Bloody Rage

Author: FallenDruid <fallendruid[at]>

Disclaimer: Not mine. It's Joss's. May Epileptic Caffeine Hamsters plague him. Any resemblance to other characters, real or fictitious, is simply in your imagination. And no, I didn't ask first.

A/N: Mild crossover, stole some concepts from other fics (Allyn 'Ayonge-Chan' 'Bloodfist'; CarrotGlace 'Permanent') and amped it.

(by the way, I suck at intros, so the first bit is gonna suck) Revision 1: Had to take Jonathan out...I found I need a sacrificial character for chapter 2, and I need Jon for another section. Also, minor grammatical correction...why didn't anyone tell me I put 'here' instead of 'her?' That's critical, need-to-know, information. :P Feel free to comment on those, either privately or on list.

Also...question: Am I being too subtle, or does no one want to risk guessing what's going on? Answer privately, please. XD

Chapter the first

Alex coasts slowly along the sidewalk outside of Sunnydale High. As he approaches a mass of students, they slowly split apart, allowing him to glide past them without a word. His loud hawaiian shirt contrasts oddly with the serious expression on his face, and his shades do a good job of hiding his eyes. Something grabs his attention, and he looks aside, up the wide stairs to the front of the school. A girl, blonde haired and short. He stares at her, trying to figure out what it is about her that's drawn his attention, sure she's cute, but-He crashes into the stair railing, cutting that line of thought out. "Ow..." He wheezes out.

"The great and mighty Alex Harris taken out by a stair rail? Now I've seen everything." A low, cracked and gravelly voice calls out.

"Hello, Cordy." he wheezes out. "Nice to see you again."

"I'm sure." She steps up, adroitly avoiding his legs, and offers her hand. "So that's why you were drooling over the new girl."

"I wasn't drooling!" He exclaims as he grabs Cordy's hand. She hefts him up easily, even as he continues. "There's something...odd about her. Dark."

Cordy glances up the stairs uneasily. "Dark like me? Or..."

"No..different. Cleaner somehow...Damn, Cordy, you sure dressed up nice for the first day." He grins, and checks out her look. A simple white sundress topped with a scarf and sunhat. He gently fingers one end of the scarf.

"Knock it off, Alex. It wasn't your fault."

"Yeah...I know. Doesn't mean I'm not sorry, though."

"Come've got to meet with Flutey, and I need to get to class."

"Yeah. See you at lunch?"



Scene change: Hallway outside Flutey's office

His skateboard tucked under one arm, Alex wandered towards Fluteys office, only to come up short as the new blonde girl walked out of Flutey's office. She opens her bag, and starts rummaging through it, only to get knocked to one side by a football jock's girltoy, lose her grip on the bag, and spill its contents all over the hallway. The two walk past, blatantly ignoring the mess that they had caused. A moment late, Alex eases out of the shadows and approaches the new girl.

Bending down, he begins to help pick her things up. "Can I help you?" He asks.

"Thanks." She smiles wryly. "Way to make an entrance, huh?"

"I dunno...seen worse. Alex." He holds out his hand.

"Buffy." She reaches out to shake it, only to have him grasp her hand and pull it to his nose. After a moment, he kisses it, and treleases her. "Courtly much?" She asks, trying to hide how wigsome this was making her. The guy was putting out some weird vibes.

"No..." Alex whispered, "Not as such. What...who are you?"

"I..I told you. My name's Buffy." She grabbed her stuff up off the floor, and then grabbed what the freaky dude had picked up out of his other hand, and stuffed it all in her bag quickly. "Uhm...thanks..." She said, standing and backing away.

"You smell of old blood and death..." He whispered. Buffy's enhanced hearing was the only reason she heard it. Odd patterns began swirling up on the actual surface of his skin, like mobile tattoos. She broke and moved away as fast as she could with running. Xander shook himself, and the patterns faded away like woodsmoke. "Wait!" He called after her. "You forgot your..." He pauses, and looks at what he has in his hand. "Stake?" He says, quietly.


Scene change: Cut to classroom

The teacher, atanding at the front of the class, writes "The Black Death" on the board and then turns to the class. "It's estimated that about twenty-five million people died in that one four-year span. But the fun part of the Black Plague is that it originated in Europe how?" Cordelia is taking notes. So is Buffy, seated next to her. "As an early form of germ warfare. If you'll look at the map on page sixty-three you can trace the spread of the disease into Rome, and then north..."

Buffy quickly looked around the room, ostensibly to find a book she could read out of, but actually trying to identify whatever it was in here that was twigging her Slayer side madly. Cordy notices what she's doing, and quickly scootches over a bit, laying her bok across both desks. "Thanks." Buffy whipers to Cordelia.

"And this popular plague led to what social changes? Steve?" The bell rings and the students get up to leave.

"Hi! I'm Cordelia." She offers Buffy her hand.

She accepts it, shaking it twice before releasing. "I'm Buffy."

"If you're looking for a textbook of your very own there's probably a few in the library."

"Oh, great, thanks." Buffy and Cordy stand. "Where would that be?"

"I'll show you, come on." The two of them start out of the classroom. "So you're the new girl, huh?"

"Uh, yeah." Buffy says, slightly uncertainly. She still can't find that dark presence. "Just in from LA."

"LA, huh?" Cordy takes a long, evaluating look at Buffy. "Cheerleader. Probably went to a school in the expensive part of town." She sighs. "What I wouldn't give..."

"Uh, yeah, that's...pretty close." Buffy says. "If you don't mind my asking," she makes a tiny gesture, halfway indicating the scarf covering Cordy's throat. "...what happened?"

One of Cordy's hands go to her throat, massaging it under the scarf. Her eyes go dark, and distant with remembered pain. "Car accident." She says abruptly. "I'm told I'm quite fortunate, really. If I'd been ten minutes later to the hospital, I'd have died. If I'd been cut another eighth inch further, I problably would have completely lost my voice."

The two turn down another hallway, heading towards a drinking fountain. Aura is there. Finishing her drink, Aura turns to the two walking down the hallway. Her lip curls in a sneer. "Cordy! Nice dress! Good to know you've seen the softer side of Sears."

"Yeah, well, at least I don't let my mother dress me." Cordy snarks back.

"Hey, new girl. You wanna fit in here, the first rule is: know your losers. Once you can identify them all by sight..." She trails a hand around Cordy's shoulders, smiling mockingly at her. "They're a lot easier to avoid." Aura smirks at Cordy. Buffy takes a step back from the two, her Slayer sense going haywire at the virtual eruption of demonic energy around her.

"Aura." Cordy says, her teeth clenched. "Leave, before I do something you'll regret."

"Ah! That's right...your boytoy's back." She leans toward Cordy, and whispers in her ear. "He lays one finger on me, I'll have him up on charges of assault with a deadly weapon and attempted murder so fast..." She laughs, and walks away. "See you around, new girl!" She calls over her shoulder, as she rejoins her group.

Cordy clenches and unclenches her fists as Aura departs. "The library is just down the hall to the left. Can't miss it." She turns, and stalks away, every muscle in her neck strained, and her hands still clenched into fists.

"Hey Cordy?" Buffy calls after her.

She turns, and almost snarls back. "What?!"

Buffy recoils almost imperceptibly from the venom in Cordy's tone and the expression on her face. "I'm feeling pretty good about my downward mobility." She smiles, somewhat hesitantly, at Cordy, while silently chastising herself for getting rattled by a high school girl.

Cordy relaxes slightly, and grins at Buffy. "Tonight. The Bronze. Only decent club in town. Be there." She walks off down another hallway.


Scene Change: Library

Buffy walks inside the library, and looks around curiously. "Hello?" She calls out, continuing in. "Is anybody here?" She looks at the book checkout counter and sees a newspaper. A picture has been circled. The caption above it reads "Local Boys Still Missing." Giles comes up behind her and taps her on the shoulder. She spins around, startled. "Ooo! Anybody's here!"

"Can I help you?" The stuffy looking british man wearing tweed asks.

"I was looking for some, well, books. I'm new." She says, with a deprecating smile.

"Miss Summers?" He asks.

"Good call! Guess I'm the only new kid, huh?"

"I'm Mr. Giles. The librarian. I was told you were coming." He heads around behind the counter.

"You were told I was coming...?" She whispers to herself, before moving on. "Great! So, um, I'm gonna need 'Perspectives on 20th Century-"

"I know what you're after!" He pulls out a large old book with the word "VAMPYR" written in gold leaf on the front cover. Buffy looks up at him with an uneasy gaze.

"New watcher, huh?" She sighs. "I was wondering when you guys would show up. Hey, I know!" She smiles brightly. "How 'bout you tell your superiors that I'm not here, and then you go back to England?"

Giles hesitates. "Uhm..." Polishes his glasses. "I'm afraid that's not possible. You see, I'm your watcher. I must train you, assist you-"

"And kill me if I muck up?"

Giles drops his glasses. "I say! I would never-"

"Send a wet team after a slayer to kill her because she's 'too willful?'"

"I have a very hard time picturing Merrick-"

"News flash. Merrick's dead."

"Yes, I know. It's terrible loss...Merrick was a good man. Listen, in his last letter to me, he spoke highly of you. I consider it my great good fortune to be here to train you, help you in the fight against the darkness-"

"I'm on vacation. Call me in a month." Witht that, Buffy turns, and walks out of the library.

"I say..." Giles mutters to himself. "No wonder the girl's pissed the conservatives on the council off." He smirks widely. "This should be fun."


Scene change: Girl's locker room

"The new kid? She seems kind of weird to me. What kind of name is Buffy?"

"Hey, Aphrodisia!" A girl waves to her.

"Oh, Hey!"

"Well, the chatter in the caf is that she got kicked out, and that's why her mom had to get a new job." Aura says, triumphantly.

The girls work the combinations to their gym lockers.


"Pos! She was starting fights!"


Aura opens her locker. "Well I heard from Blue, and she said that..." The dead boy falls out of the locker onto Aura's arm. She screams and lets the body hit the ground.


Scene Change: The Quad

Buffy sits, partially concealed by the plants, attempting to study and eat at the same time. /There's something very odd about this place, She thinks. Not to mention the Watcher's Council fucks are already here./ Her mind drifts back to that odd boy she'd met earlier. /My Slayer sense didn't twig at all, but the guy was major wigsome...what the hell is he?...Times like this I could use some real research help. Wonder if Mr. Giles...No. He's a Watcher. Better tell mom to be more careful-/ She stops in mid thought, as that dark presence she'd felt earlier, during first period, twigged her senses again. She stands, and looks around the quad. The only thing she sees is that Cordy girl making a beeline for Alex, who's sitting not far away. She stands and starts to meander over that way.

"Alex!" Cordy calls out.

Alex looks up, and stands. "Cordy, what's up?"

"We've got a problem."

"What is it?"

"Dead guy in the girls' locker room."


"Uhm..." Buffy interrupts. "Dead guy?"

Cordy looks at her, and raises an eyebrow. "Yeah, dead." Alex gives Buffy a courtly bow. "Oh, Buffy, have you met Alex, here?"

"Oh, me and Buffy go waaay back, old friends, very close. Then there's that period of estrangement where I think we were both growing as people, but now here we are, like old times, I'm quite moved." Alex says, grinning like a maniac.

