Author: AlanP <alan.p[at]>

Summary: Yet another Halloween fic.

Crossover: Treasure Island

Disclaimer: I own... hmm. I own nothing. The bank owns any money I make, at the moment.

Feedback: Why not? It helps me write more and better...

Pre-fic Comments:

I honestly don't know how well this fic will go... I just got this idea, you know? It shouldn't go too far, just until the end of that ep.

If it seems somewhat unrealistic as to their choices, bear in mind that they're still teenagers, at the age of Rebellion. And in America to boot, in California, land of movie stars with busts bigger than their heads.

Something's gonna leak into them through osmosis.

Telepathic speech is written using tildes, rather than speech marks. ˜Like this.˜

Latest addition

Chapter 1

"Pass the popcorn, Buff," Xander said, eyes glued to the TV.

"Get your own," the Slayer retorted.

They were watching Treasure Island, the Charlton Heston version. Pirates had just ransacked the inn, and the authorities were coming.

"You wouldn't leave old Pew, mates!," the blind man screamed from the middle of the road. "Not Blind Pew!"

Half a second later, the old man was trampled under the horses of the authorities. They circled back to see what they had killed.

"Bother," a man in a white-dusted wig said.

Xander pushed 'Stop' on the VCR.

"HEY!," Willow and Buffy yelled.

"Popcorn break," Xander said. "Movies are fuelled by popcorn, and the Xanman is outta gas right now."

"Fine," Willow grizzled. "But you and Buffy'd better share with me."

Xander wandered into 1630 Revello Drive's kitchen, and put a covered bowl of popcorn into the microwave.

"Hey, Mrs S," he said to Buffy's mum, who was reading a magazine at the table. 'Urbis', or something.

"Hi, Xander," Joyce said. "Enjoying your movie?"

"Sure," Xander said. "The blind pirate just got killed in the seventeenth century equivalent of a carcrash."

"Ew," Buffy said, entering the kitchen. "You've got a way with words, Xander, that's for sure."

"That's me," Xander said proudly. "Wordsmith extraordinaire. Wanna watch it with us, Mrs S?"

Joyce waved her hand in disagreement. "No, it sounds a little violent for me, and I need to catch up on my magazines. Are you three going to dress as pirates from your movie tomorrow?"

"Well, I'd planned on staying home," Buffy said. "Nice, quiet night."

"You sure you wanna do that?," Xander asked. "I'm sure that we could crash Queen C's party..."

"Sounds good to me," Willow said. "I'm not normally nasty, but it'll be fun, turning up at her party. Although, we probably shouldn't since we weren't invited, after all."

"No," Buffy said, thinking. "She made fun of me last night, and one good turn deserves another."

"I hear nothing," Joyce said. "I'm a responsible adult and would be responsible for stopping you if I did hear something."

"Gotcha," Xander said, taking the finished popcorn from the microwave and shaking some icing sugar over it.

"Let's go finish that movie," Buffy said.

As the three sat down, a thought struck Xander. "Hey, how about we all go as pirates from Treasure Island?"

"Sure, it should be nice and cheap," Willow pointed out.

"I bags Long John Silver!," Buffy said.

"Hey!," Xander complained. "Long John is a guy."

"I'm Billy Bones, then," Willow said.

"I don't get it," Xander said. "You're gonna go as greasy, hard drinking pirates?"

"Why not?," Buffy said. "It's about time we saw some girl pirates to even things up."

"You couldn't even pick a good costume for me!"

"Okay," Willow said. "How about a cointoss? Heads we pick yours, tails we don't?"

Willow saw an opportunity for mischief and fun.

"Sure," Xander said, pulling out a twenty cent piece and flipping it. "Oh darn... heads it is."

"Hang on a moment," Buffy said, dragging back some semblance of command. "Wills, let's discuss this a moment."

Xander wasn't sure he liked this anymore. He kept hearing whispers from the two girls.

"...He'll hate...drow? Who?...deceptic...drac...Mob?...Pew?..."

Finally, the two turned around.

"Okay, Xander," Buffy said. "We've decided."


"You're going as an incubus," Willow said with a naughty grin. "Horns, wings, hotness, the lot."

"Okay, it'll make everyone laugh if nothing else," Xander said resignedly. "But do I really have to go as something I'll hate if you two go as something you'll like?"

Buffy, he knew, wouldn't care about that. But... one, two three...

"Uh... sorry, Xander, maybe," Willow began.

"Good! Great! You'll go as a vampire," Xander began, before trailing to a halt at the horror on Willow's face. "Uh, a vampire elf?"

Willow's face lifted a bit at the elf comment. "I don't wanna be a demon!"

"Okay," Buffy said. "So don't. You're an elf that got caught by the Vampire Lestat, or something."

"How's the movie going?," Joyce asked, entering the lounge.

"Oh, yeah!," the three realised. "MOVIE!"


The next day, Principal Snyder caught the three of them for kiddy escort duty. They were not happy campers.

"Great," Buffy fumed. "There goes my party time."

"Well, at least we'll piss him off," Xander said. "I will, at least."

"How?," asked Buffy.

"I go shirtless, looking hot, with batwings and horns," Xander said. "He'll be pissed."

"That decides it," General Buffy decided.

"Decides what?," Willow asked.

"Xander, you've been ordered as to your uniform. Willow, you'll be an undead temptress vampire elf," General Buffy ordered. "Me, I'll go as..."

"Buffy the Snake Woman," Xander grinned lecherously.


"Er, it was in one of Giles' books," Xander admitted. "This totally hot snake lady. Scales, forked tongue, and..."

He trailed off as he realised he was still talking to two girls.

"Will it annoy Snyder?"

"Hell yeah."

"What about if we get detention, or expelled?," Willow worried.

"I get Giles to put the screws onto that troll," Buffy decided. "Now come on, we've got to nick one of Giles' books on those snake women. And one on incubi."

"Okay," Willow said. This concept was starting to grow on her. "I'm gonna dye my hair blue, so that no one recognises me at all."

"Awww! But--"

"Xander! She can do what she wants. Now, I want you to distract Giles while we take the books."

Chapter 2

"Okay," Xander said to his two co-conspirators, "wish me luck."

With that, he sauntered into the Library, looking for Giles. He found the aging Englishman stacking books on a shelf at the back of the raised section.

"Hey, G-man," Xander said.

"Don't call me that, Xander," Giles said out of habit. "What can I do for you?"

"I'm doing kiddy escort duty tonight for Snyder," Xander explained, "and I need ideas for a costume. Could I borrow some of your books, go as a demon or a black mage or something? You know, as an attempt to make this kinda less painful than it already is."

The Californian was pretty sure that the Watcher would have a hissy fit at this.

"A-A-Absolutely not!," Giles sputtered. "My books are for research in, into demons and vampires! Not for teenagers to use as fashion inspiration!"

Behind Giles, Xander could see Willow and Buffy sneaking into his office.

"You sure?," Xander asked. "I wanna dress as something different to everybody else."

"There are plenty of things you could costume yourself as," Giles said, frowning slightly. "Here."

He pulled a book by H Rider Haggard from the shelf. "You could go as Allan Quartermain, for instance. A hunter and adventurer into the darkest parts of unknown Africa."

"That guy from the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen?," Xander asked. He wasn't really interested in anything Giles had to offer -- he doubt G-man would want to piss off Snyder. "I didn't know you read comic books."

"Er, you what?," Giles blinked. "This is a wellknown book, a classic, and existed long before any comic books."

"You mean you haven't experienced the joy that is the American comic?," Xander asked, genuinely horrified. He was glad he had been volunteered as the distraction -- he hadn't known that Giles was so desperately deprived. "Look, I've got some old issues of the Uncanny X-men. I'll bring them tomorrow for you to read, okay? Heck, I've even got a copy of From Hell --I'm sure you'd get a kick out of that."

Giles didn't really want to read any comic books, but also didn't want to be rude to Xander and alienate him. "Er, alright. But please bear in mind what I said about my books and costumes?"

"Gotcha," Xander said, saluting him. "Well, I'm off to Ethan's Costume Shoppe, then. Thanks for the advice!"

Giles waved back as the teenager left the Library. "But I really didn't offer that much advice..."


"Miss Edith needs her tea."

Spike's head turned from a videotape of the Slayer in action. He always had time for his Drusilla.

"C'mere, poodle."

"Do you love my insides? The parts you can't see?"

"Eyeballs to entrails, my sweet. That's why I've got to study this Slayer. Once I know her I can kill her. And once I kill her you can have your run of Sunnyhell. Get strong again."

"Worry... everything is switching. Outside to inside. They're all on their side..."

"Really? Did my pet have a vision?"

"Do you know what I miss? Leeches."

"Come on, talk to daddy. What is this thing?"


"Tonight's Halloween. Nothing happens on Halloween."

"Someone's come to change it. Someone new."


Ethan Rayne frowned as another puerile American brat bought yet another rubber demon mask. Really, none of these plebians had any imagination at all. He was, frankly, surprised that this country managed to put a man on the moon and develop Teflon.

He looked up as a boy and two girls accosted him. Rayne obediently put a charming smile on his face. Perhaps they wouldn't be quite so shallow.

"How can I help?," he asked.

"We're looking for some parts for our costumes, and they're... unusual," the short blonde said. She had the air of a leader about her.

"I'm looking for some me-sized batwings, horns, tail, leather pants," the boy said.

His imagination boggled. "Might I enquire as to what you're wishing to appear as?"

"An incubus, kinda like this one."

The boy pulled a dusty old tome out of his bag, opening it to a large picture of an incubus, dressed in leather pants and very little else.

"Well, well...," Ethan said. "This has been the most interesting request I've had all day."

"So you can't do it?," the boy asked, dejected.

"Not at all," Ethan replied. "I can do it indeed. In fact, I'm willing to give you a discount for making my day interesting. If I might ask, where did you get that book?"

"We kinda borrowed it from Giles," the blonde said nervously.

"Giles?," Ethan asked. Surely not...

"Rupert Giles," the redhead answered. "The school librarian. He's kinda into this demony stuff."

Oh, this was too rich. "Ah, Giles is an old friend of mine. I insist upon a discount for friends of his."

"Cool!," the blonde said. "I'm after some bodypaint, red contacts. I want to look like snake lady here."

She turned the book to another picture, of a scaled woman with slitted eyes and forked tongue.

"And I want some fangs, and pointy ear things," the redhead asked. When Ethan turned to look at her, she reddened. "I'm going as an elf that Lestat caught up with... and I'll be quiet now."

Lestat... oh. That series of books. Well, another type of vampire in Sunnydale should make things interesting. "Give me half a minute, and I'll get those items for you."

He ducked out to the back room, taking the opportunity to strengthen the spells on the items they wanted by about a hundred times. Ethan had never quite forgiven Ripper for abandoning him for the Watchers.

And one good turn deserves another.


Later that night found the three getting changed at Buffy's house.

"Come on," Buffy shouted at her mum's guestroom door. "If me and Willow are going around in bikinis, you can go around in leather pants."

Xander opened the door. Wow... Buffy hadn't realised that Xander had developed muscles.

"Wow...," Buffy said. "What's the problem?"

Xander held up the two leathery wings. "I can't glue these on -- they go right where I can't reach."

"Okay," Buffy sighed. "I'm coming in."

Xander stood in the middle of the room, watching Buffy's actions through the mirror on the dresser. She opened the tube of glue, then sneezed.

"Fumes much? I don't believe this."

"Well, it's no good if they fall off," Xander reasoned. "Thank God the tail is sewn to the pants."

"I dunno," Buffy said as she applied liberal amounts of glue to Xander's back, and to where the wings anchored onto his back. "If the bottom half of you looks half as good as the top half, I wouldn't mind."

"Ha, ha," Xander said slowly. "Xander Harris, free peepshow to Slayers."

Buffy smacked his leatherclad butt once, lightly. "You better believe it. Now hold still while this glue sets."

He obediently remained motionless as Buffy held the wings in place. "Does your mother know about this?"

"Nope," Buffy replied. "I think that she still thinks we're going as pirates."

"Well, that explains why we're getting away with this," Xander said. "If Snyder was any more intelligent than he is, he'd be making us dress as what he wanted us to."

"Okay, the glue's set," Buffy said. She pulled on one of the wings experimentally, to see if it was attached firmly.

"Ow!," Xander complained. "You're pulling at the skin on my back when you do that."

"Sorry," Buffy said, quite obviously not sorry. "Well, you've done your horns yourself."

And so he had. The short, two inch long horns poked through his fringe of hair at the front, having used the same glue. The effect was quite demonic, and also quite hot -- if it wasn't for the fact he wasn't setting off her Slayer scope, she'd probably either be attempting to chat him up or kill him.

"You guys done?," Willow asked, entering the room. She was dressed in tight black pants and a bikini. Her hair was dyed blue, and she had attached the ear tips and the fangs. Her face was also quite pale.

"Wow, looking good Wills," Xander said, giving her a thumbs up. "But how did you get your face so pale?"

Willow's mouth fell open as she looked at Xander with all his costume on. "Wow... that is so cool, Xander."

"Talc powder," Buffy answered. "You'd be seeing a face as red as her normal hair other wise. I'm pretty much done."

The Slayer was wearing the same clothes as Willow, and had a pair of fangs as well. Her skin was painted green, with lines indicating snake scales. The effect was quite good.

"Are you three ready to go?," Joyce called from the kitchen.

Chapter 3

"Yeah, Mrs S," Xander yelled down to Buffy's mum. "We'll walk there ourselves!"

"Okay," Joyce replied. "Come down here so I can take some photos of you!"

The three looked at each other in panic.

"Oh crap," Xander groaned.

"Ummm... we blame it on Snyder?," Willow asked.

"Works for me," Buffy said. "Let me do the talking."

The three went down, Buffy first.

"Hi, Xander... good grief!," Mrs Summers shrieked. "What on earth are you dressed as?!"

"He's going as... an incubus," Buffy said. "Principal Snyder made it a theme night. Demons and vampires."

"Really?," Mrs Summers said. "Well, you are at the age for rebellion, and according to the books I'm supposed to be supportive. So I encourage you, but I also want it noted that I don't approve of Xander going shirtless."

The three grinned in relief.

"You're walking, then? Xander, are you sure you're okay going barefoot?"

"Sure, Mrs S," Xander grinned.

"Well, okay," she said, taking photographs of the three. "Have fun!"



"WHAT THE HELL DO YOU THINK YOU'RE DOING?!," Principal Snyder shrieked. "DETENTION! Detention for the rest of your unnatural lives!"

Xander grinned. "Thanks!"

"Don't be insolent to me, Harris! I'll make sure that your parents hear of this!"

Big deal. His parents were as good at parenting as Homer Simpson was at being a safety inspector.

"And as for you, Summers! You'll be out of here so fast your head will spin!"

"Watch me weep, Snyder," Buffy said.

The short man turned to Willow. "Rosenberg, you've been an exemplary student up until now. I'm going to assume that these two have dragged you down with them. I'm quite frankly disappointed."

He drew himself up to his full five feet of height. "Now, I don't want to see your misshapen hides for the rest of the night! Out! I'll find someone else to escort the children!"

"Fine, fine," Xander said. "I can tell when I'm not wanted. You have no... appeal... at all."

Snyder just about popped a vein at this. "GET! OUT!"

The three sauntered down the hallway. Cordelia, in a cheap cat costume, stopped them along the way.

"My God, who are you three?," Queen C asked.

"Take a guess," Buffy grinned.

"I have no idea... where DID you get those costumes?"

"I'm X," Xander said, "she's B, and she's W."

He hugged his two friends around their waists. Cordelia's mouth dropped.

"I can't believe that I think that Xander Harris is HOT!"

Willow pushed Cordy's jaw back up. "We were planning on kinda crashing your party, but it looks like you're stuck with looking after rugrats. We'll go partyseeking elsewhere."

"I heard that the Engineering postgrads've got something set up," Buffy said. "Later, Queen C!"

Cordelia screamed as the three left her standing in the hallway, a gathering crowd of Cordettes watching. "I'VE BEEN UPSTAGED!"

A velvet cat costume doesn't hold a candle to leather pants, batwings, and horns.

Especially when your once-followers are drooling over the shirtless, leatherclad demon.


Xander put his thumbs in his pant's beltloops as they walked along.

"Man, did you see his face?," Xander asked. "Buffy, we should have borrowed your mum's camera."

"What about our records?," Willow asked. "I don't know if we should have done it..."

"Well, it's too late now to worry about that," Buffy pointed out. "Let's go have fun and crash that party."


It was about then that Ethan Rayne completed his spell to Janus, causing people to transform into their costumes.

One thing that must be understood about Rayne is that he was a worshipper of chaos, and as such had no real interest in the repercussions of his actions. He put a random amount of energy into each costume, save the three he sold to Xander, Buffy, and Willow.

Normally, the person dressed as the incubus would be a rather young incubus, unpowerful and insignificant. Xander transformed into a millenia old demon, aged and still appearing youthful. Power radiated from his every pore, attraction and charisma flowing like water. His wings flapped themselves once, settling into a more comfortable position. Round pupils slit themselves down the middle, irises lightening to amber.

Willow's change was only mildly more powerful than normal. All she had bought from Ethan's was the false fangs, and the hair dye.

Buffy, on the other hand... her bodypaint covered her entirely from head to toe. She fell to the ground, writhing in agony. Normally, the body was unaffected by the spell, but the hundredfold empowerment by Rayne changed that. Four extra arms grew from her torso, her bikini breaking and falling off. The Slayer's legs fused together, melting into a long snake tail.

As one, the three beings rose from the ground and looked around distrustfully.


Ethan collapsed, gasping, to the floor. His hair went pure white as he reached for a chair, pulling himself back up.

"That... that was invigorating. Must've put more power into those three than I'd anticipated.


Mayor Wilkins got up from his desk, moving to look out the window. He'd just felt a burst of immeasurable power, and could feel that two True Demons had been summoned by some fashion.

"Well... someone hasn't been playing nicely."

Now he'd have to banish the two new demons. Bother.


˜Where am I?,˜ the six-armed Marilith demanded telepathically. ˜Who dared summon me?˜

"I could ask the same question," the incubus groaned. He managed to look sexy even when disorientated. "Vampire? Did you?"

The blue haired elf shook her head. "No, not I. I have been banished to the Abyss for a year, and this town... I have never seen it's like.

The Marilith was greatly annoyed. She had been enjoying a rest in her palace, a brief reprieve from her duties as a General of Hell. Now some impertinent, two bit sorcerer had disturbed her. She immediately decided to take control of the situation.

˜Incubus, do you wish to come with me, as consort?,˜ she asked. Normally, she would flat out demand his fealty, but one did not order a millenia old Demon like a peasant, or even a Knight.

As for the incubus, he had no illusions of surviving the Marilith's wrath should he refuse. There was also the bonus that the energy that she would expend in sex would supercharge him, and empower him for a long time.

"I will," he said, daring to touch the Greater Demon. She appeared a moment as if she would destroy him where he stood, before his skilful fingers caressed her bosom and torso. "If you would have me."

˜Excellent,˜ the Marilith said. ˜We need to establish a base of operations, first, then consolidate my grip of the area.˜

The elf turned away.

"I search for flesh," she said, running her hands up and down her body. "Some mortal to warm mine."

The Marilith looked at the incubus. "Do you want her?"

"No," the incubus said, shaking his head. "She has no life to her. Go, vampire. Corrupt to your heart's content."


Giles' head shot up. His fingers spasmed in shock, sending index cards flying as his almost atrophied magic senses went haywire.

"What in Hell..."

The only thing he could think of that would set his alarm bells ringing so was a demon of some sort, and a highly powerful one. He ran out the door, to see two foot tall demons running around. The sharpwitted watcher instantly recognised the images to be those of the masks that the children had been wearing.

"Who would have the nerve to..."

He stopped talking, making a mental connection. Xander had said, 'I'm off to Ethan's Costume Shoppe.'


Ethan Rayne, Giles was prepared to bet. This whole thing stank of his old friend.

He picked up a bat from the weapons cage, then took a business card to the little shop. Time for a little chat with his old friend.

Chapter 4

Spike walked down the thronged streets of Sunnydale, watching the panicked citizens run from demons. He stuck a foot out, tripping up an overweight businessman, and watched as the red-faced devil ripped the screaming man's intestines out.

"This... this is just fun," he said, a silly grin on his face. "I think I like this change."

"Change? This is beauty," a strange voice said, winding tendrils of love and lust around Spike's withered heart.

The vampire whirled around, duster rising into the air somewhat. He looked the other demon up and down -- wings, horns, tail... the leather pants were the real giveaway, however.

"Well, well, well...," the British vampire said. "Been awhile since I've seen a demon like you, mate."

The incubus smiled, showing long fangs. "I've been around for awhile... just not here. Where is the nearest party?"

"Straight down there," Spike said, pointing with a cigarette. "Hang on a tick, and I'll round up a posse and join you."

The incubus moved faster than a lightly electrocuted cat at this, grabbing the vampire's neck. His long, sharp fingernails began to gently dig into Spike's dead flesh, unbreakable sharpness meeting decaying flesh.

"I won't have you interfering with my fun, halfbreed," the true demon said lightly. Under that light tone, a core of steel could be felt. "Go to the seer -- my Lady shall have instruction for you."

Spike coughed out of habit as the incubus dropped him. It turned it's back on him, displaying contempt at Spike that the vampire wouldn't be able to harm it even when looking the other way.

Of course, Spike did as he was ordered. That Incubus felt ancient to his demonic senses, and truly powerful. The thought that someone like that was taking orders from another demon...

Spike, with his sink-or-swim opportunistic tendencies, went straight back to Dru.


The Bronze was packed, on Halloween. Given the night, people dressed up as something other than what they were and abandoned their morals while hidden behind their facade. A tall figure strode through the entrance, clad in leather pants, strongly defined torso bare to the world.

