Black Sunrise

Author: Arjen <fanfic81[at]>

Length: About 19.000 words

Summary: Another ‘What if Dawn was around during Halloween ‘97’ story, with a few twists.

Rating: PG-13, I think.

Disclaimer: All characters are property of Mutant Enemy and whoever else wants to lay claim to them. Everything that I thought up is made using their property so I can’t really claim that either.

Feedback: Preferably constructing criticism, tell me what I’ve done right and wrong and I’ll be happy. Flames I consider as written by five years old who according to that ridiculous rating system aren’t allowed to read this.

Background: Dawn was created early and the monks weren’t stupid enough to lead Glory directly to her. Dawn doesn’t have any knowledge of the supernatural at this time and is basically a typical annoying American twelve year old girl. The story is told from the point of view of Xander and Dawn, with one scene near the end from Buffy’s POV.

***** indicates a change of POV

Chapter 1

Even though the troll masquerading as his principal had ordered him and his friends to play babysitter to a group of little children Xander was in a good mood. If what Giles had said about tonight was true, and he had no reason to doubt him, tonight would be vampire free. He couldn't understand why vampires didn't like this day of days, after all it was the night of sugary goodness, but thinking it over he had decided he just didn't care.

So now he was walking through the surprisingly warm night to Buffy's house where he would meet up with his two best friends. One of whom would be dressed like a brainless twit in order to impress her bloodsucking boyfriend and the other… Well, in the shop he had seen Buffy try to get Willow into a rather revealing costume but, if he knew his best bud at all, she would end up going as her time-honored ghost.

A couple of houses away from his destination he started to hear sounds of a, well you could hardly call it a conversation since that implied at least that both sides listened to each other. A shouting match it was then, he just didn't know between whom yet and really hoped that he wouldn't have to find out either but knew that was an idle hope. Knowing exactly who lived in that house it could mean all three of them or any possible combination. The only good thing about it was that these fights were as friendly as a fight could get, unlike those taking place at his home.

So he decided to see how long it would take him to figure out who were fighting this time and decide if it was necessary for him to come back later. Xander had seen Buffy angry often enough to know he didn't want to be near her in those moments and from past experience he knew that Dawn's temper tantrums weren't much better. Joyce Summers was usually a very calm woman but she too had a breaking point, one that usually involved either of her daughters. Once that point was reached it became clear the girls had come by their temper honestly and one of his greatest fears, though he'd never admit it to anyone, was that one day all three might have a row and he'd be pulled in and, even worse, would have to choose sides.

"Why can't I just go alone?" Ah, that sounded like Dawn and from the sound of the question it seemed like the other one was.

"I already told you why! It can be just as dangerous here as in Los Angeles." Yep, he nodded his head. He had been right, the other participant in this family drama was indeed Mrs. Summers herself, well that wasn't the worst combination so he might as well risk going in.

"But why? This is Sunnydale, the most boring town in America! Nothing ever happens here!" He almost choked when he heard that and stopped halfway up the path to the house. Dawn might not know anything about the Hellmouth, vampires and the likes but saying something like that wasn't something you should do, it always had the nasty habit of biting you in the ass.

"I don't care if nothing ever happens, I don't want you to go alone and that's final. Now you will do as I say or you won't go at all!"

"Oh come on mom." Ah, Dawn was now playing the sympathy card. That meant that while he couldn't hear exactly what argument the girl was using it was obviously the last option she had left. That also meant it was safe to continue.

A sudden shout of frustration coming from inside the house halted his finger inches away from the doorbell as he realized two things. One, Dawn had lost whatever argument she had been in with her mother and two, in order to remain on friendly terms with all of the Summers women he might want to pretend he hadn't heard that argument. Deciding that this might indeed be a rather good idea he quickly walked back out of the garden and down the street. Having backtracked for maybe a minute he turned around again, put his goofy smile back on and walked to the house containing four of the people who were most important to him.


"Hello Xander."

"Hi, Mrs. Summers. I came to pick up Willow and Buffy, are they ready yet?" Dawn heard Xander answer her mother's greeting from where she was sitting in the living room.

So the last of Buffy's friends had arrived, at least he had missed the argument although she had no doubt Buffy would tell him about it later. Thinking about this upset her, while he wasn't exactly the coolest person around Xander had always been nice to her and she liked his jokes. She didn't want him to think of her as some kind of spoilt brat but this situation just wasn't fair. Before she had more time to think about the unfairness of life she suddenly noticed that the boy and her mother had entered the living room.

"Hey Dawn-patrol."

"Hi Xander." She looked him over, mentally commenting on his costume. It didn't look like it was anything special and she wondered why he hadn't had his parents pay for a better one. The soldier outfit looked like it came from a surplus store and was obviously not entirely the right size for him. And the toy gun wasn't of the highest quality either even though it looked real enough. But after thinking it over she decided that it might just work, her opinion might be a little biased because she liked him but that wasn't something she wanted to think about.

"What? Do I have something on my costume? Is it ripped somewhere?" Xander asked in a panicked voice, looking at the front of his costume trying to find anything wrong and Dawn realized she had been staring at him. She could feel her cheeks burning and felt mortified, she was blushing! That was something she really didn't want to do, especially in front of Xander, and she desperately hoped the action was covered by the make-up she wore.

"Sorry, I was just looking at your costume." That had not been meant to come out like that! She could do better then squeak an answer, it wasn't as if she had a crush on him or anything. At least she certainly hoped not, having seen how Buffy had acted when she had those back in LA didn't exactly make her think they were good. And she certainly didn't look forward to the revenge her sister had sworn after she had overdone the teasing a little. Well, she hadn't really overdone it, like always Buffy had just overreacted to the harmless little thing she had done. It's not like she did anything really bad or anything. All she had done was put up a sign, displaying a declaration of love from Buffy, at the school where the boy couldn't miss it. Dawn couldn't understand why her sister had been so angry about it, from what she had heard about it all the children in the school had forgotten about the incident within weeks.

"And what do you think? Does it look good?" As the boy tried some poses that were probably meant to display his manliness she had to stifle the giggles that threatened to escape at the ridiculous sight. He really wasn't meant to do things like that but it did manage to cheer her up. Instead of a verbal answer that might once again come out completely wrong she settled for vigorously nodding her head in confirmation.

When her mom spoke up it was obvious to Dawn that she wasn't the only one that had trouble staying serious during the show. "Why don't you take a seat Xander, while I'll have a look at what's keeping the girls."

"Sure Mrs. Summers. I'll keep Dawn company for a while, I'm sure she'll be able to tell me some embarrassing stories about Buffy that I can use to blackmail her."

Mentally preparing a list of embarrassing stories about her sister that she could tell him Dawn almost missed her mother's next comment. "If you're thirsty I'm sure Dawn will get something for you."

Turning to her mother in order to protest this she caught the warning glare in her eyes and decided against it. A small peace offering might be in order and besides, shouting made you thirsty and this way she could get something for herself as well. "Sure, what do you want Xander?"


Sitting down while the little girl got him his coke, Xander wondered at the way the two of them could act as if there hadn't been a fight. If he hadn't heard the two of them earlier, Xander doubted he would have noticed the way Dawn had tried to protest how she had been volunteered as serving girl. He had no idea why she decided against doing so, but then he had never claimed to be an expert when it came to the female mind.

Eventually the girl returned and handed him a glass of coke while seating herself on the couch across from him with her own glass. Sipping on the sweet drink he took the opportunity to take a look at her costume. It was rather strange and he had no idea what she was supposed to be, no, that wasn't entirely true. He could see that she was supposed to look like some kind of Japanese girl but the outfit stumped him. It was sleeveless, although her forearms were covered by something sleeve-like which was held into position by her middle finger. Something like that was also the case with her legs which were, or rather weren't, covered by a rather short skirt and on her lower legs the same kind of covering that was on her arms. Her torso was covered by two crisscrossing pieces of the same golden cloth which was used for the rest of the outfit. Around her neck and middle she wore some kind of silver rectangle in which a large blue stone was placed. Perhaps feeling uncomfortable under his scrutiny she suddenly placed her feet on the couch so she could rest her chin on her knees and he got a look at the shoes she wore.



"Are those sandals? Somehow that doesn't really seem to fit with the rest."

He almost couldn't believe how fast the girl moved then, had he not known better he might have suspected she was the Slayer instead of her older sister. But Slayer or not, she managed to make him lose sight of the unexpected footwear within the blink of an eye and when he looked up at her face in amazement he noticed a faint blush underneath the make-up.

"It's part of the costume." Came out a little muffled from what now looked like an embarrassed little girl.

If it was part of the costume he didn't really know why she was so embarrassed over it but he hoped he could make it up a little with his next words. "Well, I think you look really cute in it."

This however didn't appear to have the desired effect as she blushed even harder before covering her face with her hands. An action that he thought looked really cute as well and made him wonder how it would be if he had a little sister like that. Knowing his parents however he doubted she would have been able to act as carefree as the girl in front of him.

When moments later Mrs. Summers came down the stairs telling him that it wouldn't be too long now before the others were ready he had to suppress a sigh. Why did it always have to take girls so long to get themselves ready for something? Maybe it was something genetic, he wasn't quite sure if that sort of thing was possible but ever since he had heard the term it had become his way of explaining all the weird behavior women and girls could exhibit.

"Dawn? Are you alright?" The slightly worried tone of the older Summers tore his attention back to the present in time to see the slight nod from Dawn. As she turned to him for an explanation Xander told her what he had said to the girl. The knowing smile that appeared on her face didn't really explain anything to him but, as she appeared to understand whatever was going on, he knew that she would be able to handle it, whatever it was.

"It has finally happened hasn't it?" The woman asked her daughter as she seated herself on the couch next to the child.

A nod was the only response she got at first until unexpectedly, at least to him, she looked at her mother with pleading eyes and asked a strange question. "Please don't tell Buffy."

Don't tell Buffy what? The situation was becoming weirder every minute and somehow he had the feeling it had something to do with him, although he had no idea why or how. He really wanted to have some answers though. "Are you okay Dawnie?"

"She's fine Xander, it's a girl thing." The answer hadn't come from the girl in question but from her smiling mother. That didn't matter however since it confirmed the suspicion he had about the situation. A girl thing, he had heard this often enough from his friends and knew that it would be best for his continued health if he didn't attempt to pry.

Remaining silent and only nodding his consent seemed to do the trick and he spent the next minutes watching the two interact.

"Your make-up is a little messed up, do you want me to fix it or would you rather stay home after all?"

