Cicatrix: Part One

by Te, Debchan, and the Spike
June 2000

Disclaimers: If they were ours, they'd be awfully confused.

Spoilers: Assorted ones through season 3.

Summary: What if Xander hadn't been able to revive Buffy?

Archival: Sure, just let us know if it isn't UCSL.

Ratings Note: NC-17 for sex, violence, and imagery some may
find disturbing.

Acknowledgments: Te wants to thank Deb, for providing the
use of her attention span and Spike for being so worthy of
her obsessive, stalkerish tendencies. Deb wishes to thank
Te for asking, "What if...?" and then, "Want to play?" Deb
also wishes to thank Contrary!Spike, who inspires thoughts
of smut, then gently reminds us, "It's not that kind of story."
Spike wants to thank Te and Deb for inviting her into the
puppy pile.  We also want to thank all of our loved ones for
their patience during the looooong absences, Dawn Sharon
for active audiencing and wonderful support, and Laura for
the gorgeous, gorgeous illustrations that none of you have
seen yet.


Before the beginning of years
There came to the making of man
Time with a gift of tears,
Grief with a glass that ran,
Pleasure with pain for leaven,
Summer with flowers that fell,
Remembrance fallen from heaven,
And Madness risen from hell,
Strength without hands to smite,
Love that endures for a breath;
Night, the shadow of light,
And Life, the shadow of death.
 --   Algernon Charles Swinburne. 1837-1909. "Atalanta in
  Calydon" Chorus.

Xander wasn't panicking. He wasn't. He was very familiar
with water, and air is practically his best friend and even
though he'd never done this before even though --

pump pump pump

even though she wasn't moving, and her hair was

jesus breathe

starting to dry in lank little curls and she was still


not... not... oh god, oh Christ not --

And then a clawed hand dug furrows in his chest and shoulder
and the air was a solid, mocking thing and when he hit the wall
the blackness was wonderful.


Of course the prophecy came true.  How odd, Giles thought,
that they'd believed it could be otherwise.  "We should move
her," he said and was surprised to hear his voice sound so
quiet, so calm.  So normal.

Angel, crouched over Buffy's still form, didn't even look up,
just kept smoothing the damp, lank hair from her face.

"Angel," Giles began, then trailed off uncertainly.  What was
he supposed to say?  Watchers might be trained for the
eventual death of their Slayer, but he didn't feel like a
Watcher right at the moment. He'd been too long a librarian,
had become too accustomed to handing out advice along with
tea and scones.  "We should," he began again, "do something."

That was it. Take charge.  Pick a direction and go with it.

His librarian's brain, the one concerned with rules and
propriety and doing what's right, immediately suggested a call
to the authorities and then.... His stomach clenched and
rolled.  Then someone would have to tell Buffy's mother.

No.  His responsibility for her ended with her death.  And the
Hellmouth was about to open.

"We have to stop the Master," he finally said.  "There's
nothing more we can do here."

Willow's shaky voice stopped him mid-turn. "But, Giles.  What
about Xander?"

And it was only then that he noticed the still from against
the wall, arms akimbo, like a doll that had been thrown aside
by a petulant child.

Willow, her hand on Xander's throat, stared at Giles, silently
imploring him with tear swollen eyes to take charge, to somehow
make things right.

"He's alive?"

She nodded, her face a smudged, pale blur.

He paused, torn.

"Go," Angel said softly.  He touched Buffy's cheek, then stood
and fixed Giles with a dead stare.  "Get them out of here.
I'll go on ahead."

In the car, Willow cradled Xander in the back seat while
Giles sped toward the hospital.  Tried to speed, except for
some reason he couldn't find third gear.  With the engine
howling in protest they lurched to a halt in front of the
emergency room.

Without a word, and without meeting her eyes, he helped
Willow pull Xander from the car.  Before she could ask him
what to do, what to say, he simply asked, "Are you coming?"

She cast a look at Xander's still body on the sidewalk, bit her
lip and got back in the car.

Giles wondered if -- *when* -- she would remember that
they'd seen no sign of Cordelia as they made their escape. The
later the better, he needed her blindered now. He needed an
army and he had a fifteen year old girl who was still leaking
about the eyes, another fifteen year old doing his best to
slip into a coma, an apparently suicidal vampire and a dead

/flash of blonde hair and a smile that's anything but dim, life,
so much life in all the duty --/
He cut himself off from the thoughts, shook his head.

Made the turn for his home instead of the school. There
were... options.


The rising smoky mist didn't smell anything like brimstone,
just a sickly mass of burnt flesh and fear and adrenaline and
what seems to be oceans of spilled blood. Angel was as close as
he dared, crouched in the smoldering upper stacks of what had
been the high school library, and waiting for his chance.

The Master himself was presiding over the slow, steady tearing
in the fabric of the real, grinning and offering welcome to the
charred and flayed denizens that pushed and scrambled out and
into the world, scattering in a dozen different directions.
Angel heard screams coming from seemingly everywhere, but they
just made it easier for him to focus on his goal.

He hadn't needed Giles to convince him of anything. A small,
cherished part of him was still screaming loud enough to sway
anything at all. None of them had known about him and Buffy,
not really. Not even Buffy had known everything, not about the
way he'd watched from the shadows for well over the year.

Watching her grow from a terrifyingly beautiful child into a
young woman he craved like nothing but redemption.

The future stretched out empty before him. Who knew?
Perhaps he'd just needed the excuse.

The whisper of Latin behind him was enervating, the words
old and terrible.

"Blood for freedom, life for mercy, soul for salvation..."

And he could already feel the push-pull of it, the caressing coax
toward the Master and his old and new minions. Cordelia was
shining as bright as she ever could have wished, morphing back
and forth, back and forth, occasionally killing the things
crawling out into the world for no fathomable reason.

The Master patted her cheek, casually slapped her aside when
she snapped at it. Never lost the vaguely indulgent smile.

"Suffer the innocent unto the dark that we may find light..."

Angel knew these things were almost never *that* literal, but
it was a joke anyway. Many of the demons weren't leaving at
all, and a whirl has begun below, dancing, capering, laughing
things dining on the weaker among them, screaming their joy
and oh, God, but it wouldn't be so difficult to be down there
himself --

"We stain ourselves with this..."

-- and would it matter now? Really? His own demon strained
against all the bonds Angel had tied him in, drawn to and
feeding on the immense power bleeding out of hell and he felt
so strong, stronger than he'd been since the pretty gypsy,
pretty sweet cat with claws that broke off against his
cheek --

"We do murder with this..."

Another bright, irresistible surge and the pulse of mortal
blood behind him was maddening. He's hard all over, from groin
to face, aching and wanting --

"We do murder with this..."

The growl started somewhere near the base of his spine, its
cold, sweet fire burning away everything but the rage and the
hunger that *was* him, he was a weapon, he was a force of
destruction, there was no one, *no* so-called Master more
powerful. None would pretend to this. He was the Angelus.

"We do murder with this."

He launched himself at the pretender, laughing all the way


It hit before the last 's' had even finished it's tiny hiss, a
cold, thick wind full of despair and love and too much memory
and Willow had *felt* it.

Felt it rip through her mind, her soul and show her everything
in a fraction of a second. Bloodlust and grief, raw and needful
and Willow swallowed convulsively because it was wonderful,
too. And that... that makes something scream that's maybe her
and maybe not but it doesn't matter because all she is are the
bright flaring moonbursts leaving her eyes, her mouth, and

her sex

and oh



The power rushed through her in great floods, clean
sweetness shot through with the /murder/ the black, the rot,
the *hunger* that wasn't sweet at all, oh no. The hunger that
made her grin through the flood.

And it was suddenly so easy to reach down into the chaos
below and... bind. Scream with the earth as it knits itself

Beautiful Angelus and the Master, the poetry of it, the
*bounty*. So much power she wanted to *feed* on it, wanted
to *share* it with her friends--

/Buffy's dead. Jesse's dead. Xander --/

Willow folded back on herself sobbing, closing herself off
from the power with a vicious snap, heedless of the
consequences. The inhuman screams just got louder, and that
had to be a good thing. Had to be had to be had to be --

"Willow! Willow!"

A hand shaking her and in the sudden dimness all she can see
is a hulking shadow and she has to fight has to hurt it kill
it --

"Willow, *stop*. It's Giles. We've got to get out of here so
kindly stop pummeling me and get the bloody hell *up* before
what you just did rebounds and kills us both."

Willow felt her lips pull back into a snarl -- all she'd done
was clean up a little -- but complied. She felt... good. Really

And she took off at a run for the emergency stairs, dragging
Giles behind her. A few demons scattered before them,
escaping into the night, but over her shoulder and down...

Angelus and the Master were being obscured by demon carcass
after carcass being forcibly attracted to the massive power
battle in their midst.  Stinking, fleshy magnet tipping
inexorably into the shrinking hole.

Making her grin again.


Cordelia followed Willow and Giles down the stairs.  Part of
her was drawn back to the roof, wanted, needed to go back and
feed on the blood, on the power.  But she could *smell* their
fear, their certainty that they needed to be away now.

The new part of her that was nothing with animal cunning
hung back in the shadows when they reached the street.
Under the sodium glare of the street lamps she saw a greasy
sheen of tears and sweat on Giles' face, wanted to lick it off,
wanted to bite and pull and rip where Willow's torn
dress exposed the curve of her breasts.  But there would be
time to play later, so she merely watched as they staggered

The ceiling gave an ominous groan and she froze, listening,
before instinct kicked her to her feet and down the block.
She stopped in the park and watched as the school shrieked
and imploded.

Smoke and the smell of roasting carrion filled the air.  She
inhaled through her mouth, let the thick breeze glide over her
tongue and swallowed.  It was delicious.

A human ran by, stumbling with pain and exhaustion.
She reached out, stopped him mid step and pulled him to her.
Tore his throat open and let the spray of his blood wash over
her face and fill her mouth. Even better.

The man, who she dimly recognized as her Algebra teacher,
gurgled and kicked but finally grew still.  She worried at him
for a few more moments, then dropped him.  Not hungry
anymore, but still craving the taste, she casually raised her
hands to her mouth and sucked her fingers clean. A small,
insignificant part of her gave a moan of revulsion that was
musical in its own way.

After one last glance at the sinkhole where the school used
to be, Cordelia picked a small piece of pinkish-gray gore from
beneath her French manicured nails and flicked it on her
teacher's dead face. It was kinda gross when it started to get old.

What to do next?

A smile crept over her face.  Perhaps it was time to go home.
She was willing to bet anything it was after curfew and just
knew her parents would be waiting up.


Xander woke up in white that was too broken with criss-
crossing metal bars and bags and tubes and cheap blue-red-
brown curtains to be in any way soothing. It wasn't the first
time he'd been in a hospital, and he knew it was a good sign
that he woke up before they could put him in a room.

Unless... unless the Master... because Buffy was...

And the only thing keeping him from sobbing out a croak of
fear and loss was his instinctive bite down. He caught lip and
tongue indiscriminately, tasted his own blood.


Just because he was in a hospital didn't mean he was safe. No
one was safe anymore and he had to go, had to get out and try
to warn people, try to believe he wasn't the only one alive and
he got as far as the neat white bag he knows will be holding
his shoes before the curtain sweeps back.

For a moment he was sure it was that Luke guy returned from
the really-dead-this-time, but it was just a hulking mass of
male nurse. Looking at him with a mixture of apathy and
annoyance that was... oddly soothing in its familiarity.

"You've got a concussion." Each word rolled out the way it
would if, say, Larry was ever forced to get on stage and
recite poetry. Boulders. Slow, pissed off, bored boulders.

"I figured that much, so I'll just be getting back home to
give myself some of that good ol' TLC so why don't you just
let --"

"You have a concussion."

Xander nodded slowly, immediately regretted it.

"We can't let you leave until we sign you into someone's care for at least 24 hours."

"Well, I... I don't know..." /I don't know if there's anyone
alive. Wouldn't they already be here?/

"The doctor will see you soon."

And with that, without even a minute of eye to eye contact,
Gargantua the Gender Non-Specific Caregiver was gone,
leaving Xander with the acid burn of tears behind his eyes.


Sunnydale looked as fake as one of the plastic doll-sets she
had often seen the other children playing with. All smiles and
bright yellow sunshine that didn't warm Kendra *quite*

It was dry and mild and much too new for the evil she felt
pricking at her skin. She wanted a coat to shrug into.

She wanted to start killing.

Kendra breathed deep, shoving the dangerously chaotic
emotions down and out of the way. There was too much work
to do here for her to let herself get out of control.

Clearly, her predecessor had not been doing her job correctly
-- it was told that she had been untrained for most of her
life. There was something obscene about it to Kendra. A
future Slayer, running around untutored and careless and...
free. A small part of her brimmed with satisfaction at her death.

There was a reason the rules and precepts were in place,
after all. She wished her own Watcher wasn't too ill to
travel. Kendra could not bring herself to hope that this
Rupert Giles was a professional.

The smell of char and powerful old magic led her slightly off-
route to a hulking ruin that may have once been white. She
bent to examine a broken off bit of timber, sniffed and
squeezed it. It had to have been at least a week since
whatever had happened, and she had more pressing business.

She wove her way through late afternoon crowds, watching
the faces of hundreds of sheep take her in and pass by or
ignore her entirely. This place was ripe for every sort of
evil, had clearly experienced a great deal of it, and *still* the
people were blind to the powers around them.

There was much to be done.


Xander braced himself against the living room wall, bit back
as much of the wince as he could. He was tired of being in
pain and fucking well tired of showing it and *Christ* there
were another 87 minutes before he could have another
Tylenol-4 and Giles and Willow were having yet a-fucking-
nother staring contest.

For the 17th time that day a little voice whispered that he'd
be more comfortable reclined.