The Incubus paused, watching the small groups of humans -- fodder, flesh, meals -- dance. He wanted to have fun tonight.

He ordered a vodka at the bar, turning the human's mind easily. The pulse of sexual energy that the Marilith had given off once he aroused her would suffice for a night's hunting, and quite good hunting. He could afford to waste energy where he would normally pay for something.

The Incubus could take what he wanted by force, but humans tended to band together in ever increasing packs once they discovered a threat. Quite annoying.

He smirked, sipping the distilled alcohol, as he watched a group of four innocent females dancing on the floor, dressed in fake horns and bikinis. Oh, if they had any idea... to make them even more tempting, they were pure virgins one and all. Quite rare, in his experience, in this day and age.

Dancing over to the four, he introduced himself. The girls complimented him on his costume, while he reciprocated. Quickly sliding underneath their conscious mind, he easily aroused their sexes, then made them more... aware... of him. He expended very little energy doing this long-practiced act.

Soon, one of them offered to take him to their flat for a coffee. How common... coffee.

He accepted, but once they got out to the alleyway outside the Bronze, he struck, increasing their drive until they were aware of little else except for the fact that he was still clad in his leather pants.

The four girls quickly, almost desperately, stripped him of that before the five went down in a writhing ball of demonic and human flesh.

Hell, he loved his life.


Spike opened the door to the warehouse -- quietly, he didn't want to spook whatever was powerful enough to have an ancient sex demon as a servant --and made his way to the main chamber. Noisily.

He had no illusions of sneaking in if he were to be quiet; the noise just indicated non-hostility. Non-sneakiness, at the least.

He stopped as soon as he set foot in the doorway.

"Bloody hell, ducks," he whispered. "Dru!"

The Marilith looked over from where she had two of her hands on either side of a Polgaran demon's head. Sparks could be seen arcing from them.

˜You will serve me,˜ the Demon demanded telepathically.

"Sure, sure, I'll serve you, milady," Spike said hurriedly. If the Marilith took offense to him, he'd have the half-life of a snow flake in a blast furnace. "Any way you wish, you name it, I'll do it."

˜Sit, and look after the Seer,˜ the six-armed snake woman said.

Spike carefully sat by his pale beauty, holding her cold hands in his icy ones.

"Dru, love, are you okay?," he whispered. He had little use for love or any soft emotions at all -- except when it came to his Dru.

"The Lady's come," Drusilla sang, "and we shall have rock cakes and China Black tea!"

"Wonderful, luv," Spike said, prodding her along.

"Soon, we'll see the Wizard," Dru whispered to him, as if her sentence was a horrific secret, "and he'll try and hurt us, and send us, and make us his own!"

Spike hugged Dru, who tugged at her lower lip with her left index finger. A forlorn expression painted her gaunt face.

"I'll stop any Wizards from hurtin' you, ducks."

˜Organise a perimeter,˜ the Marilith ordered him. ˜Izath will maintain watch over the Seer.˜

Spike paused on his way out, seeing a blue haired vampire with pointed ears cavorting with two mortal youths on a pile of silken sheets. She had scratched bloody artwork on their backs, twining vines, but the two males ignored the painful designs as they pounded into her from front and back.

"Times like this'd give Angelus wet dreams for a decade," he muttered as he started ordering the vampires, Polgarans, and a Mohran demon that the Marilith had conscripted.


Giles entered the strangely silent costume shop, moving straight to the back room.

"Janus. Roman mythical God."

"The division of self. Chunky and creamy," a small, hoarse voice said from the corner.

Giles spun around to see his old mate Ethan, slumped back in a chair. Whatever the reprobate had done, it had obviously taken a lot out of him. His hair had gone white, he could barely lift his head...


"Hello, Ripper," Ethan said, in a quiet act of defiance. Reminding Giles of who he had once been.

"Hello, Ethan."

"What? No hug? Aren't you pleased to see your old mate, Rupert?"

"This whole stunt stinks of Ethan Rayne."

"Yes, it does, doesn't it? Don't wish to blow my own trumpet, but it's genius. The very embodiment of be careful what you wish for."

"It's sick, brutal and it harms the innocent."

"So says Ripper, keeper of all that is holy and sacred to God."

"Break the spell, Ethan. Then leave this place and never come back."

Ethan grinned humourlessly. "If you can stand the backlash, break the statue. You'd better be prepared for the mother of all of Zeus'es lightning bolts, however."

Chapter 5

Willy's Alibi was packed. Nights like tonight, a dishonest demon got depressed going out. You couldn't tell the guests apart from the party favours, and no one wanted a pissed off black witch after them. In an attempt at joviality, the rat-like bartender had hung black cardboard bats from the ceiling and put a grinning pumpkin on a table.

So far, five bats had been ripped down and set alight on top of the hollow gourd.

The door slammed open, provoking an unintelligable mumble from a fledgeling vampire near it.

"Close the door behind you," Willy said without looking up from a beer he was pulling.

˜Silence, human, before I use your soul to floss my teeth,˜ the newcomer said, speaking directly into the bartender's mind.

Half the occupants were looking at the Marilith with stunned disbelief, planning how to get the hell out of the Hellmouth, while the other half were trying to figure out who the hell this snake chick was, and why the first half was so panicked.

"Who the hell is that skan--," a fledgeling vampire said, before his sire banged his head into the bar.

"Shaddup, before you get us both dusted," the sire hissed. "We're housecats, she's a Siberian Tiger, get my drift?"

The Marilith smiled. ˜Congratulations, you've been conscripted. Go to the Seer, where I will give you further instruction. Get all your friends and fellow demons.˜

Two demons rose from their table, weapons in hand, lethal intent clear. The Marilith pointed at them with two of her left arms, killing them instantly with crackling bolts of darkness.

A ghostly visage rose from both, screaming silently. They were visibly pulled towards the Marilith, who ate the two spirits with visible pleasure.

˜Go. Now. I won't be so merciful to the next who disobeys me.˜


At the Bronze, the incubus re-entered the club. The four humans staggered in behind him, exhausted. Their clothes were dishevelled, and silly grins painted their faces.

The rumours on the dance floor were ignited at the sight of the four girls in such a state, following behind the man in the demon costume who was now streaked with with some sort of fluid here and there. Saliva, some said. Something far more private of the girls, others said.

The Incubus' greatly increased aura of charm and charisma wrapped around the building. He had four minds subjugated to his own, under complete control. Time for more.


A sleek, black limousine pulled up outside the warehouse where the Marilith had established her base of operations. Currently, the snake demon was still out intimidating nests of lesser demons.

The Honourable Richard Wilkins the Third got out of the expensive vehicle, flanked by two vampire bodyguards. There was a disquieting amount of demons and vampires here; what on earth was Spike up to now?

Before he got within a meter of the building, Spike had left it to talk to him.

"Why, hello, Spike! So good to see you again," the Mayor said.

"Er, good to see ya," Spike said. He decided to delay the Mayor so that the Marilith could deal with him.

"You wouldn't happen to know anything about that burst of power that was here for a few hours?," the Mayor asked.

"Well, she'll be back soon, if you want to wait," Spike offered. "Dru's made some tea."

"Splendid," the Mayor said, following the British vampire into the warehouse. "I hope she's learnt to wash the crockery before and after --good hygiene is so important, don't you think?"

"Dru, luv," Spike called out as they entered the main chamber, "Mayor Wilkins's come to visit!"

"Oh!," the child-like vampiress exclaimed, clapping her hands together. "The Wizard! We've going to see the Wizard!"

"Very good to see you again," Wilkins said, a smile on his face. He always had time for his constituents. "I understand you've made some tea?"

Spike's mind worked furiously. The Wizard, Dru'd called the Mayor. She's said something about a Wizard earlier, that the ponce would 'try and hurt us, and send us, and make us his own!' Normally singleminded focussed on self-preservation, the bleached vampire only had one blindspot. Dru's preservation overriding his own.

"Give him the special tea, ducks," Spike said, giving 'special' a twist that Angelus would have used. "None of the crap we give to the minions."

"Marvellous! Would you like some as well, Miss Edith?," Drusilla asked the space next to her. Turning to the Mayor conspiratorilly, she added, "Miss Edith would take all the tea and teamakers in China if you'd let her!"

"How charming," Wilkins said. "Did you have another visitor earlier?"

"Yes, yes, yes... the Lady came," Dru smiled, mind a million miles away.

A moan of passion rose from the silken sheets in the corner. Wilkins delicately ignored it, as well as the tang of blood and semen that drifted from there.

"Were there any other visitors?," Wilkins asked.

Drusilla nodded.

"The one from the ice and snow came as well, but she's not very lady like at all," the gaunt vampiress said with disapproval. "If she isn't a bad cat, she won't get any cream!"


Giles tried picking up the bust, in an attempt to throw it as far as possible from him. The aging man failed miserably. He put it down, carefully, on the table.

"Damn you, Ethan Rayne!"

"Why, so I am already."

Chapter 6

"Still using cheap, bargain basement plaster busts?," Giles asked Ethan conversationally. He picked up a loaded crossbow that Ethan had by his door -- Ethan knew exactly what he had opened shop on top of. The crossbow was large, and heavy. By the look of it, the bolt had some manner of explosive in the hollow shaft, a length of green Visco fuse trailing from the end of it.


"Whatever works, old boy," Ethan replied. "You know that."

Giles walked out the door into the shop, ripping down the curtain dividing it from the back room. Ethan getting an inkling of what Ripper was up to, got up from his chair, crawling out of the room. The Watcher lit the fuse attached to the bolt, then levelled the crossbow at the bust and fired.

The bolt whizzed across the intervening gap. Giles, used to normal, unexplosive, unloaded bolts had aimed a little low and the bolt had driven itself into the pedestal holding the bust on the table.

That worked.

Ethan watched with horror as the high explosive in the bolt exploded, sending shards of wood through the already fragmenting plaster of paris bust of Janus. The eerie power contained in it exploded outwards, ripping the hanging tapestries in the back room to shreds and then alighting them. The wave of pressure from the combined magical/explosive detonation rolled through the door into the front shop area, sending Giles reeling.

A creak announced that the old shop hadn't really liked that, and was about to seriously object.

Giles grabbed Ethan by his shirt collar and ran out the door, as Ethan scrabbled to keep up to avoid being choked or left behind by a Giles that could no longer drag bodies. He held the watcher's wrath to be a pittance besides the permanent state of death by being crushed.

The watcher reloaded the crossbow with a normal bolt held on the undercarriage of the crossbow. He held his foot on Ethan's throat while he cocked it, then levelled it downwards.

"Now," Giles said. "I've seen little children--less than ten years of age!-- ripping their parent's apart in a sickening manner that I hadn't seen for years, and had hoped to never see again. I've seen worse, too, and it's all thanks to Ethan Rayne. If you dare run from me, you'll wish you'd stayed for me to hand you to the Council."

While Giles was normally a pacifistic man, leaving fighting to the Slayer and even then only the undead and the demonic, he couldn't leave such a slippery, evil man to law enforcement.


Willow regained control of the body of the Elven vampiress, and almost immediately wished she hadn't.

Two boys were screwing her. In public. In both her front door, and her back door. In front of Spike and Drusilla.

Life could get no worse for her, at that point. She sure was feeling good, for some reason, though.

"The bad little kitty cat has left us," Drusilla said, disappointed. "Spikey, make her come back!"

The British vampire's head shot around to look directly at the pile of silken sheets, as did Mayor Wilkins. True to Dru's words, the bluehaired vampiress engaging in sex was reacting far, far differently now than she was half a minute ago. Spike strode over to the pile, and ripped the boy on top off and out of the blue haired woman, then ripped the woman off the boy below her. The bottom youth cried out in pain, as his organ was forced to exit painfully.

A shame that that delicious blood flowing from their bloody designs on their backs were marred by the discharges that seemed smeared over all three of them.

"What the hell's going on here?," Spike snarled.

Willow, alone in a strange place, with strange sensations going through her torso, reacted in a predictable manner.

She kicked Spike in the balls, with all of her semi-vampiric strength, and made a break for it.


The Marilith had been moving through the sewers to a nest of insect-like demons when she changed back to the Slayer. The power contained in the Greater Demon drained into the ground, as four of her arms were sucked back into her torso and her long tail shortened, melting back into two legs.

Once again, Buffy was a human Slayer with body paint, eye contacts, and fangs. Minus two things.



Xander's awakening was far more pleasant.

He regained control to find himself screwing Cordelia Chase, with Harmony Kendall presenting some of her most private parts for his inspection and delection. A brief check of his memories showed himself doing this to most of the female party-goers at the Bronze.

He did have a few questions, though. Why was he feeling so great, and energetic? Why wasn't Queen Cordelia and the Cordette screaming bloody rape?

And why wasn't anyone objecting to them doing this on a sofa inside the Bronze itself?

Chapter 7

Giles frogmarched Ethan back to the Library at crossbow-point, shackling him to the bookcage with some manacles and locking the bookcage door. After considering matters, he decided that the best place to begin his search for his charges would be the Bronze, then randomly walking the routes that Principal Snyder had assigned the primary school escorts. He distinctly remembered his charges as being rather upset with Snyder for volunteering them.

This time, he remembered to bring a stake, and a cross.

As he drove through Sunnydale, he found he had to go slowly. People were panicking, running across the street. Passing the Industrial part of town that housed the warehouses, a blue-haired vampiress lacking any clothes ran up to his car, banging on the window. In a way, it was quite comical, as she was attempting to cover her private parts while also banging on his car window. He held up his cross, then wound the window down cautiously.

"Giles! Man, am I glad to see you!," the vampiress said. She had an uncanny resemblance to someone he knew...

"Er, might I ask who are you?," Giles asked.

"Willow! I'm Willow! Giles, have you got any spare clothes?"

"Before I do, do you have any proof that you are in fact Willow?"

The vampiress scowled at him. "Moloch was an ass, and I dumped his ass. Clothes, *please*?"

This was pretty good proof. Jenny's circle of technopagans, or whatever they were called, were the only ones to know about Moloch the Corruptor. Giles gave her the change of clothes he routinely carried in the back -- a pair of pants, and a T-shirt. Willow had to roll the pant legs up.

Giles looked her up and down once she had dressed. "Well, I'm quite surprised at you. Where are the other two?"

"Uhhhh," Willow began, thinking hard. It was quite hard to remember parts of the night, although other parts were quite clear in her mind. Pity. "I think that Xander's at the Bronze, and Buffy was roaming Sunnydale."

"Well, we'd best get Xander," Giles said.


Xander was having the time of his life. All these girls, wanting him, and for some reason he just kept going and going. His conscience was getting down on him, though.

He got up from the sofa, gently putting Amy to one side, and pulled on his leather pants as best he could. Then he got a shock.

The tail was still attached. After an experimental flap, he discovered the wings were too. Another brief check revealed that he still had the horns, and his fingernails were still long, and iron hard.


"I hope I don't come across Buffy in a dark alley," Xander muttered.

Cordelia wrapped herself around him. "C'mon, don't you wanna have some more fun?"

"Sorry, places to go, things to do, librarians to get killed by," Xander quipped. "You go have fun with your friends."

As Xander the Incubus left the Bronze, the spell slowly left the people in there, and they collectively agreed within a quarter of an hour that no one would ever speak of that Halloween again.

"Hey, G-man," Xander yelled, waving to a distinctive crappy car that was rapidly becoming infamous. "Over here!"

Xander soooo hoped that Giles would write off his appearance as a costume.

The Englishman pulled up next to Xander on the sidewalk, and Giles got out.

"Good Lord, Xander, what are you covered with? Why on earth are you costumed as an incubus, of all things?"

Wow. He hadn't realised he was covered with... fluid. Yeah. That was a decent euphemism for now. "Got a towel, Giles?"

Giles got one out of the boot of his car, careful not to touch Xander as he handed it over. "Please, keep it. I mean that."

His pants were relatively unsullied, but the rest of him was coated in... fluid.


Buffy was having a really bad night. She'd planned to have fun pissing off Snyder, then going to the Bronze with Xander and Wills to have fun partying. Instead, she found herself wandering the sewer system of Sunnydale with way-gross memories that she'd much rather forget.

"Human! Die!," she heard, followed by a brilliant blue orb of fire rolling past her. The Slayer turned around, giving the demon a really nice display.

"What the hell do YOU want?," she demanded. Great. It was one of those stupid magic demons Giles hated.

It threw another fireball at her which, to her surprise, rolled harmlessly past her.

"Wow, you run outta gas?," Buffy teased. A lightning bolt did nothing except tickle her.

The demon swore, then ran for it. It didn't get far before Buffy caught up to it and dismembered it.

"Okay, feeling much of the better now," Buffy announced to the world at large.


"Now," Giles said as he started his car back up, Xander and Willow in the back seat, "what, exactly, happened tonight?"

"Welllll," Xander said, "We were kinda pissed at Snyder, so we decided to dress up like sex demons and vampires."

"But we had nothing to do with the changing into the costumes," Willow added hurriedly. "All we know is that we rented them from Ethan's Costume Shoppe."

"I found that it wasn't your fault," Giles confirmed. "Ethan's Costume Shoppe was, in fact, run by Ethan Rayne. Ethan is an evil little toad who will shortly be taken charge of by the Watcher's Council."

"I had a pretty good night," Xander grinned.

Giles sniffed, winding down the window. "So I can smell. Willow, I sincerely hope that you're sitting on that towel as well, or the two of you will be cleaning blood, semen and other bodily fluids off my back seat. The rest of Sunnydale was not as fortunate. Several people have been ripped apart by their own possessed children."

That knocked the teenagers wordless.

"STOP!," Xander yelled, seeing something ahead with his still-slitted pupils. Giles slammed on the brakes.

A manhole cover rose from the road ahead, falling over onto the tarmac. A blonde, green painted Slayer pulled herself out of the sewer system, then looked dazedly at the headlights.

Chapter 8

Back at the Library, Giles sat Buffy down at the main table while Xander and Willow both had showers in the gym block. Ethan Rayne looked on curiously from the bookcage, as Giles made himself a cup of tea to calm himself down.

"Where, Buffy, did you learn about the creatures that you and Xander dressed as tonight?," he asked. He looked very unamused with the teenagers.

"Around," Buffy said. "I'm a Slayer, I see weird demons all the time."

"Don't be so coy," Ethan called out from the cage. "Show old Ripper that book you took from him."

"SHUT UP, ETHAN!," Slayer and Watcher yelled.

"What's this about a book?," Giles asked. His eyebrows narrowed. "Hold on a minute, you took it while Xander was asking me about costumes, weren't you? I knew that Berich's Demonologie was missing! How dare you steal one of my books?!"

Buffy shrunk into her seat defensively. "We were gonna return it!"

"That has no bearing on the matter! You stole from me!"

"Chill, G-man," Xander called out as he entered the library, drying his hair. He was still only in his leather pants, as Giles had stopped for nothing on the way back. "We didn't mean any harm."

Giles eyed Xander's wings and horns. "I take it that your costume has not returned into a costume?"

Xander's tail waved at Giles over Xander's shoulder as an answer, before his wings closed around him like a trenchcoat.

"C'mon, Willow," Buffy called out. The hacker chick sidled into the Library nervously. "I suffer, we all suffer."

"Whose idea was it anyway?," Willow demanded, temper showing for once. "You told me to go as a vampire elf!"

"You told Xander to go as an incubus!"

"Hey!," Xander complained. "You two both told me to!"

"Quiet, Mister!," Willow said.

"All of you be quiet!," Giles demanded. "This is no time for recriminations. While I would dearly love to reprimand all of you, this is not the time for that. Xander can obviously not go out in public like that, Buffy must find a way of hiding her new scales, and Willow must find a way around her newly acquired allergy to sunlight!"

"I should come here more often," Ethan slyly observed. "This is better than Coronation Street!"

"SHUT UP, ETHAN!," all of them yelled.

Buffy looked at her arm. "They're scales? It isn't bodypaint?"

"It's the new fashion," Ethan smirked.

Xander snarled, then kicked the door to the bookcage. His wings unfolded, and his foot made a large dent in the stout, thick wire composing most of the bookcage, even bare as it was. Buffy leapt from her chair over to him, restraining him.

"Shut up, you little douchebag!," Xander growled. "If it wasn't for you, none of this would have happened! Why did you do it? What do you get out of this?"

"Oh," Ethan said, waving his hand in the air dismissively, "you do this job for love, not money."

This time, it took both Buffy and Willow to restrain the angry Xander.

Giles got up from his seat, taking the cup of tea and the saucer with him. "Ethan, I suggest you stop trying to send the incubus into a passionate rage and ripping you apart. As you may not have noticed, my three charges have not changed back. Xander still has his iron hard claws and demonic strength. You, on the other hand, are an aging man with bad breath."

"I don't really wanna hold him back," Buffy said, anger flickering in her eyes too.

"I suggest you do," Giles said, "as the Watcher's Council won't be quite so lenient as us."

"Lenient?," Buffy asked.

"Merciful," Willow explained. Xander slumped back into their arms.

The new incubus held his hand up to his eyes, inspecting his new claws. "Man, I wish I looked human, at least."

To his great surprise, the claws retracted, and he felt the weight on his back disappear. Strange, the things one could get used to. The counterweight of the tail disappeared as well, and he found himself staggering forwards in surprise.

"YAAAAY!," he cheered. "Human once more!"

"How'd you do that?," Buffy asked. "Go 'I Wish'?"

She checked her hand, too.


Maybe this wouldn't be so bad, after all.


The Mayor looked around. "Well, Spike, your sponsors seem to have disappeared."

"Seems like," Spike agreed affably. "Still up for that cuppa tea?"

"It's not time for the lamia," Drusilla scolded. "He has to wait, if he wants his tea!"

Wilkins smiled. "Quite. I'm afraid I have pressing business. I take my leave, Drusilla, Spike."

"Come back to see Miss Edith and I soon," Drusilla asked.

