“Sunnydale?  More like Sunnyhell,” Spike grumbled to himself as he wandered through the town.    Thanks to Dru’s bloody visions, here he was all on his own mooching around the godforsaken dump while his dark princess was laughing it up far away on a different continent.  She’d had one of her ‘special dreams’ one night and the next thing she was packing him off on this fool's errand, totally blanking his protests that it was a hell of a long way to go just to kill one girl.  What was that about?  What the devil did she hope to gain from him being here?  Other than him not being with her, that is.  He was fed up and aching for the sting of her bite but knew from sorry experience that he'd have to at least show willing or it’d be more of the old cold shoulder, or worse, on his return.  Last time he'd pissed her off, she'd taken up with a Krel'guk demon and even moved the ugly bugger into their den.  He’d had to sit there watching her cooing and fussing over the putrid git - and the more he'd complained, the more disgusting displays she'd put on for his benefit.  This time, the demon was at least human shaped and female, and she'd promised him a taste or two if he did as he was told.  But if he didn't, well – he knew what to expect. 

No, he'd not go through that again.  He knew what was good for him.  He'd behave himself, find the girl and kill her.  He'd no idea why Drusilla had got a bee in her bonnet that she wanted this – what’s her name... Buffy Summers dead and buried, but he didn't care anyway.  Wouldn't take but a night's work to see off a little bit of a girl not yet seventeen, then he could head back to Europe, track Dru down and hopefully get his loving reward from her. 

So - where to start looking for a teenager in this bland epitome of small town USA.  Spike spotted a group of girls and followed them down back streets to a doorway where bright lights and noise assaulted his senses.  Surely if she was a normal teenager she'd be in there, rotting her brain with bubblegum music and strobe lights.  Gritting his teeth, he headed into the Bronze. 

+ + + + + 

“Stupid thing!” Buffy muttered under her breath as the pencil she'd sharpened a zillion times snapped again.  She was rushing to finish her homework so that she could head out on patrol.  Why did she have to learn French anyway?  Wasn't like it was ever gonna come in useful… well, not unless she came across a French vampire and needed to pun.  Pfft…like the class would cover handy phrases for that.  Anxiously, she checked the clock on the bedside unit.  10.40 pm already!  She wondered how Xander and Willow had got on at the Bronze.  She'd told them she'd catch them up but hadn't counted on lousy pencils and stupid brain.   

Oh this was too much! Willow would just have to help her.  She'd had enough.  Stashing the books in her school bag and kicking it under the bed, Buffy grabbed a crucifix, a couple of stakes and a bottle of holy water and carefully eased herself out of the window and down to the ground.  She headed towards Restfield Cemetery and wished for some heated vamp activity.  Nothing got her unwound and ready for bed better.  The Bronze would have to wait for another night. 

+ + + + + 

Spike dropped the carcass of his recent kill and kicked it into the shadows.  Seemed like his stay here would be a little longer so he'd have to be extra careful or his leftovers could get him staked.  Rumour was that the newest Slayer was here in Sunnydale and whilst usually he’d be eager to hunt her down and off her, Dru's instructions to find and kill the Summers' girl had been very clear.  Once he was back in Dru's good books perhaps they'd come back together for a visit and have some fun with the slayer.  

Little Miss Summers hadn't shown at the Bronze, but he had overheard some red-haired bint talking to a dozy looking youth about school and he'd been sure she'd mentioned her friend Buffy.  There couldn’t be many of them about.  Whatever had possessed anyone to saddle their offspring with ‘Buffy’?  Poor kid; bet she was taunted something rotten with a name like that, picked on by the others and bullied.  He knew a lot about that.  Spike almost felt sorry for her.  Almost. 

But at least he now had a plan.  He'd stalk her at the school, bound to be some dark corridors he could lurk in while he checked this girl out.  Maybe he'd take her head home for Dru; maybe her heart.  Yeah, that'd be right.  Dru would like that. 

Swigging the bottle of beer he'd stolen from the Bronze, Spike closed his eyes and concentrated.  Shouldn't be too hard to find the school, all he needed do was focus on the scent of frustrated teenage boy and overly made-up girl and he could find the school with his eyes closed.  Once there, he could find somewhere to hole up and when the coast was clear, he’d take a stroll around the nice, shady corridors. 

+ + + + + + + 

Buffy vowed to be careful what she wished for in future.  No sooner had she entered the cemetery than she was pounced on by a trio of vamps hell-bent on bagging themselves the Slayer.  They fought well for fledges; it took her a good three minutes to see them off.  Then ten minutes later two more-- a couple by the looks of them -- they were worthy of her efforts, each of them fighting to protect the other.  Still that did not affect the outcome, they were all dust now.  Four more met the business end of her stake before she called it a night and headed home, sneaking in via the window and slipping on her 'Yummy Sushi' pyjamas before sliding between crisp, cotton sheets.   

/Her footsteps echoed on the stone floor, her long white dress skimming the dirty surface.  Water trickled down the walls to gather in puddles.  She moved forward through the shadowed space, stake gripped and held aloft in her right hand; the skittering of rats nibbled at the edges of her hearing and she shuddered.  She whipped round, startled by a sound behind her - a bone-white face, disfigured from brow to jaw, was inches from her and hissing.  Buffy dropped the stake in alarm, her entire body freezing in fear and her eyes wide.   

She watched in morbid fascination as the grotesque creature reached out a clawed hand and wrapped it around her neck to hold her in place.  Tears beaded at the corners of her eyes, running unheeded down her cheeks as the ghastly mouth opened to reveal sharp fangs that neared her throat./ 

"NO!  NO!" 