For the 17th time that day he remembered the way the
muscles in his shoulder refused to cooperate after he slept a
full night lying on his back.

Xander had started waking himself up up once a night to
make sure he was still sitting up after that. He knew he was
going to need a lot of work to get his shoulder back to normal
/better, need to better faster stronger it won't happen again
it *won't*/ but he wanted as much of it as possible to be with
Giles as his trainer, as opposed to some chipper phys. ed.
major who didn't have a clue what he needed to be strong

The Master was dead and in hell. Angel... Angel was, too, and
while the old, lizard-thick parts of his hindbrain were just
fine with that, Xander knew Buffy would have grieved. Buffy
was... *had been* good, and caring, and sweet and funny and
smart and she had cared about Angel /and not me, not that
way/ and so... so somebody had to grieve.

And who was there?

Giles? That was a laugh. All traces of Innocuous Kindly
Librarian were dead gone. When Xander had gone to seek him
out, to ask if anyone had been to see Mrs. Summers, all he'd
gotten out of the man was a report about how since the police
had been able to identify Buffy's remains among the wreckage,
there'd been no need to see her.

The argument that followed mainly consisted of Giles
lecturing him on the importance of secrecy and the fact that,
even with the Master gone, there was still too much to be
done to be bothered with "irrelevancies."

And then he'd given Xander a straight shot of whiskey to
take his painkiller with, a rough pat on the good shoulder, and
an admonishment to get better fast.

Because Giles could use him.

Xander had sucked the whiskey down and slammed out, went to
Willow's house only to find her... changed.

The posture had been right -- cross legged and buried in the
huge book on her lap -- and she'd managed to get out with only
a few scrapes and bruises, and her smile was just as wide and
pretty as ever, but...

Her eyes were different.

Far away.

And he knew it wasn't just the alcohol-codeine blow to his
system when he really *looked* at the book. Thick, old,
charred at the edges. And there was a smell to it, too, like
ozone and plants grown in dark, wet basements and he knew.

Xander knew. He'd asked anyway, but he knew. Not the
specifics of it, really, just the simple knowledge that not a
single one of them had gotten out unscathed -- though at least
evil, bloodsucking demon kind of suited Cordelia. Less of
a pang there than for Angel. Xander didn't know anyone
who had cared about her, not really, though he supposed
someone must have.

Maybe her mother was still waiting for her to come home.

No, the specifics had come later, with Willow explaining with
a tiny and somehow old smile how she had, essentially,
*yanked* the Hellmouth shut, destroying everything that got
caught in the path of the spell.

Occasionally her forehead knitted during the telling, and Xander
told himself she was remembering that there'd been
more than just demons around.

Later, after a brief, awkward silence, she'd grabbed at him,
making the wounds scream and trying desperately to explain...
something. Something about power, and how she'd only wanted
to share it, and her eyes were wide and shining and her smile
was almost beatific and her breasts weren't supposed to feel
that good on his arm and all he'd wanted was to touch
someone --

The kiss started out much too rough, he hadn't been able to
hold back. Willow's mouth was soft, and wet, and tasted
exactly like the watermelon Jolly Ranchers she was addicted
to. And it was just so damned comforting to at last find
something that made sense, and it felt so *good*.

Laying down on her soft, pink-covered bed and devouring her
soft, pink mouth and her nipples were hard little points
scoring his chest through his t-shirt and this was OK, this
had to be OK, friends could... and it wasn't like Willow was
really... and she held him closer.

And it wiped away all the badness right up until he attempted
to roll over and screamed like a little girl when his shoulder
registered the movement.

Which is when it all came crashing in. Willow. Willow's
mouth. Willow's *breasts* for God's sake and Willow's hands
all over his body and it was just too much to take, even rock-
hard and half-drunk.

He made his excuses and went to leave, and she was fine with
it, and smiling, and flushed, and beautiful in a way that made
him ache in several different ways.

And she was already back in the spellbook before he'd made it
fully out the door.

Which meant it wasn't so much of a surprise that she blew
him off the next day with a rehash of everything Giles had
said about there being more important things to do. And it
was not-quite-almost a relief. And something in him finally
relaxed a little when she'd hugged him, tight and innocent, and
whispered "you're still my friend right? You don't think... I

And Xander had hugged her back and promised he'd always,
*always* be her friend.

And Xander had tried not to pay attention to the fact that,
as far as he knew, the faraway look had never left her eyes.

Of course, the next few days had made that impossible.
Reports coming in from all over Sunnydale about horrible
things happening to human beings with dozens of different
demonic signatures. They were waiting for the next Slayer to

They never mentioned Buffy.
Willow wanted to use magic to root them out, Giles pointed
out the horrible side effects, and Willow... Willow eventually
listened. But the look in her eyes made him wonder how long
she would.

His role seemed to be that of gofer boy. It was all right,
though. He had his own plans.


Giles gave the report one last look over before signing it.
And there it was, the events of the week before condensed
into one single spaced, neatly typed page.  The Slayer dead,
the Hellmouth closed, both the Master and Angelus presumed

As was proper, it didn't include unnecessary, extraneous
detail.  There was no mention of how damned tiny Buffy had
looked, dead; how Willow seemed to vibrate with barely
contained power at times; or how Xander's eyes always held
an expression of wounded accusation when he looked at Giles.

It also did not mention that he'd taken up patrolling.

One of the first lessons that had been drummed into him was
that Watchers watched.  They existed to observe, to train
and to report to Council.  They weren't supposed to waste
the Council's years of investment by risking themselves in
battle.  After all, Watchers were employees, Slayers were
born.  And when one died, another would step into her shoes.

However, he felt justified.  News of the Slayer's death had
spread fast among the demon community.  Every night more
denizens of the underworld slunk through Sunnydale's alleys,
drawn by the power of the now quiescent Hellmouth and the
promise of unguarded sheep.   Some met Giles and an untimely
end instead.

He'd nearly died the first night.  Out of practice, still
exhausted and reeling, he'd nearly let a Fezar demon choke
him to death before remembering about the silver knife in his
boot. One adrenaline assisted thrust and he'd been free to go
on to the next one and the next.

It was the same each night, except of course, he improved.
And seldom was he taken by surprise anymore.

The biggest surprise was how easy it was to slip back into
the old mindset, the sheer joy of the hunt.  Sometimes, when
his hands were thrust wrist deep into a dying demon's chest,
he would turn and half expect Ethan behind him, flashing him a

At those times, he could swear the air was full of smoke from
a sacrificial fire and could almost feel Ethan at his side or
at his back, ready to help him take down whatever they'd
summoned that night, just for the bloody fun of it. It was
still fun.  And he knew, in a vague way, that this should
bother him.  Possibly even horrify him.  Yet all he felt was a
bone deep satisfaction and the nostalgic desire for a

He left the bodies where they fell.  This was quite against all
the rules, but the point here was to make a statement, to put
the fear of, well, something into the rest of the demons until
the Slayer came.  He'd considered putting some of the heads
on spikes, but it wouldn't have done to lapse into gratuity.

And perhaps that *would* be taking things a bit too far.

A knock at the door pulled him out of his reverie.  When he
didn't answer right away, Willow's voice called out, "Giles?
It's me."

Giles set down the report and silently let her in.

She turned to him and said, "I think there's something new in
town. Something bad."

"Oh yes?  How do you mean?"
Her brow knit and he knew he'd overshot the casual tone
he'd been striving for and hit careless instead.

"I mean bad in demon killing, guts strewn everywhere kind of
way.  I mean, that's good, too, because demons are bad, but
Giles," her mouth made a moue of distaste, "something isn't
just killing demons.  It's eviscerating them.  And leaving
their carcasses, what's left of them anyway, right out in
the open.  Doesn't that seem odd to you?"

Giles took off his glasses and cleaned them with his
handkerchief while he answered slowly, "Perhaps something is
marking its territory. Staking out boundaries."

"Don't you think we should do something?  I could-"

"No," and here he knew his voice came out too harsh, too loud
by the way she first recoiled then glowered.  Continuing in a
calmer, yet firm tone, he said, "No, Willow."  Not yet.


Two hours in Sunnydale and Spike knew that he'd picked just
the right spot for a little vacation. Sure, there was no
asshole sire to bleed out for Dru, but there were so many
other *possibilities*.

A recently dead Slayer -- and he wished he'd had a hand in
*that* one. It was about time he'd made his hat trick, but
still, there was a festival atmosphere on the Hellmouth.
Bloodcurdling screams, wounded mortals running about, brand
new demons ready and willing to get pissed and have a bit
of a dust up...

Just the sort of atmosphere to cheer Dru up, not to mention

Unfortunately, Prague had left them more than just bored.
Drusilla needed strength. And while he couldn't give her their
sire, he could certainly provide other sorts of nummy treats.
Drusilla needed power, more than anything else, and that
meant feeding on those already strong.

Again, a Slayer would have been just the ticket, but there
were certainly enough vampires about to thin the ranks a bit.
Catching them alive, now that was *real* sport.

Spike crouched on the rooftop opposite what appeared to be
the local nightspot and waited. Bummed a fag from one of the
other demons crouching in his vicinity, got into the old,
annoying torture vs. seduction argument with a vamp barely
old enough to drink, and waited.

Talk of recent eviscerations was interesting enough for later
investigation, but in truth he had little respect for anything
that let itself be gutted while still alive. Less for anything
that let the gutter get away. The Master was dead, and so
was bloody Angelus. As far as Spike was concerned, he was
the biggest bad around for hundreds of kilometers.

Maybe the eviscerator would try it with him. Spike grinned
around a cigar he'd stolen from the annoying -- and now dead -
- youngling. Started to settle back again and found his gaze
locked on a truly lovely young thing in, predictably, red.

Long, dark chestnut hair, darkened ivory skin, large, dark
eyes... Spike chuckled at himself. He was, if anything,

He knew Drusilla missed mirrors sometimes, perhaps this one
would amuse her. He followed her progress from the rooftops,
swaying walk combined with an oddly sunny smile for the other
demons she passed, and the occasionally struggling humans. It
was a good sign that the woman had more than rage and hunger
in her emotional repertoire. Maybe it was time --

He barely had time to identify the leaping demon as a Gengas
before it landed on the woman, who had twisted at the last
minute to avoid most of its weight. It still knocked her to
the pavement. Spike was wondering whether he liked her
enough to save her when the woman promptly kicked the
Gengas about 10 meters away and attacked it herself -- in
full demon face.

It clearly wasn't a fair fight, but it was certainly amusing.
He let it go on until the woman had begun beating the corpse
with its own arm before jumping down himself.

"'allo, gorgeous. Wanna play?"

She brandished the arm at him for a second, staring with
blank rage until she shook it off. Definitely a new one.

"He *ruined* my dress."

"I dunno, pet. The new design sort of gives you that Tarzana,
Queen of the Jungle look. Especially with the arm and all."

"You can leave *that* look to all those stinky werewolves
running around." She straightened out of her attack pose, and
raised her chin. "Some of us prefer to have style,

Oh, lovely. "The name is Spike, Tarzana, and I repeat my
invitation... how's about some action?"

"I'm hungry."

They were always so cute at that age. "We'll pick someone up
on the way."

"My name's Cordelia."

Spike sketched a small bow. "A pleasure to make your
acquaintance, luv. Shall we?"

Cordelia gave him a sunny smile of his own. "Let's."


The days of floating pencils were long gone.  It was so easy
now. Everything was easy.  It wasn't even as if she were
learning, but rather remembering.  And spells that once
seemed beyond her ability to comprehend now coiled in her
mind like smooth, thick smoke.

Sometimes her mouth ached to speak arcane words and her
head throbbed to the rhythm of some primal music she knew
only she could hear.  And the power felt good, in fact it felt
great, but sometimes it also hurt because she needed to let it
out, to let it do what it would, what she and it both wanted.

But Giles said 'wait' and she obeyed because sometimes she
was frightened as well. But not frightened enough to stop.

Maybe it was the fear that drove her to Giles and sometimes
Xander, or a need to keep some remnant of what they'd had
before... she shivered at the memory of Xander's lips on hers.
Which wasn't anything like what they had before, but it was
what she'd wanted then and still wanted now. Not that he
really understood.

Giles came closest, but she could almost *feel* his mistrust.
She was more powerful than he'd ever be, after all. And he
was too... conservative. Even more bottled up than he'd been
before... and she bit her lip and shook her head and no, she
was not going to think about that.  Easier to go back to her
books and breathe in the spells along with the musty odor of
the pages.

So when she went to Giles' apartment she swayed to her own
secret music and smiled a little at the words of power
flowing through her brain.

Xander opened the door at her knock. Because Xander stared
at her with anxious, troubled eyes she smiled at him.  His own
smile seemed forced, like his lips weren't sure they really
wanted to participate and that made her chuckle a little.

"You have rebellious lips."

He cocked an eyebrow at her and for a moment his smile was
real.  "I do?  Do they have a protest slogan?"

"Down with the regime of the facial muscles."

"That's a damn good slogan."

"I know.  I made it up.  Hey, Giles."  She breezed past Xander
and straight to Giles' bookshelves.

She thought perhaps he was hiding the good books from her,
the powerful ones he hadn't dared keep at the library.  Even
so, just reading spells, even familiar ones made her feel... better.

When Giles peered rather disapprovingly at her over the rim
of his glasses, she smiled and wondered if he'd ever felt this
way, if he'd ever wanted to just reach out and take and do
and know that he could.  If he wanted to.  She didn't think so.

It was disappointing, it made him seem so much *smaller* than
before. He'd seemed so very put together, with his tweed and
his weirdly sexy British accent. Now he just seemed vaguely
disturbed all the time. Willow was feeling as understimulated
as she had in grade school, before they'd started letting her
design her own work load.