"Of course, my dear," the Mayor smiled. "As for the rest of you, shouldn't you be getting on home? It's getting rather early for parties."

The demons and vampires that had assembled disappeared quickly, relieved that the Marilith had gone.

Chapter 9

The next day found Xander staggering out of bed, rubbing sleep out of his eyes.

"ALEXANDER!," his mum yelled. "OUT! NOW!"

"Gimme five minutes," he yelled back, feeling annoyed at his mother and wishing she'd get off his case.

"Alright, Xander," she yelled back, far more softly. "As long as you get to school on time."

That was strange -- normally she'd be screaming at him to get his lazy ass out the door. He shrugged it off, not wanting to look a gift horse in the mouth, and got dressed.

"Is Dad out jobseeking?," he asked his mother, who seemed to be recuperating from last night.

"Don't you make fun of your father like that!," she yelled at him, back to normal. "If it wasn't for him, you'd be out in the street without a home!"

Same old, same old. It was nice, in a way, to know that despite what whackiness the Hellmouth could throw up, some things would never change.


At school, the first person he came across was Cordelia, for some strange reason. Her eyes widened, her breath quickened, and she tried to avoid him.

"Hey, Cordelia," he greeted her.

"Hi, uh, I've got to go talk to some people, so, later, perhaps?," she said, almost running from him.

"Okay, someone's repressing," he said, reaching around and scratching his upper back. He hoped that he wasn't going to turn back into a demon or something -- the itchy area was right where his wings had been attached.

"I've been doing my best to forget," Willow said, coming up to him. "Thanks for reminding me."

"I see the hair dye came out, Wills, but what's with the hat and the gloves and stuff?," he asked.

It was a fair question. The short-ish redhead had a large, widebrimmed hat on, longsleeved shirt, pants, gloves... even a pair of cheap sunglassses.

"Ahhh," Xander realised, cutting off Willow's answer. "You've still got some of it too."

The hacker nodded resignedly.

"Maybe, if we're lucky, we can stay normal. As normal as people on Hellmouths get, I mean."

"We're not that lucky," Willow said morosely.

"I am Xander!," he said sternly, assuming a pose he had seen in a comic book. "The world revolves around ME!"

Willow had to laugh at that. "Okay, mister, the world might, but what about Mrs Kerbopple?"

"Crap! English!"

The Slayer caught up with them, jogging quickly. "Hey guys!"

"Hey, Buff!," Xander grinned. "How's my favourite Slayer handling? I now have elite relaxation skillz if need be!"

Buffy groaned. "I could use it. My skin feels like a million ants are crawling around underneath it. Do I look bloated? I bet I look ugly right now."

"I'd say you look like perfection, except that that would fall far short of your glory," Xander said expansively. "This is probably insensitive of me to say this, but last night didn't go toooo badly for me."

"I'm glad someone enjoyed it," Willow said. "Why couldn't I enjoy it too?"

"Because you're my pure and sweet little Will?"


In English, Buffy found it hard to sit still as her skin began to feel a size too small for her frame and muscles. Xander was getting the same feeling, while Willow was fine. (She'd taken a seat far, far away from the windows in the classroom.)

"Okay, Nelson, what are some similarities in American society to Orwell's 1984?," the teacher asked.

"One of the parallels to Victory Gin is Freedom Fries, as--," the student began, then stopped. Extremely abruptly.

The teacher didn't reprimand him for this.

As she was also extremely gobsmacked, for lack of a better word.

Buffy Summers and Xander Harris. She'd known for a long time that the two were troublemakers. But now! Now, they were stooping to contaminating the school water with hallucinogens! Possibly even that PCP substance! There was no other reason for Summers to sprout four extra arms and have her legs replaced with a long snake tail. Or for Harris to grow wings and a tail.

"Class... are you seeing what I'm seeing?," Mrs Kerbopple asked weakly.

"Yes, Mrs Kerbopple!," Nelson said excitedly.

"We must've forgotten to take our costumes off from last night," Buffy improvised.

"Yeah," Xander agreed. "We'll just go and sort this out."

"Oh... alright," Mrs Kerbopple said. Really, she should've noticed. Probably too tired. Well, at least the water was alright. "Miss Rosenberg, please escort them to the nearest bathroom."


"Really?," Giles asked. "And the two of you just changed back in class?"

"Yeah," Xander said. "Lucky us."

Chapter 10

"Really?," Giles asked. "And the two of you just changed back in class?"

"Yeah," Xander said. "Lucky us."

"Could've been worse," Willow said lightly.

"I turned into a snake demon in front of Cordelia," Buffy said flatly. "It doesn't get much worse than that."

"I could've stepped on the wrong bit of ground and caught fire," Willow said, unhappy.

Xander strode over to his old friend Willow immediately, delicately lifting her chin upwards with a finger. He was careful to avoid clawing her with his newly sprouted implements of destruction.

"You're my Wills," he said, "and I know that that Resolve Face is gonna come out soon. Kinda like a fart in a small room."

"Xander!," Willow gasped. "You're comparing me to a fart?!"

"I didn't mean it like it sounded!," he defended himself. After a moments thought, he added, "Uh, I didn't mean what I said, I meant something else."

Giles interrupted. "Gripping as this may be, we have more important pieces of trivia to mull over."

The tip of Buffy's tail raised itself from the floor, waving between Xander the Incubus and Willow the Vampire. "Yeah, like this."

"Well, we shall assume that after the two of you changed back to a human form last night, you stayed in that shape while asleep?," Giles asked.

"Sure thing, G-man," Xander said. "Trust me. If these meat knives came out while I was asleep, I would've woken up in a pile of strips of rags, rather than a few raggy sheets."

Giles nodded. "Around ten to twelve hours or so, then. The answer as to maintaining the illusion of a human shape in public would seem to be obvious -- only use it as needed, rather than using it when sleeping."

"Mum is gonna freak," Buffy predicted. "Mum is gonna freak and it's all gonna be that Ethan jerk's fault."

"Rest assured that a Council team will be taking over his care this evening," Giles said, adding to the collective dark look being shot at the sleeping chaos mage.

"I hope you've been teasing him by having English stuff like tea and crumpets in front of him," Xander smirked, "then not giving him any."

"For your information," Giles sniffed, "England is famous for things other than tea and crumpets."

"Are you sure?," Willow asked.

"They can't make a decent beer," a familiar voice said from the shadowy shelves. "If you want a decent pint, you have to go to Ireland."

"A-Angel!," Giles said. "We could have used your help last night!"

"Angel!," Buffy said, launching herself at him and wrapping her body around him. "Last night was god-awful, and me and Xander got turned into demons by an assface by the name of Ethan Rayne."

The souled vampire wheezed out an answer as Buffy, unused to her new form, constricted him with her tail and six arms. Just what he'd always wanted, to know what it was like to face down a python. Who was... hold on. He realised what the thing holding onto him was and went stiff as a board.

"Angel? Captain Hairgel?," Xander said. "Buff, he's gone dead silent on us."

Giles groaned at the horrible pun.

"Er, has anyone told him what's happened last night?," Willow asked. "Because I'm thinking that he's thinking that there's a real Marilith demony thing trying to kill him."


Once they managed to explain to Angel what had happened, the Irish vampire was lost for words.

"This was nice at first," Xander complained, "but I want to be normal again. After last night, I feel like I'm some kind of skanky man-ho."

He was curled against the end banister railing, wings spread slightly. Buffy had two of her elbows on the table, the hands for them supporting her head, with the rest of her coiled up underneath the table. Willow and Angel were standing in the shady part of the sunny library, while Giles had gotten himself another cup of tea and was paging through an old book.

"I've found the spell that Ethan used," Giles announced.

"Great, wonderful," Willow said. "How do we fix this?"

"Bearing in mind that I have nothing to do with the spell and it's details, I'm afraid that there is... no... way of reversing it, short of petitioning Janus as the sponsor god."

"Sponsor god?," Buffy asked. "He gets Ethan to wear shirts saying 'Janus' and stuff?"

"Not quite," Giles replied. "In this context, sponsor means that Janus is the deity powering the spell and thus has the final say on whether it gets reversed."

Everyone's eyes were dragged over to the somewhat battered Ethan. They hadn't been exactly gentle with him.

"I don't know about you," Xander said finally, "but if I were Janus, and you guys beat up my priesty dude, I'd tell you where to shove your petition."

Everyone sighed, deeply.

"Can't we ask some other god to do something, then?," Willow asked.

"The only gods who would fix this to spite Janus would change it to something terrible to spite us," Giles said.

"Someone remind me why those Greeks worshipped these flakes?," Xander asked.

"Janus was a Roman god," Giles corrected him.

"Whatever. Man..."

Buffy looked up from the table. "Giles, you're it."

"I beg your pardon?"

"I'm not doing it. You are."

"If I knew what you were referring to, I might be able to offer an opinion."

"There's no way I'm telling my mum about this. You're it."


"I can't believe that Harris is still like that," Harmony said.

"Believe it," Cordelia said. Reality was hard.

"Does this mean we have to be nice to the guy who dresses in the dark, now?," another Cordette asked.

"Not me," Harmony sniffed. "I wouldn't touch him if he were the last... male... on Earth."

Cordelia refused to let this opportunity go past her. "Who, exactly was shrieking 'Oh yes you sexy Hellgod, lick me right there!'"

Harmony blushed bright red. "We agreed to never talk about last night again! We swore!"

"You swore," Cordelia smirked. "I didn't. And, come on, he was good."

The Cordettes nodded, stupid grins on their faces.

"Maybe we can improve him," Mary, another Cordette, said. "You know, make him dress right, get him in a sports team."

"That's not such a stupid idea," Cordelia said. "What team? I mean, he's too nice for grid iron."

"Martial arts!," Susan said. "He'd be perfect for that, once he got some muscles on him."

"Oooh, improving on perfection...," Harmony said, drooling slightly from her stupid smile.

Chapter 11

Willow groaned as a whitehot flash of pain burnt into life as her hand reached for the doorknob. She obediently put her gloves back on, then tried that again.

This whole thing had ruined her life!

The hacker had tried to eat this morning, and had spent the next fifteen minutes over a toilet, heaving. Not fun.

At the moment, she was hoping desperately it would go away.

"Nice hat, Rosenberg," Cordelia called out from the school courtyard. "Going Goth, girl?"

"Maybe," Willow said resolutely. Her left hand reached up, making sure that the broadbrimmed hat was still perched on her head. "It's none of your business if I am."

Cordelia looked her up and down. "With your complexion, it could look good on you."

Willow was stunned at this non-hostile comment from Queen C. After gathering her senses back, she started to leave.

Harmony Kendall got up from the gaggle of Cordettes as Willow went past, and tried to knock the flat hat off Willow's hair. Quicker than a striking snake, the redhead's fingers snapped around Harmony's wrist like a shackle.

"Leave my hat alone!," Willow commanded. She was about to add 'bitch', but if word got back to her Mum...

"Chill out," Kendall muttered, going back to the Cordettes.

"My God, why didn't you just try and claw her eyes out, Harmony? You're such a bitch," Willow heard Cordelia say as she ran for the Library.


Xander wasn't sure if he was having fun, or having guilty fun.

Half the female population of the high school were coming onto him!

His problem was that it seemed to be due to his new species more than anything else. Half-remembered memories from the possessing demon whispered thoughts into his ear, of how to make them moan, how to make them writhe, how to make them scream...

A flicker of pain shot across his face at the last, thinking of the leather, and the metal, and the bl--

No! That way lies badness!, Xander reprimanded himself.

"So, have you got some...," The word 'one' hung in the air, but Cordelia continued, "thing to do later tonight?"

"Sure," Xander said, resisting the urge to rifle through her mind. His inner pervert said 'go for it!', while his conscience gave him hell. "I'm helping Buffy with something at the Library, then Bronzing it."

Queen C frowned inwardly. Dammit! Summers had beat her to that hot piece of ass! Still, she could work with this. "In a Library? There are better locations. I've got something you could help me with, if you want."

"No, thanks," Xander said obliviously. "It's kinda important."

A vision of Buffy the Marilith floated across the insides of his eyeballs for a moment. He tried to resist the strange pangs of lust that pulsed in his mind at the sight.

"Really important," he continued.

Cordelia frowned outwardly. "Want help, at all? I could ask around for you if you need something..."

"No! Ah, no," Xander said nervously. The last thing that the Scooby Gang needed was the school finding out about them. "It's kinda a private thing, you know?"

Damn Summers!, Cordelia thought to herself


The posture of someone at a table, head slumped, held up by hands, is sombre.

Even if one could not see her lower half, seeing a six-armed Buffy doing the same thing appeared creepy, even more so when one of her lower arms scratched her back, independant of the other arms.

Giles had given her a length of calico material he had had lying around, which she was using as a wrap for her breasts. It felt uncomfortable, creasing around her middle set of arms, but no way was Buffy Elizabeth Summers going naked.

Well, more naked than she was. Anything tied around her waist slipped on the scales just underneath so much that it ended up a really, really crumply belt.

The only thing preventing her dwelling on this was the hunger she felt. And it wasn't entirely for food -- the cereal she had had for breakfast had slaked a lot of that hunger, but she still felt a slight desire...

Souls. There. She'd admitted it to herself.

"It could be worse, Buffy," Giles said, trying to cheer her up.

"How?! You tell me that!," Buffy shrieked at him. Her long, long serpentine tail that grew from the waist down flicked angrily at his hands, sending the fine china cup flying. Luckily, he had drained it by now.

"You could still be possessed by the original demon," Giles pointed out. A pall of silence hung between them at that.

"If anything, you look ravishing like that," Ethan pointed out. A shoe hit his cage, which made him shut up.

Hell yeah Buffy had brought her now-superfluous shoes with her. No way was she letting Cordelia steal them.

"I can't believe that Angel ran away like that," she moped.

Giles sighed. The Irish vampire had run away rather quickly after the account of what had happened during Halloween. "I can only conjecture that his inner demon felt submissive towards the far more powerful Marilith that you are now, and he was scared of something that scared even the demon Angelus so."

"Ewww!," Buffy said. "Can you say that in a non S&M way? Because that is totally gross."

She tried to stamp down the rising feeling that Angel had been bad for trying to run away from her. How dare that lesser demon flee, rather than ask her bidding!

Chapter 12

Xander sighed as he slumped at the table, much like Buffy had earlier. He had reverted to his demonic form to conserve energy that would be otherwise used to maintain a human shape. To prevent his wings bending painfully around a chair back, Giles had managed to find a stool for him to sit on.

"My back hurts," Buffy complained. "God, I so do not need this. Giles, have you explained to my Mum about this, yet?"

"Er, no," Giles said. "I realise that you are still quite distraught with regards to the situation, but I must insist that you attempt vampire slaying tonight at the least. We cannot allow the undead population of Sunnydale to increase."

"Does your back hurt?," Buffy asked. "No. Ow!"

Xander got up, and started massaging her shoulderblades. "That better?"

"Much," Buffy sighed languidly, resting on her loose coils with hands supporting her chin above the table. "Giles?"

The Englishman took his glasses off to clean them. "I would suspect the strain of physical bodily alterations to be the culprit in this case, combined with a certain learning stage that you are probably undergoing."


"Changing from human to Marilith form hurts you."

"Oh," Buffy said. "You shoulda just said so. Mmmmmmm... hey, don't stop Xander!"

"How did you come by this sudden skill, Xander?," Giles asked curiously.

Xander blushed slightly, pointing at the wings with one hand wordlessly.

"I see. Now, after some additional research, I have found some... rather disturbing facts you may wish to avail yourself of, Xander," Giles said, pulling a demonology tome from a pile of identical appearing books.

"What's wrong now?," Xander asked.

"I'm afraid that if you wish to survive with any measure of health, you will have to acquire... sexual energy," Giles said, coughing the last two words.

"What? How do I do that?," Xander asked, continueing the massage automatically. His hands started rubbing a different pattern across Buffy's torso while his attention was directed at Giles.

"Making out, as you Americans refer to it, and the acts that making out... induce," Giles said delicately.

A low, sensual, highly erotic moan emerged from the almost comatose former Slayer. "I'll gladly help you with that, Xander..."

Both males blushed, and Xander removed his hands from her back and front torso as if she was on fire. Buffy, not really thinking straight, wound her lower body around Xander's stiffening form. Her chest rubbed against his, and her hands started exploring.

Xander looked at Giles. "A little help, before I give into myself?!"


Willow frowned as she walked to school. Night time sucked. Not that she minded not having to cover every square centimeter of skin, though.

"Are you lost?," a voice called up ahead from the darkness of the alleyway she was cutting through.

"Darn," Willow muttered, spotting Cordelia being assaulted by a vampire. Not a good, soulhaving vampire either.

The redhead pulled out a stake (compulsory equipment for friends of the Slayer), and ran forwards at an ungodly speed, quickly staking the undead American. When she turned to check on Cordelia, she got the shock of her life.

The nasty gash that the vampire had given Queen C with his untrimmed fingernails was healing at an inhuman rate, sealing up before her eyes. The only indication that Queen C had been injured at all was the dried blood left over the intact skin.

"You didn't see anything!," Cordelia commanded desperately, eyes digging into Willow's. The hacker absently noted the slitted pupils. "I knew I should have shopped at Party Town!"

"Did any other girls from your clique get changed like this?," Willow asked carefully. While Cordelia was a social enemy, she wasn't Lucifer.

"No, why me?," the cheerleader asked. "God! Weird crap keeps happening around you nutjobs! Why can't you move away so I can have a normal life like everyone else!"

Willow gritted her teeth and ignored the insults. They were the socialite's way of coping. "Look, me, Xander, and Buffy are kinda having the same problems with our costumes."

Cordelia's mouth formed an 'O' for a moment, before she regained her speech. "You mean..."

Willow nodded. Their life sucked.

Queen C drew a finger down Willow's cheek, not bothering to ask. "My God! You're going to have that complexion forever, and not grow old and wrinkly! If it wasn't for the blood and the sunlight thing, sign me up!"

The hacker sighed inwardly. "Wanna go see Giles? He should be able to help you."


When the two girls walked through the swinging double doors, it was to find Buffy trying to have sex with Xander on the library floor.

"My God!," Cordelia gasped. "Get a room, you two!"

Giles emerged from his office with a heavy duty tranquiliser gun. "Move, please."

Carefully taking aim, he tagged Buffy with a dart. The Slayer-demon collapsed in Xander's arms, and the reluctant incubus grabbed her as she collapsed. The calico wrap she had been using to cover her breasts had fallen off about half a minute into the Buffy-clinging, and he was torn between protecting her modesty, trying not to grope her, and trying to wake her up to have a go around.

"Why can't you guys have normal problems, like everybody else?," the cheerleader demanded.

"That would be so dreadfully boring," Giles said dryly. "Might I enquire as to why you have intruded upon our domain?"

"She's kinda got the same problem as us," Willow said. "Only she's some kinda were-cat, or something."

"No she isn't," Xander protested. "I was with her all that night, and I didn't notice any fur."

"Suuure you didn't," Cordelia snapped. "You were paying too much attention to your other head to notice a small thing like that!"

Chapter 13

A low groan emanated from the female snake demon in the corner as the rest of the Scooby gang talked quietly.

"Giles? What happened? My head feels like I've been sniffing Willow's spell components," Buffy groaned.

"You were getting rather... insistant with Xander that he engage in certain activities with you," Giles said carefully.

"Oh? Oh!," Buffy said intelligently. A thought occured to her. "How about those vamps? Yeah, I'll go on patrol while you go explain things to my Mum."

"What? But, Buffy, she is," Giles began, giving up as the Slayer easily transformed into a human appearance then ran out the door with a stake in hand.

"Denial," Xander sighed.

"Speaking of denial, why was Summers trying to screw you on the Library floor?," Cordelia demanded. Everyone looked at her. "What?! She was sooo trying to do the horizontal mambo with you, Harris."

Xander groaned and hid his face in his hands.

"I'm afraid that Xander has contracted a rather serious problem from his transformation," Giles hedged.

"Problem schmoblem. I have serious trouble with facial hair if I sneeze," Cordelia snapped.

"His problem is a touch more serious," Giles said, pushing his glasses up the bridge of his nose from where they had slipped. "Mr Harris, due to his new status as an incubus, has to gain... sexual energy to survive."

Queen C looked at Xander, geniunely surprised. "My God, so you really do have to do it or you'll die? That's a first."

Xander groaned. "I don't even have a girlfriend, and I don't want to force anyone into anything."

Cordelia looked him up and down in a closer inspection. She stepped up to him, a fingertip trailing down from the tip of one of his horns along his face. "I'd be willing to have you, Xander."

Willow made a gagging noise in the background. That skank wasn't good enough for Xander!

Giles coughed unobtrusively. "Well, I shall go borrow Angel and then explain what has happened to Buffy's mother. Wish me luck."

Xander saluted him from where he was standing. "It's been nice knowing you, G-man."

"Don't call me that," the Britishman snapped as he left. "And lock up behind you."

"So," Xander grinned, "shall we go looking for his magic books with the dirty pictures now?"

The two girls looked at him.

"What? Whaaat?"


The next day found the PE teacher talking to Xander, with Cordelia acting as a (supposedly) neutral third party.

"Look, why do you want me on the martial arts team?," Xander asked.

"I've been watching you for the last two days, Harris," the coach said. "The way you move... you're on the team."

"I can't fight!," Xander protested.

Cordelia threw a punch at his nose. Xander's right hand automatically curled into a claw, grabbing her wrist before her knuckles got within a foot of his face.

Damn demon memories, Xander mentally cursed. The possessing incubus had been quite skilled at unarmed combat. But then, someone with razor sharp talons is never unarmed.

"Sure you can," the coach grinned. "You didn't even think when you did that, did you?"

"Maybe I can," Xander conceded, "but I don't want to be on the team."

The coach's eyes hardened. "I asked Principal Snyder if I could have a look at your file. Have you had a look at your file?"