Buffy takes a step back from the weird boy. Cordy smiles. "Don't worry, Buffy, he's harmless."

"Harmless!? I take offense to that."

Cordy grins and slugs him on the shoulder. "Alright, mostly harmless."

"Much better." He grins at Cordy, and then turns to Buffy. "Oh, hey...back in the hall..." He produces the stake. "You dropped your stake. The only thing I can think is that you're building a really small fence..."

"Hah, no, um, a-a-actually it was for self-defense." She snags it out of Alex's hand. "Everyone has them in L.A. Pepper spray is just so passé." She smiles nervously and stuffs the stake into her bag. "Uhm..about the dead guy?"

"Oh...uhm..." Cordy glances quickly at Alex. "They're gonna cancel gym to do an investigation, or something."

"How did he die?" Alex asks.

"Standard issue PCP attack." Cordy says, rolling her eyes.

"Barbecue fork and extreme lack of blood?"


Buffy looks around nervously. "Um, I gotta book. I'll, I'll see you guys later." She grabs her things and leaves.

"What's her deal?" Cordy asks.

Alex raises an eyebrow. "We are somewhat odd to the unprepared eye."

Cordy looks at him for a long moment, before grudgingly conceding the point. "Still...I like her. I hope she makes it."

Alex and Cordy's eyes go dark with shared pain and memories. "She will. We're still here, aren't we? Besides...there's something..odd about her..."


"I dunno...but she's a fighter. You can see it in her her movements. And she smells of old blood."

"Blood?" Cordy shivers. " she safe?"

"And death." Alex slips his shades on. "It's just...strange...that someone can smell like that and still be...clean underneath."

"You're sure?" Cordy asks.

"No...not entirely. I'll keep an eye on her. Go to class, I'll catch you at the Bronze after school?"

Cordy smiles. "Yeah, sure. Long night tonight?"

"I think so."


Scene change: Library

Buffy storms into the library. "Okay, what's the sitch?"

"Sorry?" Giles asks, from the back of the room.

"You heard about the dead guy, right? The dead guy in the locker?"

He steps into the light. "Yes."

Buffy drops her bag on the study table and heads up the stairs. "Cause, it's the weirdest thing. He's got two little, little holes in his neck, and all his blood's been drained." She stands directly in front of Giles. "Isn't that bizarre? Aren't you just going, ooo?"

"I was afraid of this." Giles murmers.

"Well, *I* wasn't! It's my first day! I was afraid that I was gonna be behind in all my classes, that I wouldn't make any friends, that I would have last month's hair. I didn't think there'd be vampires on campus. And I don't care."

"Then why are you here?"

"To tell you that... I don't care, which... I don't, and... have now told you, so... bye." She turns away.

"Is he, w-will he... rise again?"

She turns back. "Who?"

"The boy." Giles says, with strained patience.

"No. He's just dead."

"Can you be sure?"

"To make you a vampire they have to suck your blood. And then you have to suck their blood. It's like a whole big sucking thing. Mostly they're just gonna kill you. Why am I still talking to you?" Buffy turns and goes down the stairs. Giles moves over to the railing.

"You really have no idea what's going on, do you? You think it's coincidence, your being here? That boy was just the beginning."

"Oh, why can't you people just leave me alone?"

"Because you are the Slayer." He walks down the stairs. "Into each generation a Slayer is born, one girl in all the world, a Chosen One, one born with the strength and skill to hunt the vampires..."

"..with the strength and skill to hunt the vampires, to stop the spread of their evil blah, blah, blah... I've heard it, okay?"

"I really don't understand this attitude. You, you've accepted your duty, you, you've slain vampires before..."

"Yeah, and I've both been there and done that, and I'm on vacation. Permanent."

"What do you know about this town?" Giles asks, heading into his office.

"It's two hours on the freeway from Neiman Marcus?"

"Dig a bit in the history of this place. You'll find a, a steady stream of fairly odd occurrences. Now, I believe this whole area is a center of mystical energy," He steps out of his office, holding four large books. "that things gravitate towards it that, that, that you might not find elsewhere." He sets them on the table.

"Like vampires."

He places the books in Buffy's arms as he continues talking. "And zombies, werewolves, incubi, succubi, everything you've ever dreaded was under your bed, but told yourself couldn't be by the light of day. They're all real!"

"hat? You, like, sent away for the Time-Life series?"

"h, w-w-w-yes."

"Did you get the free phone?"

"Um, the calendar."

"Cool! But, okay," she hands Giles back the books. "first of all, I'm a Vampire Slayer. And secondly, I'm on vacation. Hey, I know! Why don't you kill 'em?"

"I-I'm a Watcher, I-I haven't the skill..."

"Oh, come on, stake through the heart, a little sunlight, some axework... It's like falling off a log."

"A, a Slayer slays, a Watcher..."


"Yes. No!" He sets the books back down on the table. "He, he trains her, he, he, he prepares her, assists her in her..."

"Prepares me for what? For getting kicked out of school? For losing all of my friends? For having to spend all of my time fighting for my life and never getting to tell anyone because I might endanger them? And then having my supposed allies try and shoot me in the back? Go ahead! Prepare me." They just look at each other for a moment. Buffy exhales, turns and leaves the library in disgust. Giles hesitates for an instant.

"Damn!" He mutters. He runs after Buffy.

Alex walks out from behind the stacks. "Vampires...huh. Almost makes sense."


Scene Change: Hallway

Giles catches up with Buffy. "It's getting worse!"

"What's getting worse?"

He guides her over to the wall and speaks with her in a low voice. "The influx of the undead, the... supernatural occurrences, it's been building for years. There's a reason why you're here and a reason why it's now!"

"Because now is the time my mom moved here?" She snarks. She tries to evade him, but he puts his arm out to stop her.

"Something's coming, something, something... something is, is gonna happen here. Soon!"

"Gee, can you vague that up for me?"

"The signs, as far as I can tell, point to a crucial mystical upheaval, very soon. Days. Possibly less."

"Oh, come on! This is Sunnydale! How bad an evil can there be here?" Buffy says, exasperated.


Scene Change: Underground cave system

There are candles everywhere. Vampires bearing torches are gathering. The largest one, an immense male vampire chants. "The sleeper will wake. The sleeper will wake. The sleeper will wake. The sleeper will wake, and the world will bleed. Amen!"


Scene Change: Bedroom, 1630 Revello

Buffy is examining outfits in the mirror, holding them up one by one. "Hi! I'm an enormous slut!" She holds up a blue floral print dress. "Hello! Would you like a copy of 'The Watchtower'?" She lowers the dress. "I used to be so good at this." Her mother comes into the room.

"Hi, hon." Joyce says.

Buffy returns her dresses to the closet. "Hey!"

"Are you, uh, going out tonight?"

"Yeah, I'm going to a club."

"Oh. Will there be boys there?"

"No, Mom. It's a nun club."

"Well, just be careful."

"I will."

"You know, I think we can make it work here. I've got my positive energy flowing... I'm gonna get the Gallery on its feet... Oh, uh, we may have found a space today."

"That's great." Buffy says, not very enthusiastically at all.

"Oh, and that school is a, a very nurturing, safe environment, which is just what you need."

"Well, actually..."

"Oh, not too nurturing. I know, you're sixteen, I've read all about the dangers of over-nurturing." Buffy goes to her bed and lays out a couple of outfits. "It's hard. New town and everything... It is for me, too. I'm trying to make it work." She takes Buffy's hands in hers. "I'm *going* to make it work."

"I know."

"Oh, you're a good girl, Buffy," She pats Buffy on the head. "You just fell in with the wrong crowd. But that is all behind us now."

"Not really." Buffy heads back to her closet with an awkward look on her face.

"Wha...what do you mean?"

"It'll never end, mom." Buffy whispers. "Never...not until..." She swallows.

" it this place? We can leave, move somewhere else..."

"It's everywhere, mom." Buffy looks at her mother, eyes dark with pain. "Besides..." She laughs harshly, without humor. "They're already here. There's no escape. We may as well stay."

Joyce swallows loudly, releasing Buffys hands. She turns her around, and beguns massaging Buffy's shoulders. "Just...remember. If you need anything...ask. And...stay alive."

"The only thing I need, you, safe and alive." Buffy turns to her weapons chest, and opens it. Reaching inside, she pulls out a gun, a CZ-97B. She checks the barrel, making sure it's clear, and inserts the magazine. "Everything else, I can take care of myself." She smiles grimly, sliding the pistol into a concealed holster in Pike's old leather jacket.

"Be careful, honey."

"I will, mom." Joyce smiles slightly at her, and then heads out of the room. As the door closes behind her, Buffy continues. "As careful as I can be." She whispers. Reaching back into her chest, she pulls more items out, hiding them in various places.


Scene change: Exterior sunnydale, evening

Walking down a darkened street towards the Bronze, Buffy feels something approaching her from behind. She pretends to shiver slightly in the cold air, and then turns the lapel on her jacket down, revealing as much of her neck as she can. Walking a ways farther, she spots an alley, and meanders into it. The being behind her, Angel, comes into the alley but doesn't see her. As he slowly walks along, Buffy watches from above. When he has passed underneath her, she swings down and kicks him in the back. He is knocked to the ground, and and Buffy positions herself about 4 feet away, her gun in hand, and trained on his skull.

"Ah, heh. Is there a problem, ma'am?"

"Yeah, there's a problem. Why are you following me, Vampyre?"

"Don't worry, I don't bite." He stands up. "Truth is, I thought you'd be taller, or bigger muscles and all that. You're pretty spry, though." He massages his neck, moving slowly.

"Give me one good reason not to send you off to the firey place?"

"Because I want the sme thing you want."

"Okay. What do I want?"

"To kill them. To kill them all." He starts to step towards her, only to stop as she firms her grip on her gun.

"Sorry, that's incorrect. But you do get this lovely watch and a year's supply of Turtle Wax. What I want is to be left alone!"

"Do you really think that's an option anymore? You're standing at the Mouth of Hell. And it's about to open."

She looks at him with a wide-eyed gaze. He reaches into his jacket, slowly, and pulls out a small box. "Don't turn your back on this." He opens the box and shows her the contents. "You've gotta be ready." He tosses it to her.

"What for?"

"For the Harvest."

"Who...what are you?"

"Let's just say... I'm a friend." He starts to walk away.

"Yeah, well, maybe I don't want a friend."

"I didn't say I was yours." He says, almost mockingly.

He leaves. Buffy stares after him for a moment, then looks down at the box. It contains a silver cross and chain. She half-cocks her gun, and holsters it. She takes the necklace out and holds it in her hand. "Weird Vamp."


Cut to inside the Bronze

Buffy stands just inside the door to the Bronze just listening to the music, and scanning the room for Cordelia. She quickly spots her at the bar, and moves towards her. "Hey!" /That's odd...that dark energy is back...muted a bit, though./

"Oh, hi!" Cordy says. "Good to see that you could make it."

Buffy walks around her and sits on the stool next to her. Cordy turns to face her. "Oh, are you here with someone?"

"No, I'm just here. I thought Alex was gonna show up."

"Oh, are you guys going out?"

Cordy grins wryly. "Not as such. We used to hate each other...but...we've come to terms with a lot. We're friends, now."

Buffy looks around the crowded room, filled with teens and adults enjoying themselves. "Crowded place."