That was OK, though... something powerful was approaching
fast and steady. If she didn't tell Giles what she planned to
do then he wouldn't have time to forbid it. It was immature
on her part, she knew, but some things were just necessary.

Closer and closer still and she began whispering the words to
the air, feeling them grow solid, and gather about her, a
numinous army of magics, stroking her cheeks, breathed out
and in and out again.

It was surprise when the Something Powerful just knocked.
She jumped to her feet before either of the others could and
yanked the door open, spell poised just under her tongue in
case of trouble.

And found herself face to face with a girl who seemed her age
or a little older. She had her hair pulled back so tight Willow
wondered if she could actually close her eyes at all. She
certainly didn't seem to blink.

"Um... hello?"

"I am Kendra. Rupert Giles is expecting me."

Neat accent. "Oh, you must be the new... new Slayer. I'm --"

And that was all she had time to get out before Kendra had
one hand locked around her throat and the other brandishing a
knife that had come from nowhere just under her eye.

"How do you know of these things, girl? Speak before I --"


Willow struggled to breathe out the word that would send
Kendra spinning deep into the recesses of her own mind, and
was mildly disappointed to see her react to nothing but Giles'
voice. She pulled the knife away slightly, but didn't loosen
her grip at all as she turned.

"You are Rupert Giles?"

"I am."

"How does this one know? How could you release the secret?"

"It's a long story, Kendra. Now put Willow down and come here.
We have work to do."

Willow nearly fell when Kendra dropped her, and argued with
herself bitterly for several moments before finally canceling
the spell, swallowing it back.

"How do I know --"

Giles shook his head and stormed into her space. "*Enough*
foolishness. Zabuto told me to tell you -- ghost hand."

Kendra's whole posture changed, settling into one of almost
martial parade rest, only with her head bent meek and low. "I
apologize, Mr. Giles. There is much evil in this... Sunnydale. I
had to be sure."

Willow watched as the expressions on Giles' face shuffled
rapidly. Anger to puzzlement to... something like eagerness
that made her decide to reevaluate her judgment of Giles as
'small' at a later date.

"Apology accepted, Kendra. Have you familiarized yourself
with the area?"

"I have a working knowledge of the 2 square miles surrounding
your perimeter."

"You'll need better than that." Over his shoulder. "Xander,
put that crossbow down and find me the maps, if you please."

"You're sure about the unarmed thing?"

"What is this: 'Question The Watcher' day? Just *do* it,

Willow was settling back into the chair with her latest book
when Kendra suddenly stumbled. Brand new Slayer chick had
apparently completely missed Xander's presence. /No one's
ever gonna fill those cool boots of yours, Buffy/ Even more
interesting was that she seemed to be backing away from
him, despite the fact that Xander himself was walking in the
other direction.

Willow tried and failed to stifle her grin. Rubbed at her
throat. Even she'd never been *that* pathetic around boys. A
week ago...

Giles frowned at them both before speaking. "Let me guess,
extremely sheltered upbringing?"

"Yes, sir. I was not allowed to spend time around boys."
Giles scrubbed a hand through his hair. "No, of course not.
Mustn't let the Slayer have any *idea* of what the world is
actually like before setting her loose on it..."


"It's 'Giles,' Kendra. Please, just call me 'Giles.' And the wincing
fellow with the sling over there is Xander, and if you call him
sir his adolescent brain may very well explode. Are we clear?"

"Yes, s-- Giles."

"Right. First the maps, then... are you rested enough for


"Good. Let's get to it, then."

Xander offered his good hand. "Hey, I'm Xander."

Kendra blushed furiously and muttered something
incomprehensible before following Giles to the dining room

"Um... you, too?" Xander shook it off. "So, Wills, read any
good shoulder-fixing spells lately?"

"Well, there's the one that gives you the arms of a Chok
demon... though I think you have to attach them yourself..."
And suddenly she could see how to do it, open Xander's body
with nothing but the touch of her magics and make it one with
the long, scaly limbs of the screaming young Chok in the
background. How Xander would slowly start to change... it was


There was something wrong with the woman on the bed, but
Cordelia was feeling open-minded. They were about the same
size at least, and it was possible that Coma-goth had
*something* wearable, if only stolen from one of her

She could feel Spike /and what kind of name was that? So
obvious/ behind her, watching her watch the woman. The other
vampire, who was still and sprawled and either looking at them
or doing her glassiest impression of Dead Victorian.

The something indefinable in her, that brand new sense that
had little to do with the other five, gave her an impression of
age if not power, necessarily. Who knew? Maybe she was just
living out her death scene.

She felt something oddly like a pang. Her sire was dead --
she'd felt him blow into dust and nearly screamed at the
sensation. The Master was dead, but she could still remember
the way his claws had punctured her cheek, slip, slip, slip until
she could feel the blood running down her face, wetting her
shirt. She remembered the shocking rip of his teeth going in,
of dying in his arms and waking to the most wonderful thing
she'd ever experienced, the Master's blood like the purest,
cleanest energy.

Brighter than the sun.

She came back to herself with a start, it was still hard not
to get lost when she remembered the Master, and she didn't
need the carelessly implacable feel of Spike's hands around
her wrists to remind her of the danger.

"Dammit, I'm too young to die again!"

Chuckling purr in her ear. "Of course you are, luv. Don't
worry, I think you'll enjoy this..."

A blink and the doll-pretty woman didn't move so much as
*exist* again. Cordelia felt a rush of weirdly dampened power
and rolled with Spike's surge, half-collapsing into it. The two
of them... she was buffeted with the age, the power, the
violence and... and the love that made her remember something
deep down that she wasn't sure she wanted to.

And then the woman was nuzzling her, cheek-to-cheek, shifting
back and forth between beauty and something like
magnificence, velvet and steel and this was new, this was
good. It wasn't as good as the sire, but it was still --

Spike's mouth on the back of her neck, Spike's hands pulling
her own high above her head and her breasts rose to brush
against the woman's --

"I'm Drusilla... and you're very pretty."

The bite came hard and fast, a shocking lack of sensation
followed by a flare of pain as her flesh tore. A moment later
and Spike's own teeth were fastened on the back of her neck,
less biting than... holding her still.

Cordelia shuddered and Spike tightened his grip and Drusilla
sank deeper and she cried out and there was a hand on her
breast, hard and ruthless and the sound of her moans made her
face try to flush.

She let herself slump a little and instantly Spike was driving
her against Drusilla, short full-body thrusts and there was
leather at her skin where the dress was ripped, and also silk
and she felt herself slipping, dreaming dark and wet like she
was on the inside, like the slim hand at her sex, rubbing and
pushing at her and there was no room, no room to thrust, to
move, to beg with her body for more.

All she could do was rest into it, take it, and it was getting
harder to focus at the same time individual sensations were
growing loud and high, but that could just be her moans. The
sweet bone hardness in her throat, shifting with each suckle,
the scrape of a dull fingernail around and around her clit, the
cool, cool leather...

And then she was on the bed, face buried in the dusty silk of
Drusilla's lap while Spike pushed her up on her knees. Pushed
her up and rubbed her and pinched her and slid in so long and
hard, breaking her open and yes, yes it was right to spill her
virgin blood like this, to slick Spike's way and push back and
gasp into the silk, burrow down into the silk where tiny heat
flared and pulsed and Cordelia dove in.

Old things, dead and sweet and addictive, better when she bit
and she tasted herself. Better than any of the quick sucks at
her fingers in the bathroom, better than wondering what
would happen if she let her fingers get close to anyone's nose.

That was dead, it was gone and she was here, sucking and
licking and fucking herself back on exactly what she needed,
taking and taking and groaning into the perfectly perfect
flower folds, faded pink and throbbing for her.

And then there was a rough hand in her hair, yanking her up on
her knees and oh God Spike was even deeper and Drusilla was
at her chest. Impossibly tiny bites to her nipples striking a
tuning fork through her. Cordelia buried her hands in the
thick fall of hair and pulled Drusilla close, rocking
helplessly as Spike wrapped one iron arm around her waist and

Ragged thrusts moving her in obscene little jerks and she
watched Drusilla watch her breasts bounce and then she was
in again, quick harsh bites and one long, soft one. Pulling and
pulling at her until her veins started screaming, thick drying
puppet strings and she felt herself throb, felt her whole
body throb and then all she could do was scream out her
orgasm and collapse while Spike finished himself in her body.

The smell of fresh blood dragged Cordelia back into
consciousness. A boy, vaguely familiar in the
cheerleader/football player sort of way. Drusilla was giving
him new eyelashes with her fingernails while he jerked.
Jaggedly cheerful rays of blood, radiating from wide, wide
blue eyes.

Her skin felt stretched tight over the bone, she pictured
herself a skeleton with a ragged mane of dark hair, a creature
of bone and skin and sharp, sharp fangs.

And when Spike patted her hair, and when Drusilla tilted the
boy's head back for Cordelia's ease... And when she took what
was offered, she knew they had only begun.


It wasn't proper that the Watcher should accompany her on
patrol.  She didn't *need* help.  Or perhaps he questioned her
ability to perform her duties.

Kendra narrowed a glance at her new Watcher.  Giles, she
reminded herself, still somewhat mortified at the impropriety
of such casualness.  He strode alongside her carrying an old
leather satchel of weapons.  She'd told him she didn't need
any of them, but he'd insisted and years of training made her
drop her eyes and murmur, "Yes, sir."

Still, just because he had them didn't mean she *had* to use
them. Kendra ran a fingertip along the smooth lines of Mr.
Pointy and allowed her lips to curve in the slightest of smiles.
She'd show him what a real Slayer -- properly trained of
course -- could do.

"Hey, G man, haven't we already been though here?"

And that was another thing.  Kendra resolutely did not look at
the two other strolling behind them, especially not at the boy.
Xander.  Bad enough that others *knew* of the Slayer, but to
accompany her on patrol? Outrageous.  If Giles was a proper
Watcher he never would have allowed this.  Instead he'd been
the one to suggest the girl, Willow, and Xander "tag along."

"Xander, do you remember when we discussed how stealth had
inherent qualities of silence?"  Giles' barely audible voice
still managed to express a near shout of irritation.

Xander's response was a sullenly chastened, "I have a vague
recollection, yes."

"Then do be quiet."

Willow whispered, "There's been a lot of activity here.  And I
can feel something up ahead."

Kendra snapped her attention away from Xander's muttered
response and Giles' hiss for them to "Shut up!" and slit her
eyes in concentration.  Yes, something was coming.

She stepped forward, Mr. Pointy at the ready.  Her muscles
flowed into battle readiness, relaxed yet ready to coil.

The vamp stepped forth from behind a tree.  He was young and
hungry and leapt at her with no warning but a snarl.

And this was no challenge whatsoever.  She could have dusted
him with one easy strike.  He was too eager, too stupid and
too clumsy.  So, fully aware that Giles was watching, she
played with him instead.  Just a little.

Kendra feinted when he charged again, let him almost touch
her, then spun away.  She could almost hear her first
Watcher's voice of disapproval for such theatrics.  So she
only allowed one more pass, then stepped forward, let her arm
become a blur and staked him mid leap.

Flushed with success, she turned to the silent trio and let
her gaze touch on Xander before meeting Giles' disapproving
gaze and felt the beginnings of her smile die.

"What was that about?"


"You could have taken him immediately.  But you let him
charge.  Was there a reason?"

"Sir," she floundered, her flush now turning to shame.  "I
wanted... I wanted to..."

His gaze flickered from her to Xander, who, when she dared
look at him, was staring at her with eyes shining with a mix
of admiration and commiseration.

"Never mind," Giles said finally said impatiently.  "Just don't
let it happen again, yes?  We don't have *time* for this sort
of thing."

And her flush deepened as she realized how easily he saw
though her.  Yet it seemed he wasn't going to expose her and
for that she was deeply relieved and grateful.  "Yes, sir.
Thank you, sir."

Xander left Willow's side and casually slung an arm over her
shoulder, seemingly ignoring the way she instinctively
flinched, and said, "You have just been subjected to
Disapproving Giles glare number one. Congratulations. You're
now officially entitled to an evening at the Bronze where we
will drink, listen to garage bands and make fun of his tweed."

Nearly giddy, Kendra risked a glance at Giles, who merely
sighed and muttered, "After patrol, children. And call me

And suddenly her unprofessional actions of before were worth
every second of mortification.


Oz tapped the horn once and settled back into the cracked
and ripping leather. The van hadn't aged well, but it certainly
had a lot of character.

He could almost anticipate every creak -- he'd only been
driving for two years, but he'd put a lot of miles on. His
father and mother both had told him he had roaming in the
blood, and he'd nodded.
Some things you could feel.

He glanced over at the MacLeish house, all neat lawn and
flower beds that seemed to scream obsessive compulsiveness.
The door was still closed. It was expected, though -- Devon
was always late. He was oddly birdlike at times, occasionally
caught by something shiny, or glittery, or slick, or retro, or
basically anything Devon could make sexy through the use of
his own body.

And that was quite a lot of anythings; Devon had this strange
alchemy going on that Oz found endlessly fascinating.

Oz took in the neat little rose-pink house again and smiled.
Devon was very different from the rest of his family.

He shifted a little, tilted his head back. Not the smartest
thing to do on a Sunnydale night, not these days, but late
August was a somehow *solid* thing, and he needed what little
breeze he could catch. It was harder to get cool since the
bite. Sometimes he found himself staring due North,
sometimes he found himself driving that way. No tunes, no
Dingoes in the van. Just him. And North.

To the forests.

He had his suspicions about what the bite meant, of course.
There had always been certain members of his family that
were a tad more feral than others, and his weirdly hungry
nephew was very much one of them, and he could remember
teething on raw steak, and, well... Oz was born and bred in
Sunnydale, these things happened.

He wondered how his parents would react.

His own cage? Even more disturbing business dinners than
before where his mother's coworkers brought their young
daughters over?