The man opened up a manilla folder he had brought with him. It had a long, long list of offenses against the School and Education underneath his academic record and dossier.

"No," Xander said weakly.

"Now," the coach continued, "I could make all this... go away, if you cooperate with me."

"Okay," Xander capitulated. He couldn't afford to get expelled.

"Great! I'll see you at the try-outs after school, then. Gym, three thirty, don't be late."

Xander groaned as the man strode away. "Great! I don't want to be on some sports team!"

Cordelia looked at him, then inspiration struck. "Hey, it could be good for the vamp-killing, right? I mean, learning how to fight better."

"But I don't wanna end up like Larry!," Xander complained.

Cordelia gave him a cold look at that comment. "Not all the boys in school are like Larry, you know."

They then came across Willow. Xander acted as a peacekeeper while they went in search of Buffy.

"So, nerd-girl, what's with the goth look?," Cordelia asked. Willow had the same clothes as yesterday -- really widebrimmed hat, gloves...

"Um, the whole vampire thing kinda makes it mandatory," Xander pointed out. "Hey, Buff! Who's your friend?"

Buffy turned around. "Hey! This is a friend from my old school, Hemery High! Guys, this is Ford. Billy Fordham, meet Xander, Willow, and Cordelia!"

"Hi," Xander said.

"Hey," Willow added.

"So, you're from LA as well?," Cordelia asked.

"And now you're here? For real?," Buffy asked Ford.

"Dad got the transfer, and boom, and he kinda dragged me outta Hemery and put me down here," Ford shrugged. "I'm staying with Uncle John at the moment. John O'Neil, any of you know him?"

"John O'Neil?," Willow asked faintly, pale skin turning even more white. "A Thousand And One Keys? That O'Neil?"

"I think so," Ford shrugged. "I don't really understand his computer stuff."

"We're doomed," Willow squeaked, and then fainted.

Chapter 14

Cordelia smirked as Willow fainted.

"My God, all that study finally impacted on her," Harmony Kendall said, approaching the group. "What a nerd."

"Harmony, pass me your perfume bottle?," Cordelia said sweetly. The blonde took the request as a compliment and gave the little glass bottle to Queen C.

Cordelia uncapped it and waved it underneath Willow's nose. With a sneeze, the hacker woke up.

"Hey!," Harmony protested. "What are you doing? That cost me fifty bucks!"

"Well," Cordelia shrugged, "I was going to go get some smelling salts. Then I figured, why bother when I could get something worse from you?"

"That was better perfume than you could buy!," Harmony flared.

"It was five dollars from K-Mart," Cordelia said flatly. "I was there when you bought it."


"Willow?," Xander asked, crouching by his friend. "What's wrong?"

"He's here, he's here, he's here," Willow began babbling, grabbing Xander's shirt and pulling him further down. "You gotta save me!"

"What's the problem?," Buffy asked. "He can't be that bad."

Ford looked distinctly embarassed.

"He can't, right?," Xander asked, looking up from Willow.

"Uh... we don't let Uncle John out in public without someone chaperoning him," Ford admitted.

Xander's mouth dropped open in amazement. "Finally, someone with a more screwed up extended family than me!"

Ford looked around in desperation, then noticed something...

"Why have you got slit pupils?," he asked Cordelia.

Queen C blinked. "They're called contacts, loser. Look into them."

Buffy looked around nervously. She'd just met an old friend, and now it was all tense... although the tension had lessened slightly as Cordelia departed with her Cordette in tow. She decided to derail the train of conversation. "This is great! Well, I mean, it's hard, sudden move, all your friends, delicate time, very emotional, but let's talk about me! This is great!"

"So, you two were sweeties in fifth grade?," Willow asked, smiling at the chance to take her mind off her own troubles and listen to someone elses.

"Not even," Buffy snorted. "Ford wouldn't give me the time of day."

"Well, I was a manly sixth-grader," Ford said. "I couldn't bother with someone that young."

"It was terrible," Buffy continued rambling. "I moped over you for months. Sitting in my room listening to that Divinyls song 'I Touch Myself'."

The Slayer caught herself short, suddenly realising the connotations of the song title. She looked over at Xander and Willow. One was smirking, and the other was blushing madly.

"Of course, I had no idea what it was about," she rapidly backpedalled. Time to change the topic of conversation again... "Hey, are you busy tonight? We're going to the Bronze, it's the local club, and you have to come."

"I'd love to!," Ford smiled. "But if you guys already had plans... Would I be imposing?"

"No, only in the literal sense," Xander shrugged. Maaan... he wished he could decide on a girl. But until then, he was going to make sure that his options were kept open.

"Okay, then! I, I gotta find the admissions office, uh, get my papers in order," Ford stuttered.

Willow smiled at the phrase, normally used as a euphimism to write one's will and get one's affairs in order.

"Well, you know what, I'll take you there, and I'll see you guys in French!," Buffy smiled, taking Ford's arm.

"It was good to meet you," the stranger said politely to the others.

Xander affected a falsetto. It was scarily close to Buffy's speaking voice. "'This is Ford, my bestest friend of all my friends! Jeez, doesn't she know any fat guys?!"

"Oh, that's what that song is about?!," Willow said, wide eyed.

"What song?," Xander asked.

"Uh... that song... that Buffy mentioned," Willow answered.

"That's what most pop music is about," Xander shrugged. "Hey, you're not looking too hot, Wills..."

The redhead looked up resolutely. "I'm fine!"

Xander looked at her levelly. "Your hands shake."

Willow jammed her betraying appendages in her pockets. "Class, mister!"


Willow jumped as someone tapped on her balcony door's window, going from a light doze to all eight cylinders moving. She jumped out, clad in a nightie, and pulled the curtain to one side.

"Oh! Angel," she said, opening the door. "What are you doing here?"

"I wanted to talk to you," the Irish undead said calmly.

"Oh, well...," Willow said, thinking. Well, if anything did go wrong, she could probably go out of the room. She was only inviting him into her room, not the rest of the house, right?

Willow beckoned him in, then waited. "Well?"

"I can't," Angel said simply. "Unless you invite me, I can't come in."

"Oh!," Willow exclaimed. She hadn't remembered that. This was a big step, inviting a... well, a vampire into her bedroom. "Well, okay, I invite you. To come in."

She jumped as she saw one of her bra's lying in plain sight on her floor. She leapt on it like a kitten on a bit of paper and stuffed it in her wardrobe.

"I-if this is a bad time, I...," Angel began.

"No! I just... I'm not supposed to have boys in my room," Willow admitted.

"I promise to behave myself," Angel said.

"Okay. Good," Willow said. She wasn't as nervous as she might be -- she had that super undead speed now, right?

The Irishman paused, looking at her. Something was wrong. Her body language screamed nervousness, but it was more an edgy anticipation of...

Of hunting.

He put two and two together.

"Willow, have you been eating properly? Giles told me about what happened."

Chapter 15

Xander yawned. Willow, Angel, and him were checking out a lead on Buffy's friend 'Ford' that she had found.

"The only thing I could track down was this address," Willow reported. She looked worried. "The Sunset Club. Still didn't find anything incriminating."

"He leaves no paper trail, no records, that's incriminating enough," Angel observed.

"Yeah, I'm gonna have to go with Deadboy on this one," Xander said reluctantly.

"Could you *not* call me that?," Deadboy asked irritably.

The Irish vamp knocked on the steel door, and an eyeflap opened. It reminded Xander of all the really cheesy B-grade crime movies he'd ever seen.

"We're friends of Ford's," Angel glibly lied to the eyes behind the slot.

The eyes nodded, bobbing up and down as the door opened. Once inside, the three found that it distinctly reminded them of some of the more upper class tombs in some of Sunnydale's cemetaries.

"Boy, we blend right in," Willow frowned. While she had to cover up almost completely during the day, now, she typically compensated by wearing her old, brightly coloured clothes during the night.

"In no way do we stick out like sore thumbs," Xander joked. He had on a pair of old jeans and a white T-shirt with a huge black cross on it, arms stretching to the edges of the fabric -- he had figured at the time of purchase that he could hug girls to see if they were vampires. "If I'd known we were coming here, I would've put on my leather pants."

Angel winced at the thought of Xander in leather anything. "Lets look around. You guys check out downstairs."

"Sure thing, Bossy the bitch!," Xander said, flipping off the vampire. Darn rude... Angel should be asking him what to do!

"Okay, but do they really stick out?," Willow finally said, trying not to think of what sticking out could mean.

"What?," Xander asked.

"Sore thumbs," Willow answered. "Do they stick out? I mean, have you ever looked at a thumb and gone 'wow, that baby is sore!'?"

"Not really, no," Xander shrugged. "You think too much."

They walked past an upright, open coffin. A man in funeral clothes was standing in it, hair combed down in a widow's peak.

"Hi!," the man said, waving.

Xander politely waved back. His inner demon was laughing his ass off at all these pathetic humans, trying to pass themselves off as low-class demons.

"It must be a theme night," Xander observed. "Dress as a vamp, get drinks at half price."

"You guys are new," a female voice said from behind them. They turned to find a girl in a long, oldfashioned white dress. "I can tell."

"Oh, no," Willow joked. "We come here all the time."

"Don't be ashamed!," the girl scolded. "It's cool that you're open to it. We welcome anyone who's interested in the lonely ones."

"The lonely ones?," Willow asked.

"Vampires," Angel said, having sneaked up on the group.

"Eternity is overrated," Xander said simply. He didn't make a sweeping comment about vampires being nasty -- Willow was an exception, and if she existed, then it was possible that other non-truly-evil vamps existed.

"They are creatures above us," the girl said desperately. "Exalted!"

"You're a fool," Angel reprimanded her.

Xander looked at Deadboy in surprise -- him telling someone else they were an idiot?

"You don't have to be so confrontational about it," the girl complained. "Other people may have valid viewpoints, you know?"

"Nice meeting you," Willow said as the girl stomped away.

"Half of me pities them," Xander said, "and the other half thinks that they're funny."

"Now no one's gonna talk to us," Willow complained.

"I've seen enough. I've seen this type before," Angel said. "I mean, they're children making up bedtime stories of friendly vampires to comfort themselves in the dark."

"Is that so bad? I mean, the dark can get pretty dark. Sometimes you need a story," Willow said, shivering with experience.

"These people don't know anything about vampires," Angel said dismissively. "What they are, how they live, how they dress..."

The Irishman had the decency to blush as a young man dressed just like him came down the stairs just by them. He cleared his throat, and the three began up the stairs to leave the club.

"You know, I love a good diatribe," Xander said conversationally. "But I'm still curious why Ford, the bestest friend of the Slayer, is hanging with a bunch of vampire wannabes."

"Something's up with him, you're right about that," Willow agreed.

"Willow, I'll take you by my place so you can feed," Angel said as they walked out the door.

"But I don't want to ki-, uh, hurt anyone," Willow protested.

The door swung shut on them, as a Spanish boy looked in their direction with great interest.

"I've got some pigs blood," Angel shrugged.

"Uh, it's gotta be from, um, living people," Willow stuttered.

"Oh," Angel said.

"Don't look at me," Xander blinked. "Not human, remember?"

"Maybe Giles could help you, Willow," Angel said.


Buffy looked on, bemused. She'd come across a vampire attacking a strange man and had paused when the man had pulled out something. And began shouting, in some foreign language.

"B4<|<, P|-|0\/1 Z0/v\B13!!!," the man shouted, shoving a stylizied 'Q' symbol on his keychain in the vampire's face. It didn't look like any cross Buffy had ever seen, but the vampire seemed genuinely repelled by it.

{Back, despicable fiends!}

The man pulled out a strange looking gun, which had several flashing lights on it. "F133, f0|2 3y3 5H411 53|\||] Y3\/\/ 70 7H3 B4|2G41|\| B1N!!!111"

{Begone, foul demons, for I shall exorcise you from this mortal realm!}

As the man's trigger finger drew closer to the gun's trigger, the vampire lost it's nerve and fled.

The man looked up into the sky in jubilation, continueing to shout in that strange tongue.

Buffy decided to leave him the hell alone.

Chapter 16

Ford sat at his table at the Sunset Club, trying to think past the terrific pain in his skull.

That girl at Buffy's new school had had slitted eyes. That girl had been extremely defensive, and did not appear adventurous enough to buy custom contact lenses. They just weren't in fashion at the moment, and therefore out of character for her, from what he had observed.

What was her name? Ah, yes. 'Cordelia'. Cordelia had also appeared far more repulsed by the other girl's perfume, far more than the ghastly smell of it should have warranted.

Super senses, slitted eyes, and she could walk around in sunlight. Perhaps he didn't have to forfeit the daytime.


Cordelia brushed her hair, smiling. Her father had bought her a new shirt, today. She was rather looking forwards to wearing it to school tomorrow.

Then a man in a black tracksuit burst into her room. The asshole had a balaclava over his head, so she couldn't recognise him. But, for some reason, he seemed familiar. Something about the smell of him, dead flowers...

"Ouch!," Cordelia snapped, or tried to. The stranger had put her in a lock, or hold of some sort while she was daydreaming about his scent! True, she now had some funky kind of strength, but she didn't know how to use it! It was Summer's job to save her from this kinda stuff!

Her and the Slayer were gonna have words when she met up with her tomorrow.

"Mfff mff, mffmff!"

"Give me a moment," the man said, voice intentionally harsh and high pitched.

He drew out a slim knife. Cordelia stiffened for a moment, then tried to get out of the hold even more. He slid it across her right forearm, watching in fascination as the clean cut seemed to draw itself closed right behind the slowly moving knife.

Cordelia hated this! She had to get away from this freak!

"Bite me," the man commanded, baring a forearm and shoving it under her suddenly released mouth. Queen C complied, trying to hurt him. As the man involuntarily winced, she took advantage of that to throw him onto the floor. The man grew a couple feet in height, as golden fur sprouted on the man's bare skin, black spots of fur scattered through the gold. Rosettes of black fur could be seen, where the black track pants did not meet his sweater, and his face and the front fur of his body was pale gold, almost white. The puncture wounds from where Cordelia had bit him healed smoothly, until there was no indication that the arm had been hurt at all.

"It's gone...," the man whispered, dropping the harsh whisper.

"What, brainiac?," Cordelia snapped. "The insides of your skull? I'm calling nine one one on you!"

"The pain's gone," the man continued, staring at his hands until Cordelia's taunting got through to him.

"... and you're gonna be locked up for a million years, and I'll drop by every now and again and make fun of you," she finished up.

He jumped through the open window, running with newly-gained unusual speed.

"Get back here!," Cordelia roared, gaining a couple feet height and fur herself as she shook a fist at the fleeing stranger in anger. "Get back here so I can hurt you!"


"Buffy!," Ford called out as he spotted her, Xander, and Willow across the courtyard at SunnyD High.

"Ford," Buffy returned cordially.

"I had a great time last night," Ford said conversationally. "Best time, ever!"

"Well, you're standing in daylight, so that's a plus," Xander joked. Willow winced slightly under her wide-brimmed hat, at that comment.

"I'm glad," Buffy said, arms crossed under her breasts confrontationally.

"Do you wanna go out tonight? Celebration?," Ford asked.

"Not busy," Buffy allowed.

"Oook. Me Buffy. Slay good," Xander joked, throwing in a few more orang-utan-ish 'ooks' after that.

Ford laughed at that.

"Oh my God!," a familiar voice exclaimed from behind Ford. His face paled as he recognised it. "It was YOU! They are gonna throw your ass in JAIL and throw away the key!"

"Cordelia?," Xander asked. "What's this vamp-lover done?"

The socialite queen scowled deeply at the newcomer to Sunnydale. If looks could kill, Ford would be six feet under. "He invaded my home and cut me!"

"You don't understand!," Ford protested.

"Try us," Buffy said. Her arms remained crossed. "Go on, we'd love to know all about your little vampire-club and what you do to girls."

Ford pulled a jar of pills out of a pocket, looking at them thoughtfully. He then threw them to the Scoobies. "Recognise these?"

"Nope," Xander shrugged, passing them to Willow.

"Omigoddess!," Willow gasped. "They only give these out... to... cancer..."

Ford nodded. "In six months, I would have died. It would have been bald, and shrivelled, and stunk to high heaven, and wouldn't have even looked like me!"

Cordelia wavered at this. "That's no excuse! You don't go invading people's houses, Frankenstein! Summers, you're supposed to protect us from creeps like this!"

"Hang on," Xander interrupted. "Does this mean he's got a major shaving problem now?"

Ford grinned madly, pointing at his slitted eyes.

Buffy looked at Ford thoughtfully. "We're friends, Ford. But please, stay away from Sunnydale. There're too many vampires and demons around here for you to test your new mojo."

The boy looked at the Slayer sadly. "But..."

"Do you know just how close you came to losing your soul?!," Buffy yelled, finally blowing up.


"NO! Ford, get out of town!," Buffy yelled.

Her old friend from Hemery High turned, hurt, and left the school grounds.

"Harsh," Willow said.

Buffy looked up. Her eyes were suspiciously liquid. "I... I don't want him to get hurt if I lose control..."

Chapter 17

"I am sooo going to press charges on that creep," Cordelia said with righteous anger, before striding off in the direction of her minions.

"Well, who's up for teasing Giles?," Xander asked.

"Sure," Buffy said.

"Aren't we lucky then, that the library is just past those doors?," Willow asked. "You can study for your test tomorrow, Xander!"

"Ah, heh, yeah," Xander laughed nervously, obviously trying to think of a way out of studying.

"Ah, hello," Giles said, turning his head to look at the teenagers. He was doing... something with the card catalogue.

"I came across a madman last night," Buffy said conversationally. "I had no clue what he was saying, but he held up this funny symbol to a vamp, and it acted as if he was holding the cross of Christ."

"Er, what was he saying?," Giles asked. "And could you sketch the symbol?"

"Sure," Buffy shrugged. She quickly sketched out a circle with the top quarter missing, and two slashes through the bottom of it. It resembled an uppercase Q, somewhat. "But I honestly don't know what he was saying. It was like another language or something."

"Quake 2?," Willow asked, puzzled. "Why would a Quake 2 symbol scare off a vampire?"

"Er, belief that a symbol holds power is as much the driving force behind a vampire's aversion as the actual power," Giles began, taking off his glasses.

"Oh! A placebo effect?," Willow asked.

"Partly, yes."

Xander yawned obnoxiously. He locked the Library doors, and changed back into his natural form, stretching in an effort to stay away. His leathery, bat-like wings also stretched themselves and knocked a pile of Giles' books off the checkout desk. Buffy also took the opportunity to change back to her marilith form, both youths saving their time available in human form.

"Watch yourself, Xander!," Giles snapped, scurrying over to pick up the books.

"Sorry, sorry," Xander muttered.

"Uh, now, tonight is especially important," Giles said. "Yes, uh, very important."

"I'm going to die of shock," Buffy said, deadpan.

"So, what's up? Party at Angel's, eight, don't be late? Because we all know he's a party animal under all that brood," Xander grinned.

"Uprising, deathfest, prophecy?," Buffy continued, after a medium glare at Xander.

"Ah, the old standards!," Xander continued to smile.

"A medical transport is delivering the monthly supply of blood to the hospital," Giles explained.

"Vampire meals on wheels," Willow observed. "Except for me, that is."

"Wills, have you asked Giles yet?," Xander asked suspiciously.

"Asked me? Asked me what, exactly?," Giles asked.

Xander looked at Willow. "C'mon, Wills..."

"No!," she said resolutely. "It's wrong!"

Xander sighed. "She needs blood, straight from a living thing. Bagged and bottled is bad for her breed."

"Oh... oh!," Giles said, realising what Xander was getting at. "Quite. Er, well, we will organise something for Willow. I'm sure that we can find a stray animal of some sort."

Willow whimpered.

"Okay, I'm off," Buffy announced, changing back to a human facsimile. "Guys?"

"Aw, c'mon," Xander whined, also shapeshifting. "I've got to go to school on Saturday! I deserve time off!"

"No buts, mister!," Willow commanded, grabbing his arm and dragging him out the door. "Class, now! Time off is the reason that you got the makeup with Ms Calendar in the first place!"


Cordelia was getting desperate. Harris kept spending time with Rosenberg and Summers, and wasn't even paying attention to her!

Desperate times, she decided, called for desperate measures.

As he waved goodbye to Willow, going to his own class, Cordelia nabbed him and dragged him into the cleaners' cupboard, closing and locking the door behind them. She shifted into a hybrid form, half cat and half human. Her height increased, and more importantly for her purposes, her cup size increased a fair few sizes as well.

Honestly, did Xander know how he was affecting half the girls at school?!

"What the...," Xander began, confused.

Cordelia looked at him with amber eyes. She took one of his hands, bringing it up to her breast.

"I want you," she growled sensuously, "and I know you want me."

Xander's inner demon was screaming 'Go for it!', as was his hormones. Cordelia had been helping them lately, showing her softer side, so the rest of Xander said 'The heck with it. Go!'

He let his control slip, gaining a bit of height himself as his wings wrapped around the two of them, his tail snaking around Cordelia's leg.

Chapter 18

Xander had a silly grin on his face as he went to Social Studies. Who'da thought that Cordelia was so insatiable?

He was beginning to see the good points of this demonhood thing. The part of his psyche that he liked to call his 'inner demon' was happily purring, looking out through Xander's eyes for the next conquest.

"Xander?," Willow asked, spotting him. "You weren't in class! Where do you think you've been?"

"Cloud Nine, and I'm not leaving," he grinned.

Willow looked him up and down, noting his dishevelled appearance. "You're still feeling urges from Halloween, aren't you? My God, Xander, why couldn't you restrain yourself? I'm not finding it that hard! I bet you just made out with... with Harmony or some other slut!"

"Cordelia, actually," Xander said before he could stop himself. "She was sooo tight..."

Willow's mouth worked for a moment, as she found herself speechless. Eventually she gathered herself.

