She shook her head, then pushed open the door to her classroom and went inside.

Buffy tossed and turned in her sleep several times that night, and not just from more fragments of Mirena's life. Lothos made an appearance again, too, as though talking to Giles about him that evening had summoned his shade. It was a weird dream, though, not one she'd seen before; she saw the events mostly from a third person perspective, hovering over the sprawled form of yet another dying Slayer while Lothos loomed nearby and undressed her with his eyes. Another master vampire stood behind him, older and unfamiliar to her, with silvering blond hair swept back from a patrician face, pale blue staring eyes and a cruel set to his mouth.

"They say that if the heart is strong enough, the soul is reborn with each new day, in life after life. Age after age," the strange vampire mused. "And they wed with such vows; 'why think separately of this life and the next, when one is born from the last.' He will come for her; he will always come for her. But if you were instead to make her yours...."

Lothos licked his lips then, the creep factor of his lustful gaze increasing ten-fold as he knelt to run a covetous hand over her torso. "He thinks he is the son of the devil, the greatest of all modern vampires? No; no. That role shall be mine." His lips curled in a smirk; then faded again into a frown as he patted her still cheek. "Not in this life, though, I should think."

"No," the second vampire shook his head, as though in regret. "She isn't ready, yet."

"She will be, though," Lothos nodded, then abruptly moved, snapping the girl's neck in a sudden, shocking motion.

Pain flared behind Buffy's eyes like a lightning strike as she woke.

Four final words lingered in her ears.

Let the games begin.



( 7 appreciated — appreciate )
(Deleted comment)
Aug. 5th, 2015 07:10 am (UTC)
:) The movie plays fast and loose with both history and the original story, I'm pretty sure; but then again, its goal was to make the viewer feel sympathetic for Dracula, and it certainly succeeded for me on that score. Not great lit, but fun, with lots of atmospheric details to soothe the fic writer's soul.

Glad you enjoyed the fic!
Aug. 5th, 2015 04:42 am (UTC)
You. Are. KILLING. Me. With. This.
We watched Untold a while back and I think it's my favorite.
Aug. 5th, 2015 07:11 am (UTC)
*grin* It's great B-material, that movie; I enjoyed it about as much as I did "I, Frankenstein". I think the actor choices ended up making both movies work for me, but they ended up being great atmospheric fun.

Glad you liked the story!
Nov. 1st, 2015 11:14 pm (UTC)
So I just got a chance to read this and I just want to know one thing. Why do you hate me?

I mean I had my prompt all picked out for you this year and now I'm torn. This is so good, and yet obviously is the beginning to and epic story that includes Lothos for gods sake. No one includes Lothos in their BTVS fic and as you have shown that is a major failing. So what's a girl to do but tell you how much I love my story although now I'm horribly conflicted. You are evil in only the best way!
Nov. 3rd, 2015 08:41 am (UTC)
:) I wouldn't have minded if you'd asked for more of this; though I'm definitely going to have fun writing more Adventures in Rome for you this year.

I knew when you said Buffy was once Mirena that I was going to have to rewatch the original movie to deal with the reincarnation thing; and then I started wondering how Lothos killing her again and again fit into the same mythology as Dracula being her soulmate. And then the idea was just there. I'm so glad you enjoyed the results! :)
Nov. 24th, 2015 07:54 pm (UTC)
Why did you stop there?!!!???!? WHY????!?!!
Nov. 25th, 2015 02:20 am (UTC)
:) Because it seemed like the perfect pausing place? And I wasn't sure what came next?

(Thank you for fixing the tags, BTW!)

Edited at 2015-11-25 02:20 am (UTC)
( 7 appreciated — appreciate )

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