So, I'm not totally sure the timelines match up, but do you think that Rachel's sisters (especially Sarah who is younger and more naive) could have watched Buffy the Vampire Slayer and decided that Rachel is the Slayer? Goes out at night, all hours, secret boyfriend who only visits her at night, can't tell their single mom, etc.
[First of all: the timelines do actually match up quite well. In #20 there’s a brief mention of David’s dad (of all people) watching Buffy on TV, and although Animorphs started and ended first most of its run overlaps with Buffy. Second, I LOVE this idea so much. Rachel and Buffy are two of the people who were massively influential in teaching me and my friends that it was possible to be girly and tough at the same time. Third… Voila.]
It starts as a way to distract her sisters, on the nights when their mom can’t make it home and their dad is too busy to call—Rachel will put on whichever Buffy episode she’s got saved in the DVR and all three of them will watch it together. However, all three of them fall in love with the show over time, until they’re catching each episode live: Sarah laughs at all the puns and hums along with the theme song while Jordan waxes poetical about how dreamy Spike and Angel are.
Rachel just loves Buffy herself, because there aren’t enough girls on TV that can look that fabulous and kick butt at the same time. It becomes a weekly ritual, one that Rachel sometimes has to miss if Cassie or Jake calls with urgent news, but she’ll put aside anything short of the alien invasion to catch it with her sisters.
Jordan meets Rachel at the door, which is a bad sign because their mom and Sarah are both asleep and Rachel herself went to bed six hours ago. The mission was long, nasty, and exhausting, the way they always are, and Rachel’s too keyed-up from the adrenaline rush to think of a proper excuse for why she’s sneaking in.
She and Jordan stare at each other in silence for a few seconds, Rachel leaning on the door frame, Jordan holding a comic book in both hands as she sits on the end table in the foyer. Jordan becomes the first one to speak. “Sarah and I were talking,” she says. “And I think we figured it out.”
Rachel feels her stomach churn. She’s not as careful with her sisters as her mom. She never has been. “Figured what out?”
“It’s okay.” Jordan clutches her comic book a little more closely, expression solemn. “We won’t tell Mom.”
Rachel crosses her arms. “Won’t tell her what, exactly?”
Jordan thrusts the comic book at Rachel. The cover shows a girl—Buffy Summers, judging by the title—holding a wooden stake in one hand and a sword in the other, her blond hair whirling around her as she thrusts the sword at a spike-covered greyish creature in the corner of the frame.
Rachel takes a step back from the comic, not sure whether to laugh or to cry.
“It explains everything. Where you sneak out to almost every night. Why you’ve got blood under your fingernails half the time when you get home. Why you’ve got a secret boyfriend who only comes out at night—”
“I don’t have a boyfriend,” Rachel says reflexively.
Jordan nods, eyes wide. “Uh-huh. So you definitely weren’t seen by half the school at last week’s dance with a mysterious guy who has blond hair and is never seen around town. You don’t have a boyfriend, even though I’ve heard people talking in your room in the middle of the night. And you always leave your window open, even—especially—when it rains. Almost like you’re waiting for a secret vampire boy—”
Rachel snorts a laugh. “Tobias isn’t a vampire.”
Which has exactly the opposite effect than the one she intended. “Oh my god,” Jordan whispers. “Tobias as in that guy who disappeared last year? Everyone thought he died—” She gasps. “Unless he did die. And now he’s back!”
Much as Rachel wants to laugh and keep laughing until she falls over, she understands that this conversation actually has serious implications. With effort she sobers herself. “Look,” she says at last. “There are things… Things I can’t tell you. You wouldn’t be safe if I did.”
She looks Jordan in the eye. Jordan is taking this conversation seriously—probably more seriously than Rachel herself, for that matter. “I understand,” Jordan says.
“As soon as…” As soon as the war’s over. “As soon as it’s safe. I’ll tell you everything. Right now, there are things I can’t talk to you, or to Mom, about. But someday I will. I promise.” Rachel can’t be more honest than that.
“Okay.” Jordan bites her lip. “I just wanted you to know your secret’s safe with me. And if you ever need help, like, hiding a body…”
Rachel smiles, overwhelmed with fondness. “Thanks.” She yawns. “Now, if it’s all right with you, Dawn…”
Jordan makes a face.
“I’m wiped, so I’m going to bed.” She walks past Jordan and up the stairs to her room.
She turns around. Jordan is standing at the bottom of the stairs, hugging her comic book against her chest with both hands.
“On the show,” she says haltingly. “They say a lot about how slaying’s a dangerous job. About how most slayers don’t live to be twenty.” There’s real fear in her eyes, as she looks up at her sister.
Rachel grins, tossing her hair over her shoulder. “Really, Jordan, you should learn not to believe everything you see on TV. After all, it’s just a show. No vampire’s gonna take me down.”
“You know, my sister thinks you’re William the Bloody.”
«Who’s that, a spokesman for Kotex?»
She doesn’t get much input on the actual headstone; she’s too young for that. She does, however, manage to put in a special request for the plaque on the statue they erect outside of Washington D.C., a proud grizzly bear rearing up to defend the Capitol.
Rachel Daniella Berenson, the plaque reads. She saved the world. A lot.