"O-O-Okay, you'd better have a good excuse by tonight! I'm not talking to you right now, Xander LaVelle Harris!"

"Aw, I'm sorry Will," Xander apologised. "But you know what Giles said..."

Willow blushed madly, but didn't talk to Xander for the rest of that day, blushing as she flashed looks at him. Thoughts rose in her mind that she ruthlessly squashed.


Buffy looked around. Something was pulling at the edge of her mind, almost like her Slayer radar, but not. It was driving her nuts...

She realised where she'd felt this before. During Halloween.

Man, she had so not wanted to do anything like this... the blonde closed her eyes, reaching into her memories. Think, think... ah, yes. The discorporeal spirits in Willy's Alibi, that the Marilith had eaten. That feeling, but now weaker.

Definitely Giles worthy. Buffy was prepared to bet that he'd get that light in his eyes at the thought of some thingy to research.

She wandered to the Library, deciding to fill in Willow and Xander afterwards. Pushing through the swinging double doors, she called out a greeting to Giles.

"Ah, hello Buffy," the Englishman said absently. He looked extremely preoccupied, and worried about something. The Watcher had his jacket on, as if he was about to leave for somewhere or had just gotten back.

"Hey," Buffy began, "I've been getting this way creepy feeling, like there's some kind of demony spirity thingy floating around?"

"Really," Giles said. "Fascinating. Look, I'm quite busy right now, so I'll have to talk to you later."

"What's up?," Buffy asked curiously. "Maybe we can help? Hey, I know, you're worried about an upcoming date with Miss Calendar?"

"What?," Giles asked, pausing his his pacing a moment. "No, no... please, leave for class. This is personal."

"If you say so," Buffy shrugged. He was probably stressing over grey hair or something.


Xander stood in a peculiar half-crouch on the mat, the PE coach looking on in bemusement. His opponent lay in pain on the floor, four deepish scratches from Xander's fingernails marking his stomach. The ragged incisions, combined with the pure physical force of the blow, had hurt immensely.

The boy had gotten off lucky. If Xander had been in his natural incubus form, his claws would have disemboweled the human. If Xander had gotten annoyed, it could have de-spined him.

Xander didn't have a lot of control over what happened when he fought, yet. He was struggling to gain that control.

"Harris, I don't know what style you're using, but there's no way in hell that you'd be allowed to do that in a competition," the coach sighed. "Orwell, take him over there and run him through what he is allowed to get away with."

Larry, on the martial arts team more as a 'look at me the big bad fighter', felt fear of the once social outcast, and started hoping that Harris would forget all those times that he had beaten him up.


"Something's way wrong, guys," Buffy said conversationally as she, Xander, and Willow waited for Giles outside the hospital.

"Yeah, the G-man's late," Xander observed. "Jeez, the guy is normally of the other people watch setting type."

"He was major stressed over something this afternoon," Buffy added. "Hey, there's the bloodmobile!"

They watched as a couple of doctors took the blood packets from the van, Willow and Buffy making comments about cute ER doctors.

They stood there disbelieving as the 'doctors' turned out to be vamps, once the van had driven off.

"I don't believe this," Xander blinked. "What's next, them as kindy teachers?"

Buffy ran over to the car where the doctors and a driver vampire were loading the medical blood into a convertible, kicking the 'doctors' onto the ground and also giving the driver da boot to da head. Xander and Willow overcame their disbelief and pulled out stakes, running to help Buffy dispatch the vampires.

"Look out!," a familiar Irish voice called out as the last vampire attempted to attack Buffy from behind. Xander staked it while it's attention was focused on the Slayer. "Or not."

"Angel!," Buffy smiled.

Angel smiled back, somewhat woodenly.

"How did you know about this?," Buffy asked.

"It's delivery day," the vampire shrugged. "Everybody knows about this. They only ruined one bag."

"Do you think you could make sure the hospital gets the rest?," Willow asked.

"Thanks," Buffy smiled. "I'm worried about Giles. He was supposed to meet us here."

"Maybe he's late," Angel ventured.

"Giles? Who counts tardiness as, like, the eighth deadly sin?," Xander said disbelievingly. This evening was one shock after another.


Joyce groaned as her new neighbour turned up his music. God... that sounded like someone putting an opera singer through a meatgrinder.

The laughter and sound of gunshots didn't really do anything for her, either.

She picked up her keys. Time to welcome the new neighbour, and make a few polite suggestions.

Chapter 19

Joyce knocked on the door a few times, but no one answered it. Then she spotted the doorbell.

"Oh!" *dingdong!*

The volume of the music abated, somewhat, and the front door opened to show... the most outlandish man Joyce had ever met.

He was gaunt, almost skeletally so, and was barefoot in a pair of jeans, his upper half clad in a longsleeved dress shirt with an Asian dragon winding it's way around the fabric. He appeared somewhat dazed in the morning sunshine.

"Hi," he said hesitantly.

Joyce put her hand out firmly. "Hi, I'm Joyce Summers, your new neighbour?"

The man took her hand, shaking it almost absently. A smile tugged at a corner of his mouth. "Hi, I'm John O'Neil."

"Would you like to come over for a cup of hot chocolate?," Joyce asked.

Once she had him calm, settled down, and not expecting anything, that was when she would lay down her demands.


Xander yawned as the small cadre of underachievers waited for Miss Calendar and Willow to unlock the computer classroom.

"This isn't right. School on a Saturday," Cordelia bitched. "It throws off my internal clock."

"When are we gonna need computers in real life anyway?," Xander asked.

"Hmm, let's see," Miss Calendar began. "There's home, school, work, games..."

"Y'know, computers are on the way out," Xander said hopefully. "I think paper's gonna make a big comeback."

"And the abacus," Willow commented jokingly.

"Yeah, you know, you don't see enough abaci," Xander agreed amiably.

They all went into the classroom, each of them sitting in front of a computer.

"Alright, guys," the teacher began. "The first thing we're gonna do is... Buffy!"

"We're gonna do Buffy?," Xander asked, already semi-sleepy.

"Aw, you miss your friends?," Willow smirked.

"Actually I wanted to talk to you for a second?," Buffy asked Miss Calendar.

"Something wrong?," the gypsy asked.

"Is there some crisis that requires instant action? Very far from here?," Xander asked, face shining with hope.

"It's Giles," Buffy reported, Little Miss Informative.

"Well, he's alright, isn't he?," Jenny asked, worried.

"I don't know," Buffy frowned. "Uh, he didn't show up when he was supposed to last night, and then, when I went over to his place, he was acting... well, very anti-Giles. He wouldn't let me in, and he looked really bad. I-I think he might've been... I think he was drinking."

Xander wasn't sure he believed this. Giles was the most straitlaced guy he'd ever met -- he couldn't see El Watcher G-man consuming of the alky.

"He was home alone drinking?," Jenny asked disbelievingly.

"But... tea, right?," Willow asked, hoping that Buffy was joking with then.

"Wasn't tea, Will," Buffy said.

"Yep, yep, I knew this would happen," Xander nodded knowingly. "Nobody can be wound as straight and narrow as Giles without a dark side erupting. My Uncle Roary was the stodgiest taxidermist you've ever met by day. By night, it was booze, whores, and fur flying. Were there whores?"

Xander certainly hoped so.

"He was alone," Buffy glared. This was serious!

"Bummer," Xander sighed. He then brightened up. "Does this mean that other guys get Giles' share of whores?"

Cordelia punched Xander on the shoulder. "Enough with that!"

"Hey!," Willow protested. "I'm the only one allowed to hit Xander!"

"Anyone noticed him acting weird, or anything weird happening?," the Slayer asked.

"No!," Willow said vehemently. Nope, no weirdness happening around or due to Willow Rosenberg, nope.

"Not really," Jenny hedged.

"No, he seemed perfectly normal yesterday when I saw him talking to the police," Cordelia said happily.

Everyone present looked at the cheerleader.

"And you waited till now to tell us this because...?," Buffy asked suspiciously.

"I didn't think it was important," Cordelia protested. "And I was busy thinking about other things, okay?"

"What things?," Willow asked suspiciously.

Cordelia gave Xander a lascivious look. "Things."

"We understand. It wasn't about you," Xander soothed her.

"Well, what were the police talking to him about?," Jenny asked, worried about her kinda-boyfriend.

"Oh, don't tell me, I know this one," Cordelia said. "Um... Something about... a homicide."

"That's it. I-I'm calling him right now," Buffy decided. Homicide was serious.


"Oh, so you... write books for a living?," Joyce asked, getting very confused.

O'Neil shook his head. "No, for I f1gh7 th4 3v1l with all of my p0werZ..."

"I'm sorry," Joyce said politely. "But... what do you mean by '3v1l' and those other words? Is that German?"

"That's okay," O'Neil smiled. "I sl4y 3v1l for a living. It's most sw33t."

"Sw33t?," Joyce asked. "Who do you work for?"

"Cobra Corporation," the gaunt man grinned madly. "I live to smack down those who would challenge my supremacy in their world."

"Ohhh," Joyce smiled. "You're a computer security consultant!"

O'Neil scratched his head. "I guess you could call it that."

He held up his tea mug. "Most 3x<3ll3n7, but got any b33r?"

Chapter 20

"Okay, you guys stay here while I go ring Giles," Buffy decided.

"I'll come with," Xander immediately offered, spotting a way out of after-school classes.

"Yeah," Cordelia added. "To make sure you don't get lost in a broom closet."

"I think that Buffy can handle herself," Willow commented, frowning.

"Yeah, right," Cordelia sniffed.

"Buffy, you can go check," Miss Calendar sighed. "The rest of you, stay here."


Xander looked at the clock. It had been fifteen minutes since Buffy had left. "She's taking too long."

"What?," Miss Calendar asked, interrupted mid-explanation. "She's a girl, Xander. Girls tend to talk on the phone longer than boys."

"But she's talking to the G-man himself," Xander pointed out. "He hates phones. He won't use them longer than he has to."

"I suppose you can check on her," the teacher sighed. "But I'm coming with you and we're coming back right after!"

Miss Calendar locked the door to the computer suite, jogging to catch up with the teenagers.

"I'm telling you, something feels wrong," Xander insisted.

"Sure it does," Willow soothed.

"Summers is probably touching up her makeup," Cordelia complained. "I hate these Saturday make-up sessions -- my makeup probably looks horrible. There should be a law against school in the weekends."

"Amen," Xander said to that.

Willow pushed the swing doors to the library open, and stood amazed as the small group witnessed Ethan Rayne, some British guy, and Buffy gettin' it awn.

"Ethan!," the British man yelled.

"You pissin' ever'body off, ain't cha?," Xander wisecracked.

"Don't let him get away!," Buffy yelled as Ethan made a break for the door, climbing over the checkout desk.

Xander grabbed the aging magician by his shirt with both hands, holding him against the desk. "How'd you get out of your niiice little cell?"

"Good behaviour?," Ethan tried.

"Shyeah, right," Xander smirked. "Buff? You okay there?"

"Fine," she yelled back. "The other guy is in the bookcage."

"Hey, if we get another one of these guys, do we go in the draw?," Xander asked.

Ethan tried to knee Xander in the groin, and the teenaged reluctant incubus deftly turned his lower half, so that the knee hit his leg. Xander twisted the Englishman until he was on the floor, face pressed against the linoleum, in what looked like an extremely painful hold that Xander's still-resident demon-skills had thought of.

"Is it me, or is that guy extremely dead?," Cordelia asked, pointing at the British man restrained in the bookcage.

"I'm not gonna get close enough to feel his pulse, but... he looks dead," Willow said thoughtfully.

"Except for the walking and attacking Buffy part," Xander pointed out.

"He's dead," Ethan mumbled against the floor. "I'm sorry, Phillip, really I am."

Xander banged the Englishman's head against the floor. "I'm sorry? Did you say something?"

The doors swung open as Giles dashed through them, panting slightly.

"Is everyone alright?," Giles asked, worried.

"Super!," Cordelia said proudly, standing near Buffy. "I kicked a guy!"

"We're okay," Miss Calendar said quietly.

"Deadguy and El Stinko here interrupted our tutorial," Xander explained. He looked down at Ethan, who he was sitting on. "Been meaning to thank you guys for that."

"Don't... mention it," Ethan gasped.

"Let him up, Xander," Giles said, exasperated.

"But he looks so comfortable!," Xander protested, Buffy and Willow making noises of agreement.

"Xander...," Miss Calendar drawled.

"Thank you, Ripper," Ethan said, looking at Willow and Xander who were standing guard at the doors.

The Watcher moved over to the bookcage to have a look at the new prisoner, gasping as he recognised the figure. "It can't be!"

"Yes, it can," Ethan said dispassionately. The mask slid into a smile as Giles turned to look at him. "Hello, Ripper."

"I thought that the Council had taken custody of you," Giles frowned.

"They made a mistake," Ethan shrugged. "It happens."

"Uh, why did he call him Ripper?," Cordelia asked Xander, walking over to him.

Giles grabbed Ethan by his hair, pulling his head back painfully. "You should've stayed with them."

"Ohhh...," Cordelia said in a moment of realisation.

"Giles?," Buffy said questioningly.

"You put these people in danger," Giles accused. "The people I care about. You've done it in the past, and you're doing it again."

"If you care so much about them, why aren't you leaving town?," Ethan demanded. He pushed Giles' arm away, swaggering into the middle of the room. "You've been having the dreams, I know. I have. We both know what's coming."

"What dreams?! What is going on here?!," Buffy demanded, her fuse growing short.

"Tell her, Ripper," Ethan smirked.

"Giles...," Buffy frowned.

"Kinda agreeing here, G-man," Xander spoke up.


"You live in d4ng3|20us t1m35," O'Neil said, brow furrowed with worry. "This town is infested with the undead."

Joyce smiled at the crazy man. She shouldn't have invited him over, shouldn't have encouraged him. "Really? I've never had any trouble..."

"You need a 5ymb0l of p0w3rZ," O'Neil said wisely, handing a cross to her. "This will w0|2k for most 14m3|2Z. Nail it by your door, and make sure that all your visitors touch it before you invite them in."

"That sounds... strange," Joyce said faintly.

O'Neil shot to his feet, eyes flashing, as he began to pace. "You MU57! 3Vi1 W41|<5 1N 7H15 70WN!"

"... okay," Joyce said, returning to her policy of humouring the crazy man so he didn't get mad at her. "Would you like another cup of coffee?"

"No," O'Neil said, winding down. "3y3 mu57 return to my duties. Just nail that cross to the door, like I said."

"Alright," Joyce said, happy that he was leaving. "Have a nice day!"

She leant against the front door as the psycho walked back to his property, holding the wooden cross to her chest. The mother then lifted it to have a look.

"Well, it should keep the Jehovah's Witnesses away, and he might check... where did I put that hammer?"

Chapter 21

The dead Brit imprisoned in the bookcage had a sudden burst of strength, kicking the mesh covered door open. The door, as it travelled through it's arc of movement, rebounded off a certain curvaceous computer teacher. Miss Calendar fell to the ground, knocked unconscious.

"JENNY!," Giles yelled.

Buffy leapt forwards, kicking the dead Phillip hard in the chest. She staggered for a moment, eyes flashing golden, then her body reverted to that of the six armed, snake-tailed Marilith. Her shirt burst under the extra four arms and chest enhancement.

"BUFF!," Xander yelled. Horns, wings, and tail flashed on him for a second as well as his control lapsed for a moment. For some reason, the danger of the situation combined with her new appearance made him really, really horny.

The corpse stopped moving as Buffy held his upper torso immobile with her six arms and hands.

"What now?," Buffy asked. "I'm getting, like, this super weird buzz off him. And Giles? We are so going to talk about finding a shirt that works."

"Ahhh, continue to hold him while I... find some very strong smelling salts," Giles said firmly. "Yes. Uh, I believe that I should have something in my office. Yes."

"Don't you mean chains for freakazoid there?," Cordelia demanded.

"Giles, I'll help Miss Calendar," Willow soothed Giles. "You find something to make sure that we aren't attacked by any more dead Englishman tonight."

"That means no games of chess with us, G-man," Xander grinned, on a slight... adrenaline high.

Giles gave Xander a look while he went into his office. He emerged with a large first aid container, which he handed to Willow, two pairs of manacles, and a length of linen. He went to attach them to Phillip, doing his best not to stare at Buffy's chest, when the corpse dissolved into a puddle of slime.

Everyone stood amazed. Well, except for Buffy, who grabbed the length of linen from Giles before it could fall in the slime. She then wrapped it around her upper torso, scowling.

"Now, there's something you don't see every day," Willow commented.

"When I graduate, you are all so paying for my therapy," Cordelia decided out loud.

"Where's Ethan?," Xander asked. "Jeez, dead men dissolve, I take my eyes off him, and you suddenly think he turned into jelly too."

"Hang on," Buffy said, muscles tensed. "Something is still here."

"What?," Giles asked, looking around.

Buffy sinuously swept over between the puddle and the bookcage, middle left hand grabbing at something in midair. A figure made of darkness was held in the air, a cloud of smoke in stasis.

"I'm with the 'What the hell is that?' category," Xander said faintly.

Cordelia added a 'Hell yeah' that no one noticed.

"That... is Eyghon," Giles said, in a voice which said that he didn't really want to be speaking at all.

"Got a jamjar I can stick him in?," Buffy asked, always straightforward. "Or, you know, a big knife I can kill him with?"

"The only force that has been theorised capable of killing Eyghon is a... high... level... demon," Giles said slowly, a mental light coming on.

Xander immediately connected the dots. "Buff, eat it!"

The Slayer made a scooby snack of the Sleepwalker.


1001Keys maximised an SSH session he had been working on, eyes flicking through menus with deft skill.

"Sw33t... security cameras! Now, what is there to 5<4|\| at at a High School..."

{How very nice.. security cameras! Now, what can I watch at a High School...}

He opened an X-Term window, making another connection to the remote machine.

"Locker rooms... 9i|21zZ locker rooms... YEAH! J00 r0[|<!"

{Locker rooms... girls' locker rooms... Very cool.}

1001Keys continued to flick through the menus of available cameras.

"Computer suite... Library... P455W0|2|]Z! W00T!"

{Computer suite... Library... passwords! Yaaaay!}

The video of Harmony Kendall got closed faster than a copy of Playboy in front of a religious fanatic, as 1001Keys opened a file showing the last 24 hours of activity at the Sunnydale High School Library.

"3v17 1u|2|<z... 3y3 must offer |-|31P to these mighty paladins, and offer training so they can 13v31," the gaunt man decided, opening an FTP session to copy all the files.

{Evil abounds in this den of sin... I must offer help to these heroes, and also offer assistance in their fight.}

Including the girl's locker room video, of course. For... archival purposes.

He then looked at his primary monitor. "Sw33t! Th47 r3d |]|2490n finally d13d!"

{Ah. Good. That dratted wyrm finally died.}

1001Keys tapped out a message on the keyboard. 'l00t4g3 4h0'/! \V/I11 m337 @ Dralos Town Hall, k?'

{Take what is yours, and we shall meet again at the Dralos Town Hall, my friends.}

And the level fifty magician, as commanded by 1001Keys, took his share of the loot then went back to the nearest town in the world that never existed.


"Guys," Willow said, voice gaining strength, "what in... earth just happened? Giles, was that a possessing demon like Moloch and why didn't you tell us, and what if--"

Xander silenced her lips with a finger. "I'm sure that G-man is gonna tell us."

Giles looked around at the youths, who all still had a look of faith. He didn't want to lose their faith in him, so he began to explain. "Well, when I was growing up, I wanted to be either a greengrocer, or a fighter pilot..."

"Uh, what does that have to do with evil possessing demons?," Xander asked.

"If you wait, you'll find out," Giles said in a sharp voice.


Joyce got up as someone knocked on the door. Buffy had just gotten back, about half an hour before dusk. She had asked her how her computer class had gone, and Buffy had been really reticent... she was taking an interest, her baby was supposed to bond with her!

She opened the door. "Angel! How nice to see you."

"Hi," Angel said nervously. "Is Buffy here? I kinda have to talk to her."

"Sure," Joyce said. She pointed at the wooden cross nailed to the outside of the door frame. "Angel, touch that for a moment?"

"Why?," Angel asked cautiously. "You haven't gone Mormon on me, have you, Mrs Summers?"

Joyce smiled. "Humour a mother? I promised someone that I'd ask people to touch it before I let them in, and it didn't seem like a problem."

Angel sighed inwardly. He could see that Joyce was going to be polite, but firm. He pressed a finger to the crucifix, ignoring the burningly painful pain as a tendril of smoke rose from where the unholy flesh met the holy icon.

"Angel... why can't you touch it?," Joyce asked faintly.

She hadn't believed in God, per se, since she was a little girl. But why would a cross burn Angel? He had seemed like a nice man, if too old for Buffy.

"I'm a vampire," Angel said. He assumed that, if Joyce knew about asking people to touch a crucifix, she knew about vampires.

"Oh," Joyce said in that faint voice, right before dropping to the ground unconscious.

Chapter 22

Buffy ran downstairs as she heard a 'thud' and her Spidey-sense picked up something. She stopped short as she took in the scene of her mother unconscious on the floor, Angel standing at the doorway looking distinctly puzzled.

"What did you do to my mother?!," the Slayer growled.

Angel held up his hands defensively. "Nothing! She asked me to touch the cross she nailed to the doorframe, found out I'm a vampire, and fainted!"

"Why'd she do that?," Buffy asked him suspiciously. "What've you been telling her?"

"Nothing!," Angel retorted. He picked Joyce up, laying her carefully on the couch. "At least, I don't think I did anything."

"You stand back while I wake her up," Buffy decided. She shook her mother carefully. "Mum? Mum, wake up..."

"Oh, baby," Joyce said weakly, eyes locking onto her offspring. "I had the weirdest dream where I found out that Angel is a vampire."