In her dream Buffy struggled against the vampire’s grip, her legs tangling in the sheets as she thrashed about on the bed.  She felt herself being shaken and arched her back, fighting to breathe as she clawed at the fingers round her neck, fingers that suddenly vanished as she opened her eyes to see her mom leaning over her. 

"Buffy, it's time to get up for school." 

Buffy leaned up on her elbows, her face puzzled as she shook off the last vestiges of her nightmare. 


"Are you alright?" 

Was she all right?  That was one hell of a vivid dream.  And the ancient vampire again? 

"No.  Uh, yeah!  Yeah!  I'm, I'm fine! Oh...school!  Great!" 

Joyce watched her daughter, bemused, as Buffy sat up then bounced out of bed and over to her closet.   

"You wanna go to school?" 

"Sure!  Why not?" 

Buffy was rifling through drawers and the closet, dragging clothes out to try them against her in front of the mirror.  Joyce shook her head, she'd never understand teenagers.  Did that thought really drop into her head?    She thought on her teenage years and wondered whether her own mom had been so out of touch with what went on inside her daughter’s head.  Yeah, she had. 

Joyce walked over to the window and started opening the blinds, still reeling from the shock of Buffy wanting to go to school.  "Okay.  Good day to buy that lottery ticket.  I spoke with your father." 

Buffy's hand stilled as she reached for a shirt.  Her heart started pounding; every time she had an arranged meet with her dad she was half expecting him not to show.  She harboured a horrible suspicion that if only she'd been a better daughter, a better student, not the Slayer, her dad would still be with them.  Hell, she'd probably still be in LA and things would be a lot different.   

But Merrick would still be dead and Giles would still have come looking for her... 

Joyce watched Buffy as her shoulders slumped, her head bowed.  Her heart ached for her daughter as she realised the uncertainty she was feeling.  She'd tried to make her see that the break-up wasn't her fault but somehow Buffy still blamed herself.  If only she wasn't such a good mom she'd tell Buffy about the secretary.  Tell her how the girl, just out of her teens, had answered the telephone in Hank's hotel room when she’d called him before an important breakfast meeting.  But no - that wasn't the thing to do.  She'd let Buffy find out for herself one day, but it wasn't up to her to shatter her daughter's illusions about her idolised father. 

Without turning round Buffy spoke softly.  "He is coming, right?" 

Joyce could have cried.  Buffy was still her little girl despite the hormonal teenage mood swings and she ached at the doubt in her voice.   

"You're on for this weekend." 

Buffy spun and gifted her mom with a dazzling smile. "Good!" 

+ + + + + + + 

Spike grunted and turned on his side as what sounded, and smelt, like an army of teenagers thundered down the hallway.  He'd located a safe hiding place that afforded him a perfect view of a large intersection of the school yet seemed to be disused if the layers of undisturbed dust was anything to go by.  Cosy little storeroom, all set out with a handy surface to rest on and a heap of dustsheets to cover himself up with.  He'd slept in worse places.  He figured he'd lay low until lunchtime then maybe take a peek and see what he could find.  Maybe snatch some elevenses if the opportunity arose.  He was feeling a mite peckish now that the juicy co-ed's blood from last night had worked its way through his system.  Dreaming of Dru's elegant beauty, he drifted off to sleep. 

Buffy and Willow were walking the halls, Buffy answering Willow's questions about her dad honestly but feeling very uncomfortable.  She didn't really like sharing, but Willow was so earnest and open it was hard not to.  She opened her locker, answering her friend's question about why her parents had split up. 

"I didn't ask.  They just stopped getting along.  I'm sure I was a really big help, as in not - what with all the slaying and everything.  I was in so much trouble.  I was a big mess."  And there it was, all her thoughts and fears out in the open.  Deep down inside she was convinced her dad had left because he couldn't deal with what he’d called her ‘delinquent’ behaviour.  And she didn't blame him.  

"Well, I'm sure that didn't have anything to do with him leaving." 

Buffy hid her head behind the open door of her locker while she composed herself.  

 /Oh, no…nothing to do with it at all.  A daughter who slays vampires in her spare time and comes home covered in goo and blood always makes for happy families./ 

She closed the locker, her eyes pained but hiding them from Willow.  "No." 

"And he still comes down on weekends?" 


Willow seemed satisfied with that and moved on to other topics as they headed off to their first class.  The pair giggled as they walked in, the usual mayhem that accompanied a Sunnydale High class in full flow.  Cordelia was shooing off Wendell, compact mirror in hand, and the whole class was laughing as Willow and Buffy took their seats.  Buffy hissed a "What?" to Xander, who was sitting next door to Wendell and across the aisle from Buffy and Willow. 

"Uh – Wendell was in Cordelia's light." 

Wendell grinned; "I'm so ashamed." 

The giggling and ribbing continued until the class started, Xander begging from Willow details of the homework.  Active listening.  He didn't think it would be too hard, one thing he could do was listen.  Sometimes. 

The class was in full flow, Buffy half-musing on the weekend her dad had planned for her as she messed with her pencil.  It fell to the floor and she leaned down to pick it up, noticing a young boy standing at the doorway.  What was he doing here?  And why did he look so haunted? 

She jumped back up as Wendell screamed, dropping his book.  The students closest to Wendell scattered when they saw the book was covered with tarantulas, the furry creatures crawling all over him.  He carried on yelling.  "Please! Get 'em off of me! Help! Help! Get 'em off of me! Help me! Oh, please help me! PLEASE!" 

The boy at the door spoke softly; the only person hearing him was Buffy. 

"Sorry about that." 

In the corridor, on his trawl for a tasty snack after his rumbling belly had curtailed his nap, Spike chuckled softly to himself.  Well, well, well.  This one-horse town seemed livelier than he'd thought.  Maybe he'd be able to have himself a bit of fun before he headed back home with Buffy Summers' heart in his pocket.   