The horrified expression he could feel forming on his own face was mirrored on that of the girl to whom the question was directed. "Stay home? This is the night of free candy! Why would she want to stay home when she can go out and rob little old ladies of their sweets?"

When the two of them both turned to him with a surprised look he had a feeling they had forgotten about him and for a moment he wondered whether he had stepped out of line by listening to their 'girl-talk'. That moment passed quickly however as Mrs. Summers turned to her daughter and looked at her with a smile that seemed to convey a lot more then Xander could make out as it caused Dawn to once again blush. The situation was really starting to freak him out and he wondered how long it would take for the other two to get ready so he could get back into the sane world. It wasn't that Buffy and Willow never acted strange with their girl things but he was used to their behavior. The sight before him was completely different and he had no idea how to deal with it.

He no longer had to figure out how to deal with it however as Dawn answered her mother. "Could you please fix it? I do want to go and I really am sorry about earlier."

This time he at least knew what it was they were talking about, even if he wasn't meant to, and he was happy the two of them had made up, even if it meant he wouldn't get to hear any embarrassing stories about his favorite Slayer.


As Dawn sat quietly on the chair while her mother retouched her make-up she could still feel her earlier embarrassment. The way she had acted she was surprised Xander hadn't noticed anything but unless he had put up an Oscar worthy achievement he really didn't have a clue. Thank god for small favors but how could she act like that? She was twelve years old and in her opinion pretty smart. The whole blushing thing about some stupid boy was really childish and unfair, it was the kind of thing that happened to silly little girls, like Buffy, and not to someone like her. She needed to get over this as soon as she could. Thinking of the easiest way out of this she simply vowed to herself she wouldn't do it anymore. That should do the trick, happy now that nonsense was sorted out she shifted a little but even while her mom asked her to sit still she almost froze when she saw him.

He was sipping from his glass of coke and for a moment she wondered what it would be like if he pressed those lips on hers. She imagined the wonderful way they would feel as both of them would slowly part their lips in order to let their tongues out to play. Back in the real world however she noticed him looking at her, probably wondering why she was staring at him like that, and she quickly focused back on her mother. It was too late however as she could already feel the heat in her cheeks, indicating that once again she was blushing.

Her mother smiled in that annoyingly knowing way and for a moment she almost cursed her mom for acting like that. This wasn't something funny, this was possibly the worst thing that could have happened to her. If she had to have a crush on someone why did it have to be on one of her sister's best friends? Life really was unfair and she was torn about her decision to go out tonight. On the one hand it would be so wonderful to be near him for that time but on the other hand it would be so frustrating when, with her sister around, she couldn't even show him how she felt. In order to clear her head from these disturbing thoughts she closed her eyes and focused on the strange smell of the make-up.

Her mother was almost finished when Dawn heard Buffy coming down the stairs. Xander apparently heard this as well because he stood up and moved to where he could see her sister coming. This however brought him once again in Dawn's field of vision, something which this time thankfully wasn't accompanied by strange ideas, and since no one but her mother was paying attention to her she spent the time imagining the way he looked underneath the costume. When she then heard the extravagant way he greeted her sister jealousy almost overcame her and she had to restrain herself from tearing Buffy's head of. He belonged to her! He wasn't allowed to flirt with anyone else, especially her own sister who definitely shouldn't be encouraging him.

Maybe if she told him those embarrassing stories about Buffy he would understand how ridiculous her older sister could be and forget about her. No, not forget since that might mean he wouldn't come here again and that wasn't what she wanted either. But they might help him stop thinking of Buffy as someone he could fall in love with. Because he belonged to her and only her! No! Those feelings were wrong, she shouldn't be so possessive of him, she had watched enough television to understand that might just drive him away. But thinking of him dating, maybe even kissing someone other then her made her feel cold all over. Only the thoughts of his earlier words, how he had said she was cute, warmed her a little.

"Done." Her mother's words shook her out of her reverie and she looked at the mirror that was held up in front of her. It looked perfect even if it was unlikely there were many people who would recognize exactly who she was supposed to be. Suddenly remembering she had left the rest of the stuff that went with the outfit in her room she thanked her mother before quickly running off to get them.

"Hey! Watch it Dawn." Oops, so she 'accidentally' brushed a little too close to her sister messing up her stupid dress a little. Why her sister would want to dress up like that wasn't something she understood but it would help to proof to Xander which of the Summers girls was the best. Taking the steps two at a time she almost crashed into the walking bed sheet coming down the stairs.

"Dawn!" A ghost? From what Buffy had been telling during dinner she thought that Willow had been meant to go as some kind of hooker or something. Not bothering to figure out the sudden change she apologized with a shout of "Sorry!" and continued on to her room.

Once there she grabbed the three items that would complete her outfit, the things that defined exactly who her character was. Holding them in her hands however she had to wonder where to put them, the outfit wasn't exactly created for carrying things around. The student card she slid in one of her sleevethingies and the other two she finally managed to hide somewhere on her back. The fact that all the things she carried had to be hidden wasn't something she really liked but carrying everything in her hands all the time didn't sound like fun either.

Looking in the full-size mirror adorning her closet she admired the way she looked so much like the one she wanted to imitate. And Xander had thought she looked cute as well! Sighing at that thought she wondered once again about the unfairness of it all, had the original plan gone through she wouldn't even have been home when he had arrived and she could have lived in blissful ignorance about what she still thought of as a ridiculous crush.

But she was far too young to be able to unravel the mysteries of the heart. Wow, that actually sounded profound. So after a last check on how she looked she gathered her courage and walked to the stairs from where she could hear voices coming.

"Dawnie is coming too?"

"Yeah, mom won't let her go out alone and now we're stuck with her."

"Ah come on, it won't be that bad." Her heart soared as her chosen future husband defended her.

"I don't like it but mom didn't give us any choice. Oh well, what's one more annoying little brat among many?" Aargh! Why couldn't her sister act like she at least liked her? One day she'd get her back for all these comments.

Suddenly a smile appeared on her face as she remembered that telling those stories to Xander would serve as a way of getting back to her sister as well. The walk to Sunnydale Highschool was a pretty long one and she was certain that during that time she could tell him quite a number of stories.

The smile still on her face she went down the stairs where she was greeted by her sister's sour-looking face, Xander who looked anxious to get underway and Willow who despite Buffy's attempts still looked like a walking sheet.

"Finally, we've been done for hours now. Can we go or have you got any other things you need to do?" Her sister's greeting wasn't the nicest she had ever encountered but she could live with it.

"Nope, I'm done." Smilingly ignoring the sarcasm always managed to rile Buffy up a little. "Why don't we go and rob some little old ladies of their sweets?"

She couldn't see it as she had passed them on the way to the door but she was pretty certain the older girls were both glaring at Xander. The sound of a slap seemed to confirm it and while she didn't like that he had to get hit, getting under her sisters skin would sometimes be more important.

"Ow! What did I do?"

"I know she got that from you and you really shouldn't tell her things like that. She'll always use it to annoy me." Yep, and there was nothing her sister could do from using everything she had in getting back at her.


They had collected the group of small fry and now the four of them were escorting the little monsters around. Strange, how almost every one of them appeared to be dressed as their inner selves. But so far they had been reasonably behaved and they seemed to have taken his speech to heart, using every trick he had discovered over the years. When Xander had first seen them do this he had almost felt the need to wipe away a stray tear, it was always a special moment when you could see people using the knowledge you had given them for a good cause.

The only one in the group that didn't seem entirely right to him was little Dawnie and he wondered what that was about. During their trip to the school she had entertained the three of them with as many embarrassing stories about Buffy as she could. Unfortunately for the girl, Buffy had been able to retaliate with stories of her own so he and Willow had a lot of fun while the Summers girls tried to out-embarrass each other. In the end they had struck a truce however and given up on telling these stories. It had come at a rather inopportune time as Dawn had just been halfway through a story he just knew was going to be good. Especially when he noticed his favorite Slayer blanch once she realized exactly what story it had been.

At that moment Buffy had decided to use the one bargaining tool she could get her hands on and made Dawn a promise. If the girl met up with friends she could leave with them as long as she met up with the three of them again before they went home. Dawn, who had obviously realized this was her best shot to get out of her sister's supervision, had jumped at the opportunity. Only the way she had stressed she wouldn't tell the story NOW had stopped him from begging for her to continue anyway. When she had then shyly winked behind Buffy's back made him realize he would get to hear how the story continued another time.

So now the girl should have been happily looking around for friends to join so that she could get away from them but from what Xander could see this wasn't really happening. This needed an explanation and who better to find out what was wrong then the Xandman? "What's wrong Dawnie?" He asked when he started walking next to the girl in question.

"Nothing." Okay, he doubted he would have believed that had he been both blind and deaf and the way she looked and sounded made it even more obvious.

"Riiight," He drawled, "and what makes you think I would accept an excuse like that?"

When he didn't get a reply Xander decided it might be best to try another way. "Now, why won't the beautiful lady tell this brave knight what her problem is so that he can slay this particular dragon for you?" Humor had always been the best way for him to get things done, even if people didn't always agree with that sentiment.

The result he got wasn't exactly what he had expected as he could suddenly see her blushing. Once again he didn't know how to deal with that and therefore chose what lesser minds might call the cowards way and ignored it. Eventually she answered his question with another. "Since when are there knights in the United States army?"

"You wound me, milady." Putting his hand over his heart he pretended that this was indeed the case and this time he was rewarded by giggling. Success! "But you still haven't told me what the problem is."

"It's nothing really."

"Oh come on, this is me. You know you can't hide anything from the Xandman."

This time he wasn't certain if he liked the burst of laughter but decided to take it in the most positive way he could. Once he figured out what that would be. "Sorry Xander, I didn't mean to laugh at you but that really sounded silly."

Ouch, that didn't make him feel a lot better about the laughter but he was on a mission here and wouldn't let a little ridicule stop him. "That's alright. I'm used to being treated like that." Pinking away a fake tear he played upon her sympathies in order to get her to open up.

"Oh, I really am sorry Xander." Throwing her arms around him the girl looked up at him with watery eyes. "I won't ever do that again, please forgive me."

Once again mystified by the ways of the female mind Xander told her that of course he would forgive her and would she really not tell him what was wrong?

"Hey Xander!" Looking over at Buffy who was staring at him and Dawn he wondered what she wanted. "Stop groping my little sister, will you? I would like to be able to enjoy this candy and having to look at that just makes me sick."