Oz shook his head. He had another 18 days until the full moon.
He could save the inevitable family meeting until later. He
didn't feel at all evil, and there had only been a few moments
of cannibalism contemplation.

Creak, wash of clean sweat scent and marijuana, quick squeeze
to his thigh, and Devon was in the van.

"Hey, man." Devon grinned at him.

"Hey. Bronze?"

Devon shook his head.

Oz took in what he was wearing. Low-slung jeans and a tight
black t-shirt made out of some sort of material that Oz
wanted to rub against. Oz smiled. Fuck me clothes. "My house?"

Devon ran his finger over Oz's thigh, tracing something that
felt like the opening riff to the last song they'd written
together. "Nah. I'm feeling more like dirty van sex in the
parking lot of a supermarket."



Oz pulled out into the night.


The Bronze never changed.  People milled, danced and talked
with the same overly bright, desperate air of the perpetually
dateless.  Xander thought if the world ever did actually end,
the survivors would still gather here just in case someone
cool and popular would drop by and notice them.

God only knew he'd spent enough time here doing exactly the
same thing, except Buffy had never been exactly popular with
the in crowd.
Okay, and that was a bad thought and hadn't he already
decided he wasn't going to do that anymore?  So.  Put the
past behind him and just forget all that shit.  Be a man and
keep up a stiff upper lip and someday you too can be a
repressed, emotionless drone just like Giles.  But without the
tweed and glasses, thank you very much.

And he immediately recognized that as unfair and not very
nice but couldn't bring himself to feel too bad about it.  Giles
wasn't, well, Giles anymore.  Sure, he was teaching him how to
take care of himself, how to be useful for a change, but... He
was supposed to be the one who made things right, who took
care of things, maybe even took care of Xander.

Not anymore, baby.  Not since -- and again, no.  No thank you.

Willow pointed to an empty table then grabbed it with the air
of someone who'd done her job and done it well.  She patted
the stool next to her for Kendra, then said, "Xander will get
us drinks.  What do you want?"

Kendra ducked her head, peeked at him through her lashes and
said, "Water" as if she wasn't quite sure.

It was, in Xander's opinion, charming how she was so shy with
him when she'd been getting so kick ass stubborn with Giles
over the past weeks.

Willow shooed him toward the bar, and Xander went,
encountering only the occasional elbow in his side on the way.

"The crowd's getting ugly," he commented to Bored-Looking
Guy at the bar.

"Band's late," was the laconic response.

Xander craned his head around and read the logo on the drum.
"Dingoes Ate My Baby," he said with a snort of horrified
amusement.  "Now *that's* a name."

Drinks in hand, he almost stumbled when the crowd shifted
again and he saw the band casually file on to the stage and
pick up their instruments.

He sort of recognized a couple of them as seniors, guys who
were always hanging out in the smoking area before, during
and after classes.

After setting the drinks on the table, he slid onto the stool
next to Kendra, then noticed Willow staring at the short guy
with the guitar.

"Do you know him?"

"No," she said slowly.  "But I think there's something
different about him."

"Yeah.  He can actually play.  A historic moment for the

Xander looked at Kendra.  Her face was schooled into an
impassive mask but her eyes were just a tad wistful. He'd
spent enough time with her by now to know she desperately
trying to contain herself from doing something un-Slayerlike.
Like maybe...

"Hey.  Kendra.  Wanna dance?"

And just like he knew she would, Kendra shook her head and
averted her eyes.  Even so, he stood and held out his hand, and
with just a quick, guilty glance around, maybe to make sure
Giles wasn't lurking in the corner to tell her to stop slacking
off and kill something, Kendra took it and let him lead her
onto the dance floor.

There wasn't room for anything fancy, and it was a slow song
anyway, so Xander pulled her close.

She moved hesitantly, like she really wasn't sure about this
dancing business.  It was so different from dancing with
Willow or Buffy, both of whom would and could veer off in
any direction or dancing style at will.

In other words, very different from the last time he'd been
here and danced with Buffy. He never would have dared hold
her this close because she'd be able to feel the almost
incipient erection her mere presence could cause and that was
another thought he could have lived without because just
thinking about things like that made them happen.

Especially when dancing with someone who looked /felt/ like
Kendra. He eased back and thought it wasn't fair that he felt
guilty, Buffy wouldn't want him to feel that way, but then
nothing was really fair anymore.

And yes, he really could whine like a two year old when he was
dancing slow and close to a beautiful girl who, somehow, liked
him. Maybe even *liked* him. Dark brown eyes, smooth caramel
skin and he couldn't help but wonder what her hair was like
when she let it down at night.

If she let it down at night.

Xander grinned at the thought and Kendra grinned right back
at him.

Maybe... maybe he could just let himself be alive for a while,
and maybe he could help Kendra do the same.


Being left alone at the table with the drinks and purses
wasn't exactly new to Willow, but the feeling was. She was...
calm. Even watching Xander and Kendra. There was a part of
her, a large part, that screamed *mine* whenever she saw
Xander moving to her, or the way Kendra looked at him.

After all, Willow had been the first one to see Xander grow
into cute boy from best friend, Willow had been the one who
had swallowed her wants to keep him, and to keep him hers.
And when they had touched, even briefly, there had been the
same gentle passion she'd always dreamed of. She knew
Xander, heart and soul... and if he didn't know her as well, she
had always thought there'd be time to fix that later.

But she hadn't known about the power.

Honestly, Willow didn't think she would've believed it if
anyone had explained it to her, that anything could be *this*
good, *this* all-pervasive. Sometimes, deep inside a spell, she
felt herself open to everything, everywhere. As if one move
could break her into a million pieces or introduce her to the

As if one move could *make* her a god.

And it wasn't as though she was careless. She knew she was
still very new at all this, and she had to admit that her odd
instinctual knowledge didn't seem to include the downside to
a lot of the spells, which could have been disastrous if she
didn't have the books to doublecheck with.

But that was just the thing... she *had* the books. And, for
the few spells that required more than her own power and
assorted body fluids, there was a magic shop right in town.
But Giles was... watching her. He had set little alarms that
would let him know whenever Willow drew on a large amount
of power.

She'd found that out the hard way when he'd confiscated the
books she'd borrowed for an entire week. Librarians knew the
cruelest punishments.

And all she'd been doing was trying to set a trap around her
house that would kill any vampire that stepped onto her

Willow was *sure* she could have finetuned it to just Undead
things, given the time to work on it.

Giles, she decided, was overprotective. It was only logical,
given the loss of Buffy and Cordelia, but he had no grasp of
*scope*. There was so much she could be doing to make things
right, more than just these silly and mostly ineffectual
protection spells at least.

The word was that another Big Evil had moved in, taken over.
All Willow knew for sure was that Giles grudgingly approved
their trips to the Bronze because the area was in near-
constant need of patrolling anyway.

Maybe from the guitarist...

She reached out for him and there was that strangeness
again. Not quite the same strangeness as any of the demons
she'd seen so far, but this *was* the Hellmouth. She turned
to give more of her attention to the stage, and found the
strange guitar player watching her as closely as she was
about to start watching him. Willow jumped a little, inside,
feeling that getting-to-be-familiar thrill of excitement and

Had Buffy felt anything like that? Did Kendra?

She glanced over. Kendra was Focused on Xander. Willow
found herself smiling ruefully at her reflexive inner grrr.
She certainly wouldn't *mind* a few dozen more Xander
smoochies and the surety that she was the only one getting
them especially since he'd started making Giles teach him how
to fight as soon as the sling came off and he'd started
developing actual muscles, but... she had other things to do.

Xander agreed too much with Giles about the spells, anyway.

Back to the guitarist and his bleached blond hair teased into
a million spikes and his faded old t-shirt and his graceful
fingers and his eyes... weirdly glittery and bottle green in the
lights from the stage. The guitarist and his... weirdness. He
made a puzzled face all of a sudden, smiled slightly.

Willow knew it was for her.

She smiled back. They'd have to follow him, of course.


Another bloody night in the bloody factory.  Spike had taken
to sneaking out for smokes just to get away.  At first it had
been fun.  Cordelia was regular demon in the sack, almost
Dru's equal when you really got her going, but bloody hell.
There was only so much fucking a man could do before the
novelty wore off.

He walked in and found Dru reclining on a table, her eyes half
closed, singing a barely audible nonsense rhyme.  Cordelia sat
nearby, idly flipping through a fashion magazine.

Okay, he'd been patient, was willing to wait for Dru's go
ahead before making their presence known.  But they'd been in
this stinking factory for fucking *ever* and he was sick and
tired of waiting and hiding.

"Dru."  When she didn't respond, Spike sharpened his voice
and rapped out, "Drusilla."

She gave him a reproachful look and murmured, "I'm singing
the stars to sleep.  Hush now," and went right back to her

Spike kicked an empty chair and watched it skitter across the
floor before growling, "If you want the bloody stars to sleep,
just invite them over here.  An hour in this place will send
them right into a bloody coma."

Drusilla simply gave him a sweetly mad smile, then ignored

"It's fine for you," he muttered sourly.  "When you have a
mind like a circus, you always have a ringside seat.  But I
need to *do* something, Dru."

"Hey, I'm bored too," Cordelia announced, her pretty mouth
petulant. She tossed the magazine aside, stood and stretched
before cocking her head to one side and saying hopefully, "We
could go shopping."  She gave her dress a desultory look,
adding,  "Nobody in my size wears anything nice anymore."  She
then gave him a slightly more interested look.  "Or
we could..."

"Jesus fucking Christ!  Is that all you think about?  Fucking
and shopping, shopping and fucking.  Bloody hell!  Were you
this insipid when you were alive?"

Cordelia's lips drew back.  "You're one to talk, Mister Big
Bad Punk Wannabe.  What have you done lately but color your

Spike stepped closer and felt his face morph.  "Thought about
killing you, for starters."

"Wait."  Dru's voice, filled with authority, froze them mid

Spike turned his head and met her eyes, which were entirely
mad, yet fully aware.  He felt a chill of excitement shudder
up his spine. He knew what that look meant.  "What, luv?
What did you see?"

"We have to wait," she said.  A small, awful and yet sweet
smile curved her lips.  She looked *evil*.  "Something is going
to happen.  Something bad, so bad, Spike."  Hugging herself,
she half sang, "So we have to wait and be ready because it's
happening soon."

Cordelia blinked and tapped a nail to her lips before asking,
"Does this mean we can go shopping?"


They followed the strange boy home.  Luckily he lived close by
and Willow was able to track his rather ugly van by magic.
Lucky, because he drove fast, pushing the elderly sounding
engine until it wheezed.  Kendra didn't *need* the spell and
could have moved faster, except Xander and Willow insisted
they all go together or not at all.

Kendra prowled around the yard, looking for any clue about
what was so different about him and couldn't sense anything
she was familiar with. But he did have an air of something not
quite right, not quite human.

Still, when the lights went out and with the house dark, she
decided there wasn't anything left to do here.  She'd track
him tomorrow night.

"So, kids, what's next?"  Xander thrust his hands in pockets
and cocked an eyebrow at her.  "The night is still young and I
have a cola buzz going that won't wear off until sunrise."

Willow yawned and said, "I think it's past my bedtime."

"And now you know why I will always eschew your average
orange flavored beverage.  I am," and here he struck a
dramatic pose, "a creature of the night."

"Pay no attention to him," Willow advised Kendra.  "He's a
creature of goofiness."

"I think he's wonderful," Kendra said shyly, just to see
Xander beam at her.

He slung an arm over her shoulder and by now she could relax
into it and lean against him.  How had she ever thought this
might be wrong?  He felt so good against her side, and smelled
so wonderful, even after a couple of hours worth of exertion
on the dance floor.  Maybe especially because of that.

He almost smelled the way he did when Giles let them train
together. And she would never, ever let him know just how
much she held back when they did.

He didn't let go of her even when they stopped at Willow's
house and she kissed him goodnight on the cheek.

Even nearly two months of watching how other people
interacted didn't make her any less fascinated by this
process. The casual touches, the kisses.  She risked a glance
up at Xander's mouth as they walked to Giles' house and
wondered if he'd ever thought about kissing her.  Or if he
would mind if she kissed him.

This made her shiver and he paused to ask, "Are you cold?"

"No."  But she didn't protest when he pulled her a little closer.

When they reached the courtyard, Xander let her go and
stepped back a bit.  "Well," he said hesitantly.  "I suppose I
should say goodnight."

Kendra glanced at his lips again, licked her own and took a
deep breath.  This was all right between friends and Xander
was a friend and if she didn't do this now she never would and
she leaned forward, aiming for his cheek, but he turned his
head at the last second and... oh.  Oh.

Soft.  His lips were so soft and they were sweet and slightly
sticky from the sodas so she licked them and he made a noise
so deep in his chest she could *feel* it.

The he licked her lips and her mouth opened and his tongue
was in her *mouth* and she almost bit it in surprise but then
his hands were on her back, pulling her tight against him and
her tongue tangled with his and how could she ever think this
would be gross?

It seemed only right, only natural when his hands slipped
under her shirt. The stroke of his fingers in the small of
back made her nipples hard and the place between her legs
ache.  So it also seemed right to rub against him, to use his
chest and the hardness between his legs to ease each ache.
For a second it did, then he undulated against her and
oh dear *god* all she wanted to do was grind harder, faster.

Xander moved his kisses away for her mouth, leaving it to
feel swollen and slightly bruised in the meaningless breeze.
This weather reminded her of home in the best way, of the
few hours a day Mr. Zabuto had given her away from training,
away from studying. Just to walk through the towns (so small,
so poor compared to this rich, fat land) and smell the spices
on the air.