+ + + + + 

Buffy could have sworn she was being followed again later that night.  She was at the Bronze, as usual, there being no other place to go in Sunnydale.  Time and again she felt a tingle and spun round, but there was nobody there.  If she found out that Angel was stalking her and setting her Spidey-senses tingling she'd – well, she'd pout.  A lot.   

"Buffy?  Is something up?  You seem uber freaked tonight.  Is it the spiders?  I mean, I get that, because they have way too many legs and they come and creep all over you at night.  And the webs?  Don’t even go there.  Sticky.  But you being …" Willow dropped her voice to a stage whisper "…the Slayer...”  She stopped, looked around theatrically to check they weren't overheard. Satisfied, she spoke normally. "I just wondered if you slayed...spiders.  Usually." 

"Will.  What is your deal with the furry little critters? I mean, yeah – yuk, but you're being majorly wiggish about them.  You stand your ground with vampires and demons but little bitty bugs and you're all scaredy girl.  Don't worry; I'll protect you.  I'll just squish ‘em flat." 

"Thanks Buffy.  You're a true friend.  But they're not bugs, not technically.  Wendell was insistent about them not being bugs at all and being of a completely different ...and am I the single dullest person alive.  It doesn't matter – we're here to party!  Put on your boogie shoes and let's shimmy." 

Several sodas later, and a bruised foot thanks to a mistimed Xander sidestep, Buffy made a final sweep of Restfield and headed home.  She'd had the vampire tinglies all night but hadn't managed to identify the source.  Angel was so going to get a whupping when she finally caught up with him.  Not that she was looking for him.  They'd agreed it would be a bad idea to do anything about their feelings for each other, now that she knew he was a vampire and therefore on the list of things she should slay.  If only that made the feelings go away... 

She crept in through her window and dropped the blind, shutting out the night and reverting to dutiful daughter Buffy, having shrugged off her Slayer mantle with her last kill.  Again with the tinglies.  Maybe it was the Slayer version of flu; she'd ask Giles in the morning.  Right now, she had a date with a cool pillow and a dream of a dark-haired brooding vampire.   

Under the tree below her window, Spike lit a cigarette and swore beneath his breath. 

"Bugger me.  Dru wants me to off another Slayer.  Great!  My favourite hobby." 

He'd followed Buffy when she'd left the Bronze, set on a quick kill.  Mission accomplished, he could be on his merry way out of town and back to his princess – god knew how long that was going to take.  But what he saw in the cemetery made him stop in his tracks.  Not only was she obviously not just any girl like he’d thought, but she was bloody good too.  One to dance with... 

He chuckled and sauntered off, back to Willie's Alibi Room to stock up on some O-neg while he planned the Slayer's demise.  

+ + +

Buffy had another restless night, waking the next morning feeling edgy and uneasy.  Her mom noticed her lack of cool as she drove her to school, commenting on the fact that she'd come into her room twice in the night.  Buffy grimaced; she'd had the dream again, the one where her dad left her sitting on a bench somewhere and didn't come to get her.  But she wasn't going to tell her mom that.  So she'd left her with a smile and headed to class. 

It turned out to be a weird day.  First of all she'd met up with Xander and Willow and gone to the library.  Giles was oddly distracted, getting lost in the stacks and being majorly wigged over it.  Buffy decided it was because he was old and losing his memory but it seemed to bother him a lot.  Then Wendell told them that the reason the spiders freaked him was not because he didn't like them at all; he loved them, in fact, and had the same nightmare time after time.  He'd figured he'd just fallen asleep and dreamed of the time that his brother had forgotten to look after his spiders and they'd come to get him in revenge.  Only this time, the spiders were real. 

To add to the weirdometer, Cordelia told her about a test in history class that she didn't even know about, never mind studied for.  She couldn't even find the classroom and had no memory of even going to lessons.  That could have just been the blind panic though because she found herself sitting down and doing the test.  Well, writing her name on the paper at least.  And then there was the weird skipping forward of time thing.   

And the kid!  The same kid she'd seen the day before just as Wendell's spiders made an appearance stood in the doorway, huge eyes staring apologetically at her.  He disappeared before she could speak to him but then in the whole crisis that followed, she forgot all about him. 

 A girl she knew, Laura, was beaten up at school and taken to hospital.  Nobody knew who'd done it and it fell to her as the doyen of all things unusual to look into it.  So she grabbed Giles and headed to the hospital in search of answers. 

Spike emerged from the corner of the basement after the hurt girl had been stretchered out.  What the hell was it with this town?  He’d been having a nose around when she came down for a smoke and some weird ass ugly demon had appeared out of nowhere and laid into her while a pale kid just stood there watching.  And what did "Lucky 19" mean?   

Got to give the butt-ugly demon his due, he'd done a nice number on the girl.  Spike was planning to finish her off once the demon had had his fun but before he could get his fangs anywhere near her, the door at the top of the stairs crashed open and the girl's friend had appeared. Soon, the basement was full of do-gooders and Spike had to stay hidden in a corner and watch his afternoon tea being stretchered out.  And now all that was left was a little stale blood and a dropped packet of cigarettes.  So, not entirely a wasted afternoon then.  He stooped to collect the packet, running his fingers through the blood and licking them clean.  Nice.  Would have made a nice bellyful.  Still, there were lots more happy meals on legs wandering about and it was time to go place his order. 