Dawn let go of him to turn and look at her sister while shouting her indignation at those words. But when she did that he could suddenly see something of a realization appear in the eyes of the older Summers sister. Apparently so could Dawn as she almost groaned a whispered. "Oh no."

If the shark-like grin that appeared on Buffy's face was any indication this only seemed to increase her enjoyment of whatever it was. Certain he was about to hear whatever this had all been about he noticed the blonde opening her mouth before the whole world seemed to turn inside out.

What was happening? Grabbing his weapon the soldier took stock of the situation, he was in the middle of what appeared to be an American street but that was where everything normal ended. Around him was a group of little monsters that seemed to be running around aimlessly. Besides these strange little creatures there were only three others close to him, the first one he noticed was a blonde girl who appeared to come straight out of a fairytale.

The girl seemed rather out of her league and was screaming like a banshee about having some kind of knight to safe her. Then there was the redheaded working girl that was looking around as if she had at least an idea of whatever nonsense was going on and finally there was a Japanese girl in front of him. He had no idea what her outfit could possibly be used for but if the girl liked wearing something that strange, who was he to tell her otherwise.

Dismissing the other two as useless for information he stepped to the working girl, maybe she could tell him what was going on. She was looking the other way when he arrived though and when he tried to grab her, his hand went straight through her body without her noticing anything at all. Gaping like some kind of stupid fish he tried to figure out what was going on but luckily the hooker turned around then.

"Xander! Do you know what's going on?"

Great, his only source of information was as useless as the other two. "Who's Xander?"

"What? You are of course. Alexander Lavelle Harris, who prefers to be called Xander." Ahh, so that was his name. The girl wasn't as useless as he had believed after all, now he just needed to find out what had caused this sudden bout of memory loss.

"Thank you for telling me ma'am, I'm having some problems with my memory. I take it that I know you?"

"Of course you know me!"

"I'm one of your clients?"

"What?" Now it was the redhead's turn to gasp and he wondered why she seemed so upset at his words.

"You are a working girl, aren't you? And since you seem to be familiar with me I assumed… My apologies if I have offended you."

"I. I. I." She didn't appear to come out of her words but eventually she managed. "I am not some kind of two-bit whore, Xander Harris." She tried to slap him, but her hand went straight through the arm he had thrown up to protect his face and then continued it's journey in his head and he couldn't suppress a shiver as that happened.

Not a working girl? That was surprising, although now that he had a closer look at her, she did appear to be a little young for that kind of job. Besides, with the way she couldn't touch anyone it would have been rather hard to earn any money that way. That stopped him cold for a moment while he wondered at the strange things ones mind comes up with under stress. Because the one thing he did know was that he wasn't all that far from a nervous breakdown. He couldn't remember any details about his training but he doubted he had been thought how to deal with this.

"Look lady," he said, once again bravely suppressing the shivers that threatened to run down his back, "I really am sorry about that and would ask you not to put any more body parts inside me. Could you at least tell me your name?"

Shooting daggers with her eyes the girl nonetheless answered his question.

"Okay then, Willow, you seem to be the only one around here to have any idea of what's going on. Could you perhaps stop trying to glare me to death and explain what the hell is going on around here!?" The last part he shouted in her face, using a time honored technique of how to get more information.

For a moment it seemed to work as the girl moved backwards a little before noticing this and stepping back. "Xander Harris! You are not in any position to yell at me after what you just called me!"

Rolling his eyes he repeated his request for information.

"I don't know, maybe Buffy knows?"

"Buffy?" He stopped himself in the nick of time from asking if that was one of her colleagues. She was pissed enough at him as it was and he didn't need to make it worse, even if that was the sort of name he'd expect for an exotic dancer. When the redhead, Willow he reminded himself, turned to the fairytale princess he realized he had made the right decision. With his luck the useless piece of decoration was probably a member of some kind of powerful family and would have busted him down to permanent KP had she overheard him saying that. With his luck? That had come out so very natural, did that mean that kind of thing happened to him often?

"That's Buffy? The one you think can give us answers? She looks even more useless then you." Okay, he didn't feel like holding back every comment. If they didn't like it they shouldn't give him openings like that and besides, the girl was starting to annoy him.

"I don't understand." The girl seemed lost now that she had realized that the decoration piece was indeed that. Taking the opportunity he checked the blonde out and had to alter his opinion slightly, while she was still obviously only good for acting as a decoration piece, she was a very nice one.

"Willow? What's going on?" Those soft-spoken words came from the Japanese girl, who apparently was familiar with the redhead as well.

"Oh Dawn, I almost forgot about you. Are you alright?"

"I'm fine, what's going on?" The question was rather intent and he had a feeling there was something a little off about the girl but since the redhead didn't seem to notice he gave it no more thought.

"I think everyone has changed into their costume. Well, everyone but you."

"Changed into their costume? What are you talking about woman?" He had no time for that kind of nonsense, it almost sounded as if the stupid girl believed in something as ridiculous as magic. When Xander suddenly realized that people that you couldn't touch weren't real either he swallowed nervously and grabbed his gun a little tighter. He really didn't understand what was going on and wanted his memory back before something even worse happened.

"It's Halloween and we were all dressed up, I was dressed like a ghost and now I am one."

Snorting he couldn't help but comment on that. "I never imagined that is what ghosts dress like. Had I known that I might have been more interested in Casper." At their strange looks he quickly added. "For the female guests of course, geez, what kind of sicko do you think I am that I'd be interested in a little boy?"

"I wore this underneath the sheet!"

"Why? To flash innocent children?" This was fun, if it hadn't been for the strange situation he might have spent the next hours baiting her.

"NO!" And now she was turning an interesting shade of red as well, one that he couldn't remember ever seeing on a human before. Realizing that didn't mean much in his current situation sobered him up though and he listened to the rest of the explanation.

It was a rather strange tale and he had some trouble believing he was supposed to be some kind of schoolchild, especially one that sounded as much of a geek as she described. But it might explain the decoration piece, that by now was thankfully quiet, and the little critters that seemed to have scattered by now.

"So, if I understand what you're saying, this is all some kind of weird magical thing that has caused pint-sized demons and Dracula wannabe's to run around?"

"Well, yes?" The girl sounded as if she was hoping he would believe her but would understand if he didn't. Problem was, he had no idea whether to believe her or not.

"But apparently, there are others as well? Little kiddies that are dressed up like their favorite heroes who undoubtedly will try to save everyone?"

"Yes?" He was happy to hear she sounded even more uncertain then before.

"And you are certain that you aren't just some kind of delusional kid that died after reading too many fantasy books and has decided to spend her afterlife annoying me?"

"No! I mean yes." She appeared to have some difficulty finding the right answer to this question, as he had intended. "I'm not delusional, anyway how would you explain my being a ghost then?"

He shrugged. "Just because I've never seen a ghost before doesn't mean they don't exist even if I hadn't expected them to look like a working girl."

Yep, there was the interesting shade again. "XANDER!"

"Alright, say I'd believe you. What can we do about it?" Not that he did believe her, at least not the part about him.

"I don't know." Wonderful, the playmate of the year didn't know how to handle her own delusions.

"Magic?" This came once again from the soft-spoken girl and he wondered if she was even capable of saying anything louder then a whisper.

"Ehm, yes Dawn. I know we didn't tell you but it's dangerous and Buffy thought it better if you didn't know?" He couldn't predict how the girl would react to that but had someone told him that he hadn't been informed of the threats in the world because they were dangerous he would be pissed. After all, how could you protect yourself against something if you didn't know it was there?

Wait a minute, he just realized something. "You mean to tell me that the only person here who could possibly corroborate your story doesn't know anything about all this?"

"Yes?" Once again he could hear the question mark in her answer and he was getting really tired of this. Action was needed, that he could understand, thinking was for the officers not for a simple groundpounder like him.

"Is there someone else who you know that might not be infected with whatever magical ray has been used that might possibly understand what is going on?" Maybe if he treated her like a little kid she would understand him.

"Giles! Giles will know."

Finally, something useful if this Giles wasn't just another figment of her imagination of course. "And where can we find this Giles?"

"I don't know." Sweet merciful god, why did he have to deal with a delusional ghost? "Oh wait, he'll be at the library."

Okay, at the library. For a moment he looked up and indeed there was no sun to warm his body, only a beautiful starry sky with a nearly full moon. "This Giles is at the library at this time of night?"

"Yes, he's the librarian at school." At school, could this whole situation become even more ridiculous? He needed to ditch this girl, not even the fun of baiting her could stand up against this nonsense.

"Okay then," he put a smile on his face that he sincerely hoped looked real, "why don't you go and get him while I'll take these other two to a safe place."

"Good idea, if there are any vampires around they need to be protected."

"I don't think you have to worry about that, even without killing them I'm sure I can handle a couple of pint-sized vampires."

"I meant real vampires."

"Real vampires?!"

"Ehm, yes I kinda forgot to mention them. Vampires and demons are real as well and while they aren't supposed to come out at Halloween maybe with this going on they will." That came out so fast he had a little trouble following it but once he understood he quickly looked around again to see if there was any danger. The Japanese girl was still standing next to him and was also looking around for any possible threat and the blonde had apparently given up whimpering in favor of listening to the redhead. Besides them however the street seemed empty, there wasn't a soul in sight. Somehow thinking those words didn't comfort him in the least, wasn't it vampires who weren't supposed to have a soul?

"Thanks for telling us." This time Xander didn't even try to conceal the sarcasm in his voice. He still wasn't certain the girl was right in the head, maybe she had died because of some kind of head injury, but if she was legit she might have told him about this a little sooner. Preferably the moment she first opened her mouth. "I take it that I am allowed to shoot them?"

"Bullets don't work on vampires." This really just kept getting better and better, didn't it?

"What's next? You're going to tell me this is a resting place on the path to hell?"

She looked surprised at his comment before she smiled a little. "How did you know?"

No, there was no way that she could be serious. He was fairly certain he had all the information he needed for now and he really needed to get rid of this crazy fool. "Okay little lady, if that's what you believe I won't tell you different. Now, why don't you hop along and find your librarian while I take care of these other two."

She looked crushed that he didn't believe her and seemed to want to defend herself. "It's not really a resting place but there is a gate to hell here, a Hellmouth."

"Sure thing, honey, now since you at least seem to know your way around here. Where can I take these two?"

When the redhead was thinking this over, the decoration piece showed she could speak normally as well. "Sir knight?"

Did she mean him? Looking down at his uniform he didn't think he looked like some kind of fool dressed in tons of steel but he answered anyway. "What?"