She could almost smell them now, drugging her senses as
Xander trailed wet kisses over her chin and throat --


And it made Xander hold her tighter, shift her against him
into an even better position that made her moan aloud, into
the air. It suddenly occurred to her that her own hands were
frozen, grasping his shoulders as if for dear life... and yes,
yes each kiss, each thrust, each waft of the scent between
them confirmed it. This was life, right here, in Xander's

She let her hands roam, then, the feel of shifting muscles
covered by soft skin in turn covered by thin cotton adding to
the rest. Kendra felt dazed, sleepy and enervated at the same
time. She had to push her throat against Xander's restless
lips, had to let one hand slip down to the small of *his* back,
mirror the half-ticklish, half-wonderful motion. She had so
much to *learn*...

One kiss after another on her pulsepoint and she knew he
could feel how it was racing, feel how much she wanted this,
wanted *him* and something inside her tried to go cold, but
when Xander whispered her name against her skin it all
melted again.

A pause and Xander was looking at her, holding her close with
one hand, cradling her face with the other. "You're so

Kendra felt even more color flood her cheeks and tried
to turn away but Xander's grip tightened. She looked in
his eyes, then, really looked and found herself trapped.

"I wish you wouldn't turn away from me like that... You have
beautiful cheeks, but your eyes are even better."

And Kendra could see the smile in his eyes, she could see
everything there, and she wanted it so badly it was

She promised herself she wouldn't ever look away from him
again. She let herself smile and closed her eyes again, leaned
in and up and felt Xander's lips brush hers. But it was soft
this time, and brief.

"What's wrong?"

Xander barked out a laugh and hugged her even tighter for a
moment. "Absolutely nothing."

"Then why did you stop?" What had she done wrong?

A pause, and he was looking at her that way again, that sweet,
powerful way that made her feel both naked and utterly safe.
"Abruptly, I have no idea."

Another kiss then, deeper, hotter and she couldn't help it, she
tried digging her nails in to stop it, but she couldn't. Kendra
brushed one hand over his bottom, felt heat and muscle
through his shorts and he *groaned* into her mouth, groaned
and half lifted her against him and the hot hardness pressing
into her belly made her feel so *hungry* and then the kiss was
over and Xander was holding her at arms' length.

Or rather, Kendra was *letting* him hold her at arms' length.
Temporarily. She would let him say whatever he had to say,
and decide future moves from there. Yes, she could be

What he had to say mostly boiled down to "whoa" and assorted
pants, which made her warm with a sly little pride she did her
best to hide.


She pushed a little against his hold, just to make sure he
knew she could and he grinned at her like he knew exactly
what she was doing.

"Kendra, this is great. No, this is the best thing I have felt
in my entire life, but..." He let her go, gestured at the street,
the sky, the whole night around them. "I want better than
this for you. For us."

And then he ran one hand over her face, slowly over her
forehead, down the bridge of her nose, making her smile.
Brushed his knuckles once over each cheek. She was glad this
wasn't one of the times she'd been experimenting with
makeup with Willow. She wanted anything that brushed off on
Xander to be all her.

When he dropped his hands, there was a small silence.

"Good-night, Xander."

Another grin, this one just slightly lopsided. It made her
want to touch it, pat it and keep right where it was. "Good-
night, Kendra."

She watched him go, and kept the nameless song he was
whistling with her when she eventually slept.


The soft hush of voices under his window woke Giles.  He half
rose and reached for a weapon when he recognized Kendra's
accent.  A second later, he heard Xander's voice make a low,
intense sounding reply.  And then silence.

Ah.  He'd seen this coming almost from the beginning.

Eyes closed, but wide awake, he listened as the conversation
ended and then heard the quiet snick of the door and Kendra's
footsteps down that hall to the guest room.  Alone.

He wondered what he would do if, or rather when, this was
not the case. He didn't want to be a parental figure, had
never desired children, truth be told, yet he seemed destined
to be cast in the role of someone's father of late.

It was, to be honest, not a role to which he was suited.  As a
Watcher he *was* an authority figure, but his training did
not cover how to react when the Slayer in your charge was in
imminent danger of losing her virginity.  Of course, the
Slayer wasn't supposed to have friends, let alone lovers.
They often didn't live long enough to cultivate either.

The Council had been quite dubious about Buffy's coterie.
They would be damn near apoplectic if they knew that not only
was he allowing Kendra the same freedom, he was also training
an outsider, a *boy* along with her.

The Council, Giles decided, could fucking well sod off.  It was
one thing to discuss theory and method and tradition in the
safety of wood paneled libraries in Surrey, and quite another
to live on the edge of the Hellmouth.

Let the children have fun while they could.  As long as they
didn't slack off or become careless, he wouldn't interfere.

And Xander seemed... better with Kendra.  He'd finally lost
that pained look in his eyes and pinched lines around his
mouth.  Part of Giles still cringed when he thought of his
careless disregard for Xander's obvious *need* in the wake
of Buffy's death, brushed the boy of with the admonition
'Get better', because he would be needed later.

As if he was a tool for Giles to use or ignore at will.

But there was no going back, no changing anything.  And
he was not fool enough to pretend to himself there was
no truth in what he had said. All he could do at this point was
make damn sure they wouldn't be caught off guard again.

Willow was now more than the equivalent of a hedge witch.
How much more he refused to think about too deeply. He'd
tried to give her a sense of caution, and that would have to be
enough. For tonight anyway.

And Xander at least could defend himself and possibly Kendra,
should the need arise.

Vaguely comforted by these thoughts, Giles fell asleep.

And awoke the next morning to the sound of laughter in his
living room. He rose, dressed and found Kendra and Xander
huddled together on the couch, amiably squabbling over the
last bite of a jelly donut.

Giles reached out, grabbed it and popped it in his mouth
before sternly saying, "You're in training.  Both of you know
better.  And don't be bringing jelly donuts into this house
unless you've brought enough for everybody.  Do I make
myself clear?"

It was a credit to how much Kendra had changed in two short
months that she merely nodding instead of falling all over
herself apologizing.  Xander merely smirked and said, "I guess
this means pastries are on the approved diet as long as you
get your jelly fix, right?"

"No.  That means you may bring *me* a jelly donut tomorrow
and today you get to train for an extra hour."

Xander recovered quickly. "Ooooh, I love it when you're stern
with me, G-man."

Giles bit back on half-shocked laughter. "There is absolutely
no reason to make this any more disturbing than it needs to
be. Now clear away the furniture, lay the mats, and begin your

There was no real reason to have them take down and set up
the living room every time -- it wasn't as though Giles
entertained -- but it was another trick he'd picked up while in

Kendra and Xander automatically moved to different things to
shift, not a routine so much as a smooth sort of efficiency.
They only bumped each other once, and that may very well have
been intentional.

It was the ordinary tasks that showed the measure of the
fighter. It was all well and good to be smooth and prepared in
a planned sparring session, and quite another to keep yourself
a weapon at all times. Quite a few of the people he knew who
were accounted fine fighters in school were dead now... they'd
never understood that a personal off-switch could be deadly.

A Slayer needed to be at full readiness nearly constantly, and
while it seemed somehow... wrong to ask for the same sort of
thing from a perfectly normal human, Xander had asked. It
was the least he could do to accept.

The routine of the furniture had the added effect of placing
a small, but necessary amount of distance between them. They
were students to his teacher now, and that was all for the

They were both standing, loose and just slightly apprehensive,

"We'll start with a spar."

He'd anticipated Kendra's glare -- she felt he was going too
fast for Xander, and that would never be said -- and punished
her, wincing internally. "Kendra, attack."

She never directly disobeyed an order, but... Instead of simply
pouncing, she began to circle him. Giving him time to prepare
no demon would. He would have to close that loophole as soon
as possible. As it was, there were unforeseen difficulties in
dealing with a teenaged girl who'd been brought up to obey,
unquestioningly, the *letter* of the law. Damn Zabuto,
anyway. He'd been an insufferable prig at the academy.

Kendra certainly never called him 'sir' anymore.

"Stop. Xander, Fifty push-ups. Now."

Xander looked as though he would question the order, but
stopped himself and dropped. The first eight were a bit
shaky as the bad shoulder protested -- it was like a poorly
oiled hinge at times, as far as Giles could tell -- but the
motion smoothed. The boy's strength had increased just as
fast as an athletic sixteen year old's should.

Kendra said nothing, but her glare never faded, either. She
was testing her boundaries, and that was wonderful and
necessary. It was Giles' job to give her boundaries to test.

Xander was up again shortly, showing almost no sign of

"Kendra, what's wrong with Xander's stance?"

A bare -- yet noticeable -- pause before she turned and eyed
him critically.

"Xander is holding his right arm stiffly, as though it hurts
him." Everything professional in her voice, most likely nothing
professional in her eyes.

"Anything else?"


Good, not the sort to look for something just to please
authority. She had a good measure of trust in herself. "Then
you know his weak spot. Attack."

This time she did pounce, but Xander managed to sidestep just
enough. Then it was a blur. Xander hit the mat on his side and
immediately kicked out a leg, tripping Kendra. She didn't fall,
but instead launched herself with slight awkwardness into the
air, twisting and bringing her left foot down on where
Xander's abdomen would have been if he hadn't rolled after
the trip.

And then Xander was up, punching, managed two decent body
punches before Kendra caught him with his guard down, landing
a hook to his cheek that snapped his head back. Giles noted
with approval that he didn't try to recover -- deadly against
a faster, stronger opponent -- instead bringing a knee up to
impact with the big muscle of Kendra's thigh.

The punch combined with the knee made him lose his balance
again, and he fell back straight, remembering to mule-kick out
straight to where *Kendra* would've been if she hadn't taught
him that move herself.

She landed a bruising kick to Xander's exposed knee before he
could retract and he grunted, rolling away as fast as he could,
but earning another kick just above a kidney before he could
get up into a crouch again -- just in time to take three
impossibly fast jabs to his wounded shoulder that laid him

"End spar."

From the floor, Xander said "what, already? I'm just... ow...
just fine..."

Kendra was obviously torn between standing ready for further
instructions and going to check on Xander. The decision was
taken away from her by him getting up on his own. His
shoulder was going to turn a spectacular array of colors
before it healed no doubt, and so was his cheek. Giles smiled
to himself.

They'd have to slow down the kissing a bit now.

In all it was the roughest, realest spar he'd ever seen. And
Kendra was clearly furious with him for allowing it to happen.
It was time for the honey and the stick.

"Kendra, your speed and reflexes keep getting better, but you
must remember that your lower body is as vulnerable as your
upper, and perhaps more important. If a demon had given you
that blow to the thigh you probably would've gone down and
been dead now, as opposed to just sore." Slightly
sore, but he knew she wouldn't press that point with Xander
here, despite Xander's realistic knowledge of their relative

"Xander, your own reflexes have improved dramatically, and so
has your accuracy. However, you must remember that when
dealing with a faster, stronger opponent your best option is
to strike and move, strike and move. Do not give your
opponent time to become accustomed to your chosen attack, or
you *will* be blindsided. Furthermore, you *must* remember
not to show any true weakness.

"It's one thing to try to mislead your opponent into
underestimating you, and entirely another to paint him a
target saying 'hit me *here*. Have I made myself clear?"

Nearly in unison, "Yes, Giles."

"Good. Now get the practice swords, we're going to work the

In truth, they were doing far, far better than he had expected.
Kendra had allowed herself more freedom to fight
Xander, despite her feelings for him -- a desperately
necessary skill in a place where one night could turn
loved one into bloodthirsty demon.

Xander, of course, had no worries about hurting Kendra, and
so never pulled his punches anymore. Xander now had an
excellent chance of defeating both human opponents and
lesser demons. Despite his jokes, he'd thrown himself into
this with a vigor that would surprise most of his teachers,
Giles would wager.

Giles could understand. He didn't want another Slayer to die
on his watch, either.


The old Willow would have gone to Giles first, to ask for
advice and wait for instructions.  But today, filled with
power and dangerous spells, Willow felt entirely comfortable
giving the door of the guitarist's house a firm, authoritative
knock.  Let him even look at her wrong and she'd have him
reduced to base chemical components in a heartbeat.

She knocked again when no one answered and backed away
slightly from the door.  Just in case he was a pouncing kind of

When the door opened and sleepy blue eyes regarded her mild
puzzlement, Willow hit him with a quick probe, saw the eyes
go wide awake but no less puzzled.

If the probe hadn't proved he was, for the moment, not
dangerous, his following words would have.

"I'm guessing you're not for the Jehovah's Witnesses."

He glanced at her hands, then met her eyes again.  "No
literature.  Plus they travel in pairs.  And they almost never
do what you just did.  What was that?"

Willow sensed she was losing control here.  "Listen, I'll ask
the questions."

He leaned against the door frame, revealing jean clad legs and
bare feet.  As he absently rubbed at his bare chest, he
shrugged and mildly said, "Okay."

With a frown, Willow took a cautious step forward.  He
wasn't reacting at all like she expected.  No one was that
serene.  "Look, I know you're not human," she blurted out.

One fine eyebrow cocked in inquiry.  A slight smile curved his
lips. "I'm not?"

"You look human, you may even act human, at least so far as I
can tell, but I *know* there's something different about you."

The smile deepened a little.  "Okay."

Okay?  Okay, he might be cute in a sleep tousled way and
maybe he had dimples but this was not going according to plan.
She wanted to turn *something* into goo.  That had been a
good spell, darn it.

She glared at him and he cocked his head a little, studying
her.  "You wanna come in?"

"Oh sure, like I'm going to step into your lair and let you do
whatever it is you do to helpless victims.  Well, let me tell
you, Mister I Don't Know What You Are, I can protect myself."

He blinked and mildly said, "I usually offer them coffee or
soda.  They can always say no."

Not quite sure how she got there, Willow found herself
primly sitting on a very comfortable sofa in a very tidy living
room, complete with photos on the wall of the boy in varying
stages of growth.  If she hadn't been able to sense that
oddness about him even now, she would wonder if she hadn't
really, really made a stupid mistake.