"Yeah, it's the only place in town worth going to."

Buffy spots Giles on the upper deck, looking over the crowd.

Cordy follows her gaze. "Isn't that Giles...what's he doing here?"

"'scuse me, Cordy...I...I have to go. People to talk to." Cordy glances from Giles to Buffy and back. Buffy blushes. "It's not like that..."

"Be careful, Buffy. There's...things in this town that will drag you down and tear you apart." Unconsciously, she rubs her throat. Buffy turns to leave. Cordy grabs her arm, and pulls her back around. "There's something about Giles...he's dangerous, Buffy. Underneath all that tweed...that's not who he really is." Buffy trys to jerk free from Cordy, but can't even get the taller girl to budge from her seat. Her gaze pins her down. The Slayer inside of Buffy senses a threat, and begins to wake. Cordy releases her arm as if she'd been burnt. Her gaze is now wide and astonished. "...what...what are you?" Her low voice is lost in the din.

"I..I have to go." Buffy says, backing away. She gets out, and heads for the stairs to the upper deck, where she pauses to take a moment to breathe deeply, to push the Slayer back inside of herself. After regaining herself, she heads up the stairs to confront Giles.

A fe moments pass as she stands beside Giles. "So, you like to party with the students. Isn't that kinda skanky?"

"Oh, right, this is me having fun. Watching...clown hair prance about is hardly my idea of a party. I'd much rather be at home with a cup of Bovril and a good book."

"You need a personality, stat!" Buffy exclaims.

Giles points down to the activity below. "This is a perfect breeding ground for vampire activity. It's dark, it's crowded... Besides, I knew you were likely to show up, and I have to make you understand..."

"...that the Harvest is coming. I know, your friend told me."

"What did you say?"

"The Harvest. That mean something to you? 'Cause I'm drawing a blank."

"I'm not sure. Uh... W-who told you this?"

"This...vamp. Dark, gorgeous in an annoying sort of way. Didn't bite. Felt weird. I figured you two were buds.

"No. The Harvest. Did he say anything else?"

"Something about the Mouth of Hell. I *really* didn't like him!"

Giles moves around Buffy, leans on the railing and looks down at the crowd. "Look at them, throwing themselves about, completely unaware of the danger that surrounds them."

Buffy pauses, considering. "I dunno...there's this one girl...she..."

"Or perhaps you're right. Perhaps there is no trouble coming, the signs could be wrong. It's not as though you've been having the nightmares."

Buffy stays silent, thinking. "I didn't say I'd never slay another vampire. It's not like I have all these fluffy bunny feelings for them, I'm just not gonna get way extracurricular with it. You know, if I see one, sure I'll-"

"Will you be ready? There's so much you don't know about them, about your own powers. A vampire appears to be completely normal until the feed is upon them, only then do they reveal their true demonic visage."

"You're like a textbook with arms, I know this."

"The point is, a Slayer should be able to see them anyway. Without looking, without thinking. Can you tell me if there's a vampire in this building?"

"No...there's too much..." Buffy gropes for words. "Interference.

There's...something dark...and hungry almost, hovering over this town...can't you feel it?"

"Somewhat..yes. I can feel it. But even through this mass and this...din, you should be able to sense vampires. Well, try! Reach out with your mind." Buffy looks around. "You have to hone your senses, focus until the energy washes over you, until you, you feel every particle o-of..."

"There's one."


"Right there, talking to that girl."

"You don't know..."

"Oh, please! Look at his jacket. He's got the sleeves rolled up, and the shirt! Deal with that outfit for a moment."

"It's dated?"

"It's carbon dated. Trust me, only someone living underground for ten years would think that was still the look."

"But you didn't... hone."

Buffy realizes that the girl is Cordelia. "Oh, no."

"Isn't that..."


"What's she doing?"

"Seizing the moment!" She starts down to rescue Cordelia.

Cordelia is being led out of the Bronze by the vampire. Giles is at a loss as to what to do.


Scene Change: Bronze, first floor

"Damn..." Buffy mutters, as she sprints to the front of the Bronze and looks around. She goes around the back of the bronze, breaking a leg off of a stack of chairs and begins to stalk. After a while Aura comes out of the restroom and surprises her. Buffy reacts, taking Aura by the throat and pushing her up against a wall. She recognizes Aura immediately and sets her down gently, guiltily hiding the makeshift stake behind her back. "Aura!"

Aura gasps out, "God! What is your childhood trauma?!" Her entourage appears in the restroom door behind her.

"Have you guys seen Cordelia? Did she come by here?"

"Why? Do you need to attack her with the stick? Jeez!" Buffy turns and goes.

"Excuse me, I have to call *everyone* I have *ever* met, right now."

Cut to the main floor. Giles catches up with Buffy.

"That *was* quick. Well done! I-I need to go to the library. This Harvest thing..."

"I didn't find them!"

He grabs Buffy by the arm and turns her to face him. "The vampire is not dead?"

"No, but my social life is on the critical list."

He lets go of her. "So, what do we do?"

"I'll take care of it!"

"I-I-I need to come with you, yes?"

"Don't worry. One vampire I can handle."

She leaves, walking past Red Jacobson talking to Darla. "So, what did you say your name was?"


"Darla. You know, I haven't seen you around before. Are you from around here?"

"No, but I have family here."

"Have I met them?"

"You probably will."


Scene Cut: Exterior Bronze

Buffy is looking around outside, trying to figure out where Cordelia is.

"Hey, you're leaving already?" Alex asks, startling Buffy.

"Oh, Xander! Have you seen Cordelia?" She asks, one hand over her racing heart. /Stupid!/ She chastises herself. You're getting lax.

"Not tonight, no."

"She left with a guy."

"We're talking about Cordelia, right? Scorin' at the Bronze, work it girl-"

"No, I need to find her. Where would he take her?"

"Why? Oh, hey, I hope he's not a vampire, because then you might have to slay him."

Buffy is visibly startled, and bursts out. "Was there a... a school bulletin? Was it i-in the newspaper? Is there anyone in this town who doesn't know I'm the Slayer?"

"Probably quite a few people don't know."

"Well, whatever, it doesn't matter, just tell me, where would Cordelia go?"

"I wouldn't worry too much about Cordy. She can take care of herself."

"We don't find her and there's gonna be one more dead body in the morning!"

Alex grins wryly at her. "You're right on the money, Buffy...anybody fucks with her and there will be a body in the morning." He says, under his breath, too low for even the Slayer's enhanced hearing to pick up.


Scene change: Cemetary, by a mausoleum

"Oh, okay, this is nice...and weird. Are you sure this is faster?"

They reach the mausoleum.

"Hey! Ever been in one of these?" Thomas asks, grinning widely.

"More than I care to remember." Cordy says, quietly, turning away.

"Come on." He comes up behind her, and pulls her hair back, and scarf down. "My, my, my...what happened here? With one hand, he traces the mass of scar tissue covering almost half of her throat. He moves in toward her neck. She lets out a yelp as he grabs her and pushes her into the mausoleum. She trips, and falls down inside the mausoleum, hitting a stone sarcophogi.

"That wasn't funny!" She yells, standing. Thomas comes down the steps. She stnds firm, staring him down. "I think I'm gonna go. Before things get unpleasant. Have a nice life, Tom."

"Is that what you think?" He asks, mockingly. He comes toward her again. She skirts by him, but only because he lets her. Darla blocks her way out of the mausoleum.

"Is this the best you could do?" Darla asks.

"She's fresh!" Thomas yells. "And cute..." as he grins lecherously at Cordy.

"Hardly enough to share."

"Why didn't you bring your own?"

Darla looks at him coldly. "I did."

Red stumbles into the mausoleum, holding his neck. "Hey! Wait up!"

"Oh, my God, Red!" Cordy yells. "Are you all right?"

He is weak from blood loss and collapses. Cordy catches him easily as he falls, and gently lets him down to the floor. "Y'know, you gave me a hickey." He grins stupidly. Thomas gives Darla a look.

Darla shrugs. "I got hungry on the way."

"Jon, get outta here!" Cordy says, quietly, eyes fixed on Darla.

"Oh, you're not going anywhere." Darla says, menace in her voice.

"Back off, bitch! You don't want to fuck with me!"

"You're not going anywhere until we've" Darla vamps out. "*fed*!"

Cordy snarls, and braces herself for a fight. "Well, this is nice. I-it's a little bare, but a dash of paint, a few throw it home!" Buffy says, sauntering down the stairs. She moves behind the coffin to draw the vampires away from the others.

"Who the hell are you?" Darla asks.

"You mean there's actually someone in this town who doesn't know already? Whew, that's a relief, I'm telling you! Having a secret identity in this town is a job of work."

"Cordy, get Red out of here." Alex says tersely.

"Not yet!" Thomas moves to block the exit.

"Okay, first of all, what's with the outfit? Live in the now, okay? You look like DeBarge!" The vampires close in on Buffy. She turns to Darla. "Now, we can do this the hard way, or... well, actually there's just the hard way."

"That's fine with me!" the vampiress snarls.

"Are you sure? Now, this in not gonna be pretty. We're talking violence, strong language, adult content...

Thomas roars behind Buffy. She pulls the gun out from inside her jacket He attacks from behind, but Buffy neatly shoots his kneecaps out before planting another bullet between his eyes. He falls to the floor, temporarily out of the fight. Darla can't believe her eyes. Alex walks up to the downed vamp, and thrusts a crudely carved stake through his heart. Nothing happens. "Huh." He says. "One myth down."

"See what happens when you roughhouse?" She casually blows at the curl of gunsmoke drifting up from the barrel of her gun.

"Ooh...I like her..." Cordy says.

"He was young and stupid!" snarls Darla.

"Alex, go!" Buffy says, as she advances on Darla.

"Don't go far!" Buffy and Darla start to fight. Darla punches high, but Buffy blocks. Alex signals Cordy to take Red and get out quickly. She nods, and hefts him easily up on her shoulder. Darla throws a backhand punch, but Buffy blocks again and follows up with a front snap kick to Darla's stomach. As she leans forward from the pain, Buffy slams her elbow into Darla's back. Darla hits the wall, cracking the stone, and falls to the floor, winded.

While Darla was otherwise occupied, Alex casually twists the vamp's head off, stumbling slightly in surprise as it turns to dust in his hands. "Oooh..." He drawls. "I think I broke your playtoy Buffy. Guess they just don't make supernatural evils like they used to."

Buffy looks at Alex oddly for a moment, but then dismisses what she sees as a trick of the light. "You know, I just wanted to start over. Be like everybody else. Have some friends, y'know, maybe a dog... But, no, you had to come here, you couldn't go suck on some other town."

"Who are you?" Darla whimpers.

"Don't you know?"

Luke grabs her by the neck from behind. "I don't care!" He yells. He throws her across the room. He grabs Darla and lifts her to her feet. "You were supposed to be bringing an offering for the Master! We're almost at Harvest, and you dally with these children!"

"We had someone, but then they came. He killed Thomas. Luke, she's strong."

Luke snarls at Darla. "Take the whelp. I'll see if I can handle the little girl." He approaches Buffy as she starts to get up, still a little dazed.