"Once thou art finished with the courtesan." Before she could finish her sentence however the angry look that had appeared on the face of the so-called ghost caused him to burst out in laughter.

The blonde looked at him mortified, probably thinking he was laughing because of her but he just couldn't stop laughing long enough to explain it to her. Willow apparently had enough of it and once again tried to slap him, he was really getting tired of that. Didn't she know how strange it was to see someone's arm sticking out of you?

"Cut that out. You can go to Buffy's place, I'm sure Dawn can take you there." Great, to the house of the decorating piece, he wondered if she fit in with the rest of the décor.

"You know where to go, small fry?" He looked down at where he had last seen the girl but she seemed to have disappeared. "Small fry?" Looking around for her he couldn't see her but then the blonde spoke up.

"It is as I wanted to say, sir knight. The young girl has departed some time ago."

Chapter 2

She was running through the streets of this town. A first glance had shown Kirika she was most likely in the United States and when the people around her had started talking this had been confirmed. From what she had understood of the redhead's explanation, people here had been turned into their costume, although apparently she had been spared that unpleasantness, probably because she was wearing something of herself. But that was the only positive thing about her situation as once again someone had stolen her memory.

A grim look appeared on her face as she wondered if whoever had done that understood what they had unleashed. Unlike the previous time something like this had occurred she now only missed a certain period, she couldn't remember what had happened since she had left the manor together with Mireille but she would surely find out. Once she had met up with her partner again those memory thieves would wish they had never even though off this plan. As the Americans would put it, Noir was pissed off.

Believing there was enough distance between her and the others she paused to take stock of her situation. She was still dressed in the clothes she had worn for the ritual although the holes seemed to have been mended. That she herself wasn't wounded had been one of the first things she had discovered and confirmed that quite some time had indeed passed since the last thing she remembered. Checking the weight on her back she could feel the familiar and comforting form of her Beretta. Taking it out she discovered it was in perfect working order, although she wondered where she had gotten this one. Her old weapon had fallen down in that lava pit underneath the Manor. She shook the thought off however since this wasn't the time to think of that. She needed to find Mireille and then the two of them could decide what to do next.

Checking the rest of her clothes she didn't find any spare bullets, which meant that until she found a supplier Kirika would have to do with the seven bullets currently contained in her weapon. With all the danger this town apparently contained she wasn't certain whether that was enough but she didn't have a choice in the matter. Maybe she could find some other weapons to complement the Beretta but for that she would probably have to break and enter a shop. As this was the United States it should be fairly easy to find a gun shop but she didn't believe that to be worth the risk. Undoubtedly that kind of store would have better security systems then most and without any tools on her to disable these systems that might expose her to the police.

So guns were out but that didn't mean she wouldn't be able to find any other weapons, her training had made her familiar with practically every weapon that had been in use for the last thousand years so surely there would be something she could use. If only she knew what weapons would be useful against demons and vampires, whatever they might be.

"You're sure she went this way?" That sounded like the soldier, Xander. A quick look around the corner showed her that the three of them were looking for her.

"Dost thou not believe me?" The noble woman, she had forgotten about that one. Focusing on slipping away before the soldier or ghost noticed her action she hadn't been aware of the silent blonde and now that might cost her.

"No, I'm sure you were right. After all, you seem the type that notices every tiny little thing people do so you can gossip about it later."

Not paying any more attention to the resulting argument she looked for somewhere to hide until they had passed. The redhead seemed nice enough but had called her by what was undoubtedly an alias and seemed rather strange in her belief in magic, although some of the facts did indeed seem to prove her right about that. When it came to the soldier, well she had never fully trusted anyone carrying a weapon whose allegiance she wasn't certain of, let alone a soldier. The noblewoman was completely out of her depth and therefore useless to her, all these facts had been obvious fairly soon and once Kirika had gained enough information about the situation she had left.

"Dawn! Where are you?" The redhead was now shouting. She had no intention to give up her location however and remained silent, although wondering about the strangeness of a ghost. If she was fully incorporeal, how was it possible for her to walk? Shouldn't she have sunk through the streets long before?

"Kid! Where are you?"

Now two of them were shouting for her, didn't they have any tactical sense? If this town did indeed contain beings hostile to them wouldn't these beings consider all this shouting an invitation? They were getting closer however and she still didn't have a hiding place. Looking around she spotted a garage on top of which she would be hidden from her pursuers. The roof was about a meter above her so she took a running leap, placed one foot on the wall for further leverage and grabbed the edge of the roof. Using her remaining momentum she swung her body backwards and up until she had performed a perfect summersault and landed silently on top of the building.

Sitting down on the rough roof she took out the item that puzzled her most. A gun could easily be replaced with a nearly identical one, but where did this watch come from? Tracing the pattern on the lid with her finger she allowed a tiny smile to appear on her face. Now that she truly understood what the figures represented they seemed even more beautiful. The first of those carrying the name that she and Mireille had inherited were depicted on it. Only those of Soldats knew of the true origin of Noir and even among them it was only a small number that was aware of the whole truth. The black hands of Soldats, the thousand year darkness of Europe. All names for the most feared assassins that ever lived and despite the group they were once connected to, Kirika felt a sort of pride that she was one of those found worthy of the name.

If only that hadn't come at such a high prize, this watch was the one carried by Mireille's father who had been one of her first assignments over a decade ago. The pain she had caused her partner now also tore at her own heart. Even though she knew that she had been forgiven for that crime, killing the Corsican's family was one of the two times she truly regretted having killed someone even if it took her a decade for that to happen.

Looking down at the street she found that the others had long since left to look elsewhere, leaving her free to proceed on her own. Before doing so however she decided to open the watch and listen to the soothing music that it played. Only when she tasted the saltiness of her own tears did she realize the bittersweet sound had called upon certain memories she would prefer not to dwell on and she closed the watch. Jumping down the relatively low roof posed no problem for the trained assassin and within moments she was on her way again.


Unbelievable, now he was stuck in hostile territory looking for a little kid! How the mighty had fallen. He uttered a sigh of frustration, he really needed to find a place to store the blonde while he was looking for the girl. Looking the decoration piece over again he had a sudden but rather pleasant thought. Considering that according to the redhead this was the road to hell, maybe he should stop paving it and give up any good intentions. With some smooth talking he might be able to convince the girl to give up whatever vow of chastity she had taken. He was pretty certain that the redhead would try to put a stop to it if he made his move now, so it might be best if he waited until he had gotten rid of her.

Cheered up by his plans he continued helping the redhead in the search for the girl. The actions of the ghost had more or less convinced him that she had been delusional earlier during her strange talk about vampires and other such nonsense. If they really existed she wouldn't be shouting like this, drawing attention to herself.

A noise behind him however made him turn around to where he saw two men looking them over. Normally he wouldn't mind the looks he recieved but he really preferred it if it were women that looked at him like that and these two didn't qualify.

"Hey, have you two seen a Japanese girl? About this high," he held up his hand to indicate the girl's height, "and wearing some kind of golden robe thing?"

"No, but we do see our dinner." And with that the faces of what he now realized had to be vampires changed.

"Hey, ghostgirl. Are these the vampires you were talking about, or just two more people that chose the wrong costume?" Xander shouted at the redhead without taking his eyes of the approaching figures.

"They're vampires, we must run." The girl sounded even more panicked then before and he almost agreed with her but not quite.

"Nah, you said I could hurt these and I really need to get rid of some frustration here." Aiming his gun at the vampires he let loose two rounds in each of their torso's and when he saw them fall down he turned to the redhead wearing a smug smile. "See? Guns do work."

Unfortunately the girl wasn't looking at him but behind him with horrified eyes and when he heard the next words he realized why.

"That stings mortal, you will suffer for that." Shocked, because he knew there was no way anyone could have survived those shots, he turned around while once again a strange thought flitted through his mind. These guys were dead, couldn't they at least spent some of their time thinking up lines that didn't sound as if they came from some kind of cheesy monster movie?

Looking the two vampires over he noticed that his bullets had indeed impacted in their bodies where he thought they had but they didn't seem to have had any effect. It was now too late for them to try and run so he took the only remaining option and attacked them.

A flying kick tackled one of the vampires and while that one was still going down he snapped another kick to the one that had remained standing, shattering its knee. A shout of pain was the result and he swung his hand, that still contained the gun, as hard as he could against the monster's skull. The crunch that he could hear and feel from the impact felt strangely satisfying and he smiled as his opponent went down and lay still.

His happiness lasted only shortly however as the other vampire had gotten up faster then he had expected and tackled him. Now pinned down by the ugly creature he tried to struggle free but soon discovered he had no chance of success. Fortunately he still had his gun and while it hadn't killed them before they had still felt the impact. Turning his hand so he was aiming at his opponent he pulled the trigger several times. The shock of the impacts loosened the grip it had on him slightly and he used the opportunity to bury the hot barrel in its stomach. A cry of anguish showed him that heat was indeed a weakness for vampires and he regretted not having any fire as the stench of burning flesh reached his nose. As the grip on him was then entirely released he used his forehead to crush the bastard's nose before moving from underneath it.

He looked around for something that could be used to kill the creature and saw a white picket fence, if the stories were true wood could kill them so he kicked loose a nice part of jagged wood and turned back to the vampires. Only to find he hadn't been fast enough, the vampire whose nose he had crushed now held the blonde hostage.

"Sorry little soldier but if you want this girl to survive you'll have to let us go. No killing for you tonight."

Cursing his own stupidity he wondered what he could do now. The other vampire was still unconscious on the ground but he doubted that would last much longer, he had to find a way to get the blonde away from the monster. Before he needed to come up with a plan however the hostage keeper suddenly exploded into dust, revealing a brunette man carrying a wooden stake. Wood worked, those words flashed through his head while he dove to the remaining vampire and put the piece of fence in its heart. Within moments that one had turned into dust as well and dropping the makeshift stake he pointed his gun at the forehead of the new arrival.

"And who the hell are you?" He wasn't going to take anything for granted again in this screwed up town.


Kirika heard the report of the gun and immediately knew what weapon it was. Beretta M-9 Pistol, primary handgun for the United States Army, capable of holding fifteen rounds. More information about the characteristics of the gun was inside her head but that wasn't important, by identifying the weapon she had identified the user. Apparently the soldier had indeed run into something that warranted using his gun and she decided to steer away from that area. The gunshots had scared whatever sane people still remained on the street and they were running all over the place, getting in her way. Only the need to stay inconspicuous, and her limited number of bullets, prevented her from firing some rounds herself so she would have clear passage.