He came back from the kitchen and handed her a Coke then
slung himself into the nearest chair.  He took a long sip of
his coffee before saying, "I'm Oz, by the way."

Years of her mother's rules of social engagement made
Willow mumble, "I'm Willow.  You have a very nice lair, er,

"My parents try to keep the corpses to a minimum."

"I'm kidding," he added when she pointedly peered under his


"So," Oz said.  "What are you?"

Her chin rose and her eyes narrowed.  "You tell me first."

"I think," he began, "I think I'm a werewolf."

Willow's lips quivered like she wanted to say something, then
compressed for a brief moment.  She took a sip of her soda
and stared at him again, her gaze especially lingering on his
feet where fine tufts of hair grew at the base of his big
toes. He wiggled them for her. "You think," she finally said.
"How can you not know?"

Oz shrugged.  "There hasn't been a full moon yet."

She gestured at the pictures on the wall.  "You mean you
weren't born that way?"

"I think when my parents called me a little monster they were
being more figurative than literal.  They don't do literal well.
Ex-hippies.  You know."

Willow made a face.  "Granola for breakfast?
Tie dye tee shirts even after you've passed the age of five?"
When he nodded, she sighed a bit and tucked a leg underneath
her.  "Mine still thinks a well put-together ensemble isn't
complete without Birkenstocks," she confided.

He grinned at her and she grinned back.  She had, he thought,
a lovely smile. Very pretty, very sweet.  Matched the rest of

"So, you're a werewolf."

"It would seem so, yes."

"I'm a witch."  She said this anxiously, the way someone would
confess they still ate paste and knew most people stopped
once they left kindergarten. As if he might think she was strange.
She *was* strange, no doubt about that.  His nerve
endings still tingled from the whammy she leveled at him at
the door.

But, she was also cute and rather earnest and definitely
brave and odd.  He liked all of those things.  Being a witch
made her both more interesting and slightly less odd than
most of the people he already counted as friends.

And his own impending wolfiness really didn't leave him room
to make judgments of any sort, even if he was so inclined.

"That's cool," he said.


Drusilla pressed a kiss to Cordelia's forehead, smoothed her
hair back. She was much too young to stay up past dawn,
though she was a very good girl.

She always came home full of sweet human blood, tainted rich
with the remnants of the old Master vampire. When Drusilla
drank she could feel the power of it rushing through her,
latching onto her weaknesses and burning them away.

So much better than Prague. Dirty, hateful things with
torches and sticks to hurt her, make her weep and Spike
hadn't been able to kill them all for her and they had made her
weak but she'd left something with them.

She could still feel them, all of the bad men. She was in them
now, whispering in a hundred voices. Sometimes she listened,
and laughed. Felt their creeping strangeness destroy them,
one by one by one. Only a trickle of feeling, but that, too,
made her strong.

Sometimes Drusilla looked down at her feet and found them
balanced on thin, tingling webs of spirit and she danced,
whirling and breaking, crouching and knotting, and felt distant
souls scream. Sometimes she made Spike take her to the
screaming ones, and she would take them, and they would be
hers forever and ever.

She whirled and whirled until she found him, sprawled in a chair
and watching her, watching her move and trying to
understand. Spike was her sweet, and smiled as she came for
him, pulled her into his lap and bit her ear to make her giggle.

"What can I do for you, luv?"

"Something wonderful is going to happen soon, Spike."

"Pistols gettin' back together then? Angelus coming back so I
can kill 'im again?"

Drusilla shook her head and frowned a little. Daddy shouldn't
have left them like that. Not at *all*. "It's already begun.
Nothing can stop it now..."

He spun her around to face him. "Then what's with the long
face, eh? It'll be funtime soon, and then you can explain why it
is that we've had to keep a low profile for so long, and
then *I* can be creative. You know I hate stifling my
creativity, luv."

She ran her fingers over his face, over the sharpness of
cheek and chin and nose. Dru remembered when they'd been
even sharper, a pretty dark man with a knife, kneeling in the
slippy sticky London alley.

Kneeling forever.

She smiled and he grinned and chucked her under the chin.

"There's my pretty girl."


"The school bus, as a mode of transportation, fits the Constitutional
definition of cruel and unusual punishment,"  Xander complained.
Kendra looked at him with a mixture of indulgence and fond  irritation.
He'd been complaining since they started their  patrol an hour ago and
showed no signs of slowing down.  "In  my village," she informed him, "a
bus to school would have been  a luxury."

"Oh don't start that 'in my village' stuff with me, missy."  He  grinned
at her as they stepped over a fallen tombstone.   "Sunnydale may seem to
be the picture of decadent American  plenty, but they make it all up in
lack of school bus maintenance.

"Actually, I don't mind school.  My school.  But since *my*  school is
now a sinkhole of demonic power, I have to go to Hiland-Roberts, the
home of the Hiland-Roberts Weasels.  I do not want to be a Weasel."

"In fact," he continued, but stopped immediately when she held up a
hand in warning.  Something was coming.

Xander dropped back a step, giving her room to pivot and protecting her

At one time she would have said her back didn't *need*  protecting, but
Xander had saved her from a nasty skirmish more than once since they'd
started patrolling. The vamps in cemeteries might be young and mostly
stupid, but there were a *lot* of them and they traveled in packs.

And they were *bold*.  Three leapt out from the shadows of a  crypt in
front of her and Xander called out, "Two more back here, Kendra.  I got

She gave a quick nod, taking him at his word, then sprung  forward,
putting him out of her mind.

The first one was easy enough.  He almost leapt onto her stake.  The
other two flanked her, then rushed in, one low, one  high.  She spun,
twisting in midair and almost falling  backward.  At the last possible
second, her hand shot out and  *pushed* and the near fall turned into a
back flip. Landing  neatly, she spun, and plunged Mr. Pointy through the
back of  the one still in the process of getting up.

She risked a glance at Xander, saw him using the smallest of his two as
a shield as he pulled out his crossbow.  He was smiling in a way that
made her thigh muscles clench in  helpless reaction, so she firmly
turned her attention back to number three.

He had paused, was looking at Xander, then back at her.  Apparently
deciding they were not the easy meal he'd been looking for, he turned
to run.

She felt her lips pull back as she gave pursuit.  She caught him in
four giant strides, caught his shoulder, spun him around  and let the
momentum of his body impale him.  Even before his dust finished
falling, she whirled around, checking on Xander.


Xander had a moment to ponder what in the name of *God*  could have made
him sound so casual about being attacked by  two vampires, and then
Vampirella's bigger, meaner, and  infinitely uglier cousin was
*throwing* a vamp at him who was  still covered in grave dirt and
wearing his funeral suit.

He nearly staked the newbie, but saw the female trying to  creep around
to his blind side, side-stepped and jigged around  to the confused
vampire's back.

Flash of Giles explaining asphyxiation while actually using a  choke
hold on him, he executed the same move. As expected,  the vamp hadn't
yet figured out that he didn't need to breathe and froze just long
enough for Xander to position him into a good shield. The vamp started
kicking like a sonofabitch and  Xander  muttered curses as he pulled the
crossbow out and dusted  She-Ra, princess of ugly.  The little one
growled and Xander  felt his one armed grip slip, so he raised his knee
and pushed  as he let go, sending the vamp into full faced sprawl.

Tossing the now unloaded crossbow aside, Xander whipped out  his stake,
stabbed down and felt a cool thrill of vicious  satisfaction as dust
coated his hands.

And damn it, Giles would have his balls if he sat here and  gloated, so
Xander bounced back a step and looked for Kendra.

She stood with one foot still braced behind her, ready to  pivot in any
direction.  Her eyes shone and her cheeks glowed  as she smiled at him.

He smiled back, basking at the look in her eyes, the one he  never saw
directed at anyone else.

"Five of 'em," he said with forced casualness.  "Giles will be  happy."

"You did very well, Xander.  I liked that last move."

"Oh baby, I have moves like you wouldn't believe."  He meant  that to
come out in a jokingly leering way.  Instead it came out like a

Her eyes narrowed, the way they did just before she went  into Slayer
mode and it hit him for the first time that she  really was very
dangerous. The rational part of his mind knew  that should be a scary
making thought, but his body, still  pumped up with adrenaline, went
into hormonal overdrive.

"Do you now?"  Her tone was light and teasing.  Challenge  accepted.
She stepped forward, then circled him, like she did  at the beginning of
a spar.

"Yeah."  Xander stood still for one circuit, then kicked out in  a move
she'd taught him, one he knew she could counter in her  sleep.

She blocked the kick, swept his legs out from under him, then  followed
his fall and pounced on him, straddling his stomach  and pinning his
arms above his head.

"I know that move," she breathed into his mouth.

"True.  However, I now have you exactly, almost exactly, where I want

"Yes?"  Her fingers flexed and her sensibly trimmed nails  lightly
pressed into his skin, almost like a cat's kneading.

In answer, he raised his head and sucked at her full lower lip.   She
groaned into his mouth and melted over him just like he  knew she

Xander would have smiled in triumph except his mouth was  currently
occupied with kissing her back.  Who could have  guessed Kendra would
ever do this? That she would ever allow him to kiss her, would kiss him
back so sweetly, so deeply that  he shook with the need to hold her, to
protect her, to be inside her.  Or that she would wrap her legs around
his hips  and shift and press right where he needed her to and, oh
*god*  if they didn't stop this right now he was going to come in his

He pulled back, gasping, "Kendra.  Hang on, just a second."

She continued to kiss him, on his cheek, the bridge of his nose,  his
eyelids, all the while murmuring his name.

And maybe it wasn't about letting him do anything at all.  Those were
her kisses, completely uninitiated by him. Her  whispers, her incredible
heat so shockingly close to his own.  Her hands, holding him down
exactly where she... wanted him.

She moved like a wave of flesh over him, whispers becoming  simple
sounds, low and soft against his skin. Maybe... more  than wanted.

"Kendra, please, I need to touch you..."

Nearly purred against his throat, "I want to see your moves."

"Ahh, Jesus, Kendra... cemetery. Sunnydale. *Night --"

And that was all he could get out before Kendra latched on to  his
pulsepoint in a way that made Xander seriously rethink  the evil of
vampires. Hot, wet tongue in slow, unsteady  circles, like she couldn't
decide whether to kiss him or taste  him and that was too much and he
bucked her off of him, much too hard too hard but she was a Slayer and
she was  smiling and starting to roll so he barreled into her

Graceless, but effective. Hit 'em where they bend, that's  what Giles
said and then he had her.

Had her down and sweetly spread before him, laughing and  gasping just a
little and Xander realized that she was the  most beautiful woman he had
ever seen. Beyond the lust,  beyond the fantasies he'd tried to be good
and not have. Just  her, finally right here, mussed and grass-stained
and glowing with sweat, ponytail slightly askew.

Xander settled onto his knees and pulled her into his arms.  She put up
only token resistance, laughing all the while.  Xander waited, just
feeling her. Tugged the band out of her  hair, which went flying as soon
as it was free. As soon as  Kendra shook out her long, thick curls and
looked up at him  again.

No laughter now, but Xander could see the smile in her eyes,  and hoped
she could see everything she could want in his own.

And then he did what he'd wanted to for ages, plunging his  hands into
her hair and wishing he had more words for what it  was like. Deep and
warm and *alive* somehow, as though the  strands were growing right
against his palms, wanting him to  touch them. His fingertips brushed
Kendra's scalp and she  pushed into the touch, rubbed into it and pushed
and mmmed.

Xander promised himself he'd wash her hair for her someday,  at least
brush it, soothe it, make her purr at him like some  great, deadly cat
of his own.

He buried his face in it, breathed in vaguely flowery shampoo  and
enough clean Kendra-scent to remind him forcibly of his  ache and God,
he'd wanted it to be special. He laughed a little,  then. He'd wanted to
at least make it indoors...

"Xander... I need you..."

"I'm here, I'm right here, I'm not ever gonna leave you, I  love you --"

And she kissed him, hard and serious and needful and somehow their
bodies twined, and somehow he didn't even feel it when  they hit the
ground again.

And he knew he would never forget the unbearable silk of her  breast
against his cheek, and the dark spice of her sex, and  her somehow
heartbreaking cry as he slipped inside.

And then there was only the heat and the thudding pulse of  blood in his
ears broken rhythmically by Kendra's moans and  his own helpless gasps.

Inside... terrifying and wonderful to be inside her. Like the  way God
should be, wild and beautiful and necessary.

And when Kendra threw back her head and called his name he  surrendered
everything he had.


 "I'm with the band."  Willow tried for an I'm Not A Groupie  tone and
felt somewhat successful.  The back stage guard  rolled his eyes and
waved Willow through.  Maybe not that  successful, then.  Still.  She
was with the band.

Oz looked up from a coil of wires and gave her a half smile.   "Hey."

She looked around the stage curiously.  It didn't look this  small and
dingy from the audience. Taking a step forward, she  nearly tripped on
another wire. Or this crowded. "So.  This is  the stage."

"Yep."  Oz uncoiled a length of wire and plugged an end into  something
large, battered and black.

"Those are speakers?"


She frowned.  Oz was monosyllabic as a rule, but this was  almost

"Do you get, um, jitters?  You know, before you play?"

He fiddled with a switch, then slanted a glance at her.  "I  don't
recall ever jittering, no.  I'm just," his voice trailed  off for a
moment before he continued, "preoccupied."

"Oh."  And she could have just taken him at his word, but  because she
could, Willow narrowed her eyes and *looked* and  nearly tripped again
at the sheer panic beneath Oz's placid  facade.

Willow couldn't pick up exact thoughts, as much as she'd  *like* to, but
a quick check of her mental calendar gave her a  pretty good idea of
what might be troubling him.  She thought  of the almost full moon and
felt a wave of pity mixed with  resolve.