"I am," Angel said, immediately regretting it as Buffy shot him a Glare of Death. He held up his scorched hand. "Burnt my hand on your cross."

"Oh," Joyce said, mind churning. "Then Mr O'Neil was right."

"O'Neil?," Buffy asked inquisitively. "Who is he? Door to door shoe salesman?"

"No, our new neighbour," Joyce said, getting up. "Buffy, you don't seem very surprised that Angel is a... vampire."

"I'm surprised!," Buffy said. "See? Eyes wide? Surprised, honest!"

"Buffy," Joyce said, giving her a smile. "Tell me. I'll love you no matter what."

Buffy's eyes went teary. "B-b-but after H-Halloween..."

Joyce gave Angel a flat, flinty look as she gave Buffy a hug. "Angel, what happened?"

"Uh, this mage kinda... turnedherintoademon," Angel admitted.


Buffy took a step back out of her mother's arms. "Mum, he turned me into a freak! See?"

With that, Buffy relaxed her control, reverting into Marilith form. Four extra arms grew underneath her original two, her chest went up a size or two, and her legs from the waist down turned into a long snake tail. Her clothes, unfortunately, did not survive the transitition.

Joyce took a shaky deep breath. Now was not the time to faint.

"Buffy, I said I'll love no matter what," Joyce said, uncertainly taking Buffy into another hug. "Even if you decide to elope with Angel or go into a Tibetan monastory. You'll always be my baby."

"T-thanks mum," Buffy whispered, all six arms clutching desperately at her mother.


1001Keys paused the Library security camera video. He was watching it through for the first time, and had noticed a suspicious flickering around one of the people there.

He loaded the video file into 'VirtualDubMod', a computer video editing piece of software. He moved the input window position to the timestamp where the flicker had happened, and stepped through the video frame by frame.

"|3i|\|90," he smiled, as the visage of Xander the Incubus, batwings, tail and all, appeared.

{Ah ha!}

1001Keys logged into the school system again, bringing up the student files. He flicked through the male students, pausing when he found a perfect match for the boy who had turned into a demon on the video.

"7|-|3 inf3ction is probably not <0nfin3|] to this d3wd," the hacker decided. "Better ID the rest."

{The other people on this video may not be as they appear. I had better identify them, just in case.}

He flicked through the video, absently capturing screenshots of the other people.

Absently kicking a player-killer from the world that never existed, he decided that that was enough work for now, and settled back to watch some video of the girl's locker room.

"Sw33t sw33t pr0n," he grinned, toasting the monitor with a can of Mountain Dew.

{Wonderful recreation...}

Which was promptly spat all over the monitor as the h0t chix0r from the library turned into a seven foot tall catgirl.

"W00T! 13v31 13v31 13v31! PH34R T3H /V\u|\|[H|<1n!"

{Oh my. This presents amazing possibilities.}

It was the Blood Drive at that school tomorrow. A plan immediately sprouted in his mind for supplying the whole of Sunnydale with the p0w3r to fight the 3v1l.

Everyone knew how the were condition was spread, after all.

Chapter 23

"Hey, Buff," Xander said, approaching the Slayer. "What's on?"

"Mum just learnt about my Slaying," Buffy groaned. "And about everything else."

"How'd that happen?," Willow asked. "Did she catch you climbing out the window?"

"No, Angel told her he was a vampire after something with a cross," Buffy reported. "I think. Anyway, she made me spill after Angel blabbed everything."

"Oho, so Dead Boy has been a bad boy?," Xander asked.

"Me is definitely in the dog house," Buffy confirmed. "Although, it is nice to know that I'm not lying to Mum anymore."

"So, you planning on donating blood?," Xander asked. "They give you stuff in return!"

"Are you kidding?," Willow asked, incredulous. "Who knows what our blood would do in a transfusion! I mean, what if someone turned into a vampire if they got given my blood?"

"Darn," Xander slumped. "There goes my free sugar fix for the day."

"I'll buy you a Chupa Chup," Buffy offered, brightening Xander up. "Hey, what about Cordelia? She's given blood -- I saw her with one of those little stickers on."

"Speak of the devil, and she shall appear," Xander smirked, spotting the cheerleader moving towards them.

"Xander!," Willow reprimanded.

"Morning, losers," Cordelia said, ever so politely.

"You haven't given blood or anything, have you?," Willow asked immediately.

"Of course I have," Cordelia smirked. "As a responsible citizen."

"What if whoever gets the blood grows fur every now and again?," Xander asked.

"They use the blood to make people healthy, so whoever gets it wins a bonus," Cordelia shrugged. "It's not like every full moon I go homicidal."

"You don't?," Willow asked. She had seen many B-grade horror movies with Xander.

"No, freakazoid," Cordelia snapped. "Full moon a couple nights ago, remember?"

"Still," Buffy said.

"Well, unlike you, I have things to do," Cordelia sniffed, having failed to impress them with her social responsibility.

"Now there goes the Dedicated Follower Of Fashion," Xander remarked, watching her go.

"No, she's the wrong gender for that," a boy with multicoloured hair commented while passing them.

"Well, we'd better go steal her blood packet before it does get used," Buffy decided.


"Giles!," Buffy yelled. "There's a thief stealing blood!"

"Well, yes," Giles blinked. "Vampires are attracted to the Hellmouth, Buffy."

"We're thinking human thief," Xander commented. "Unless the pharmacy started selling a million SPF sunscreen."

"How peculiar," Giles mused. "I can only speculate that the donor is intended to be the target of an unfriendly spell. Er, whose blood was it."

"Cordelia's, so there isn't exactly a shortage of possible spell casters," Willow said meanly.

"Ah. In that case, it is more likely to be a person after more power," Giles sighed.

"But no one knows that she's a were-whatever," Buffy protested. "Except us."

"And... Mister Ethan Rayne," Xander realised. "Hey, where the hell did he get to?"

"I don't know," Giles said. "He may still be in his shop. Buffy, try there."

"I'm sorry," Buffy said sweetly. "For a moment there, I thought you were ordering me around like I'm your slave or something."

Giles sighed again. "Buffy, please go and find out."



"I don't know anything!"

"How do I know that you're telling the truth?," Buffy asked. She had reverted to the Marilith form for added intimidation, and her tail was slowly crushing Ethan's legs.

"I am! I am!"

"For some reason, I still don't believe you," Buffy smiled. "That could be because of you I can't sleep in a normal bed like a normal person, I dunno. But hey, guess, what, you're coming with me so that Ripper can make sure!"

Ethan whimpered. Bugger the shop's rent for the rest of the month, he was going to piss off back to England the second he got away from this pack of loons.


O'Neil looked at the packet. Such a frail container... they really should use proper potion bottles for such precious 1iQui|]z.

His left hand tapped a specific sequence on his laptop, and he listened as a series of *klangs* echoed throughout the water filtration plant.

Eventually, they stopped.


He carefully opened the packet of blood with a pair of scissors, letting the blood tinge the water flowing through the Sunnydale water supply.

True, it would probably be too dilute to affect the people with strong constitutions, but it was the weak people who truly needed the 13v31i|\|9 to survive this h3ll.

Once the blood stopped dripping, he washed out the packet with more water, carefully emptying it out into the pipes.

Chapter 24

Xander's left eye twitched, almost imperceptibly. His control had slipped so much that he was in his incubus form, and his eyes were glowing slightly. Buffy as well had reverted to demon form, and her tail was lashing furiously.

"What the hell are you planning now?," he snarled, holding up Ethan by his collar.

"I'd ask you to put me down, but I don't think my legs would hold me," Ethan said nervously.

"You've been nothing but trouble," Xander growled. "You're like... Harmony Kendall, smelling blood!"

Cordelia looked faintly offended, until a small smirk creased her lips.

"Now me, I don't mind that much," Cordelia said, changing to her six, seven foot hybrid were-leopard form. "This should help me get a good job as an actress."

"Xander, might I suggest that you put him down?," Giles asked. "We do, after all, have manacles we can clap him in."

"Awwww, but he's so hateable!," Xander whined.

It was extremely strange, seeing a virile, masculine incubus whine.

Xander dumped him on the floor, and Ethan gave off a small scream as his heavily bruised legs hit the ground. Cordelia wrapped herself around Xander -- for some reason, he was irresistable to her when he was like this.

"Now," Giles said, as Buffy snapped the iron manacles on Ethan's wrists and ankles with four of her arms, her other two holding him still. "I strongly suggest you tell us what you were planning to do with Miss Chase's blood."

"Her blood?," Ethan asked, genuinely puzzled. "What would I want that for?"

"You know what she is," Willow said. "And she was the only one of us who donated to the blood drive, and you probably want to get us back, and I don't think that that's entirely fair because you did start this with your stupid costumes which--"

Xander silenced her with a finger across her lips.

"I swear I didn't go near any packets of blood," Ethan said. "Ripper, old mate, someone set me up. Honest!"

Giles looked thoughtful for a moment. "Buffy, knock him out."

The Slayer obediently did so, with relish.

Willow sighed deeply (out of habit, more than a need for oxygen), and stared into space. "Y'know, guys, this isn't fair. I mean, we..."

"Wills?," Xander asked, worried. "You okay there?"

The redheaded hacker's eyes stayed fixed on the corner of the Library ceiling. "Giles, how long've you had a security camera in here?"

"It has always been there," Giles said, confused as to where Willow was going with her idea. "But the video recorder that it is connected to is broken."

"The VCR is, G-man, but what about the computer system?"

"Don't call me that. The what? Er, we're not going to have that Moloch business all over again, are we?," Giles asked, concerned. "Er, I mean, it can't read my books through that camera, can it?"

"Computer system?," Xander asked. "You think it's a hacker, Wills?"

"Maybe," the redhead said. "Uh, I'll try and find out tonight on my box."

"You could use that machine there," Giles offered, wanting to know now.

"I... kinda don't have my programs on there," Willow said. "And I need some of them to trace any connections back."

The watcher sighed. "I suggest that we all get a good night's sleep while Willow attempts to trace this fellow, then."

Xander and Cordelia grinned lecherously at each other, until Buffy pulled them apart.

"No making out tonight," she ruled. Cordelia attempted to resist her, but her were strength could not affect the Marilith strength that Buffy possessed.

"Want me to walk you home?," Xander offered out loud.

"Okay," Willow immediately accepted. She was not letting him go the entire way with that... that... Cordelia!

He ended up escorting all three females.


Giles stretched as he put down his glass of water, a couple stray vertebrae making cracking noises.

"Xander, would you have any idea as to why the water tastes strange?," he asked.

The human-shapeshifted incubus shrugged. "Tasted kinda... coppery, y'know, like blood."

"How strange," Giles mused. "I thought it was due to my time of rising this morning."

"Something must've gone wrong with the water treatment plant," the teenager said.

"Ahhh.... ahh... cho˜!," Giles sneezed.

It was a beauty of a sneeze, too. He ended up ripping his tweed suit as he gained a foot in height and a fur pelt.

The librarian blinked, dazed. "What..."


"Language, Xander," Giles reprimanded absently, staring at his hands. "Well. It would appear that we found the end use of that packet of blood, if not the thief.

Cordelia stalked through the double doors angrily, then stopped short as she spotted Giles. "My God, have you been talking to that Ford creepazoid?"

"Cordelia, what brings you here?," Giles asked, attempting to blow his now-feline nose and failing miserably.

"Like all my friends are not here, so I thought I might come see how the losers are this morning."

"Good to see we aren't second choice," Xander sniped.

"Say, you don't think that whoever stole my blood used it on you, do you?"

Chapter 25

Joyce put down the print of Rembrandt's Night Watch, as a headache shot through her head. She had no idea what could have caused it. Perhaps worrying over Buffy?

"Joyce, I think I've got the flu or something," her employee at the gallery said.

"Me too," she said. "It must be a bug that's going around right now."

"Hang on," he said, putting down his pen. "Ahhh... ahhh... CHOOO!"

Half a second behind him, Joyce sneezed as well.


"Say, you don't think that whoever stole my blood used it on you, do you?," Cordelia asked.

"That would seem to be the case," Giles said. His glasses slipped off his now inhuman face. "Oh, bother. Ah. It would seem that my eyesight seems to have corrected itself somewhat in this form."

"Bet you a buck that the Cordettes have a real bad case of a bad hair day, and that's why none of them have turned up," Xander slowly grinned.

"No bet," Cordelia said dryly. She stuck her head out the door. "Hey, the Principal isn't here, either. He'd be here bitching at us if he was."

"Quite," Giles said. "Er, have either of you heard anything from Willow?"

"Nope," Xander said. "I'll go find out if she's at her folks."

"I'll come with you," Cordelia volunteered. "It is like socially dead around here."

"Pray leave then, before we contaminate you with social stigmata," Giles frowned.

"Later, English!"


"We should be getting to Willow's, you know."

"She's lived this long, she'll last another hour. I want this. You want this. Buffy McChastity-Belt is not here, and we are. Strip, demon boy."

"If we're doing this, we're doing it on my terms, kitty."

"Ooooh... whatever you're doing, keep it uuuu---aaaaa..."

"I'm the one in charge here, not you."


Willow stared at her monitor, tapping a few keys absently as nmap returned a report. She stopped dead as she listed out a home directory on 1001key's personal machine. (He really needed a stronger password than 'l33tm4g3'. Really, her dictionary attack program had guessed it within ten seconds.)

What would he be doing with mpeg files, with names like 'SHS-Lib-Cam01-Oct31.mpeg'?

She transferred it to her machine, tapping her fingernails against the desk while it finished downloading. Once done, she opened it, then stopped.

Pictures of them attacking Ethan Rayne?

The redheaded hacker loaded up VirtualDub, slowly flicking through it before stopping the video halfway through Cordelia's transformation to a hybrid were-cat form.

She'd found them their leak.

A knock on the door interrupted her mid-mental-cheer. Oh! It was midmorning! Heck, where did the time go?! Last time she'd checked, it was still eleven at night! Why hadn't her parents interrupted her? They normally did when she was late for school!

The door opened, revealing Xander and Cordelia. Willow's nose twitched, as she smelled sex on the two of them.

"Xander, have you been wearing leather pants again?," the hacker demanded.

"Trust me, he could be wearing tweed and girls would still jump him," Cordelia said, wrapping herself around him. Heck, she was all but purring.

"Have you found our hacker?," Xander asked.

"Yep," Willow nodded. "John O'Neil, aka A Thousand And One Keys, aka Mr Suspect, aka Mr Blood Thief, aka--"

Xander put a finger against her lips. "Okay, Wills, got it."

"You haven't set foot out of your room since school yesterday, have you?," Cordelia demanded. "My God, Rosenberg, you are such a geek!"

"What?," Willow asked, too tired from sleep deprivation to take serious offense to Cordelia's insult. "What is your issue now?"

Cordelia grabbed her upper arm, and dragged her to the passage, where she jabbed a finger at Willow's parents, who were desperately looking through meditation books and brainwashing manuals to figure out what someone had done to them.

"What on earth is going on?," Willow asked. Her brain was permanently stuck in 'hack' mode until she got some serious shuteye.

"Somehow, whoever stole my blood put it in the town water supply," Cordelia snapped. "Now, all the town are also were-cats."

"Oh," Willow said.

"You need to get to bed," Xander said soothingly to Willow. "C'mon, I'll tuck you in."

"But I'm not -- *YAWN* -- sleepy," Willow protested.

"Get into bed before you drop unconscious on the floor, Rosenberg," Cordelia commanded. "We can't have our most expert hacker dead on her feet."

"'Kay," Willow yawned again, stretching. She fell into bed, and almost immediately went slack and corpse-like.

"Well, let's go and tell Giles that this O'Neil is the guy behind this," Xander said.


"Really?," Giles said. "From Willow's descriptions, he didn't sound like that much of a threat. Did she have an address where we could find this 'O'Neil'?"

"Crap, we forgot to ask," Xander said, hitting himself on the forehead with the butt of his palm. "And he wouldn't be in the phone book either -- he moved here recently."

"Well," Giles sighed. "We are at an impasse until Willow wakes up. Where has Buffy gotten to?"

"I think I saw her slee--er, sitting in one of the classrooms," Xander offered.

"Do go fetch her, please?"

Chapter 26

Joyce blinked. She sneezed again, as a world of new smells flooded into her suddenly sensitive nose. Really, she'd never realised just how much the workroom smelt of oil and turpentine.

The next sensation was unsteadiness, as she tried to balance on legs that seemed to have more joints than normal. She caught herself on the edge of the desk, claws digging into the wood as she carefully sat down on a stool. That series of movements were in themselves a world of experience.

She blinked again, looking around. A full length mirror hanging on one of the walls showed a tall leopard-woman sitting on her stool, whiskers limp with a dazed expression on her face. David, her employee, was slack on the floor. He had knocked himself out on the wood floor.

"What... on... earth?"


Giles' nose twitched as he suddenly realised just what he could smell. He looked at Cordelia, as Xander had left to get Buffy from the classroom.

"Might I enquire as to what you and Xander did?," he asked.

"We asked Rosenberg what she found," Queen C shrugged.

The Watcher tapped his feline nose. "I can smell a shade more exertion than that."

"Who died and made you my Dad?," Cordelia demanded. "My God, is it any of your business?"

"Er, no," Giles said, blushing under his new coat of fur.

"Yeah, it is so not your affair what I get up to," Cordelia sniffed.

Xander appeared then, a six-armed and snake-tailed Buffy with a length of cloth wrapped around her chest following close behind through the double doors. "Hey, guys. El Slayer was snoozin'."

"I'm up, I'm up," Buffy said, still somewhat groggy. "What's up? Besides Mrs Kerbopple not being there. That must be like a new record for her, unless she got the flu or something."

"You're closer to the mark than you might think," a somewhat fuzzy voice said.

Buffy swivelled her torso around to see who was speaking. She saw a tall cat-man in a ripped up tweed suit speaking. "Giles? Is that you?"

"Indeed," he said. "Er, Cordelia? How do I... change back?"

"What was that?," Cordelia said. "Was that an apology for being nosy?"

"I'm sorry," Giles sighed.

"Concentrate, and will it," she shrugged. "Works for me."

The Librarian looked quite relieved as he managed to regain his normal self with his receding hairline. "Ah, good. Although paying for repairs to my suit shall be quite a bother, in this country."

"Eh, you've got a million more just like it," Buffy said dismissively. "What happened, anyway?"

"Someone spiked the water cooler," Xander said. "Slipped the town a mickey. Pulled a fast one."

"That's enough, Xander," Giles said firmly.

"Gotcha, G-man," Xander shrugged.

"Ah! Cordelia's blood," Buffy realised. "Whoever stole it dumped it in the water supply."

"And Willow found out who found out about Queen C's little secret," Xander nodded. "A Thousand And One Keys."

"That O'Neil guy that Willow was freaked about?," Buffy asked.

"Yeah," Cordelia said. "We kinda forgot to get an address off her for him, though. Hey, maybe my mum knows. She knows everyone."

"If she isn't panicking right now," Giles said, brow furrowed in thought.

"O'Neil, O'Neil," Buffy repeated. "I've heard that name somewhere..."

"Your new neighbour," a familiar voice said from the shadows of the Stacks. "The guy who got your mum to nail that cross to your doorframe."

"You're right, Angel!," Buffy said. "That's it! Next door!"

"Okay, that has to be the shortest search session yet," Xander said. "Only one overnighter on the part of Wills, and ten minutes on our part."


"..low... willow... Willow!," a familiar, if panicked voice, said.

The redheaded girl hugged her pillow, trying to get back to sleep.

"Wake up, baby!," her father's voice said. "C'mon, you've got to help us!"

"Dad?," Willow said muzzily. "What's up?"

She turned around, to find a large cat's face looking at her. She screamed briefly, before her heart stopped beating again. "Ah, there it goes."

"Why haven't you changed, baby?," her mother asked.

"I dunno, mum," Willow blinked, waking up the rest of the way.

"There has to be some reason," her mum insisted, voice still sounding quite panicked. "What cure are you hiding from us?!"

"It isn't your fault," her dad said soothingly. "We just want to know why you're still okay."

Chapter 27

O'Neil looked at his right hand, er, paw. As he flexed it, five sharp claws emerged from it.

"Q\/4|<3, 3vi1!," he gloated.

{Despair, evil!}

No more would 3vi1 triumph over the good people of Sunnydale!

A thought occured to him. What of the other towns? He had several friends who were still in peril. He was being selfish. Picking up the phone clumsily, he dialed a long distance number.

"J0! 14|290? 907 j00 p14n 0f 474< 4 E3 |]\/|\|?"

{Hello, my friend! How art thou? Have you prepared for your trip to E3?}

"'S /V\3! w4|\|7 70 13v31?"

{It is indeed I. Dost need to learn new skills to triumph over darkness?}

"Z0mb13z? 5\/<|<4g3. <0/V\3 70 /V\3! 3y3 wi11 |-|31p j00."

{The undead? They are most terrible enemies. Come, my friend. Visit. I am willing and able to assist you in some small way.}


{I am residing at Sunnydale. I'm sure I don't need to tell someone of your skills any more than that.}

"K, l8r."

{I will speak with you anon, my friend.}

He smiled as he put down the phone. How could darkness triumph over good?


Willow looked up at her parents. "... and that's the whole story. Y-y-you still l-love me, right?"

Her mum wrapped her in her arms. "Of course we still love you, sweetness, and we want to help you with this problem."

"I can't believe that vampires and demons exist, and we haven't noticed them," her father, Ira said.

"Say, you don't think that this has happened to the whole town, do you?," Willow's mum, Sheila worried.

"We could always find Giles," Willow offered. She hated this -- she seemed shorter standing next to eight foot tall cat people. Even if they were her mum and dad. "He always seems to know what's going on."

"Is there any way for us to change back?," Sheila asked worriedly.

"Cordelia might know, she was a were-leopard before this happened."