Turning down another empty street she finally located a store that contained useful items. Checking the door of the hunting store she realized there was no way she could gain entrance using the tools she had. Walking to the window she peered through the safety glass and wondered what items might be useful.

The crossbows on display looked rather nice but if guns didn't have any use against these creatures, she doubted these more primitive weapons would do any good either. It didn't matter anyway, there was no way she could walk around with a crossbow and still remain unnoticed by the people around her. And until she had found Mireille and they could go exact their revenge she didn't want anyone to notice her.

Her mind made up she looked for something she could use to muffle the sound of her gun before giving up and just doing it. Pointing the Italian gun at the window she looked away in an attempt to protect her face and pulled the trigger.

As the glass was still cascading down to the floor she jumped inside and moved to the knives she had selected. The glass cover on this case was easily cracked with the butt of her gun and careful not to leave any prints she took four of the knives before once again leaving the store. She had not been inside for more then maybe a minute and was gone long before the police might have had a chance of appearing.

The knives might not be very useful against those creatures either but the fact that she wasn't dependent on a mere seven, no only six now, bullets made her feel happier. She then considered her next move. With the knives she might be able to force the locks of a weapon shop and that way gather at the very least ammunition for her gun. Once again she decided against that, now that she was at least somewhat capable of defending herself against attack she had to focus on finding her partner. But where to start?


"Angel!" The redhead yelled happily and he had to stop himself from shaking his head. That girl really was delusional, even in this screwed-up town where ghosts looked like working girls he really doubted an angel would look like that.

"Willow, do you know what's going on?" Huh, the guy knew the redhead? And he still seemed sane, that meant he couldn't possibly have been close to her then.

"Once again, who the hell are you and if you don't answer within ten seconds I'll put a bullet through your head." When tact isn't enough, use force to stress your request.

"Xander? What's wrong with you? It's me Angel."

"Is that your name or do you really believe you are one?"

"What?" The guy seemed incredulous at the question and he had to admit it sounded silly but he really needed to know. "It's my name of course, you know that."

"I have some kind of memory loss, so Angel huh? Let me guess, your parents were rather fond of Woodstock?" Man, he really couldn't stop himself could he? One of these days he was going to say something to the wrong guy and pay the price. But that was for the future to worry about, now it was important to find out whether the guy was a threat or not.

"My hero!" What? All the guy had done was put a piece of wood into someone's back and the blonde decoration piece considered him her hero? That clinched it, the guy had to go if he was interfering with his chances at a love life.

"What's wrong with Buffy?" While the guy didn't seem to mind the blond hanging on his neck it was obviously not something he had expected and so ignored all the questions Xander had asked him and focused on the redhead.

"We've all changed into our costumes and she was dressed like that."

"How did that happen?"

"I don't know and now nobody knows who they are but me."

"How come you weren't affected?"

"I was dressed as a ghost but the only thing that happened to me is that I can't touch anything anymore. The others don't remember who they are, except Dawn but she ran away. Have you seen her?"

"Dawn? Buffy's sister?" The Japanese girl was the sister of the decoration piece? Poor girl, no wonder she bailed. "I haven't seen her."

"Okay people, let's hold on for a moment and decide what we're going to do next."

"And that is Xander?"


"He almost seems competent." Okay, he had been so close to forgiving the guy but that wasn't something he should have said.

"Hey, at least I don't have to buy a gallon of hairgel a week. Don't you know how to use a mirror?"

That seemed to shut the guy up for a moment but when Angel seemed to get a guilty look on his face a rather unpleasant idea came to him.

"Ehm, I ah."

"You are not gonna tell me you're a freaking vampire are you?" The gun was once again aimed at the suspected bloodsucker.

"Xander, he's a good guy. He has a soul."

He wanted to comment on that but didn't have the chance as the blonde had suddenly realized the same thing and let out an earsplitting shriek.

"Back demon, back." And when the vampire let her go she quickly ran back to where she belonged, at least until he got tired of her, at his side.

"Now explain yourself, bloodsucker." And Angel, obviously realizing they wouldn't do anything until he had explained himself, told the whole sordid tale of his current state.

"You're as crazy as the working girl but at least your actions have shown that you're on the right side. Now according to ghost-girl your kind can't enter houses until invited right?"

"That's true."

"Good, then the first thing we do is to take this beautiful lady to a safe place." Sweet talking seemed to be useful as the flighty thing batted her eyelashes at him. "Once we've done that we'll go look for the little girl, meanwhile you." And he pointed at the redhead. "Will go to this Giles you were blathering about and tell him what's going on. The sooner this nonsense is over with the sooner I can go back to my unit."

Luckily she didn't try to tell him again he wasn't real since that would have really pissed him off. "Good idea, oh Angel can lead you to Buffy's house. She'll be safe there."

Wonderful, he had planned to send the reflectionless creature on an errand but now it seemed as if he was stuck with him. "How long will you need to talk to this Giles?"


For once not resisting the urge to roll his eyes he told her. "Because, little lady, that way we can arrange a place to meet where you can tell us what he thinks is going. Geez, can't you even touch your brains anymore either?" Xander knew his behavior was getting worse but he was starting to run out of patience.

"Once you've got your memory back you are so gonna be sorry about that Xander Harris." Terrific she was back to telling him he wasn't real. "But to answer your question I can probably meet you back at Buffy's house. I'll just take the shortcut, so just wait for me there."

Shortcut? Before he could ask her about it she turned and ran, straight through the wall of a house. Looking at Angel he realized the creature was as freaked out about this as he was.

"She wasn't kidding about being a ghost was she?"


"I never thought ghosts looked like some common harlot though." Laughing hard, Xander thought that maybe, just maybe, for a creature of the night the guy wasn't that bad after all.


Five. That's how many bullets she had left now, when she had been attacked she had instinctively gone for her gun and blown the tiny demon away. If the Willow girl had been right it might have been a little kid but as it had been trying to kill her, Kirika didn't really care. Besides the child might survive, despite the fact that the shot had been at center mass the tiny demon hadn't been killed. She would have finished it except that it had friends coming so she didn't have the time to use a knife. Another bullet would have depleted them even more and she couldn't be certain that would actually do the job.

"Dawn? Is that you?"

Turning around Kirika looked at the girl that had just spoken to her, this one appeared to be dressed as a cat and like her didn't seem to be affected by the spell. "Yes."

"Good, I thought I recognized your costume. Where is your sister? She is supposed to be the one that keeps these things from bothering me." Sister? Could the girl be talking about Mireille? Were the two of them pretending to be sisters? That might have made sense except that her supposed sister had knowledge of the supernatural and she couldn't remember her partner ever displaying such knowledge.

"I don't know." Seemed to be the simplest answer and true as well since she didn't even know who her sister was supposed to be.

"You don't know where Buffy is?" Oh, the noblewoman was supposed to be her sister. That seemed a little strange to her and the catgirl noticed her doubt. "What?"

If this Buffy was pretending to be her sister, she should help the blonde regain her memory. Then she could probably tell her where Mireille was and apparently this girl knew more about the things that happened here then she did. "She turned into a noblewoman."

"Really? So it's some kind of spell or something?"


The girl seemed to realize something. "Wait a minute, I thought Buffy didn't tell you about these things. How come you know about them now?"


The brunette slowly nodded her head. "Yeah, that makes sense that's one girl that can't keep her mouth shut. Now do you have any idea where they could be?"

She had to think about how to answer this, she really didn't want to risk letting anyone know about her amnesia until she had found her partner. "They wanted to keep Buffy somewhere safe."

"The library?"

"No, that's where Willow was going. Xander would take Buffy somewhere safe."

"The geeks split up? I'd think that they would consider that too dangerous."

"Willow is a ghost but looks more like what Xander called a working girl and he is a soldier."

"Hold on a minute! Dweeb-boy called Willow a working girl?"

Kirika only nodded to indicate this was true and the other burst out in laughter. "Oh my, I would have loved to see that. Oh, but she didn't know who it was that said it, did she?"

"She did, Willow retained her memory."

"Even better." The smile on the catgirl's face seemed very smug and Kirika had a feeling the girl wasn't very fond of the redhead. "But let's think first, where would dweeb-boy take her?"

Since Kirika didn't know where they had gone either the two decided to look around while walking to what was apparently her house as well. Barely having started they heard someone behind them speak up. "What do we have here?"

"Larry." The tone of voice used by Kirika's companion made it clear she wasn't interested in talking to the boy, or was it a man?, dressed like a pirate.

"Aargh, 'tis great being me. I came to port here and was looking for some action." He leered at them. "And now I seem to have found it."

The brunette responded in a disgusted voice as the pirate approached. "You have got to be kidding me." Looking at Kirika she simply asked. "Spell?"


"Let's go, I have no wish to stay here while he makes a fool of himself."

"Not so fast girlie. I haven't had my action yet and you will give it to me, or my name isn't…" Confused the pirate stopped his approach, probably wondering what his name was and the girls used that time to walk away.

They didn't get far however before the pirate grabbed her by the shoulder and used the hook on his left arm to take hold of the other girl's costume. Both of them reacted instantaneously in their own distinct ways. While the other girl turned around with a scream about her clothes and how he had no right to touch her Kirika turned around as well but silently and with her hands going to one of the knives she was carrying. Her companion however didn't stand still to be fondled either and kneed the pirate in the crotch. As she saw this Kirika let go of the knife that she had already half-drawn and instead kicked the suffering pirate in the head.

"He'll live." Was all she said after briefly checking the pulse of the now unconscious boy and started to walk away. The other girl had other plans however.

"We can't just leave him here!"

"Why not?" The sudden change in demeanor of the girl came as a surprise.

"Well duh, because of the vampires of course."

The vampires, if they or other demons would encounter the boy he would probably die. She had briefly forgotten about this but even now that she remembered she didn't really see a reason to move the boy. While she wasn't into casual murder, that was unprofessional, she was an assassin and not someone that saved people. But she might need the girl later so giving in she helped the other carry the unconscious pirate to a safer location.

The walk through the town had been strange, everywhere the two of them looked there was total chaos. Children were running around in fear because their friends had suddenly turned into demons or human terrors. Once they even saw two pint-sized superheroes having a fight about who was allowed to rescue a certain damsel in distress. A tiny damsel that didn't stop screaming for help as her attackers seemed to ignore the bickering heroes.