She hunkered down next to him and said, "I've been thinking  about your
problem."  When he just raised an eyebrow, she  continued, "I think I
can help."

He quirked his mouth in a half smile.  "You have an extra  large kennel
in your back yard?"

"Not exactly.  But that's the general idea."

His eyebrow raised even higher.  "Didn't you tell me you're a  good

"I'm no Glynda, but yes."   "You lack the big sparkly dress?"   "And the
munchkins.  Listen, I think I know a way."    He stopped fiddling with
the speaker and his eyes became  intent. "I'm listening."

"I cage the wolf.  In you."

Oz rocked back on his heels.  "How?"

"With a spell.  I just," she sketched a gesture with her hands,  "bind
it so it can't escape."

His eyes narrowed.  "You can do that?  Without changing me?"

Willow leaned closer.  "It's not you.  That's the point."

It had come to her almost immediately. There was no way to  remove the
wolf from the man, of course -- her strange half- memories were very
clear on that -- but it was base,  primitive, and *alien* to Oz. He
wasn't born with it, he was  infected. There could be no harm in
simply... packaging it away neatly.

It wouldn't be so different than what she'd done with all  those
irrational, uncomfortable emotions of PMS. She refused  to be defined by
an inefficient system of monthly hormonal  upheaval.

"Do you want me to, Oz?"

She had a brief moment to wonder what she would do if he  said no, but
the point was made moot by the way he gripped  her hand tightly and

And after that it was simple, a slower reaching than she'd  done the
first time they'd met, a chance to "see" the  impossibly vast landscape
of spirit and chemical, twined and  tangled and hopelessly
complicated... but not to her. She knew  it was only a mental construct,
but she saw the wolf as swelling, pulsing thing on the surface of
everything else.

A buboe of plague that she *would* not let infect her almost  maybe
boyfriend anymore than it already had.

The last two weeks of ice cream and music she'd never heard  before and
walks and the way he looked in her eyes... she felt  the need push at
her and seized the buboe in a tightly strung  coil of magic, saw the
thousand thousand tiny tendrils it had  left in Oz snap away and
satisfaction rushed through her,  golden and warm.

And then she wrapped it again, and again.

Take, trap, bind.


Cordelia hit the wall hard enough to leave cracks in the  cement.
Stunned and angry, she licked the blood from her lips  -- her own and
Drusilla's -- and prepared to launch herself at  the other woman.

And saw Drusilla throw her head back and howl, a long, high,  keening
that made Cordelia want to curl into a ball.  Spike came running from
nowhere -- as pawhipped as ever and  she still wasn't sure why she
stayed except for the fact that  every time she tried to run away she
found herself at  Drusilla's feet just...

Like she was now.

Cordelia tried to shake off the haze. Drusilla had one hand  locked
around Spike's slim throat, nails teasing out slow,  thick rills of

She shuddered and tried to be inconspicuous. No matter how  confused she
got in this new life, she knew full well that  Drusilla was no ordinary

And Spike just stood there, bleeding and studying his lover  with a raw
adoration that always just brought on more  confusion for Cordelia.

"It has begun."

"What's begun, luv?" He shifted slightly in Drusilla's grip,  and
Cordelia suddenly ached for his throat.

"Our time of triumph is come, and now we must prepare."

Cordelia found herself edging closer to the other woman's  skirts,
earned an absent pat on the head that made her growl.  Abruptly, she was
yanked her to her feet by the hair.

"Ow ow *ow*. Dammit, Drusilla, why do you have to be so  goddamn weird
-- *OW*."

Spike shot her a warning look before turning his attention  back to
Drusilla. "Tell us how, Dru. What must we do?"

"We're going to have children, Spike. Lots and lots and lots  of

* Giles woke with the taste of lightning in his mouth and knew
something was wrong.

He lay without moving, listening for burglars but he already knew it
wasn't that.  The house was quiet.  //Always quiet//   The wrong was...

He'd been dreaming.

Bad dreams.  Well, yes.  Always bad dreams now, weren't  they?  And
rightly so.  A just penance.  A bearable cross.   Giles rubbed his eyes,
sat up, spilling sheets.  Christ he was  tired of himself.     And here
he was, amazingly, slacking off again.  Old Dotrice's  voice, thickly
Dutch:  '*Dreams* Rupert.  The telexes from  the nether realms.'  And
yes, he knew that too.  But he knew  these dreams

/wet rasp of scales through heavy clay; a grin so wide it split  his
lips and teeth.../

knew their source and really, would it make any difference at  all to
catalogue them all again?  It would not.  And besides.   He wasn't... No
he *was* sure.  Sour copper in his mouth and  the buzzing itch along his
flesh. That wasn't it.

And with the instant of recognition came a flood of anger.   Brace of
fear. Stupid *stupid* girl -- what have you *done*?

Images of death, destruction, demons rising and rolling under  Sunnydale
at Willow's blithely gentle command and Rupert  was up and storming down
the stairs, hitting the lights as he went.

Grabbed the phone, punched buttons.  Nothing but ringing on  the other
end and he hung up, re-punched.  Same result, but  it was okay -- he was
at the shelves anyway, phone tucked into  the crook of his shoulder and
he yanked the Gaius Oneiros Mundo off the shelf, paged frantically.

Tapers.  Tapping.  Tassles.  There it is -- Tastes.  Finger  running
down the tiny lines.  Licorice.  Lice.  Lidocaine.   /Lidocaine?/
Lightning.  Lightning.  Read it.  Read it again.  Finger on the words as
relief washed through him.

A binding spell.  Not even a big one.  "...commonly used in aid  of
women and their monthlies."  And Giles found himself  sitting down hard
on the arm of the sofa, registering all at  once, as the ringing clicked
off and a tiny, sleepy, irritable  voice that must be Mrs. Rosenberg,
chirped in his ear

"Hello?  Hello? Is someone there...?"

that he was naked, without his glasses.  Chilled and wet and  reeking of
his own sharp sweat.  More scared than he had been  since... well.
Since then.

"Terribly sorry," he said into the phone and clicked it off.   Put it
down.  He'd been shirking long enough, he supposed   Twenty-five or
thirty years, perhaps and obviously long past  time to pull his socks

He forced himself to his feet, forced himself to put the book  back on
the shelf.  The temptation to stay up all night, read  up on this or
that or anything that might distract him from  that which he least
desired to know was strong.

But for God's sakes, just how *many* people had to die before he faced
his dreams?  And so up the stairs he went and  back into bed.

Tonight he would dream and remember.  Yes.  And tomorrow he  and Willow
were going to have a little talk.


Oz caught Devon's eye from across the half-populated  dance floor. The
other boy glanced pointedly at Willow, then  rolled his eyes. He smiled
when he did it, though, which was  expected.

Sometimes Oz was very sure that Devon had divided the world  into three
categories: Himself, Oz, and Potential Sex  Objects.

Sometimes Oz wasn't so sure about the presence of the  second category,
but it was Dev, and he'd had a lot of years  to resign himself to a
social life rife with pot, fuzzy music,  and friendly sex. As
resignations went, Oz was pretty happy with things.

The addition of Willow to his life brought definite change,  though. Oz
had pretty much decided to give up on the friendly  sex portion of his
relationship with Devon, unless Willow  abruptly showed a heretofore
unmentioned desire for dirty  van sex threesomes.

It was definitely a pleasant image, but also highly doubtful.

Turning back to Willow earned him that smile -- the strange  *mix of
gratitude, pride, and wonder that always made him want  to brush a lock
of hair away from her face. He did so, and let  his knuckles brush
against her cheek.

He reached inside himself and felt... nothing. Just the low  grade hum
of open and pleasure and all right that he thought  of as himself.

Oz wondered how much of his own gratitude shone in his eyes.  He had
been afraid.

A brief look over Willow's shoulder revealed her two friends coming
straight for their table, looking confused and a little  worried.

"Company's here, Will." "Hmmm...? Oh!"

She jerked away from his touch, then seemed to rethink it and  leaned
back in, then turned awkwardly to face them. Oz had a  brief thought
that felt prophetic: he could fall in love with  her.

And then they were at the table.

Willow brushed her hair back more efficiently than Oz had  done,
revealing an ear flushed red with... embarrassment? He  supposed that
sort of reaction could only be expected when  you were introducing your
friends to the weird local boy you'd  all previously been stalking.

"... so, um, anyway, it wasn't that he was weird so much as he  had
weirdness. Um. In his family. Um... witchcraft and... and  stuff."

Oz raised an eyebrow, but said nothing. Technically, there  *was*
weirdness in his family. And there had been witchcraft.  And stuff. Was
she ashamed of his being a werewolf? Did he  himself feel like a
werewolf? Should he feel slighted?

It was something to think on.

"... so he's er. Oz. Yes. Oz, this is Kendra and Xander, Xander  and
Kendra, this is Oz."

Kendra was extremely pretty in a distinctly non-Sunnydale way, and her
voice "It is good to meet you, Oz." solved the  mystery immediately. He
shook her hand and answered her  smile, turned to the boy.

Xander merely gave him a small wave while eyeing him  carefully. Willow
had told him the two of them had been  friends for many years, and
briefly a little more than that  after what had happened at the school.

What had happened at the school -- the truth of it -- still  made his
internal 'whoa' censors go off, even beyond what his  'this is
Sunnydale' dampers could immediately handle.

He said, "Why don't you guys have a seat? The cheap wiring  system here
blew out one of our amps -- we won't be going on  until Kyle does his
electric magic."

"Kyle is a warlock?" Kendra, honestly curious. He was going to  have to
get used to not being blase anymore.

"No, just likes playing with wires."

"Is that why your hair is like that? Playing with Kyle?" She  had a
smile rivaling Willow's for innocence.

Xander patted her. "Nah, Kendra, I think that style is mostly  hair gel
liberally dosed with attitude."

"I didn't know attitude was a hair-care product."

Willow grinned at them both, gave a slightly more intense grin  to Oz.
It was a 'please participate now' grin, he knew from experience. He
smiled back at her and complied. "Well, you get  a free bottle of it
after you've learned your first two  chords. At four you get a year's

"So you're still borrowing attitude from your older brother?"  Xander
was testing him.

He could be tested.

"And most probably will be doing so well into my 40s, yes."

Kendra smacked Xander playfully on the shoulder, causing  Xander to not
so playfully fall off the stool.

Willow confided, "Oh yeah, and Kendra's the new Slayer.  She's really

Ah. "Ah." The Slayer in question was helping Xander up with a look of
deep chagrin.

"Hon, can we, at some point, work on how you react physically  to

She blushed and he tickled her and Oz left them to it. He  wouldn't have
to worry about Xander making a play for  Willow again, and, when he saw
that Willow had been watching  him instead of them, he knew that the
not-playing was mutual.

And Willow was nearly beaming at him this time. Clearly, he  had played
well with others -- a skill he often wasn't sure he  had. Oz reached for
her hand under the table and tickled her  fingertips with his own.
Quietly, while the others were still  laughing and utterly focused on
each other in a way Oz  thought he should have been able to smell, "I'm
glad you  introduced me to your friends, Willow."

And she blushed a little, and tickled his fingertips back.

"So, Oz, I'm feeling the urge to shake my groove thing in a  way that
will undoubtedly prove embarrassing to everyone  I've ever met. Care to
join me?"

"On the first date?"

"Oz, man, I'm a rolling stone."

"You've had your blood replaced?"

"No, but I sure am dating a supermodel..."

Kendra swatted at him playfully again, and Oz chuckled at  Xander's very
real flinch.

"I *warned* you about his goofiness, Kendra, but did you  listen?

Oz stood up first, offered his hand across the table to  Xander, who
lowered his eyes demurely and fluttered his  eyelashes.

Oz decided that this counted as a Very Good Night. "C'mon,  Xander,
let's teach those kids how to hustle."

Xander snickered, grabbed his hand, and followed him to the  dance

Over his shoulder he could hear Willow stage-whispering to  Kendra:
"This is where we take the time to reconsider our  dating choices."


Ethan wasn't sure what he'd expected getting off the DC-9  at the
Sunnydale International -- hah! -- airport, but he  certainly hadn't
expected this.  He'd *heard* about the  Hellmouth of course -- well, who
hadn't, and he'd certainly  been around the places power converged, but

The warm night air alone -- thick with a perfume that was  equal parts
tropical flowers and the subtle reek of walking  death.  It stroked his
skin like satin where it could, licked at  him through his clothes,
begging him to be naked.  Promising,  well... a gentleman would never
repeat such things.  Ethan's  grin was anything but gentlemanly and
well, the night air was only the perfume.  The real seduction was the...
ohhh... the  *hum*.

So much power, radiating out like heat from a fire, or like the  hair of
a beautiful woman in the wind, or like currents under  the sea, or...
No. Not actually like anything he'd ever really  felt before.  He'd been
half hard since he'd gotten out of the  taxi.

Had simply left his bags inside the little shop he'd had his agent rent
for him /"Not much in the way of foot traffic yet,   Mr. Rayne, but
California -- they open up a new mall every day"/ and begun walking.
Reveling.  God, he'd make a killing here.  Maybe literally, the
pickings were so very easy.  Even this -- the number of people  out on
the street, laughing, walking arm in arm -- shocking  considering the
number of dark ones he'd already spotted.   Vampires, demons and... was
that a Krivelorsk? Amazing -- only  been here an hour and already he had
something new to add to  the life-list.  /What a paradise you've found
us, Ripper.../   And oh yes.  Ripper.  Ethan could feel his grin change
a little.   Get wider and wetter and it felt so good he let it.  Seeing
Ripper again would be the icing on the gravy as his old mum  used to
say.  Especially the way he'd planned it.  A little  surprise to kick
Watcher Ken and Slayer Barbie out of their  pink plastic rut.