"Cordelia Chase?," Sheila frowned thoughtfully. "Isn't she the girl who teases you?"

"She's been kinda improving," Willow said. It was a struggle to admit that, even to herself. "Come on, we need to get to the High School."

She had to admit, watching her parents sit in the Subaru station wagon with their knees around their pointy ears like a six foot nothing man in a Fiat Bambina partly made up for the whole thing.


They caught Giles, as well as Xander, Cordelia, and Buffy just as the group was leaving the school, and piling into Giles' old car.

"Guys!," Willow gasped, making sure her widebrimmed black hat was still firmly on her head. Maybe she needed some hat pins. Yeah, wooden ones. Hang on, she was getting sidetracked. "Guys!"

"Willow!," Buffy smiled. "We were getting worried about you."

"Er, yes, we have just researched all the possible rituals that this O'Neil character could have--," Giles began, cutting himself off as he saw Willow's parents. Partly from shock, partly trying to keep the secret of the Slayer.

"It's cool, they know the deal now," Willow said. "Although they do wanna know how to change back, so if Cordelia could tell them how, that'd be good. Although it was funny watching them drive like that, and I'll be quiet now."

Cordelia pulled the two doctors to one side to instruct them in the art of shapeshifting.

"I forgot to tell you the address," Willow said nervously. "Silly me. Uh, it's--"

"I know the address," Buffy cut her off, looking grim. "He's my new nextdoor neighbour."

Xander pulled Cordelia along with him to Giles' car, commandeering the back seat. "Come on, guys, we have to get going to catch this creep."

"Quite right, Xander," Giles nodded, getting into the front seat. Buffy got shotgun.

"Come on, mum, dad, we've found who did this," Willow said, tugging her now-human-shaped parents towards their car. They quickly caught up to Giles.


Buffy looked in the rear view mirror, and saw what Xander and Cordelia were up to.

"My God, you two, can you knock it off for half a minute?"

Xander looked up from where his fingers were playing Cordelia's body like a violin, the young woman smirking dirtily. "Jealous, Buff?"

"No!," Buffy protested. Her bright red cheeks gave away the lie, however. "I just think you can do better than her."

"I bet you do, Summers," Cordelia said, gaining her mind back. She wasn't letting demonboy go to Summers!

"Maybe I could, maybe I couldn't," Xander smiled.

"Ladies!," Giles yelled from where he was peering through the windshield. The two girls obediently quietened down.

"Don't ever think you get to say what or who I do," Xander whispered in Cordelia's ear. "Do as I tell you, and you might get a reward later. But bad girls get the lash."

Xander blinked, realising how far he was going. The scary part, for him, was that he couldn't tell what part of that had been the demon that had possessed him, and what had been from him.

"Xandeee˜er!," Buffy whined.

Chapter 28

O'Neil looked up as someone knocked on the door. Surely his friend had not arrived already? He got up unsteadily, and tried to turn back into a human form. 5h33p tended to scare easily, in his experience. They got the most peculiar expressions on their faces when he tried to talk to them...

{5h33p == sheep}

Once he had managed to complete his transformation, he stumbled over to the door and opened it to find a menagerie of folks planted on his doorstep.

"Hi, are you John O'Neil?," the short blonde ch1x in front asked.

He nodded dumbly. "H07..."

{H07 == Hot}

"What'd he say?," the blonde asked.

"Uh... he called you hot, Buffy," the redhead goth piped up.

The blonde, and the brunette teen looked familiar for some reason... he ignored the fl4m4g3 and ranting as he tried to remember where he had seen them before.

{fl4m4g3 == flamage}

"Do I know y0u?," he said, brow wrinkled.

"Sure," Buffy said. "I'm your new neighbour."

With that, she socked him and he was knocked unconscious in short order.


He woke up to find himself chained between two pillars in a basement. Whoever had done it really knew what they were doing, as he was unable to free himself in any way whatsoever.

"Okay," a male voice said. "Now you're up, you can start 'splaining."

O'Neil focussed on the speaker, the brunette from earlier. He then realised where he had seen the boy before -- on the same video tape as the were-cat. "|34<|<! p><0\/1 7><1|\|9!"

{Back! Foul thing!}

The demon in human form appeared genuinely puzzled by this. "What? Are you French or something?"

"He is coming," 1001Keys said resolutely. "He is coming, and his worth is unequalled in this day and age!"

The demon scratched it's head for a moment before shrugging. "Okay, getting zero on the clue-meter. I'll go get Wills and Giles, they understand this stuff."


The 'Welcome to Sunnydale' sign was destroyed, as a rundown Honda Civic flattened it.

"Largo, did you have to destroy that?," a blonde man sighed. His expression was that of patience.

"Piro, it was 3v1l! It deserved to d13!"

{3v1l == evil d13 == die}

"And did you really have to go see this friend of yours? I remember the last time we went to visit a friend of yours."

"That was k3wl! We got arrested by real Canadian Mounties!"

{k3wl == kewl == cool}

"Thank you, I had managed to repress that."

"Come, we must ><4573|\| to 1001Key's |]0/V\1<1l3!"

{><4573|\| == hasten |]0/V\1<1l3 == domicile}


"I don't get any vibes from him," Xander admitted upstairs. "Buff?"

The Slayer-Marilith shook her head. The situation had, due to necessity, been explained to everyone who had stormed O'Neil's house. "Giles? Any clues on that stuff he was spouting?"

"Er, I'm afraid it doesn't sound like it is connected to any major prophecies I'm aware of," the Watcher admitted.

"Couldn't you just say 'no'?"

"He just sounds like a televangelist or something," Xander frowned. "Maybe he's just a crazy man?"

"He certainly doesn't sound sane to me," Sheila Rosenberg said. "And I'm a doctor."

"This whole week hasn't been sane," Cordelia sniped. "Welcome to life around the freak squad."

"Quiet, kitty," Xander snapped at the cheerleader. Everyone was surprised when she immediately obeyed.

"What if this guy he's talking about does come, guys?," Willow worried. "I mean, what if he's seriously bad news?"

"We chew him up and spit out the hard bits," Xander joked. "What's he gonna do, use bad jokes on us?"

"And even if he does, you can sue him for copyright infringement," Cordelia sniffed.

"For I am Lord and Master of all things funnay," Xander nodded.

"I need to go find my mum," Buffy announced. "Giles, can I have your car keys?"

Giles was about to hand them over, when he saw Willow and Xander shake their heads frantically.

"Er, no, that's alright," Giles said. "I'll drive you there."


Buffy laughed at Giles as they got out of his Citroen at the gallery. His control had lapsed mid-drive, and he had found himself with his furry legs around his furry ears.

"Welcome to my world," Buffy sniggered. "Not."

"Very amusing," Giles said patronisingly. "Come, let's find your mother."


Largo stopped as he approached the door of the house.

"What is it now?," Piro asked.

"This is not right," Largo said. "This lock has been forced. 3v1l is pr353n7."

{pr353n7 == present}

The gamer went back to the Civic, pulling out some home made body armour made of steel plates, wire, and duct tape. The next item to come out was a break-action double barrel shotgun, followed by a box of shells. He handed Piro two metal baseball bats, then shut the trunk.

"Okay," he said. "1375 |20<|<."

{1375 |20<|< == lets rock}

"Don't kill anyone," Piro sighed. Hopefully they wouldn't have to pay too much in the settlement, this time.

"Who's there?," a generic voice asked. A timid looking salesman edged into view, visibly scared.

Largo's eyes narrowed as he noticed some 'off' details. Insects dripped from the man's shirt cuffs. The shotgun rose, and a roll of thunder echoed around the property as he let the 3v1l have both barrels.


Largo was calmly reloading the shotgun. "100|< 4641|\|."

{100|< 4641|\| == Look again}

Piro blinked as he turned. The salesman was calmly getting up, despite the gaping hole through his torso big enough to drive a truck through. As Piro watched, crawling insects turned into flesh across the hole, healing it over.

Piro continued screaming, but just incoherently this time.

Chapter 29

The shotgun boomed again, as Largo let the bugman have it again with both barrels. He looked over at Piro, slightly wild-eyed as he started the relatively slow process of reloading the gun once more. The buggy salesman was down his arms, as he absorbed the bugs from there into his empty torso.

"H17 ><1/V\!!!111," he yelled. "F|249 17!"

{Hit the blaggard! Vanquish him!}

Piro looked down at the baseball bat, then swung at the unnatural salesman, squashing centipedes as they dripped from empty sleeves.

"You can't win," the salesman said calmly. "The Order cannot be stopped."

Piro looked at Largo again as he swung the metal bat. "Why did you have to be RIGHT about something?"

Largo snapped the action shut, and let the thing have it again. Piro ran into the kitchen, rummaging through the pantry with a tremendous clatter.

"<4MP3|2!," Largo screamed in fury in the face of the bugman, abandoning the slow shotgun for the second baseball bat. He squished many bugs, as he continued to shout epithets. "Q4\/|]WHORE!"

{Camper! Quadwhore!}


Everyone at the Summer's house looked up as they heard the echoing boom of a shotgun roll across.

"I think I speak for everyone when I say what the hell is going on?," Cordelia demanded.

"You stay here, I'll go check it out," Xander said. "If I need help, I'll come back for you."

"Okay, you two, let's go barricade the doors," he heard Cordelia commanding as he walked out the door. "The Freak Squad always brings trouble, and it ain't getting in here."

He found the door to O'Neil's house open. Funny. Even though Buff had broken the lock, they'd left the door shut. He wasn't sure he believed what he saw, though.

A brown haired guy beating up another man made up of worms, and a blonde guy using two cans of industrial sized Raid on the bug dude.

"What the hell?," Xander asked, puzzled.

The brunette looked up. "K3w1! Another warrior against 3vil."

"Are you guys after the crazy guy who lived here?," Xander asked.

"1001Keys?," the brunette asked. "Yeah. I'm Largo, by the way, loserboy here is Piro."

"Weird," Xander frowned. "O'Neil is chained up at the moment for infecting the whole town with were-leopardy-ness."

The blonde, Piro, looked puzzled at this. "Either you're another Largo, or he talked me into trying his brand of beer again."


Buffy looked forth in disbelief.

A female leopard-woman who she presumed to be her mother was unconscious on the floor. A leopard man was also unconscious on the floor. An open can of turpentine flooded the room with a smell that even in her human form smelt to high heaven. She rushed over to the woman, shaking her shoulder worriedly.

"Mum? Mum, is that you?," Buffy said worriedly.

"Buffy?," Joyce asked weakly, completely confused. "Baby, what's going on?"


Largo stood in the centre of the Summer's living room, staring down the crowd before him.

"MORONS! ><0\V/ |]4|23 j00 7><13F 1001KEYS!"

{Idiots! How dare you lock up my friend!}

"What'd he say?," Sheila asked.

"How dare you lock up my friend," Willow and Piro said in unison, tiredly. They both blinked, then stared at each other.

"You guys, revert," Xander said tiredly. "This is like talking to a brick wall."

Sheila, Ira, and Cordelia all changed back into a hybrid between a human and a leopard.

"This is why," Xander said, gesturing at the three. "O'Neil stole Cordelia's blood and infected the whole town with were-ness."

Largo's mouth had dropped open. "That..."

Piro looked resigned.


"That what, nerdboy?," Cordelia demanded.


{That rocks!}

Everyone blinked in amazement as the hacker/gamer rushed over to Cordelia and pushed his bare forearm under her nose. "BYTE ME!"

Cordelia, already pissed, did not pass up the chance. Largo screamed in pain for a moment, then grinned like an idiot as the two gaping half-circle wounds closed up, and he gained a couple feet in height and a golden black pelt. For some reason, the rosettes present in everyone elses' fur were not present in his, only black spots. He was far more rangy, and two black lines ran from the inside corners of his eyes to the corners of his mouth. Largo stood there staring at his paws, before scratching Piro who soon also stood there, with the same unusual appearance as Largo.

"Cordy," Xander groaned. "Did you have to do that?"

"What? He could've just drank the water," Cordelia said defensively.

"Why doesn't he look the same?," Willow asked. "I mean, they look like cheetahs, but you guys are all like leopards."

"3y3 4|V| 1337!," Largo barked out, grinning in an unsettlingly feline way.

{I am elite!}

"I think I preferred being arrested by Canadian Mounties," Piro said philosophically, staring at his paws as well. "Sometimes, Largo, I ask myself why I bother coming with you."

"I'd blame my conscience, if I were you," Cordelia said, still mad.

"Calm down," Xander commanded her. He reverted into his demonic form, gaining a couple of feet height and black batwings. Cordelia stepped into a hug, turning her face into his chest. Xander looked up at the others as his wings closed around the two of them. "Okay, now we wait for Giles and Buff to get back. At least the Happy Vampire Meals On Legs part of Sunnydale is gone."

Largo started grinning again. "You f1gh7 3v1l as well? K3wl, very Shadow like."

Chapter 30

Another clank rattled it's way up the basement stairs to the open doorway, and Largo's newly furry ears twitched. "KEYS!"

A golden blur announced Largo's dash down the stairs, as a gentle breeze ruffled the living room.


Allen Finch looked down at his arm nervously.

Very nervously.

For some reason, he'd woken up with fur and a couple extra feet height. He didn't dare skip work, however. Most bosses docked pay, Mayor Wilkens tended to do worse. If you didn't have a good reason.

"This is not good," the Mayor said, staring out the office window. He, too, had been turned into a leopard were. "Not good at all. Why, I don't think my preparations are any good at all, now. Have the police found anything, yet?"

Allen shook his head, feeling lightheaded. "Some, sir. With help from the hospital, they tracked it down to a water contaminant, which was introduced at the water treatment plant. The detective said that a hacker disabled the security system first, so we've got no video footage of the perpetrator. They're dusting the area for fingerprints as we speak, but personally I don't feel they'll find anything."

"This really isn't on," the Mayor said, hands joined behind his back. Allen scratched his head nervously, then stopped as his claws came out by accident and pricked his scalp. "I've always been one to fulfil campaign promises, you know that, and now this comes up. I'm sure that the sunlight-challenged parts of my constituency will want to have words with me, now."

"They haven't been infected as well?," Finch asked.

"They're dead," the Mayor said jovially. "Dead people tend to not get sick."


"Uh, our next door neighbour put something in the water supply, I think," Buffy explained to her mother. "We got him, we just have to question him now."

"Oh," Joyce said weakly. While she was accepting of Buffy's new change of species, she was finding it a bit harder to behave as nothing had happened to herself. "Does Giles have a cure for this?"

"Welllll," Buffy drew out. "Cordelia hasn't asked for one, so it can't be all bad."

"I'm afraid there isn't one, to the best of my knowledge," Giles said, taking off his glasses and cleaning them. "This variant of... lycanthropy, for lack of a better term, is completely new and with no precendent in any form. We really know nothing at this stage about it."

"Hey, isn't that Michael?," Buffy asked, pointing at Joyce's unconscious assistant.

"Yes, yes he is," Joyce said, blinking. "What on earth is that smell, by the way?"

"Turpentine," Giles said, gesturing at the open tin with his glasses. "If it's any consolation, you'll heal extremely fast by human standards, now."


O'Neil looked up from where he was yanking at the chains restraining him -- the change was new to him, and he was weak from it still. He couldn't reach the knots in the chains from his position. A man vaguely resembling himself, but with a cheetah-ish cast to his features was approaching.

"\V/><0 |2 \/?," he asked.

{ Who dost thou be-est? }

A grin grew on the man's face. It appeared disturbing with the distinctly carnivorous dental set. "14|290."

{I am Largo, friend and protector of all those 'leet. }

O'Neil grinned as well as Largo set to unknotting the chains. "Nice upgr4de."

"Very," Largo nodded, starting on O'Neil's ankle-chains. "But the people upstairs are ticked."

1001Keys grimaced. "I helped everyone in town. They can kiss my ass."

Largo nodded. "Yes... but what of the 3v1l?"

1001Keys appeared thoughtful at this, as Largo started on the last chain. "All the 3v1l I've seen is nonhuman, and those who are not human cannot 941|\| this l3v3lling."

{ 3v1l == evil, 941|\| == gain, l3v3ling == levelling }

"Sw33t!," Largo grinned as 1001Keys started up the stairs. "With a capital 3!"


Willow staggered briefly as a form of fatigue hit her. She'd done an all nighter, finding that information leading to their discovery of 1001Keys, and that combined with her deprivation in other ways...

"Willow? Baby, are you alright?," Sheila asked, worried.

"I-I'm fine," Willow said, a faint tinge of pink colouring her starkly white cheeks.

The touch of red set off alarm bells in Xander's mind. "Willow, have you been feeding?"

"W-who me?," Willow laughed. "I'm fine, really."

Xander's wings settled on his back and he strode over to the short redhead. He drew a claw along his arm, and a brilliant strip of red liquid bloomed along the cut. "Drink. Now."

"But," Willow began.

"You need it," Xander said. "And even if you don't care about your wellbeing, I do."

Willow attempted to protest as Xander forced his bleeding arm against her lips, but a very weak vampire with a mild case of bloodlust finds it hard to resist someone shoving fresh blood in their face, no matter their morals.

"What's going on?," Cordelia demanded.

"She's trying to ignore this," Xander said, sighing as Willow started to actively drink from his veins. "Willow's acting like all this never happened. I wish it hadn't, too. But we can't deal like that, the world is how it is and not how we want it."

"Will you be okay?," Piro asked, from where he was lurking behind the Rosenberg parents.

"A meal, some sleep, I'll be right as rain," Xander joked. "I'm like the energizer bunny."

He felt lightheaded, so he pulled Willow away from his arm. "That's enough."

"I-I'm sorry," she whispered.

"It's okay," Xander shrugged. "You needed that. I'll be fine."

"But I shouldn't like it," Willow began to sob. "It, it, it shouldn't taste so..."

Sheila brought Willow into a hug as the girl began to cry. Xander looked at the two helplessly.

"I'll help Willow," Sheila said. "You go talk to that crazy man. Shoo."

Chapter 31

Xander and Cordelia met the two hackers coming up the stairs.

"You forced a whole town," Xander said neutrally.

"It was n33d3d!," O'Neil protested. "They can p><|249 the 3v1l now."

{ n33d3d == needed, p><|249 == frag == kill, 3v1l == evil }

"What?," Xander asked. "They can what the what? I hope you didn't mean what I thought you meant."

"Dirty mind," Cordelia smirked, poking Xander in the side.

Xander grabbed her hand midpoke. "Easy on the merchandise there. And you. Explain."

"Everyone in town is not dependant on the cops to defend them now," O'Neil said slowly, as if Xander was slow of comprehension. "I levelled the party so that if they're threatened they can dice up the attacker."

"You stole my blood!," Cordelia snapped. "Without asking!"

"The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few," Largo said, striking a pose.

"Come on," Xander sighed. "We all need to take a step back and think about this."

The four went up the stairs to the living room.

"Okay, who wants to put up the two new guys?," Xander asked.

"The l33t must stay together," O'Neil snapped.

{ l33t == leet == elite }

"What?," Xander asked. "The who?"

"No, the elite is what he means," Piro said, a look of resignation seemingly painted on his face. "I'll stay with them so that they don't burn the place down."

"We'll stay here and tell Mr Giles and Mrs Summers," Sheila Rosenberg said from where Willow was still sniffling in her arms. "Go on."

"Okay," Xander shrugged. He opened the door for Cordelia. "I'll walk you home."

"Thanks, demon boy," Cordelia smiled. "I don't think you should have let Rosenberg drink from you like that."

"She needed it!," Xander protested. "She's my best friend!"

"What if she killed you by accident?," Cordelia retorted.

Xander stopped, and stared down at Cordelia. While they were approximately the same height when both were in their supernatural forms, he still had about twenty centimeters advantage on her. A look of annoyance sprouted on his face, and his tail started lashing furiously. How dare this... mortal... presume to instruct him!

"What I do is my affair," he said coldly. "Not yours. Ah! I'm talking, you are not. Maybe you don't like what I do?"

"I'm just saying," Cordelia began, backpedalling.

"Just saying? How about you get some cool-off time as well?," Xander said. "Come back to me in a week and we'll talk."

"What about sex?," Cordelia snapped.

"There are plenty of other fish in the sea," Xander replied.

Her eyes opened wide. "My God, I can't believe you just said that! We are so through! Don't bother walking me the rest of the way, Harris."


Xander tossed and turned as he tried to sleep. Something had been terribly wrong, but he couldn't put his finger on what that thing was, or when.

He stopped moving as sleep came, and dreams. A smile grew on his face as he dreamt of some of the activities the demon had committed, and a frown wavered momentarily as he dreamt of other things that the demon had done.


At school the next day, the Scoobies gathered at the Library during lunch break.

"What did you guys get for your Career Day?," Willow asked eagerly. Her face fell. "I wasn't on the list... why wasn't I on the list?"

"I don't know, Wills," Xander said. "Maybe you're just too spectacular for the plebs around here to pigeonhole. Say, you guys know me about as well as anyone, right?"

"Why?," Buffy asked.

"When you look at me, do you think 'prison guard'?," Xander asked plaintively.

Willow and Buffy giggled at this, problems forgotten. Buffy looked him up and down.

"Oh, I think you can guard me anytime," she said. Generals needed bodyguards, after all.

"According to my test results from the Careers Fair, I can look forwards to being gainfully employed in the growing field of corrections," Xander said sourly.

This did not lessen the girls' fits of giggles in any way.

"Well, at least you'll be on the right side of the bars," Buffy pointed out.

"Ha, ha, ha, ha! Laugh now, missy, they assigned you to the booth for law enforcement professionals," Xander said smugly.

"As in police?," Buffy inquired, stunned at this.

"As in polyester, doughnuts and brutality," Xander nodded.

Buffy hissed in annoyance. Why would she want to round up stupid criminals?

"But, doughnuts!," Willow smiled, trying to find the good side. The events of the previous day had finally driven home the point that her new vampiric status was not going to go away, despite what she would wish it to be otherwise.