At least he now had a plan to kill the Slayer.  He could have just grabbed her as she walked the corridors, as he'd seen her cut a couple of classes and go off on her own.  But where was the fun in that?  He wanted to dance with this one; the kills he'd seen her make the night before were pretty impressive and he was a master vampire with a reputation to keep up.  There weren't many who'd seen off one Slayer, never mind three – in fact, he could be the first one to do so – it’d be the stuff of legends.  He’d toy with her until she begged him to end her, he’d make it all bloody and painful, rip her heart out while it still beat.  Dru would be putty in his hands after hearing about that lot. 

He needed a place to keep her when he got his hands on her.  So, tonight he'd scope out the territory and find himself a nice, soundproof, sunproof crypt and get it set up for his games.  Come the weekend, the Slayer would just be a corpse with a gaping hole in her chest and he'd be heading back to his dark beauty with her heart cooling in a jar. 

With that happy thought, he lit one of his stolen cigarettes and bounced up the stairs.  There might be something munchable in the locker room to take the edge off his hunger while he waited for school to be out and night to fall. 

+ + + + + 

Things got even weirder at the hospital.  Laura couldn't really tell them why she'd been attacked or by who, or as it turned out, what.  And apparently she wasn’t the first; there was a victim number one still in a coma a week after a brutal attack. 

Buffy was pissed.  A demon had dared to come to her town and beat up kids.  It'd come to the wrong town. 

She barely said two words to Giles on the way back to school, leaving him to go to the library and look for news on the first attack while she checked out the basement for clues.  Nothing much; a pool of blood, some cigarette stubs, a footprint.  Hmmm, seemed fresh and not Laura's.  Still, there'd been a horde of people down there and maybe one of the medics had left the print of what looked like a boot. Didn't matter anyway, why was she being all Nancy Drew?  It was a demon she was after and forensics of a footprint wouldn't help her in that. Giles would want to know though.

She headed to the library hoping that Giles would have something for her to go on so she could at least make a start on tracking the demon.  Giles was muttering when she entered, flustered as he grabbed first one then another and another newspaper and spread them out on the desk. 

And that's when it got weirder still.  Giles couldn't read  - anything.  Buffy had just grabbed the discarded newspapers and recognised the mysterious boy she'd seen in school twice when her dad came into the library.  He was early.  After introducing him to Giles she walked with him to sit outside. 

Minutes later, Buffy was left reeling by the conversation with her father.  He told her that she was the reason he'd left.  It was hard for him to be around her every day, the way she was sullen and always getting into trouble, the fact that she wasn't very bright.  He'd wanted so much more from a daughter.  And she didn't have it.  He even said that he didn't get anything out of the weekends and didn't want to carry them on.  He left her sobbing on the bench, her world crumbling around her.  Her worst nightmare had come true. 

Looking up, Buffy saw the boy she now knew as Billy standing a little way across the square.   

It couldn't just be coincidence that she kept seeing him.  She raced across and got straight to the questioning.  Billy wasn't very helpful, obviously very scared and confused. Remembering something Laura had told her at the hospital, she asked him whether he was "Lucky 19".  Billy shuddered. 

“That's what 'he' called him. 


"The Ugly Man. He wants to kill me. A-and he hurt that girl." 

"Why does he want to kill you, Billy?" 

The boy's eyes went wide with fear.  Buffy leant towards him to soothe him.  She needed to know.  She urged him to go on. 


"Billy, it's okay!  What?  Just tell me." 


Buffy reeled from the attack that followed, the Ugly Man pounding her to the floor.  The fight was hard and fast, Billy watching with fearful eyes.  Buffy was pummelled by the monster who was quicker and tougher than he looked but eventually she managed to knock him away from her and took off after Billy, who'd already fled.  She was limping and sore but she had to find him to have any hope of working out what was going on. 

She caught up to Billy and they headed back to find Giles and the others.  It was clear from her conversation with the boy that he felt he was being punished for not being good at baseball.  The poor kid!  Little League could be so cruel; it was brutal the way parents and coaches laid all their luggage on the youngsters.  She could so identify with that.  Switch the Little League for the Council of Watchers and you had the Slayer's life in a nutshell.   

Walking back by the cafeteria, the Ugly Man came into view striding towards them.  Buffy looked around frantically for an escape route, pushing Billy ahead of her through some bushes.  When they got to the other side, something was definitely not right. 

It was dark for a start.  In the middle of the day, it was night.  Plus they were in a cemetery.   

She was standing near a freshly dug grave, an open coffin at the side.  But where was the body? 

Billy spoke.  "I guess we're gonna bury someone.  I wonder who died?" 

Buffy's skin chilled as she heard the sepulchural tones behind her. 

"Nobody died.  What's the fun of burying someone if they're already dead?" 

It was the creature from her dreams, the master.   

"You.  This can't be real – you can't be free." 

She backed away slightly, Billy had vanished. 

"You still don't understand, do you?  I am free because you fear it.  Because you fear it, the world is crumbling.  Your nightmares are made flesh.  You have little Billy to thank for that." 

"This is a dream." 

The Master grabbed her round her neck, just like her nightmare, throwing her into the coffin that was now at the bottom of the grave and slamming the lid shut.  Buffy screamed.  

"No!  Help me!"  This was one of her worst nightmares; since being a little girl she'd dreaded the thought of being buried alive.  The sound of dirt hitting the coffin lid had her beating on it in panic. terrified now. 


+ + + 

Spike hadn’t got so much as a nibble in the locker room, despite lurking about for a good half hour. He was presently en route to his hidey-hole, avoiding the sun pooling in the high windows, when something registered in his brain.  Was that dark sky over there?  He pulled himself up to the window gingerly, aware that if he was wrong he could get crispy fried.  But he was right; there was a patch of sky that was night black over at the end of the gym.  Now that was interesting. 