"This kind of thing can only happen in Sunnydale." Her companion sighed, unknowingly informing Kirika of her current location. Sunnydale, somewhere in America didn't help her a lot but she was confident more information would be made available to her later.

"Cordelia!" That sounded like the redhead, Willow, and she turned around to see where the ghost was. The frazzled looking girl didn't seem to have noticed her yet however and was instead focused on Kirika's companion, for who she now finally had a name as well.

As the panting girl, how could something intangible pant? How could she even breathe? reached them she started explaining to Cordelia how she wasn't really a cat but a girl. The brunette cut her off however.

"Rude much? I know who I am, working girl."

"What? How?" She then caught sight of Dawn and wailed her name. "How could you do that to me?"

"Don't blame the messenger, blame the message. Besides it's not like it could ruin your non-existing reputation at school, in fact it might even improve it." The last being delivered with a nasty smile.

Kirika didn't know what she had done wrong but offered a soft apology nonetheless.

"Hey kid, don't apologize for being the smart one in your family. Just because your sister likes to hang out with losers like her and Harris doesn't mean you have to be inflicted with the same disease."

"Cordy! That's not nice."

"What a coincidence is that? Let me tell you a secret Rosenburg. Nice is not something that I am." And with a smile of superiority on her face she started to walk away. "Coming Dawnie?"

She was starting to like the catgirl, in some ways the honest and outspoken girl reminded her of Mireille. The blonde had never tried to hide her intentions either, unless on a job of course, and had the same blunt outspokenness. Even when they had just met her partner had been honest about the fact that in the end Kirika would die at her hands. The fact that when it came to it the Corsican hadn't been able to come through didn't diminish the honesty behind the statement when it was said.

However, the gaping redhead had answers that they might need. "Where's Buffy?"

Cordelia turned around at that. "Yeah, you probably know where she is and what's going on. According to Dawn you were going to get info from Giles. Spill."

"Why should I tell you anything? I can be not nice as well." The girl now had a look at her face that looked rather resolved and the way she stared at Cordelia told Kirika that the redhead wouldn't talk unless given a reason to.

"I'm worried." It wasn't a lie, just because she wasn't worried about Buffy didn't mean she wasn't worried about other things.

It seemed to work however as Willow's resolve face seemed to melt and turned to her. "You shouldn't have run away then you would have been with her now."

"Can you blame her? With the Slayer a useless piece of fluff and only Xander to protect her? I would've run away from you as well."

With an explanation handed to her she didn't need to think of one of her own and just stared at the redhead with what Mireille had once termed her puppy-dog eyes.

"I haven't gone to Giles yet, we were looking for you." If Willow thought that would have made her feel guilty the redhead really didn't know her. "But I don't know why some people are affected and others aren't."

"And the piece of fluff? She's supposed to keep this kind of thing from interfering with people who actually have lives."

"She's not a piece of fluff!" Willow defended her friend.

Cordelia merely smirked, obviously enjoying this very much. "Really? That's not what Dawnie told me."

A scream of frustration was the answer to that comment before the redhead told them everyone was at the Summers' house and stomped of to find Giles.

"Well, that was fun." Cordelia smirked at her before she turned and led the way to the house Dawn figured she was supposed to be living as well. Maybe she'd be able to find information there.


They had finally arrived at the house and Xander was happy when the decoration piece finally let go of him. Not that he had really minded feeling her pressed against him, quite the contrary actually. It felt great and the look on the bloodsucker's face was rather entertaining as well but there had been certain moments he wished she could have behaved normal. Every time they encountered something that her eighteenth-century brain couldn't comprehend she had shrieked in his ear and he wasn't particularly fond of the pounding headaches that caused.

"This is it?"

"Yes." The vampire answered, Xander didn't know if it was because of the girl or something else, but he had soon discovered that the bloodsucker wasn't the world's greatest conversationalist.

Once inside the house he turned around to the vampire that was still outside. "So, I take it this is goodbye then?"

"What? Why?"

"Your kind can't enter houses, can they?"

Smirking Angel simply entered the house and told him. "I've got an invitation."

Damn! How could he spend any quality time with the blonde if the Dracula wannabe was still around? Sighing he decided to look around in the house for something to drink, by now he was feeling quite thirsty.

Incredible, whatever fool lived in this house didn't even have beer! There were a couple of bottles with more potent drinks but that would just befuddle his mind and he still considered himself in hostile territory. When he had asked the girl whether she wanted something to drink she had demanded wine but giving her alcohol seemed to be even more stupid then drinking it himself. So now both of them were sitting on a couch, he with a glass of coke, something which the blonde claimed she wouldn't drink under any circumstance, and she with some kind of juice.

And he had no ideas how to spend the time until ghost-girl returned now that his original plans could no longer happen. For that he glared at the back of the vampire who had taken it on himself to stand vigilance at the window. Fortunately, when the girl noticed that, she cuddled a little closer to him until he could once again feel every curve of her body pressed against him. Since he could feel her shivering in fear he, like the gentleman he was, put his arm around her in order to make her feel safer.

"So fang-face, what do you think is going around in this messed-up excuse for a town?"

"I don't know but…" He stopped and peered outside. "I think Cordelia is coming, together with a Japanese girl."

"Japanese girl? That could be that Dawn girl, let me look." Regretfully disengaging himself from Buffy Xander walked to the window. "Yep, that's her I don't know who the other one is but she certainly looks good." A brief fantasy concerning the approaching brunette and the blonde decoration piece flashed through his mind while he walked to the door to let the two girls in.

"Hello Dawnie, where have you been?" When he didn't receive an answer he turned to the other. "And you are? A ghost as well? You are kinda dressed like the other one."

A slap on his face proved that this girl was not a ghost and he really shouldn't have said that if he wanted his fantasy to become true in any way. "Saying things like that to Rosenberg is funny Harris, but to me you will be polite."

The ghost of a smile had appeared on the young girl's face and he now turned to her, trying to cover up his mistake. "Why did you run away? Don't you understand it's dangerous out there?"

"Oh puh-leaze, can you really blame her for not trusting in your protection loserboy?

"Was I talking to you? No I didn't think so, had that been the case my first question would have been about your hourly rate."

Another slap was his answer to that barb but this time he was able to intercept the hand before it reached his face. He was so fascinated by her flashing eyes that he completely missed the knee that was aimed at a particular sensitive region of his body, the knee however didn't and with tears in his eyes Xander crashed to the floor.


Fascinated Kirika watched how the other girl just continued into the house without even glancing at the groaning boy lying on the floor. Closing the door she quickly followed behind until she reached the living room where she noticed the blonde that was acting as her sister and another person who was identified by Cordelia as Angel.

Looking around the room in an attempt to trigger her latent memories she didn't notice anything that might give her a clue to her partner's location. A brief look in the kitchen surprised her since there were several things missing that she was used to having in there but they might be stored in some of the cupboards. Upon returning to the living room she noticed the others were discussing what they should do now. From the brief snatches she heard there had originally been a plan to look for her but now it was apparently best if they waited for Willow to return and decide after that.

That didn't really concern her so she decided to take a look upstairs. Maybe she had kept all the information in her own room where it was probably safer then downstairs. Not knowing which room was hers she checked them all, first the master bedroom which was obviously used by the older woman posing as Kirika's mother and didn't hold anything useful. A peek into the other rooms showed her which room was more likely to be hers but she decided on checking the one belonging to her supposed sister first.

An extensive search didn't yield many useful clues, except for the weapons that had been hidden away and were most likely to be intended for use against the creatures that ran around the town. The fact that so far she hadn't run into one of them, she didn't count the child/monster, had thrown some doubt on their existence as she only had spoken accounts of their existence. The weapons and, more importantly, the proof that they had obviously been used quite extensively offered substantiality to the various claims of their existence. But aside from opening the diary she had discovered there was no way to get any useful information here and she had no intention of wading through the ramblings an American teenager might write in her diary, let alone one belonging to the useless blonde. Just thinking of the ridiculousness she might encounter caused a shiver of disgust to run down her back.

She then went to her own room and she spent more time there. Here she also found a diary and she read this one extensively. Unfortunately it seemed to be full of the same drivel that she had suspected the other one to contain and for a moment she wondered exactly how far she would go to protect her identity. There had been mentions of Noir and the various people who made it up but these mentions had obviously been in code. For some reason she had pretended her real life was an anime series and while this way nobody would suspect her true identity it didn't help her as she didn't know how to decode the information. With the diary useless she looked around for other things capable of containing the knowledge she required. Paging through the various books lining the walls and covering the desk took up quite some time, time that in the end was wasted.

There had been nothing of use in the entire room, Kirika couldn't believe it. There hadn't been even the slightest hint of either her mission or Mireille's location and this completely mystified her. For a moment she debated looking further in the house in case she might have hidden the information somewhere but decided against it. If the information had been hidden it was unlikely it was any less secure then the code she had encountered. This left only one option, one that she hadn't wanted to use since it would be traceable and might alert whoever was after her. She really needed to contact her partner though and therefore reached for the phone.

"Operator, how can I help you?"

"I would like to make a collect call to a number in Paris, France."

"Of course, what is your name and the number you want to call?"

After giving the number Kirika was asked to wait and she did so, hoping to either reach her partner or get a clue from the answering machine. When she finally heard a voice coming over the line however it wasn't the familiar tones of her partner but once again the operator.

"I'm sorry miss but that number seems to be out of order. Are you certain you have the correct number?"

Yes, she was certain but she wasn't certain if Mireille had already fixed the damage to the apartment that had been inflicted when Soldats had attacked them there. Unfortunately she couldn't really tell to the operator that the phone might be shot to pieces so she asked him to try Mireille's mobile phone then.

"I'm sorry miss, but that number can't be reached either. Is there anything else I can do for you?"

"No." She hang up the phone, trying not to worry about her partner's fate. The mobile phone might have been broken in any of a hundred ways or have been compromised forcing Mireille to take a new number. The fact that she couldn't reach her didn't have to mean her beautiful partner was in danger, waiting for an amnesiac Kirika to rescue her. The idea didn't leave her alone however and she started thinking about who might have the information she needed.

The blonde, Buffy, was out until the spell had been lifted but waiting for that might take too long and she really couldn't take the chance. That left only one other person, going through the stuff in the house had told her the most likely place for the older woman to be was at the gallery she worked at and a description of how to reach that by foot had been pinned above the desk in her room. Knowing the others would try to prevent her from leaving she climbed out of the window, intent on finding Joyce Summers and getting the information she needed, any way necessary.