Well, 'planned' was a bit of brass.  His coming here was  fated.  He
knew that from the dreams that had begun again  -- and knew it better
still from the older dreams that had  given him the shape and smell and
taste of Ripper long before they'd ever met.

But there was a certain element of finesse here that he had  to take
credit for.  Even Janus didn't approve of false  modesty.  The plan was
brilliant.  And with the incredible flow  of power -- and good *god*,
they weren't just currents, there  was *undertow* here and he was
suddenly aware of the kinetic  tickle of it -- shivering his nerve ends,
arcing around the   edges of the Mark.  Dragging with the fatal
gentleness of  quicksand at his knees and wrists.  Tugging him.

It was an effort to stop walking -- sweat beading on his  forehead and
the front of his nylon shirt as he anchored  himself as best he could in
the thin unmagical shell of the  sidewalk.  He looked around.  He'd gone
quite far off the  beaten path.  Far enough to leave downtown Sunnydale
-- all  10 blocks of it -- far enough behind he couldn't see the

Rather a shock that.  It had been a long time since anything  had
soothed and gentled and seduced *him*.  And yet here he  was,
illustrating irony for the gods -- crowing at his own  smarts while
walking blithely into the mouth of...  what?

He was in some residential neighborhood, or just coming out  of one,
actually.  Dark and quiet and not so much eerie as...  empty.  Just
empty.  Not a bird.  Not a monster. There was a  cemetery on one side of
the street and not so much as a  shiver of unlife in it.  On the other
side, what looked like  the ruins of some sort of institutional Spanish
ranch -- or  possibly school. It too was still and quiet in a way that
Ethan  found more than a little disturbing.

Something was, it occurred to him, spectacularly wrong here.   And not
in a good way either.  Perhaps he'd been a little rash  to think himself
quite so on top of things.  Perhaps El Boca  del Infierno...

And he felt the drag on the joins of his body increase  unbearably for
just a moment and there was only time for half  a breath and then the
wave hit.  Caught him like a blast of  flame -- a wash of force so
powerful, so unmercifully evil he  felt it singe him body and soul.
Burn him pure and clean and  merciless and leave nothing but the diamond
point of self and  Ethan-ness and nothing, absolutely *nothing* else

And then it was gone and he was still breathing in and blinking  and --
half-delighted, half-too-terrified to think:

"In the name of degenerate two-faced god, *Ripper* what the  hell have
you gotten us into?"

And this time he didn't bother trying to save his dignity at  all, just
turned tail and *ran* back towards what he knew  without question was
the utterly illusory safety of the  lights.


Morning and all Giles wanted was tea.  Strong and hot and  sweet enough
to chase away the last remnants of sleep. And  the dreams.    In the
clear light of day, his reactions seemed somewhat  overwrought. Giles
paused in his morning ablutions to peer  through his window at the clear
sky and obscenely cheerful  sun.  It was too bright for such dark
thoughts. And god, he  was tired of worrying about every little thing.

He heard the sound of laughter from the sitting room and  shook his head
in amused exasperation.  Since Kendra's  arrival he'd become used to
having Xander as a semi- permanent visitor, but this morning he heard
Willow's voice, too, and another male voice reply.

His house, for whatever reason, now seemed to be the meeting  place of
choice for teenagers.  Loud teenagers.

He sighed and moved toward the stairs.  He supposed it was  too much to
hope they'd brewed a pot of tea.

At the bottom of the stairs, he said, "All right, children, we  need to
discuss the concept of courtesy hours."

Willow, on the couch sitting next to a sleepy looking young  man, turned
to Giles with a laugh and said, "We are courteous.   Xander wanted to
play Reveille outside your bedroom door, but  Kendra sat on him."

"I coped," Xander piped up, cuddling Kendra closer.

"He squealed like a little girl," Willow corrected.  She dodged  the
pillow Xander flung at her and added, gesturing to the  silent boy
beside her, "This is Oz."

"Hey," he said, mildly.  "I brought donuts."

"Jelly donuts," Xander added.  "And since eating them, not  having a lap
full of Slayer kept me from waking you up, I  don't want to hear any
guff.  Or I'll retaliate by taunting  you with words like slugabed."  He
squeezed Kendra and added,  "Not that you aren't a wonderful incentive
to stay put.   Just, um, shift a little to the left, would you, hon?"

Willow patted Oz's thigh.  "We met him on the way here and  invited him
and he insisted.  He's so thoughtful.  Don't you  think he's

Giles surveyed the group.  Xander's smile was open and goofy.   Kendra
radiated the air of a smugly contented cat who could  not be shifted
from her lap of choice.  Willow... Willow smiled  at the boy, Oz, again
and almost glowed.    Damn.  He should speak to her, let her know he
knew about her  spell, but... Damn.  After the last few grim months it
was  good to see this irritating normality.  He wouldn't ruin it  with
what was, no doubt, nit picking.

Teenagers.  He had a house full of teenagers.  Somewhere  Ethan was
laughing his ass off.

With a resigned sigh, he picked up a donut and nodded his  thanks at
Oz.  "Nice to meet you. So children, what are your plans for the day?"

Kendra looped another arm around Xander.  "Xander has  promised to teach
me miniature golf."

"Because you haven't lived until you've defeated the Windmill  of Doom,"
Xander added.

"We thought maybe you'd like to come with us," Willow said.   "You know,
get out of the house, eat cotton candy, and laugh  at Xander's
technique. "

"And they have bumper boats," Oz interjected.

"Please come, Giles."  Kendra's eyes pleaded with him.

Totally against his will, he found himself nodding.  "I don't  suppose
they serve tea," he said sourly.

Xander rose, Kendra clinging to him like a monkey.  "We will  make you
tea before we leave, Mr. Crabby.  You'll need it  before braving the
bumper boats. Willow takes no prisoners."

"Xander used to call me Mad Dog McGillicuddy," she proudly  confided to
Oz.  "Of course he was nine at the time."  She  beamed at Giles.
"Prepare to get drenched."


Spike didn't know the exact nature of the spell Dru used to  lure the
humans to them, just knew it worked like a bloody  charm.  They flocked
to the factory all glazed eyes and vague,  loose smiles and no
resistance whatsoever when he drained  them, then fed them.  And the
ones who waited shuffled  forward when called, like they were standing
in line for concert tickets.  Sheep.  Show 'em a pretty and they'd
obediently walk right up to their own deaths.

He grabbed the next one and drank, nearly gagging at the  surfeit of
blood filling his already bloated stomach.  It was  too much, too fast
for his system to handle and so after he  fed the nearly dead boy in his
arms, he tossed him aside,  opened his mouth and let his stomach empty
itself.  Eager  young ones, still hungry as only young ones could be,
threw  themselves at his feet and licked up the almost black, still warm
regurgitated blood.

Kicking them aside, Spike reached for the next human.  Drink,  feed,
vomit and repeat.  He exchanged a look of mutual  disgust with Cordelia,
who mirrored his actions a few feet  away.  Given a choice, he'd stop,
take a breather or maybe  have a fag to clear out the now almost rancid
taste of blood  from his mouth.  But they were under just as much of a
compulsion as the humans.

And so he kept going, watched the bodies drop, then rise and  join the
process of building an army.  Dru's army.  And still  the people came.

Dru drifted by, gave his chin a casual lick, then gently urged a  young
one to let go of the baby it was feeding on and take an  adult.  She
took the wailing baby, cuddled it close for a  minute, crooning, "There,
there poor pet.  Mummy will make it  all better."  Spike shuddered and
hoped like hell she wasn't  going to do something daft.

Children were one thing, but he was *not* going to play daddy  to a
perpetually undead infant.

Spike paused in his own feeding long enough to see her rip the  tiny
throat open, drink, then toss the small body aside.  Okay,  he shouldn't
have worried.  Dru might be mad but she wasn't  entirely out of her

The air reeked of blood and the occasional whiff of shit and piss as
some human lost control while they died.  At any other  time Spike might
have relished the rank mix of decay, but now  it just made his stomach
rebel again while he was drinking and  he thrust the limp body away with
a moan of disgust.

Wiping his mouth, he demanded, "Bloody hell, Dru, how many  more will it

"All of them," she answered distractedly as she looked over  the room.
A dawning smile of delight made her face almost  angelic. "Oh Spike,"
she whispered, "isn't it pretty?"

He cast a look over a scene that could have graced Dante's  Inferno.
Bodies everywhere, either limp or in the midst of  death throes, demons
bent over helpless humans, the room  echoing with the sounds of whimpers
and sucking and under it  all the low whisper of Dru's spell.  All it
needed was pits of  fire instead of the harsh glow of fluorescent

"It looks like a Roman orgy," he said sourly, adding, "without  the
naked dancing girls."  When her smile faded, he sighed and  gave her a
quick hug.  "It's lovely, darling.  Just brilliant, in  fact.  Come on,
give us a smile.  There's my pretty girl," he  said when she complied.

Dru melted against him for a moment, then drifted away with  a gliding,
almost dancing step.  And Spike sighed, grabbed  another victim and
drank. Obviously there really wasn't  anything he wouldn't do for her.

Sometimes it seemed as though he existed in two states:  Making Dru
happy, and keeping her so. And watching her dance  through the corpses
was both a reminder of why he did it and  of his own pathetic state of

Anything at all.


Xander was the last to unfold himself from Giles' Citroen,  hoping to
God they'd all left irrevocable stains. Giles had  taken one look at
Oz's van and hammered them all into  getting into the little eurobox.
They'd all been too flushed  with the victory of getting him to go in
the first place, it  wasn't fair, something.

Willow had been the one stuck riding shotgun, while he, Oz,  and Kendra
folded themselves into the back.

"I don't understand why you're all complaining; it seems to  me that
this is an excellent opportunity for canoodling," he  said.

"But what about me?" Willow had sounded genuinely plaintive.  "I'm
entirely canoodle free up here!"

And Giles had grinned evilly. "I never claimed to be a *nice*  Watcher."

Xander's offer to canoodle Oz for her hadn't cheered her up  at all...
Xander was pretty sure Willow had reached her limit  for acceptable
homo-eroticism for her boyfriend. Probably  when they'd been slow
dancing last night.

Out of the car and into the sunshine and Xander couldn't  stop himself
from just leaning back for a while, letting the  soothing dry warm burn
off some of the residual dampness.  The bumper boat battle had been
vicious and extensive.

Willow and Oz were cross-legged on Giles' lawn, Oz working  some complex
braid magic on Willow's waterdark hair. Giles  was sort of surveying the
scene, hands jammed in the pockets  of jeans that had to weigh a ton
about now. He had dried into  weirdly approachable spikes and rumples,
and his smile had an  entirely new-to-Xander mix of amusement and

Xander wondered if he could push the day any further, maybe  a barbecue
right here. It was a thought.

And Kendra... Kendra was just looking at him, arms crossed,  little
twist of a grin on her face that Xander knew probably  meant that he
should be closer to her. *Her* hair was a wild  springy bush, light
brown and red highlights winking in the  sun, untamed even by the ever
present hair band. It sprung  right up with a sort of crinkly rustle
when pushed down, as Xander had ascertained from numerous experiments.

Kendra was amazingly tolerant of that sort of thing.

He went over and pulled her loosely into his arms, swaying a  little for
the sheer hell of it, breathing her in under all the  chlorine and

The brief, high-pitched barking growl was so out of place that  he had
to spend a moment confirming that it was real. He  turned toward the
source of the sound and saw Willow go  flying back toward the courtyard
wall and --

"Oz, no!" Gingerbrown bread colored *thing* and Xander was pretty  sure
it was screaming and he could still see Oz in it,  struggling and
boiling with the change and --

"Willow what --?" Giles, cut off by another barking growl,  this one far
more self-assured and then he caught its dead  black eyes and just as
Xander was sinking into a fighting  crouch Kendra was in front of him
and the creature leaped  and Xander fell clear and --

Frantic Willow scream of, "No! I *bound* you!"

Kendra was down. Kendra --

"I command you to *stop* --"

"Lycanthropus... bloody hell there's no spell for this --"

There was a knife flying past his shoulder, burying itself in  the
creature's flank and then it was turning for Giles and  Kendra Kendra --

Xander leapt, landing hard enough on its back to wind himself  a little
and distract it long enough for Giles to dash over to  Willow, Willow
dazed and bleeding and still yelling, screaming  at the wolf in a
discordant yell that seemed to wind itself  around the ripping snarls
and barks and do... nothing at all.

Xander yanked Giles' knife out of its hide and stabbed and  stabbed and
tore and dug in his knees and something in his  thigh stretched beyond
its ability and Xander yelled, too, one  hand wrapped and tangled hard
in the thick brown fur while  the other worked. The creature bucked and
shook and nearly  toppled Xander, and he suddenly found himself upside
down and  eye to eye.

Liquid black and roving and down.

Down just a little further on the blood streaked jaws a  necklace was
caught. The cheap, not-even-close-to-silver  prize for a ring toss and
it was caught and there was so much  so much blood and the eye rolled
and his thighs screamed and  the creature smelled rank and Xander used
all the force he  had left to drive the knife deep into its eye and then
he was  thrown for real.

Too-slow roll back up and it was running. Fast and away and  Willow was
gone. Willow was gone and Kendra...

Xander crawled over, focused on the wild bush of her hair for a moment,
brushed a bloody hand through it and nearly  screamed at the mess he
made and down there was the clear curve of her forehead and her closed
eyes and nose and her lush mouth and

So much blood. Flowing slow and sticky and Xander realized he was
kneeling in the pool, that the ground was swallowing her blood. Her

And before he could try to lay the... the flaps back together,  before
he could fix, before he could scream there were strong  arms yanking him
up and holding him and pushing him face first  into a chlorine-smelling

He didn't try to struggle.

Continue to Part 2