Curiosity impelling him forwards, he headed to the incongruous darkness amid the bright Californian day.  He opened the doors at the end of the corridor and peeped out, gauging the distance between immolation and safety – about 20 feet.  He could make a run for it if he had some cover.  Looking about he found a tarpaulin proclaiming "Sunnydale Razorbacks GO! GO! GO!" in garish colours and used it as an ad hoc sunshade. 

Seconds later he was out and leaping through the hedge, and found himself in moonless night, standing beside a freshly filled in grave in an unfamiliar cemetery.  There was no one about but his keen hearing picked up scrabbling from beneath the loose soil.  Seemed like he was about to be the first thing a fledge saw.  Nothing wrong with that, some would give their eye fangs for the honour. Thing was, should he help or let the new vamp sort himself out?  Sod it.  He didn't have all night, had a Slayer to kidnap.  He'd drag the vampire out of the grave and then decide whether it should be dusted or destined for greatness as his acolyte.  After finishing a cigarette and noting the lack of real progress from the grave, he thrust his hand down into the soil, fishing about until he caught hold of cold flesh just pushing upwards.  Small hand, dainty wrist.  Must be a female.  He'd have to show her the vampire way, was only right.  Course, that was only if she was a looker.  Demon had its standards. 

A few strong tugs and the loose earth broke, the pale arm followed by slim shoulders and long, blonde hair.  Spike pulled the girl to her feet – and almost fell over when he saw her face.  She was beautiful.  Delicate ridges on her forehead, sharp, white fangs just peeping from between full pink lips.  His cock stiffened, on autopilot as usual, and he had to adjust himself for comfort.   

Hang on...she looked familiar.  No – it couldn't be...but it was.  Buffy Summers. Vampire Slayer...vampire.  Well, this put a whole new twist on everything – and completely blew his plan out of the water.  No way he could take Dru her heart in a jar.  Maybe he’d just take her.   

"Where am I?  What's happening?"  The slight lisp had Spike almost drooling; he'd always thought that Dru in vamp face was the most delicious sight he'd ever see, but Buffy Summers was something else.  He still had hold of her hand but let it go so he could try to compose himself. 

"You're...Buffy, right?" 

Buffy noticed the man who'd rescued her for the first time.  Wow.  Hot much?  Except, he had very 80’s hair á la Billy Idol – but still, wow.  Lean, taller than her but not overpoweringly so, compactly muscled ...and she was such a big ho!  The stranger had rescued her from being buried alive and all she could think of was his tight, tight jeans!  She reached for her cheeks, sure that they'd be blazingly hot, but thankfully no.  Her skin was cool. 

No; her skin was cold. 

She felt the icy drip of fear down her spine as she realised her senses had gone haywire.  Her eyes were seeing colours differently, more intense, even in the poor light.  Her nose was on overload too, the scent of the flowers and the damp earth almost overpowering, not to mention the obvious maleness of her companion.  She flared her nostrils and drank in the delicious aroma of him, unable to help herself.  And her ears were picking up the tiniest sounds from further away than normal. 

She ran her hands over her face, to check out the bumpies and the teeth.  Oh god.  Oh god.  She had to warn her rescuer, make him get away because suddenly...oh suddenly she was ravenous. 

"Get away from me! You have to run!  Please – go."

She turned her back on him, hugging herself to quell the overpowering hunger that had her salivating and licking her unfamiliar fangs.   

She heard the gentle swish of grass as her beautiful saviour walked away...no!  He was coming closer to her, not leaving.  She spun round, hands raised to ward him off, mouth open to warn him.  But no sound came out... 

"Now why would I want to do that, and you such a delicious morsel?" 

Buffy's words stuck in her throat.  Amber eyes fixed on hers, generous mouth opened in a leer to reveal lethal fangs and a very agile tongue.  A vampire.  Her rescuer was a vampire. 

And so was she. 

She made to back away and almost lost her footing at the edge of the grave, the strong hand of the man once again saving her.  /No not a man, Buffy./ 

"Hey, I didn't get my hands dirty just so you could hop back in.  Come on, let's split.  Got things to show you." 

Buffy knew she shouldn’t go with him, but she was so confused by everything that had happened, she just let herself be pulled along wherever he was headed.  She was a vampire.  What on earth would Giles say? 

+ + + 

Giles, Willow and Xander stood looking at the disturbed earth of the grave marked with a stone that read "Buffy Summers 1981 – 1997."  Giles gasped, Xander and Willow turning to him for answers, then to each other as the man they they thought of as invincible crumpled to his knees before their eyes.   

His voice was tight with grief.  "I've failed... in my duty to protect you. I should have been more c... cautious. Taken more time to train you.  But you were so gifted.  And the evil was so great.  I'm sorry..." 

Time passed, silently, until Xander couldn't take any more. 

"Giles.  Hey!  What gives?  Are you saying this is Buffy's grave?" 

Giles got to his feet, eyes flashing with grief and guilt.  "Yes, Xander.  I'm saying exactly that.  My nightmare has come true.  Now, can we dig?  I need to ...to..see." 

Despite having no tools with which to dig, all three of them sank to their knees and started scrabbling at the dirt, pushing it behind them like moles.  In their grief it didn't even register that the earth was already disturbed and they continued to dig until they reached the splintered lid of the coffin, Giles sinking back onto his haunches and weeping as he realised what it meant. 

"Giles.  Are you okay?"  Willow was numb from the knowledge that her best friend was dead and was following orders like an automaton.  The only thing keeping her together was Giles, and now he was kind of ... broken. 

"No...not okay..."  Willow deciphered the words through the sobs.  "I'll never be...she's gone, Willow." 

"Shh, I know.  I know."  Her words caught in her throat, tears beginning to fall down her own cheeks.  Xander's face was also streaked with tears, but his jaw was set in a hard line.  He got the meaning behind Giles' words. 