Darla quickly climbs the steps, looks back once and runs out of the door. Alex watches her leave with a small smile on his face. Luke attacks Buffy with a double punch, but she blocks it and delivers a punch to his gut and a hopping front snap kick to his jaw. He steps back, but isn't fazed. "You're strong." He lands a solid backhand fist on her. She goes flying. "I'm stronger!"

Alex taps Luke on the shoulder. "Excuse me."

Luke whirls around, roaring. "Wha-"

Alex punches him solidly in the stomach, hurtling him across the room. As Alex drops back into a ready stance, he waves his hand in the air. Blood glistens wetly on it, and odd patterns play across his skin like woodsmoke. "It's not nice to pick on others."


Scene change: outside in the cemetery.

Cordy is carefully hauling Red, heading as straight as she could to Sunnydale General Hospital. Two Vampires stop them. She sets him down gently on the ground. "Just take a minute...don't go anywhere." She gets ready to fight the two vamps.

They share a look. "Puny human." They laugh and one heads towards her.

Cordy grins darkly at them. "Who says I'm human?"


Scene change: Mausoleum.

An unearthly howl cuts the air. Luke clambers back to his feet, holding his stomach. "I don't have time for this."

Buffy backs away up the stairs toward the exit.

"Hey, I had other plans, too, okay?" Buffy says.

Luke picks the heavy lid off of the coffin and throws it at Buffy. Buffy does a cartwheel onto and over it to avoid it and kicks Luke in the chest with both feet, knocking him down. Xander blocks the stone lid with his arms, and growlsslightly. She grabs the stake from the floor and lunges at Luke, but he is too quick for her, and grabs her by the wrist.

"You think you can stop me? Stop us?" He grabs the stake with his other hand and breaks it. Then he grabs her by the shirt. "You have no idea what you're dealing with." He throws Buffy onto the rim of the now open coffin. She rolls off onto the floor, dazed. Luke gets up and starts toward her, quoting scripture. "'And like a plague of boils, the race of man covered the Earth.'"

Cut to the library. Giles is paging through an old volume and stops on a picture of Satan with lightning coming from his hand to a man's.

"'But on the third day of the newest light would come the Harvest. And the blood of men will flow as wine.'"

Cut to the Master sitting in an intricately carved chair.

"'When the Master will walk among them once more!'"

Cut to Cordy facing two vamps and Darla. One of the vamps is on the ground, his ribcage crushed like a potato chip bag, and his arms and legs bending in more directions than they used to. Slowly one of them straightens out with a sickening cracking noise. Cordy looks rather the worse for wear, bleeding freely from a busted nose, and favoring one leg.

"'The Earth will belong to the old ones.'"

Cut to Buffy. Luke is in her face.

"'And Hell itself will come to town.'" He grabs Buffy and growls. He lifts her by the throat and throws her toward the coffin. Buffy flips over in a front layout and lands in the coffin next to a skeleton, and lets out a quick scream, but then remains silent, only breathing. She can't see or hear Luke. She slowly starts to get up. Suddenly Luke jumps up and into the coffin. "Amen!" He says, smiling widely.

He moves in to bite Buffy.

Chapter the Second

"'And Hell itself will come to town.'" Luke grabs Buffy and growls. He lifts her by the throat and throws her towards the sarcophagus. Buffy flips over in a front layout and lands in it next to a skeleton, and lets out a quick scream, but then remains silent, only breathing. She can't see or hear Luke. She slowly starts to get up. Suddenly Luke jumps up and into the coffin. "Amen!" He says, smiling widely.

He moves in to bite Buffy.

Only to be greeted by a size twelve nike, as Alex kicks him in the chest, knocking him out of the coffin and into the wall of the mausoleum, where he vanishes. Alex falls to the ground, unable to recover from the kick. Buffy pops her head up over the coffin and looks around. Seeing nothing, she jumps out and looks down at Alex. "Are you all right?"

Shadows play across Alex's face as he struggles to his feet. "No." His arms hang limply, and in entirely the wrong manner, at his side. "He escaped." Dark shadows cloak his face, shifting wildly.

"Come on, we have to go." Buffy says, pulling Alex away from the hole in the wall where Luke disappeared. Alex blurred, and the only reason Buffy didn't get hit is because his arm was shattered. She backs up. "Cordy. We have to go get Cordy. And the other kid."

"Cordy..." He says, an odd expression on his face. "Yes..." Most of the shadows fade from his face, and the ones that remain move much slower. " find Cordy..."


Scene: Exterior cemetary, Cordy vs Vamps

"Mongrels!" Cordy snarls, as she kicks the minion in the chest, hurtling him a good 20 feet straight back into a headstone, nearly shattering it. She turns to Darla. "You thought this one would be easy prey!" Blood drips from a couple of gashes over her forehead, leaving an oddly tinted trail down her cheeks. "You were wrong." She says coldly, stalking slowly towards Darla.

Darla smiles almost nervously. "Ah, well, perhaps another time then," she says, casting about for a way to make a quiet exit, stage left. "I am terribly sorry for the inconvenience..." She pauses as she catches a glimpse of one of her minions, deep in a blood rage after healing the horrific injuries inflicted upon him. "Bye now!" She calls out gaily. And quickly exits, stage left, even as the hapless vamp goes for Cordy's throat from her back.

Cordy turns, lightning fast, one hand catching the vamp by the throat even as her eyes glow a dark, malevolent violet. She screams in rage as the vamp dusts in her hand, almost seming to melt towards her. "Coward." She says, scornfully, letting the ashes of the vampire drift out of her outstretched hand.

"Cordy!" Alex shouts as he and Buffy run up to her. He looks at her, the shadows deepening on his face. "I will have blood for this." He whispers, moving to embrace her.

Cordy stops him before he can get his arms up. "Fool." She rests her forehead against his as she loosely draps her arms over his shoulder. "Your arms are shattered."

Buffy watches them for a moment, feeling uncomfortable in their presence. She looks around, looking for the other boy. "Guys? Where's the other kid? We need to find him and get out of here."

"The kid?" Cordy murmurs oddly. "oh...Oh! Red! Shit....I guess that bitch took him..." She backs away from Alex slightly, looking him in the face. "Are you...uh...calmed?"

"Yes..." He whispers. "I think I'd really like to go to the hospital now. I hear they have good drugs. Yourself?"

"You know they don't like me." Cordy grins self-consciously.

Buffy looks around a moment, but can't seem to find that dark presence she'd felt was still around, undoubtedly, but masked by the interference around this town. "We need to go. You want me to carry him?" Buffy asks, indicating Alex.

Cordy's head snaps around quickly, and Buffy could almost swear that she growled for a moment. "No." Her voice is cold, and over enunciated. "Follow me." And just as quickly back to normal. She picks up Alex in the standard 'hero rescues helpless maiden' form. "Let's go. It's not far."

"My hero..." Alex says, in a dreamy falsetto.

Cordy snorts, "Jackass."

<part 1>


Scene: The Library

The globe up on the stack level is spinning. Giles stops it with a finger while he lectures and makes his way down to where Buffy, Cordy, and Alex are at the study table. "This world is older than any of you know. Contrary to popular mythology, it did not begin as a paradise. For untold eons demons walked the Earth. They made it their home, their... their Hell. But in time they lost their purchase on this reality. The way was made for mortal animals, for, for man. All that remains of the old ones are vestiges, certain magicks, certain creatures..."

"And vampires." Buffy says, drily.

"Okay, this is where I have a problem. See, because we're talking about vampires. We're having a *talk* with vampires in it."

"No. No, those weren't vampires, those were just guys in thundering need of a facial. Or maybe they had rabies. It could have been rabies. A-and that guy turning to dust? Just a trick of light." Buffy looks Cordy and Alex in the eyes. "That's exactly what I said the first time I saw a vampire. Well, after I was done with the screaming part."

"Yeah, well, I can understand that."

"Vampires?" Cordy asks.

"Makes sense, Cordy." Alex says, offhandedly. He carefully sets his casted arms on the table. "We've been fighting these guys for a long time, but they never seem to run out of people, or even get seriously wounded in a fight."

"What guys?" Buffy asks.

"Ah, well...the police reports call them 'gang members on PCP.' I've known that was bullshit for years, but I just figured they were whacked out mutants or government cyborgs or something. some other things." Alex very carefully does not look at Cordy. "So vampires are demons?"

"The books tell the last demon to leave this reality fed off a human, mixed their blood. He was a human form possessed, infected by the demon's soul. He bit another, and another, and so they walk the Earth, feeding... Killing some, mixing their blood with others to make more of their kind. Waiting for the animals to die out, and the old ones to return." Cordy stands up abruptly, pacing around the room as Giles finishes talking.


Scene Change: The Master's Lair

Luke forces Red down the slope to the floor below. The Master approaches. "Is this for me?" He asks, fingers tapping each other.

"An offering, Master." Luke grunts.

"He's a good one! His blood is pure!" simpers Darla.

"You've tasted it." The master replies, coldly. Darla looks down in shame. "I'm your...faithful dog. You bring me scraps."

"I, I didn't mean it..."

"I have waited. For three score years I have waited. While you come and go I am stuck here, here in this house of...worship!" His mouth twists as he spits the last word, gesturing around himself. "My ascension is almost at hand. Pray that when it comes... (takes Darla by the neck) I'm in a better mood."

"Master, forgive me! We had more offerings, but there was trouble. Three powerful fighters!"

"And there was a girl. She fought well and she knew of our breed. It is possible that she may be..."

"A Slayer! Have you any proof?"

"Only that she fought me, and yet lives."

"Hmm, very nearly proof enough. I can't remember the last time that happened."

"1843. Madrid. A Sakkiken Warrior." He says, a grimace of either pain or digust on his face.

"She mustn't be allowed to interfere with the Harvest!"

"I would never let that happen!"

"Don't worry about it. I believe she'll come to us. We have something she wants." Luke smiles at Red. "If she is a Slayer, and this boy lives, she'll try to save him."

"I thought you nothing more than a meal, boy." He moves behind Red and takes his neck. "Congratulations. You've just been upgraded. To bait."

"But Master! What about the others?"

"I saw only one other...the whelp." Luke says, consideringly. "He, too, was strong. But his arms are shattered. He will not fight again."

"There was a third. Another girl." Darla says. "She knew nothing of us, yet she fought three of us to a standstill."


Scene Change: The library

"And that would be a what, exactly?" Alex asks.

"For as long as there have been vampires, there's been the Slayer. One girl in all the world, a Chosen One-"

"He loves doing this part." Buffy says in an aside.

"Alright. The Slayer hunts vampires, Buffy is a Slayer, don't tell anyone. Well, I think that's all the vampire information you need."

"Except for one thing: how do you kill them?"

*You* don't, *I* do." the Slayer says forcefully, eyes flashing.

"I can't stand by and-

"This is *my* responsibility. That kid is my responsibility...I let him get taken."

"That's not true, and you know it, *Slayer.*"

"If you hadn't shown up they might have taken me, too." Cordy says, quietly. "That..would not have been pleasant for them."

"Huh?" Buffy asks, a confused expression on her face.

"Ah, blondes..." Cordy snarks. "Alex is...not wise to annoy."

"And them taking Red annoys me...them taking Cordy would piss me off. I've fought to long and hard-" Alex cuts off as Cordy rests a hand on his shoulder. He subsides.