"Well, I'll just jump off that bridge when I come to it," Buffy whined.

Giles wandered into the library, carrying a stack of books taller than he was.

"Wow, that superstrength thing sure is workin' out fer ya," Xander observed. "Whoops, watch out for--"

Everyone winced as the top half of the tottering tower fell to the ground. Giles winced so much that another quarter fell off as well.

"I'm afraid not," the Watcher sighed. "Buffy, how did patrol last night go?"

"Not much," Buffy shrugged. "I was busy stopping Mum wigging out last night. Oh, there were a couple vamps looting some jumbo mausoleum."

"They were stealing?," Giles asked. This was familiar territory.

"Yeah! They had tools, flashlights, whole nine yards," Buffy shrugged. What does that mean anyway? 'Whole nine yards'? Nine yards of what? Now it's gonna bug me all day. Giles, you're in pace mode. What gives?"

"Um, this vampire who escaped, did you see what he took?," Giles asked.

"No, but I could take a guess and say it was something old," Buffy said sarcastically.

"You made no effort to find out what was taken?," Giles asked incredulously.

Xander and Willow both winced again, and tiptoed out of the argument to class.


Chapter 32

Xander whistled as he entered the school lounge, spotting Willow. Her face was shadowed by her large hat, but he could still see that his oldest, bestest friend wasn't of the happy expression, so he wandered over.

"Willow!," Xander called out. "What are you doing here? Fly! Be free, little bird, you defy category!"

"I'm looking for Buffy," Willow said, looking worried as well, now. She got up, and the two of them began walking together.

"Oh, she went with Giles about an hour ago. Some kind of field trip deal," Xander reported. "I can't believe they didn't take me with them!"

"If she doesn't get back soon, Snyder's really...," Willow began, before spotting said man. "...done a great job with the fair this year, hasn't he, Xander?"

Snyder, never a man with a sunny disposition, was even grumpier than usual these days. A small group of people who had been infected could only change shape with much effort. Locked into a shape between cat and man, his tail was lashing furiously.

"Principal Snyder! Great career fair, sir! Really!," Xander gushed, trying to evade Snyder's incipient wrath. "In fact, I'm so inspired by your leadership, I'm thinking principal school. I wanna walk in *your* shoes. Not your actual shoes, of course, because you're a tiny person. Not tiny in the small sense, of course. Okay, I'm done now."

"Where is she?," Snyder growled.

Xander really hated having to hide his true form in public. Given the added height that were-people got in their hybrid form, the trollish Principal was now higher than him!

"Who?," Willow asked innocently.

"You know who," Snyder retorted. His whiskers twitched.

"You mean Buffy?," Willow asked, pretending to look around. "I just saw her--"

"And don't feed me that 'I just saw her a minute ago, she's around here somewhere' story," the previously short principal snapped.

"But I did... just see her a minute ago, and she is... *around* here somewhere!," Willow insisted, trying to keep her friend out of trouble. Giles or no Giles, if Snyder learnt that Buffy was off the grounds during school hours...

"For what it's worth," Xander lazily added.

"It's worth nothing, Harris," Snyder interrupted. "Whatever comes out of your mouth is a meaningless waste of breath. An airborne toxic event."

Xander's eyes visibly narrowed at this. How dare that... troll talk to him like that! "Well, I'm glad you feel comfortable enough to be so honest with me. And I can only hope that one day you're willing to be that honest with yourself."

"Fascinating," Snyder said, not listening. He marched off, in search of a Buffy to discipline.

"Well, love to stay and chat, but I got an appointment with the warden on standard riot procedure," Xander said to Willow. "Ciao."

"Okay, see ya," Willow waved, taking the opportunity to check her hat.

Two men in dark suits approached her as Xander left.

"Willow Rosenberg?," one of them asked. "Come with us, please?"

"Excuse me?," Willow asked, eyes wide and starting on another path of worryage.

"Let's walk," the second man said.

The two men took her by the arms and guided her to a curtained-off area of the lounge. They pulled the curtain aside for the short hackeress. She obediently went through as the two followed her, letting the curtain fall behind them. A waiter in a white jacket and black bow tie held an hors-d'oeuvre tray up.

"Try the canape'. It's excellent," the first man offered.

Willow shook her head. Between the butterflies, and her new dietary requirements, she'd never keep anything down.

"What is all this?," she asked.

"You've been selected to meet with Mr. McCarthy, head recruiter for the world's leading software concern," the second man stated. "The jet was delayed by fog at Sea-Tac, but he should be here any minute. Please, make yourself comfortable."

"But I didn't even get my test back," Willow protested weakly.

"The test was irrelevant. We've been tracking you for some time," the second man replied.

"Is that a good thing?," the hacker asked, starting to worry.

"I would think so. We're extremely selective. In fact, only one other Sunnydale student met our criteria," the first man said as they left through the curtain.


Cordelia felt strange.

All day, she'd felt as if something were missing.

Something important. Even more important than her Softex handbag.

She could barely keep it together enough to stay in human form. She didn't have any dresses designed for a seven foot high catgirl.

"What's wrong, Cordelia?," Karen asked, worried.

"Something's missing," Cordelia verbalised. "Something is wrong."

Her eyes came to rest on Harris, and her breath began to quicken as she realised what it was that was missing.


"Xander!," Xander heard. He turned to find Cordelia looking at him with pleading in her eyes. "I need to talk to you. In private."

"Okay," Xander shrugged. "Janitor's closet okay for you?"

The cheerleader nodded as he opened the door for her. Once he'd shut it behind himself.

"Okay, I don't know why," Queen C began, "but I need you. Bad."

Xander snorted. "I thought you were above me?"

"Something's happening," Cordelia continued. "It's like... an addiction or something!"

"You're dreaming," Xander frowned. He moved to push past her, but Cordelia grabbed his forearms as they reached for the doorknob.

"God! LOOK AT YOURSELF!," Cordelia snarled at him, growing a couple feet and breaking a few lines of stitching. "You'd never act this nasty before... before it happened."

Xander paused, consciously thinking about his actions and realising that the socialite was right. This wasn't like him. He turned back to her, agony in his eyes as he thought about his dreams.

Not his dreams. The demon's dreams.

Chapter 33

Buffy was worried. All day, Xander had been as silent as the grave. Normally it was nigh impossible to get the brunette to be silent for half a minute, but all day... zip.

Currently, Buffy, Xander, and Giles were checking out a tomb that got ransacked the other night by a vampire. Giles insisted that they should investigate the mausoleum, to try and find some clues as to what the vampire could have stolen.

Unfortunately, the librarian was still adjusting to having to adjust to having two bodies, effectively, both with different centers of gravity. The two teenagers had had longer to adjust to their particular body-altering changes, and thus were more than easily keeping pace.

"Buffy! Slow down! Please!," Giles called out.

"Giles, we have work to do, remember? Get with the program," the Slayer teased, somewhat maliciously.

"You're behaving remarkably im-immaturely," the Watcher accused.

"You know why? I *am* immature," the Slayer retorted. "I'm a teen. I have yet to mature."

"I was," Giles paused, searching for diplomatic words, "simply offering some constructive criticism."

"No! You were harsh! God, you act like I picked this gig. But remember, I'm the picked," Buffy complained.

"Easy there, Buffster," Xander said softly.

"Xander?," Buffy asked. "What's been eating you?"

"Cordelia pointed out to me earlier that I was using her, and that's not like me," Xander said quietly. "I... think that that demon changed me, and I'm not sure I like the changes any more."

"Well, TANSTAAFL, as the old saying goes," Giles said philosophically.

"Tans stifle?," Buffy asked. "Is that Dutch or something?"

"No, an acronym," Giles said. "There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch. An American coined it, Robert Heinlein, in his book 'The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress'."

"I mean, it's like I can't have sex with anyone, but I have to at the same time," Xander continued. "Cos I need the energy to live, but it's addictive to most people."

"It does seem something of a quandary," Giles admitted. "But Buffy, as to your previous comment, what you have is more than a gig. It's a sacred duty, which shouldn't prevent you from eventually procuring some more gainful form of employment. Such as I did."

"Well, I guess I could get a job doing consulting or something, where I could do whatever I want when I want," Buffy said thoughtfully.

"Wow, deep!," Xander exclaimed. "Who stole our little Buffy? Who're you?"

The Slayer smiled. "The Marilith demon bitch was smart, heck, she was a general of Hell."

"Er, people," Giles called out.

"What?," Xander asked. Giles shone the torch in his hand at the mausoleum they'd come in search of. "Oh!"

The three walked into the tomb. Dust carpeted the floor of the chamber, punctuated by two large stone vases and a pile of rubble underneath a gaping hole carved into one of the walls. Giles walked over to the wall, observing it. He pulled out a small box, shining the torch on it.

"It's a reliquary," Giles explained. "Used to house items of religious significance. Most commonly a finger or some other body part from a saint."

"Note to self: religion: freaky," Buffy said, smiling. She leant against the wall, as Xander sat on the steps descending into the chamber.

"Du Lac," Giles read out from a stone high above their heads. "Oh dear, oh dear."

"Why can't you say 'Yippee!' or something for a change?," Xander asked plaintively. "You know, good news noises."

"Josephus du Lac was buried here," Giles recalled out loud. "He belonged to a religious sect that was excommunicated by the Vatican at the turn of the century."

"Excommunicated *and* sent to Sunnydale," the Slayer grinned. "There's a guy big with the sinning."

"You remember the book that was stolen from the library by a vampire a few weeks ago?"

"Yeah," the two teenagers said.

"It was written by Du Lac. Damn it! I let it slip my mind with all the excitement," Giles cursed.

"I'm guessing it wasn't a 'Taste of the Vatican' cookbook," Buffy joked.

"Hey, even if it wasn't, it had to have been a better cookbook than what my mum uses," Xander said.

They start out of the mausoleum. "No, the, uh, book was said to contain rituals and spells that reap unspeakable evil," Giles corrected them as they began to leave the tomb. "However, it was written in archaic Latin so that nobody but the sect members could understand it."

"So, everything's cool then," Buffy said. If the vamps couldn't read it, then they couldn't do anything with it.

"It's not. First the book was taken from the library, and now the vampires have stolen something from Du Lac's tomb," Giles said.

"You think they figured out how to read the book?," Buffy realised.

"Something's coming, Buffy, and whatever it is," the Watcher said grimly, "I can guarantee it's not good."


The hardware store owner looked out the door as the strange, very strange man staggered out with a load of peculiar parts.

"I think he was one of them drug addicts," the man said to one of his employees. "Maybe one of those PCP guys the cops are always after."

"Yeah?," the teenager asked.

"Yeah. He had a bunch of half inch tubing, some four inch PVC piping, a showerhead, and a pump. Aaaand," the man said, drawing out his trump card, "he said he was making a bong."

"I thought he was one of them computer geeks," the teenager said.

The shop owner shook his head. "Crazy, every one of them."

Chapter 34

The next morning was the start of the weekend, for which everyone in Sunnydale under eighteen gave thanks.

"Buffy!," Joyce called up.

The Vampire Slayer jammed her pillow on top of her head in an effort to stave off evil.

"Buuuufffyyyyy!," Joyce called again. "Time to wake up!"

"Nnnrrrr," Buffy mumbled, coils not even twitching. The mumble didn't even make it downstairs.

Joyce sighed, looking down at the kitchen bench. She flipped the pikelet cooking on the electric frypan, sending the smell out.

A couple minutes later, her daughter was in the land of the living and munching on pikelets and golden syrup.


After breakfast, Joyce looked at Buffy from across the small kitchen island. Buffy looked down at the bench, still not used to seeing a seven foot tall leopard woman where her completely human mum used to be.

To be fair, though, Joyce wasn't used to Buffy having a long snake tail in place of legs. Not to mention her four extra arms.

"Have you thought about that O'Neil person, Buffy?," Joyce asked.

"Not really," Buffy said, upper pair of arms rubbing her eyes as the middle pair cut up pikelets. "Giles... *yawwwnnnn* Giles has come up with a fresh new evil for me to fight."

"We'll call Xander, Giles, and Willow and they can come over and we'll go and sort it out then," Joyce said, whiskers twitching.

"Okay," Buffy shrugged. "I'll call 'em."


Half an hour later, the rest of the Scooby Gang had assembled at 1630 Revello Drive. All the cat people were sitting on Joyce's sofa and La-Z-Boys, while the non-cat-people demons were perched on the stools that normally lived in the kitchen.

"So, has anyone thought about what to do with that man?," Joyce asked.

"Well, we can't hand him over to the authorities," Doctor Rosenberg said. "They'd take him as a scapegoat and eat him alive. Possibly literally."

"Thank you for bringing up that last possibility," Xander spoke up. "You know, that extra little gross-out factor."

Willow's mum ignored him.

"What about the Watcher's Council?," Willow asked. "Could they judge him... you know, ethically and morally soundly?"

"Are those even words?," Buffy asked doubtfully.

"Well, they are one of the few who would have any idea of what would constitute a fair and just sentence in this case," Giles admitted. "Especially as they are a neutral third party to the matter."

"Oh yeah, because they did one hell of a job locking up Ethan Rayne," Xander spoke up. "Pardon the pun, of course."

"They'd be better than nothing, which is what we've come up with otherwise," Buffy shrugged.

"Okay, we'll go and get 'em while the G-man rings up his home-boys," Xander decided.

"Please, don't call me that," Giles sighed, clearly wishing his eyesight hadn't improved so that he could take off his glasses and clean them.

"Has anything like this ever happened before?," Mr Rosenberg asked as Xander and Buffy left for next door.

"Mass transformations, were-cats, or delusional idiots causing trouble?," Giles asked rhetorically.

"Uh... were-cats?," Willow asked. "All the movies I've seen talked about were-wolves."

"Well... the only were-cat in existance prior to this lives in Sweden," Giles thought out loud. "A cheetah, if I remember correctly."

"Sweden," Joyce said flatly. She would've expected South Africa or something.

Giles nodded. "Amazingly stacked, too... living in a defacto with a man called Hat or something. I don't recall whether she infected him or not. The Council decided to leave them be as long as they abided by the law of the land."

"Why would there be someone called 'Hat'?," Willow asked.

"I think it was his nickname," Giles said. "It was so distinctive that that was what I remembered his name as. His full name was John Ericsson, or Carlsson, or something."


Xander sneezed as he wandered into 1632 Revello Drive. The smell of petrochemicals was thick in the air. Buffy was checking the ground floor of the house, while he looked through the basement

"Whew, someone was heavy on the glue sniffing," he said.

"Looks like they've gone off," Buffy frowned, appearing from one of the bedrooms. "Stupid morons."

"No note, either," Xander said. "Spot any computers?"

"Nope, they're gone too," Buffy blinked. "I can't see a bunch of geeks like them going anywhere without their computers."

Xander frowned. "They could be anywhere by now."

"Maybe Willow knows where they are," Buffy suggested. "There could be some big nerd-fest in LA or something."

"I've got a better idea," Xander returned. "We can teleport now, remember?"

The Slayer-Marilith blushed. "Oh yeah."

Chapter 35

Xander blinked as he finished teleporting. He was in some Middle East town, and dust swirled around his feet.

Weird. He couldn't feel his wings at all, nor his tail.

The buildings were tan, the dust was tan, about the only change in colour were the brown wooden crates dotted around the small courtyard he found himself in.

"I don't get it," Buffy said. "Where the hell is O'Neil?"

"Welcome to the MADDDLAN server - map de_dust," a male, vaguely robotic voice said. "Choose a side."

Both blinked as a man wearing police-like body armour ran past them. As his back was shown to them, 'POLIZEI' was written across the top of his back. As soon as the man disappeared through a door, another man in homemade body armour and a green sweater ran across the courtyard from a different door.

"Okay, that was random," Buffy observed. "I guess we have to choose a side to find him."

"I choose the good guys," Xander said, speaking out loud.

"Me too," Buffy added.

"Too many Counter Terrorists," the voice said mechanically.

"Hey!," Buffy protested as Xander disappeared, fading out. "I wanna be with Xander!"

"Too many Counter Terrorists," the voice repeated.

"Okay then, I refuse to be on either team," Buffy snapped, exasperated.

"Player is Spectator," the voice said.

Buffy then found herself looking over the shoulder of a man carrying a menacing looking black rifle. It kinda looked like the M-16 guns that the Army had...

She just about screamed when she realised that as the man moved about, she helplessly followed, watching what he was doing.

"Hey, Xander," Buffy called out, spotting a man in police clothes recognisable as Xander. For some reason, he didn't hear her.

The man she was watching lifted his rifle, sending three little messengers through Xander.

"Nooo... you bastard!," Buffy swore. The rifle then clicked empty. "Yessss! Take that!"

Just as Xander was slowly turning around, the man pulled out a handgun and shot him in the head, laying him low.

"HEADSHOT - 1001Keys kills Player with Glock," the mechanical voice said.

Buffy muttered a string of curses that would earn her a mouth full of soap, should Joyce hear that she said them.

The man she was watching -- obviously 1001Keys -- dropped his empty rifle, taking the shotgun that Xander had been carrying.

"I wonder why his name was listed as Player," Buffy mused out loud.

1001Keys moved quietly behind some crates, reloading the shotgun as he did so. Once he was behind them, he pulled out a chunky block that quietened Buffy immediately.


The man placed the C4 by the crates, pushing buttons until a countdown began from 35.

"Life ain't fair," complained Buffy as 1001Keys stood guard over the explosives.

"Terrorists Win," the voice said as the bomb exploded, sending Buffy's view reeling all over the landscape until her sight went black.

"Map change: fy_iceworld," the voice said.

Buffy had no idea how on earth it managed to say colons or underscores.


"Xander!," Buffy smiled widely. "You're alive!"

"As are you," Xander returned. "Bit colder here, though."

They were in a maze of ice passages. Somehow, the ground was completely unslippery.

"I guess we have to choose sides again," Buffy said.

"Good guys!," Xander called out, Buffy half a second behind him.

"Yessss!," Buffy said, pumping her fist up and down in joy. "I got in this time!"

"Right, buy gun, buy gun, why isn't it working?!," Xander muttered. "Oh, they're in front of me."

Xander sheepishly picked up an AK47

"Where'd Xander go?," Buffy asked out loud, picking up a gun that looked like it belonged in a Star Trek episode.

"Buff!," Xander grinned, spotting the blonde.

They ran to catch up with each other, meeting in a small 'T' where the back passage they were in met with another passage that stretched off to somewhere else.

Both blinked as they got killed meeting at the T, and were reduced to the strange watch-mode that Buffy endured during the first go at this.

Once all the others were killed, save one, everyone was resurrected, as far as Xander could tell.

"Well, at least we're together now," Buffy shrugged.

"Indeed," Xander said. "Oooo! Guns!"

Xander picked up a funny looking weapon with a silencer and a second hand grip thingy that bore some resemblance to a mac-10, while Buffy picked up an MP5.

"Right, now for the corner and hopefully not the killage this time," Xander muttered, as the two approached a sharp turn in the passage, skirting the edge of the map.

Pow! Buffy dropped like a stone, as someone put a bullet in her head.

"HEADSHOT - PandaAttack kills Player with AWP," the mechanical voice said.

"Dammit," Xander muttered, running towards the T junction in an attempt to flank whoever l33tm45+3r was. "Who the hell picks a name like Panda Attack anyway?"

"Yeah, Mister Purple Shineypants," an unfamiliar voice replied, smirk audible. The speaker couldn't be seen.

"Shut up!," an 18 year old screamed back. "Who's got the kills? DIE, BIZATCH!"

"Goddammit!," Xander roared, as someone killed him as he passed through a crossroad.

"n00|3 p4Tr0L kills X with Colt," the mechanical voice boomed out again.

"Terrorists Win," the voice then said.

Once everyone reappeared, Xander quickly picked up a long rifle. He thought it was one of those AWP things, but he wasn't sure. Buffy picked up the Star Trek gun again.

Buffy charged off on her own, and was promptly killed

"1001Keys kills Buffy with Colt," the voice announced.

Xander heard a faint noise behind him, and whirled to find someone approaching him with a knife, obviously about to stab him or something. He recognised him as 1001Keys, O'Neil. As soon as Xander spun around, 1001Keys started moving towards another passage, switching to the Colt again.

Xander shot him with the AWP without bothering to raise the sights to his eyes.

"Player kills 1001Keys with AWP," the voice announced.

"l33tm45+3r calls map vote, reason: hates nub maps," the mechanical voice said.

"I agree," a dreaded familiar voice said. O'Neil. "I want to play an objective map."

Xander basked in the warmth of finally managing to kill someone. Then got killed himself.

"BMFJedi kills Xander with Sig," the voice called out. "Terrorists Win"

Xander sighed as everyone reappeared. "Dammit, Buff, how do we get outta this crazy thing?"

"I think we have to either find a way out, or get a high enough score," Buffy guessed.

"You de boss," Xander shrugged, picking up the AWP again. Hey, it worked last time.

A stupidly huge grin grew on Buffy's face as she picked up a huge, heavy machine gun.

"Okay, I'll cover you," Xander said. "Go!"

Buffy ran forwards with the machine gun, slowed down considerably by the weight of the weapon. She killed "n00|3 p4Tr0L", then kept firing once she was on the other side of the map at the terrorists there, somehow managing to completely miss all of them. The gun clicked repeatedly as she ran out of ammo.

She grinned sheepishly at the terrorist looking at her. empty machine gun dangling from her hands. "Be nice, I'm a harmless little girl?"

"1001Keys kills Player with Aug," the voice boomed out.

Xander swore, then potted a terrorist as one crossed his line of sight.

"Player kills l33tm45+3r with AWP," the voice called out once more.

A frown crossed Xander's face as he saw a terrorist appear, hitting him before he could kill the terrorist.

"BMFJedi kills Player with mp5," the voice announced. "Terrorists Win."