"She's a vampire." 

"What?  Buffy's a vampire?" 

Willow glanced at Giles, hoping that he would dispute Xander's hard words.  He didn't. 

"Yes, I'm afraid she is." 

+ + + 

Buffy followed the vampire through the cemetery, her head spinning.  What would this transformation mean?  Would she still be able to go to school?  How about slaying?  And what about her mom?  She almost ran into his back as he stopped, pushing against a huge wooden door that creaked open to reveal the dank, dark interior of a long since abandoned crypt.  Ewww. 

"Come on, this'll do.  We won't be here long." 

The blond vampire let her pass him before he shut the door behind them with a clang of finality.  His vampiric eyes swept across the interior.  Yeah, it would do fine.  There were no windows to let in the sun and plenty of tombs to hide in should the need arise.  Lacked style, a bit of home comfort, but as he only intended to keep her here until she'd fed, and he'd maybe introduced her to the  vampire way, it would suffice.   

Buffy looked around warily.  She'd been in a lot of crypts, of course, but never with the view to making a home in one.  There’d have to be running water, because she'd just die without a shower.  Oh.  She’d already done the dying part – apparently. 

The sound of her belly rumbling was loud in the empty space, drawing a wry chuckle from Buffy's knight in shining armour.   

"Sounds like you need something to eat, pet.  And your first meal's important.  We'll sort this place out later, for now – we hunt." 


Buffy growled out her response, the venom in her tone surprising her.  "I won't kill anyone.  And who the hell are you, anyway?" 

"The name's Spike and I'll thank you to show me the proper respect due a master vampire.  I could rip your throat out in a heartbeat – if you had one.  And just so you know, if you don't feed now, you'll end up going on a rampage.  It's only natural.  It's what vampires do." 

He fixed her with a penetrating stare, his eyes now icy blue.  Buffy swallowed and moistened her lips; what was it about him that had her wishing for a hairbrush and a slick of lipstick?  She held her breath, only realising now that she'd been breathing erratically and barely at all since she'd climbed out of the grave.  She'd never have to worry about that again.   

Spike softened at the stricken look on her face.  Yeah, she was a fledgling and needed to learn her place but she was such a pretty little thing.  Extremely biteable.  And he was so far from home...and Dru.  Besides, Dru was probably still otherwise engaged with her demon lover; he’d not had so much as a look-in since well before he'd set off for Sunnydale.   

A bloke had needs. And he needed to fuck the Slayer. 

Buffy noticed the blue eyes darken in a way that excited and scared her at the same time.  She wasn't naive; she hadn't gone very far with boys but far enough to know what that look meant.  Shockingly, instead of backing away and hiding, she found herself growling and walking towards him.  Damn if she hadn’t risen as a vampire ho! 

Spike met her halfway, gripping her upper arms in steely fingers and pulling her towards him until she was tight up against his chest.  Her golden eyes were locked on his, swimming with desire, hunger, and as yet unrealised needs, her lips parted to show the very tips of her fangs and her moist, pink tongue.  God, but she was gorgeous.  No doubt about it, the girl was a looker in human or demon guise.  And he was going to make her his.  

The touch of his lips on hers sent shockwaves through his system.  When he loosed his grip on her arms to run his hands through her hair and along her muscled back, she tangled her fingers in his curls, scraping her nails across his scalp and the nape of his neck.  He shuddered against her, shifting so that his thigh nudged her legs apart and delighting in the scent of her arousal.  Buffy moaned against his mouth, the slight movement nicking his lips and gifting her with a drop of his blood on her tongue.   

The taste was heaven, rich, strong, with an underlying sweetness.  She'd never experienced anything like this before and in that moment she knew she’d always want it.  She had to have more.  Her hands gripped his head fiercely to keep him in place as she sucked on the small wound her fangs had made.  Spike tried to pull away, but it seemed that the combination of Slayer and vampire strength she'd inherited was too strong for him to do so without breaking the moment.   

He liked it. 

Eventually she released her grip and stepped back, her eyes never leaving his as they both licked blood from their lips, all of it Spike’s.   

"I didn't know...I...that was..." 

"Yeah, pet.  Blood is life.  Don't ever forget it." 

Time stopped as she felt the surge of borrowed life rush like fire through her veins.  He watched as her face showed the struggle between her learned reasoning and her new instincts.    Then it was done. 

"I want more." 

Laughing with delight, Spike grabbed her hand and tugged her behind him out to hunt for her first meal. 

+ + + + + 

Giles, Willow and Xander flopped into the chairs ranged round the central desk in the library.  There was nothing to say.  The day had been exhausting and beyond weird and despite the fact that they knew it all started with Billy and his effect on their dreams it didn't alter the fact that Buffy was now a vampire.  And an absent vampire at that. 

Willow unclenched her fingers, reaching for a research volume.  She couldn't just sit there crying and worrying.  There must be something they could do.  Xander grabbed a book himself, just to look busy and Giles, usually the lead man, was simply sat staring into space. 

"Erm...shouldn't we go look for her?" Willow spoke softly, the silence becoming oppressive. 

"Yeah, G-man – let's go hunt down a vampire, no a slayer...no a slayer/vampire.  Buffy – let's go get Buffy." 

Time ticked on.  "I...I simply can't do this. Please...if you must, then go.  But I can't bear to see her like that, I would have to...I'm sorry."  Giles words ended on a whisper. 

Xander snorted.  "You can’t be serious.  It's BUFFY!  You really mean that if you see her you'll stake her?" 

"I'll have to." 

"No.  We won't let you, will we?"  He looked to his friend for reassurance. 

"Well...no.  That is – Giles – what should we do?" 

