the pearl

It Started

It started with Jesse.

No, wait, that's wrong. Because it can't start with Jesse because Jesse wasn't always there. Jesse moved to Sunnydale when he was 4, and Xander was already there and Willow was already there and then Jesse was there. And they were told to not go outside at night because of Bad Men and they were told to not wander off because of Bad Men and it seemed like there were Bad Men everywhere.

But there weren't really any Bad Men. Not until they were older.

It started with Jesse but it couldn't've started with Jesse because They were already there. So you have to go back even earlier, back to before the Rosenbergs and the Harrises moved in, back before World War II made Sunnydale a factory suburb, back before the big earthquake in the 30s that sucked in whole churches, back before Sunnydale was even a town, just a place filled with mysteries and curses. There were things in the darkness and things in the shadow and there were even things in the light that could take you and hurt you because they were Bad Men.

But they weren't men at all.

It started with Jesse but it really started with Darla. And since Darla really started with The Master and The Master started with whomever sired him, it can't have started with Jesse. But it started with Darla, because Darla was the one who found Jesse walking home from the Bronze one day, back when the Bronze was just a place for teenagers to hang out and Willow and Xander and Jesse were so happy they were finally old enough to stay out after dark and so happy that there weren't any actual Bad Men that they laughed and danced and drank too much coffee and soda.

Xander and Jesse and Willow followed Cordelia to her home in the rich part of town, then Xander and Jesse walked Willow home to her home in the nice part of town, then Xander and Jesse walked to Xander's home in the not-so-nice part of town, then Jesse walked home to his home in the even-less-nice part of town, and that's when Darla found him. And killed him. And turned him. Because he had pretty eyes and prettier hair and reminded her of another foolish young boy she had fallen in love with.

So it started with Jesse. It started with Darla, but when Jesse was found dead in the alley, and Xander and Willow cried for hours in each other's arms and attended the funeral holding hands tightly, it started with Jesse, because, before then, it had been hookers and vagrants and other low-lifes that showed up on the coroner's slab with neck wounds. And Jesse was the first student and Jesse was the first "normal" person and it started with Jesse because he was the one who woke up a night later and clawed his way out of his coffin.

And Jesse, being Jesse, ignored everything Darla told him, despite Darla's creamy soft skin and softer moans. He ignored Darla, ignored her warnings about retreading the past, and stalked Cordelia for over a week, peeking into her bedroom, watching her shop, smiling as she lived with the thrum thrum thrum of her pulse in her neck.

It started with Jesse because he realized it wasn't as much fun without Xander. Without Xander and Willow standing next to him and making comments, watching Cordelia was no longer fun. Without Xander and Willow drinking coffee and dancing, going to the Bronze was no longer fun. He saw them crying and hugging and turning pale and solemn without him, and it realized that he missed them.

Every day after school, Xander would walk Willow home and spend his evening in Willow's room, doing their homework, eating their dinner, watching TV and talking and trying to pretend that everything was okay. He'd stay as long as he could, then he'd walk home, through dark roads and darker alleys, until he reached his run-down house with his run-down family and his run-down room. And he'd close his eyes and he'd try to sleep until it was morning and it started all over again.

It started with Jesse because it was Jesse who was standing in that alleyway one night when Xander was walking home. It started with Jesse because it was Jesse who Xander cried the most over and it was Jesse who took Xander in his arms and it was Jesse who gave Xander his first kiss and then his first death. And it hurt — of course it hurt — but Xander was so happy that he didn't even notice the pain.

And when Xander woke up two days later and climbed his way up, with Jesse's hands helping him up while Darla rolled her eyes, he grinned and changed and kissed Jesse over and over, laughing as he held Jesse in his arms.

And Darla rolled her eyes again, because Darla was too jaded for the quick and dirty fuckings of two barely teenage boys who would now live forever, and she went back to the Master, preparing his Ascension with the grace and humility that only came after years of torture and patience. The Harvest fell upon the town of Sunnydale on the night Xander rose, and as Luke was marked, Jesse and Xander were watching Willow, alone and quiet in her corner of the world, pale skin and red hair and tear-streaked cheeks.

And when they knocked on her bedroom window, mirror twins in black leather and mirror razor smiles on their faces, she cried. She burst into tears and she opened her window and she cried even louder when they wrapped their cold arms around her. She was hot and she was living and the thrum thrum thrum of her pulse echoed in their teeth as they both bit down.

She cried. She screamed. She flailed against them with her tiny fists, the faint green tracery of veins under her pale skin fading even more as she grew paler and paler, as her chest heaved in a final gasp, as they licked their lips and kissed each other violently and bit each other's lips before kissing Willow and making her drink both of their blood.

They laid her on her bed, like Snow White with Rose Red's hair, and, happily, ecstatically, patiently waited. Her eyes opened, her face changed, and they were together again.

It started with Jesse, but it ended with Willow. And when they went downstairs, the three rejoined, they knew nothing could stop them now.

This Angel/Buffy the Vampire Slayer story was written by Kate Bolin. If you liked it, there's plenty more at And you can feedback her at