Buffy looks at the two of them oddly, then shrugs and turns to Giles. "This big guy, Luke. He talked about an offering to the Master. Now, I don't know what or who, but if they weren't just feeding then Jesse may still be alive. I'm gonna find him."

"Uh, this may be the dumb question, but are you going alone?" Cordy asks.

"Of course." Buffy replies. "Neither one of you have the training-"

Alex stands up, only just remembering not to slam his hands on the table. "That's enough!" He shouts. "I've not fought in the shadows of this damn city for the last four years to be cut out now!"

"I am the Slayer!" Buffy says intensely. "This is my calling, my destiny, it's what I *am*! You-"

"Silence." Cordy's quiet voice cuts through the air like a two by four to the head. "You have no idea what we...he...has sacrificed. I've fought with him since I was thirteen years old. The police were no help. Adults were no help. They told me to leave it to the cops. To the," she spits the word out, "professionals. The weekly obits in this town covered a full newspaper page when Alex started. When I joined, they were three quarters of a page. Now, they're half a page. Don't try to tell leave it to the professionals. That doesn't work."

"The, uh..." Giles clears his throat. "The three local boys?"

Alex looks up, eyes dark. "Dead. They had been flayed, their ribs removed...when we found them, we could see their hearts beating. I...gave them mercy."

Giles takes his glasses off, and pinches the bridge of his nose. "It isn't never is. For what it's did the right thing."

"I pray it was...and that it never will be." Alex says, quietly, looking down at the suface of the table. Cordelia walks up behind him and drapes her arms over him.

"In other words," she says, "You will accept our help, and include us in the planning, or we'll go along anyways."

"And what exactly can you do?" Buffy asks, diffidently.

"I...well, you've seen it for yourself. I fought three of those vampires to a standstill." Cordy says, not moving from her position.

Alex looks up slowly, eyes full of dark memories, old beyond his time. "I am a Sakkiken Warrior."

"Good lord." Giles starts, and begins polishing his glasses. "I...the council records indicate that that sept had been wiped out centuries ago. If...if you don't mind my asking, what rank are you?"

"I am Confirmed Third." Alex says, shadows swirling to life on his face. "And your Council's records are very nearly right. There are only a very few Sakkiken left in the world, possibly less than a hundred. Most are in the backwaters of China and Japan."

"Uhm..what exactly does that mean?" Buffy asks.

Giles slips his glasses back on his face and enters lecture mode. "We know very little of the Sakkiken Family, only that they were formed very long ago, possibly even before the Watcher's Council. Unfortunately, Sakkiken warriors are human...and as such, embrace the full cycle of the human condition. Most are powerful, dark warriors, selling their art for money, or power. Some fight simply for the thrill and danger inherent in combat. Fortunately, the Sakkiken Family is rife with infighting...most of the powerful, experienced warriors are killed off by newer members in an attempt to increase their standing in the family."

"Yes, but what does the ranking mean?" Buffy asks, exasperatedly.

Giles looks to Alex, but the youth simply grins darkly back at him, the shadows swirling red across his face. "Unfortunately, I don't know much about the ranking system. What we do know is that there are only seven ranks...and the lowest rank is a One." He pinches the bridge of his nose. "As I recall, a Confirmed Third is the second highest rank available."

"Impressive." Alex says. "There must have been a traitor among the Family for you to get such information."

Giles shrugs. "Yes, well...What information we have is very old. Uhm...A Confirmed Third is reputed to be nearly unbeatable in single combat. Even Slayers have fallen before the Sakkiken. Their only known weakness is that they have no least, no Sakkiken Warrior has ever been reported to be capable of magic."

"I don't know about unbeatable...Cordy here did pretty good against me once upon a time."

Cordy blushes. "That was a fluke circumstance, and you know it, Alex Harris!"

"Look, I don't mean to belittle you, but you weren't exactly much help last night." Buffy says.

"I was holding back. Trying to find what you were made of. I truly hope you were sandbagging, because from where I was standing, you were getting your ass kicked."

She flushes dark red. "!"

"That is quite enough." The cool, sharp toned comment from Giles silenced the squabble immediately. "We are all on the same side here. A true Sakkiken would be of immense assistance to us in any fight, as would anyone who recieves a compliment on their fighting prowess from said warrior." Giles nods to Cordy, who blushes slightly again. "At the same time, it would be wise not to dismiss the capabilities of a capable Slayer-Watcher team." Alex nods once from where he sits. "Now, let us get back to the matter at hand, shall we? Do you have idea idea where they would take the boy?"

"I looked around, but soon's they got clear of the graveyard, they could have just, voom!" The slayer says.

"They can fly?" is the question from Alex.

"They can drive."

"Oh." Alex falls silent, a vacant expression on his face as he plays back his memories from the night before.

"I don't remember hearing a car." Cordy says, a pensive frown on her face.

"Let's take an enormous intuitive leap, shall we, and say they went underground." Giles says, drily.

"Vampires really jam on sewer systems. You can get anywhere in the entire town without catching any rays. But I didn't see any access around there."

"Well, there's an electrical tunnel that runs under the whole town, isn't there?" Cordy asks.

"If we had a diagnostic of the tunnel system it might indicate a, a meeting place, it would, uh... I suppose we could go to the building commission..."

"We *so* don't have time."

"Wait...that big dude...where'd he come from?" Alex asks, quietly, eyes flickering underneath his closed lids as if he was watching a highspeed playback.

"He came from behind me. I was facing the entrance, he came from behind me, and he didn't follow me out. The access to the tunnels is in the mausoleum! The girl must have doubled back with Jesse after I got out! God! I am so mentally challenged!" Buffy says in a tone of deep frustration, bopping herself in the head.

"So what's the plan? You and Cordy saddle up, right?" The rest of the room looks at him. "What? I'm not completely stupid. With two busted wings, I'm a liability, not an asset."

She sighs. "Right, well, I'm going. Cordy, you don't have to come."

"Buffy, I'm not anxious to go into a dark place full of monsters. But I can help. It...feels good to strike back at the darkness. A strange sense of closure, almost."

"Alright, you can come."

Cordy smirks. "It's not an option. I am coming."

"Cordy..." Alex says.


"Doo her."

"You sure, Alex?"

"Yeah. It...might help."

"Uh..." Buffy says, as Cordy turns and heads for her backpack. "This isn't some freaky gang initiation thing where I get ritually scarified, or have to eat a twinkie in one bite, or something, cause I got to tell you, I'm so not into that kind of thing..."

"Not so much, but the twinkie thing is a good idea...have to consider that one." Alex says, then pretends to be deep in thought.

Cordy approaches her, one hand closed tightly about something. She grabs one of Buffy's closed hands, forces it open, and then presses the item concealed in her hand into Buffy's. Cordy closes Buffy's hand again. "Wear it...or not. It can save you a lot of trouble. Or it can create some. It's up to you."

Buffy nods, and then opens her hand. "..." She says, staring at it openmouthed. She looks up at Alex and Cordy blankly. They look back at her serenely. She glances at their backpacks, then at the item in her hand.

"Welcome." Alex says.

"To the Scooby Gang." Cordy finishes.

"'re making me Daphne?" She says, holding the keychain figurine out. "Hey, does this make you Velma?" She points at Cordy.

"No." Cordy shifts uncomfortably, looking at Alex, who's finding something of great interest on one of his casts. "Velma's...someone else. I'm Daphne, too. See?" She flips her backpack around, and hanging off of one side is a Daphne figurine.

"So is he Fred?" Buffy asks, pointing at Alex.

"No, he's Shaggy."

"She always liked him better." Alex mumbles, a wistful smile on his face.

"Who?" Buffy asks.

"Come on, let's go." Cordy says quickly, grabbing Buffy by the arm and dragging her out the door. Behind them they can hear Giles talking to Alex.

"Perhaps you could help me. I've been researching this Harvest affair. It seems to be some sort of preordained massacre. Rivers of blood, Hell on Earth, quite charmless. I'm a bit fuzzy, however, on the details. It may be that you can help me wrest some information from that dread machine." He pauses a moment. "That was a bit, um, British, wasn't it? Can you help me on the 'net?"

Faintly, the two could hear Alex's response. "No...that was always someone elses thing..."

Once out of earshot of the library, Cordy stops abruptly. "Okay, I'm not gonna hurt you this time, 'cuz you didn't know and he didn't seem to take it badly. But never mention her again, okay?"

"Who?" Buffy asks. "Velma? But wh-"

Cordy interrupts her. "She's dead." She looks Buffy in the eyes for a long moment. "She's dead and he blames himself. Now never mention it again, okay."

"But-" Cordy's hand slams through a locker. "Okay, point taken."

"Excuse me. I...have to go to the powder room. I'll meet you at the side entrance, okay?" Cordy says, tightly, before walking off.

"Geeze..." Buffy mutters. "These guys are wound a bit tight." She considers a moment. "Not that I can really blame them."


Scene change: Exterior School, side gate

"And where do we think we're going?" Mr. Flutie asks, moments before freedom is reached.

"We?" Buffy asks, turning to face him. "I... Me..." She's clearly somewhat flustered.

"We're not leaving school grounds, are we?"

"No! No, I'm... just admiring the fence. You know, this is quality fence work."

"Because if we were leaving schools grounds on our second day at a new school, after getting kicked out of our old school for delinquent behavior... Do you see where I'm going with this?"

"Mr. Giles..."


He asked me to get a book for him. Uh, from the store, 'cause I have a free period, and I'm a big reader. Did it mention that in my transcripts?"

"Mr. Giles?"

"Ask him."

He swings the gate closed. "Well, maybe that's how they do things in *Britain*, they've got that royal family and all kinds of problems," He locks it shut. "but here at Sunnydale nobody leaves campus while school's in session. Are we clear?"

"We're clear."

"That's the Buffy Summers I want in my school. Sensible girl with her feet on the ground!" She turns around, preperatory to pretending to go back to school. The little Daphne figurine swings freely on her backpack. "Wait!" He says, approaching her. "Where did you get that?"

"Get what?"


"Cordy gave it to me. Why?"

"Hmm? Oh, no reason, no reason at all." He casually unlocks the gate, and pockets the lock. "I expect you'll be back in class soon, Miss Summers?" He walks off casually, hands behind his back.

"O...kay." Buffy shrugs, and walks out the gate. She turns and waits for Cordy.

She doesn't have to wait long.

"Ready?" Cordy asks, as she strolls up.


Scene Change: Mausoleum

Buffy opens the door to the mausoleum, carefully scanning around. Satisfied that no one's there, she walks down the steps to the floor. She hears a rat behind her and twists to look toward the sound. She continues and finds the tunnel access. It's locked with a chain. She lifts the lock. Angel appears behind her. Buffy elbows him sharply in the stomach. "I don't suppose you've got a key on you, Cryptic Guy?"

"That hurt..." He wheezes.

"My heart bleeds."

"I can see that." He says, recovering his 'breath.' "They don't like me dropping in."

Buffy faces him. "Why not?"

"They really don't like me."

"Now how could that possibly be, Vampire?"

"I knew you'd figure out this entryway sooner or later. Actually, I thought it was gonna be a *little* sooner."

"Sorry you had to wait." She takes adeep, calming breath. "Okay. Look, if you're gonna be popping up with this Cryptic Wise Vamp act on a regular basis, can you at least tell me your name?"