For once in his life, the Watcher was stumped.  He'd always had guidelines, parameters in which to work.  But this was different.  If he followed his instinct as a Watcher, he’d find Buffy and stake her.  But it wasn’t that simple with Buffy, he wasn't just her Watcher.  He was fond of her; more than fond of her.  He couldn't just dust her and pretend it didn't matter. It would matter enormously.  He wasn't sure he could do it. 

"I really have no idea." 

+ + +  

The faux night seemed to stretch a good way through Sunnydale, and Buffy and Spike took full advantage of it.  They'd explored the perimeters of the cemetery, which proved to be empty, and they were none the wiser about why the sun was shining on the other side of the hedge.  So now Spike had her waiting near the gap that served as the gateway between the darkness and the light, while he lured them a meal.  He was in a hurry to get this over with; while he usually adored the hunt he really just wanted to show her how it was done, get her fed and get her naked.  Vampires were creatures of instinct and passion, basic in their needs and desires.  Pain and pleasure went hand in hand and he longed to show her how delicious the knife edge could be. 

He stood in full view of the nubile girls wafting past, his hands thrust into his jeans pockets to better frame his impressive bulge and giving off waves of bad boy attraction.  It was only a matter of time before...result! 

"Hey, you're new.  Where've you been lurking and why haven't we dated?" 

Typical arrogant daddy's-princess type.  Would make fine eating, though, like prime veal.  Just the thing for his Buffy's first meal.  His Buffy?  What the fuck... 

"Been around.  You fancy playin' on the dark side, princess?" 

Head tilted, eyelids lowered so that thick lashes shadowed his sharp cheekbones, he was pollen to a bee and the girl couldn't help but be drawn forward away from the safety of the sunshine and into the night.  Once within reach, Spike struck, clamping his hand across her mouth to stifle her burgeoning screams and hauling her past gravestones to a mausoleum.  He whistled to get Buffy's attention and she rushed to his side, nostrils flaring. 

"You smell that?  That's pure fear.  It's like vintage wine to a vampire.  Now the way to get it even tastier is to let them have a good run first, build up the panic and despair before you pounce.  I'll let her go; you'll have to be ready 'cause she'll scarper straight back to the daylight.  You need to head her off and drive her over that way. I'll help.  You ready?" 

Buffy nodded, licking her lips and never taking her eyes off the girl's jugular.  Way back in the recesses of her mind there was a little niggle trying to tell her it was wrong, that she should slay the vampire and rescue the girl.  But it was way back... 

Spike released the terrified girl and she did as he’d predicted, heading straight back the way she'd come in, but Buffy was faster and leapt in front of her, baring her teeth.  Her prey stumbled backwards, slamming into Spike.  She shrieked and took off sideways into the night and Spike followed, howling his pleasure and revelling in the hunt and  the joy of the kill.  He followed in a loping run, Buffy joining him, scenting the air for the aroma of fear that had excited her so much earlier. 

Before long, the girl was holed up behind a large tomb, thinking she was safe.  The sound of her racing heart thundered in Buffy's ears, along with the gasping breaths and whimpers of fear that she couldn't stifle.  Buffy prowled, stalking like a predator, as Spike stood back and admired his new protege. He was proud of her, like she was his own childe, and he couldn't wait to teach her everything he knew.  

Suddenly Dru and his life with her seemed very far away. 

Buffy had the girl pinned to the ground, straddling her body with her hand round her throat – fangs ready to strike.  His brow furrowed.  What was she waiting for?   

"Buffy?  It's alright – go on.  Be quick, you need the blood with your first kill. We can work on fancy stuff later." 

Buffy hesitated.  This was wrong.  She was hungry, yes – was almost slavering over the frightened girl – but she couldn't take her life. 

"I...I can't.  I can't kill her." 

"Here. Let me – you can still feed." 

"NO!"  Buffy spun round protectively, protecting the girl from Spike as he reached for her. Spike growled a warning. 

"You will do as I say.  I’m master here." 

Buffy got to her feet, pulling the girl up and behind her.   

"No.  I won't, and I can’t let you.  I'm the Chosen One – I'm supposed to…I kill your kind.  I'm...Spike!  What do I do?" 

Buffy's face crumpled, the full enormity of her situation just now hitting her.  She was conflicted, desperately hungry, yet torn between either killing the girl or sending her home with a warning not to talk to strangers in dark cemeteries.   

"Hmmph.  You kill, pet.  No question – that's what a normal vampire would do.  Not rightly sure what you are to be honest.  I mean, you've got the fangs and all, very impressive set actually, razor sharp,” he smiled as he touched his healing lip.  “But if you won't kill what's right in front of you and ripe for the slaughter well – the only other vampire I know who won't touch fresh meat is Angelus, and he's got a soddin' soul buggering him up.  Bloody hell!  Maybe you've still got your soul!" 

Buffy patted herself down, as if to locate the soul in question.  It was cute, really.  Spike almost giggled.  Very un-Big Bad like.  What effect was this tiny girl having on him? 

"But love, you need to feed.  Trust me, if you don't get some blood in you – and soon – the lust will be overpowering and you'll slaughter half this deadbeat town." 

"Then we'll get blood.  Just not from people." 

"What then – from rats?  Not likely!  The bloody poofter might be partial to vermin, but I'm not sinking that low." 

"Not rats – because ewwww – I'm thinking the butcher's or maybe the blood bank.  I just...I can't kill.  I won’t" 

Spike considered the girl standing defiantly before him, arms outstretched defensively to shield the trembling schoolgirl from his evil designs.  Her forehead was still ridged, eyes golden and trained on him with a steely glare.  Just how strong would a vampire and slayer hybrid be, anyway?  Could she take him?  Did he want to fight her?  Well, yeah – but only as a prelude to getting down and dirty, not to hurt her.  He didn't want to hurt her. 