Chapter 3

"That's just sick, Harris." The brunette named Cordelia said while glaring at him. "Taking advantage of the situation by having her crawl all over you. Even Buffy has better taste then that when she is sane."

He merely glared at her in reply, he was still rather tender where she had hit him and he really didn't want to hear her comments right now, if she hadn't been a woman... Although he had to admit she was probably right about the first part of her statement but he refused to feel guilty. Was it his fault he was this irresistible to the decoration piece? And besides, he rather doubted she was an impartial observer when it came to him. When the vampire then spoke up to agree with her however he had enough.

"You shut up." Xander said, pointing at the bloodsucker. "You weren't invited to this discussion and should know to be quiet when your betters are speaking. And with betters I mean those actually capable of standing in the sunlight."

"Hah, like anyone could mistake you for their better. If Angel wants to speak he can do so." Is that how it was? She preferred the vampire over him?

"Wait a minute, you're helping a vampire against a human?"

"Not any vampire, Angel, and besides when it comes to you, doing so is a natural action."

"Are you always this much of a bitch or is this some kind of special occasion?"

The smirk on her face showed him the answer before she told him. "I always am but your little comments at the door didn't help your situation."

Like he had told himself earlier, his big mouth had finally managed to land him in trouble. At his side the blonde had enough of the girl's attitude and decided to help him. "How dare you speak like that to mine noble knight!"

"Watch it blondie, your accent is slipping. You're starting to sound like the common people again."

Outrage at this slur was evident on the pretty face and she retorted again. "Thou art a harlot, the likes of thee oughtn't be allowed to speak like that."

"That hurt little girl. Why don't you go and cry about how unfair the world is?"

"Hey, stop teasing her. She can't help her current situation." Xander really thought the brunette was going too far, she might actually drive his favorite decoration piece away and despite his own doubts about the fairness of it all he didn't want that.

"My thanks, noble knight. Forasmuch as thou hast protected mine person countless times in this cruel world wouldst I thank thee with a kiss."

He had to blink a little before he had managed to decipher that message but when he did so he was more then happy to accept the offering. As she stood before him he raised his head and imagined how her sweet lips would feel against his own. Closing his eyes in anticipation he waited for the moment he had been hoping for ever since he woke up in this crazy town. He was soon disappointed however as all he felt was a feather-light peck on his forehead. Opening his eyes again in consternation he saw her beaming as if she had just done him a great favor and looking at the other two he noticed expressions of mirth and disgust warring on their faces.

"That's it?" He asked, close to outrage at her action.

"But of course, noble knight. What didst thou believe mine statement to mean?"

Before he needed to answer this Cordelia spoke up. "You know Xander, I think you were right after all. It isn't really fun to fight a battle of wits with an unarmed person."

Looking at the girl still standing in front of him, wondering how she would react to that statement, he could almost feel the other two do the same. And while it took a while to happen, when the decoration piece finally understood what had been said about her she let her opinion of that be known, loud and long.

"Shut up!" The short sentence was suddenly shouted through the discussion that had been going on for quite a while now. Xander wasn't entirely happy with that command since he had been about to bestow a very well thought out insult on the vampire but complied nonetheless when he saw who it was that had shouted.

"Willow." He acknowledged her. "Did you talk to your Giles?"

"Yes." She looked a little weary and he had the feeling that had she been able to she would have sat down. "He thinks it's indeed something to do with the costumes."

"No." He replied, trying to sound as sarcastic as possible. Just because she was tired didn't mean he wouldn't try to rile her up.

"Xander!" Yep, he still had the touch but even so her attention didn't stay on him for long. "Cordelia, where did you buy your costume?"

"What? Why do you want to know?"

"Why can't you just answer the question?!" Hmm, the girl sounded more and more stressed every time she opened her mouth.

"Because I want to know why Rosenberg, I don't take commands from you. For that you'll need the army reject over there."

"Alright then." The redhead deflated. "Xander and Buffy bought theirs at the new store and they turned into their suits and I thought it might have something to do with that."

"You mean Ethan's? No I didn't buy there, but if you didn't get your ghost costume there how come you changed?"

"The clothes you see now were bought there. But let's ask Dawn where she bought hers."

"Wait a minute, how would this work? I mean you bought your working suit at the store and pulled a sheet over it causing you to turn into the working ghost?"

"Nice one." Xander complimented Cordelia.

"I know, I'm good." The girl beamed back at him, obviously happy with her own comment before she realized who he was and once more glared at him.

"I don't know how it works but if Dawn didn't buy hers at Ethan's either, we might have a clue on how to stop it."

"Oh very well, where did Dawnie go anyway?" Cordelia said, giving up on annoying the redhead. For a moment Xander debated about continuing where she had left off but in the end decided against it.

"Last time I saw her she went upstairs." The vampire spoke up startling him. He had completely forgotten it was still there as well.

"I'll go and get her, she was probably tired of having you people around. You know, for someone afflicted with Buffy as a sister she's quite normal." Having said so the brunette got up from where she was sitting and walked upstairs in search of the young girl.

"She's gone!"

"What?" Xander looked at the brunette girl who had come with this unpleasant news.

"I think she left through her bedchamber window."

"But why would she leave?"

"How should I know?"

He decided not to antagonize her any further right now. "This is not good, we have no idea when she left. She could be anywhere by now."

"Damn!" Angel suddenly cursed behind him.

"Yeah I know, this really sucks."

"No, not that. Spike is coming here, he must have found out about Buffy."

"Spike?" Besides him the name was spoken by three others, of which two sounded fearful and one as clueless as him.

Angel was kind enough to explain it to him though. "Spike is a master vampire and he wants to kill Buffy because she's the Slayer."

"He wants to kill me?" The panicking blonde exclaimed.

"Not now Buffy." Xander said, pondering over the vampire's statement. "You mean to tell me that vampires work with a ranking system, master and apprentice and all that nonsense?"

"No apprentices but yes." He waited for a moment to see if there was more of an explanation coming but apparently the bloodsucker didn't think that was worth his time and he grudgingly had to agree with that.

"Okay, but we should be safe here right? Or does every bloodsucker have an invitation to this house?"

"Normally we would be safe, but the children don't need one and he has brought quite a lot of them."

Looking out of the window he could see what the vampire was talking about, it seemed as if every kid that had been turned into a tiny monster had been added to the vampire's little army. From a tactical point of view he had to admire the vampire's strategy, undoubtedly he would send the little demons in to flush all of them out where he could then take care of them himself.

"The bleach-blonde is Spike?"


"Who's the woman?" He asked, looking at the brunette that was walking along the side of the vampire waving her arms about as if in some kind of ecstasy.

"That's Drusilla, she's dangerous as well but she's not entirely sane anymore."

"Really? How did that happen?" The way Angel flinched clued him in that the vampire probably had something to do with it but noticing how close their enemy was getting he decided not to pursue it. "Never mind, I've got something of a plan. Willow, you need to go to your Giles and maybe the two of you can figure a way out of this mess. I didn't sign on to kill children after all. Now do any of you know if this place has a backdoor?"


Walking through the streets in the shopping district seemed strange. Where before she had seen one of the bespelled children at least once every minute, it now seemed eerily quiet. If it hadn't been for the sounds that still emanated from the rest of the town she might have almost believed it all to be a strange dream. But it was all too real and while she didn't know how the loss of her memory was tied in with what else was happening here she did hope the others would be able to solve it soon.

She did fear what she might find out when she recovered her memory, last time when the memories had unlocked she had asked Mireille to kill her. That hadn't been fair to her partner, even though she had promised to do so, but it had hurt so much. And when later the full memories of her mission in Corsica had been disclosed she had been forced to kill Chloe. Which was, besides the murder of the Bouquet family, the only other event in her life that she truly regretted, but it had been necessary to save her partner. The girl had loved her, a love that might have only been overshadowed by the one she had for Altena but Kirika couldn't even be sure about that. The pain she had heard in the girl's voice when she asked why still tore at her heart. Especially since there had been no way to explain it even had Chloe been willing to listen to an explanation.

A burning in her eyes told her that she was about to cry again at the memory of that fight on what she wasn't certain to think of as the worst or best day of her life. She really didn't have time to cry however so she stopped in front of one of the stores lining the street and looked inside for something to distract her. Not really interested in the items on display she turned away again when out of the corner of her eyes she noticed something.

Noir. For some unfathomable reason there was something inside this store that contained that ancient name. It was rather obvious and could be a trap but what if they had decided it was best to hide in plain sight? She couldn't take the risk that a clue to Mireille's location was inside and that she'd miss is because she was afraid of nothing.

For the second time that night she pondered the best way to gain access to a store. Shooting the window was an option again but besides the fact that she might need some time inside, which wouldn't be possible if she used a gun, she only had two bullets left. The others had been spent in battle with what was probably a vampire that was even now lying dead on the ground. She needed to get inside however and while it wouldn't be easy Kirika was able to open locks using knives, even if it might take her a while. It didn't really matter if it took her long to enter the shop anyway since there wasn't anyone around to see her try, so she set out to force the lock.

Inside the store it was even darker then it had been out on the streets. So after closing the door again Kirika allowed her eyes to adjust to the lack of light before she started searching for what she had seen. Walking through the shop she finally identified the location of what she had only half seen but it wasn't anything that she had expected. On display among a group of other posters was a white one, depicting all three of the so-called saplings as an advertisement for an anime series. Seeing this she felt her stomach plummet to the ground and fear started to crush her heart. It couldn't be, it was just impossible. More proof was needed before she'd believe something as ridiculous as this and with dragging feet she forced herself to where she might be able to obtain it.

Leaving through the DVD cases displayed in the anime section she knew what she was going to find even before she actually did. Seven different cases, each displaying a summary of parts of her life, each containing information that she had believed hidden from the world. How could she have ignored all those signs? Of course she would have dressed up had she been here for a mission, it would have been a requirement for her cover. And the memory loss was comparable to that of which the soldier had been speaking, the way everyone had been calling her Dawn instead of her real name should have clued her in as well. Knowing what was going on she should never have thought of the diary's content as some obscure code.

She wasn't real, Mireille wasn't real, Chloe had never existed and none of the blood on her hands was real because those people had all been drawn characters. But if that was the case, why did it hurt so much? What kind of person would make her suffer like this, just because it pleased them? These were questions she didn't have any real answers for except for one thing, whoever it had been that had done this would die. You didn't use someone like her for simple entertainment. The girl who had dressed like her she could forgive. It was obvious she hadn't known anything about what had been going on in this town and was therefore innocent in this crime. However, if she ever found out who had done this to her, who had torn her away from her single chance at happiness and dropped her in this world where her partner didn't exist, then she would exact her vengeance.