"Angel. Right."

She turns to the tunnel entrance.

He sighs. "Your watcher will know me better as...Angelus."

Buffy cocks an eyebrow. "Huh. Kind of a funny name for a vamp." She turns back to the lock.

"Don't... go down there."

"Deal with my going."

"You shouldn't be putting yourself at risk. Tonight is the Harvest. Unless you can prevent it, the Master walks."

"Well, if this Harvest thing is such a suckfest, why don't *you* stop it?"

"'Cause I'm afraid." She looks at him for a moment and then spins around quickly, kicking open the doors to the tunnel. She turns back to him. "They'll be expecting you."

"I've got a friend down there. Or at least a potential friend. Do you know what it's like to have a friend?" He lowers his eyes as a look of sadness fills them. She snorts. "Vampires. All the same."

They look at each other a moment longer. Cordy walks down the stairs. "I swear, this wind is...oh, hi Angel."

He nods his head. "Cordy."

" two know each other?" Buffy asks, incredulous.

"Oh, sure. We met at this underground pit fight type thingy. Which reminds me, how's your shoulder?"

He grins. "All better."

"You gonna join this party?"

Buffy snorts. "Little chicken."

Angel shakes his head. "I like fighting...but I like living, too.

Darla...Luke...the Master. None of them are average. When you hit the tunnels, head east towards the school. That's where you're likely to find them. I'm sorry I can't offer more help."

"You gonna wish us luck, big guy?" Cordy asks, punching him on the shoulder.

He winces theatrically, then sobers instantly. "I would if I could...but it's a suicide mission. Even with Alex and you along for the ride, I'd have doubts."

Cordy and Buffy look at Angel for a long moment. Finally, Buffy turns and walks into the tunnel. "Well..." Cordy says. "See you around." She walks into the tunnel as well.

A few moments pass. "Good luck." Angel whispers, before concealing himself in the sarcophogi and going back to sleep.



Scene: Sewer tunnels

Cordy walks down the stairs, just behind Buffy. She glances around casually. "Do you see anything?"

"No." Buffy considers, and then starts down the tunnel again.

"Okay, just so we're clear on this, how exactly do we go about the vampire slaying? Just with the crosses, garlic, stake through the heart deal?"

"Not so much with the garlic or the stake. Weaker vamps you can take with a stake, but some of the tougher ones you have to use a wooden Cross through the heart."

"You, uh, wouldn't happen to have any Crosses I could borrow? 'Cuz I didn't exactly come prepared for vampires today."

"Good thinking." Buffy says, as she hands Cordy a nice sized cross.

"Out of curiousity, can you see much down here?"

"Yeah." Buffy says absently, attempting to 'hone' and find some vamps to kill. "I think it's part of the package. How 'bout you?"

"I have really good night vision ever since...well, ever since I was thirteen, I guess." Cordy says, thinking. "I can see pretty well down here. So, what else?"

"What else what?"

"For vampire slayage."

"Oh, fire, beheading, sunlight, holy water, the usual."

"You've done some beheading in your time?"

"Oh, yeah. There was this time I was pinned down by this guy that played left tackle for varsity... Well, at least he used to before he was a vampire... Anyway, he had this really, really thick neck, and all I had was a little tiny Exact-O knife..."


"You're not loving this story."

"No, actually, I find it oddly comforting. Always good to know that one's allies are more determined to stay alive than their opponent stay undead, I guess."

"Hm." Buffy says, noncommittally.

Minutes pass as the two walk through the electrical tunnel.

"They're close." Buffy whispers.

"How can you tell?" Cordy asks, equally quietly.

"No more rats. There's too much...interference around...I can't feel them."

Cordy steps ahead, leaving Buffy slightly behind as she spots Red on the ground. "Red!"

Buffy moves up somewhat, still looking around carefully. One hand slides up her jacket surreptitiously.

Red jumps up. "Red!" Cordy calls.

"C-cordy?" He says. "W-what are you doing here?"

"Uhm...I came to rescue you? Never mind that! Are you okay?"

"I am not okay, on an *epic* scale." He says emphatically. For emphasis, he kicks one leg, revealing thick iron chains. "We gotta get outta here!"

"It's cool, we're here."

"Hold on..." Buffy breaks the shackles with a powerful kick.

"Do you think anyone heard that?" Cordy asks. They see shadows moving on the walls. "Never mind, stupid question." And they start to run down the tunnel. Vampires charge around the corner behind them, in hot pursuit.

"They knew you were gonna come. They said that I...I was the bait." Red pants.

"Oh, great, now you tell us." Cordy snarls.

They round a corner and are met by vampires.


"Oh, no, no, no, no!"

"Do you know another way out?" Buffy asks.

"No! I was kinda unconscious the whole time!" They run. At another intersection they see glowing eyes to their right.

Red veers left, away from the vamps, into a small chamber.

"I don't think this is the way out!" Buffy yells.

"There's too many of them. We'll never be able to fight through them.

"I got an idea." Red's eyes gleam maniacally in the darkness. "You can die!"

"Red, what the hell are you saying?"

"I feel good, Cordy! I feel strong! I'm connected, to, to everything!"

Buffy draws her gun.

"I, I can hear the worms in the earth!"

"That's a plus." Cordy says.

"I know what the Master wants. I'll serve his purpose. That means you die. And I feed."

Buffy shoots him in the head. Cordy stands in shock as traces of blood and grey matter slide down the nearby wall. Some blood splattered over her. The slayer turns, face an expressionless mask, and opens fire down the corridor. "Get the door!" She yells, as a couple vamps get their legs blown out from underneath them.

Cordy, shaken, moves to comply. "R-right." She prys at the door, barely getting it to move, as Buffy's gun locks its slide back on an empty clip. She grabs the door with one hand and pulls on it. With their combined strength, the door squeals loudly and closes, even as the vampiric hordes reach the door. One vamp's arm gets cut off from the impact.

"Well, that was exhilarating." She says, ejecting the clip and sliding a fresh one home. "We need to get out of here!"

"You killed him!" Cordy shouts.

Buffy's eyes are like chips of diamond. "Yes, I did. He had been ghouled. He would have done his best to kill the both of us, and then gloried in riping out our intestines and eating them. He was an innocent high school boy, and I shot his brains out." She sighs. "It sucks. It rteally, really sucks." The vamps outside succeed in battering down a corner of the door, and Buffy places her gun in the small triangle and fires blindly through it. "But my mission has never changed. Search and Destroy." She changes clips again. "Last clip." She scans the room quickly, and then grabs Cordy by the chin. "Pull yourself together! If we don't get out of here' we're gonna be *dead*!"

"R-right..." Cordy says, dazedly, and then looks around the room herself. Glancing up, she sees a small grate in the ceiling. "There!" She calls, pointing. She leaps on top of a barrel and begins to pry the grate open. The vampires twist and bend the corner down further. Cordy rips the grate out of the ceiling, dropping it to the floor.

"Go!" Buffy yells, taking a weaver stance and aiming carefully through the gap. She fires one shot, and the lead vamp falls back with a. 45 lobotomy. Cordy jumps up into the ventilation duct. A vampire starts to struggle through the bent corner of the door. He reaches in and pulls the latch open as Buffy shoots him in the head as well. The door begins to open under the press of bodys as Buffy jumps to the grate as well. The two crawl quickly through the duct work, with Buffy firing the occasional shot to 'discourage' any pursuit. Cordy finds a ladder up to a manhole and starts climbing the rungs. Buffy follows. Cordy pushes open the manhole cover and climbs out into daylight. She turns to help Buffy out, and they tumble backward to the ground.


Scene Change: Master's lair.

"She escaped? She walks free when I should be drinking her heart's blood right now? Careless..." The Master says.

"Master, we had her trapped!" The child vampire declares.

"Oh, are you going to make excuses?"

The young one remains silent.

"You are all weak. It has been too long since you have faced a dedicated, talented Slayer. Huh. It is no matter to me. She will not stop the Harvest. Just means there'll be someone worth killing... when I reach the surface. Is Luke ready?"

"He waits."

"It's time. Bring him to me." The boy turns to go get Luke. "Ah, Colin..." He turns back. "You failed me. Tell me you're sorry.

"I'm sorry!"

"There. That wasn't so bad, was it? Hold on..." He stabs his finger into Colin's face. "You've got something in your eye."

Luke approaches the Master and kneels before him. As the Master offers his hand, Luke takes it and kisses it reverently. He releases it and the Master turns it over to offer the underside of his wrist. Darla is watching and smiles. Luke opens the cuff of the Master's sleeve and pulls it back. He takes The Master's hand again, and sinks his fangs into the wrist above it and drinks of the blood. He releases the hand, and the Master takes it back.

"My blood is your blood. My soul is your soul." The Master intones.

"My body is your instrument."

The Master steps down to Luke and begins to draw a three-pointed star on Luke's forehead with the blood still flowing from his wrist. "On this... most hallowed night... we are as one. Luke is the Vessel!" Darla's smile widens. "Every soul he takes will feed me. And their souls will grant me the strength to free myself. Tonight I shall walk the Earth, and the stars themselves will hide!"



Scene: The library

Alex is looking at one of Giles' volumes. He's about to attempt to turn the page when he hears the door open and looks up to see Cordy and Buffy come in. "Did you find Red?" he asks.

"Yeah." Cordy says.

"Was he dead?"

"Worse." Buffy sits at the end of the table. "I'm sorry, Alex. We were too late. And they were waiting for us."

"He's dead now. Slay-girl here shot him." Cordy violently kicks a waste basket.

Buffy turns to Cordy and starts to explain. "Look, I told you he'd been ghouled-"

"You still shot him!" Cordy yells.

Giles intrudes. "If...if what Buffy says is true, then she likely had no choice, Cordelia. A ghoul is gifted with some vampiric strengthes, and will do anything its master commands it to."

"I don't like vampires. I'm gonna take a stand and say they're not good." Cordy mutters, as she falls into a seat.

"Red's dead?" Alex murmers. "He was the first Scrappy..."

Buffy turns to Giles. "So, Giles! Got anything that can make this day any worse?

He goes over to the whiteboard and puts down his pen. "How about the end of the world?" He says, drily.

"Knew I could count on you." the Slayer mutters.

"This is what we know. Some sixty years ago, a very old, very powerful vampire came to this shore, not just to feed."

"He came 'cause this town's a mystical locus." Buffy says.

"Yes. The Spanish who first settled here called it 'Boca del Infierno'. Roughly translated, 'Hellmouth'. It's a sort of, um, portal between this reality and another. This vampire hopes to open it."

"Bring the demons back."

"End of the world." Alex swears suddenly. "Shit! And I'm stuck in these damned casts."

"Fortunately, there was an earthquake that swallowed half the town, and him, too. You see, opening dimensional portals is a tricky business. Odds are he got himself stuck, rather like a, uh, cork in a bottle.

"And this Harvest thing is to get him out." Alex says.

"It comes once in a century, on this night. The Master can draw power from one of his minions while it feeds. Enough power to break free and open the portal. The minion is called the Vessel, and he bears this symbol." He draws a three-pointed star on the whiteboard.

"So, I dust anyone sporting that symbol, and no Harvest." Buffy says.

"Simply put, yes."

"Any idea where this little get-together is being held?" Cordy asks.