Why the bleedin’ hell not?  What the fuck was she doing to him? 

Before his brain was able to engage, his mouth seemed to have taken over and he listened in dumbstruck horror as he agreed to let the girl go and track down a butcher's shop to get blood.  Buffy's delighted smile had his own lips curling in response, and taking her hand he abandoned what was going to be dinner to go get some carryout. 

+ + + +

It hadn't been pretty, her first feed.  She was splattered in pig's blood, having been a little too enthusiastic tearing the bag with her unfamiliar teeth.  Of course, that gave Spike ideas on how he was going to clean her up with his tongue.  Horny again!  He was hungry too, but could he bring himself to eat swine blood?   He knew he could survive on it, but would he want to?   He'd give it a go; nothing ventured, nothing gained. 

Buffy threw the drained bag away from her in disgust.  Her eyes filled with tears and she wiped the blood from her lips with the back of her hand.  She curled in on herself where she sat on the floor of the crypt, hugging her knees to her chest and bowing her head, her shoulders heaving as she sobbed. 

Spike's heart twisted in his chest; he'd no idea why but he could sense her pain cutting him like a knife and he wanted it to stop. 

"Shhh, hush now, love. What's wrong?" 

He knelt on the floor, gathering her in his embrace, Buffy uncurling to kneel up next to him and fling her arms round his neck in a crushing grip.   

"What am I going to do?  I can't live like this.  It's wrong – I'm wrong, why am I wrong?"  She cried, her tears wetting his shirt and melting his last link to Drusilla.  As he stroked and kissed her hair, he wondered once again why his dark princess would send him away from her in full knowledge that the prey she'd pointed him at was the Slayer.  Had Dru known, even as she waved him goodbye with sneers and ridicule, that he'd feel this way about the blonde girl?  Maybe that was her plan, be rid of him once and for all.  

Well it was her loss now. 

He'd make a new centre of his universe in this young fledgling; he wouldn’t miss the pain and the insane ramblings that being Dru's pet brought.  He didn't need his sire any longer.  He had his own family now.  He had Buffy. 

She stopped crying, kept on holding him though.  Spike waited to see what she did next, simply meeting her golden gaze when she sat back on her heels and stared at him.   

"You alright?" 

"Yeah."  Her voice was whisper soft, husky from her sobs.  "I'm just...I don't want to be a vampire." 

That pissed him off.  He sprung to his feet, and paced up and down the crypt, lighting a cigarette and dragging the smoke angrily into his lungs.  Didn't want to be a vampire?  And here he was offering to show her dark delights!  Ungrateful bitch.  Maybe he'd been too hasty in casting Dru off in his mind.  He spun round to face her, brow ridged and eyes murderous. 

"Well tough!  Or if you like I can soon fix that for you.  Handy piece of wood, rip your head off, fire – take your pick.  It won't hurt but a moment and you'll be rid of your fangs, your hunger, me, and everything else.  What's it to be, Buffy?  Your choice." 

"I…I don't want to die, Spike, but I don't know how to live like this.  My friends...my mom, my Watcher, they won't want to know me.  Probably stake me on sight.  Well – not my mom, because she doesn't know about vampires.  But Giles, for sure." 

Spike lost his demon face as his anger dissipated.  She was just unsure, that was all, babbling like the little girl she was.  He knew that feeling, had lived it his entire human span of years.  She was speaking again, barely audibly. 

"And I don't want to lose you."  

Oh.  Right then.  He could work with that. 

"Come away with me, Buffy.  Let me show you how good it can be.  We can leave right now, be on our way to Europe by sunset tomorrow, stow away on a ship.  What do you say?" 

Buffy gazed at her saviour; the vampire who’d helped her from the grave and shown her how to think and how to survive. Was this what vampires were like?   True, her usual approach wasn’t so much ‘let’s be friends’ as ‘say hello to my nice pointy stake’, but still – he was making her wonder about the truth of everything she'd been taught and everything the Watchers’ Council would have her believe.  He didn't seem out and out evil - if he was, he wouldn’t be caring for her the way he was.  Why would an evil, soulless being want to know if she was upset?  She was so confused.  She wanted to go with him, but could she leave her home and everything she knew to go off with a vamp she hardly knew?  And if she stayed here, what sort of a life would she have without him 

As she felt the pull of the sunrise drawing her down into sleep, she decided there really was no choice.   

"Okay, I'll come with you.  But first, I have to say goodbye.  I can't just leave." 


"That's the deal.  Goodbye first, leave later." 

Spike thought about it.  He was going anyway; his only reason to be here – kill Buffy Summers – was done with.  He hadn't actually done the deed but the result was the same.  The bonus of her being a vampire presented him with options for the future he’d never dreamed of and all he needed to do was delay their departure for a day or so.  He could do that. 

"Yeah, love.  Okay.  You say your goodbyes.  But right now, we need to sleep." 

Spike reached his hand out to her, gripping her fingers and pulling her towards him.  She allowed him to lead her to the back of the crypt where he spread his duster on the stone floor and gently tugged her down to lie with him.  He cushioned her head on his shoulder and wrapped his other arm around her hugging her close.  The urge to fuck her had receded in light of all the angst; didn't mean he didn't fancy her, just wanted to take his time.  The demon inside growled, wanting to make its claim now but he was strong enough to subdue it and bend it to his will.  

Buffy cuddled against him, her fangs still present as she hadn't figured out yet how to control the change.  He'd show her how tomorrow, and much more.  There was so much he had to teach her. 

Tomorrow.  They would leave tomorrow and nothing would stop them.  They had time and a world to discover.