Unfortunately that information was still unknown and the only people who might know it were still back at the house where the girl whose body she was in lived. Nothing else could be achieved here in this store so she should leave it. Just stop staring at the cases and make her way back to the others. But she couldn't move, while rage was still coursing through her heart it was grief that was now starting to rule her behavior. Staring into space she hardly noticed the silent tears rolling over her face, tears that were soon accompanied by silent sobbing as she collapsed to her knees.


Xander had been happy, the plan he had devised had been so simple and yet it was sufficient to get them all out of harms way. Willow had gone out through the front door and when she first pretended to notice the group of demons had uttered a cry of fear and run off with all of the demons following close on her heals, leaving the way free for the rest to leave by the backdoor.

So far it had seemed to work and once they were out of the house had debated on where the little girl could have gone. When they had then asked themselves the right question it had seemed obvious, after all, where would a frightened child go? So the girl Cordelia had led them to the gallery since she had known where it was and could take the most direct route, which Dawn undoubtedly would have taken as well.

But now, only a couple of streets from the house they had just left the group was staring at a rather strange and sickening sight. A man was lying on the ground, that he couldn't possibly be alive was rather obvious with two knives sticking out of his throat and several gunshot wounds, including one that seemed to have gone straight through his brain.

"Now that guy is Dead, with a capital D." Xander said, feeling slightly nauseated by the savage way the man had been murdered.

"He's a vampire." Angel contradicted him.

"What?" The smell of blood hadn't been as bad as he had expected it but that might have been for other reasons. Now that he paid closer attention however he could see that there was less blood then there ought to be as well. "Why isn't it moving then?"

"Whoever did this managed to wound him enough so he won't be getting up for a while yet."

"How long?"

"Unless someone removes the knives? Or maybe all he needs is for his brain to be repaired but even that could take weeks."

"So what you're saying is that unless someone does something it will be here to greet the sunrise in the morning?"


"And then it'll become extra crispy right? Or isn't that true either?"

"No, he'll burn to death then."


Xander looked at Cordelia, who had uttered that sound of disgust. "What's wrong with that? I vote we leave it were it is."

"What?" The exclamation of surprise came from all three of his companions, including even the stereotypical blonde.

"Well, I doubt anyone's gonna save it and for some reason I really don't want to mess with the plans of whoever left it here."

"How do you know this is what he wanted?"

"You really think there is someone around, capable of doing something like that but who doesn't know enough about vampires to put a stake in it? That's really pushing it buddy. Everybody knows that wood in the heart will kill a vampire and there's plenty of that around."

After he had convinced the others he was right in leaving the corps they had continued to the gallery. But when according to Cordelia they had been only two blocks away they suddenly found themselves surrounded by the little kiddies and their vampire masters. Obviously the plan hadn't worked as well as he had hoped. Taking out his gun he aimed it at the head of the blond vampire in the hope that it would stop him from doing anything. Not that he expected it to work but with any luck they had seen the massacred vampire as well and believed he would be able to do that.

But they hadn't seen the vampire and only regarded him a little funny, probably wondering why he would use such a pointless weapon before the leader spoke. "Put that away boy, I'm here for the Slayer. If you're a good boy I might even let you live."

"No Spike, you know I won't let you get her."

"Well, well, if it isn't the great poof himself. Trying to save your precious little Slayer? I think you might have a teeny bit of a problem though when it comes to that, you see I brought me some mates along. They might not the largest blokes on the block but they listen well."

While the blonde megalomaniac was boasting the brunette had also noticed Angel and called out to him. "Daddy!"

Daddy? Turning to the bloodsucker on his own side he silently asked for an explanation.

"I turned her." Well, that was unexpected.

"You really ought to learn how to clean up your own mess then."

It wouldn't be long now before the tiny demons would attack, the only positive thing would be that he didn't think the vampires would attack as well. But it did mean he had to make a choice soon, as a soldier he was duty bound to protect American citizens and both the children that would try to kill him and those who stood with him fell under that category. He really didn't want to kill these poor children but he doubted that would stop them from trying to kill him. There were just too many of them for him to be able to deal with them without anyone dying so he mentally prepared himself while the others were still shouting insults at each other.

What happened? Suddenly Xander found himself with his friends and Deadboy standing in a circle of crying children without any idea how he had gotten there. For some reason he was pointing his fake gun at those same children and he quickly put it away when he noticed this.

"Spike!" That was Buffy, she would be able to deal with the vampires and he let out a sigh of relief when the Slayer started doing her duty and the bloodsuckers ran off. Taking a good look at the others around him he wondered where Willow and Dawn were, last he remembered the two of them had been with them and where had Cordy and Deadboy come from?

Then the memories of the night returned and he felt his mouth go as dry as a desert, oh no, he hadn't actually said all that, had he? Turning his horrified eyes to Cordelia he could see the predatory grin appearing that had always implied he was in trouble. Being in trouble with Cordelia however wasn't something new but if he had actually called Willow a working girl and tried to seduce the noblewoman version of Buffy this was only the beginning of his troubles.


When Buffy found her sister, the girl was sitting next to the gallery's entrance. She could see the way the tears had run that had ruined the make-up on her face but it looked like Dawn had stopped crying a while ago. Undoubtedly she was still trying to come to terms with everything that had happened.

"Hey." She tried, while sitting down next to the young girl.

"Hey." The reply didn't sound anywhere near as confident as she would have preferred but it would have to do.

"Mom was gone when you arrived?"

A nod was the only answer to this rather useless remark.

"There was a reason I didn't tell you about all of this."



"Explain it tomorrow, I need to think first." Well, that made sense so she decided to cheer up her sister a little.

"Well, you always were the smart one. I've never been one to think things through."

"Yeah, I noticed that." Well that wasn't nice, but before she could comment Dawn finished her sentence. "Milady."

"That's not fair, that wasn't me so you can't hold it against me." At least Dawn hadn't seen how she had called that car a demon, the girl would have never let her forget something like that.

The younger girl then offered a small smile and Buffy was relieved that things were still sort of alright between them although she was certain a lot would still need to be done. Getting up she extended her hand to Dawn and told her. "Let's go home, mom will be worried."

As Dawn wordlessly allowed herself to be pulled up, Buffy looked over her costume and felt a shiver run down her back. At least her sister had been spared from being subjected to the spell. She didn't know a lot about that character but from what Dawn had told her she didn't doubt that having that sort of person loose in Sunnydale couldn't be good.

"I'm glad you weren't affected. Had you turned into your assassin you would have probably run around killing people or something. At least with me it was just embarrassing."

A long silence followed that remark before the shocked little girl finally answered. "Yeah, lucky me."

The tone of Dawn's voice was so strange that for a moment Buffy was shocked into silence. She wanted to distract her little sister from the terrible things that had happened during that night but she didn't know how to start. So the two of them continued walking in silence until in the end it was the little girl who broke it. "I can't imagine what everyone will be saying at school on Monday."

"Probably nothing." The girl turned to her with a questioning glance and she explained. "By tomorrow most of them will have forgotten about the weird stuff that happened tonight or believe it to be a strange dream."

"How can anyone forget about this?"

"I don't know, they just always do."

"Always? How long have you known about this sort of thing?"

"Almost two years."

She could almost see Dawn calculating and when the question came it wasn't unexpected. "The gym?"

"There was a master vampire."

"They come in masters?"

Finally thinking of a way to get her sister's mind of the events of tonight Buffy spoke. "That's what Xander asked when he was the soldier."

"Really? Well I guess it's true then what they say about great minds."

Okay, she was willing to help her get over things but that was just too much, something more was needed and remembering what she had discovered earlier during the night she knew exactly what to say. "Sure, oh god."


This was embarrassing to say but if the reaction was anything like she hoped it to be it would be worth it. "I just thought of the most embarrassing thing I did tonight." Hook, line and sinker. Dawn looked at her with eager eyes, always willing to hear embarrassing stories about her. "I kissed Xander."

A moment of silence followed that statement and Buffy almost felt as if the entire world held its breath for the coming explosion. "WHAT?!"

She decided not to let the girl stay in pain too long however and smiled to show the girl it wasn't as bad as she probably believed. She then briefly sketched the circumstances before using her new weapon in this private little war called sibling rivalry. "So, you like him, don't you?"

The way Dawn blanched answered the question but the girl was smart enough to try and deny it. "I have no idea what you are talking about."

"Yes, you do."

"No, I don't."

"Do so."

"Don't" And the two of them continued arguing about Dawn's crush until they reached their home.


Once again Dawn was sitting and waiting for something to happen. After returning home she had gone directly to bed leaving her sister to explain the situation. But sleep hadn't come as every time that she closed her eyes images appeared in her mind. Images of days that she could remember but that had never really happened. Even now, sitting by the open window while looking at the moon reminded her of what Mireille had called the mad tea party. At least now she knew what the reference alluded to, alluded to, even her vocabulary had changed and not just in English.

Looking at her hands she wondered why they felt so dirty despite the fact that she had never really killed anyone. Even those she could remember killing had been mere characters. But every time she thought of them like that she could once again see the little girl that had bowed to her because of her status as Noir. A little girl who hours later had been gunned down by members of Soldats trying to prevent Kirika from completing the ritual.

But all this thinking had helped make up her mind about one thing. She wouldn't tell Buffy about the fact that she too had been possessed this night, let alone the fact that she could still feel the personalities lurking within her mind. There was no way Buffy would understand what it meant to be Noir, all she would see was that her sister had turned into a murderer. And while both of the personalities that now shared her mind were indeed cold-blooded killers, they would never go around and kill people for fun.

It was difficult having them in her mind though and she had a feeling that would get even worse in time. Would they become stronger? Would they be able to take over her own body? And which of them would do that? It had just been her luck to be possessed by someone with two personalities; the only thing that might have been worse would be if she had been dressed as Chloe.

In the end she could finally see the reason she had been staring out of the window. Hoping for something to take her mind of the troubles that were bothering she had decided to look for this but she had known it to be useless even before it happened. There was no help to be had here. While the sun rose to herald what promised to be another beautiful day she couldn't see the powerful colors it radiated. To her it only looked black because there was one thing she couldn't help but think about.

She was Noir.

And yet…

She was alone.


Post-fic comments: I'm currently working on the sequel but it might take maybe two weeks before I'll be ready to post it.

The End