"There, there are a number of possibilities."

"They're goin' to the Bronze." Alex comments, assuredly.

"Makes sense..." Cordy adds.

"Come on. All those tasty young morsels all over the place?"

Giles grabs his coat and starts out of the library. The others begin to follow. "Then we should get there. The sun will be down before long."

"I gotta make a stop. Won't take long." Buffy says.

"What for?"



Scene change: Buffy's room

Buffy goes to her closet and pulls out her weapons chest as her mother walks into the room. "Buffy?" She asks.


"You're going out?"

"I have to." She opens the chest.

"I didn't hear you come in last night."

"I was really quiet." She says, as she pulls a box of. 45 frangible cartidges out, and begins to reload her clips.

"It's happening again, isn't it? I got a call from your new principal. Says you missed some classes today, but they were excused?"

"Today was a bad day. Fortunately, the principal's pretty cool."

"We haven't finished unpacking, and I'm getting calls from the principal."

"But it was a good call!" Buffy protested.

"Honey, no call from the prinicipal about missing classes is a good call. Three clips, Buffy? I't's not even night time yet."

"Today was a really bad day."

"Is it important?"

Buffy stops loading, and looks at her mother. Unshed tears shine brightly in her eyes. "It's always important, Mom. Tonight is...gonna be bad if I screw up."

" you need me to get out of town?"

"It's too late for that, Mom. There won't be anywhere to run."

" that bad?"

"Yes." Buffy scrubs her eyes roughly. "Worse, even."

"Buffy...when you get back in, wake me. Let me know, okay?"

"Sure, mom." She smiles at her. Joyce leaves the room, pulling the door closed behind her. Finishing the clip reloading, she secrets two of them in her jacket, and loads the third into her gun. Holstering it, she goes back to the chest, pausing only to put the ammo away. Stakes, crosses, garlic, bottles of holy water, and various and sundry sharp pointy objects fill the rest of the trunk. She pulls a couple bottles of holy water and a gladius out and puts them in her sports bag. Taking a wickedly pointed, smoothly finished stake out, she conceals it in her jacket sleeve. She closes the chest, zips the bag closed, grabs the bag, and exits her room though the door. On the way out of the house, she pauses to hug her mother. "See you soon." And leaves.

"Good luck, Buffy." Her mother whispers. "Come back to me."



Scene: The bronze, exterior

Darla comes out of the shadows in a bouncy walk. She turns around and walks backward while other vampires come into the light behind her. She turns back again and approaches the doorman. They're all sporting their game faces.

"Need ID." The doorman grunts. He looks up as the vamps brush by him. "Hey! Nobody gets inside until I get some sorta-"

Luke shifts to vamp mode, and growls in the doorman's face. "Get inside!" The vampires come in, pushing the doorman in with them. The last one shuts the door and stands guard. One of the vampires makes his way to the upper level. Another one finds the main power switch and shuts it off. The people start complaining and wondering what happened. Luke gets up on the stage. "Ladies and Gentlemen! There is no cause for alarm. Actually, there is cause for alarm. It just won't do any good." There are screams from the crowd as they see Luke's face. He laughs cruelly. "This is a glorious night! It is also the last one any of you shall ever see. Bring me the first."

A vampire brings the doorman to Luke. "What do you guys want, man, huh? You want money? Man, what's wrong with your faces?"

Luke grabs him by the throat. He wraps his other arm around the doorman's head. "Watch me, people. Fear is like an elixir. It's almost like blood." He bites the doorman and feeds on him. The doorman screams. Cut to the Master in his lair. He raises his head as he feels the first of the souls that will be taken for him. Cut to Luke. He drops the doorman's body. "Next!" He calls out.


Scene: Bronze, exterior

The team arrives running. Buffy tries the door. "It's locked!"

"We're too late!" Giles cries.

"Dammit!" Buffy yells.

Cordy looks the door up and down. "Damn...I don't think I can knock that down. Buffy?"

"No, not that thing. Um...You guys try the back entrance, and I'll find my own way."

"Right. Come on." Giles says, heading for the back of the Bronze.

"Uh, wait! Guys! Here!" Buffy says, handing Cordy her bag. "Get the exit cleared and the people out."

Giles grins wickedly, unsheathing an antique English broadsword and an old John Walch Navy revolver. Cordy opens the bag and pulls out the Gladius after a moment or two of rummaging. "I believe that we'll manage, Buffy." Giles says, a wicked smile on his face. Giles and Cordy run around to the back, where Cordy tries to open the door. It's deadbolted.

"No joy!" She says. "Give me a moment."

"We have to get in there, now!"


Scene Change: Bronze, Interior

"Almost free!" The master's voice floats, imperceptible to all but Luke. He's draining a girl. "Give me moooooore!" He finishes the girl and drops her body.

Darla grabs Aura, and hauls her up to the stage.

A slight shattering noise goes unheard as Buffy breaks a skylight, and crawls into the Bronze.

"I can feel the Master's strength growing!" Buffy sees Luke on the stage. "I feel him rising. Every soul brings him closer! I need another!" he shouts.

"The Vessel." Buffy whispers to herself. The vampire on the upper level sees Buffy and growls. She looks over at him.

"Tonight is his ascension. Tonight will be history at its end! Yours is a glorious sacrifice! Degradation most holy." He stops, looking over the audience. He seems surprised that there is no response. "What? No volunteers?!"

Darla brings him Aura. "Here's a pretty one." She says, caressing Aura's neck.

Aura screams when she sees Luke up close. He caresses her face. He's about to bite her when Buffy kicks the vampire down from above them. Luke watches him land with a thud. A pained, mewling whine emanates from the pile of Vampire. Buffy approaches the railing.

"Oh, I'm sorry, were you in the middle of something?" Buffy asks, a bored look on her face.

"You!" Luke snarls.

"You didn't think I'd miss this. Did you?"

"I hoped you'd come."

"Be right down!" She says, merrily. She steps away from the railing and neatly jumps down, landing on a pool table. A vampire attacks from her right. Buffy does a front walkover off of the table, grabbing a pool cue on the way. When she lands she thrusts it into her attacker and lets go. He falls to the ground, comatose.

"Okay, Vessel boy." She cricks her neck. "You want blood?"

"I want yours!" He shouts, releasing Aura. "Only yours!"

Buffy shrugs. "Works for me."

She runs and cartwheels up onto the stage, drawing her gun from underneath her jacket as she does so, and immediately empties half her clip into him. Luke staggers into a pile of chairs. She cocks an eyebrow. "Never bring fangs to a gun fight." With that, she begins walking forward, with every step another bullet. One in each knee, one in each elbow, and to finish it off, one square in the neck. "I cheat, Vampire." With that, she reaches down, grabs his skull, and rips his head off. The surprised expression on his face remains for a moment before it falls to dust. "Who's next?" She asks, as she ejects the clip, and inserts a new one. The old clip hits the floor with a dull clang.

A hoarse yell, followed by a fairly loud thud, precedes the back door to the Bronze coming off of its frame and smacking a random vamp.

"Good lord." Giles says. You can almost feel his burning desire to polish his glasses...but he manfully resists, instead commenting only: "Hurry!" Cordy precedes him into the Bronze, and quickly engages a vampire in combat. He begins guiding the innocents to the back door. "Hurry up! Come on! Through this door! Come on! This way!" He whispers.

A dull roar from the assembled vamps answers Buffy's challenge. Most of them head directly towards her. "Hey! No fair!" She shouts, as she takes aim and starts shooting.

Cordy sees her predicament, and quickly disarms the vampire she's fighting...literally. "Buffy!" She calls. "Heads up!" She hefts the sword and tosses it at the Slayer.

The impromptu projectile spears one vamp through the head. it falls not far from her. Buffy can't resist a chuckle. "Thanks!" She calls. Grabbing the sword from its resting place, she beheads the seriously injured vampire, then charges into the mass of enraged, soon to be dust vampires.

"One at a time! Quickly! Quickly!" Giles yells, still guiding people out the back, and taking occasional potshots with his revolver. He crosses to the other side of the room in front of some stairs. Darla is standing on the steps above him. "We're going to have to open the front as well!" He yells to Cordy. Darla leaps onto him from behind, knocking him to the floor. He struggles around until he can press the side of his broadsword to her face. It burns her face, and smoke wafts up from it. She gets up and runs from the club, screaming.

Cordy charges forward, that odd purple tint back in her eyes, and bulldozes into Buffy's fight. Vampires go flying, some badly injured by sword cuts. Most of them flee the Bronze, heading out the front door and disappearing into the night. Cordy looks down at Buffy, who is panting, sword still held en gaurde. She's lost her pistol in the revolver somewhere, and is somewhat the worse for wear. Blood stains the leather jacket liberally, and her sword hand, and sword, are practically coated with vampiric blood. Scratch marks adorn her face, and it looks like someone got a good claw hit on her when she extended for a lungs, because there's a nice long gash under her jacket. Cordy holds out her hand, and Buffy clasps it by the wrist. The two stand there a moment. "Did good, Cordy."

"So did you, Buffy."

"She did it! I'll be damned!" Angel whispers from his hiding place behind some crates.

"I take it that it's over." Giles says, holstering his, now empty, revolver and sword. He begins polishing his glasses.

"Did we win?" Cordy asks.

"Well, we averted the Apocalypse. I give us points for that."

"One thing's for sure: nothing's ever gonna be the same." Cordy says, a faraway look on her face.


Scene Change: Sunnydale High, Monday morning

Everything appears normal. Buffy is walking along, and pauses as she sees Aura and some of her friends.

"Well, I heard it was rival gangs. You know, fighting for turf? But all I can tell you is they were an ugly way of looking. And Buffy, like, knew them! Which is just too weird. I mean, I don't even remember that much, but I'm telling you, it was a freak show!"

"Oh, I wish I'd been there!"

You should have been there. It was so creepy..." Aura says, walking off.

"What exactly were you expecting?" Buffy asks, at the somewhat shellshocked looked on Alex and Cordy's faces.

"I don't know, something. I mean, the dead rose. We should at least have an assembly." Alex says.

"People have a tendency to rationalize what they can and forget what they can't." Says the librarian.

"Believe me, I've seen it happen."

"Well, I'll never forget it, none of it." Is the response from Cordy.

"Good! Next time you'll be prepared."

"Next time?" Alex asks, a questioing look on his face.

Cordy stops. "Next time is why?"

"We've prevented the Master from freeing himself and opening the Mouth of Hell. That's not to say he's going to stop trying. I'd say the fun is just beginning."

"More vampires?"

The other three turn and face each other. "Not just vampires. The next threat we face may be something quite different." Giles says.

"I can hardly wait!" Buffy fluffs her hair.

"We're at the center of a mystical convergence here. We may, in fact, stand between the Earth and its total destruction."

"Well, I gotta look on the bright side. Maybe I can still get kicked out of school!"

The three students continue to class. Giles stays behind and watches them go.

"Oh, yeah, that's a plan. 'Cause lots of schools aren't on Hellmouths."

"Maybe you could I dunno, beat the football team up. They're strict about that."

"That was so not my fault!" Alex exclaims. Cordy looks at him. "It wasn't! Tey were bothering you!"

"I was thinking of a more subtle approach, y'know, like excessive not studying."

Giles turns to go back to his library. "The Earth is doomed!"

Chapter 3
The Witch

Buffy sits, watching the cheerleaders stretching prior to tryouts. Alex and Cordy sit with her in the bleachers.

"Not gonna try out, Buff?" Alex asks.


"Why not?" Cordy asks, shifting some on the bleacher. She didn't know why, but being around the Slayer for long periods of time made her...edgy. "You used to do this quite a bit. I can tell."

Buffy sighs. "Listen, I appreciate your concern, but...cheerleading...not my thing anymore." She looks around the gym casually before looking back down at the cheerleaders almost wistfully. "I am what I am."

"And what are you?" Alex asks, tearing his attention away from the girls in skimpy clothes.

"A wolf among sheep." Buffy says, absently. "As you have, I gave up my peace in order to preserve the future. So that those girls down there can smile, and laugh, and talk abut boys, and get married, and maybe have a house with a white picket fence and 2.4 kids." She turns to face Alex, eyes hard. "I would love to be nothing but a cheerleader again. But that's not me anymore. I am The Slayer."

Cordy shivers. "That's not all you are, Buffy, and you know it."

Buffy snorts humorlessly. "Maybe. Come on, let's go." She stands, and the other two join her. As they approach the door, Buffy stiffens slightly, and stops. "Something's...wrong." She truns, and looks over the gym again. One of the cheerleaders, having just finished an impressive display, seems to be smoking slightly. The Slayer's eyes narrow. Suddenly, the cheerleader drops her pom-poms, and screams. Her hands are literally on fire. Buffy curses, and vaults to the top of the stands, grabs a banner, and runs to her, knocks her down and snuffs out the flames with the banner. Alex and Cordy spread out, and start looking around the gym for anything out of place while eveybody else stares in shock.


"It's a bloodstone vengeance spell. Hits the body hard like a, a quart of alcohol, and then it e-eradicates the, uh, immune system." Giles says, calmly.

"So, what do we do?" Alex asks.

"About this?" Giles walks over to the counter, apparently unconcerned. "Nothing. She'll be fine in an hour, two at the most. Frankly, I'm surprised it even affected her at all..." He picks up a book begins to read.

"Sheerly out of morbid curiosity, what would happen if, say, a normal human got hit by this spell?" Alex asks, morbidly curious.

"Within twenty-four to fourty-eight hours, they'd be dead." The librarian responds without looking up from his book. "If Buffy wasn't the Slayer, she'd have another hour, at the most. But she is."


Chapter 4
Teacher's pet

"Well! Look who's here!" Buffy says, sarcastically.

"Hi." Angel replies.

"I'd say it's nice to see you, but then we both know that's a big fib."

"I won't be long."

"No, you'll just give me a cryptic warning about some exciting new catastrophe, and then disappear into the night. Right?"

"You're cold."

"You can take it."

"I mean, you look cold." Angel says, beginning to take off his jacket. He stops at Buffy's glare. Well, that and the really pointy chunk of wood poised just in front of his heart.

"You know, I can't quite believe you're actually trying that one...on me! Hello, Vampire *Slayer* here." She looks him over. He appears quite a bit the worse for wear. "Alright, what happened?" She sounds resigned.

"I didn't pay attention."

"To somebody with a big fork?" She pushes up one sleeve of his jacket, revealing a series of parallel scratches.

"He's coming."

"The Fork Guy?"

"Don't let him corner you. Don't give him a moment's mercy. He'll rip your throat out."

"Okay, I'll give you improved marks for that one. Ripping a throat out, it's a strong visual, it's not cryptic!"

"I have to go." Angel turns and leaves as quietly as he came.

"Pfeh. Vampires."

Alex wanders up behind her. "So you know Angel, huh?"

"Yeah. He seems to like giving me cryptic warnings."

"He's good at that." Cordy says, coming in from the other side.

"Where'd you guys meet him, anyways?"

"We crashed some kinda underground pit fight. Heard there were some people there who hadn't come voluntarily. Turns out it was just him. They were bidding over the rights to tear him apart."


"Mornin'. Guess what I just heard in the office? No Dr. Gregory today. Ergo, those of us who blew off our science homework aren't as dumb as we look." Alex says, with a smile.

"What happened, is he sick?" Buffy asks.

"They didn't say anything about sick, something about missing."

"He's missing?"

"Well, let me think. Um, the cheerleaders were modeling their new short skirts, that kinda got... Yeah! Yeah, they said missing." Cordy and Buffy exchange a look. "Which is bad?"

"If something's wrong, yeah!"

"He's one of the only teachers that doesn't think Buffy's a felon." Cordy says drily.

"Oh? Well, I'm sure he'll..." He looks up and sees Miss Natalie French walking toward them. "I, uh, huh..." The girls look to see what's distracting him. She comes right up to Xander, who just stares at her.

"Could you help me?" She asks.

"Uuuuuuhhhhhh...Yes..." He says slowly. Cordy and Buffy give each other amused looks.

"I'm looking for Science... 109."

"It's right over that way, Miss..."

"French. Natalie French." She gives Alex a warm smile, and offers him her hand. He takes it slowly, and shudders slightly, goosebumps forming on his arms. She shakes his hand once, and then releases.

Cordy frowns slightly as she notices the goosebumps. Her frown deepens when shadows begin forming on the surface of Alex's skin.

"If you could direct me there...?" Natalie smiles prettily again. From behind her, another young man approaches.

"Hi! Blayne Mall. I'm going there right now. It's not far from the varsity field where I took All-City last year."

"Oh! Thank you, Blayne!"

She and Blayne leave. Xander's gaze follows them, and then Cordy touches him on his shoulder. "Alex...?" She asks, quietly.

The shadows begin to fade. "There's...something deeply wrong about her."


The park. Late at night. Buffy jumps the fence, and begins to patrol the area, carefully looking around. A bum comes up to her, startling her.

"Shouldn't be out here at night, little lady. Dangerous." He says, before departing. She smiles at his back.

Continuing to look around, she finds another bum laying on the ground. She checks him out, and after finding that she's okay, continues into the shrubbery. Eventually, she finds one that's loose and tugs on it. And then suddenly drops to one side, as a gleaming silver set of claws come at the back of her head. She rolls to her feet, and kicks claw guy in the stomach, knocking him back a few feet. He charges madly, and Buffy grabs his arm and tosses him, as hard as she can, into the ground. He springs to his feet, and Buffy jumps backward, evading that glistening claw. As she lands, she draws her gun, and fires once at the vamp. He dodges, and the bullet impacts his lower torso, unfortunately for Buffy not striking any bones.

Flashlight beams stb the air. "Drop your weapons! This is the police." A voice shouts out into the air.

Buffy looks back and forth between Fork Guy and the posse. The vampire runs off.

"I heard it. Spread out. Let's go over here. This way, this way. Alright..."

Buffy makes tracks after Claw Guy. Natalie is walking home on the other side of the park fence with grocery bags in her arms. The vampire stalks her and climbs over the fence. Buffy comes running up. The vampire lands behind Natalie. Buffy reaches the fence and watches, gun aimed. Natalie senses the vampire, stops and turns to face him. Fork Guy hisses and runs away in fear. Natalie watches him go. Buffy can't believe what she's seeing. The vampire crosses the street, lifts a manhole cover and climbs down. Natalie continues her walk home. Fork Guy pulls the manhole cover back into place. Buffy can only stare after Natalie, jaw dropped.


"Keep your eyes straight ahead on your own test." Natalie comes up behind Alex, and, in a low voice, says "I think you meant 'pollination' for number fourteen." She rests her hand on his shoulder. "I'll see you here after school." She smiles down at him, and trails her hand across him sensuously as she walks away. All the muscles in Alex's back are tense, and his right fist is clenched so hard that he's cutting himself on his nails.

Buffy comes running to class and looks in through the door window. "Oh, great, a pop quiz." Watching through the door for a moment, Buffy sees Natalie straighten, and turn her head around 180 degrees. Her eyes go wide with amazement. She quickly rolls away from the window.


Natalie is at the desk spreading butter on a slice of bread. She's about to open a plastic container when she hears Alex come in and looks up.

"Hi." He says, gaurdedly.

"Oh, Hi! I was just grabbing a snack. Can I fix you something?"

"No thanks, I when I'm making egg sacks." Alex says, looking down at the model. "If this were real the bugs would be-"

"As big as you!" Natalie finishes.

"As big as me." Alex says gravely. He hesitates a moment, and then shrugs. "Fuck it." Shadows flood his face and arms, and his overmind flared, showing things as they truly were. "Demon." He whispers, staring at the giant bug where Miss French had been.

She stares at him, confused. "What?" She asks. "What are you-" She doesn't get the chance to finish as Alex slugs her brutally in the stomach. A sharp crack sounds, as chitin cracks from the impact, and Natalie is flung through the air, smashing through a cupboard before she hits the wall. Her body seems almost to melt and reform, and then she stands revealed as the Praying Mantis she is.


Chapter 5
Never kill a boy on the first date.

"Well, I-I don't know exactly, a-a-a-a warrior, but, but it says he will rise from the ashes of the Five on the evening of the thousandth day after the Advent of Septus."

"Well, we'll be ready whenever it is." Buffy says.

"Which is tonight."

"Tonight, okay...Dammit. Stupid centuries old prophecies. Why does it have to be tonight?

"My calculations are precise."

"Buffy has a really important date." Cordy adds, unhelpfully.


"Alright, I-I'll just jump in my time machine, go back to the twelfth century and ask the vampires to postpone their ancient prophecy for a few days while you take in dinner and a show."

"Okay, at this point you're abusing sarcasm."

"Buffy, this is no ordinary vampire. But we have to stop him before he reaches the Master."

"But... Cute guy! Teenager! Post-pubescent fantasies!"

"Those will just have to be put on hold! The dark forces are aligning against us, and we have a chance to beat them back. Tonight we go into battle!"

"Yeah...I know." Buffy sighs deeply. "I just...never mind."


Xander fumbles with the box. Buffy and Willow look over at him. The door bell rings.

"That's Owen!" Buffy says excitedly. She runs downstairs and flings the door open. "That's Giles." She says, without much interest.

"We need to talk."


Giles pushes the door open and comes in without waiting for permission. "My calculations may not have been as far off as I thought." He says, holding up a paper.

"'Five Die in Van Accident'?" Buffy asks quizzically.

"Out of the ashes of five shall rise the one. That's the prophecy. Five people have died!"

"In a car crash."

"I know it doesn't quite follow, but, but it's worth investigating. Look! Among the dead was Andrew Borba, whom the police sought for questioning in a double murder. Now, he may be the Anointed One. The, the bodies have been taken to, to Sunnydale Funeral Home, w-we can..."

"Why can't I ever do something normal?"

"I beg your pardon?"

Owen shows up at the open door. "Hey!" He comes in. "Uh, hi!"

"You have a date?" Giles asks, incredulously.

"Yes. Is it that hard to imagine? I'll take care of it, Giles."

"Wait, you're not getting off that easily."

"Uhm, what's going on?"

"Owen..." Buffy says, sighing. "Something's come up, and I have to take care of it right away. I'm sorry...maybe we could reschedule our date for tomorrow night?"

"Uhm...yeah...sure, I guess."

"Oh, thank you." Buffy smiles brilliantly at him, and then hugs him.